|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports|
Losing to Boston is ALWAYS unacceptable…
It was just a meaningless Spring game but I hate, really despise, losing to the Boston Red Sox. The game proves nothing regarding the American League East or the nineteen games the two teams will play in the regular season. Yet, I do not enjoy watching the Red Sox walking off the field in celebration under any circumstances. TGP’s Daniel Burch, who has been in fine prediction mode lately, feels that the Yankees will win the AL East by four games over the Red Sox. I hope he’s right. I would love nothing better than the Red Sox Nation in full anxiety and dread at the end of the season despite their flashy new toy (J.D. Martinez).
On Friday, the Red Sux (oops, sorry for the typo) blanked the Yankees, 5-0, behind starter Brian Johnson. Johnson, 27, a lefty, pitched 4 2/3 innings and held the Yankees, which featured Aaron Judge batting leadoff for the “Stripers” (Boone’s word, not mine), to only two hits while striking out five. After the game, Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced that Johnson had made the Opening Day Roster and will be in the starting rotation. Johnson has been solid all Spring (and is out of options) but beating the Yankees convincingly certainly helps one’s case.
The scare of the game occurred when Johnson hit Brandon Drury with a pitch in the fifth inning. The ball came in high and inside, striking the Yankees third baseman above the left elbow. He seemed to shake it off and took first base. But after Neil Walker ripped a ground rule double to left, moving Drury to third, he departed the game for a pinch runner after realizing the arm was swelling. Test results after the game proved negative so hopefully Drury will be back within a few days and will not miss Opening Day.
|Photo Credit: The New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
Later in the day, Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants showed how quickly you can lose one of your star players. MadBum took a liner off the hand which broke the fifth metacarpal of his pitching hand and will miss 4-6 weeks. It reinforced how lucky the Yankees were in not losing Drury for an extended period. No time frame for Drury was given but for now he’s day-to-day. This morning, Drury said that he is feeling better but will take a rest day. His plan, assuming all goes well, is to resume baseball activities tomorrow. His intent is to be ready for Opening Day.
The Yankees play split squad games today against the Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves and the scheduled third base starters are Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade, respectively. Drury had been scheduled for the Blue Jays game but the Yankees pulled Andujar out of Minor League camp to make the start.
The Yankees continued reducing the roster yesterday in the ‘March to 25’. Luis Cessa, who has certainly lost my support (as if that matters to Aaron Boone), was optioned to Triple A and left-handed reliever Wade LeBlanc was provided his release. With the elimination of competition for a bullpen role, Chasen Shreve responded by giving up a two-run homer yesterday to Boston’s Sam Travis and allowed three total runs while on the mound for one inning of work even if one of those runs was charged to Tanaka. Shreve’s fault; not Tanaka which proves the fallacy of ERA. Hopefully Shreve rises to the occasion for the regular season and matches the performance of his stellar bullpen mates and doesn’t become the pitching staff’s weakest link. LeBlanc wasn’t unemployed for long as he was picked up by the Seattle Mariners today, signing a Major League contract. The M’s lost former Yankee David Phelps earlier this week when it was announced that he’d need Tommy John surgery.
In the latest roster move, the Yankees optioned Domingo German to Triple A which probably means RHP Jonathan Holder has made the Opening Day roster as the 13th man. I hope so. I am pulling for Holder to emerge as a key weapon in the pen. With David Robertson due to hit to free agent market after the season (which I absolutely hate to see), young guys like Holder will need to step up. D-Rob presents a dilemma. Do you trade him at the deadline or do you let him walk away at the end of the year for nothing? If the Yankees are in the heart of a pennant race (which we expect them to be), D-Rob is critical for mission success in October. But conversely, he could bring in quality prospects as a rental for another contending team in need of relief help in July. If other young arms like Holder prove that they can be this year’s Chad Green, Robertson might be expendable (which tortures me to write). I do not envy GM Brian Cashman for the decisions ahead.
Congratulations to Miguel Andujar! An-DU-jar received the James P Dawson award for the best rookie in camp this year. When the calendar flips to October this season, there’s no doubt that the 2018 Yankees will have been powered, in part, by the young Andujar. In other words, I fully expect him to make a significant contribution for the team this year even if he doesn’t get to travel to Toronto next week for the start of the regular season.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
There are some ex-Yankees that I continue to pull for and RHP Bryan Mitchell is no exception. However, it was very painful to watch last night’s exhibition game between the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers. Joey Gallo hammered two home runs off Mitchell, who gave up seven runs over four innings. Mitchell was saved from the loss when the Padres erased the seven-run deficit by scoring nine runs. Not pretty for the former Yankee but he is still expected to be part of the starting rotation for the Padres this year. Hopefully the regular season will be much kinder to him. It was weird watching Chase Headley in Padres gear (and sporting a beard like Mitchell) with his familiar batting swing but there’s no doubt I prefer Brandon Drury and Miguel Andujar at third for the Yankees. Sorry Chase, I appreciate your contributions to Pinstripes but I am glad you are in the land of Sunny and 74 degrees.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images North America (Patrick Smith)|
After today, the Yankees have only two Spring games left. Today’s split-squad game against the Blue Jays represents the final game at Steinbrenner Field. Tomorrow, the Yankees travel to Port Charlotte to face the Tampa Bay Rays. On Monday, they go to Atlanta to face the Braves at SunTrust Park and the Spring schedule will be done. The roster of 25 will make their way to Ontario for Thursday afternoon’s opener against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The road to the World Series begins now. We got this.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)|
The Dog Days of Spring…
One week to go until the games become “real”. The thought of Toronto, Canada on a day in late March gives me a rather chilly feeling but watching the Yankees play brings the necessary warmth. The current weather forecast calls for cloudy skies with an expected high of 47 degrees and a 20% chance of precipitation. Nevertheless, the temp inside the Rogers Centre should be very comfortable for the away team. Let the homers begin!
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
It sounds like Manager Aaron Boone intends to have his 25-man roster in place by the weekend. I was surprised to see that first baseman Tyler Austin didn’t make the cut. I assume that places Neil Walker and Austin Romine as the backup first basemen. The speculation is that the Yankees will carry 13 pitchers and 12 position players. We know that Tyler Wade has made the team as the second baseman and Brandon Drury will be the starter at third. So, the bench appears to be Austin Romine, Neil Walker, and Ronald Torreyes as it appears that neither Jacoby Ellsbury nor Clint Frazier will be ready. Under this scenario, the Yankees won’t carry a fifth outfielder with Ellsbury expected to open the season on the disabled list. The outfield rotation would be limited to the four outfielders currently in play (Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton) using the DH slot primarily for Stanton and Judge. This is where multi-position versatility is very helpful. Although Drury has only played third base for the Yankees, he was the starting second baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks last year and he has also seen time in the outfield for the Snakes. Torreyes as the emergency catcher is funny but it makes sense. Walker will be all over the infield except shortstop and catcher.
Photo Credit: MLB.com
So it appears the critical decision with be the 13th pitcher. Luis Cessa simply no longer has my trust or support. I do not want him as the rotation’s “sixth man” and after a good Spring, I feel much better about Domingo German in that role. I thought this would be the breakout year for Ben Heller but he had a few rough outings recently and has found himself with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. There is still time for him to shine but it won’t be at the start of the season. I really like Jonathan Holder. He blazed through the Yankees farm system until struggling last year. I am convinced he will be much stronger this year. So, for me, I’d like to see either German or Holder get the last spot on the 25-man roster. German would be a true long man, but if the Yankees need an emergency starter, there’s always the Scranton Shuttle. I’d probably go with Holder to start the season but like last year, the final spot on the roster will be very fluid.
I was surprised to see the return of Rule 5 draftee Anyelo Gomez from the Atlanta Braves. We know that the Braves will be bad this year. I thought they’d bite the bullet and keep Gomez on the MLB roster all season to keep the talented young pitcher. But Gomez’s performance spiraled downward as the MLB-caliber competition in exhibition games increased and it led to Atlanta’s decision to offer Gomez back to the Yankees. Similarly, Jose Mesa, Jr has struggled with the Baltimore Orioles and he was designated for assignment this week when the O’s signed free agent pitcher Alex Cobb. If Mesa clears waivers, the O’s will have to offer him back to the Yankees. So, this leaves only Nestor Cortes, Jr (Orioles) and Mike Ford (Mariners) as the only Rule 5 draftees still with the teams that selected them from the Yankees in December. I remain convinced Cortes will make the O’s Opening Day Roster despite the three-run homer that he gave up to Aaron Judge in yesterday’s exhibition game. I still expect Ford to be offered back to the Yankees by the Mariners in a numbers crunch at first base.
Photo Credit: MLB.com
Speaking of the Mariners, I was saddened to learn that former Yankees reliever David Phelps will miss the upcoming season with a torn UCL that requires Tommy John surgery. I thought it was cool that Ichiro Suzuki had followed Phelps to the Yankees, Miami Marlins and then back to Seattle. Now, it appears their reunion on the active regular season roster will be delayed assuming that Ichiro continues to play for the M’s beyond this year. We wish David the very best with his surgery and recovery. Hope to see him back in the Mariners’ bullpen sometime next year and as good as ever (except when he pitches against the Yankees, of course).
Photo Credit: Seattle Times (Ken Lambert)
If you have a subscription to The Athletic, you should be sure to check out Marc Carig’s piece this morning on Brandon Drury entitled “Brandon Drury brings a serious edge to Yankees clubhouse”. Drury has become one of my favorite players in a short period of time. I love his quiet intensity. Like many believe including Yankees GM Brian Cashman, I feel very strongly that Drury’s best days are ahead. I think he’ll be a force at third base and will make us forget we ever knew Chase Headley or Todd Frazier. I am very pleased to see Carig covering the Yankees again after a few years away on the Mets beat. He’s an excellent writer and very insightful. Solid work, once again, by Carig.
It’s been tough with no televised Yankees games for the last few days. Fortunately, the Yankees will be on ESPN2 this afternoon against Jake Cave and the Minnesota Twins. I haven’t seen the lineups for the game yet but hopefully we’ll see Cave. I haven’t been following the Twins so I assume that Cave is remains in the Major League camp. The scheduled starter for the Twins will be former Yankee Phil Hughes.
7 Days to Toronto. I’m ready. You’re ready. They’re ready. Let’s Go Yankees!
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Next Stop, Toronto Pearson International Airport…
We should begin seeing some whittling down of bodies at Steinbrenner Field soon so it got me thinking about the Yankees’ Opening Day roster. March 29th, and a date with the Toronto Blue Jays, is only three weeks away so the regular season will be upon us before we know it.
Count me among those who do not place much stock in Miguel Andujar’s slew of home runs against mostly Double-A pitching. I think Andujar will make a contribution this year, perhaps a significant one, but I do not feel that he’ll head to Toronto with the team after they play their final Spring game in Atlanta against the Braves. My guess is that he spends more time with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to work on his defensive game.
Here is my projection for the Opening Day Roster (with starting position players in italics).
Rest of the Pen
Aaron Judge, RF
Brett Gardner, LF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Giancarlo Stanton, DH
The guess is Judge will be exclusively a right-fielder and DH, with Stanton primarily filling the DH role but covering both outfield corner positions dependent upon the ballpark. When (not if) Ellsbury gets hurt (assuming that he recovers from the right oblique strain in time for Opening Day), Clint Frazier gets the first look as his replacement with Billy McKinney next in line.
I don’t know what happens with Tyler Austin. The way the Yankees keep trying to replace him leads me to believe that he is not in the long-term vision. I could very well be wrong about the backup first base job. Perhaps Austin does win it and Lind opts out of his minor league contract in a couple of weeks. But it’s hard to overlook Lind’s history of success at the Major League level so I won’t.
It remains my belief we’ll see Gleyber Torres as the starting second baseman during the season, maybe as early as the first of May. Assuming he doesn’t go to Baltimore in a mammoth mid-season trade for Manny Machado, I think Andujar will see extended time in the Majors for the Pinstripers too. Admittedly, if he keeps up his torrid hitting over the next couple of weeks as MLB starters are stretched out in preparation for the season, he could force his way onto the Opening Day Roster. If that happens, Lind (or Austin) could be the odd man out, with Drury and Romine serving as the less-than-desirable first base backups in addition to their other duties.
The first reliever on the Scranton Shuttle will be right-hander Ben Heller, followed closely by fellow righty Giovanny Gallegos. For emergency starter, I’d prefer to go with Domingo German over Luis Cessa but the team seems to love Cessa in spot starts despite the lackluster results.
The toughest call is the batting order but my choices from second to fifth would be Judge, Bird, Stanton, and Sanchez, respectively. Regardless of how this shakes out under Aaron Boone, I feel sorry for American League pitchers.
There’s still plenty of time for roster surprises but I think injuries would play the primary role in any deviations, in my humble opinion (which of course could be seriously flawed).
As the saying goes, time will tell as it often does…
If you haven’t already done so, you should check out Bryan Hoch’s new book, The Baby Bombers: The Inside Story of the Next Yankees Dynasty. The book is available through multiple outlets including Amazon.com (where I bought my copy).
Blue Jays 2, Yankees 1…
I can’t say that I went into this game feeling very strongly about a win or loss. In the grand scheme of things, the playoff format has been decided so it didn’t really matter if the Yankees went 92-70 or finished 91-71 (which they did). They still finished second in the American League East and hold home field advantage in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday. Despite holding the Blue Jays to two hits, the Yankees were unable to muster any significant offense and lost by a run.
The Yankees lineup featured many backup players as key starters got the day off in advance of the AL Wild Card game. The only notable starters were Todd Frazier and Starlin Castro. Chase Headley got the start at first base, but he’s probably the team’s DH heading into the post-season. Greg Bird got into the game later.
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
It was nice outing for Jordan Montgomery. He held the Blue Jays scoreless until the top of the 4th inning. Richard Urena worked a one-out walk. Justin Smoak singled to right on a grounder that went just past the glove of Tyler Wade, with Urena moving to third. Jose Bautista, making perhaps his final start as a Blue Jay, lofted a high fly to center. Urena scored on the sacrifice as the throw from Aaron Hicks was off line.
Credit: Associated Press
I thought the Yankees had a chance to potentially pick up a run in the bottom of the 4th. Tyler Wade singled to left barely over the stretched glove of shortstop Richard Urena with one down. While Matt Holliday was batting, Wade appeared to steal second to move into scoring position. However, replay showed that the tag was applied before Wade reached the base as Urena’s foot blocked the base to prevent Wade from touching the bag. Matt Holliday flied out to end the inning so the Yankees were still down by a run.
Credit: Getty Images
Montgomery made it into the 6th inning, striking out Ryan Goins. But that was all for Monty’s successful rookie campaign as Manager Joe Girardi took the ball and turned it over to Adam Warren. 5 1/3 innings for Montgomery. Two hits, a walk and a run. He struck out three batters for the eventual no-decision.
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
Adam Warren, making his first appearance since being activated off the disabled list, retired the two batters he faced to end the inning and show that he’s ready to be a potential weapon for Tuesday night.
Warren retired the only batter he faced in the top of the 7th (pop out by Justin Smoak) and was replaced by Domingo German.
With Blue Jays reliever Danny Barnes on the mound in the bottom of the 7th, Matt Holliday homered into the left field seats with one out, a solo shot. The game was tied at 1. It looked like the Yankees might get more when Greg Bird followed with a walk. Miguel Andujar doubled to left center (ball dropped in front of a sliding Teoscar Hernandez), with Bird moving to third and there was still only one out. But the Yankees couldn’t get either runner home as both Austin Romine and Clint Frazier grounded out to leave the runners stranded.
The Blue Jays scored the eventual winning run in the top of the 8th despite no hits. With Domingo German still pitching, Rob Refsnyder reached first base after striking out when Austin Romine couldn’t catch a wild pitch from German (a low pitch that hit the ground behind the plate and bounced away). Ezequiel Carrera walked, with Refsnyder advancing to second. Darwin Barney laid down a good sacrifice bunt with two strikes to push the runners to second and third. Ryan Goins took advantage of the runner at third with perhaps the shortest RBI I’ve seen this year, a slow dribbler that went no more than 10 feet. Refsnyder came home to score as the only play was to get the runner at first. The Blue Jays had recaptured the lead, 2-1. German struck out Teoscar Hernandez to get out of the inning but the Jays had the run they would need to win the game.
From there, the Yankees couldn’t do anything against Toronto relievers Ryan Tepera and Roberto Osuna with Greg Bird popping out to the shortstop Richard Urena for the final out to end the game. It would have been nice to close out the season with a win but as I stated when I started this blog post, it didn’t really matter one way or the other. It’s hard to take momentum from a game when most of the starters are sitting on the bench.
The second-place Yankees (91-71) finish the season two games behind the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox (93-69) fell to the Houston Astros, 4-3, as those two teams prepare to resume their battle in Houston, Texas with Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday. The Minnesota Twins, the Yankees opponent on Tuesday, beat the Detroit Tigers, 5-1, to finish the season at 85-77.
It’s been a long, run season and I hope that it continues beyond Tuesday. If not, I feel that Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner has been given the message that this team is ready to compete now and that he needs to ensure the team is given the best possible chance for success in 2018.
GM Brian Cashman and Amateur Scouting Director Damon Oppenheimer presented Aaron Judge with an inscribed Waterford Crystal Gavel for his rookie record of 52 home runs.
Next Up: American League Wild Card Game, Minnesota Twins versus New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…
Here it is…do or die. We’ve endured the rigor of 162 regular season games and the pay-off is a chance to advance to the American League Division Series. Win or lose, this has been a tremendous year for the Yankees. They’ve surprised the experts who didn’t expect the Yankees to contend this quickly. The Minnesota Twins have had an excellent year as well, going from a team that lost 100 games in 2016 to a play-off contender.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups. Suffice it to say that every pitcher on both teams will be ready for the call.
Tuesday, October 3rd, 8:00 pm ET
Twins: Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA)
This should be a great game! The winner advances to play the Indians for Game 1 of the ALDS in Cleveland on Thursday.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees announced on Sunday that “they will significantly expand the protective netting during the upcoming off-season at both Yankee Stadium and George M Steinbrenner Field”. The action comes after the young girl was hit in the mouth on a foul ball by Todd Frazier on September 25th.
The managerial firings should begin shortly. It’s been announced after much speculation that Terry Collins will not be returning to the dugout for the New York Mets in 2018. He’ll move into a front office position. Ironically, neither of the AL Wild Card managers have a contract beyond this year. I guess Tuesday will have a say in their respective futures although you’d have to believe that both would be back after unexpectedly successful seasons.
Have a great Monday! Enjoy the day off, and let’s get ready to root, root for the home team on Tuesday night. Go Yankees!
|Credit: Getty Images|
Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1…
It may not have resulted in the AL East championship, but CC Sabathia gave the Yankees what they needed to propel the team to the narrow victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon. Give credit to the Yankees for making the Boston Red Sox earn the division title and not handing it to them. This was a game for the ages, raising the names of Whitey Ford and Babe Ruth…
Sabathia locked into a pitching battle with Toronto’s Marcus Stroman for the first few innings. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the 4th when Aaron Judge belted a monster blast over the left field seats (484 feet) for his 52nd home run of the year. All Rise!
|Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images|
But the Yankees weren’t finished. Didi Gregorius hit a one-out single to left, a ball that nearly grazed the top of the glove of Blue Jays shortstop Ryan Goins. While Starlin Castro was taking his hacks at Stroman, a wild pitch got away from catcher Russell Martin (a bouncer through his legs) allowing Didi to advance to second. With the count full, Castro singled to center, past a diving Ryan Goins who barely got a piece of his glove on the ball, to score Gregorius. The Yankees were up, 2-0.
The Blue Jays changed pitchers for the bottom of the 5th with reliever Aaron Loup replacing Stroman. Loup walked two of the first three batters he faced (the two Aarons) to put Hicks in scoring position, but the Blue Jays pulled Loup and inserted Carlos Ramirez who shut down Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius on a strikeout and fly out, respectively.
The top of the 6th brought a little drama and memories of the Jeffrey Maier incident years ago the then 12-year-old reached out to catch Derek Jeter’s fly in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS and Jeter was awarded a home run. With one out, Ryan Goins got a hold of a Sabathia pitch and sent it high to right. Momentarily, it appeared to be a home run but replayed showed a young fan reaching out to catch the ball. The play was reviewed but the call on the field (ground-rule double due to fan interference) was upheld. Goins took second and the fan was shown the exit. Sabathia struck out Teoscar Hernandez for the second out but with Josh Donaldson on deck, CC’s day was done. Chad Green came into the game and got Donaldson to hit a fly to left for the final out. The shutout remained intact much to the delight of Sabathia. Sabathia finished with 5 2/3 innings pitched, and giving up only four hits with no runs or walks. He struck out six in what may have been his final Yankees regular season start.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP|
Tommy Kahnle took over for Green in the top of the 8th and unfortunately gave his best impersonation of Dellin Betances (the bad version). The first batter he faced, Ezequiel Carrera, hit a soft dribbler on the third base side and beat the throw from Kahnle to first. Miguel Montero, pinch-hitting for Rob Refsnyder, drew a walk so the Blue Jays had the tying run on base. Kahnle was pulled and replaced with David Robertson. Ryan Goins struck out but D-Rob missed with a full count fastball to walk Teoscar Hernandez. The bases were loaded with only one out. Josh Donaldson hit a fly to left for the second out, with Carrera coming home to score on the sacrifice. Brett Gardner had to run to make the catch as the wind pulled it back, and his throw to the plate almost nailed Carrera but Gary Sanchez couldn’t hold on to the ball.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP|
Robertson came through big when he struck out Justin Smoak swinging to preserve the Yankee lead by the slim one-run margin.
Aroldis Chapman on the for the 9th inning and it was 1-2-3 game over with Starlin Castro running to his left to catch Darwin Barney’s line drive for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
The Yankees (91-70) saw their hopes for the AL East title dashed in the clubhouse when the Boston Red Sox completed their 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros. David Price got the Sox out of a bases-loaded jam in the 7th inning. Former Yankee Brian McCann did his part with a homer in the 9th inning but it wasn’t enough. The Yankees will host the AL Wild Card Game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. The winner will advance to play the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. The Red Sox will continue their current series with the Houston Astros in their ALDS matchup, moving from Boston to Houston for Game 1.
Congratulations to CC Sabathia (14-5) for his successful season. I know that I had given up hope for the aging pitcher, like many fans, but he showed that he is capable of reinventing himself ala Andy Pettitte. The win was Sabathia’s 237th of his career, passing the legendary Whitey Ford.
The troublesome knee is still a concern but CC Sabathia earned his right to be part of the 2018 Yankees. Hopefully, the team and the player can come together for a mutually rewarding contract in the off-season.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Aaron Judge will most likely not play today so if that’s the case, he finishes with a .284 batting average, 52 home runs and 114 RBI’s. His homer was the 33rd of the year at home, breaking the franchise record set by none other than the immortal George Herman “Babe” Ruth in 1921. It’s been an incredible season for the highly talented young slugger. First full season and he’s rubbing shoulders with the greatest of the greats in franchise history.
Odds & Ends…
Andrew Romine of the Detroit Tigers became the fifth player to play all nine positions in a Major League game. To play catcher, he used a ‘hand me down’ glove courtesy of his brother Austin. Romine pitched in the bottom of the 8th inning with the Tigers nursing a 3-2 lead over the Minnesota Twins. He retired the only batter he faced, Miguel Sano, on a ground out to third. He handled all of his defensive chances cleanly. A very nice accomplishment for Austin’s older brother.
|Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports|
There was a nice Twitter exchange between Aaron Judge and Marcus Stroman after yesterday’s game.
Stroman: @TheJudge44 is creating history. He hits baseballs extremely far too. Lol looking forward to competing against him the rest of my career!
Judge: Much respect @MStrooo6!! Love your fire and passion for this game!! Keep that chip on your shoulder!! 👊👊
Stroman: Always my man. The future battles will be legendary. Good luck in the playoffs young king!
Personally, I would rather see these two become Yankee teammates…
Have a great Sunday! The final game of the regular season. Let’s bring home a victory in preparation for Tuesday. Go Yankees!
Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP
Yankees 4, Blue Jays 0…
I ripped Masahiro Tanaka for his last start and he looked at me and said “F-U!” with his latest performance. I love it! Outside of Dellin Betances, I liked everything about this game as the Yankees took down the Jays for their 90th win of the season on Friday afternoon.
While many people were speculating about whether this was Masahiro Tanaka’s final regular season start wearing a Yankees uniform, Masa-hero came out strong. I always like to use the first inning as a barometer and Tanaka was firing on all cylinders, striking out the side on thirteen pitches.
In the bottom of the first, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a one-out single through the hole to shallow left field off Blue Jays starter Joe Biagini. With Aaron Judge at the plate, Ellsbury stole second for his 22nd stolen base of the year. Judge ended up taking a walk anyway. Didi Gregorius was next and he singled to right on a looper that dropped in front of right fielder Michael Saunders to load the bases. Starlin Castro hit a soft grounder between third and the pitching mound, and Biagini had no play by the time he got to the ball. Ellsbury scored on the play. Greg Bird’s sacrifice fly to deep center scored Judge. It was the seventh consecutive game with a RBI for Greg Bird who has gone from a season afterthought to one of its prime performers in a matter of just a few weeks since he returned from the disabled list.
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Chase Headley struck out to end the inning but the Yankees had a 2-0 lead.
Tanaka held the Blue Jays hitless through two outs in the top of the 5th inning, when Ezequiel Carrera hit a grounder to second. Starlin Castro went hard after the ball, crashing his knee against the ground, but his throw was not in time to get Carrera at first. With Raffy Lopez batting, Carrera stole second. However, Tanaka got out of the inning when he turned to fire a perfect strike to Didi Gregorius at second to nail Carrera who was trying to dive back to the base.
Austin Romine led off the bottom of the 5th with a single over the second baseman’s head into right center. Romine was forced out at second when Aaron Hicks hit a grounder to second but Hicks was safe at first. With Jacoby Ellsbury at bat, Hicks stole second. Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to first for the second out. Aaron Judge followed with a single to left, scoring Hicks. Blue Jays catcher was up the line for the outfield throw so there was no play at the plate but they got Judge between first and second for the final out.
Ryan Goins picked up the Blue Jays’ second hit off Tanaka in the 6th, a single to center that dropped in front of Jacoby Ellsbury, but Tanaka was still mowing hitters down so Goins didn’t go anywhere when Tanaka struck out the side again. Thirteen strikeouts through six innings for Tanaka. Incredible.
Matt Dermody replaced Biagini in the bottom of the 6th inning. Didi Gregorius led off with a single to left. With Starlin Castro batting, Didi Gregorius stole second on what appeared to be third strike on Castro. However, Joe Girardi came out with the argument that it was a foul tip. The umps agreed with Girardi, and Didi returned to first base with Castro coming back to the plate. Two pitches later, the outcome was the same. Castro swung at the third strike but Didi successfully stole second. Next, Greg Bird (rapidly becoming one of the Yankees best post-trading deadline “acquisitions”) drilled a line drive single off the wall in the right field corner to score Gregorius. Danny Barnes entered the game in relief of Dermody and induced Chase Headley to hit into an inning-ending double play, but no matter, the Yankees had increased their lead to 4-0.
Tanaka allowed one more hit, a double down the line into the left field corner by Josh Donaldson in the top of the 7th, for a total of three. Donaldson got as far as third on a ground out, but Tanaka retired the next three batters in order including two by strikeout to end the inning and his time in the game. He finished with fifteen strikeouts to go with no hits, no runs, and no walks. It was simply an outstanding performance by Tanaka. If this was his final regular season start as a Yankee, thank you very much. It was a masterpiece to remember.
|Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP|
David Robertson pitched the 8th inning. It started with the first walk by a Yankees pitcher in the game, but the runner was erased on a beautiful double play. Raffy Lopez hit a grounder to Greg Bird at first. Bird threw to Didi Gregorius for the force at second. Didi’s throw back to first hooked out but Bird sprawled out on the ground for the catch with his right foot still on the bag. Excellent defensive play by Bird. D-Rob struck out Ryan Goins to end the inning.
The 9th inning was not quite as much fun…at least not at the start. Dellin Betances came in with a chance to prove he has finally righted the ship. Richard Urena had other ideas and led off with a single to right, a one hop off the wall. With Teoscar Hernandez at the plate, a Betances pitch went off Austin Romine’s glove for a passed ball on the catcher. Urena moved to second. Betances ended up walking Hernandez and all you could do was shake your head. End of Betances, who is running out of time to prove that he can be trusted with late inning relief again. I hate to say it, given my disdain for the man, but Dellin is proving Yankees president Randy Levine was right for his critical comments about Betances after the reliever’s arbitration hearing in the off-season.
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Enter Aroldis Chapman. Man, oh, Man, I am so happy this guy is the Missile again. He struck out Josh Donaldson on three pitches for the first out. Jose Bautista hit a grounder to short and the Yankees were able to force Hernandez out at second but they couldn’t turn the double play when the ball went over Greg Bird’s head. The ball bounced back so Urena had to hold at third. With Rob Refsnyder batting, Bautista took second on defensive indifference. Chapman laid three 100+ mph fastballs across the plate for Refsnyder, with the last pitch hitting 102 mph. Three swings and misses by the former Yankee. Game over. Yankees win!
The Yankees (90-70) looked like a playoff team in this game. They picked up a game on the Boston Red Sox, who lost 3-2 to the Houston Astros at Fenway Park. The Yankees trail the Sox by two games with two to play. I don’t expect the Yankees to catch the Red Sox but they’ve certainly made it interesting these final days of the season.
Mike Axisa had a great tweet after the game about Tanaka pitching on seven days rest: “One day it will be acknowledged that Tanaka does not actually pitch better on extra rest. Today is not that day.”
Odds & Ends…
Brad Ausmus became the first managerial casualty when it was announced earlier this week that he would not be retained after the season by the Detroit Tigers. I can still remember being disappointed when the Colorado Rockies chose Ausmus, a catcher, in the 1992 Expansion Draft out of the Yankees farm system. Of course, I didn’t really know anything about a guy named Jorge Posada at the time. The latest non-returnee is Pete Mackanin of the Philadelphia Phillies. After the season, Mackanin will become a special assistant to Phillies GM Matt Klentak. As a rebuilding team, I thought that Mackanin would be back but apparently the Phillies leadership team felt otherwise. Two managerial job openings and counting although it’s been widely speculated that Terry Collins of the Mets will not return. So make it three…
The Minnesota Twins have activated their best hitter, 3B Miguel Sano, off the disabled list. Sano was placed on the DL in August when he fouled a ball off his left shin. Sano will have the weekend to get ready for next Tuesday’s Wild Card game.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Tonight, I will be at Coors Field to watch Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Colorado Rockies. It will be Kershaw’s final appearance of the regular season as he tunes up for his NLDS Game 1 start next week. This will be the first time I get to see Cody Bellinger play in person. It should be a great game. As a former Los Angeles resident, I have so missed the ability to go to Dodger Stadium on a regular basis.
Have a great Saturday! My only request for today is a Pinstriped victory! Go Yankees!
Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Blue Jays 9, Yankees 5…
Despite two home runs by Aaron Judge, the Yankees couldn’t overcome shoddy pitching and lost the rubber game of the three-game series on Sunday to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Pardon me if I don’t get excited when Jaime Garcia is on the mound. I know that he did a decent job last time out, but he’s a subpar starter at best and a future ex-Yankee. Unfortunately, he played to form on Sunday. I don’t know if it was the hangover from Saturday’s celebration or simply the usual dismal performance from Garcia that put the Yanks in a hole early.
I suppose I shouldn’t blame Garcia for the home run he allowed Teoscar Hernandez to lead off the game. Hernandez’s home run to the second deck of the left field stands on the second pitch of the game was his third against the Yankees in three games. Both Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray felt Garcia’s pain. The Jays up early, 1-0.
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It didn’t take the Jays long to add to their lead. Kevin Pillar led off the bottom of the 2nd inning with a double to the left field wall. With Russell Martin batting, Pillar easily stole third. Martin struck out, but Darwin Barney took advantage of the runner in scoring position to loft a sacrifice fly to center when he punched a low Garcia pitch. Pillar scored and it was 2-0.
In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Justin Smoak hit a one-out double to deep center between Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Garcia walked the next two batters, Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales, to load the bases. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough (of course, I had seen enough of Garcia when he was taking his warmup pitches before the game) and made his way to the mound.
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Garcia was pulled and replaced with Jonathan Holder. Holder got Pillar to pop up in foul territory (third base side) for the second out, but then Russell Martin hit a double to deep right that Aaron Judge couldn’t get to. The double cleared the bases, and the Blue Jays were up 5-0.
The Yankees finally got to Jays starter Marcus Stroman in the top of the 4th inning. Chase Headley and Aaron Judge both walked to start the inning. Didi Gregorius singled to center to score Headley. Judge moved to second. It was a 5-1 game. Starlin Castro hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Gregorius out at second, with Judge moving to third. Unfortunately, Judge would stay at third as both Jacoby Ellsbury and Todd Frazier struck out against Stroman to end the potential scoring opportunity.
Bryan Mitchell was brought in to pitch the bottom of the 4th inning. No offense to Mitchell but he’s not the guy I would have brought into the game at that point. I like Mitchell but he’s been like gasoline poured on fire this season and not in a good way. Ryan Goins singled to left to get things started against Mitchell. After Teoscar Hernandez walked, Josh Donaldson singled up the middle to center field to score Goins, with Hernandez taking second. With Justin Smoak batting, Mitchell threw a wild pitch to advance the runners. It didn’t matter as Smoak walked to load the bases. Jose Bautista singled to right, scoring Goins, and the bases were still loaded. Kendrys Morales singled to left, scoring Hernandez and Donaldson. Bautista also tried to score but was nailed at the plate. After Mitchell hit Kevin Pillar with a pitch, Girardi finally pulled the plug on Mitchell. Not quite sure what took him so long to make that decision. Ben Heller came in and got Russell Martin to hit into an inning-ending double play. The Blue Jays held a commanding 9-1 lead over the Bombers.
In the top of the 6th inning, Aaron Judge led off with a home run to left, on a fly just over the wall, off Marcus Stroman. It was Judge’s 47th homer of the season.
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With two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ground-rule double to deep center. A walk of Todd Frazier ended Stroman’s day. Matt Dermody entered the game to face Greg Bird and exited when Bird doubled to deep right off the wall to score Ellsbury. Frazier moved to third. Ryan Tepera took over for Dermody and got Austin Romine to ground out to third for the final out.
Chase Headley reached base on a single up the middle with one out in the top of the 7th inning against Tepera. Aaron Judge followed with a two-run blast to left center to cut the Jays’ lead to 9-5. It was Judge’s second home run of the game and his 48th of the season (one shy of the MLB Rookie Record held by Mark McGwire).
From there, the Yankees couldn’t really mount much offense against Blue Jays bullpen. Jays closer Roberto Osuna took over in the 9th inning. After Osuna struck out Brett Gardner, the Blue Jays sent Ezequiel Carrera to right field to replace Jose Bautista. Joey Bats, perhaps playing his final home game for Toronto, made his way off the field through a series of hugs with the on-the-field players and received congratulations in the dugout. It is a foregone conclusion that Bautista won’t be back for the Blue Jays in 2018 given a $20 million mutual option that the team would be foolish to pick up for a player in the twilight of his career. It was a nice moment for the long-time Blue Jay.
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Credit: Jon Blacker-The Canadian Press
Osuna struck out the next two batters, Chase Headley and Aaron Judge, to end the game.
The Yankees (86-69) lost further ground to the Boston Red Sox with their first series loss since being swept by the Cleveland Indians in late August. The Red Sox rallied to defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4, and now hold a commanding five game lead in the AL East with seven games to play. The Minnesota Twins swept the Detroit Tigers with their 10-4 win on Sunday so they closed the gap in the Wild Card standings to 4 1/2 games. This definitely makes me wish that Jaime Garcia had been pitching for the Twins, and the not the Yankees, the last few weeks. We would have had a much greater lead.
Aaron Judge was clearly the hitting star with the two home runs, but he couldn’t do it all himself. God bless him for trying.
Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Dellin Betances looked good. Pitching the 8th inning, he did hit a batter (Justin Smoak) but otherwise retired the batters he faced. He ended the inning with a swinging strikeout of Kendry Morales. The Yankees really need to get this guy back to form and soon. Hopefully this was a step in the right direction.
I was hoping for better results yesterday but the Yankees need to focus on the task at hand. Time to head back to Yankee Stadium and make a strong home stand to end the season.
Next Up: Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…
The Yankees and Royals play one game which is a makeup for the rainout on May 25th. At the time, the Yankees had taken two of three games from the Royals when the fourth game was postponed. Mathematically, the Royals still have a chance for the second Wild Card spot but their days are numbered (literally and figuratively speaking).
Here is today’s scheduled pitching matchup:
Royals: Jake Junis (8-2, 4.05 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (12-5, 3.81 ERA)
The Yankees currently lead the season series with the Royals, four games to two. At the time of the rainout, the Yankees were 27-17.
The Tampa Bay Rays will be in town for three games beginning Tuesday night.
Odds & Ends…
The Washington Nationals plan to activate RF Bryce Harper off the disabled list today to begin their series in Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals, who already look like the best team in the NL with the recent collapse of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will try to get Harper in top form before October.
Have a great Monday! Hopefully today is a royal success for the home team. Go Yankees!