Tagged: Tampa Bay

Need Help? Call 54-11…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 5, Rays 4…

Aroldis Chapman to stop the top of the 9th and Brett Gardner to walk it off in the bottom of inning.  This formula seems to be working.  Chapman has long been a high end finisher, but Gardy is the one who seems to come through in the clutch when you need him the most.  He is the first Yankees player to two walk-off’s in the same series.  The Yankees used this formula to pull out another victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, their third consecutive win over the Rays and sixth overall.  

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

Caleb Smith, perhaps making his final start for the Yankees this year, was in a hole immediately when Peter Bourjos homered to left center with the game’s second pitch.  He recovered to get out of the inning without any further damage.

In the bottom of the 2nd, Gary Sanchez led off with a ground-rule double to right.  Matt Holliday hit a grounder to the left side but Sanchez wisely read that third baseman Trevor Plouffe was committed to throwing to first so he was easily able to take third on the play.  Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to center and Sanchez tagged and scored standing up.  Game was tied.

The Rays had a huge opportunity to break the game open in the third inning.  Jesus Sucre led off with a single to left against Smith.  Peter Bourjos hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius which erased Sucre at second.  Steven Souza, Jr hit a hard liner which Gregorius almost snared (man, that would have been a brilliant play) but the ball bounced out of his glove toward third.  Runners at first and second.  Evan Longoria walked to load the bases, still with only one out.  Lucas Duda hit a sacrifice fly to center as Bourjos scored, giving the Rays the 2-1 lead. With runners at the corners and two outs, I thought Todd Frazier had one of the plays of the game when he made a barehanded grab on Trevor Plouffe’s grounder and his throw to Garrett Cooper just beat Plouffe to first.  If the Rays had been able to score multiple runs, the game would have had a much different look.

Caleb Smith pitched into the 4th inning.  After striking out Corey Dickerson, he walked Tim Beckham.  Even the YES Network announcers were commenting about Smith leaving his pitches up in the strike zone.  All things considered, he was very lucky the Rays weren’t more successful against him.  Smith’s departure after 71 pitches underscored the Yankees need for a quality starter.  Adam Warren replaced Smith and struck out Adeiny Hechavarria.  Beckham attempted to steal on the swinging strikeout, but the throw from Gary Sanchez to Ronald Torreyes was on target to nail the runner for the final out.

The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the 4th when Gary Sanchez homered to left center.  But this seemed like one of those games where the Rays continually had the answer for the Yankees runs.  In the top of the 5th, Steven Souza, Jr homered to left as the Rays re-took the lead, 3-2.  

Dellin Betances pitched the the top of the 6th inning.  It wasn’t clean as he walked the first batter, Lucas Duda, on four straight balls.  But he retired the next three batters to get out of the inning, leaving Duda stranded at second.  In the bottom of the frame, Matt Holliday opened with a single to left.  A fly out by Didi Gregorius ended the day for Rays starter Blake Snell and he was replaced by former San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo.  The Yankees sent Chase Headley to the plate to pinch hit for Garrett Cooper.  Good call by Manager Joe Girardi as Headley homered to left to give the Yankees their first lead of the game, 4-3.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The 7th inning brought Tommy Kahnle to the mound to replace Betances.  A couple of hits had runners at the corners with one out but he was able to strike out Steven Souza, Jr and get Yankee killer Evan Longoria to pop out in foul territory to strand the runners. Steve Cishek, acquired during this series by the Rays from the Seattle Mariners, entered the game in the bottom of the 7th in relief of Romo.  Last Saturday in Seattle, Aaron Judge had homered off Cishek but it was not to be this time around as Cishek struck out the side including Judge who went down swinging.

David Robertson took over for Kahnle in the 8th but he was immediately victimized by Lucas Duda who absolutely crushed the D-Rob pitch into the right field upper deck.  Duda has been the Ben Gamel of this series.  Watching how tailor-made Duda’s swing is for Yankee Stadium makes one wish that GM Brian Cashman had been more aggressive in his talks with the Mets before the first baseman was acquired by the Rays.  Robertson gave up another single was was able to get out of the inning with the game tied at 4.

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

9th inning and it was time for Aroldis Chapman.  It wasn’t a perfect inning as Wilson Ramos was awarded first base on catcher’s interference (if the bat touched El Gary’s glove, it must have only been one of the strings as it wasn’t readily apparent watching replay).  A ground out by Steven Souza, Jr eliminated Ramos at second but Souza, Jr subsequently made it to third when he stole second and advanced another base on an error.  With the go-ahead run 90 feet away, Chapman retired Evan Longoria for the final out on a pop up in foul territory.

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

For the bottom of the 9th, the Rays replaced reliever Tommy Hunter with Brad Boxberger.  He walked his first batter, Chase Headley, and the Yankees replaced Headley with the $153 million pinch-runner, Jacoby Ellsbury, sporting stylish shades.  Ellsbury successfully stole second with Todd Frazier at bat but it didn’t really matter as Boxberger plunked Frazier with a pitch to give him first base.  Ronald Torreyes then laid down a beautiful bunt to third which left all three runners safe and the bases loaded.  The Rays then pulled Boxberger and replaced him with former White Sox reliever Dan Jennings.  Maybe Rays manager Kevin Cash didn’t catch the fact that this was not the best of games for former White Sox relievers (see Kahnle and Robertson).  Brett Gardner came the plate and nicely laid down a single to center to score Ellsbury with the winning run.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

The Yankees (56-46) remained the AL East division leaders with the win, but the Boston Red Sox stayed just a half game off the pace with their comeback win over the Kansas City Royals.  The Sox won in 10 innings with a walk-off grounder by former Yankee Eduardo Nunez which scored Sandy Leon with the winning run.  It was a big game for Nunez.  He was 3-for-6 with 2 homers and 3 RBI’s.  With the loss, the Rays fell 4 1/2 games behind the leaders.

Matt Holliday was 2-for-4 in the game with a run scored so hopefully it is a sign that his bat is starting to unthaw.  Todd Frazier is still cold as he was hitless in 3 at-bats.  

Odds & Ends…

Gray skies are forming over Yankee Stadium.  I am not referring to the weather but as we near the final 24 hours before the trading deadline, the Sonny Gray rumors will not go away.  Twitter was abuzz with words yesterday that Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s had moved off their demand for either Gleyber Torres or Clint Frazier in the deal.  I think most of us are expecting outfielder Estevan Florial and 2B/SS/OF Jorge Mateo to be included so it is a matter of what other pitching prospects will comprise the package and whether or not Yonder Alonzo will be coming the other way.  It seems like there is strong room for agreement at this point.  

This morning’s news brings word that the Yankees are nearing a deal for lefty starter Jaime Garcia of the Minnesota Twins.  Pitching prospect Zach Littell (currently in Double A) is a healthy scratch today for the Trenton Thunder which has led to speculation that he’ll be the prospect heading to the Twin Cities.  Littell was acquired by the Yankees last fall in the trade that sent reliever James Pazos to the Seattle Mariners and has been terrific in the Yankees system this year.  But he is a casualty of the roster-crunch as the Yankees must protect him on the 40-man roster this year or risk exposing him to the Rule 5 Draft.  Garcia does not appear to be a fall back plan for Gray considering he is nowhere near the same level of pitcher. He represents rotation insurance, with Jordan Montgomery nearing a career high in innings pitched (and is potentially working with an innings limit) and would be hedge for good health with CC Sabathia and potentially Gray.

Jaime Garcia

Garcia came up with the St Louis Cardinals where he was a starter for the majority of the Matt Holliday years.  He was traded last December to the Atlanta Braves.  Garcia, who turned 31 earlier this month, was traded to the Twins a week ago for the pennant push.  But a string of losses subsequently caused the Twins to re-think their strategy.  Entering play today, the Twins find themselves 7 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.  Garcia has only pitched one game for the Twins.  He was the winner in Oakland on Friday night (6.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 7 SO).  

If the Yankees successfully acquire Gray, Alonzo, and/or Garcia, the MLB roster losers appear to be Caleb Smith, Luis Cessa, and Garrett Cooper.  GM Brian Cashman will have to get very creative with his 40-man roster moves.

Word is now breaking that the Yankees have, in fact, acquired Garcia for Littell and Triple A pitcher Dietrich Enns.  The Twins will also pay some of the money remaining on Garcia’s contract.  My initial reaction is that the cost seems very high to acquire a journeyman starter but Enns held a highly valued spot on the 40-man roster.  

Sounds like we are in for a turbulent ride until the trading deadline.

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s make the Rays series a sweeping success!  Go Yankees!

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The Ace & The Outfield Trio…

Credit:  MLB.com

Yankees 6, Rays 1…

Masahiro Tanaka was dealing on Friday night as the Yankees took down the Tampa Rays for the second night in a row.  He was backed by homers from all three starting outfielders and amassed 14 strikeouts over 8 innings before David Robertson capped off his brilliant game.  The win vaulted the Yankees back into first place in the AL East.  

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

The first inning showed that Tanaka was potentially on top of his game when he struck out the side.  Brett Gardner, Thursday night’s hero with the walk-off home run, started the scoring for the Yankees with a home run.  He became only the third Yankee with walk-off/walk-on home runs, joining Joe Gordon (1940) and Roberto Kelly (1990).  Gardy’s homer, his 19th of the year (a career high), landed in the bullpen in right field under the Toyota sign.  Rays right-fielder Stephen Souza, Jr climbed the wall with thoughts of making a spectacular catch but the ball was just beyond his reach.  It was an interesting stat coming into the game that the Yankees are 15-0 when Gardy goes yard.  We can make that 16-0.   

After Rays starter Austin Pruitt gave up the lead-off HR to Gardy, he proceeded to strike out the side so it looked like we would be settling into a pitcher’s duel.  Tanaka picked up two more strikeouts in each of the second and third innings, before striking out only one in the 4th.  In the bottom of the 4th, the Yankees picked up their second run when Aaron Judge hammered a Pruitt pitch to left for his 33rd home run of the season.  

After Tanaka set the Rays down in order in the top of the 5th, picking up another K, the Yankees added to their lead.  Pruitt alternated strikeouts and walks with Chase Headley (out), Todd Frazier (walk), Ronald Torreyes (out), and Brett Gardner (walk).  After a coaching visit to the mound by Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, Clint Frazier completed the outfield trifecta with a monster blast to left center, traveling 455 feet into the left field stands.  Red Thunder continues to amaze with his blazing bat speed.  I know that I am one of many who feel the Yankees would be very foolish to send Frazier back down to Triple A when Aaron Hicks returns.  The team’s resurgence this month has been driven, in large part, by Red Thunder’s energy and heart.  

Leading 5-0, Tanaka took a perfect game into the 6th inning but it was spoiled with two outs when Adeiny Hechavarria hit a grounder past a diving Didi Gregorius for the Rays first hit.  In the 7th inning, the Rays marred the shutout when they got their only other hit, a homer to right by former New York Met Lucas Duda.  5-1, Yankees.

Tanaka completed the eighth inning exactly as he started the first by striking out the side.  It was the end of the night for Tanaka but what a game!  If he continues to pitch like this down the stretch, it will mean great things for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

The Yankees picked up their final run in the 8th inning.  After Rays reliever (and former Yankee) Chase Whitley shut down the Yankees for two innings, setting down all six batters he faced in the 6th and 7th innings, the Rays brought in Adam Kolarek to start the 8th.  He hit Brett Gardner with a pitch to put Gardy at first.  He struck out Clint Frazier and induced Aaron Judge to hit into a ground out which moved Gardy to second.  Kolarek intentionally walked Gary Sanchez, but a passed ball advanced both runners to second and third.  Didi Gregorius singled to left, scoring Gardner but Gary Sanchez was nailed at the plate as he attempted to score too.

David Robertson finished up the 9th with his usual “no drama”.  Just another day at the office for D-Rob, and the Yankees emerged with their 55th victory of the season.  Boo yeah!  Yankees win!

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

As mentioned at the top of this post, the Yankees (55-46) moved into first place in the division standings.  The Boston Red Sox, who had received disappointing news earlier in the day with the placement of David Price on the DL, fell to the Kansas City Royals, 4-2.  It was the Royals’ ninth consecutive victory.  The Red Sox now trail the Yanks by a half game, while the Rays are 3 1/2 back.

Aaron Judge visited the dentist earlier in the day to temporarily repair his chipped tooth.  He’ll have to make a trip back for permanent work but it was very good to see Judge back out on the field.  I liked the YES Network’s reference to “Babe Tooth”…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The NY Post

A last note about Masahiro Tanaka.  His masterpiece against the Rays follows largely horrific performances on the road against them.  In two games at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL, Tanaka was 0-2 with 20.67 ERA.  Tanaka improved his record to 8-9 and ERA to 5.09 with the victory.  Simply an excellent game by the right-hander.

Odds & Ends…

Robert Refsnyder is expected to return to the Major Leagues today for the Toronto Blue Jays.  The utility man would take the place of Troy Tulowitzki who sprained his right ankle and will undergo further tests.  The thought is that Ref could play some second base while Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney cover short during Tulo’s absence.  All the best to Ref as he tries to make his mark north of the border.

Credit:  James P McCoy-Buffalo News

The division foes are being very active on the trade market this week.  The Rays have been the loudest with their acquisitions of Lucas Duda, Dan Jennings, Sergio Romo and Steve Cishek.  The Baltimore Orioles, only 7 1/2 games back, acquired Philadelphia Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson overnight.  With David Price going on the DL, it will be interesting to see if the Boston Red Sox make any further moves after their acquisition of former Yankees third baseman/infielder Eduardo Nunez.  The Red Sox “say” they are not going to chase down another starter but that remains to be seen.

It was incredible game for outfielder Billy McKinney yesterday as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders crushed the Charlotte Knights, 15-8.  McKinney was 4-for-5 with a double, two triples and a grand slam and a career high 6 RBI’s.  His outfield throw also nailed a runner at home plate in the third inning.  Miguel Andujar, making a statement that he wants to be the Yankees third baseman in 2018, was 2-for-6 with a homer and has raised his batting average to .324 as he continues to feast on Triple A pitching.

Have a great Saturday!  Here’s hoping the Yankees can continue their success against the Rays.  Go Yankees!

Game One Hundred: The Gardy Party…

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Yankees 6, Rays 5…

For the games that the Yankees have lost which they should have won, it’s nice when they win a few that they probably should have lost.  It took extra innings but Brett Gardner ended the long night with a game-winning walk-off home run as the Yankees overcame the Tampa Bay Rays.

Early, it looked like it was going to be the Yankees way.  CC Sabathia was backed by a few runs while the Yankees took the early lead.  They scored first in the second inning.  With one out, Chase Headley singled to right and scored when Jacoby Ellsbury, the $153 million man making his second consecutive start, doubled to left.  Todd Frazier singled to right to score Ellsbury with the second run of the inning.  The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 3rd when Gary Sanchez blasted his 15th homer of the season to left.  It was 3-0 Yankees.

But it started to unravel for CC Sabathia in the top of the 4th inning.  Evan Longoria led off and his numbers against Sabathia were ridiculous.  Prior to the game, Longoria had hit .405 with 7 home runs and 16 RBI’s in 74 at-bats against CC and held a career .355 batting average against the Yankees.  While I was thinking it was probably best not to give Longoria anything to hit, he promptly parked in right center to draw the Rays within two runs, 3-1.  It was Longoria’s 35th career home run against the Yankees. After striking out Tim Beckham in the top of the 5th (Sabathia’s 2,800th career strikeout), Adeiny Hecchavaria and Peter Bourjos hit back-to-back doubles (down the third base and first base lines, respectively) to score another run.  After walking Stephen Souza, Jr, Manager Joe Girardi pulled a visibly disappointed Sabathia (“C’mon, man!”)  and replaced him with Chad Green.  The move backfired as Brad Miller doubled to the right field wall, scoring Bourjos and Souza, Jr.  The Rays were up, 4-3.  

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

With Green still on the mound in the top of the 6th, Corey Dickerson homered with a high fly ball to right center to increase the Rays’ lead to 5-3.  The Yankees had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the 6th inning.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with only one out.  But both Todd Frazier and Tyler Wade struck out against Rays starter Chris Archer to end the inning.  Maybe it was just me, but Tyler Wade looked very over-matched in this game.  

After Tommy Kahnle pitched a clean 7th inning, Dellin Betances came on in the 8th.  He struck out the first two batters but then allowed back-to-back singles.  Fortunately, he was able to retire Adeiny Hecchavarria to get out of the jam.  In the bottom of the 8th, Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley both singled off Rays reliever Dan Jennings (who was acquired earlier in the day from the Chicago White Sox).  The Rays replaced Jennings with Brad Boxberger with the runners at the corners.  Matt Holliday, pinch-hitting for Jacoby Ellsbury, hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Headley at second.  Meanwhile, Gregorius scored to make it a one-run game, 5-4.  Ronald Torreyes was inserted as a pinch-runner for Holliday at first.  Todd Frazier followed with a single, but the Yankees were unable to add any runs when Tyler Wade hit into an inning-ending double play.  I didn’t really understand the decision to pinch-hit for Ellsbury.  I would have pinch-hit for Wade and then used Torreyes to replace him at second.  It’s easy to second guess but Wade seemed like such a little boy among men in the game.

Adam Warren kept the Rays off the board in the top of the 9th and then the Yankees were given a gift in the bottom of the inning.  With Rays closer Alex Colome taking over for Brad Boxberger, Brett Gardner led off with a triple to the left field wall, splitting the outfielders.  After both Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge failed to advance Gardy, Gary Sanchez hit a playable ball between shortstop Adeiny Hecchavarria and second Tim Beckham (“You take it”…”no, no, you take it”) for the game-tying run.  Didi Gregorius grounded out and it was off to extra innings.

Aroldis Chapman took over for Adam Warren in the 10th and easily set down the Rays.  Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge replaced Alex Colome and walked Chase Headley to start the bottom of the 10th.  Ronald Torreyes successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Headley to scoring position at second, but Clint Frazier failed to advance the runner with a fly out.  Tyler Wade came up and it seemed like it would be an unsuccessful at-bat before it even got started.  He was swinging at balls outside of the strike zone and clearly had a death grip on his bat as he struck out to end the inning.

The 11th inning was the perfect scenario for Yankee fans.  Aroldis Chapman came out for his second consecutive inning and struck out the side.  Brett Gardner, the first batter up in the bottom of the 11th, sent the Andrew Kittredge pitch to the right field stands for the game-winner.  Yankees win!

Manager Joe Girardi was ejected from the game in the bottom of the 7th for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Stu Sheurwater.  Girardi was right.  Sheurwater did a horrible job behind the plate and could have potentially altered this game away from the Yankees with his inconsistent calls.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

Tyler Wade was 0-for-5, with three strikeouts.  He also left a game high 7 runners on base.

After the game, Aaron Judge suffered a broken tooth during the on-field celebration for the victory.  It is not believed that the injury will cause any lost playing time for Judge but it was not the way you want to end such a dramatic win.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

The Yankees (54-46) picked up a 1/2 game on the idle Boston Red Sox in the AL East Standings so they only trail by a half game entering play today.  Boston begins a three-game set against the suddenly hot Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park tonight.  The Rays fell 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

Odds & Ends…
This seems to be the trading season for ex-Yankees.  We know that the Chicago White Sox traded former Yankee pitchers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle this month, but this week has seen Anthony Swarzak move from the White Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers; Eduardo Nunez go from the San Francisco Giants to the Boston Red Sox; and John Ryan Murphy traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Last week saw David Phelps travel from the Miami Marlins to the Seattle Mariners.  Justin Wilson is on the trading block, with the Yankees as a possible suitor, so he’ll probably be the next one to move.  Get me an ex-Yankee, dammit!
Speaking of John Ryan Murphy, Twitter blew up today with Yankee fans celebrating the success of the trade that brought Aaron Hicks to New York.  While I appreciate the job Hicks did earlier this year, the fact remains that he was a disappointment in 2016 and his “success” lasted less than half a season before he went for an extended trip on the DL.  I know that Murphy didn’t hit for the Twins or primarily their Triple A team this year, but I still like the player and I am hopeful that he can carve out a nice career in the Sonoran Desert.  I am hopeful that Hicks hits the ground running when he is able to return and if Murphy continues to struggle, then you call the trade a Yankees win.  But for me, it’s still too early to call.
The Tampa Bay Rays acquired one of the Yankees’ potential targets yesterday when they acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the New York Mets.  This probably puts more pressure on the Yankees to swing a deal with Oakland for Yonder Alonzo if they want to upgrade first base and move Chase Headley to corner support.  The Rays have a solid first baseman in Logan Morrison so Duda probably slots in at DH with Corey Dickerson moving to the outfield.  It clearly strengthens their team offense and keeps Duda away from the Yankees who were the only other aggressive suitor for his services.  It was a busy day for the Rays as they also picked up reliever Dan Jennings from the Chicago White Sox.
Have a great Friday!  I hope this day goes my way!  Let’s Go Yankees!

You Can Call Him MISTER Severino…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 9, Reds 5…

All seems to be right in the Yankees Universe once again.  After Manager Joe Girardi voiced that “he’s thrown the best all year for us…call him what you want”, Luis Severino went out and threw another ace-style performance at the Cincinnati Reds as the Yankees swept the two-game series.  

Jordan Montgomery took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Tuesday and settled for a two-hit, one-run performance over 6 2/3 innings.  It was as if Severino said, “that’s great, but I can do better”.  Sevy (7-4) pitched 7 innings for the win, allowing only 3 hits and 2 runs (none earned).  He walked a couple of batters and struck out 9.  For the man who couldn’t win a start in 2016, he is this year’s MVP in the starting rotation.  


Then there’s Didi Gregorius who is hitting everything thrown within 50 miles of him.  Derek Jeter who?  Okay, I jest on that part so as to not offend the DJ fans and his legacy but Didi is simply playing in a higher league right now.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The NY Post

The game started out to be a pitching duel between Severino and Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey.  They traded 0’s for a couple of innings until the Yankees broke through with a run in the bottom of the 3rd.  The Toddfather (Todd Frazier, as if it needs an explanation) got the inning started with a single.  But he was quickly erased when the $153 million pinch-runner, starting in center due to a day off for Aaron Judge in right, hit into a double play.  Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner took matters into their own bats and both singled to put runners at first and second.  The other Frazier (Red Thunder) singled to right to score Torreyes.  The Yankees had the early 1-0 lead.  


In the 5th inning, after the $153 million man flied out for the second out of the inning, Ronald Torreyes, Brett Gardner, and Clint Frazier repeated the third inning formula.  Single, single, single with run scored.  Like the 3rd inning, Gary Sanchez got the final out leaving Gardner stranded.  It was 2-0 Yankees.


Finally in the 6th inning, the Yankees looked elsewhere than Torreyes, Gardy and Red Thunder for runs as Didi Gregorius reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Peraza, subbing for the injured Zack Cozart, and advanced to second.  Chase Headley singed to center to bring home Didi.  3-0, Yankees.  After Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on a force attempt throwing error to second base by first baseman Joey Votto to load the bases.  Frazier was originally called out at second, but the Yankees rightfully challenged the play and it was overturned when it clearly showed that Jose Peraza’s foot was off base when he took the throw from Votto.  Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder to short and was thrown out at first but Headley scored on the play as the Yankees increased their lead to 4-0.


The Reds picked up a couple of runs against Severino in the top of the 7th.  Scott Schebler reached base on a fielding error by Didi Gregorius.  Eugenio Suarez made the Yankees pay for it with a double to left, scoring Schebler.  A wild pitch by Sevy advanced Suarez to third.  Tucker Barnhart grounded out to first, but Suarez scored.  4-2, Yankees.


The Yankees broke the game open in the bottom of the 7th.  Clint Frazier walked and scored when Gary Sanchez doubled to left.  Sanchez advanced to third on the throw.  Matt Holliday singled to left to score Sanchez.  It was 6-2 Yankees and the end of the line for Homer Bailey.  Reliever Tony Cingrani entered the game and was met with a Didi Gregorius home run to right (that’s been happening to quite a few pitchers lately).  Two more runs and it was 8-2.  After Chase Headley lined out, the Toddfather finally crashed the party with his first Yankee home run, a solo shot to left.  It was 9-2 Yankees and it seemed like it would be a coast to victory.

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Enter Luis Cessa.  The first out was easy…a ground out by Billy Hamilton.  The second batter, Scooter Gennett, should have been an out but Gennett reached first after swinging at the third strike, a ball that got past Gary Sanchez due to a wild pitch on Cessa.  Cessa then proceeded to walk Joey Votto which brought up Adam Duvall.  During the at-bat, I was thinking that Cessa had better be careful with the dangerous Duvall at the plate.  Boom, a three-run shot to right and the Reds had closed the gap to 9-5.  Fortunately, after a visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Cessa retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.  I am not sure that I could have been that patient with Cessa.  If I was manager, he probably would have been grabbing his bus seat for the trip to Scranton, PA by the end of the game.  


Girardi made the wise choice to go with David Robertson in the 9th.  1-2-3, game over.  Man, I love having D-Rob back in the fold.  The Yankees win!


The Yankees (53-46) did not make up any ground in the AL East despite the win.  The Boston Red Sox, behind Chris Sale and rookie third baseman Rafael Devers who homered in his first MLB at-bat, beat the Seattle Mariners, 4-0.  The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1.  So, the Yankees remain one game behind the Red Sox and a game and a half ahead of the Rays who departed for the Bronx following their game in Baltimore.


The $153 Million Man was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and was the only starting position player without a hit.  What was it that Joe Girardi said?  He was to take advantage of his opportunities?  Ouch…

Next Up:  Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

The Yankees get back into AL East play this evening at Yankee Stadium.  The third-place Tampa Bays come to town ready to make some noise.  It is the Yankees’ mission to ensure that they leave disappointed.

Credit:  Will Vragovic-Tampa Bay Times

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

THURSDAY

Rays:  Chris Archer (7-6, 3.77 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.44 ERA)

FRIDAY

Rays:  Undecided

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.37 ERA)

SATURDAY

Rays:  Blake Snell (0-6, 4.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Caleb Smith (0-1, 8.10 ERA)

SUNDAY

Rays:  Jacob Faria (5-1, 2.67 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-5, 3.92 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Chance Adams pitched yesterday in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 5-4 win over the Norfolk Tides.  He did not get the decision but went 7 innings, giving up only three hits and two runs.  He had two walks to go with seven strikeouts.  His season ERA stands at 2.39.  The RailRiders won the game, thanks to a two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning by Mike Ford off former Yankees pitcher Matt Wotherspoon.  The Tides got a run off winner Ben Heller in the bottom of the 10th.  

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

Flying to New York on a Positive Note…

All is right in the world again…  

Yankees win and the Orioles do not.  Two to three weeks ago, who would’ve guessed that the Yankees best pitcher would be CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka its worst.  Thanks to CC’s strong performance, the three runs scored by the Yankees in the second inning would be all they needed in the 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  

Despite the run-scoring single by Didi Gregorius and a two-run homer by Brett Gardner, Chris Archer showed why he would be a prime trade target for the Yankees.  He struck out twelve Bombers in 6 1/3 innings but couldn’t overcome CC or the Yanks bullpen.  

The play of the game was Aaron Judge’s diving backhanded catch of a deep fly by Evan Longoria with a runner on base.  If Judge was two inches shorter, he never would have made the catch!  He needed every bit of his 6’7” frame to reach the fly but much to the surprise of Rays base runner Corey Dickerson, who was doubled off first, he did.  

Credit:  Associated Press

Sabathia (4-2) went five innings for the win.  In 95 pitches, he only allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk.  He had six strikeouts.  The Yanks bullpen trio of Chad Green, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances contributed four innings with no hits or runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.  Betances earned his second save since Aroldis Chapman went on the 10-Day DL.

Didi Gregorius was 4-for-4, matching his career high for hits.  Both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday whiffed four times in 0-for-4 days.  

The Yankees (25-16) recaptured first place in the AL East, thanks to Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1, to allow the Yanks to re-take a half-game lead.  

The Tyler Austin Watch…  

In his second game for the AA-Trenton Thunder, Tyler Austin was 1-for-2, a single, in the Thunder’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs.  He played first base and was replaced by Billy Fleming after two at-bats.  The game also saw the AA debut of reliever Jose Mesa, Jr (son of the former major leaguer) for the Thunder.  He pitched three innings with no hits or runs, but did allow two walks while striking out two, in relief of tough-luck loser Yefry Ramirez (6 IP, 4H, 1R/ER, 2BB, and 8SO). 

In related news, Chris Carter was 0-for-3 for the Yankees in Tampa.  If Austin continues to hit and Carter does not, we know how this story is going to end.  Or how it should end.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…  

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees recalled reliever Bryan Mitchell and returned Giovanny Gallegos to AAA.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Speaking of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…

The Yankees top prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, has been elevated to the RailRiders.  In 32 games, Torres hit 5 home runs and drove in 18 runs.  He batted .273 and stole 5 bags.    The 20-year-old, who can also play second and third, is just a stone’s throw away from the Bronx.  Current theory has Torres taking second base for the Yankees when he is ready, with Starlin Castro sliding to third. 

Credit:  Matt Rourke/AP

I cannot say SWB without mentioning righty Chance Adams.  Through two games, Adams is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA.  He has pitched 12 innings, allowing six hits and two runs.  He has walked three batters while striking out eleven.  Adams was the loser in Friday’s 2-1 pitcher’s duel loss to Aaron Slegers and the Rochester Red Wings.

Pitching Match-ups for Yankees-Royals…  

The Yankees are back in the Bronx for a four-game set against the Kansas City Royals, their opponent prior to the just-completed Tampa Bay Rays series.  The Yankees took two of three in Kansas City, losing only the final game of the series.  

TODAY:

Royals:  Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (4-2, 3.42 ERA)

TUESDAY:

Royals:  Danny Duffy (3-3, 2.97 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.81 ERA)

WEDNESDAY:

Royals:  Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.64 ERA)

THURSDAY:

Royals:  Nathan Karns (2-2, 4.17 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56, Yikes!)

Honestly, I would have skipped Tanaka this run through the rotation.  He needs to work on the mental side to get back to the basics to re-establish his splitter and slider.  Karns was a late announcement for Thursday’s game.  The veteran is dealing with forearm stiffness.  If he is unable to go, I’d probably expect to see Chris Young (0-0, 6.85 ERA) filling in.  I seriously hope that we’ll see an improved Tanaka on Thursday but admittedly my glass is half-empty…

 

Have a great Monday!  Let’s make it two in a row!   

Like it or not, here comes the 2015 season…

What’s the plan?…

Well, it’s January 2015.  The Yankees roster is slowly evolving.  The latest addition/return was the surprise re-signing of Stephen Drew which certainly makes sense.  While I still prefer to see Rob Refsnyder win the second base job outright, Drew certainly provides great insurance at both second base and shortstop.  It’s no sure thing that Didi Gregorius will be successful and I’d prefer not to see Brendan Ryan as the only other choice, even if he is a slick fielder.

I am still concerned about the starting rotation.  Reading CC Sabathia say the knee is fine is hardly a ringing endorsement that he’ll be the CC of old.  I think best case he is a strong #3 in the rotation if he is able to come back healthy.  His days as the team’s ace are over…in my opinion.  The hope of the rotation lies with Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda.  Obviously, there are health concerns with both pitchers.  Even though Ivan Nova will return later in the year, I do not expect him to be back up to par until 2016.  Nathan Eovaldi is the project.  The Yankees apparently think they can turn him around and perhaps they can.  It would be good to get him to the point that he is as reliable and consistent as Hiroki Kuroda was.

While I get why the Yankees will not pay $200 million for Max Scherzer, I wish they would make a play for James Shields.  With a rotation containing so much uncertainty, the Yankees really need a dependable starter without question marks.

I have heard some rumblings that the Yankees now have the prospects to make a trade for Cole Hamels, but I am not sure that’s one I would pursue.  I like prospects such as Aaron Judge and Luis Severino and want to see them succeed in pinstripes.  It was tough when I was a kid and the Yankees were always trading youth for veterans.  Doug Drabek, Jay Buhner, Fred McGriff, Al Leiter, J.T. Snow, Brad Ausmus.  I know the list is much longer than this, but it was tough watching guys like that succeed elsewhere.

I don’t think that Cole Hamels would be the missing ingredient to suddenly make the Yankees the World Series favorites.  So, if he is not the difference maker, then the Yankees shouldn’t raid the cupboards to bring him aboard.  I’d rather see Hamels go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The fear of course is that he’ll be calling Fenway Park home next season.

At this point, I still do not see the 2015 Yankees making the play-offs.  I think the Baltimore Orioles will still be the team to beat.  They suffered off-season losses, yes, but they’ll also be getting back Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.  The Toronto Blue Jays look to be the most improved team and they’ve been a team of potential for a few years.  Boston will be stronger, and it’s best to never underestimate the Tampa Bay Rays even if Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman are no longer calling the shots.

There’s still time for GM Brian Cashman to make the moves to propel the Yankees into contention but so much is riding on better seasons from Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Mark Teixeira.  Of the group, McCann is the only one I feel is capable for turning it around.  Beltran and Teixeira are in their decline years, and that slippery slope is steeper for some guys.

Hear the voice of the Bard!…

There’s a nice piece in Nick Cafardo’s column today (Sunday Baseball Notes in The Boston Globe) about the comeback of Daniel Bard.  It would be good to see Bard successfully return to his position of bullpen relevance after years of struggle.  Perhaps that’s a buy low signing the Yankees should pursue.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  There was a time when Bard was a Yankees draft pick although he never signed.  Even if he goes back to Boston or another team, I truly hope that Bard is successful.

Short walk to the Hall…

Congratulations to the Hall of Fame inductees:  John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, and Pedro Martinez.  I think all of the selections were justified.  It was sad that it was the final ballot appearance for Don Mattingly, but it was a given that he was not going to make it.  Maybe he can take the Joe Torre route…great managerial success to go with a strong playing career…to gain access to the Hall.

25 years is long enough…

Put me in the group of people who want to see Pete Rose allowed to enter the Hall of Fame.  He remains one of the best players I’ve been privileged to see play in my lifetime.  This is not an endorsement of Pete the man and I feel what he did was wrong, however, Pete the player was one of the best players of all-time.

I am glad that this is the last full month without any baseball activity.  Looking forward to the opening of spring training camps next month.

–Scott

Waiting for Signs of Life…

How to build an 80-win team…

The Boston Red Sox have gotten stronger with the recent additions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, and most likely, the re-signing of their former ace Jon Lester in the coming weeks.  The Toronto Blue Jays quietly signed catcher Russell Martin (a significant upgrade over Dioner Navarro) and last night, pulled off a major trade for arguably one of the best third basemen in the game in Josh Donaldson of the Oakland A’s.  The cost for Donaldson was Brett Lawrie and prospects.  Given Lawrie’s inability to stay healthy, this trade provides further enhancement for a team that has held promise for a few years.

Lance Iversen, The Chronicle

Then there’s the Baltimore Orioles.  They may not have made any big moves but they are still the AL East champs until proven otherwise.

I am not sure what’s going on with the Tampa Bay Rays.  They will be losing a great potential manager in bench coach Dave Martinez when they finally name a replacement for Joe Maddon and the team no longer has the feeling of eternal optimism that it had when Maddon and former GM Andrew Friedman were running the show.  So, we’ll leave them out of the equation.

So, clearly, the Blue Jays and Red Sox are determined to challenge the Orioles’ hold on the division championship.  Meanwhile, in the Bronx, just crickets…

Last winter, the Yankees were quiet at the beginning of the off-season but then launched a flurry of signings in December that netted Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran.  It was a lot of money, but it still had the feeling the money could have been better spent.  Of course, if the Yankees would have just paid Russell Martin a few years ago rather than allow him to leave as a free agent, the Yankees could have gotten him much cheaper than the deal they signed McCann to (or the one Martin ultimately signed with the Jays).  Ellsbury is a known risk given his injury risk.  He held up fairly well in his first season in pinstripes, and I like having him on the team.  But the truth is the Yankees had a center fielder on the roster at the time in Brett Gardner and would have been better served going after a bat for left field.  Beltran has been a great major leaguer but his age simply does not bode well for staying healthy.

Now, I could write major concerns with Ramirez and Sandoval, but the Red Sox are dealing from a position of strength and have loosened some major league players, combined with quality prospects, to make a major trade to further strengthen the team (such as a move for the Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels).  The Yankees last year were just trying to fill holes.

I am surprised that the Yankees have not been linked in any way with star free agents Jon Lester and Max Scherzer.  Clearly, either one would immediately enhance the Yankees’ chances in 2015.  They need to find answers for other positions (third base, shortstop and the bullpen) but a high end rotation is a must for any team to succeed.  As it stands, there are too many questions with Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow, Michael Pineda’s ability to stay healthy or if CC Sabathia is riding the major downslope of his career.

The Yankees need to sign either Scherzer or Lester, and retain the free agent trio of Brandon McCarthy, Chase Headley, and David Robertson.  With this off-season of inactivity, it feels like the Yankees are going to lose out on all of the above.  At least today, two days after Thanksgiving.

I remain hopeful that Rob Refsnyder wins the second base job in spring training.  As for shortstop, the easiest solution is to re-sign Stephen Drew.  It’s really too bad that the organization was unable to develop a high level shortstop prospect in time for Derek Jeter’s departure.  Jorge Mateo looks like a strong possibility but he’s years away from being ready for the major league level.  So, the Yankees are best served finding a short-term solution like Drew and hope for a bounce back year with a full training camp.  I’d prefer that over a trade that could potentially cost what high level talent the Yankees do have in the upper levels of the minor league system.

If the Yankees do nothing, they’ll be battling the Rays for last place.  If they merely try to fill holes with cheaper alternatives, they’ll still be cellar rats.  Something has to give….soon.

I agree with Hal Steinbrenner when he says that you don’t need a $200 million payroll to win but the Yankees roster as currently constructed is not championship-caliber in my opinion.  Too much risk and uncertainty, and players who’ve seen their better days.  Alex Rodriguez is such a huge albatross and it’s a shame that he is now the “face” of the team.

Hopefully, Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner boys have a plan in place that is driven for success and not merely a bean counter’s approach to fielding a team.

Time will tell, as it often does (as the saying goes)…

–Scott