Tagged: Texas

Saving Private Britton…

Photo Credit: AP (Rich Schultz)

Yanks Overcome Weather & Rangers for the Win…

It was raining and we had a closer with a bum knee on the mound who has shown an inability to consistently throw strikes (recently). A walk, a single, and a hit by pitch had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the ninth inning for Aroldis Chapman. He fell behind the next hitter, Jurickson Profar, on a 3-1 count. With the Yankees leading by two, a misplaced pitch could have brought the Rangers within one and the bases still juiced. Fortunately, the Cuban Missile rose to the occasion and delivered two well-placed four-seam fastballs to send the Rangers back to their NYC hotel on a losing note. Yankees win, 5-3.

Credit to Lance Lynn. I can’t say I was too excited when the Yankees acquired him last month (it felt kinda like ‘Jaime Garcia Revisited’) but this guy has a mental toughness that I did not know or expect. I guess if I had been paying better attention to the St Louis Cardinals the last few years, I would have known but the Cards are not exactly high on my priority list. Lynn didn’t provide the Yankees with length since he was gone after five innings and 99 pitches, but at least he held the Rangers to only one run on five hits. He issued three free passes but at least he struck out eight. If he had given up three or four runs, the Yankees most likely would have lost this game. He may not have gotten the win (thanks to Zach Britton’s meltdown), but he put his team in position to win. That’s all you can ask.

Photo Credit: NY Post (Corey Sipkin)

As for Britton, I am not going to rip the guy. He missed most of the season after rupturing his right Achilles while sprinting during an off-season workout last December. He was still working himself back to form when the Yankees acquired him from the Baltimore Orioles. With the Yankees, his role changed from closer to basically seventh inning setup. The other night, after Chad Green had given up a couple of runs, he placed some of the blame on his role change. The same can be said for Britton. He’s a pro, and he is only a couple seasons removed from being the most elite reliever in baseball before injuries derailed him. I think as he rounds back into form, he’ll give the Yankees the pitcher they thought they were acquiring from the O’s.

Nevertheless, the seventh inning was ugly. After retiring the first two batters, Britton loaded the bases on a couple of hits and a walk. He then walked future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre to cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-2. Exit Britton and enter Dellin Betances. A balk on the big guy tied the game and removed Lynn’s ability to get the win.

There will be better days for Britton. I have faith and confidence he’ll get this right. Although Britton is quick to admit that his troubles have been “self-inflicted”, Manager Aaron Boone remains in his corner (as he should). If the Yankees make it to October, I have no doubt Britton will come up huge.

For most of the season, I’ve been supportive of Gleyber Torres for AL Rookie of the Year over Shohei Otani of the Los Angeles Angels. But yesterday showed the real ROY should be Miguel Andujar. His two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh restored the Yankees’ two-run lead which ultimately gave the Yankees (and ironically Dellin Betances) the much-needed win. 17 homers, 55 RBI, .296/.329/.511, .841 OPS, all those extra base hits. And to think I actually wanted the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier last winter.  ESPN projects Andujar’s final stats to read 24 homers and 77 RBIs with the nearly .300 batting average. Sign me up all day long. That’s better production than we’ve seen out of third base for a long time or before age caught up with Alex Rodriguez.

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Despite the win, the Yankees (73-43) lost a half-game to the Boston Red Sox and now trail the AL East leaders by 9 1/2 games. The Red Sox took two from their 2018 punching bag, the lowly Baltimore Orioles, yesterday and they have Chris Sale on the mound for today’s series finale at Camden Yards. The Red Sox have forgotten how to lose. The Yankees maintained their 4 1/2 game lead on the Oakland A’s and 6 games on the Seattle Mariners in the Wild Card standings.

The return of Chance Adams to Triple A did not go so well. After holding his own against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in his last start, he imploded in Durham, NC against the Bulls. Even though he wasn’t the loser, his final line was enough to keep him away from Yankee Stadium for awhile. 3 1/3 innings, eight hits, seven runs, four walks, two home runs allowed (including one to former Yankee Rob Refsnyder). The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders rallied in the ninth to take the lead but the Bulls won it with a walk-off two run homer by former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Austin Meadows. Meadows, who came to the Tampa Bay Rays organization in the Chris Archer deal, had two home runs on the day.

The Luke Voit acquisition has been a head-scratcher for most of us. I’ve seen the references that he is basically Tyler Austin but with an extra year of control. But he is not really doing anything for me. He has two hits in twelve at-bats for the Yankees and a couple of RBI’s. Meanwhile, Tyler Austin homered on Saturday in his debut with the Minnesota Twins. I haven’t seen anything to lead me to believe Voit deserves a spot on the active roster. With Neil Walker’s ability to play first base, I’d rather see Ronald Torreyes back in the Bronx. Another name that probably deserves stronger consideration over Voit is first baseman Ryan McBroom. The downside, and enough to keep him away from the Bronx, is that he does not have a place on the 40-man roster. McBroom got demoted to Double A when the Yankees acquired Voit, but he was elevated back to the RailRiders when Voit got the call for the Show. Between Double and Triple A, McBroom, acquired from the Blue Jays organization last summer for the aforementioned Rob Refsnyder, has hit .312/.354/.482, .836 OPS. He has 15 home runs and 54 ribbies with his time in Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 26 year-old is much more deserving of the Pinstripes than the weight room junkie Voit.

Photo Credit: Todd Hiller

I’d love to see the Yankees dump outfielder Shane Robinson but that’s not going to happen as long as Giancarlo Stanton is nursing a tight left hamstring that has relegated him to strict DH duties. If the Yankees are not going to trade for outfield help, I can only hope that Clint Frazier gets healthy soon. At this point, I’d prefer Zack Zehner (SWB) or Trey Amburgey (Trenton) over Robinson but that darn 40-man roster will keep them away.

I’ll be heading out to Coors Field soon to watch the Colorado Rockies host Manny Machado and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last night was a tough game to watch. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but with no closer (Kenley Jansen was sent back to LA on Friday night with an irregular heartbeat), the Dodgers bullpen collapsed to set the stage for Rockies rookie infielder Ryan McMahon’s walk-off three-run bomb. So, despite our bullpen woes yesterday, it could have been much, much worse as the Dodger fans will attest. Hopefully today is a better day for the Dodger Blue.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Joe Mahoney)

For the Yankees, they have a chance to take three of four from Texas with a win today. We want a win and we need a win. CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.49 ERA) gets the call. He’ll be opposed by Martin Perez (2-4, 6.15 ERA). Keep Ronald Guzman from crossing home plate and put more runs on the board than the Rangers, that’s all I ask. After the Yankees conclude today’s game, they’ll prepare for a classic pitcher’s duel tomorrow at Yankee Stadium when the New York Mets come to the Bronx for a single makeup game. Luis Severino against Jacob deGrom. It should be a great one. I am really hoping Sevy has put his recent struggles behind him.

Go Yankees!

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Setting Our Sights for the Wild Card…

Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)

Sadly, Boston shows no signs of slowing down…

Just when you think you might be able to trust Masahiro Tanaka, you can’t. Since his return from the disabled list in early July, Tanaka had given up no more than three runs in any start and had only allowed a grand total of six runs in five starts. Yet, on Friday night, he was hammered for six runs including three home runs in the Yankees’ 12-7 loss to the Texas Rangers. When you score seven runs against losing teams, you should win games, not lose them.

Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox overcame an 8-3 deficit to crush the Baltimore Orioles, 19-12.  Boston, 82-35, is on pace to match the Yankees’ historic 1998 season when they won 114 games in the regular season. At their current winning percentage, the Red Sox project to 113 wins. This is not 1978 and the Red Sox are not going to collapse.

Photo Credit: AP (Patrick Semansky)

With Boston’s nine game lead in the AL East, the Yankees are headed for the one-and-out Wild Card playoff game. At the moment, their only competition for the Wild Card is the resurgent Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners. The A’s are only 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees, while the Mariners sit 6 games back.

Oakland has been very aggressive in rebuilding their bullpen in recent weeks. Their closer, former Washington National Blake Treinen, has had a breakout season. He currently has 29 saves to go with a 0.93 ERA in 48 games.  Behind Treinen, the A’s have added former New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia, former Yankees/Nationals reliever Shaun Kelley, and former Minnesota Twins closer Fernando Rodney. For the starting rotation, they’ve added former Detroit Tigers starter Mike Fiers, a target Yankee fans love to hate. None of the names shake fear but it shows the A’s are serious about their Wild Card run. There’s no question they have the talent to beat the Yankees in a one-game do-or-die playoff game.

I wish I could say that I am not worried like The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch can, but I am worried. Sorry Daniel. We knew in the off-season the Yankees needed to add a quality starting pitcher and it didn’t happen. So, the team had to scramble in July to add Lance Lynn and J.A. Happ. Both guys have done fine jobs but neither is going to make a difference when the chips are on the line. When Aaron Judge was lost with the minor bone fracture, it was evident the Yankees needed to add a short-term bat for the outfield. But instead, the decision was made to roll with one of the few healthy outfielders in the system, journeyman Shane Robinson. The Yankees could have easily added a guy like former Yankee Curtis Granderson who would have filled a valuable void. His bat likes Yankee Stadium and has the track record to show it. He may not be the player he was during his Yankee days thanks to the terminal affliction known as aging but he is more than capable of giving the Yankees a supportive bat and a valuable bench player when Judge returns.

The Mariners strengthened their bullpen with the addition of Adam Warren, a guy the Yankees certainly could have used the last couple of games. Warren was the winning pitcher in the M’s 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros last night. The Mariners also benefit from the return of Robinson Cano in a few days. Cano may not be eligible for the post-season but he’ll certainly help the Mariners make the push for October. He’s a valuable late season addition for Seattle. We’ll see if there is rust to shake off but I suspect that Cano will be ready to go.

Photo Credit:  The Herald, Everett, WA (Kevin Clark)

Please do not get me wrong. I like the 2018 New York Yankees. No one expected a historic season from the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees, despite their struggles, have won more games in Major League Baseball than any team other than the Red Sox and the Houston Astros. It is very possible they’ll go into a potential Wild Card game with over 100 wins. My only concern is that GM Brian Cashman could have done a better job (if that is possible). Everyone is so quick to give him credit for his genius but standing back, he’s had his share of misses. I like manager Aaron Boone but there’s no question we’ve paid a price for his inexperience.

I am anxious for the returns of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, but the Yankees need to take care of business now. August is filled with losing teams on the schedule. The Yankees have the potential to have a very successful month despite starting it with a four-game sweep by the Red Sox but they can’t let 52 win teams like the Rangers crush them. Rookie Ronald Guzman looks like the greatest player who ever lived when he feasts on Yankees pitching, having accumulated six home runs already this season. Half of his season total are against the Pinstripers. He was the first rookie to hit three home runs in a game last night against the Yankees. That’s covering many years and players and is the strongest rookie performance against the Yankees since the A’s Reggie Jackson slugged six homers against his future team in 1968. This cannot happen if the Yankees expect to be successful. Ronald Guzman is no Reggie Jackson and the rest of the American League knows it. Apparently, the Yankees pitching staff didn’t get the memo.  To digress slightly, why is A.J. Cole on the MLB roster and Justus Sheffield is not?  Time to add Top Sheff to the 40-man and open a spot on the active roster by punting Cole.

It sounds like we can add Neil Walker to the list of wounded. After last night’s game, Aaron Boone said that Walker tweaked his neck and was dealing with illness. I had wondered why he wasn’t in the lineup or why he wasn’t used to pinch hit but that explains it. As Joe Girardi would say, it’s not what you want. Fortunately, Walker is penciled into today’s lineup (outfield, no less) so hopefully his physical ailments were minor.

I could care less if Jacoby Ellsbury is going to miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for a torn hip labrum. I had not counted on the player and did not want to see his return potentially cost another player a valuable roster spot. As much as I would love for the Yankees to cut bait, the truth is they won’t as long as they can collect insurance on his salary. I get it. I am just ready for the day when the Yankees can finally give him his walking papers.

I was very glad to hear that YES Network analyst Ken Singleton will return for another season after he had announced that 2018 would be his last. There is something so calming and reassuring about Singleton’s voice and his stories are so great to listen to. I’ve long been amazed that a former Yankees enemy (courtesy of his days in Baltimore) could excel calling Yankee games with no bitterness or regret.  He has exuded class and professionalism from the start and I’m glad he’ll be back in 2019 even if he will be carrying a much lighter load. In a season that has seen Michael Kay’s stock drop and Ryan Ruocco’s elevate, Singleton was been a voice of consistency.

I was sorry to see Phil Hughes designated for assignment yesterday by the San Diego Padres. I had hoped the former Yankee would fare better in his native sunny Southern California but it was not meant to be. I’ve always liked the guy and I am hopeful that he can find a good home to make a difference even if it is in relief. I don’t really see a fit with the Yankees, but there are plenty of teams in need of help. I am not ready to see the end of Hughes career so hopefully this is just the next chapter in his book.

I’ll be headed to see Manny Machado and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field in Denver. It should be a fun game. Former Yankee Rich Hill will get the start for the Dodgers. I was in LA last weekend and didn’t get the chance to see the Dodgers play the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium so this is a good consolation prize. Manny remains a guy that I’d love to see the Yankees pursue in the off-season (dump Greg Bird and move Miguel Andujar to first to open third for Machado) and I’ll certainly be cheering for him on Sunday.

Well, time for my voice of pessimism to close. Time for a new Yankees winning streak to start. Can we get another quality start from Lance Lynn? We’ll find out in a few hours. In Rangers starter Drew Hutchison’s last game, he gave up six runs in three innings to the Baltimore Orioles. We can do better.

Go Yankees!

Not So Fun Deep in the Heart of Texas…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Richard Rodriguez)

Yanks lose first series since April…

With leads of 4-0 and later 10-5, you do not really expect to lose, but thanks to multiple pitching failures, the Yankees allowed the Texas Rangers to take the final game, 12-10, and win the series, two games to one. It was the first series the Yankees have lost since the Boston Red Sox took two of three from the Yankees on April 10th through 12th.

I keep hearing “don’t blame Sabathia, he is part of the solution, not the problem” but realistically, he’ll be 38 in a couple of months and he is not exactly a physical specimen. Since he held the Cleveland Indians to three hits and no runs over six innings on May 4th, he has averaged slightly under five innings per start (three starts). He has given up 15 runs (13 earned) in 13 1/3 innings pitched including 4 home runs and 7 walks. If CC wants to be part of the solution, he needs to start pitching better. My current confidence level in Sabathia is nowhere near where it was last year.

Yesterday’s game was a microcosm of the problems with both the starting pitching and the bullpen. Losing the 4-0 lead was bad enough, but there was no reason to blow the subsequent five-run lead. David Robertson did not look good. I have been a huge D-Rob fan but he’s pitching his way out of the Bronx right now. If these struggles continue throughout the season, there’s no doubt the Yankees will let him walk away at the end of the year. Of course, it’s all about cause and effect. Sabathia’s early departures put added and unnecessary pressure on the bullpen.

I am not sure why Aaron Boone tries to get more than one inning out of Dellin Betances. It seems like the second inning for Betances never works out in our favor regardless of how sharp he looks in the first inning of relief. Overall, I’ve liked the job Boone has done, but he hasn’t shown the ability to work the bullpen like Joe Girardi did. Girardi had his critics about his handling of the pen but the results were much better or at least I had more confidence in Joe’s ability. I think Boonie will get there and I am certainly not trying to go down a ‘we should have stayed with Joe’ path. I support Boone and like him as the Yankees manager. I was proud of his use of the f-bomb a few times the other night when he was thrown out of his first game as manager.

There were positives in the Texas series.  Namely, Gleyber Torres is a stud. There is literally nothing that the guy cannot do. He may not be the speediest guy on the team but I swear he wears an “S” on his shirt under the uniform.

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It was hard to watch Robinson Cano leave after the 2013 season via free agency. He had been the Yankees best player and it was great to have such a strong player at second base. Then we had to deal with a series of interim players like Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew.  With no disrespect to Starlin Castro, Torres gives us our first legitimate young superstar at the position since Cano left.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Richard Rodriguez)

Giancarlo Stanton’s numbers may be coming around, but I still trust Aaron Judge more.

Neil Walker keeps showing why he should not be the sacrificial lamb when Greg Bird returns. While I’d like the first base pairing of Bird and Tyler Austin, I still feel that it makes more sense to option to Austin to Triple A.  He’ll be needed again at some point.

Glad to see that Didi Gregorius is starting to warm up again. His slump was the worst of his career following his All-World performance and Player of the Month honors in April. The Yankees need Didi if they expect to contend in October.

I try to keep up with the Yankees farm system but I have to say that I was shocked when reliever Ryan Bollinger was added to the 25-man roster yesterday. My first reaction was ‘who?’. I hadn’t really paid much attention to his minor league free agent signing or the stellar work he has done for the Trenton Thunder this year. Since he is not really a “prospect” anymore at the stage of his career (he is 27 after all), I just viewed him as depth for the minor leagues. Honestly, I do not expect him to stay in the Bronx long, not with the impending returns of Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren. I like what I’ve seen out of A.J. Cole and want him to stick around so it would seem Bollinger will be the odd man out in a few days and a potential DFA candidate if the Yankees need his 40-man roster spot. As for Cole, I’d probably give him a spot start over Domingo German to see what he can do.

Maybe it was because the Yankees were in Dallas, but the past week has brought so much speculation of Cole Hamels to the Yankees at the trading deadline. I do not see it. I like Hamels and I wouldn’t squawk about his presence on the roster.  There are a few guys in the starting rotation that he’d leapfrog. But, realistically, it makes no sense to me. Unless the Rangers are willing to pay significant dollars to pay down his contract, the Yankees would be responsible for the prorated portion of his $22.5 million 2018 salary. The contract has an option for $20 million in 2019. The option becomes guaranteed if Hamels has 400 IP in 2017-18 (he is presently at 206 2/3 innings so he’s unlikely to reach the milestone). The buyout for 2019 is $6 million.  Hamels also has a limited no trade clause that includes the Yankees. So, in order to get the Rangers to pay any dollars toward the contract, the Yankees would have to up the ante in terms of premium prospects. There would be more dollars involved to get Hamels to waive the no-trade. I don’t see how a few months of Hamels would justify the elimination of the majority of the cap space under the luxury tax threshold and the quality prospects that would be lost. Sure, if the Yankees win the World Series as a result, it would be worth it but I just don’t see Hamels as the difference-maker.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Joe Robbins)

I keep hoping the Seattle Mariners start losing now that they’ve lost Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon, but all they’ve done since is win. The M’s are currently riding a five-game winning streak and sit just two games behind the AL West leading Houston Astros. My desire to see the M’s lose is to open their willingness to move James Paxton. However, if they keep winning, there’s no chance.

The best possibility for the starting rotation might be our own Justus Sheffield. He came off the disabled list to pitch four innings of scoreless three-hit ball against the Pawtucket Red Sox yesterday. He struck out five and walked only one batter. Tommy Kahnle may have gotten the win in the 7-1 victory but it was a great limited outing for Sheffield’s return. I personally don’t think we’ll see Sheffield in the Bronx until August or September (if at all this year) but the power to accelerate the time table is certainly within his control. I probably shouldn’t read too much into Sheffield’s fine performance.  Chance Adams threw a one-hitter last week to go with ten strikeouts (to raise my excitement level), yet he followed it up with a stinker against Pawtucket on Tuesday (five runs and three walks in three innings of work).

With last night’s disappointing loss, the Yankees have fallen 1 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Boston wraps up their series with the Tampa Bay Rays today, so they could hold a two-game advantage entering play on Friday. The first half schedule for the Red Sox has been so generous for them.

For the Yankees, I am glad to see the road trip end. With the washout of the games in Washington, they finished the trip with a 3-3 record despite hitting three home runs or more in five straight games for the first time in franchise history. The road trip also included extended flight delays and sleeping at airports. Their flight last night was delayed for mechanical reasons and they didn’t get off the ground this morning until about 5:30 am Eastern. Fortunately, today is an off day, but they’ve certainly dealt with more than their share of adversity this trip. Hopefully, the Yankees will be rested and ready to play when they meet the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium tomorrow night.

Go Yankees!

Sonny Gray, We Found You!…

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Ed Zurga)

Yanks win eighth consecutive Series…

Backed by uncharacteristic run support (at least for him), Sonny Gray finally pitched on Sunday like the guy who was an ace in Oakland. We’ve seen few glimpses of that guy since he became a Yankee last July. I know, it was against one of the worst teams in the American League but it was a great Sonny Gray start. For a game anyway, this warrants a ‘Sonny Gray DOES NOT suck’ from me.  

As you know, I am quick to criticize Gray so I owe it to him to recognize a wonderful performance. Gray (3-3) pitched eight innings, holding the Kansas City Royals to four hits and a single run. He didn’t allow the run until the eighth inning when he was starting to tire. He walked a batter and struck out five in the 10-1 victory. The four homers, including two by Tyler Austin, were fantastic but there was no doubt Gray was the star of this game.

A.J. Cole, in a rare appearance, pitched a clean ninth inning. Sure, he had a big lead but ask the Miami Marlins about holding a big lead in the ninth inning. They had a 9-4 advantage Sunday against the Atlanta Braves (a team many are starting to liken to the 2017 Yankees) and had Brad Ziegler on the mound to close it out. Six runs later, the Braves walked off the field a winner. So, I try to never underestimate a mop up role like the one Cole faced. 

Now for the home runs. Tyler Austin is making a very convincing case to stay with the Major League club despite the impending return of Greg Bird. I’ve felt all along Austin is the most susceptible for a demotion to Triple A to make room for Bird. Even with his two home runs on Sunday, I still think he’ll be the odd man out since he has options remaining. The Yankees aren’t getting rid of Ronald Torreyes and I don’t see them cutting bait with Neil Walker. Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media speculated this morning that the Yankees will DFA Walker and trade him for a minor leaguer to use the remaining balance of his $4 million contract at the trading deadline (in addition to the space they already have) to open a spot for Bird. I suppose he may be right but I have liked the versatility Walker brings and he has hit better of late. But I have to admit that a tandem of Bird-Austin at first base is a bit scary (in a good way).    

Photo Credit: The Kansas City Star (John Sleezer)

Miguel Andujar and Austin Romine tacked on solo homers in the ninth which did more to help their personal statistics than the team’s result.

Yankees Twitter was aghast before the game when the lineup was posted. Many had expected to see Gary Sanchez at DH, Didi Gregorius at short, and Clint Frazier in left. Instead, Giancarlo Stanton was the DH, Brett Gardner in left, and Ronald Torreyes was the shortstop for the second day in a row. I understood the move with Sir Didi who is mired in a 1-for-45 slump. Nothing against the great Brett Gardner, but I would have preferred to see Red Thunder in left. But at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. The Yankees cranked out fourteen hits with Aaron Boone’s lineup to power the offense.  

Nice job by Austin Romine. During the off-season, so many Yankees fans (maybe even me) wanted the Yankees to sign Alex Avila to replace Romine as the backup catcher. Yesterday, Romine had perhaps his greatest game as a Yankee. He was 3-for-5 with two RBI’s. He had a run-scoring single in the fourth inning in addition to the ninth inning dinger. It’s worth noting that Romine is batting .326 in 48 plate appearances with the homer and nine RBI’s, while Avila is only batting .132 with two homers and four RBI’s in nearly twice as many plate appearances and has opened the door for more playing time for former Yankee John Ryan Murphy with the Snakes.   

It was great to see the Yankees dominate two consecutive games against the lowly Royals after Friday night’s disappointing loss. It had been a very tough week for the Yankees with the rainouts in Washington, D.C. It was not surprising they played sluggishly in their only loss in the Royals series, but I was glad to see that it lasted only one game before they were back in expected form.  

The lone disappointment yesterday was the option of outfielder Clint Frazier to Triple A after the game. I know, it was inevitable. It was a numbers game and Frazier is better served by playing every day for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He’ll head to Pennsylvania and await the next call to Yankee Stadium. It’s not what you want (to borrow Joe Girardi’s line), but Frazier is only an injury away from returning. 

The Yankees now head to Dallas/Fort Worth to face the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have under-performed this year (18-30) but they are generally a handful for the Yankees. The first two games of the series feature Yankees Past and what could be Yankees Future. Today, the Yankees will face a former Yankee in the ancient Bartolo Colon while Tuesday features 2009 World Series foe Cole Hamels, whose name has been mentioned as a possible trading deadline candidate for the Yankees. There are other trade candidates I’d like to see over Hamels, but he is a proven veteran arm. After the Yankees finish the three game series in Texas, they’ll head back to the Bronx to meet up with Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a series that starts Friday night.

David Hale just keeps coming back like a bad penny. I really thought we’d seen the last of Hale when he was designated for assignment for the second time this year by the Yankees. When he elected free agency after his most recent DFA, I felt sure he’d go elsewhere. It was not to be as Hale signed another minor league deal with the Yankees and will head to Scranton, PA to join the starting rotation for the RailRiders. His addition led to the release of former Yankees prospect Daniel Camarena. I had hoped for better results from Camarena who had been re-acquired from the Chicago Cubs earlier this year after signing a minor league free agent contract with the Cubs in the off-season. But a 2-3 record and 5.08 ERA (44 hits and 20 walks in 39 innings) led to Camarena’s second exit from the organization. I wish him the best with his next opportunity.  It’s unfortunate he was unable to realize his dream in Pinstripes.

Speaking of the RailRiders starting rotation, their latest addition (besides Hale) is prospect Erik Swanson. Swanson’s name hasn’t really been mentioned much since he was acquired in the trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Texas Rangers a couple of seasons ago. Dillon Tate was the more highly regarded name in the trade, but Swanson is the minor league pitcher of the moment. The guy has been sensational in Double A this year. The 24-year-old righty started six games for the Trenton Thunder, winning five with no defeats. He has given up a paltry two earned runs in 40 2/3 innings (0.44 ERA) while striking out 52. He has only allowed 12 walks. The superb performance led to his recent promotion to Triple A. In an organization with so many talented young prospects, Swanson has illuminated his name.

Photo Credit: Martin Griff, via Pinstriped Prospects

The Yankees did so well with the 2016 trades of Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, they are generally recognized as the trades that highlight the genius of GM Brian Cashman. Nevertheless, the returns for Beltran (namely Swanson and Tate) and Brian McCann (Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman, who helped bring Giancarlo Stanton to New York) were spectacular.  Cashman and Company were certainly well prepared when they made those “under-the-radar” trades that opened roster space for younger, more talented players.

Unfortunately, the Boston Red Sox keep winning so the Yankees and Sox remain tied atop the AL East although the Yankees (30-13) continue to hold a slight advantage in winning percentage.  New York is at .698 while the Red Sox (32-15) are .681.  Boston is off today so the Yankees could pick up a half-game to take sole possession of first place or they could lose to fall into second place.  With 119 games to play, I suppose it does not really matter either way in the grand scheme of things but I always prefer to see the Red Sox in the rear view mirror.

Credit: Frank Galasso Illustration

Go Yankees!

Dueling Dingers by All Rise & The Kraken…

Credit:  Larry W Smith-EPA

Yankees 16, Rangers 7…

Given it was the opening weekend for the NFL, I guess it was appropriate for the Yankees to win using a football score. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both homered twice to power the Yankees to the series-clinching win over the Texas Rangers.  

The Yankees didn’t waste any time getting on the board. With two outs in the bottom of the 1st inning, Gary Sanchez hit a long home run to left center, a solo shot that traveled 412 feet, off Rangers starter A.J. Griffin for the early 1-0 lead.  It was El Gary’s 29th homer of the year.  

Credit:  Larry W Smith-EPA

The Rangers got the run back in the bottom of the 2nd when catcher Robinson Chirinos took Jordan Montgomery deep with a solo shot of his own to the right field bleachers.

Brett Gardner led off the top of the 3rd with a single to left past a diving Joey Gallo. After Chase Headley flied out to center for the first out, Gary Sanchez was hit by a pitch on the back of his shoulder to put runners at first and second. A double to the wall in right by Didi Gregorius scored Gardner with the go-ahead run, while Sanchez moved to third.  Starlin Castro reached base when he hit into a fielder’s choice at third. Third baseman Joey Gallo made the decision to try and tag Sanchez who started toward home but turned back. Sanchez beat Gallo back to third so all runners were safe. Aaron Judge followed with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Sanchez. It was 3-1 Yankees.

With A.J. Griffin still on the mound for the Rangers, Jacoby Ellsbury was hit by a pitch leading off the top of the 4th.  Austin Romine lined a single to left, moving Ellsbury to second. That was all for Griffin as the Rangers brought in reliever Nick Martinez.  Brett Gardner greeted Martinez with a triple to the center field wall which scored Ellsbury and Romine. Chase Headley’s single to center through the drawn-in infield scored Gardy. Gary Sanchez doubled down the left field line, advancing Headley to third. Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring Headley.  Sanchez moved to third. Starlin Castro hit into a double play at short, with the Rangers recording the outs at second and first but Sanchez scored.  Aaron Judge was next up to take swings against the Yankees-friendly Martinez.  He blasted a solo home run to center, his 40th of the year.  It was 9-1 Yankees and the end of Martinez’s enjoyable stay. Texas brought in reliever Yohander Mendez to replace Martinez and he retired Greg Bird on a pop out in foul territory to end the inning.  

In the bottom of the 4th, Jordan Montgomery walked the first two batters he faced (Robinson Chirinos and Joey Gallo). After striking out Rougned Odor, Montgomery gave up a run-scoring double to left over the head of Brett Gardner by Ryan Rua. Gallo moved to third.  Monty was removed at that point, failing to get the additional two outs he needed to qualify for the win.  Chad Green came in and surrendered a sacrifice fly to center by Delino DeShields which scored Gallo to make it 9-3. Green then struck out Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning, leaving Rua stranded at third.  

The Yankees added to their lead in the 5th. Doubles to right by both Jacoby Ellsbury and Austin Romine had runners at second and third. After Brett Gardner grounded out to first, Chase Headley hit a grounder to third but the ball bounced off Joey Gallo’s glove. Shortstop Elvis Andrus got to the ball but he became distracted with Jacoby Ellsbury at third and had no play. The bases were loaded.  Gary Sanchez flied out to right field in foul territory for the second out.  Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring both Ellsbury and Romine, but he was caught off first base by the throw from the outfield for the final out. The Yankees had increased their lead to 11-3.

Credit the Texas Rangers for refusing to roll over.  They led off the bottom of the 5th with a double to center by Elvis Andrus.  Mike Napoli’s single to left scored Andrus to make it 11-4. Green retired the next three batters to move the game to the top of the 6th.

After Starlin Castro grounded out to start the 6th, Aaron Judge blasted a long home run to left center that traveled 463 feet for his second HR of the game and 41st of the year.  12-4, Yankees.

Credit:  Larry W Smith-EPA

Gary Sanchez led off the top of the 8th with his second long home run of the game. The shot to center off Rangers pitcher Tyson Ross, which fell two feet short of Judge’s last blast, was El Gary’s 30th of the year and it increased the Yankee lead to 13-4.

Dellin Betances took over for Tommy Kahnle to start the bottom of the 8th.  Kahnle had relieved Green with two outs in the bottom of the 6th and had kept the Rangers off the board. Betances was not so lucky.  He started off right by striking out Drew Robinson but then proceeded to walk Ryan Rua and Delino Deshields.  Shin-Soo Choo took advantage of Dellin’s control problems by hitting a two-run double to right center to make it 13-6. It must have served as a wakeup call for Betances as he struck out the next two batters to end the inning.  

On to the 9th. Tyson Ross was still on the mound for the Rangers and he walked Jacoby Ellsbury to get things started. Austin Romine singled to left, with Ellsbury moving to second.  Tyler Wade singled to center to score Ellsbury.  14-6, Yankees, with Romine moving to third.  Up to the plate strolled Erik Kratz, pinch-hitting for Gary Sanchez and making his first official at-bat for the Yankees. His double to deep left center scored both Romine and Wade to make it a 16-6 game. Welcome to the Pinstripes, Mr Kratz!  That hit may have earned you a free, all-expenses paid trip to New York City.  

The bottom the 9th brought out Caleb Smith to relieve Betances. Smith retired the first two hitters on pop outs, but then he walked Brett Nicholas, who had the only Rangers hit in Saturday’s game against Luis Severino. Drew Robinson hit a long fly ball to deep left that fell in against the wall to score Nicholas to make it 16-7. Smith recovered and struck out Ryan Rua to end the game.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images

The Yankees (77-65) pulled back to 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox with the win. Boston lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-1. The Baltimore Orioles trail the Yankees by 6 1/2 games after falling to the Cleveland Indians, 3-2.  It was Cleveland’s 18th consecutive win. The Rays trail the Yankees by 7 games. The Yankees also increased their Wild Card lead over the Minnesota Twins to 3 1/2 games. The Twins were defeated 11-3 by the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. The Los Angeles Angels are a game behind the Twins following their 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.  

Chad Green (4-0) picked up the win in relief of Jordan Montgomery.

Aaron Judge is only the second rookie in MLB history with at least 40 home runs. Mark McGwire holds the record with 49 in 1987. Judge also set the MLB record for most walks by a rookie when he walked for the 107th time in the 2nd inning. Didi Gregorius tied a career high with four hits, and same with Gary Sanchez in scoring four runs. The Yankees had 18 hits in total, ten of which were for extra bases.  

Next Up:  Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field, Flushing Meadow (Queens), New York…

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with all affected by Hurricane Irma. It must be very tough for the Rays to be on the road while friends and family are dealing with the impact of the hurricane in Florida. It’s unfortunate that the Rays are unable to play this series on their home turf and we wish them  and their families the very best as they deal with the aftermath of the disaster.  

For the games on the field, here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.91 ERA)

Rays:  Jake Odorizzi (8-7, 4.58 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (9-9, 3.22 ERA)

Rays:  Blake Snell (3-6, 4.36 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-2, 4.88 ERA)

Rays:  Chris Archer (9-9, 4.00 ERA)

Wednesday’s game looks to be a bit of a mismatch so hopefully the Yankees can take at least the first two games.  

Odds & Ends...

Congratulations to the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders! They won their best-of-five International League Division Series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies) with a 1-0 victory on Sunday.  Nestor Cortes got the win with seven strong innings. He held the IronPigs to five hits and no runs. He walked a batter and struck out eight. Nick Rumbelow worked out of trouble in the 9th after two singles to record the save. He struck out Dylan Cozens to end the game and preserve the shutout win.  The RailRiders scored their only run in the 7th inning on a home run by Mike Ford.

The RailRiders will advance to the best-of-five Governor’s Cup Finals to play the Durham Bulls (Rays). The series begins Tuesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC.  

The Yankees activated 1B Garrett Cooper from the DL and optioned him to the RailRiders. He had been on a rehab assignment with the Trenton Thunder. The Yankees are also expected to activate OF Clint Frazier sometime this week. He has also been on a rehab assignment with Trenton.  The Thunder will begin play in the Eastern League Championship Series on Tuesday.

Have a great Monday! The Yanks may still be on the road but they are back in NYC!  Go Yankees!  

No Hits For You — Well, Maybe One!…

Credit:  Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images

Yankees 3, Rangers 1…

Luis Severino was spectacular on Saturday as he combined with two relievers to one-hit the Texas Rangers. Sevy didn’t get the win, but he was masterful a day after Masahiro Tanaka’s implosion. Manager Joe Girardi went with the “A” team for the bullpen, using David Robertson (the winner) and Aroldis Chapman (the save).  

Brett Gardner kicked off the game with a single to left.  However, the Yankees came up empty when Chase Headley hit a sharp fly to center that Gardy thought was going to drop in.  He took off for second and thinking the ball would fall, he accelerated for third. Unfortunately, Rangers center fielder Carlos Gomez made a great catch. There was no chance for Gardy to get back to first so the Rangers were able to complete the easy double play.  Gary Sanchez popped out to short so it was time to start the Luis Severino Show.

The Yankees came up with a great defensive play of their own in the bottom of the first when Jacoby Ellsbury, echoing shades of his younger self, recorded the final out with a diving catch to rob Elvis Andrus of a hit.  The play received an ovation from Severino on the mound.

In the bottom of the 2nd, the Rangers’ Carlos Gomez had to be helped off the field during an at-bat when he rolled his right ankle after hitting a grounder to second and suffered a high ankle sprain.

Through the early innings, Severino was cruising but unfortunately so was Rangers starter Andrew Cashner.    The Yankees threatened again in the top of the 3rd when Brett Gardner hit a two-out single to left.  Chase Headley singled to right to put the runners at the corners, but Gary Sanchez went down swinging to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 5th, with the Rangers still searching for their first hit against Severino, Joey Gallo walked to start the inning for the Rangers.  Will Middlebrooks hit into a fielder’s choice at third and the Yankees erased Gallo at second but they were unable to turn the double play.  Rangers backup catcher Brett Nicholas, starting in place of Robinson Chirinos who had the day off, doubled to the right field corner to score Middlebrooks.  It was the only hit the Rangers would get off Severino and the Yankees bullpen for the duration of the game.  

Luis Severino pitched through the 7th inning but the Yankees still trailed 1-0.

In the top of the 8th with Andrew Cashner still on the mound for the Rangers, Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch.  That would be all for Cashner, who did a magnificent job.  The Rangers brought in Alex Claudio to replace Cashner.  The Yankees sent up Matt Holliday to pinch hit for Greg Bird.  Holliday singled to right and Frazier moved to third.  Tyler Wade replaced Holliday at first.  After Brett Gardner fouled out to the catcher, Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly deep to center to score Frazier.  The game was tied.  Gary Sanchez singled to left past shortstop Elvis Andrus, moving Wade to second.  However, the Yankees were unable to capitalize when Didi Gregorius grounded out to the defensive shift at short/second to end the inning.

David Robertson pitched a clean bottom of the 8th to send the game to the 9th.

With Alex Claudio still pitching for the Rangers, Starlin Castro led off the 9th with a single to right.  Aaron Judge hit a grounder to third and the throw erased Castro at second.  The Rangers were unable to turn the double play when the relay to first pulled Joey Gallo off the bag so Judge was safe.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to right which advanced Judge to third.  The Rangers replaced Claudio with Ricky Rodriguez.  Todd Frazier was hit by pitch, again, so he took first and Ellsbury moved to second.  The bases were loaded.  Tyler Austin, who had entered the game in the bottom of the 8th to replace Bird, singled to left on a hard hit ball which brought Judge home with the go-ahead run.  

Credit:  Larry W Smith-EPA

Brett Gardner was unable to advance the runners when he popped out to short.  It brought Chase Headley to the plate with the bases still packed.  He patiently took a walk which brought Ellsbury home with the second run of the inning.  The Yankees led 3-1. The Rangers made another pitching change to bring in Nick Gardewine. Gardewine ended the Yankees rally by getting Gary Sanchez to hit into a fielder’s choice which forced Headley at second.  

Bottom the 9th and the heart of the Rangers order due up.  It was time for the return of Aroldis Chapman to his endeared role as the Yankees closer.  He did not disappoint.  After Elvis Andrus grounded out to second (Starlin Castro’s brilliant throw to first just beat the runner as confirmed by the challenge replay), Chapman struck out both Nomar Mazara and pinch-hitter Mike Napoli to end the game.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees (76-65) were unable to make up any ground on the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox, behind Chris Sale, dismantled the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-0, and maintained their 4 1/2 game lead over the Yankees.  The Cleveland Indians won their 17th game in a row.  Their 4-2 victory over Baltimore pushed the O’s 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  

It was an incredible effort by Luis Severino.  He pitched seven innings, allowing only the single hit and run.  He walked three and struck out ten.  The outing lowered his season ERA to 2.96.  David Robertson (7-2) picked up the win and Aroldis Chapman captured his 17th save.  

For the Yankees offense, they had nine hits but all were singles.  Brett Gardner (2-for-5) was the only hitter with multiple hits.  Chase Headley had 2 RBI’s and Tyler Austin had the crucial game-winning RBI in the 9th.  

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have a change in the pitching match-up for today’s game.  Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.14 ERA) will start in place of CC Sabathia, who was moved to Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field in Queens.  A.J. Griffin (6-5, 5.09 ERA), who had originally been scheduled to pitch on Saturday until Andrew Cashner was moved up, will start for the Rangers.  The Minnesota Twins lost so they are 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings (holding the 2nd spot).  The Los Angeles Angeles and Texas Rangers are 2 and 2 1/2 games behind the Twins, respectively.

The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders won Game 3 of their Governor’s Cup best-of-five first round series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies).  The 6-1 win, behind the arm of Brady Lail, gives the RailRiders the 2-1 series advantage. Donovan Solano was 3-for-4 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Mason Williams was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Billy McKinney homered for the second time in the series with a two-run shot in the 6th inning.

Credit:  Fred Adams-for Times Leader

Game 4 is scheduled for today at 1:05 pm at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  Nestor Cortes (2-4, 1.49 ERA) takes the mound in the potential series-clinching game.  he’ll face Jacob Waguespack (9-7, 3.42 ERA in A-Adv and AA this year).

The Double A Trenton Thunder crushed the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets), 9-1, in Game 4 of their Eastern League Division Series to win the series and advance to the Eastern League Championship Series.  They’ll face the Altoona Curve (Pirates) with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday night at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, NJ.  

As expected, the Yankees signed 16-year-old Dominican shortstop prospect Ronny Rojas.  The Yankees have long been tied to the youngster but he didn’t turn 16 until August 23rd.  Rojas was rated as the eleventh best unsigned international prospect earlier this summer by MLB.com.  He is the highest rated Yankees signing behind OF Everson Pereira, who was rated fourth.

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s take this series and head for NYC!  Go Yankees!

Battle of Little Bighorn II, Texas-Style…

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press

Rangers 11, Yankees 5…

It felt like the Battle of Little Bighorn but unfortunately the Yankees were Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry Regiment. I had hoped the momentum from Thursday’s win over the Baltimore Orioles would carry over to Friday night in Texas.  Yeah, right.  The Yankees were unable to hold a lead against the Rangers and then were overwhelmed in defeat.

The game started right when the Yankees broke through with multiple runs in the top of the 2nd inning.  It can be argued that they should have scored more runs in the inning but still, you’d think a 4-0 lead with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound represented good odds.  

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press

The inning started with Matt Holliday’s single up the middle to center field.  Didi Gregorius reached base on a fielder’s choice but a throwing error (flip wide of second) by Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor failed to force Holliday at second so two runners on and no outs.  Chase Headley lined a single to right and the bases were loaded.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to right just over the head of a leaping Odor and Holliday scored the game’s first run.  Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch (left front foot) from Rangers starter Martin Perez which brought Gregorius home to score.  After a coaching visit to the mound, Perez struck out Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge.  Gary Sanchez, in his first game back after the three-game suspension, hit a single to left through the hole at short.  Headley and Ellsbury both came home to score, but Todd Frazier was tagged out at third to end the inning.  4-0, Yankees.  

Credit:  Associated Press

In the bottom of the 2nd, Masahiro Tanaka fell behind lead-off hitter Nomar Mazara on a 3-1 count. Mazara found the pitch he wanted and sent it high into the second deck in right.  Tanaka was able to retire the next three hitters, the last two by strikeout.  

On to the 3rd.  Starlin Castro reached base on a fielding error by third baseman Joey Gallo when the ball glanced off his glove into left field.  Matt Holliday hit into a double play which was unfortunate because Didi Gregorius followed with his 21st home run (a high fly to right).  The solo home run is a new career high for Didi.  The Yankees were up, 5-1.  

From there, the Rangers started to chip away.  In the bottom of the 3rd, Robinson Chirinos hit a one-out single to center past a diving Didi Gregorius.  Delino DeShields doubled down the left field line into the corner, scoring Chirinos.  After Shin-Soo Choo lined out to center for the second out, with DeShields moving to third, Elvis Andrus doubled down the left field line, a high hop over Todd Frazier’s glove, to score DeShields.  A wild pitch advanced Andrus to third, but Tanaka was able to strike out Nomar Mazara to end the inning.  Yankees still led, 5-3. 

The Yankees had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 4th inning but Starlin Castro popped out to second baseman Rougned Odor in shallow right to waste a huge opportunity.  

After the Yankees went down quietly in the top of the 5th, the Rangers struck hard.  Rougned Odor got it started with a single to right.  Robinson Chirinos doubled down the left line, scoring Odor from first.  It was a one-run game.  Delino DeShields singled to left, moving Chirinos to third.  With Shin-Soo Choo at the plate, a wild pitch by Masahiro Tanaka (low pitch that got under El Gary’s glove) freed Chirinos to come home and score the tying run.  Choo doubled  to left on a high fly that Brett Gardner almost caught but he “heard” the wall. DeShields moved to third. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough of Tanaka and made the switch to bring in Tommy Kahnle.  Elvis Andrus greeted Kahnle with a single to right, scoring both DeShields and Chirinos.  Starlin Castro tried diving for the ball but came up just short.  The Rangers had taken a 7-5 lead.  Kahnle induced Nomar Mazara to hit into a double play, but a single to center by Carlos Gomez ended his latest appearance.  Chasen Shreve came in and struck out Joey Gallo to finally end the painful inning.

While the Yankees were unable to get anything going offensively against Martin Perez and the Texas bullpen, the Rangers struck again in the bottom of the 7th inning to put the game away.  It was the kill shot to Custer’s head.  With Caleb Smith taking over for Shreve, Shin-Soo Choo singled to left.  While Elvis Andrus was batting, Smith threw a wild pitch that bounced in the dirt past Gary Sanchez and Choo advanced to second.  Andrus subsequently walked.  Nomar Mazara’s hard single to  the right field wall loaded the bases, bringing an end to Smith’s stay.  Ben Heller entered the game in relief of Smith and the Rangers inserted pinch-runner Jared Hoying at first for Mazara.  Carlos Gomez hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Choo.  With Joey Gallo batting, Heller threw the second wild pitch of the inning (smh) and Andrus moved to third, beating the throw from Gary Sanchez.  Gallo’s single to right scored Andrus.  Hoying moved to second.  Heller got the second out of the inning when he struck out Mike Napoli. However, Rougned Odor’s bases-clearing triple to right increased the Rangers’ lead to 11-5.  Heller’s subsequent walk of Robinson Chirinos ended his unsuccessful appearance.  Bryan Mitchell came in to finally end the inning, but the bloody massacre had been completed.  

The Yankees went down meekly from there, including three strikeouts in the top of the 9th, sending the Rangers into celebration on the field.  

Credit:  Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

This was a very ugly loss.  It had started to feel that Masahiro Tanaka was back on track after his struggles earlier in the season but this game reopened doubts.   It was the kind of game that makes one hope that Tanaka opts out of his contract at the end of the year.  But of course the bullpen did him no favors, nor did the team’s hitters.  Michael Kay made a good observation about why Joe Girardi would go with second tier relievers when the game was still tight.  I wondered the same thing when they brought in Caleb Smith who was followed by Ben Heller when Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson were rested and ready in the pen.  

Sadly, the Boston Red Sox throttled the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-3, to increase their lead in the AL East to 4 1/2 games.  The Yankees (75-65) maintained their 4 1/2 game edge over the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s were the latest victim of the Cleveland Indian’s winning streak which now stands at 16 games (MLB’s longest streak since 2002).  The Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-5, to move within 1 1/2 games of the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.   

Odds & Ends…

As a result of Hurricane Irma, the Yankees’ series with the Tampa Bay Rays this week (Monday through Wednesday) will be played at Citi Field in Queens instead of Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL.  There had been speculation that the games would be played in Chicago but it makes sense to use the Mets’ turf since the Rays are currently in Boston and most of he players are traveling with their families due to the impending storm in Florida. Lucas Duda at home in Citi Field…has a certain ring of deja vu to it.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Austin Romine’s original two-game suspension for the Motor City Brawl has been reduced to one game (last night).  I am glad the suspensions are behind us. Erik Kratz, thanks for riding the bench and please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders evened their play-off series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at one with a 4-2 victory last night.  Chance Adams was the winner.  He pitched five innings, allowing five hits and two runs.  He walked too many (four) but struck out five.  The hitting stars were Miguel Andujar (3-for-5 with two doubles and a RBI) and Mason Williams (2-for-4 with three runs scored).  Game 3 is tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  Brady Lail (6-5, 5.17 ERA) gets the start for the RailRiders.

The Double A Trenton Thunder pulled off a rare feat when Justus Sheffield and Taylor Widener combined for a no-hitter to beat the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in Game 3 of their play-off series.  The Thunder lead the Eastern Division Championship Series, 2 games to 1.

Have a great Saturday!  I’m hoping y’all get a win down deepinaharta Texas! Go Yankees!