Tagged: Toronto

Judge Overruled by the Blue Jays…

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.

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Credit:  Getty Images

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.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

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.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

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!

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Bye-Bye Birdie, Hello Playoffs…

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 1…

What a difference a day makes! Put Sonny Gray on the mound, give him a few runs and all is better in the world as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays and secured a post-season berth.  

On paper, Sonny Gray versus Joe Biagini seems like a mismatch. But early, Biagini was the better pitcher. Biagini breezed through the first three innings facing only the minimum number of batters (thanks to a double play in the second inning which eliminated the only Yankee baserunner). Meanwhile, Gray had a runner in scoring position in the first inning (which he escaped) and then allowed a third inning home run to Teoscar Hernandez which gave the Blue Jays the early 1-0 lead. Hernandez absolutely crushed the ball high into the center field stands. It was his second home run against Yankees in as many days.

The Yankees finally broke through against Biagini in the fifth inning. Chase Headley led off the inning with a walk. While Jacoby Ellsbury was batting, Headley successfully stole second. Ells subsequently struck out, but Starlin Castro followed by taking the second walk of the inning. Greg Bird, with a beautiful swing, homered to right center. As John Sterling said, “Bye-bye, Birdie! In the right field seats…the Birdman of New York…and the Yankees promptly take the 3-1 lead”.  

Gray was cruising until the sixth inning when he had trouble throwing strikes and had two men on base with free passes with only one out. Kevin Pillar lined a sharp fly to left center on a ball that looked like it might have a chance to drop in but a great running catch by Brett Gardner prevented the potential extra base hit. Gray retired the next  batter, Ryan Goins, on a ground out to get out of the inning.  

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

For Gray, his day was done. Chad Green came in for the bottom of the seventh, and did what he does best. Three up, three down…two by strikeout. C-Green will certainly help the Yankees see green (the money) in October.  

Credit:  Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Frazier added an insurance run in the top of the eighth when he hit a solo home run over the center field wall. 4-1, Yankees. David Robertson took over in the bottom of the eighth and repeated Green’s performance…three batters, two strikeouts. Wash, rinse, repeat…it works for me.

On to the top of the ninth and the Yankees weren’t done. Gary Sanchez led off the inning with a double off the center field wall. Kevin Pillar went to the wall and got his glove on the ball but surprisingly, for Pillar given his strong defense, wasn’t able to make the catch. Gary Sanchez hesitated as if he thought the ball was either caught or out of the park but then ran safely to second after realizing it was in play. Moral of the story, always hustle. Chase Headley reached on a one-out walk, but he was erased when Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Headley at second. But Sanchez was able to move to third. So, runners at the corners and two outs for Starlin Castro.  Castro hit a slow infield grounder that got past the pitcher. Third baseman Josh Donaldson charged the ball but couldn’t make the transfer. Runners safe as Sanchez crossed the plate for the Yankees’ final run.

Aroldis Chapman took over in the bottom of the 9th. He didn’t have the strikeouts of his two predecessors, but he still retired the three batters he faced in the non-save situation for the win. It was appropriate the final out was recorded by former Yankee Robert Refsnyder, pinch-hitting for Ryan Goins, when he hit a grounder to first with Greg Bird stepping on the bag to end the game. The Yankees win!

Credit:  Fred Thornill-AP

The Yankees (86-68) were business-like on the field with hugs and high-fives after the game, but pandemonium broke loose in the clubhouse as the Yankees celebrated their first post-season appearance since 2015.

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Credit:  Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the win, they were unable to make up any ground on the Red Sox and remain four games behind in the AL East. Boston defeated the hapless Cincinnati Reds, 5-0, in a game that featured an inning of relief by Reds reliever Luke Farrell, son of Red Sox manager John Farrell. It would have been poetic justice for the younger Farrell to beat his pop but it was not meant to be.  The Yankees also remain 5 1/2 games up on the Minnesota Twins for home-field advantage in the Wild Card game. The Twins haven’t secured their WC spot yet but they continue to win and presently hold a commanding 4 1/2 game edge over the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, and Los Angeles Angels.  

Sonny Gray (10-11) showed what Masahiro Tanaka did not. When the stakes are high, raise the level of your play. Gray may not have had his best stuff on Saturday but he held the Blue Jays to four hits and one run in six innings. He walked three, but that was primarily the two he walked in the sixth when he was tiring. He struck out four.  

Excellent job by the Bullpen. Three innings, no hits, no runs, four strikeouts.  The Bullpen is the October difference-maker. If the Yankees can only get Dellin Betances right, you have to like the team’s late inning chances against the game’s best teams.     

Odds & Ends…

Magic Numbers:  The Yankees magic number to clinch home-field advantage for the Wild Card game is three (any combination of Yankees wins or Twins losses). The more impossible reach (AL East Championship) stands at five games (any combination of Red Sox wins or Yankees losses). With eight games remaining, the Red Sox do not play a team with a winning record until they entertain the Houston Astros at Fenway Park starting Thursday for the final series of the season. Even then, it’s possible that the Astros won’t have anything left to play for if the Cleveland Indians secure home field advantage for the play-offs. In other words, I don’t see the Red Sox losing anytime soon.

It does seem weird to have a champagne (and beer) celebration for the right to play one game that may or may not be won by the best team. I know, it’s better to have some chance than no chance. I personally do not buy into the Yankees’ dominance of the Twins as reason for optimism. Too much can happen with a single game and a bad start by the likely starter, Luis Severino, can send the Bombers home for the winter. My excitement will come if the Yankees can win that single game to advance to the expanded play-offs against the division winners.  

Luis Severino was struck by a batted ball before yesterday’s game. He was in the outfield playing catch during pre-game warmups when he was hit in the shoulder. The ball was believed to have been hit by Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile. Sevy dropped to the stadium turf but was able to get up to resume playing catch after being checked out by head athletic trainer Steve Donohue.  Fortunately, it was his non-throwing shoulder but it’s still scary to see your ace go down.  

Have a great Sunday! Hopefully this is a winning final road game of the regular season kind of day. Go Yankees!

Thank You, We’ll Just Take The Wild Card…

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 1…

The title is sarcastic (if you didn’t notice). I am very disappointed with Masahiro Tanaka and the blow out loss to the AL East Cellar Dwellers. Trailing the Red Sox by four games with only nine games to play makes it a near impossibility to catch Boston unless they go into a tailspin like the Los Angeles Dodgers recently did. I seriously doubt that will happen for the Red Sox as they keep winning.

The Yankees had been playing so well, winning 15 of 20 games since August 31st. For a year that the Yankees have exceeded all expectations, Tanaka’s overall performance is the reason the Yankees are talking Wild Card and not AL East title. If he had pitched like his previous three years, we’d be talking about how many games the Red Sox are behind. It bothers me that we can hold a 5 1/2 game lead over the Minnesota Twins, we can sweep the most recent series with the Twins, and yet, the Twins have a chance for one game to send the Yankees packing for the winter. If the Yankees play like they did yesterday, there will be no expanded playoffs for the Pinstripes.  

Aaron Judge is the only player that came ready to play. His solo home run in the first inning, a monster 469 foot blast to left center off the facing of the second deck, gave the Yankees an early lead but it was the last run the Yankees would score. It was Judge’s 46th home run of the season, matching Joe DiMaggio’s career high. 

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

The Blue Jays quickly tied the game in the bottom of the 1st against Tanaka.  Teoscar Hernandez led off with a single to left center. Josh Donaldson hit into a fielder’s choice at third but Todd Frazier’s throw to Starlin Castro, which should have been an easy force out at second, got past Castro for an error as Hernandez raced around to third. Runners at the corners. Jose Bautista hit a soft grounder to third and was thrown out at first but Hernandez scored. Game tied, 1-1.

In the top of the 3rd, Todd Frazier doubled to right on a ball that went to the wall, sliding into second just under the throw from Jose Bautista. Clint Frazier popped out to the shortstop for the first out.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to right on a great running catch by Bautista, who then threw the ball in to second baseman Ryan Goins.  With the Toddfather standing on second, Goins used the old hidden ball trick with a fake throw.  Frazier momentarily lifted his foot off second to turn around and Goins nabbed him for the out to complete the double play. It was that type of game…

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

In the bottom of the 3rd, Teoscar Hernandez got to Tanaka again, this time a solo shot to left to give the Blue Jays the 2-1 lead. Bottom of the 4th, it was Russell Martin’s turn. His two-run shot, a liner just over the left field wall off Tanaka after Joey Bats had walked to start the inning, put the Blue Jays, 4-1.  

The Yankees’ third and final hit came in the top of the 6th when Aaron Judge led off with a double to deep left center that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall.  But the silent Yankee bats left him stranded behind the pitching of Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, the recipient of a $13 million contract extension a few days earlier.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Blue Jays put the game away against Tanaka.  Jose Bautista walked to start the inning.  Kevin Pillar singled to center as Joey Bats moved to second.  Tanaka struck out Russell Martin and Miguel Montero so it looked like he might be able to get out of the inning, but then he walked Kendrys Morales, pinch-hitting for Darwin Barney, on four consecutive balls out of the strike zone to load the bases.  Tanaka had two strikes on the ‘Hidden Ball’ Master, Ryan Goins, but the third pitch, a slider, left the park in right for a grand slam. 8-1 Blue Jays, and, finally, the end of the night for Tanaka.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The only remaining runner that the Yankees could muster was when Aaron Judge walked in the 8th. The Blue Jays easily coasted to victory and most likely handed the Boston Red Sox the AL East Championship.

I apologize to those of you who are Tanaka fans but he sucked. His win-loss record now stands at 12-12 and his season ERA has increased to 4.94.  He gave up eight runs (seven earned) and three home runs in 5 2/3 innings.  He disappeared at a time when the Yankees needed him the most.  Dude, please opt out at the end of the year if this is truly the pitcher you are now.

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The Yankees (85-68), as mentioned, fell four games behind the Red Sox.  Boston beat Sal Romano, who grew up as a Yankees fan, and the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4.  The Minnesota Twins have won two straight since they were swept by the Yankees so they have reduced their Wild Card deficit from 7 games to 5 1/2 in two days.  The Los Angeles Angels are in a downward spiral, losers of five in a row, so they trail the Twins by 3 1/2 games, along with the Texas Rangers.  

I don’t mind when the Yankees battle hard and lose, but Friday night was not one of those games.  Outside of Aaron Judge, it was a complete team letdown. If I didn’t know better, it looked like the Toronto Blue Jays were the playoff team, not the Yankees.  We expect and demand better play today.

Odds & Ends…

Today’s pitching matchup will feature Sonny Gray (9-11) versus Joe Biagini (3-11). A change was announced for Sunday. Jaime Garcia (5-9) now gets the start. He’ll oppose New York native Marcus Stroman (12-8).  

Todd Frazier was able to talk to the father of the little girl struck by the foul ball during Wednesday’s game. The little girl is still in the hospital and as one relative indicated, it will be a long process. Frazier was told by the girl’s father that “she’s doing okay”. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the little girl as she continues to recover.  

After last night’s game, an unauthorized man apparently gained access to the Yankees clubhouse in an attempt to steal some towels and a batting helmet. He was chased away by Todd Frazier, Tyler Wade, and others. The man was subsequently detained by stadium security but it’s scary that someone could have penetrated the crowded clubhouse that easily.  

Have a great Saturday!  Hopefully this a much better baseball day for all of us.  Go Yankees!

Punchless in Toronto…

Credit:  The Associated Press

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0…

So much for heading home with any momentum to face the AL-East leading Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees offense departed Toronto a day too early as the Yankees were blanked by the AL East cellar-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays.  Losing two of three to the division’s worst is not exactly a recipe for October.  

Sonny Gray kept the Yankees in the game but he had no help.  

Credit:  The Associated Press

The first inning started with hope for a run.  With two outs, Aaron Judge walked and moved to third when Didi Gregorius doubled to right.  Unfortunately, Gary Sanchez struck out swinging as the Yankees continued to struggle with runners in scoring position.

Garrett Cooper doubled in the second inning with two outs but Ronald Torreyes flied out to right on the first pitch he was thrown by Jays starter Marco Estrada.  The Blue Jays didn’t miss their chance in the bottom of the inning.  Ezequiel Carrera doubled to center with one out.  A failed pick off attempt by Sonny Gray allowed Carrera to move to third.  Ryan Goins hit a short grounder which Gray scooped and tossed underhanded with his glove to Sanchez, but Carrera slid in under the tag to score the Jays’ first run.

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Associated Press

The third inning brought another two-out double, this time a line drive down the left field line by Aaron Judge.  But like the others, he was left stranded when Didi Gregorius flied out.  The Jays, unlike the Yankees, didn’t miss their chances.  In the bottom of the third, Jose Bautista walked.  Russell Martin struck out on a ball that got past Gary Sanchez.  Sanchez’s throw beat Martin to first, but Joey Bats had already stolen second on the play. Josh Donaldson singled to left to score Bautista.  It was 2-0 Jays.

After the Yankees went quietly in the 4th, the Blue Jays added another run in the bottom of the inning.  Steve Pearce opened with a single off Gray.  A sacrifice bunt by Ezequiel Carrera moved Pearce to second.  After Ryan Goins walked, Kevin Pillar singled to left (a bouncer between Todd Frazier and Didi Gregorius) to score Pearce.  

The fifth inning started with promise.  Garrett Cooper led off with a single to left and Ronald Torreyes walked.  But they didn’t advance any further when Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Judge recorded outs.  For Judge, who struck out to end the inning, it was his 27th consecutive game with a strikeout (extending his own franchise record).  

Credit:  The Associated Press

It was more of the same in the 6th.  Gary Sanchez walked with one out.  He was followed by Todd Frazier who singled to right.  Sanchez advanced to second but there he would stay as Jacoby Ellsbury and Garrett Cooper failed to move the runners.

Manager Joe Girardi brought Chasen Shreve in to start the 7th inning.  While Shreve’s performance overall was good, he allowed a home run by Jose Bautista, a solo shot to left.  The Blue Jays were up 4-0.  It was Bautista’s 36th career homer against the Yankees, the most of any active player.

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Yankees couldn’t do anything with a Gary Sanchez single in the 8th.  For the 9th, the Jays brought in their closer, Roberto Osuna, even though it wasn’t a save opportunity.  Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a walk.  Following strikeouts by Garrett Cooper and Chase Headley, Brett Gardner walked.  Aaron Judge came to the plate with a chance to bring the Yankees within a run but it was not to be as he struck out to end the game.  

Sonny Gray (6-7) took the loss.  He went six innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 runs.  Only 2 of the runs were earned due to Sonny’s error on the failed pick-off attempt in the 2nd inning.  Throwing a total of 103 pitches, he walked 4 batters and struck out 6.

This was a very disappointing loss.  My morning started with a Red Sox fan posting the AL East Standings on my FaceBook page and laughing.  The Yankees (60-53) fell 4 1/2 games behind the idle Red Sox who watched the Yankees lose while sitting in NYC.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cleveland Indians, 4-1, to move back to 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles won too, 7-2 over the Oakland A’s, so they’re 4 games behind New York.  The Yankees still have the Wild Card lead (by two games) but this team is not playing like it wants to play in October.  It doesn’t get any easier tonight…

Next Up:  Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

With Boston’s day off on Thursday, they arrived in New York City a day earlier than the Yankees.  So, they’ll be rested and ready for the Bombers tonight.  The Red Sox bring an eight-game winning streak into tonight’s game.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups.  It’s a bummer that Sonny Gray will miss this series but he’ll be ready next weekend in Boston.  

TODAY

Red Sox:  Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.08 ERA)

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 6.35)

SATURDAY:  

Red Sox:  Drew Pomeranz (11-4, 3.06 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (9-4, 2.91 ERA)

SUNDAY:

Red Sox:  Chris Sale (14-4, 2.57 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.05 ERA)

Monty, we need you to get back to New York to start on Sunday in place of CC Sabathia.  Who’s on the mound for Boston?  Um, I’m not sure.  Just go out there and throw zeros and we’ll be fine…  

Odds & Ends…

Clint Frazier has been placed on the 10-Day DL with his oblique tightness.  OF Aaron Hicks was activated off the DL a day earlier than anticipated as a result.  I guess this delays the decision of what to do with Red Thunder when Aaron Hicks returns.  Hicksie gets to fly from Trenton to Toronto and back to New York City in less than 24 hours.  I suppose it could have been worse if the Yankees had been playing in Seattle.


LHP Dietrich Enns, 26, made his Major League debut last night for the Minnesota Twins in their game against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee.  It didn’t go so well.  Despite the Twins’ 7-2 win, Enns was pulled after 2 1/2 innings and 53 pitches.  He allowed 5 hits and 2 runs (only one earned thanks to his own throwing error).  He walked a batter (with the bases loaded in the third) and gave up a home run to Keon Broxton. Enns went to Minnesota with Zack Littell in the deal that brought Jaime Garcia to New York.  

Credit:  Tom Lynn-The Associated Press

Have a great Friday!  Yankees-Red Sox.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  Let’s Go Yankees!

The Bottom Third and the Bullpen…

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Yankees 11, Blue Jays 5…

The bottom of the Yankees lineup powered the team to victory on Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays with an assist by the bullpen.  Six of the eleven runs were courtesy of the bottom third of the order.  Nine runs if you throw in the number 6 hitter (the Toddfather).  It was a much needed win as the Boston Red Sox are currently riding an eight-game winning streak (which they will bring to the Bronx on Friday night when they begin a three-game series against the beloved home team).

Masahiro Tanaka only gave up two hits but he was gone after four innings, pulled in the 5th with no outs, having thrown 88 pitches which included five walks and three runs (two earned).  So, it was up to the stacked bullpen to power its way to victory.

The Yankees got on the board first with two runs in the top of the 2nd.  Gary Sanchez and Todd Frazier led off the inning against Blue Jays starter Nick Tepesch with back-to-back home runs.  The Jays’ Kevin Pillar made a nearly successful leap to rob Sanchez, but the ball was just beyond his reach.  I’ve said it before but I hate solo home runs.  It’s not that I hate home runs…I love the runs, but I just prefer men on base when it happens (statement of the obvious).  Two home runs…the potential for eight runs…or two.  I just prefer to be somewhere in the middle (or more).  Oh well, the stats seem to favor the Yankees when they homer in games so I am not complaining.

Credit:  The Associated Press

The Blue Jays got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd when Steve Pearce walked and advanced to third on Kevin Pillar’s double to left.  Nori Aoki hit a grounder to second  for an out, but Pearce scored on the play (with Pillar moving to third).  It got a little too interesting with the next batter when Darwin Barney hit a grounder to third and the Yankees had Pillar caught in a rundown.  But it wasn’t executed cleanly and Pillar almost scored if not for the athleticism of Tanaka who took the throw behind Gary Sanchez to nail the runner at the plate.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The top of the 3rd brought another solo home run, this time a shot to the second deck in right center by Didi Gregorius, as the Yankees increased their lead to 3-1.  

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Jays answered in the bottom of the inning without a single hit.  Raffy Lopez led off and reached base through catcher’s interference on a pitch that would have been the third strike.  Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak walked to load the bases.  Steve Pearce hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Donaldson to make it a one-run game.  

It looked like the Yankees were going to break the game open in the 5th when Aaron Judge walked and moved to third when Didi Gregorius doubled to center.  The Jays brought in Leonel Campos to replace Tepesch.  He was successful in striking out Gary Sanchez, but Todd Frazier followed with a double to right center to score Judge and Gregorius.  Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to center to score Frazier and it was 6-2 Yankees.

Credit:  Mark Blinch-The Associated Press

In the bottom of the 5th, the Jays started to chip away.  Jose Bautista led off with a home run to left.  Masahiro Tanaka walked the next batter (Josh Donaldson) and Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough.  He brought in Chad Green who struck out the side to prevent any further damage.

Unfortunately, the 6th inning didn’t go so well for Green.  Nori Aoki opened with a single.  Darwin Barney hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Aoki, however, Ryan Goins doubled to left center to score Barney.  Girardi elected to pull Green and brought in Tommy Kahnle.  A wild pitch by Kahnle moved Goins to third.  Raffy Lopez walked to put runners at the corners.  Josh Donaldson singled to right center, scoring Goins, and it was a one-run game again.  

The Yankees finally got separation in the 8th when Todd Frazier led off the inning with a single to left center off Jays reliever Dominic Leone.  The Jays pulled Leone for J.P. Howell who struck out Jacoby Ellsbury.  Howell was then lifted for Taylor Cole which backfired on the Jays.  Garrett Cooper doubled to left with Frazier moving to third.  Ronald Torreyes, who has done a stellar job as a fill-in for Starlin Castro, singled to center to score both Frazier and Cooper.  Torreyes took second on the throw.  The Yankees almost had another run when Chase Headley singled to left center but Toe was gunned down at the plate.  

Nevertheless, the Yankees picked up three more runs in the top of the 9th with Cole still on the mound.  Didi Gregorius reached base on an infield single, Gary Sanchez singled to center and Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to second but Gregorius scored on the play.  Garrett Cooper doubled to center to bring both Sanchez and Frazier home.  The Jays had seen enough of Cole and pulled him for Danny Barnes who retired the last two Yankee batters get out of the inning and let the Jays come to bat for their last licks.

David Robertson and Dellin Betances had pitched scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th, respectively.  For the 9th to close it out, Girardi brought in Adam Warren.  It wasn’t clean but he got the job done.  A walk and a single had runners at the corners with two outs, but Warren got Kevin Pillar to fly out to Aaron Judge to end the game.  The Yankees win!

It was so great to see the Yankees finally make noise with runners in scoring position.  Garrett Cooper led the 17-hit attack with a 4-for-5 night.  He had 2 RBI’s and scored a run.  It was by far his best game as a Yankee.  Jacoby Ellsbury and Ronald Torreyes also had 2 RBI’s each.  Todd Frazier was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI’s and four runs scored, including his 19th home run of the season.  Didi Gregorius was 3-for-5 with an RBI on the solo homer, his 18th, and three runs scored.  It was good to see Gary Sanchez homer, also his 18th.  He had two hits and scored twice.  This was a great team victory to pick up Tanaka.  Green (2-0) was the winner.  

Credit:  Mark Blinch-The Associated Press

The Yankees (60-52) remain four games behind the Boston Red Sox.  As noted at the top of this post, the Red Sox won their eighth consecutive game, beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-2.  Even though the Yankees didn’t gain any ground on the Red Sox, they increased their lead over the Rays by 3 1/2 games.  The Baltimore Orioles also lost (5-1 to the Los Angeles Angels) so they fell 5 games behind the Yankees.  The Yankees currently hold a 2 1/2 game advantage in the Wild Card standings but I still think the AL East can be won.  The Red Sox are off today so the Yankees can pick up a 1/2 game with a win today over the Jays on Getaway Day.  The Sox will be waiting for the Yankees in the Bronx for a three-game set starting on Friday night.

Clint Frazier was scheduled to start the game in right field but was a late scratch for oblique tightness.  No immediate word on his condition.  Aaron Judge was moved from DH to right field, Chase Headley from 1B to DH, and Garrett Cooper inserted into the starting lineup at first.  Obviously, Cooper took advantage of the opportunity at Frazier’s expense.

Odds & Ends…

I’ll let others write about the upcoming Players Weekend on August 25th through 27th when players can wear nicknames on the back of alternate uniforms.  I know that many Yankee fans are up in arms, but I am indifferent.  It is a playful three days and it does not involve desecrating the famed Pinstripes.  But Pickles?  Really?  We’re going to throw Pickles at the Seattle Mariners?  Well, at least we can throw The Missile at them later.  I know that Sonny Gray has a story behind the name but it is still hard to wrap my head around it.

CC Sabathia’s MRI came back clear so it sounds as though he’ll be back on the mound sooner rather than later.  No word if he’ll miss any time.  Admittedly, I am skeptical about continuing to throw him out there.  The knee surely factored into the two home runs by Josh Donaldson on Tuesday.  I am not crazy about testing the knee in live, game scenarios.  I’ve enjoyed CC’s Yankees career but the end of this contract is a good farewell point for me.  I have no interest in testing the knee in 2018.  

I was bummed to see the Mets trade Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians.  I thought he would fit well on the Yankees roster as 1B/DH.  With a recent inability to get runs across the plate, Bruce would have helped kickstart the offense.  Apparently the Yankees were involved in trade talks until the end, but the dealbreaker was money.  The Yankees wanted the Mets to pay some of the remaining money owed to Bruce whereas the Indians absorbed the full balance due.  


Have a Sunny Day Thursday…or a Sonny Gray Thursday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Hangin With Mr Cooper Leads to Loss…

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2…

The Yankees had their chances on Tuesday but like so many games recently, they struggled to get runs across the plate and left too many runners in scoring position stranded.  Rookie first baseman Garrett Cooper was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI’s, representing the sole offense for the Yankees, in their loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.  On the surface it looks like a good night for him, but it could have been much more as he came up twice with the bases loaded.  But you can’t pin the loss on Cooper, this was a team effort.


The tone of the game was set early.  Jose Bautista led off the bottom of the first with a double to right.  He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Russell Martin.  Josh Donaldson, who entered the game with only 13 home runs, blasted a two-run shot to center.  In retrospect, it could have been worse as a subsequent walk and double put runners at second and third, but Sabathia was able to get Kevin Pillar to ground out to end the inning.

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Yankees had a good opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ when both Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius singled.  Unfortunately, Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play to eliminate Gregorius.  With Headley on third, Garrett Cooper singled to right to score the Yankees first run.  But that’s all the Yankees would get as Ronald Torreyes grounded out.


After an easy second inning for Sabathia, the third inning looked like the first.  Russell Martin singled to left, and was followed by Josh Donaldson who hit his second homer of the game, a fly ball to the second deck in left.  It gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead.  A great running catch by Ronald Torreyes with Kendrys Morales in scoring position prevented any further runs.  


Sabathia left the game after three innings as a result of knee pain.  It was the worst pain that Sabathia has felt since he started wearing a larger knee brace several years ago.  After the game, Sabathia said “It’s just hard to land.  It’s hard for me to finish my pitches. It’s just hard for me to get over my front side and finish my pitches.  When I can’t do that, I don’t know where the ball is going.”  There’s no immediate word if Sabathia will miss his next start but he’ll head back to New York for further tests.  We’re reaching the point where you have to wonder if every Sabathia start might be his final start for the Yankees. If Sabathia does miss time, Jordan Montgomery seems like the best alternative as a replacement but given he is at Triple A working under an innings limit, a short term option would probably be Bryan Mitchell. 


Mitchell replaced Sabathia in the fourth, and provided a Chad Green-like performance.  He went four innings, allowing only three hits and no runs.  


The Yankees had a golden opportunity in the 6th inning.  With one out, both Gary Sanchez and Chase Headley walked.  After a fly out by Didi Gregorius, Todd Frazier hit a grounder to short and reached first base, just ahead of the throw, after a challenge overturned the on the field call which had ruled Frazier out at first.  Garrett Cooper came up with his first bases loaded opportunity but failed to deliver with an inning-ending fly to right.


The Yankees offense was thwarted again in the 7th.  Ronald Torreyes led off with a single, but was erased when Brett Gardner grounded to second for a double play.  Clint Frazier followed with a single, but it was for naught when Aaron Judge struck out.  

Credit:  AP

The last great chance came in the 8th.  Gary Sanchez was hit with a pitch from Jays reliever Ryan Tepera on the left wrist (he stayed in the game after being checked out by the medical staff and Joe Girardi).  Chase Headley was also hit by a pitch, after a challege review which showed the ball hitting Headley’s foot, to reach base.  Didi Gregorius popped up in the infield for the first out, but Todd Frazier walked.  It brought Garrett Cooper to the plate for the second time with the bases loaded.  He hit a sacrifice fly to left which was deep enough to score Sanchez but you couldn’t help but wonder what could have been with a single or double in at least one of those bases loaded situations.  The other runners were left stranded when Ronald Torreyes lined out.  

Credit:  AP

The Yankees went down quietly in the 9th with Jays closer Roberto Osuna.  It was another game of lost opportunities.  The Blue Jays pitched carefully to Aaron Judge which led to two walks, but it probably wasn’t really necessary as Judge was hitless in three official at-bats (striking out twice).  Clint Frazier was 1-for-4 but struck out three times.  Overall, the Yankees left 10 men on base.  It’s tough to watch the Boston Red Sox pick up former Yankee Eduardo Nunez and he hits everything in sight (16-for-40 with 8 extra base hits) and the Yankees can’t seem to get any extra base hits when they need them the most.  


Obviously, it is not a good sign about CC Sabathia’s knee.  The years have taken its toll on the pitcher, and he’s question mark every time out at this point (assuming that he is able to come back).  Sabathia (9-5) took the loss.  The four runs in three innings pushed his season ERA to 4.05.  I hope that he’s able to make a successful return as his Yankees career winds down but I can’t say that I am overly optimistic.  

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP

The Yankees (59-52) fell four games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Red Sox defeated Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 behind Chris Sale and his 13 strikeouts.  So the Rays remain 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Angels and stayed four games behind the Yankees.

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell to take the roster spot vacated when LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Poor Mitchell had to find a new number since his preferred #55 has been claimed by Sonny Gray.  He chose to stay with the matching double digit combo and went with #66.  #88, anyone?…

It was good to hear that both Greg Bird and Starlin Castro took batting practice at Rogers Centre yesterday prior to the game.  While I am not overly optimistic that we’ll get anything out of Bird this year, I am pulling for the player to finally show a glimpse of what we saw during Spring Training.  Ronald Torreyes has softened the blow of Castro’s absence but it will be good to get the regular second baseman back on the field again.

OF Aaron Hicks has been re-assigned to Double A Trenton as part of his continuing rehab assignment.  He may be activated for this weekend’s series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx.  We’ll soon find it if it is Clint Frazier or someone else that goes down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room.  If Frazier stays, the losers are probably Garrett Cooper (potential option to Triple A) and Jacoby Ellsbury (fifth behind the other four outfielders). 

The Blue Jays scratched today’s scheduled starter, Cesar Valdez.  Valdez was placed on the DL with a shoulder injury.  Nick Tepesch (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will start in his place against Masahiro Tanaka.

It was a very nice gesture by the Colorado Rockies to hang the late Don Baylor’s jersey in their dugout for yesterday’s game at Progressive Field in Cleveland against the Indians.  Baylor was the first manager in Rockies history, serving from 1993 to 1998.  The Rockies will have a tribute planned for Baylor when they return to Coors Field in Denver on August 14th versus the Atlanta Braves.  Following Baylor’s passing, Rockies owner Dick Montfort issued the following statement:  “He was a big man with an even bigger heart, a friend of so many.  His persona will be a part of our club heritage forever.  This is a sad day in Colorado and for all of baseball.”

Credit:  Tony Dejak-Associated Press

Have a great Wednesday!  One more day to Sonny Gray!  Let’s Go Yankees!

52 Games To Go, Let’s Do This!…

Enjoyed An Off Day…


Monday, Monday.  I am glad it’s in the books but it was nice having an off-day while the Yankees enjoyed their free time in Toronto.  But it’s now Tuesday and back to work.

Last month, I was in favor of a trade for a proven first baseman like Yonder Alonso (then with the Oakland A’s) or Lucas Duda (then with the New York Mets).  Alonso’s bat cooled about the time Chase Headley started heating up so Headley probably blocked any potential deal that would have brought Alonso to New York as either part of the Sonny Gray trade or a separate trade.  There’s also speculation that the Mets had a similar offer from the Yankees to one they accepted from the Tampa Bay Rays for Duda which showed the only way the Mets would work with the Yankees would be in an “overpay” situation.

So, where does that leave us with the latest speculation that Jay Bruce would be a good fit for the Yankees?  Primarily an outfielder, he has played 11 games at first base this year making him at least as experienced at the position as Headley.  He is left-handed and has mashed 29 homers this year to go with 75 RBI’s.  He is batting .260/.324/.528.  The 30-year-old is a free agent at the end of the year so he’d be a true rental.  Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of Bruce as he has seemed too much like a feast-or-famine type of hitter.  But, like Duda, he might have the swing for Yankee Stadium.   So, I’d have to say that I am intrigued by this one to say the least.  With so much uncertainty around Matt Holliday and Greg Bird, Bruce would bring a big stick to first base/DH for the rest of the year.

Nevertheless, if the Mets insist an overpay because it’s the Yankees, then it is not worth it.  The Yankees are also included in Bruce’s limited no-trade clause but that’s nothing $$$ couldn’t solve.  I am skeptical that the Mets would ever give the Yankees a player that could potentially help them make the play-offs and risk losing market share as a result.

I am not sure what I think about rumors the Yankees should pursue Mike Napoli.  He is a proven winner.  His numbers in his age 35 year are down from last year but he still has some thump in his bat with 22 HR’s albeit with a batting average that is south of the Todd Frazier line.  Napoli’s contract carries a 2018 club option that can be bought out for $2.5 million.  A costly measure, unless the Texas Rangers pay some or all the freight, to add the potential for a few late season bombs.  If only Chris Carter had done what he was paid to do.

I hate to see any more prospects shipped away for a six-week need unless it is for someone that can truly be the difference-maker at this point in the season (a player with the potential to help for an October push).  I want to see what Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin can do, and then there’s, hold your breath, Greg Bird at the end of the month.  Okay, maybe don’t hold your breath.  I suspect that unless Matt Holliday is able to come back after his DL stint to resemble the player we saw in the first half (unlikely), the DH position is going to be very fluid on a day to day basis with player rotation.

More than anything, the Yankees need Gary Sanchez to step up and deliver the promise he showed us last August and September.  At the moment, he’s the most maligned Yankee.  The key will be how he responds to the criticism.  The Yankees are a better team with El Gary in the lineup but he needs to make the defensive plays and wait for his pitches at the plate.  The Yankees play 6 of the next 13 games against the Boston Red Sox and will face Chris Sale twice.  Between the two Red Sox series, the Yankees play a home and away set against the New York Mets for four games.  This is a very crucial two weeks that could go a long way toward deciding the eventual AL East winner.
According to Baseball America, the Los Angeles Dodgers have released former Yankees LOOGY Tommy Layne.  The Dodgers also removed former Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to Triple A.  The Los Angeles Angels signed former Yankees reliever Branden Pinder, who was released earlier this summer by the Bombers.  I am sure that Angels GM Billy Eppler is relying upon past information about Pinder to take a chance.  I hope it works out for Pinder.

Next Up:  Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada…

The Toronto Blue Jays may be the AL East cellar dwellers but they always play the Yankees very tough.  The Yankees will see old friend Rob Refsnyder who is currently on the Blue Jays active roster as a backup infielder.

The scheduled pitching match-ups are:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (9-4, 3.81 ERA)

Blue Jays:  J.A. Happ (4-8, 3.92 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.93 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Cesar Valdez (1-1, 7.63 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.41 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-7, 5.12 ERA)

I am not trying to look ahead but it’s a bummer that we won’t have Sonny Gray for this weekend’s series against Boston at Yankee Stadium.  The Red Sox have gone out of their way to ensure that Chris Sale gets three starts against the Yankees in the coming weeks.

Farewell to #25…

Former Yankee Don Baylor died Monday at age 68 from cancer.  Baylor was American League MVP for the then California Angels in 1979 and he won a World Series with the Minnesota Twins at the end of his 19-year playing career, but I remember his toughness as the Yankees DH from 1983 to 1985, playing along side Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield. He was a magnet for baseballs with 267 HBP’s.  I wasn’t a fan of the March 1986 trade that sent Baylor to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Easler.  Rest in peace, Mr Baylor…

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s turn a two-game win streak into three!  Go Yankees