Tagged: Tyler Austin

Tyler Clippard, Yankee Killer…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

Rangers 8, Yankees 1…

You have to score runs to win so starter Luis Cessa should not be faulted for this one.  Aaron Judge tried too.  He hit his league-leading 26th home run to extend his current hitting streak to 26 games.  For as disappointing as the offense was from everybody else, the Yankees entered the 9th inning just a three-run jack away from tying the game.  

However, Manager Joe Girardi chose to bring in game-killer Tyler Clippard.  Perhaps we should just call him Relyt Drappilc because he is pitching so damn back-ass-wards right now.  If you are feeling generous and want to give the other team the opportunity to score lots of runs, just bring Clippard into a game.   But more rips on Clippard later.

Who is Austin Bibens-Dirkx?  The Yankees never seem to do well against unknown rookies but this dude is a 32-year-old in his sixth major league organization.  He spent 12 years in the minor leagues and was in the independent leagues last year.  When the Rangers pitching staff gets healthy, we’ll probably never hear his name again.  But on Saturday, he owned the Yankees.  Aside from Judge’s solo home run in the sixth, Bibens-Dirkx only allowed four other meaningless hits in seven innings of work.  He’ll be telling his grandkids one day about the time he shut down the high and mighty Yankees on the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium.  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Cessa (0-2) was not awful but he did depart the game after five innings (having thrown 86 pitches).  He allowed three runs on three hits, walked two, and struck out eight.  His mistake pitch was a slider thrown to Carlos Gomez in the fourth inning that ended up in the left field stands for two runs, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead.  As YES Network announcer David Cone put it, it was a slider that stopped sliding or a slider that takes a seat (pulled up a chair).  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

After Judge had brought the Yankees to within two runs with his homer, Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos answered with a solo shot of his own in the seventh off Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder.  It was the tenth home run of the season for Chirinos in only 95 at-bats. 

With two outs in the seventh, Tyler Webb entered the game in relief of Holder.  It was Tyler’s Major League debut and he got his first batter (Shin-Soo Choo) to line out to end the inning.  Webb pitched the eighth, retiring the three batters he faced, including one by strikeout, to complete a perfect debut.

Credit:  Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Sadly, Girardi opted to turn to Clippard for the ninth and he snuffed any chance for a comeback.  Before he had recorded the third out, Clippard had allowed four more runs on a wild pitch and two doubles.  He allowed a total of four hits in the inning and gave up two walks.  The once-reliable set up artist is now a huge albatross. I am not sure how you can turn him around in games without costly implications.  This is one of the worst stretches that I’ve ever seen.  While he pitched well for the Yankees last year after his acquisition from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trading deadline, his numbers in the Sonoran Desert weren’t that great.  For the 2016 D-Backs, he was 2-3 with 4.30 ERA.  That’s closer to the pitcher that we are seeing today.  I hope Clippard can turn this thing around but at the moment, I am not optimistic.  Clippard’s too valuable (I think?) to cut so hopefully he does work through this funk.  I apologize for being so harsh but the last few weeks with Clippard have not been enjoyable.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Facing the huge deficit, the Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th, with two strikeouts, and the Rangers walked away with the victory.

Fortunately for the Yankees (40-32), the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Boston Red Sox, 6-3, so the teams remain tied atop the AL East Standings.  The Tampa Bay Rays also lost (8-3 to the Baltimore Orioles) so they stayed 2.5 games back.  

Tyler Austin, making his season debut, finished hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts and a grounder into a double play. There was concern in the fifth inning when Pete Kozma, standing off first base, jarred Austin’s left wrist while racing back to first standing up after a line out by Choo.  Austin shook it off and continued the game.  It does raise the question of who is the safety net for Austin should he get hurt.  Chase Headley is currently unable to play due to back spasms and it is best to not over-expose Matt Holliday at the position. 

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have signed their top pick, RHP Clarke Schmidt, to an ‘as-expected’ below-allocation contract.  By signing for $2,184,300 (or $1,274,300 below the allocated value of the 16th overall pick), the Yankees had the money to “overpay” RHP Matt Sauer, RHP Trevor Stephan, OF Canaan Smith, and RHP Dalton Higgins.  With a signing bonus of $2.5 million, second round pick Sauer ended up as the most costly of the signed draft choices.  The Yankees have only one player in the top 20 that remains unsigned…18th pick RHP Garrett Whitlock. 

Credit:  Allen Sharp-Spurs & Feathers

Jacoby Ellsbury made a rehab start yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  He broke up a no-hitter with a double in the fifth inning of SWB’s 8-0 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox.  He finished 1-for-3.   He’ll start at DH today for SWB before moving over to AA-Trenton when the RailRiders hit the road.  

Today is one of the best days of the year for the Yankees.  It’s Old Timer’s Day.  Pre-Game introductions begin at 11:30 am Eastern.  It is always so fun to hear the name announcements for the Yankees legends as they run (or walk) out onto the field.  Jorge Posada will be making his first Old Timer’s appearance at Yankee Stadium.  Hip, hip, Jorge!  This year’s participants will include Jesse Barfield (no offense, we should have kept Al Leiter), Scott Bradley, Homer Bush, Rick Cerone, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey “Chairman of the Board” Ford, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron “Louisiana Lightning” Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Reginald Martinez “Mr October” Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don “Gooney Bird” Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Sparky Lyle, Kevin Maas, Constantino “Tino” Martinez, Lee “Maz” Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Jeff Nelson, Paul “The Warrior” O’Neill,  Tim “Rock” Raines, Willie Randolph, Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, Mike Torrez (sorry, but I still think of him as a Red Sock), Roy White and Bernie “Bern Baby Bern” Williams.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Have a great Sunday!  It will be a fun day!  Go Yankees!

Step Aside Boys, Toe’s Got This…

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

Yankees 2, Rangers 1…

 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s Ronald Torreyes!  The unlikely hero delivered in the 10th inning with a walk-off run-scoring single as the Yankees took the first game of a three game set from the Texas Rangers.  

The game, delayed for an hour and forty minutes by rain, was a classic pitcher’s duel between Japanese greats Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka.  The duel may have ended with goose eggs and no decisions for both pitchers, but they were incredible as the game did not see its first runs until the 9th inning.  Worried about Tanaka prior to the game, he showed that he was anything but a concern as he pitched 8 innings of three-hit scoreless ball,  Walking just two, he fanned nine.  Darvish went 7 innings with no runs and two hits, and did one better than Tanaka with strikeouts (10).  I am not sure what we’ll see the next time Tanaka takes the mound but with Darvish as his motivation on Friday night, he was magnificent.  

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

I was worried that Rangers slugger Joey Gallo would torch Tanaka pitches but he struck out with two runners on in the third inning, and grounded out in a similar situation in the eighth as the last batter Tanaka faced.  Gallo finished 0-for-4 and 3 strikeouts.  

The Yankees brought Aroldis Chapman in for the 9th inning of the scoreless game.  He struck out the first batter, Shin-Soo Choo, but Elvis Andrus followed with a single.  Struggling with his command, Chapman, who was sweating profusely, hit Nomar Mazara with a pitch in the shoulder.  With Adrian Beltre at the plate, Andrus stole third.  A great defensive play by third baseman Torreyes in stopping a wide throw from Gary Sanchez prevented more damage at that point.  But when Beltre struck out, the ball got away from Sanchez and Andrus ran home for the game’s first run.  

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 9th, Torreyes went down on a groundout for the first out.  But no worries, Brett Gardner came up and delivered with a game-tying home run to right.  Aaron Hicks grounded out for the second out.  Aaron Judge singled to put the potential winning run at first.  Unfortunately, Matt Holliday struck out to send the game into extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, the Rangers loaded the bases against Chad Green and Chasen Shreve with two outs but Shreve got Andrus to pop out to end the threat.  This set the stage for the home half of the 10th.  With one out, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius singled, with Sanchez taking third.  Chris Carter struck out on four pitches (surprise, surprise).  But no fear, Ronald Torreyes stepped up to the plate.  The little man with the big stick.  A line drive single to center scored Sanchez with the winning run.  The Yankees win.

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The victory allowed the Yankees (40-31) to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox atop the AL East Standings.  The Red Sox had defeated the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 earlier in the evening.  The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 15-5, to remain 2 1/2 games back.  

After the game, the Yankees mercifully ended the Chris Carter experiment.  He seemed lost at the plate, with another 0-for-4 performance and three strikeouts.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

Carter had a chance to be a hero in the bottom of the 8th with Gary Sanchez on first and two outs.  But he feebly struck out swinging.  There was something about that weak final swing that gave me an “I’m done” feeling. It was reinforced in the 10th when Carter struck out with a huge opportunity to be the game’s hero.  Apparently, GM Brian Cashman felt the same way as Carter was designated for assignment immediately after the game.  Tyler Austin, who has homered in his last three of his last four games, was recalled to take Carter’s place.  In the 27 games at Triple A after his reactivation from the DL in late May, Austin has hit .300/.366/.500 with 4 HR’s and 21 RBI’s for the RailRiders. Of his 30 hits in 100 at-bats, 17 have gone for extra-bases.  The alarming statistic is 32 strikeouts but Austin has really been heating up with the bat over the past week.  He has played error-free baseball at first.  Welcome back, Tyler!  Trust us, we are very glad to see you.

Big Papi, The Man Among Boys…

The Boston Red Sox retired the number of David “Big Papi” Ortiz last night in their game against the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park.  Big Papi was a thorn in the Yankees’ side for many years.  Time and again, a game was ended with a Big Papi blast.  I am very glad that #34 will no longer be an active number worn when the Red Sox come to town.  My biggest fear was that he would “un-retire”. 

Credit:  Stuart Cahill

Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr expressed it well when he said, “That just lets you know what a special impact he’s made in the community and the organization and all of baseball.  What he’s done for the city, the team, people around him, it’s well deserved.  I know we couldn’t be any happier for him.”  I agree.  As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I couldn’t wait for the Chicago Bears’ Walter Payton (may he rest in peace) to retire, and I felt the same about Papi.  More than anything, it is a sign of how much respect I held for those men.  


A close friend of mine who is a lifelong, die-hard Red Sox fan, and Boston-area resident, did post this comment on Social Media:  “This is just my humble opinion, but I think it is much too early for the Red Sox to be retiring Ortiz’s number.  With the exception of Johnny Pesky, the honor of having a number retired by the Red Sox was reserved for those players who entered the Baseball HOF.”  My response…whatever it takes to keep him from coming out of retirement.

Odds & Ends…

Chance Adams is a friggin’ rock star.  In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 11-1 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox on Thursday, the RailRiders’ ace was magnificent.  Pawtucket didn’t get their first hit until the sixth inning.  Adams (5-2) finished six innings strong, allowing just the one hit and no runs.  He issued two walks, while fanning eight.  The outstanding performance lowered Adams’ season ERA to 2.12.  At some point in the not-so-distant future, it will be determined that Adams has nothing left to prove at the Triple A level.  In my mind, he’s just a couple of Luis Cessa bumps and bruises away from stepping on the main stage (or the potential first call if another starter…I hope not…is injured).  Why not take a Chance?…

The Boston Red Sox are going hog wild in an attempt to find help.  Yesterday, they signed pitcher Doug Fister, released by the Los Angeles Angels, and shortstop/third baseman Jhonny Peralta, who was cut by the St Louis Cardinals.  Injuries to their pitching staff forced the Fister move.  The disaster known as Pablo Sandoval brought in Peralta.  I still think the Red Sox will be heavy players for Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas at the trading deadline. The Boston Globe is reporting that the Sox should have about $9 million to play with before they risk crossing the luxury tax threshold.   


Happy Saturday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

CC and the Backdoor Slider…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 8, Red Sox 0…

Much better!


When CC Sabathia was named the #2 starter at the beginning of the year, I thought it was comical.  Now, he’s probably the ace.  This vintage run of excellent starts by Sabathia has been tremendous and much needed.  I know that he has benefited from his talks with Andy Pettitte about transitioning to an older pitcher but after a few starts to forget earlier this year, I had given him up for dead.  Then, suddenly he has re-emerged as a dominant pitcher.  I am not sure how long this will last, but I’m lovin’ the ride.

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

A night after a disappointing loss, Sabathia (7-2) shut the Red Sox down with eight solid innings.  He held the Sox to 5 hits and struck out 5 in the shutout.  He did not walk anyone.  When he wasn’t pitching great, he was making excellent bare-handed defensive plays, like stopping the Jackie Bradley, Jr chopper in the fifth and throwing the runner out at first with a runner at third.  It was a critical play as Josh Rutledge had opened the inning with a triple.  The runner was eventually left stranded, thanks in very large part to CC’s great play on JBJ.


All of CC’s pitches were working, but it was the deadly slider that left the Sox batters shaking their heads.  It’s an interesting stat that it was the first time CC has shutout an opponent with at least eight innings pitched since September 2012.  


I expected Sabathia to tire in the later innings but he was still cruising in the eighth (retiring the final 12 batters he faced).  Manager Joe Girardi made the right decision to pull CC after eight innings and 95 pitches.  Jonathan Holder finished up in relief.  


I wonder if we can get Pettitte to come to New York to talk to Masahiro Tanaka.  I don’t know but it’s cool to write Pettitte’s name in a blog post again.  He would make a good replacement for pitching coach Larry Rothschild one day.  


As for the offense, it came from a very unlikely source.  The forgotten man and the guy on almost everybody’s list for roster reduction when Greg Bird returns delivered in a big way.  Chris Carter, who entered the game with a .183 batting average, blasted a three-run homer to left-center in the Yankees’ four-run fourth inning that gave the Yankees some breathing room in a game, which up to that point, had been a pitcher’s duel.  The Yankees tacked on three more runs late, including a RBI single from Carter in the eighth.  Carter was 3-for-4 on the night, with 4 RBI’s.  He raised his batting average by 19 points to .202.  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Carter should have had two home runs, but Mookie Betts was aided by a Yankees fan to make a leaping catch to rob Carter in the sixth.  The ball seemingly was over the wall but landed in the fan’s hands and rolled back into Betts’ glove.  Girardi tried to challenge but the umps ruled that he was outside of the 30-second window to appeal.  I’m glad that play didn’t factor into the outcome of the game.


Didi Gregorius got the scoring started in the third with a solo shot off Red Sox starter and AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello.  Porcello has not been the same pitcher he was last year (he is now 3-8) but when he started the game strong, I had been concerned that he was finding the success he had enjoyed last year.  Thankfully, it was not meant to be as Carter and Company gave CC an abundance of runs, one night after they fell one short.


With the win, the Yankees (33-23) moved back up to two games ahead of the Red Sox.  The Baltimore Orioles came up with another extra inning win over the Pittsburgh Pirates to remain 2 1/2 games back.

Odds & Ends…

It is being reported that Masahiro Tanaka will make his next start as scheduled.  I think this is a mistake.  Something is clearly wrong and to allow the pitcher to work out his issues in-game is not a smart move in my opinion.  This seems to be psychological as best I can tell.  I think Tanaka needs to get his head straight first, then work on the pitches.  That’s why I would give him time away from the rotation.  If I owned the Yankees, I’d send Tanaka back home to Japan for a week or two.  Let him regroup, and then have him try to find what he had during spring training.  Chad Green is capable of a spot start or even Adam Warren.  Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell are also available for call-up.  Any of the four are capable of doing better than the recent Tanaka performances.  I’d love a spot start by Chance Adams but I agree that he’s not ready and then there’s the small issue of finding room on the 40-man roster.  

I was going to rip NESN’s Jerry Remy for his comments that Tanaka should not be allowed to have a translator during mound visits, but then he owned up to his mistake and apologized.  

Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com reported yesterday that an anonymous GM has indicated he would give 2018 free agent-to-be Bryce Harper a 15-year deal for $600 million. If that’s the price tag, I have no problem with an outfield of Aaron Judge, Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks.  

Oddly, the Yankees and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders have identical win-loss records at 33-23.  The RailRiders won their 33rd game with a 5-1 win over the Rochester Red Wings.  Gleyber Torres had the go-ahead two-run double in the 7th inning and scored on a wild pitch in the 9th.  Torres was 2-for-4.  Tyler Austin also had a run-scoring double in the 9th.  

Credit:  MiLB.com

I love Yankees prospects but I saw that the St Louis Cardinals have assigned a young outfielder by the name of Matt Fiedler to the State College Spikes (High A).  A 9th round pick in the 2016 Draft, the 22 year old right-handed leftfielder hit .325 with 4 homers and 31 RBI’s last year for Johnson City Cardinals (the 2016 Appalachian League Champions).  I hope the Eagan, MN native continues his upward climb in the Cardinals organization.  I’d buy his jersey if he makes it to the Show.  I haven’t been this excited since, well, Jay Fiedler was a Miami Dolphin although Vernon Fiddler in the Stanley Cup Finals for the Nashville Predators is kinda neat…

Credit:  University of Minnesota

Have a great Thursday!  I don’t want much today…just a Yankees win!

Beat the Best to be the Best…

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The Rivalry…

The Yankees and the Red Sox rekindle Baseball’s best rivalry tonight.  The Yankees begin play two games ahead of the Red Sox in the division standings.  Boston, the pre-season favorite to the win the AL East, has slowly been moving up the standings.  They are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and have won two in a row.

The Red Sox are currently without the services of the gutsy Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia is on the DL with a left wrist sprain.  He is not eligible to be activated until Friday.  Boston is also without starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez as he went on the DL over the weekend with right knee subluxation (partial dislocation).  

The Yankees will miss Chris Sale, who was the starter on Sunday in Boston’s 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles, this series. Boston’s talented young left-fielder Andrew Benintendi is starting to heat up.  He had two home runs on Sunday to back Sale.  He is currently batting .269/.342/.413 and has 7 HR and 30 RBI.  He is second on the team with 8 stolen bases.

Credit:  David Goldman-Associated Press

Jackie Bradley, Jr, after a horrific start is also coming around.  Batting .269 with 7 HR and 24 RBI, he has a home run and 6 RBI’s in the last four games (5-for-13).


As Yankees manager Joe Girardi said over the weekend, it’s one big series after another right now.  If the Yankees intend to be players in the AL East for the long haul this season, they need to make a statement.  Since they’ve begun this rugged 13 consecutive game stretch against AL East opponents, the Yankees are 3-4.  With the next 6 games at home against the Red Sox and Orioles, the Yankees can help themselves…or not.  

The scheduled pitching match-ups for the Red Sox series are:

TODAY

Red Sox:  Drew Pomeranz (5-3, 4.24 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 6.34 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Red Sox:  Rick Porcello (3-7, 4.24 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (6-2, 4.12 ERA)

THURSDAY

Red Sox:  David Price (1-0, 3.00 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (6-3, 3.76 ERA)

Better to Rent or to Buy…

The arguments have been made for why the Yankees should stick to plan and forego any expensive rentals for the mid-summer.  I get the logic.  Does it make sense to part with Justus Sheffield, Clint Frazier, or Jorge Mateo to bring someone in for a few months when the youngsters can be part of the impending “dynasty”?  

Yet, when you hear Yankees General Partner/Co-Chairperson Hank Steinbrenner make comments like, “Oh yeah.  We’re greedy.  We want to win this year.”, you know that it’s possible common sense may take a backseat.  

Speculation is starting to run rampant with third base possibilities. I’ve seen a few articles centered on Todd Frazer as a potential trade target.  His pic with Derek Jeter as a child is a nice story but it doesn’t mean I want the guy on my team.  Frazier had 40 home runs last year, but he only batted .225/.302/.464.  He has gotten off to a much worst start this year with only 8 homers, 25 RBI’s and a line of .195/.306/.396.  The 31-year-old probably represents a buy low candidate but I am not enthused.  He is making $12 million this year and will be a free agent after the season is over.  I’ve already jettisoned Frazier from a couple of fantasy baseball teams.  If the Yankees could acquire for some names that I’ve never heard of and will never hear again, I could probably buy into giving it a try.  Otherwise, I don’t want to lose good prospects for a guy who is flirting with the Mendoza line (and on the wrong side to boot).  

If the Yankees have to make a move, I’d probably be more in favor of Mike Moustakas.  Also  a free agent at the end of the year, Moustakas is making $8.7 million this year with better numbers.  He has 14 home runs and 29 RBI’s and is batting .255/.295/.510.  Both Moustakas and Frazier had fielding percentages of .947 entering play yesterday.  Moustakas is younger…he’ll be 29 in September. 

It all boils down to cost.  How much?  If the Yankees can make moves to improve the team without sacrificing key talent, they should do it.  If not, stand pat.  The great thing about a top farm system is redundancy at certain positions.  Thairo Estrada is doing a great job at AA-Trenton but he plays second base/shortstop.  It is a position of strength for the Yankees with Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, Jorge Mateo and others.  If trades could create opportunity for redundant players blocked in the system, I am not opposed to their inclusion in potential roster-enhancing moves.  


This is a tough call.  I recognize that the Yankees are building for something greater but I also know that when you have your opportunities for October baseball, you make the most of it.  There does need to be a good short-term plan with long-term vision.  If you get a ticket to the dance, you never know what can happen.  

Odds & Ends…

Because of Sunday’s rainout, Chance Adams scheduled start for AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was pushed from Monday to today.  Bryan Mitchell, Sunday’s scheduled starter, took the mound on Monday night in the RailRiders’ 6-3 win over the Rochester Red Wings.  He didn’t figure in the decision as he only lasted 2 1/3 innings, giving up 3 hits and 2 runs.  Domingo German, pitching in relief for the first time since 2012, gave a start-like relief performance in picking up the win.  German limited the Red Wings to 5 hits and 1 run over 5 2/3 innings, while striking out 7.  Ben Heller picked up his first save.

The RailRiders victory featured the first home run, a three-run shot, by super prospect Gleyber Torres.  Torres was 3-for-3 with a walk, and he drove in 4 RBI’s.  

Tyler Austin completed his rehab assignment and was re-assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  It’s just a matter of time before Austin gets the call for the short trip to NYC.  Rob Refsnyder offers better versatility with his ability to play second and third, in addition to first base and the outfield.  But at some point, his bat needs to start producing.  If not, the Yanks are better served by first baseman/OF Austin.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Hopefully we’ll see the “good” Tanaka later today.  Go Yanks!

Good Hitting < Bad Pitching…

Credit:  Frank Gunn-Associated Press

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 5…

Bummer…

I was hoping for better results last night with Big Mike on the mound.  The Yankees tried a valiant comeback with a couple of two-run home runs but it was not enough.  

The Yankees were in an early hole when the Blue Jays scored three runs off Pineda in the first.  Josh Donaldson homered with one out and no one on.  After getting Joey Bats for the second out, Pineda walked Kendrys Morales.  That brought up Justin Smoak, who is having a breakout year at age 30.  Unfortunately, Smoak smoked the ball to right center and I was having visions of Pineda from years past.

The Blue Jays picked up a couple of more runs in the third and fourth innings to lead 5-0 when the Yankees began their comeback in the sixth.  Gary Sanchez led off with a single and Aaron Judge followed with his 18th homer.  It ended Francisco Liriano’s start.  Reliever Danny Barnes walked Matt Holliday on a 3-2 count and the next batter up, Starlin Castro, brought the Yankees to within a run at 5-4 with a homer to right center.  

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The Blue Jays came right back in the bottom of the sixth when Donaldson hit his second homer of the night, a solo shot.  

The Yankees scored a run in the seventh when Matt Holliday doubled to score Aaron Judge who had walked in the previous at-bat.  But again, the Blue Jays answered in the bottom of the frame.  After Justin Smoak reached first on an error charged to Chris Carter (Yankees challenged the play and lost), Troy Tulowitzki doubled to push Smoak to third.  Devon Travis then hit a sac fly to score Smoak, bringing the score to 7-5.  

From there, the Yankees were unable to mount any threats against the Blue Jays bullpen and it was game over.  

It was a disappointing start by Michael Pineda (6-3).  He went five innings, giving up 10 hits and 5 runs.  He walked 3 batters while only striking out one.  He was unable to overcome that first inning breakdown when he allowed the two home runs.  Of course, it didn’t help that neither Jonathan Holder nor Adam Warren were able to deliver clean innings.  

Credit:  Getty Images

The Yankees (31-21) remain in first place in the AL East, but the Baltimore Orioles did pick up a game and leap frogged Boston with a 3-2 win over the Red Sox.  The Orioles are 2 1/2 games back, while the Red Sox remain 3 games behind.  The Blue Jays may be in last place but they are just 5 1/2 games behind the leaders.   The only division that is tighter is the NL Central where the first place Milwaukee Brewers lead the last place Pittsburgh Pirates by only four games.  It must be nice to be a Houston Astros or Washington Nationals fan with double digit leads over their closest competitors.  One day, it will be our time to shine.  

Odds & Ends…

The rumors of Gleyber Torres to the Bronx seem to be picking up steam.  I don’t think he’s ready yet, but reports are indicating that we could see Torres as early as next month.  There’s no doubt the kid has maturity beyond his years and is a special talent, but I feel that he is an asset for opening in Spring 2018.  The lackluster play of Chase Headley, of course, is forcing acceleration of the plan.  At AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Torres is currently batting .212 (7-for-33).  In last night’s 7-5 win over the Toledo Mud Hens, Torres was 1-for-4 with a single and a run scored.  Two of his outs were by strikeout, and he walked once.  He was charged with a fielding error, his fourth at AAA.  

Credit:  Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that ultimately this may come down to a choice between Tyler Austin or Torres.  If Torres is called up, Headley becomes the backup first/third baseman.  If Austin comes up, he backs up Greg Bird at first, with Ronald Torreyes remaining the primary backup at third for Headley.  None of these scenarios bode well for Chris Carter.  We still have the potential problem at first (what if Bird continues to struggle when he returns) but there’s clearly some difficult decisions looming on the horizon.  

Austin was 1-for-4 (single) for the RailRiders yesterday.

All he does is friggin’ win.  The story of Chance Adams is amazing.  In a short time, he’s become a minor league legend.  Since being drafted in the fifth round in 2015, he’s 23-3 with 1.96 ERA in 34 games started covering 220 2/3 innings.  He has struck out 248 batters.  In the 2015 MLB Draft, current Yankees pitching prospect Dillon Tate was the fourth overall selection by the Texas Rangers.  Adams wasn’t chosen until 149 picks later.  2015 was the year the Yankees chose James Kaprielian as their first round choice.  We know the talent that Kaprielian possesses but staying healthy has been another matter.  Before the Yankees took Adams, they chose two other pitchers after Kaprielian…Jeff Degano and Drew Finley.  In a do-over, I think you’d take Adams over any of the three or four if you threw in Tate.  I still have high hopes for Kaprielian, but there is so much to be excited about Adams.   I liked the quote from AA-Trenton Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell, “He is just a big leaguer in the making”.  The finished product is probably not too far away.

Credit:  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In AAA transactions on Friday, the RailRiders released LHP Jason Gurka.  Gurka was signed as a minor league free agent in December 2016.  He appeared in a few Spring Training games, but wasn’t going to be an arm for consideration at the big league level.  For the RailRiders, he was 0-0 with 5.40 ERA in 16 2/3 innings.  He did strike out 20 batters so I am sure that he’ll get a look by another organization.  Best of luck to him.

Have a great Saturday!  Go Yankees!

Whatever You Can Do, I Can Do Better…

Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Yankees 12, Blue Jays 2…

Oh, that’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh,

I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh.

Forget the Toronto Blue Jays are in last place in the AL East.  This is a dangerous club and one that was predicted to battle the Boston Red Sox for the division championship in most pre-season polls.  They’re a good club and much better than their record might indicate.  They’ve been very hot recently (winners of 8 of their prior 10 games) and previously injured stars Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzski have rejoined the team.  So, it is that much sweeter to emerge from the first game of the Yankees-Blue Jays series with such a convincing win.

I love the way Manager Joe Girardi said before the game that Gary Sanchez was due to break out and then Sanchez promptly parks one in the second deck in left during the second inning at Rogers Centre for his fifth homer of the season, followed by another shot to left for his sixth round-tripper in the fourth, a two-run blast.  As John Sterling put it, “Gary is scary!”.  The two home runs traveled a combined distance of 874 feet.  Now if I could just get Girardi to say that GM Brian Cashman is really close to trading (i.e., dumping) Jacoby Ellsbury and Chris Carter…

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

If you purely looked at numbers between two players, who would you start in center field?

Player 1:  135 AB, 4 HR, 14 RBI, .281/.349/.422, .771 OPS

Player 2:  126 AB, 8 HR, 30 RBI, .317/.437/.579, 1.016 OPS

Let’s just say that I am glad Jacoby Ellsbury was unable to come off the DL when he was eligible to be activated on Thursday.  Aaron Hicks is on fire.  It’s hard to say he was the star of the game when Sanchez smacked two massive home runs, but Hicksie was 4-for-5 with 6 RBI’s to achieve at least co-star honors.  A very impressive performance for the player who was slow to realize his potential but seems to be breaking out with full force this season.

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Aaron Judge, moved up to third in the batting order, singled in the game’s first run.

The Yankees were in control from the start.  They jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning off Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada and never looked back.  

The recent solid run by CC Sabathia (6-2) has been nice.  Backed by superb offense, he pitched into the seventh inning.  He departed after allowing the first Blue Jays run on a homer by Kendrys Morales and subsequently striking out Justin Smoak.  The Blue Jays were only able to get five hits off CC, in addition to the one run.  CC had seven strikeouts and did not walk batter. Chad Green finished the game in relief.  He did allow a solo homer by Ezquiel Carrera but provided length to give the rest of the bullpen the night off.  

Brett Gardner, with a single in the fourth inning, achieved a career milestone with his 1,000th hit of his career.  

This was just a fun game.  The Rogers Centre has been a House of Horrors for the Yankees.  Last year, they dropped 8 of 10 games to the Blue Jays in the ballpark.  So the dominating performance made the win that much more enjoyable.  

The Yankees (31-20) were able to gain a game on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  The Red Sox lost to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, 7-5.  The Red Sox are 3 games back, and the Orioles remained 3 1/2 games behind.  

Yankees in the News…

Reliever Ernesto Frieri opted not to exercise his opt-out yesterday.  Frieri, currently with AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, is 2-0 with 3.00 ERA.  Frieri has pitched in 17 games for the RailRiders, covering 21 innings.  He has struck out 24 batters and is currently carrying a WHIP of 1.05.  As the primary closer for the RailRiders, he has 7 saves.  Time will tell if he gets another big league opportunity but you probably shouldn’t hold your breath.

Greg Bird began a rehabilitation assignment with the High-A Advanced Tampa Yankees on Thursday.  Bird played first base in the game against the Charlotte Stone Crabs (you gotta love those unique minor league team names).  Maybe Tampa should be the Anti-Rays.  Bird walked in his first two at-bats showing his eyes are as strong as ever.  He finished the game with a single, in addition to the two walks, in the 6-4 loss. 

Credit:  Paul LoMoglio-Yankees

While Chris Carter was putting up another 0-fer night (hitless in 4 at-bats), Tyler Austin, starting at first base for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was getting plenty of legwork with a 3-for-4 night that featured a two run home run in the first inning of the RailRiders’ 6-3 loss to the Columbus Clippers.  Carter’s batting average has plummeted to .179 and is making it much easier for the Yankees to eventually decide between Carter and Austin.  

Aroldis Chapman threw from 90 to 100 feet on Thursday.  Girardi said that the Yankees closer will probably throw a bullpen session next week.  The closer is slowly getter closer.

In the first release of All-Star Game balloting, Aaron Judge is currently third with 730,438 votes.  The only players he trails are Washington Nationals’ star Bryce Harper and the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout (who is currently on the DL following thumb surgery).  I am hoping that Harper and Judge are teammates in 2019, but Judge says screw that, I want to be his teammate this year!  Not really but if Aaron gets the call for the ASG, I am okay if he does a little schmoozing with Harper and lets him know how wonderful us Yankees fans are.  

Have a great Friday!  It’s a wonderful time to be alive…and a Yankees fan!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Is the awful Tanaka the new Tanaka?…

Credit:  Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Orioles 10, Yankees 4…

Disappointing, to say the least…

Masahiro Tanaka, proving that his last start was just a facade, got hammered again as the Orioles cruised to victory.  In 5 2/3 painful innings, Tanaka (5-5) was pounded for nine hits and seven runs.  The latest implosion pushed his ERA up to 6.34 for the season.  

The Yankees had their opportunities to get back into the game but couldn’t deliver.  The Yankees bullpen, most notably Giovanny Gallegos who had been called up earlier in the day to replace Bryan Mitchell, let the Orioles break the game open.  Gallegos allowed a two-run homer to Chris Davis in the seventh inning and three runs overall in his 1 2/3 innings.

For the Orioles, Adam Jones was the offensive force of the night.  After missing multiple games due to a sore ankle and hip, Jones was back in the lineup on Wednesday night.  Apparently he felt that he had to make up for lost time as he was 3-for-5 with 5 RBI’s.  His crushing hit was a three-run homer off Tanaka in the fourth inning.  

Credit:  Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

To the Yankees credit, they completely shut down Manny Machado in the series.  He was 0-for-5 and struck out twice.  In the three games played, Machado was hitless in 15 at-bats which dropped his batting average to .205.  It’s unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t hold the other Orioles sluggers in check as they lost the three game series, two games to one.  

I guess on the bright side, the Yankees had no need to use their top bullpen arms so Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren will be fresh for the latest series in Toronto.  

Every Yankees starter got at least one hit except for Chase Headley, who was hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts although he did walk twice.  Rob Refsnyder, manning first base for the second game in a row, picked up two hits in his four plate appearances.  The hits were Refsnyder’s first of the season.   

It is very hard to find any positives with this game.  I am not sure what can be done to fix Tanaka.  It’s up to him to make the necessary adjustments but for whatever reason, his adjustments so far have been futile.  

Things do not get any easier for the Yankees as they now travel to Toronto to face a suddenly red-hot Blue Jays squad (8-2 in their last ten games).  

The Yankees (30-20) lost ground in the AL East as the Boston Red Sox pulled within two games with their 4-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.  The Orioles moved up to 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  Last-placed Toronto is only 5 1/2 games back so they have an opportunity to make some noise over the next few days.  

Yankees in the News…

Future Yankees outfielder Bryce Harper (hey, if everyone else can talk about it, so can I!) received good news on Wednesday.  His four-game suspension for this week’s fight with Hunter Strickland and the San Francisco Giants has been reduced to three games.  The suspension should not impact Harper’s availability to open the 2019 season for the Yankees.  

Greg Bird is getting ready to fly.  After playing in three simulated innings on Wednesday, he’ll begin a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa today.  I am really hoping to see the bat that wore out pitchers in Spring Training and not the Mark Teixeira Annual April-Ice-Cold bat we saw after his ankle injury.  

Tyler Austin didn’t do much for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders yesterday in their 4-3 victory over the Columbus Clippers in the second game of a doubleheader.  He was penciled in at DH (did not play in the first game).  He went hitless in four at-bats, striking out three times, in his best impersonation of Chris Carter.  I guess to be Chris Carter and take his job, you have to become Chris Carter.  Still, Austin is a better first baseman than either Carter or Rob Refsnyder.  So, once that bat starts humming, it will be Bronx-bound.  

As for the first game of the RailRiders doubleheader, WHOA!  Chance Adams was spectacular.  He threw a one-hitter over six scoreless innings of work.  He struck out twelve batters while walking only two.  He is now 3-1 at the AAA Level with a 1.57 ERA.  The RailRiders won the game, 6-0.  Adams has the accelerator mashed to the floor in his drive for the Bronx.  At some point, somebody is going to have to make room in the rotation.  

Credit:  MiLB.com

Reliever Ernesto Frieri, currently at AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, has an opt-out clause in his contract that can be exercised today.  Let him go.  I see no compelling reasons to create room on the 40-man roster for Frieri.  He has been the RailRiders’ closer, picking up his seventh save in yesterday’s second game of the double-header.  He was touched for two runs in the bottom of the seventh as the Clippers tried an unsuccessful rally against the RailRiders.  He walked a batter in his one inning of work and one of the two hits he allowed was a homer.  Frieri hasn’t been relevant in years and he is not going to be relevant in 2017.  Pass.

Life North of the Border…

The Yankees begin a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays this evening.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (5-2, 4.42 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-2, 3.15 ERA)

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.32 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Francisco Liriano (2-2, 6.35 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-4, 4.11 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Joe Biagini (1-3, 3.64 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (4-2, 2.93 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (6-2, 3.28 ERA)

This puts Masahiro Tanaka on track to open the three-game series against the Boston Red Sox next Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.  Things do not get any easier…

Have a great Thursday!  Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.  Don’t quit.