Tagged: Thunder

Playing “Prevent Defense” in the MLB…

Photo Credit: John E Sokolowski, USA TODAY Sports

What’s more important? Rest or Home Field Advantage…

I really dislike losing winnable games in September. Actually, I hate it anytime but it seems to be magnified in the season’s final month of the regular season. I get the need to balance health while competing with the Houston Astros for best record in the American League, but the Yankees seem to be failing the former and jeopardizing the latter. Last night’s walk-off home run in the 12th inning by Bo Bichette allowed the lowly Toronto Blue Jays to overcome the Yankees for the second walk-off loss by the Pinstripers since last Tuesday night. The balk given up by Adam Ottavino which allowed the Jays to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh was a microcosm of the sloppy play lately.  

Photo Credit: AP

The loss, coupled with a win by the Astros, pulls Houston to within a game of the Yankees for best record and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Yankees are 97-52, while the Astros are 96-53, with an unlucky 13 games to play. If the Yankees fail in either the ALDS or ALCS, I know that I’ll look back on September with much frustration. It kind of feels like a NFL team playing prevent defense to protect a lead which inevitably fails (or so it seems). 

Injuries happen but there’s no doubt the Yankees need to revisit their practices and procedures given the plethora of injuries this year, setting an all-time high for guys on the injured list. I think the one recent injury that really bugs me is the latest groin injury suffered by Gary Sanchez which has potentially cost him the rest of the regular season. If the injury was suffered while catching or running out a hit, it’s one thing but to lose El Gary on a stolen base attempt is ridiculous. Kevin Kernan of The New York Post put it best this morning in his column when he says “Advice to Yankees: Never give Sanchez a green light again in his career.” Agreed! A stolen base attempt is such a high risk play. If the Yankees need Sanchez stealing bases to win games, we’re in trouble. There’s no way I would have had Sanchez running in that situation. I know I have the benefit of hindsight but I truly would have said that before the injury happened.  

I am excited Luis Severino will finally make his season debut next Tuesday when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim visit the Bronx. Not quite sure what to expect as there will be rust despite the rehab appearances in the Minor Leagues but a healthy Sevy is very important for October. There’s no doubt he has the potential of having a ‘Mike Mussina in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS’ moment. I am equally excited about the impending return of Giancarlo Stanton. He is one guy that I hope the team can keep healthy for the duration of the season. With the losses of Edwin Encarnacion, Mike Tauchman, and Gary Sanchez, Stanton’s bat looms large. It would have even if those guys had stayed healthy. Stanton has had more than his share of critics but I know I am not one of them. I am glad Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee and I look forward to his return. Jordan Montgomery is expected to make an appearance during Sunday’s game but I am not expecting much from him. I’ve seen some on Social Media act as though the return of Monty equals the return of an ace. Sorry, but he’s not in the same league as Severino. Sevy is the far more valuable pitcher.  Sevy is also not making a return from Tommy John surgery like Gumby is. I don’t expect #47 to be a factor until 2020 at the earliest despite whatever he is able to do this month. It would be a huge surprise for him to even be on the post-season roster.

Speaking of injuries, I really feel badly for the Milwaukee Brewers. One game out of the NL Wild Card chase after their loss last night, the Brewers suffered a larger loss earlier in the week when superstar Christian Yelich fractured his kneecap and won’t be back on a baseball field until next Spring. 

Photo Credit: Mark Brown, Getty Images

I know, Yankee fans are not going to feel sorry for injuries on other teams, but you can argue that losing a single player hurts the Brewers more than losing what? 30 players has hurt the Yankees. I know, that’s an absurd statement but still, there’s an element of truth to it. Yelich and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers have battled for the potential NL Most Valuable Player Award all season. While Bellinger has been my favorite, I do hate to see Yelich lose out like this. He deserved better and so did the Brewers. I guess Tyler Austin will have to carry the Brew Crew now. Seriously, this does put an incredible amount of pressure on Mike Moustakas to be “the guy”.   

On the subject of injuries, I should also add how horrific it was to see the Blue Jays lose reliever Tim Mayza last night. After a misfired pitch behind the back of Didi Gregorius, who led off the top of the 10th inning, Mayza went to his knees in obvious pain and was escorted off the field. He’ll undergo a MRI to determine the extent of the injury but first (uneducated) guess is a ligament tear. I sincerely hope the injury is not as severe as it appears to be and that Mayza is able to return in 2020. Worst case scenario would mean Tommy John surgery and a lost season ahead. I really hope for Mayza’s sake it is not the case. He had been making the most of his opportunity in the Jays bullpen this season.

Photo Credit: Cole Burston, Getty Images

After the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders bowed out of the International League playoffs against the Tampa Bay Rays’ affiliate, it was great to see the Double A Trenton Thunder grab the Eastern League championship. The Thunder beat the Bowie Baysox, an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles and a team managed by Zack Britton’s brother Buck, in four games to take the five-game championship series. Dellin Betances made an appearance in the deciding game, giving up a sixth inning homer in an inning of work. Luis Severino started and lost Game 2 of the series but it was more of a failure of team defense than Sevy’s pitches that cost them the game. First baseman Chris Gittens and pitchers Clarke Schmidt and Michael King, names we’ll be hearing at Yankee Stadium one day, delivered championship performances for Manager Pat Osborn’s team. Congrats to the Thunder for their highly successful season! 

Photo Credit: Kyle Franko, The Trentonian

Adonis Rosa, who was DFA’d this week when Ben Heller was moved from the 60-day IL to the active roster, cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple A effectively ending his season but at least he remains in the organization. I guess the move didn’t really make a difference to me. There was no way Rosa was going to hold onto his valuable 40-man roster spot after the season and others like Ryan Dull, Cory Gearrin, and Tyler Lyons (who gave up Bichette’s walk-off HR last night) should be ex-Yankees when the big league club concludes its season and moves to protect certain high level prospects in advance of December’s Rule 5 Draft. I prefer a healthy Ben Heller to any of the aforementioned names and look forward to his 2020 contributions. Once the Yankees eliminate Clint Frazier in the off-season, Heller will be the last remaining piece from the Andrew Miller trade.

This has been a disappointing year for the Boston Red Sox but I was still somewhat surprised they fired President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski before season’s end. This action appears to have been inevitable since the Sox and owner John Henry have rebuffed attempts by Dombrowski to extend his contract since Spring Training. The Red Sox are presently ten games out of the AL Wild Card hunt and, barring a miracle, will not see October play. I’ve seen some say it would not be a surprise to see Dombrowski join the Yankees as a consultant given his close friendship with GM Brian Cashman. Nothing against Dombrowski but I don’t really want to see him join the Yankees. I am fearful the Yankees could lose Cashman’s chief lieutenant, Tim Naehring, a former Red Sock player, in Boston’s search for a replacement. But even if the Yankees lose Naehring, I wouldn’t want Dombrowski on my team. Naehring’s status as a candidate for Boston was significantly increased yesterday when the Arizona Diamondbacks extended their GM, Mike Hazen, a long-time Boston employee and the top speculated candidate for the vacancy.  

It’s starting to feel like Joe Girardi will be the next manager of the cross-town Mets or at least it seems that way to me. I always thought Girardi would end up in Chicago but that is not necessarily the case. If Cubs manager Joe Maddon steps down, it seems as though David Ross stands a better chance of getting the job than Girardi. It kind of sucks that we could be watching Girardi in a Mets uniform next season, managing former Yankee great Robinson Cano. I guess if Girardi does join the Mets, he’ll get a firsthand look at how differently the Wilpons run their organization in comparison to the Steinbrenner family. Good luck with that.

As always, Go Yankees!

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All Rise with Thumbs Down!…

Yankees 13, Orioles 5…

It is fun to have these kind of games. After Masahiro Tanaka set down the Baltimore Orioles with seven pitches in the top of the 1st inning, the Yankees offense jumped all over Orioles starter Wade Miley with six runs in the bottom of the inning enroute to the easy victory.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off for the Yankees with a single up the middle. Aaron Judge’s single to center, a fly that dropped in, advanced Ellsbury to third. Gary Sanchez doubled to the left field corner with a hard line drive that scored Ellsbury. Judge moved to third. Matt Holliday recorded the first out on a grounder to third, but Judge, running on contact, scored easily. The hits kept coming as Chase Headley singled to right over the second baseman’s glove, scoring Sanchez. Didi Gregorius lined a single to right, Headley moved to second. Todd Frazier made it a 6-0 game with his blast into Monument Park. End of the night for Miley after giving up six runs while getting only one out. Mike Wright came in for long relief.  Despite a two-out walk to Clint Frazier, Wright was able to get the O’s out of the inning without any further damage.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

The Orioles got a run back when Jonathan Schoop led off the 4th inning with a homer to left, a high fly that momentarily looked foul but stayed in. They threatened for more when Adam Jones followed with a single and Trey Mancini reached base on a fielding error by Todd Frazier, but Masahiro Tanaka struck out sluggers Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo, and was able to get Wellington Castillo to ground into a force play at second to end the inning.

The Yankees quickly answered the call.  In the bottom of the 4th, Clint Frazier reached on a single to center and Jacoby Ellsbury walked. Aaron Judge stepped to the plate and drew the ‘It is high, it is far, it is gone!’ call from John Sterling with his shot to right center.  9-1, Yankees.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Trey Mancini homered in the top of the 6th with one out and no runners on, a fly into the second deck of right field. But like the 4th inning, the Yankees responded. Clint Frazier led off the bottom of the 6th with a double bouncing off the center field wall and Jacoby Ellsbury took another walk. Aaron Judge stepped up again.  While he was batting, I was thinking that his last homer was nice but it wasn’t crushed like we know that Judge can do.  Boom! He made up it for it with a monster blast to the second deck in left to make it a 12-2 game.  While we were still enjoying the thought of Judge’s 43rd homer, Gary Sanchez followed with a home run to center (another ball landing in Monument Park).  It was his 31st homer of the year, setting a new mark for Yankees catchers, breaking a tie with Jorge Posada and Yogi Berra.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

In the top of the 7th, Orioles top prospect, catcher Chance Sisco, recorded his first major league hit with a double to the right field corner off Tanaka.  With runners at second and third, and only one out, Tanaka struck out Anthony Santander and Austin Hays to get out of the inning with no runs allowed. They were the final pitches thrown by Tanaka, who was replaced by Bryan Mitchell to start the 8th.  

I’ve always liked Bryan Mitchell, but this hasn’t been a great year for him.  Trey Mancini led off the 8th with a single to right on a line drive.  Mitchell was able to retire the next two batters on ground outs but Joey Rickard’s double to the left  field wall scored Mancini. Caleb Joseph followed with a double to the right field wall between the outfielders, scoring Rickard. Mitchell was finally able to get out of the inning when he got Tim Beckham to ground out.

Giovanny Gallegos took over for Mitchell in the top of the 9th inning.  Chance Sisco came to bat again after getting his first MLB hit two innings earlier and accomplished another first when he homered to the right field porch leading off.  I suspect that we’ll be seeing more…much more…from Sisco in the future.  The next batter, Anthony Santander, hit a high fly to right that looked like it had a chance for a back-to-back HR but it sailed just to the right of the foul pole.  Gallegos subsequently got Santander to strike out.  He retired the next two batters (great catch of a line drive by Ronald Torreyes at second to end the game), and the Yankees had the win.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox defeated the Oakland A’s, 6-2, to maintain their three game lead over the Yankees (80-66).  The Yankees remained three games up in the Wild Card Standings.  The second-place WC team, the Minnesota Twins, beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-2, in extra innings.  

Masahiro Tanaka (12-11) was the winner.  His final line was 7 innings, 8 hits (a bit high but he did a good job in leaving the runners stranded), 2 runs, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts.  He was also able to lower his season ERA to 4.73.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Sonny Gray was probably wondering why he can never get this type of run support…

Luis Severino (12-6, 2.96 ERA) takes the hill for the Yankees tonight.  He’ll be opposed by Gabriel Ynoa (1-1, 4.19).  Hopefully, the Yankees win and continue to put pressure on the Red Sox.  

Odds & Ends…

It was not a good night for the Yankees top two farm teams.  

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost Game 3 of the Governor’s Cup Finals to the Durham Bulls, 6-2.  Chance Adams took the loss. The Bulls lead the series, 2 games to 1, and can take the championship with a win tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Brady Lail will draw the start and attempt to even the series.

The Trenton Thunder bowed out of the Eastern League Championship Series when they were swept by the Altoona Curve. The Curve defeated the Thunder, 4-2, to win the best-of-five series in three games. Will Carter was the starter and loser.  

Have a great Friday! Let’s have another thumbs-down performance! Go Yankees!

Credit:  YES Network

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!