|Photo Credit: AP (Fred Thornhill)|
Sonny Gray leads Yanks to another loss…
I was worried when I saw that Sonny Gray would be starting for the Yankees on Friday night to open the three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Gray can’t bat so I can’t speak for the offense but Sonny Gray Sucked!
I am tiring of his presence on the Yankees roster. Some guys just are not cut out for the Pinstripes and I am starting to think that Gray and the Yankees are not a good fit. He has the stuff to attack hitters but his approach to each game always seems a little off. Gray, single-handedly, could be the reason the Yankees are fighting for a Wild Card spot in September versus walking away with the division. Bryan Van Dusen mentioned it yesterday but the Yankees could win over 100 games only to see their season ended on a one-and-done playoff game.
It has gotten to the point that I trust Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga more than I do Gray. Nothing against those guys, but they are not who I want on the mound when the calendar page turns to October. In the years ahead, I am sure German and Loaisiga will be trusted playoff arms but they’re not ready for that type of pressure quite yet. The Yankees need a legitimate #2 starter to slot in behind Luis Severino. I thought Sonny Gray would be that guy but clearly he is not. CC Sabathia is a great guy and someone who has reinvented himself but, seriously, the guy is going to be 38 in a couple of weeks. He’s not exactly in Tom Brady-like condition. Masahiro Tanaka, scheduled to be activated off the disabled list in a couple of days, has to prove that he is the Masahiro of old and not the guy who likes to play Homer Ball. That remains to be seen. I am concerned, very concerned, about the current state of the pitching staff for any guy not named Luis Severino.
Sorry, this is my therapy. I have to get out my anger and frustration with Gray.
The Yankees looked like they were in good shape when the game started. Brett Gardner’s single and a steal plus a walk by Giancarlo Stanton had runners at the corners with two outs in the first inning. Unfortunately, Didi Gregorius struck out against Blue Jays start Sam Gaviglio to leave Gardy and Giancarlo stranded, taking a called third strike after changing out his bats.
The first warning sign for Gray came in the bottom of the first when he loaded the bases with a couple of walks and a hit. He escaped any damage when he struck out Russell Martin, but it was a signal of things to come.
Gray lost the game with his pathetic second inning when nine Jays batters came to the plate. Randal Grichuk opened the inning with a double to left. He advanced to third on a ground out, and scored when Devon Travis singled up the middle. A wild pitch by Gray allowed Travis to take second, putting him in position to score when Curtis Granderson singled to right. After Teoscar Hernandez struck out for the second out, Yangervis Solarte singled to center to put two men on base for Justin Smoak. After taking a called strike, Smoak smoked a Gray pitch into the right field stands to give the Blue Jays a 5-0 lead. Gray proceeded to hit Kevin Pillar to put another runner on base, but he was able to strike out Martin again to end the inning.
Mercifully, Gray was finished for the game. His final pitching line was awful. Two innings, six hits, five runs, and two walks. He threw 62 pitches in those fateful two innings. I’d mention the four strikeouts but there were no positive takeaways from Gray’s performance. More and more, Gray looks like a perfect fit for the Pittsburgh Pirates to me.
|Photo Credit: The Canadian Press via AP (Fred Thornhill)|
David Hale entered the game for Gray in the bottom of the third inning. Although he did allow an 8th inning RBI double, he was much more effective than Gray. He gave the team length with 5 2/3 innings, and limited the Jays to only one run on five hits and a walk. In other words, he did his job…unlike Gray.
The Yankees had their opportunities. The Yankees offense could have gotten the team back into this game despite Gray. Aaron Hicks got the Yankees on the board with a solo shot in the top of the third inning.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
Four runs down, the Yankees had the bases loaded in the fifth inning with only one out. Aaron Hicks took a walk to force in the Yankees’ second run of the game, setting up a perfect opportunity for Giancarlo Stanton. One swing of the bat and the Yankees could have taken the lead. Sadly, he struck out with the bat on his shoulder and Didi Gregorius lined out to left for the final out leaving the bases juiced. A huge missed opportunity.
The Yankees had the tying run at the plate in the top of the eighth inning for Austin Romine but he struck out looking to waste what would prove to be the last real chance the Yankees had to get back into the game.
Tyler Clippard, Tyler Friggin’ Clippard who couldn’t prevent a run to save his life last year for the Yankees, shut his old team down in the ninth with three up and three down.
The Yankees loss, combined with a Red Sox win, puts Boston two games up in the AL East. The teams are tied in the loss column but the Red Sox have four more wins. It’s too early to look at the Standings (I know) but the Yankees hold a two-game advantage on the Seattle Mariners for the top Wild Card spot. Everyone talks about how great this Yankees team is, but right now, the Red Sox are better. They are not showing any signs of losing anytime soon. They, unlike the Yankees, are getting the big hits to win games. Throwing Chris Sale at the Kansas City Royals is a mismatch any day of the week, but a win is a win and the Sox keep winning.
Neil Walker got the first start at second base in place of the injured Gleyber Torres. He was 0-for-3 with a walk. His season batting line is .185/.268/.254. Like Gray, I’ve seen enough of Walker. I’d really prefer to see Brandon Drury or even Tyler Wade starting at second.
Many news reports yesterday linked the Yankees to Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas as a potential first base option over Greg Bird. I haven’t really warmed up to the possibility although I recognize that Bird needs to start hitting and soon. Moose Tacos has had a cold bat of late, but he did blast a two-run bomb against the Red Sox last night in a losing effort.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Denny Medley)|
The Yankees get a look at another potential trade candidate today when they face J.A. Happ (10-4, 4.03 ERA). Happ was shelled his last time out when he gave up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers. It was the second time this season that Happ has given up seven runs in a game. The Yankees will counter with Luis Severino (13-2, 1.98 ERA). It’s easy to say that I feel more confident heading into today’s game than I did last night.
Let’s get a win today. Go Yankees!
Red Sox 4, Yankees 1…
For Friday’s starters, the Yankees previously sent three of their top prospects to the Oakland A’s for their ace while the Boston Red Sox picked up their’s off the scrap heap. Nothing against Doug Fister but there’s no way he should look like Corey Kluber or Chris Sale on the mound. However, for yesterday’s game, the listless Yankees made him appear to be one of the game’s aces as the Red Sox easily got past the Yankees.
|Credit: Corey Perrine-Getty Images|
When the Yankees scored first, on Aaron Judge’s first RBI against the Red Sox since April, it looked like it might be the start of something good with Sonny Gray on the mound. But after that point, the Yankees didn’t have to worry about their problem with runners in scoring position because they couldn’t get any.
After Gray breezed through the Red Sox in the top of the first, the Yankees got to business in the bottom of the inning. Brett Gardner led off with a double to deep center, bouncing on the warning track and off the wall. Aaron Judge followed him with another double to the wall in left center to score Gardy with the game’s first run. Sadly, at that moment, the Yankees forgot that it was only Doug Fister on the mound. The next three hitters grounded out and the Yankees had seen their last RISP when Judge was left standing at second.
The Red Sox erased the Yankees’ lead in the top of the 3rd. After striking out Sandy Leon, Gray walked Brock Holt. Eduardo Nunez made him pay for it with a two-run shot to left. Brett Gardner could only watch as the ball sail into the stands. From there, the Red Sox tacked on a couple of unnecessary insurance runs in the form of solo home runs.
Andrew Benintendi, doing to the Yankees what I can only wish Aaron Judge would do to the Red Sox, pounded a Gray pitch into the right field stands (nearly into the Judge’s Chambers) in the top of the 5th.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
Hanley Ramirez, having a down year against any team not called the Yankees, drilled a shot to right center in the top of the 7th.
I’d like to find a positive in the game but unfortunately I can’t. Both Gray and Fister went seven innings with 98 pitches. Gray only gave up one more hit than Fister (five to four) but the three home runs were the difference maker. We needed Gray to have his finest moment in Pinstripes but instead it was the Red Sox partying on the field after the game.
|Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports|
Aroldis Chapman pitched the eighth inning. He gave a hit (a single to Mookie Betts) but recorded all three outs by strikeout. Velocity didn’t seem to be a problem with Chapman hitting nearly 105 mph on a pitch that Dustin Pedroia fouled off. Adam Warren also pitched an inning of one-hit, scoreless relief.
I’m sorry, there was one positive in the game. Bernie Williams did a great job of playing the National Anthem on his guitar during pre-game ceremonies. I will always appreciate #51.
This was a very winnable game. Instead, the Yankees (71-63) are back to 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings. The Baltimore Orioles won, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 1-0 in extra innings, so they are just 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees. New York maintained its one game lead in the Wild Card standings thanks to the Minnesota Twins’ 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals, but there are seven AL teams within striking distance (3 1/2 games or less).
The Yankees need to take care of business. If they go down fighting, it’s one thing. When they go down meekly, it is unacceptable.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees made the first of their September call-ups with names you’d expect to see: DH Matt Holliday, C Erik Kratz (acquired solely to back up Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine while they serve their staggered suspensions), RHP Bryan Mitchell, LHP Jordan Montgomery, and RHP Ben Heller. To make room for Kratz on the 40-man roster, the Yankees moved RHP Luis Cessa (ribcage injury) to the 60-day DL. I am glad to see that the Kratz move didn’t result in a “forced” DFA. I didn’t see an easy candidate to dump. There will be other names to follow but the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will begin play in the International League play-offs next week so it may be a few weeks before we see guys like Miguel Andujar or Jake Cave.
I thought CC Sabathia getting upset about Eduardo Nunez’s bunt in the first inning of Thursday’s game was a little over-reactionary (why not exploit an opponent’s weakness?). But Hall of Famer Jim Rice’s comments about CC’s weight were, in my opinion, out of line.
Tyler Clippard must think he won the lottery. A couple of months ago, he was pitching like the worst reliever in baseball for the Yankees. Now, he finds himself with a vital role in the bullpen for a team poised to make a World Series run with starting pitchers led by Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel.
|Credit: Christian Petersen-Getty Images|
Have a great Saturday! Here’s hoping that Masa washes those dirty Sox. Go Yankees!
Red Sox 3, Yankees 2…
The Yankees had victory in their hands but Aroldis Chapman was unable to hold a one-run lead in the 9th and the Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox in extra innings.
This was one tough. I felt very uneasy with Chapman taking the mound. The Yankees really needed an insurance run in the 8th when Didi Gregorius struck out in the bottom of the 8th with runners at the corners and two outs. I was concerned that Chapman would not be able to hold a one-run advantage. Unfortunately, I was right. Dellin Betances may have righted the ship but Chapman has not. I don’t know if it’s the World Series “hangover” (too many pitches thrown in an extended season), but…right now…the Yankees have two better closers in Betances and David Robertson.
It was expected that Chris Sale would be tough and he was. Entering the game, his season ERA was only 1.15 against the Yankees in two starts. We could have used that 0.15 of a run. After Boston had scored the game’s first run in the top of the 5th on a run-scoring single by Jackie Bradley, Jr, the Yankees struck back against Sale when they got their turn at bat. Chase Headley lined a one-out single to center. After Ronald Torreyes struck out, Austin Romine tripled to right to score Headley. Mookie Betts was at the wall but couldn’t make the catch on Romine’s hit. The game was tied at 1. It would be the sole run the Yankees would score off Sale. He went 7 strong innings and only allowed 4 hits and the single run, while walking 2 and striking out 12.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press|
Still, the Yankees had a chance. Jordan Montgomery, struck in the head by a line drive during batting practice on Saturday, was excellent. He kept the Yankees in the game, holding the Red Sox at bay to match Sale’s dominance for 5 1/3 innings. The Red Sox were able to get only two hits off Monty, and the run in the 5th. Throwing 84 pitches, Monty did walk 3 batters but struck out 4.
|Credit: Jason Scenes-EPA|
With Sale out of the game, the Yankees finally broke through with a run in the 8th against Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes. Aaron Hicks worked a one-out walk. Aaron Judge singled to right, Hicks moved to second. Another walk, this time to Gary Sanchez, loaded the bases. Todd Frazier hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Hicks with the go-ahead run. The Yankees led, 2-1. The Red Sox pulled Barnes and replaced him with reliever Robby Scott to face Didi Gregorius. A single by Didi in this spot would have been huge, but sadly Scott struck out Didi on three pitches.
Enter Aroldis Chapman, goodbye potential win. With two strikes on Rafael Devers, Chapman unleashed a 103 mph fastball and Devers was ready for it. Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks could only watch as the ball landed over the wall in left center. The game was tied.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun|
The Yankees could have won the game in the bottom of the 9th. With Addison Reed pitching, Chase Headley led off with a walk. Ronald Torreyes laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Headley to second. Jacoby Ellsbury, pinch hitting for Austin Romine, grounded out to first, but Headley was able to advance to third. The potential winning run just 90 feet away. The Sox replaced Reed with closer Craig Kimbrel to face Brett Gardner. It was a big opportunity for Gardy but but he struck out to end the inning.
Aroldis Chapman was still on the mound when the Yankees took the field in the 10th. With one out, he hit Jackie Bradley, Jr with a pitch and walked Eduardo Nunez. Manager Joe Girardi finally had the stones to remove Chapman and replaced him with Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle walked the first batter he faced (Mookie Betts) to load the bases. Andrew Benintendi’s single to right scored JBJ with the go-ahead run. Kahnle was able to retire the next two batters but the damage had been done. The Sox were up, 3-2.
Craig Kimbrel easily retired the Yankees in the bottom of the 10th, and the Red Sox walked off the field with the game and series win.
It won’t get any easier when the Yankees play in Boston next weekend. The Red Sox do not fear Chapman, nor should they have any reason to. “He’s my closer”, Joe Girardi said after the game. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press|
The Yankees (61-55) fell a season high 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. They had a chance to make a statement and it didn’t happen. The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles were unable to make up any ground on the Yankees. The Rays lost, 4-3, to the Cleveland Indians while the O’s were thumped, 9-3, by the Oakland A’s. The A’s are 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees, while the O’s are trailing by four. The Yankees hold the Wild Card advantage by 1 1/2 games over the Los Angeles Angels (where did they come from?…) and 2 games over Jaime Garcia’s former team (for 6 days), the Minnesota Twins.
Aaron Hicks made a great diving catch in the first inning to rob Eduardo Nunez of an extra-base hit.
Aaron Judge had three more strikeouts on Sunday to extend his consecutive game streak to 30. He trails the record that Adam Dunn set, for non-pitchers, in 2012 with strikeouts in 32 consecutive games. The Yankees really need Judge to make the necessary adjustments to get out of this funk if they are to have any October aspirations.
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
Next Up: New York Mets at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY (2) and Citi Field, Flushing, NY (2)…
The Yankees play a quick two-game set at home against the Mets before the series resumes at Citi Field for two games beginning on Wednesday. The series follows some recent bad blood between the two teams over contentious failed trade negotiations leading up to the trading deadline.
Here are the pitching match-ups:
Mets: Rafael Montero (1-8, 6.06 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.83 ERA)
Mets: Jacob DeGrom (13-5, 3.21 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (6-7, 3.39 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.82 ERA)
Mets: Seth Lugo (5-3, 4.85 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (9-5, 3.32 ERA)
Mets: Steven Matz (2-6, 5.54 ERA)
May Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia finally got some runs to work with, and may Luis Severino pitch much, much better than he did last Saturday against the Red Sox. As for Cessa today, at least he’s facing a pitcher with 8 losses and ERA above six.
Odds & Ends…
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees returned reliever Giovanny Gallegos to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled LHP Caleb Smith (who had been scheduled to pitch for the RailRiders on Sunday but was scratched with the promotion). LHP Nestor Cortes made the start for SWB in Smith’s place. Cortes didn’t get the win but he held the Durham Bulls to one hit and one unearned run in 4 2/3 innings. With no free passes, he struck out eight. The RailRiders won the game on a two-run homer by Ji-Man Choi in the top of the 9th.
The Texas Rangers have released infielder Pete Kozma who was on the Yankees’ opening day roster as an injury replacement for Didi Gregorius. The Rangers had previously sold reliever Ernesto Frieri, who was in spring training with the Yankees, to the Seattle Mariners for $1 earlier in the week.
The Houston Astros have acquired reliever Tyler Clippard from the Chicago White Sox for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Clippard rebuilt his stock after the trade from the Yankees to the White Sox. Although he lost his first appearance for the White Sox, he won his only other decision in 11 appearances and finished with a 1.80 ERA and two saves. The Astros get a much better pitcher than the Yankees had earlier this year.
Have a great Monday! A win today would be great! Let’s Go Yankees!
Credit: Ted S Warren-AP
Yankees 6, Mariners 4…
I hate solo home runs. I should qualify it by saying I do not dislike home runs…I just prefer to see men on base when it happens. After the Yankees clubbed three home runs (of the solo variety), the Mariners were able to rally past the Yanks against starter Caleb Smith before the Yankees rebounded to take the win, courtesy of Red Thunder (Clint Frazier) and the blazing heat of the bullpen.
Caleb Smith was solid…for three innings. Early, he was backed by homers. Brett Gardner led off the game with his 17th homer of the season off Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo (breaking his tie with Matt Holliday to take sole possession of second place for team homers behind Aaron Judge). The hit was #1,040 of Gardner’s career, breaking a tie for 39th place on the all-time franchise list with Tino Martinez. Next within Gardner’s sights is #38 Yanks hit leader, Charlie Keller, with 1,053 hits.
Credit: Ted S Warren-AP
In the second inning, Didi Gregorius launched a line drive homer to right center as the Yankees increased their lead to 2-0. Gregorius led off the 4th inning with another shot to the right field stands for his second home run of the game. It was Didi’s first multi-homer game in his young career.
Credit: Ted S Warren-AP
Staked to a 3-0 lead, Smith couldn’t hold it in the 4th inning. After breezing through the first three innings allowing only a meaningless second inning double, the Baseball Gods turned against Smith. Danny Valencia got the party started with a single to right. Robinson Cano followed with a liner to right, moving Valencia to second. Smith had Nelson Cruz in a 3-2 count but lost him with Ball 4 to load the bases. For a moment, it looked like Smith might escape the 4th inning unscathed. He struck out Kyle Seager and got Mitch Haniger to fly out in right field foul territory. But Ben Gamel, thoroughly enjoying this series against his former team, singled to score Valencia and Cano. The Yankees held a slim 3-2 lead. Guillermo Heredia followed with a double to left which scored Cruz and Gamel as the Mariners took a 4-3 lead. End of game for Caleb Smith.
Credit: Ted S Warren-AP
A round of ovation for Chad Green. While the entire bullpen was magnificent, Green was outstanding. He struck out Carlos Ruiz to end the 4th, and pitched two more innings without allowing a hit and struck out 3. He has thrived in his current role and this performance was critical as it set the stage for the Yankees’ comeback in the top of the 6th inning. With one out in the top of the 6th, both Chase Headley and Todd Frazier walked against reliever and former Yankee James Pazos. Ronald Torreyes, pinch-hitting for second baseman Tyler Wade, singled to right to load the bases. Brett Gardner followed with a single to left, scoring Headley with the tying run. The Mariners pulled Pazos and replaced him with Tony Zych. Clint Frazier greeted Zych with a double to left, scoring both Frazier and Torreyes as the Yanks moved ahead, 6-4. Zych intentionally walked Aaron Judge, much to the dismay of the Yankee fans in attendance at Safeco Field, but it proved the right decision for the M’s since Gary Sanchez popped out and Matt Holliday grounded into the final out.
From there, it was up to the rest of the bullpen. Dellin Betances and David Robertson pitched clean 7th and 8th innings, respectively, pushing the game to the final inning and last licks for the Mariners.
The Yankees had a chance to add an insurance run in the top of the 9th. Matt Holliday walked with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury. After Didi Gregorius flied out the second out, Chase Headley hit a liner into the right field corner. Ellsbury came flying around the bases but the relay from right fielder Mitch Haniger to second baseman Robinson Cano to catcher Carlos Ruiz was on target and just ahead of the sliding Ellsbury for the final out.
The bottom of the 9th brought Aroldis Chapman and a little holding of the breath to see what type of command he would have. Nelson Cruz, the first batter, reached with a hit that ricocheted off Chapman and retrieved too late by Didi Gregorius to get Cruz at first. The M’s replaced Cruz with pinch-runner Taylor Motter, who sports a similar “Johnny Damon Caveman“ look like Ben Gamel, to get some speed on the base paths. Fortunately, Chapman caught him off first and it was an easy rundown by Chase Headley for the first out. It proved to be invaluable as the next hitter, Kyle Seager, doubled to center. A passed ball by Gary Sanchez allowed Seager to move to third. The game would have looked much different had the Yankees not gotten Motter out. He most likely would have scored with Seager representing the tying run just 90 feet away. As it was, the tying run was still at the plate. Mitch Haniger had first crack but he popped out to Ronald Torreyes. Last chance came up in the form of new Yankee-killer Ben Gamel. But with Chapman’s blazing heat inching up the velocity chart, Gamel went down swinging. Game over. Yankees win. The Yankees win!
Credit: Stephen Brashear-Getty Images
Unlike Saturday when the Yankees failed to gain any ground following losses by the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday was the opposite. With the win, the Yankees (51-46) took sole possession of second place in the AL East and moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. The Rays slipped a full game behind the Yankees (two games in the loss column). Both the Red Sox and Rays lost one-run games on Sunday. The Red Sox were defeated by the Los Angeles Angels, 3-2, while the Rays lost a tough 6-5 game to the Texas Rangers.
Todd Frazier finally got a hit and scored a run so hopefully he’s starting to come around. His Yankee Stadium debut on Tuesday will feature a game against his original team, the Cincinnati Reds. So it should give Frazier added incentive when he makes his first home appearance in front of family, friends, and newfound Frazier fans in the Yankees Universe.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees made a rare intra-division trade on Sunday to send infielder Rob Refsnyder to the Toronto Blue Jays. The return is an underwhelming 25-year-old first base prospect who has failed to advance past Double A, Ryan McBroom. Here’s hoping to much better success in the Yankees organization. Welcome, Ryan!
Credit: Mark J Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
And so, the Yankees story for Refsnyder ends with no fanfare. It is rather sad as most of us at one time wanted Ref to succeed as the second baseman for the Yankees. He never succeeded with his limited opportunities…either due to his own inability or the lack of chances or a combination of both. So long, Ref and best of luck as you continue your (hopeful) MLB career in Toronto.
Also, in other transaction news, the Yankees announced they have outrighted first baseman Ji-Man Choi to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The competition for quality starters figures to be very intense as we enter the final week before the trading deadline. With news that Clayton Kershaw was pulled early from a start on Sunday due to lower back tightness (and a possible trip to the DL), the Los Angeles Dodgers will most likely be very aggressive in their pursuit of another top starter. The Texas Rangers figure to capture a King’s Ransom for two months of service from impending free agent Yu Darvish. The Yankees starting rotation looks very vulnerable right now with Caleb Smith’s inability to get out of the fourth inning on Sunday and Masahiro Tanaka’s disappointing showing on Saturday. This week should be very interesting but probably a bit disappointing for Yankees fans if the team desires to retain its top prospects (which they should).
The Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox on Sunday with a walk-off run-scoring double by Brandon Moss. The pitcher? Tyler Clippard, facing his first batter wearing a White Sox uniform, with runners at first and second and no outs in the bottom of the 9th. Man, I sure do not miss Clippard…
Credit: Getty Images
Have a great Monday! The Yankees get to sleep in while the rest of us trudge off to work. Oh well, make it a wonderful day! Go Yankees!
Yankees 6, Twins 3…
On Tuesday, the Yankees faced baseball’s oldest player and a former Yank. With a 2-8 record and 8.14 ERA for the Atlanta Braves, Bartolo Colon looked to be a feast for the young Baby Bombers. But after he shut down the Yankees in the first inning like a young ace, I had fears that Colon was going to be a master, for one night, against the Yankees. Fortunately, he wore down quickly and the Yankees got to him in the fifth inning to rally for the victory over the Minnesota Twins.
|Credit: Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports|
Admittedly, it was a little hard to focus on the game as rumors were swirling about the Yankees potential acquisition of Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox. The trade became official after the game but more on that later.
I like Yankees starter Luis Cessa and he’s done well at Triple A. But for whatever reason, it just has not translated at the Major League level for him…yet. It felt like it was going to be a long night when Colon breezed through the top of the Yankees batting order in the first inning including a strike out of Aaron Judge. Cessa, on the other hand, struggled out of the gate. He walked the first two batters and hit Miguel Sano with a pitch to load the bases with only one out. After getting Max Kepler to pop out, Cessa walked Robbie Grossman to give the Twins the early 1-0 lead. Fortunately, Cessa struck out Eddie Rosario to prevent any further damage. One run on no hits…not exactly how you want to start a game.
|Credit: Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Cessa walked the first batter of the second inning but settled down to retire the next three batters. With the Yankee offense still unable to get anything going against Colon, the Twins added to their lead in the third when Miguel Sano homered to center (a solo shot into the bullpen).
The Yankees finally got on the board in the top of the 4th. Aaron Judge opened the inning with a single to left. Didi Gregorius hit an infield grounder to third that was deflected off Colon for a single. Clint Frazier hit into a force out that erased Gregorius at second but Judge advanced to third. Chase Headley singled to center, past a diving Brian Dozier, to bring home Judge and it was 2-1 Twins.
The Twins got the run right back in the bottom of the inning. Jason Castro hit a one-out double to the right field wall and Brian Dozier hit a fly ball that nearly went out of the park, bouncing off the upper part of the scoreboard area on the right field fence, as the Twins regained the two-run advantage, 3-1. Cessa was able to retire Zack Granite on a ground out, but the Yankees brought in Chasen Shreve to secure the final out, a ground out by Joe Mauer.
The 4th inning had showed the Yankees were finally starting to make progress against the ancient Colon but the 5th inning showed why Colon is no longer an Atlanta Brave. Ronald Torreyes singled to left center and moved to third on a ground rule double by Brett Gardner, a fly ball that bounced just inside of the left foul line before falling into the left field stands on the foul side. Gary Sanchez then doubled to left, scoring both Torreyes and Gardner. The game was tied at 3. Twins manager Paul Molitor had seen enough and pulled Colon in favor of reliever Ryan Pressly. But the results were no different. Aaron Judge singled to center to score Sanchez and after Matt Holliday struck out, Didi Gregorius blasted a two-run homer to right. The Yankees had their first lead of the series, 6-3.
|Credit: Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports|
The Twins came right back in the bottom of the 5th and it looked like they might get some runs back. Miguel Sano doubled to left and Max Kepler singled to right, moving Sano to third. Fortunately, Chasen Shreve struck out the next two batters and induced Jorge Polanco into an infield popout to leave Sano stranded at third.
The Yankees loaded the bases again in the 6th inning but Matt Holliday hit a grounder for the final out leaving the bases full. From there it was up to the Yankees bullpen. Adam Warren was great. He pitched two innings of hitless ball in the 6th and 7th, striking out 2. From there, it was a high wire act with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. Robbie Grossman doubled off Betances to open the bottom of the 8th. After striking out Eddie Rosario, Betances hit pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar with a pitch. He struck out Jason Castro but walked the dangerous Brian Dozier to load the bases. Zack Granite hit a hard fly ball to right looked to be trouble for a second but it fell short of the wall into Aaron Judge’s glove for the final out. A few groans from the Target Field crowd…
Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th but it was not easy. He walked Joe Mauer on a full count to start the inning. A wild pitch moved Mauer to second and eliminated the possibility of a double play. Miguel Sano grounded out, Ronald Torreyes to Garrett Cooper, moving Mauer to third. Fortunately, Chapman retired the next two batters for his 10th save as the Yankees evened the series at a game apiece.
|Credit: Getty Images|
The Yankees (48-44) remained in third place in the AL East with the win as both the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays won. The Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-4, in 15 innings and the Rays beat the Oakland A’s, 4-3. The Yankees are 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox and a 1 1/2 games behind the Rays.
Throughout the game, I was keeping an eye on the Los Angeles Dodgers game in Chicago against White Sox. Todd Frazier had been held out of the game, and neither David Robertson nor Tommy Kahnle pitched despite Chicago’s use of multiple pitchers in the 1-0 loss to Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. The White Sox game ended before Aroldis Chapman shut down the Twins. Interestingly, Tyler Clippard, one of the rumored players going to the White Sox (which turned out to be true), was warming with Aroldis Chapman in the top of the 9th inning and might have come into the game had the Yankees been able to add to their lead.
The Yankees conclude the series in Minneapolis this afternoon.
The Yankees Are Officially Buyers…
What is old is new again! The question whether the Yankees would be buyers or sellers or hold pat was answered after the game when the rumored deal with the White Sox became official. In exchange for New Jersey native Todd Frazier and former Yankees David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, the Yankees sent their #4 prospect, outfielder Blake Rutherford, LHP Ian Clarkin, OF Tito Polo and reliever Tyler Clippard to Chicago.
|Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images|
I am sad to see Rutherford go but all things considered, it is a position of depth and there is still a possibility the Yankees could make a run at Bryce Harper when he becomes a free agent so Rutherford was a bit redundant (particularly given the breakout performance of Double-A outfielder Estevan Florial). I’ve always liked Ian Clarkin and had hoped that he would eventually find his way to the Bronx after injuries prevented the lefty pitcher from advancing more quickly. Polo is an unranked prospect that the Yankees acquired from the Pirates in the trade that sent Ivan Nova to Pittsburgh. I am obviously not disappointed to see Clippard go, especially since Robertson and Kahnle represent significant bullpen upgrades.
I remember being so disappointed when the Yankees lost Tommy Kahnle to the Colorado Rockies in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft and he stuck with the Rockies for the entire year. I was very aware of him when the Rockies traded him to the White Sox last November. He was a good reliever in Denver and has been even better for the White Sox.
|Credit: Paul Sancya/AP|
I hated to see David Robertson leave via free agency. I remember when there was the potential that the Yankees could sign both Andrew Miller and David Robertson but inevitably they chose to sign Miller and take the compensation pick (SS Kyle Holder) to let the highly regarded Robertson sign elsewhere. During his first year with the White Sox, he was placed on waivers after the trading deadline and the Yankees put in the winning claim. There was no activity in trade talks but I remember the momentary excitement about Robertson’s possible return.
Todd Frazier has the ability to play first base in addition to third but time will tell whether Manager Joe Girardi uses Frazier or Chase Headley at first. Given that Frazier is clearly a rental, I suspect that he’ll be the regular first baseman but that is Girardi’s decision to make.
With Clippard off the roster, the Yankees still have to make two moves today. My immediate thought would be the demotions of Ji-Man Choi and Luis Cessa to Triple A. But Garrett Cooper could be the odd man out if the Yankees feel he would be better served by starting every day for the RailRiders.
Also, it will be interesting to see if Clint Frazier gives up #30 to Robertson. I personally think he should. He had no prior attachments to the number. As for Todd Frazier, he wears Paul O’Neill’s number which has not been retired. I wonder if he is forced to choose a new number or if the Yankees finally allow the number to be worn again. All things considered, it is just a two month rental so it probably makes more sense to keep #21 in moth balls.
Welcome (or welcome back) to the Yankees, Todd, David and Tommy!
Odds & Ends…
To make room on the active roster for RHP Luis Cessa who started Tuesday’s game, the Yankees optioned RHP Bryan Mitchell, Monday’s starter, to Triple A. Poor Mitchell, he’s probably getting tired of the Bronx-to-Scranton Shuttle.
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins placed former Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes on the 60-day disabled list. I guess I really haven’t been following Hughes’ career in the Twin Cities, but I did not realize that he’s been battling Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). As defined by Wikipedia, TOS is a condition in which there is a compression of the nerves, arteries or veins in the passageway from the lower neck to the armpit. He had part of a rib removed through surgery last year and is experiencing recurring symptoms which could lead to the removal of the remainder of the rib to alleviate pressure. I sincerely hope that Hughes is able to get medical treatment he needs and is able to make a complete recovery.
Have a great Wednesday! A wonderful day to grab a victory and hop a plane for the Great Northwest! Let’s Go Yankees!
|Credit: Rich Gagnon-Getty Images|
Yankees 4, Red Sox 1…
What started out as a nice afternoon game in Boston turned out to be an extended night game as the Yankees outlasted the Red Sox. Chris Sale, with a career ERA of 1.17 against the Yankees, was outstanding on Saturday which generally does not bode well for our guys. Fortunately, Luis Severino was up to the task and kept the Yankees in the game, setting the stage for late inning heroics.
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The Red Sox scored the first run in the 3rd inning. With one out, Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia both walked to put runners at first and second. Xander Bogaerts hit an infield roller to third that Chase Headley scooped up, looked to first and then turned around and threw too late to shortstop Ronald Torreyes, covering at third. Everyone was safe. Mitch Moreland then lofted a deep fly to left and Betts easily ran home for the game’s first run. Hanley Ramirez could have done more damage but Severino got him on a line out to Chase Headley to end the threat.
The Yankees only managed three hits off Chris Sale, which included two doubles, but they were unable to push any runs across the plate. Sale went into the 8th inning, getting Ronald Torreyes to ground out before Brett Gardner singled to right. Sale then got Gary Sanchez to go down swinging, but with 118 pitches thrown (and 13 strikeouts), the Sox made the call to closer Craig Kimbrel. Aaron Judge flied out to right to end the top half of the inning.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees brought in Tyler Clippard (Yikes!) to replace Luis Severino. Tzu-Wei Lin promptly singled to center and I had a sinking feeling of “here we go again”. It didn’t help when the count rose to 3-0 on the next batter, Mookie Betts, but on a full count, Betts popped out to short. Lin then got a great jump on a steal attempt and was sliding past second baseman Starlin Castro who stayed with the play and took the throw from Gary Sanchez to catch Lin on the foot before his hands reached second base. The Red Sox challenged the play but the call on the field was upheld (rightfully so). So good to have Castro back at second. Dustin Pedroia lined out and Clippard was able to leave the field with his head held high.
For his Red Sox career, Craig Kimbrel was 30-for-30 in save opportunities as he took the mound in the 9th. A good point was made during the FOX TV telecast by A.J. Pierzynski with the four-out save attempt. Aaron Judge, despite the fly out to end the top of the 8th, extended the at-bat which forced Kimbrel to throw 10 pitches. It’s not often that he throws that many pitches before having to sit and come back out again. It would be a foretelling comment as Matt Holliday greeted Kimbrel with a game-tying, save-blowing home run to left center over the Green Monster to open the inning.
|Credit: John Wilcox-Boston Herald|
Starlin Castro subsequently reached base when first baseman Mitch Moreland was pulled off the base on an errant throw from Xander Bogaerts and pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury stole second, just beating the tag by Bogaerts. But Ellsbury was left stranded when Kimbrel proceeded to strike out the side. The bottom of the 9th brought in Dellin Betances who seems to have left his control problems behind him. He easily retired the three batters he faced and the game headed into extra innings.
The Red Sox looked like they were in position for the walk-off win in the bottom of the 10th. Chasen Shreve had been brought in to replace Betances, and he gave up singles to Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley, Jr to put a runner in scoring position with no outs. It was a little surprising that Benintendi didn’t try to run for third on JBJ’s hit, but thankfully he did not. Girardi wasted no time in giving Shreve the hook and brought in Adam Warren. Warren, proving how much he means to this team, retired the three batters he faced, leaving Benintendi stranded at second. Had Benintendi been on third, he most likely would have scored the winning run when Tzu-Wei Lin flied out to Aaron Judge for the second out against Warren.
The 11th inning brought an unusual play that resulted in a game protest by Red Sox manager John Farrell. Matt Holliday walked to open the inning. Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a grounder to first, and Mitch Moreland threw the ball to Xander Bogaerts for the force out at second. But Matt Holliday, as we later found out, mistakenly thought that Moreland had stepped on first to retire Ellsbury (he had not) and turned to dive back toward first base. Bogaerts threw the ball back to Moreland but it glanced off Ellsbury’s leg since Holliday was in Moreland’s way, leaving Ellsbury safe at first. Farrell argued unsuccessfully that it should have been called a double play due to interference. Despite the 4 minute, 50 second delay, it didn’t really matter as neither Chase Headley nor Didi Gregorius were able to advance Ellsbury from first.
|Credit: John Wilcox-Boston Herald|
From there it was a battle of the bullpens until the top of the 16th inning with Boston’s Doug Fister pitching. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to left and Chase Headley singled to center to put runners at the corners with no outs. Didi Gregorius singled to center which scored Ellsbury with the go-ahead run. Austin Romine followed with a single to center, scoring Headley while Gregorius took second. Ronald Torreyes successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. Gary Sanchez hit a sac fly to left, scoring Gregorius with an insurance run as the Yankees took a 4-1 lead.
|Credit: John Wilcox-Boston Herald|
Ben Heller (1-0), who had replaced Aroldis Chapman in the 15th inning, retired Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland to win the game for the Yankees.
|Credit: Michael Dwyer-Associated Press|
It was a very long game (5 hours and 50 minutes) but perseverance paid off as the Yankees eventually pulled out the win. I can’t say enough about the tremendous performance by Luis Severino. It was the key to the game, along with the dramatic home run by Matt Holliday in the 9th which gave Craig Kimbrel his first blown save at Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform. Considering today’s double-header, it is amazing to think the Yankees will have played at least 34 innings in 24 hours by the end of the day.
The Yankees (46-42) remain in third place in the AL East standings but moved 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Los Angeles Angels again, 6-3, to move 2 1/2 games behind Boston.
New Yankees first baseman Garrett Cooper had another unsuccessful day at the plate before he was lifted from the game. He was 0-for-3, with two strikeouts. Aaron Judge may have been 0-for-6 but I’d still go back to his extended at-bat against Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the 8th as a key factor for Holliday’s 9th inning home run.
A long hard day but it’s so much better to walk off the field with a win.
Odds & Ends…
Michael Pineda will meet with Dr Timothy Kremchek, an orthopaedic surgeon, in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday for a second opinion. Dr Kremchek is the medical director for the Cincinnati Reds. If Tommy John surgery is needed (as expected), the procedure could be performed as early as Tuesday.
CC Sabathia will start Game 1 of today’s double-header in place of Bryan Mitchell. In a flurry of roster moves today, the Yankees recalled RHP Domingo German and added LHP Caleb Smith to the 25-man roster. Relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder, both of whom would have been unavailable today after yesterday’s game, were optioned to Triple A. Michael Pineda was moved to the 60-day DL with his right UCL injury and RHP Bryan Mitchell was added as the “26th man”.
Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees activated Starlin Castro and optioned Tyler Wade to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
I am not sure why it took so long but Manager Joe Girardi has finally said that Tyler Clippard is no longer the “7th inning” guy. Adam Warren and Chad Green will take over the duties of setting up Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. Good move. Warren and Green have both been outstanding in recent weeks while the bullpen overall as struggled.
Chance Adams had his latest start for the RailRiders yesterday. While he did limit the Buffalo Bisons to two hits and one run in 4 2/3 innings, he walked four batters. It is the command issues that are holding Adams back at this point (along with the development of his third pitch) so yesterday was not a positive outcome. Adams did not factor into the decision as the RailRiders defeated the Bisons, 2-1. Miguel Andujar was the hitting star. He was 2-for-3 and provided the eventual margin of victory with a run-scoring single in the 7th inning.
Have a great Sunday! In honor of the double-header, let’s have twice the fun! Let’s Go Yankees!
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
Brewers 9, Yankees 4…
In a game that should have been about young Aaron Judge shattering a mark long held by the great Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, Tyler Clippard torched a chance at yet another win as the Yankees fell to the Milwaukee Brewers.
We have gone from hoping the starters can successfully get the game to the bullpen to “OMG Joe, don’t take ‘the starter’ (insert name) out!”.
But first, Aaron Judge. With his 30th home run of the season, Judge broke the Yankees season record for most home runs by a rookie which has been held by Joe DiMaggio since 1936. The homer, a shot to center off Brewers reliever Josh Hader, traveled 432 feet. Judge has reached base in 37 consecutive games that he started, the only blemish being a recent unsuccessful pinch hit appearance. He is also only one of three Yankees to ever have 30 home runs by the All-Star Break (joining Roger Maris who had 33 in his historic 1961 season and Alex Rodriguez who had 30 in 2007).
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
As for the game, it was a bend and mostly not break performance for Jordan Montgomery. He worked out of a potential run scoring opportunity for the Brewers when they had two on with no outs in the second inning and got out of the inning by striking out Keon Broxton with a runner at third.
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Didi Gregorius lined a sharp fly ball to right but right fielder Domingo Santana made a slight turn in the wrong direction that caused him to miss Didi’s ball as it glanced off his glove for an error. Didi ended up at third on the play. Clint Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly and it was 1-0 Yankees.
The Brewers finally got to Montgomery in the 4th inning when Ryan Braun opened with a double and Jesus Aguilar homered to right as the Brewers took the 2-1 lead. The Yankees came right back in the bottom of the inning when Didi Gregorius reached first base on another fielding error and Ji-Man Choi, providing something that we have rarely seen from the team’s first basemen…production, homered in the rain to right. “Track, Wall, See Ya!” courtesy of Michael Kay. The Yankees had re-taken the lead with the second deck towering blast, 3-2.
The rain started coming down in buckets and the game moved into a delay. When play resumed in the top of the 5th, Montgomery got into trouble again when Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar hit consecutive one-out singles. I am sure the rain delay factored into his performance. Tyler Webb was brought in to replace Monty and he induced Domingo Santana to hit into an inning-ending double play. For the game, Monty went 4 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hits and the two-run homer. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 4 in the eventual no-decision. In the bottom of the inning, Judge led off with his historic home run. 4-2, Yankees.
Webb was back out on the mound in the top of the 6th. He walked Ryan Braun on a 3-2 count and former Red Sock Travis Shaw followed with a double to push Braun to third. Then, in a move that brought a groan from me, Manager Joe Girardi pulled Webb and brought in the flammable Tyler Clippard. A wild pitch allowed Braun to score and Shaw to move to third. Jesus Aguilar lofted a fly to center that scored Shaw and the game was tied.
The Yankees were unable to do anything in the bottom of the 6th as Josh Hader and the Brewers struck out the side.
With another groan when I saw Clippard back out on the mound for the 7th, any optimism I had was quickly evaporating. With one out, Clippard walked Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana. A fly out by Ryan Braun moved the runners to second and third. Clippard issued an intentional pass to Travis Shaw and the bases were loaded for the only reliever who is worse than Dellin Betances right now. Jesus Aguilar, loving every minute of Yankee Stadium, took advantage of the opportunity and destroyed the Clippard offering for a grand slam with a blast to center (his second homer of the night). I know that Girardi was trying to avoid using Chad Green or Adam Warren, but Clippard should have never been the guy on the mound at that point in the game. When I fire up the grill, I don’t use lighter fluid, I just throw pics of Clippard on the charcoal and flames erupt.
Girardi pulled Clippard at that point, but his replacement, Chasen Shreve, had the Clippard-Betances Syndrome and gave up another run with the first two men he faced. A double by Hernan Perez and a single by Manny Pina (who?) which scored Perez. The Brewers had the 9-4 lead and coasted to the four-hit victory. Clippard (1-5) took the loss with his fifth blown game.
The Yankees (44-40) are on the fast track for third place in the AL East. The Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, to pad their lead by 4.5 games. But even with the loss, the Rays are just a game behind the Yankees.
Brett Gardner had four walks in the game but wasn’t able to do anything with the free passes. He was caught stealing third in the 3rd inning. Clint Frazier, in addition to the sac fly RBI, had a triple in the 8th with one out, but was left stranded.
I remember back in the good old days when the Yankees bullpen meant a complete shutdown of the opposition’s offense. I miss those days…
Odds & Ends…
When an “unnamed Yankees insider” speaks, it always sounds exactly like the words are coming out of the mouth of Yankees Idiot…sorry I mean…President, Randy Levine. The “insider” told The New York Daily News, speaking about Greg Bird, that “You have to wonder what’s with this guy. You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here, he’d want to be part of this. Apparently not.” I may be frustrated that Bird has been unable to get back on the field with his ankle injury but I do not blame the player. If he feels that he is not 100% and would be a liability on the field, I will not fault him for trying to find pain relief and good health before he returns. Bird responded “I want to play. I’ve always wanted to play since I can remember. I love baseball. For me, I’m doing everything I can to come back. I love it and I want to be playing with these guys. I would hope people see it”. I see it and wish that Levine would shut the h*ll up…
Bird will consult with Dr Martin O’Malley, a foot and ankle surgeon, on Monday. So, we should have clarity on whether or not he’s lost for the season soon. This is shaping up to be two consecutive lost years for the young slugger.
|Credit: Seth Wenig-AP|
Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro are now expected to rejoin the Yankees when they open the second half next week in Boston. Holliday is going to start a rehab assignment today. Castro bowed out of the All-Star Game and in a move that was a little bittersweet (for me) to take, Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners was named as his replacement. Nothing against Cano as I still think he’s a good player, but it’s a reminder of the sting I felt when he left in free agency.
In a surprise move today, the Yankees have optioned Jordan Montgomery and Luis Cessa to Triple-A and have recalled relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder. I can only assume that the moves were made to strengthen the Yankees bullpen in light of Clippard’s meltdown. Montgomery will be back after the All-Star break.
Have a great Saturday! A new day and a new opportunity to win a game. Let’s Go Yankees!