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CC Sabathia Relishes the Role of Stopper…
Well, the last week didn’t go exactly as planned. I didn’t think the Yankees would win the three-game series in Houston but I had hoped for at least one win. They played well enough to win all three games if not for the lack of bullpen support. After Friday night’s rain-shortened loss to Eloy Jimenez and the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees had lost four consecutive games and could have been overtaken in the AL East Standings on Saturday by the Boston Red Sox, a team that has seemingly gotten off to a much worse start than our favorite team, if the Sox had won and the Yankees had not. Fortunately, CC Sabathia represented the Cavalry, arriving to save the day, while the highly paid hitless wonder known as Chris Davis helped power Baltimore past the struggling Red Sox.
It is funny how the World looks so much better after a Yankees win. Life as a Yankee fan is such a roller coaster ride at times. It was hard watching Eloy Jimenez (first two home runs of his young career) and the White Sox crush Yankee pitching during Friday night’s rain-shortened seven innings loss. Although I am sure CC Sabathia would have liked to have stayed in yesterday’s game a little longer, he combined with Domingo German, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman to shut out the White Sox, 4-0, giving the Pinstripers a very much-needed victory. Honestly, I was unsure what Sabathia would bring in his first start of his final season. Delayed by December’s Angioplasty that placed a stent in a heart valve, a five-game suspension, and a trip to the Injured List as he worked his way back into prime form, it was vintage Sabathia on Saturday. He held the White Sox to a meaningless single by second baseman Jose Rondon in the top of the third inning. It was the first and only hit the Sox would get on this day.
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Sabathia looked strong when he struck out Wellington Castilllo looking to end the top of the fifth inning but the pitch, his 62nd, would be his last. The TV cameras showed a disappointed Sabathia in the dugout as Manager Aaron Boone informed him his day was finished. I don’t blame Boone. No reason to push Sabathia this early. His 62 pitches for the Tampa Tarpons (High-A) in a rehab start last Sunday were his season high. He probably would have been good for a few more pitches but why risk it. We need the big guy in the weeks and months ahead. With an off-day last Thursday and another tomorrow, the Yankees were able to skip the fifth spot in the rotation, making Domingo German available to provide back up support for Sabathia. It was the perfect formula. German, continued his brilliant 2019 performance with two innings of hitless relief and four strikeouts. If you looked at stats alone without names, you’d think his line belonged to the team’s ace. 3-0, 1.38 ERA, 9.69 K/9, and 1.03 BABIP. Not that Luis Severino is coming back anytime soon but if he were to return today, you’d have to argue that J.A. Happ, not German, should be the loser of a rotation spot.
Zack Britton finally delivered a relief outing that we expect to see. Three-up, three down in the top of the eighth. I know, it was just the White Sox but you would have thought they were the second coming of Harvey’s Wallbangers after Friday night. Britton had to start somewhere with a solid appearance. Saturday was as good a day as any. Now if we could just get Chad Green and Jonathan Holder back on track. I’d really like to see this so-called Super Bullpen that everyone has been talking about. I know, Dellin Betances is a major cog and his absence hurts, but the other guys need to pick up the slack. They are certainly capable of so much more.
I know I was feeling much better about Aroldis Chapman from his first pitch in the top of the ninth when the radar gun clocked his strike to Adam Engel at 99 MPH. In throwing nine pitches to finish off the game, Chappy hit 100 MPH four times. He is trending in the right direction for those fearing his loss of velocity. It was not a save situation but Chapman needed the work and he did not disappoint.
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Credit to White Sox starter and former Yankee Ivan Nova. Back in the stadium he was raised, he delivered as well as he could have. He faced one batter in the top of the seventh, giving up a single to Gleyber Torres. Pulled at that point, Torres would eventually score the first run for the Yankees when Luke Voit singled with the bases loaded. It was almost unfair for Nova to be charged a run on this day, but he was, thus taking the tough luck loss despite holding the Yanks to only four hits, and no runs while he was standing on the mound, over six innings and the one batter faced in the seventh. No doubt he’ll look back on the day proud that he was able to compete exceptionally well with his one-time mentor as Sabathia prepares for his ride to the Sunset and eventual placement in MLB’s Hall of Fame.
|Credit: Kathy Willens/AP|
With such a great pitching performance by the Yankees, the team’s offense was almost an afterthought. The Yankees needed the runs, of course, to win the game but for inning after inning, they were unable to mount any serious threat against Nova. When Nova gave up that single to Gleyber Torres in the bottom of the seventh and departed the game, it opened the door for the Yankees. It took a little luck when Greg Bird hit into a fielder’s choice at second against White Sox reliever Jace Fry. An error by Yolmer Sanchez, booting a potential double play ball, left both runners safe at first and second. After another pitching change, Clint Frazier singled to right off reliever Ryan Burr to load the bases. Luke Voit keep it going with a broken bat single past the outstretched glove of the shortstop, scoring Torres.
|Credit: Kathy Willens/AP|
Kyle Higashioka, getting the start at catcher in place of Austin Romine, hit a long sacrifice fly to right which brought Bird home with the second run. Tyler Wade displayed his athleticism with a rare squeeze bunt toward third that easily allowed Frazier to score. The Yankees were up, 3-0.
Aaron Judge accounted for the final Yankees run when he led off the bottom of the eighth with a short home run (a 335’ shot that took full advantage of the right field porch). Hey, a homer is a homer. Sure, we love the homers that reach the second deck, especially when Judge is at the plate, but I’ll take the short fly that lands into the first row of the right field porch any day.
Hopefully the win helps the Yankees “turn the corner” (as Aaron Boone would say). A win today to take the series against the White Sox would be ideal, considering the other Sox come to town on Tuesday. Nothing like changing our Sox on a positive note. The Houston Astros got hot at the right time last week to sweep the Yankees in their home park. It would be nice for the Yankees to do the same to the visiting Red Sox for the brief two-game series.
Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 1.47 ERA) gets the ball in the White Sox finale this afternoon. He’ll be opposed by the talented Carlos Rodon (1-2, 3.38 ERA) in what should be a great pitching matchup. I kind of wish Tanaka was pitching against the Red Sox this week, but if he can deliver a win today, that’s all we can ask. Tuesday’s game will feature James Paxton against Chris Sale, two pitchers with high expectations who have, so far, delivered uninspiring results. Wednesday is the battle of 8.00+ ERA pitchers with J.A. Happ going against former Yank Nathan Eovaldi. I really hope Paxton and Happ were watching Sabathia pitch yesterday. They need to follow his lead. Get on a roll and the team’s slow start will be nothing but a distant memory. A nice ten-game winning streak would help warm things up for the summer ahead.
Stephen Tarpley was the loser of a spot on the 25-man roster when he was optioned to Triple A to make room for Sabathia. It meant that Joe Harvey’s stay in the Bronx will last awhile longer and rightfully so. He has only appeared in one game (one of the losses to the Astros last week) but he did his job when called upon (unlike Green and Holder). I’d like to see what he can do with an extended stay in the Show. Tarpley, on the other hand, is not quite ready. He’ll benefit from a little more seasoning in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
As always, Go Yankees…and, please, stay healthy!
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.
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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.
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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!
Brian Cashman on Line 3…
The Yankees were very busy on Thursday and that was before game time. Normally, I lead with the day’s prior game but today I wanted to catch my breath from the flurry of activity that took place yesterday.
On Wednesday night, Miguel Andujar, penciled in at DH as a fill-in for the DL’d Matt Holliday, had one of the greatest Major League debuts in franchise history. For all I know, it may have been the best, outperforming many of the legends that have called Yankee Stadium home. He went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI’s and a stolen base. Thursday rolls around and he’s flying from Chicago to Syracuse, New York to catch up with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on the road.
I get the logic. The Yankees want Andujar to focus on third base with regular playing time. There’s no doubt he’ll be back but it must have been tough celebrating Major League success for the first time, followed by a tap on the shoulder that the manager wanted to talk to you…and oh yeah, bring your bags.
Coming the other way is first baseman Chris Carter. I think @BronxPinstripes said it best on Twitter the other day when they said Carter would be back faster than you could say ‘Strike 3’. Sad but true. With the placement of Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring), the Yankees needed a true first baseman. Austin Romine has done a good job and I’m sure he’ll remain in the mix, but I guess we need to get prepared for more whiffs in big spots.
To make room for Carter, the Yankees moved Greg Bird to the 60-Day Disabled List which is probably a light indication we may not see Bird again this year.
The Yankees also recalled outfielder Dustin Fowler to replace Andujar. I wondered what was up with Fowler. Wednesday night, I was seeing tweets about how Fowler was a no-show for the RailRiders’ double-header. No reason was given and when Manager Al Pedrique was asked about it after the games, he said that there would be clarity on Thursday. Early Thursday, the news was breaking that Fowler was on his way to Chicago to meet up with the Yankees. Obviously, the Yankees must have called the RailRiders to tell them to pull Fowler from games. It must be tough to be a Triple A manager. Things are going great and out of nowhere, your best players get plucked off your roster so you’re left to pillage Double A. I don’t dispute calling up Fowler. There is a greater outfield need right now and there’s no way I’d put all my chips on Jacoby Ellsbury. It’s unfortunate for Andujar but it would have been a good opportunity for Fowler. More on Fowler later.
Since Fowler was not on the 40-man roster, someone had to be voted off the island. Unfortunately, the loser was one-time top prospect Mason Williams. As an older prospect that never took advantage of opportunities, he was deemed expendable in an organization filled with outstanding outfield prospects. I know these moves are as much about preparing for the December Rule 5 Draft as they are for helping the team play the White Sox and the Astros. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can trade Williams or if they lose him for nothing. I don’t really see him accepting an outright assignment to Triple A but I could be wrong. If it were me, I’d try to catch on with an organization running a little thin with outfielders. Excuse me, Brian Sabean, can we talk? Fowler represents the ninth Yankee making his MLB debut this year. Gleyber Torres, why, oh why, did you make that slide?…
Busy, busy day.
White Sox 4, Yankees 3…
The exciting MLB debut for Dustin Fowler ended as horrifically as one could imagine. On his first play in the first inning, Fowler ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee when he tried to make a running catch into foul territory to catch a fly ball and collided with the low right field foul wall. I had been worried about Fowler going into this game. Delayed by rain, the game didn’t begin play until 10 pm Central (which would have been 11 pm for Fowler having just flown in from Syracuse, New York). The late, wet conditions set a horrible stage for Fowler’s debut. I felt the game should have been called, particularly considering the Yankees had to fly to Houston, Texas to play another game today at 5:10 pm Central. It was a very unfortunate situation for Fowler, who is out for the season.
|Credit: Patrick Gorski-AP|
The Yankees are now be faced with yet another roster move. Rob Refsnyder, who replaced Fowler in right field, dropped a fly ball that should have been caught which allowed the White Sox to score a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning. No offense to Refsnyder but the Yankees need better help in the outfield. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees make another adjustment with the 40-man roster to recall Clint Frazier.
The Yankees scored first in the top of the first inning before the Fowler injury in the bottom half. Following an infield single by Brett Gardner and a walk by Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius grounded into a fielder’s choice to first but Jose Abreu’s throw to second glanced off Judge’s left shoulder and went into left field. Gardner scored on the play.
In the bottom of the second, the White Sox scored two runs to take the lead. The first run, courtesy of Refsnyder’s error. Adam Engel, who hit the two-out fly ball that Refsnyder dropped, scored the go-ahead run when the next batter, Omar Narvaez, singled to left.
The Yankees tied the game in the fourth. Ronald Torreyes lined a single to deep left with runners at first and second, scoring the lead runner (Jacoby Ellsbury). But the White Sox quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning. Yolmer Sanchez walked to start the inning for the White Sox. Adam Engel was hit by a pitch with one out to put runners at first and second. Omar Narvaez grounded out to first, but the runners advanced a base. Willy Garcia brought both runners home with a double to deep left and the White Sox led, 4-2.
The Yankees scored their final run in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a triple. He scored when Austin Romine hit into a ground out at short. Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to complete the rally. They had the right opportunity in the ninth with Aaron Judge at the plate and Brett Gardner on first with two outs, but White Sox closer David Robertson struck out Judge to end the game.
I am sure it was a very long flight from Chicago to Houston.
This was a sickening loss. The long-term health of Dustin Fowler is the primary concern. But these were very difficult circumstances for the Yankees to play and a game that I felt should not have been played. The cost was far too great. If the Yankees play sluggishly today, who can blame them. With the loss, the Yankees (42-35) fell one game behind the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3. The Tampa Bay Rays lost 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates so they are three games behind the Yankees.
Luis Cessa (0-3) was the hard luck loser. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, with a whopping 89 pitches, allowing 5 hits, 4 runs (2 unearned thanks to the Refsnyder error), 3 walks, and struck out 1. If there is a positive, the Yankees bullpen threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief which included an inning by Tyler Clippard. The pitcher, who has been very erratic of late, struck out the side in the bottom of the 7th.
I hope Brian Cashman gets to the office early today. He has much work to do.
Oh well, on to Houston and MLB’s best team, the Astros. It doesn’t get any easier.
Next Up: Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas…
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Michael Pineda (7-4, 4.12 ERA)
Astros: Lance McCullers, Jr. (7-1, 2.53 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.53 ERA)
Astros: Francis Martes (2-0, 5.51 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA)
Astros: Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.98 ERA)
Odds & Ends…
Another former Yankee has found his way to the unemployment line. The Atlanta Braves have designated 44-year-old Bartolo Colon for assignment. I really hope the Yankees do not to take a flyer. Let him go back to the Mets.
Have a great Friday! Today has to be better than yesterday. Let’s Go Yankees!
Credit: Associated Press
Yankees 12, White Sox 3…
Two young Bombers collected their first Major League hits to help power Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees to the victory over the Chicago White Sox. Throw in another Aaron Judge home run and it was a good night at the office (even if it was a slightly wet and windy one).
When I saw the lineup card, I was a little concerned when I saw that two “fresh” rookies would be starting. But on this night, they were exactly what the doctor ordered. The Yankees jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. Brett Gardner walked to open the game. Following outs by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez and a passed ball that moved Gardy to second, Didi Gregorius reached first safely on a throwing error by White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. Gardy scored on the play. Chase Headley and Austin Romine both walked to load the bases. Miguel Andujar, a new arrival from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, stepped to the plate and chopped a single to center which scored Gregorius and Headley.
Credit: Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images
Tanaka escaped a bases loaded jam in the 2nd but he wasn’t so lucky in the 5th. After the White Sox opened the inning by loading the bases with two hits and a walk, former Yankee Melky Cabrera lined a single to left, scoring two runs. Fortunately, Tanaka was able to get out of the inning without any further damage. 3-2, Yankees.
The Yankees wasted no time in re-establishing a multiple run lead. In the top of the 6th, against Sox reliever Jake Petricka, Austin Romine doubled with one out. After Miguel Andujar hit a grounder for the second out, Tyler Wade followed with his first Major League hit, a fly ball that dropped in for a double to score Romine. Ronald Torreyes then laced a sharp double to right, scoring Wade. 5-2, Yankees. White Sox manager Rick Renteria came out to talk to Petricka and was thrown out when he began jarring with the Home Plate Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. The Yankees two-out hit parade continued as Brett Gardner singled to center to score Torreyes. Aaron Judge came up and lined “a bullet” to left for his 27th home run of the season. 8-2, Yanks.
Credit: Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images
Tanaka (6-7) finished his day by striking out the side in the bottom of the 6th. I really didn’t know what to expect out of Tanaka for this start. I didn’t know if last week’s stellar performance against Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers was an aberration or a sign that Tanaka was back on track. Fortunately, it appears the turbulence may be a thing of the past…or at least I hope so. Tanaka’s final line was very solid. 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, and 5 SO. He threw 101 pitches, lowered his season ERA to 5.56 and most importantly, did not give up any home runs.
It started to rain in the 7th inning. It got a little tense in the bottom of the inning when Tyler Wade, playing left field, was charged with an error. A fly ball that normally would have been destined for center field drifted toward left with the aid of the wind. Brett Gardner, playing center field, was moving with the ball and attempted to catch it but so was the left-fielder Wade. Their gloves collided causing the ball to bounce out of Gardy’s glove. The White Sox put a second runner on base on another wind-aided fly ball that Ronald Torreyes missed. There was also a fly in foul territory that normally would have been caught if not for the wind. Despite a subsequent walk that loaded the bases, Chad Green was able to strike out Todd Frazier to end the threat. Whew! I was very worried that the wind was going to help the White Sox get back in the game. I guess there’s a reason they call it the Windy City.
In the top of the 9th, Didi Gregorius hit a one-out two-run homer to increase the lead to 10-2. In a bit of deja vu from earlier in the game, both Chase Headley and Austin Romine walked in front of Miguel Andujar. Like the first inning, Andujar didn’t miss the opportunity. He lined a double to center to score (again) both Headley and Romine. Nice debut performance by Andujar with 4 RBI’s on the night. He finished 3-for-4 with a stolen base. He was probably left wondering what’s so hard about baseball at this level.
Chicago’s Adam Engel homered off Tyler Webb in the bottom of the 9th to make it 12-3 but then Webb settled down and retired the next three batters (two by strikeout). The Yankees win!
Then it was off to bed for the Baby Bombers…
After so many close games and disappointing losses, it was nice to have a blowout. The Yankees (42-34) moved back into a first place tie in the AL East with the win. The Boston Red Sox lost to the Minnesota Twins, 4-1. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-2, so they are three games back.
Odds & Ends…
Former Yankees top prospect Jesus Montero, 27, is looking for a new team. He was released on Tuesday by the Triple A Norfolk Tides, the top farm team for the Baltimore Orioles. Montero recently completed a 50-game suspension for a banned substance and was only batting .143 in 49 at-bats with 14 strikeouts for the Tide. After Montero’s trade to the Seattle Mariners in the 2012 deal that brought Michael Pineda to New York, he has spent time in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization in addition to his latest Minors stint with the O’s. I guess that means the Red Sox or the Rays are on tap next. It’s been a hard road for the player once billed to be the next greatest catcher for the Yankees. Now he’s struggling to just stay in the game at first base or DH. Sad story for the guy who was supposed to be Gary Sanchez before Gary Sanchez was.
News started breaking early on Wednesday about the promotion of third base prospect Miguel Andujar to the Yankees. Andujar had just been promoted from Double A Trenton to Triple A Scranton on June 19th. In 67 games for the Thunder, Andujar had a slash line of .312/.342/.494 with 7 HR’s and 52 RBI’s. Out of 79 total hits, 23 went for doubles. He also had a team-high 10 errors. In 7 games for the RailRiders, Andujar was hitting .308 with 1 HR and 2 RBI’s (8-for-26). It is a small sample size but he only committed one error at Triple A. He hit well during Spring Training but his fielding was questionable. Nevertheless, he is known as an above-average defender. He now has a golden opportunity to out-perform an over-priced, 33-year-old veteran. Yesterday’s debut, even if he was at DH and not third, was a great start.
To make room for Andujar, the Yankees placed DH Matt Holliday (viral infection) on the 10-Day DL retroactive to June 25th. Holliday has been battling the symptoms of the allergic reaction he first encountered in Oakland. He’ll return to New York for further tests. We wish Matt the best and hope to see him back on the field in the near future.
We thought the Chris Carter Experiment was over, but alas, it might not be. The Yankees have announced that Carter, previously designated for assignment, has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple A. He now represents the next option should the Yankees decide it is necessary to place Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring). So, just when you thought it was safe to watch a Yankees game again…
Happy Thursday! One final game in Chicago before the getaway to Houston, Texas. Let’s Go Yankees!
White Sox 4, Yankees 3…
Luis Severino pitched magnificently, Yankees took the lead, but the bullpen ingredients of Domingo German, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances handed the Chicago White Sox the walk-off win.
Severino allowed just one run on six hits over seven innings. He struck out a career high 12 batters, and issued no walks. You could not have asked for better, but unfortunately, on the other side, it was a very strong night for White Sox starter, and oft speculated trade target, Jose Quintana as he held the Yankees to only two hits and no runs in 6 1/3 innings.
|Credit: Armando L Sanchez-AP|
The White Sox scored the game’s first run in the third inning when Jose Abreu laced a run-scoring double to right. Chicago’s 1-0 lead held up until the eighth inning. Tyler Wade, making his Major League debut, pinch hit for Rob Refsnyder and walked against White Sox reliever Tommy Kahnle. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a single as Wade advanced to second. After Chase Headley struck out, Aaron Judge singled to center, scoring Wade while Ellsbury moved to second. Game tied. Gary Sanchez doubled, bringing home both Ellsbury and Judge, as the Yankees took the 3-1 lead.
|Credit: Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images|
It felt like it was going to be a magical night for Severino with the stellar pitching and the late runs to potentially give him the win but thanks to the Yankees bullpen, it was not to be. Manager Joe Girardi brought in Domingo German to pitch the eighth, but he had control problems and was lifted after walking the first two batters. Tyler Clippard (Egads!) entered the game and was able to get three outs but not before two more walks had pushed another run across for the Sox. 3-2, Yankees. All things considered, I guess, you’d have to say that this was a better Clippard than we’ve seen lately. He escaped a bases-loaded situation with no outs, giving up only one run, so it could have been much worse.
|Credit: Associated Press|
The Yankees had runners at second and third with two outs in the top of the 9th following a passed ball by White Sox reliever Dan Jennings, but Chase Headley struck out to leave the runners stranded. As it turned out, the Yankees could have used those insurance runs.
The Yankees brought in Dellin Betances to pitch the ninth. He had worked the previous two games but had thrown only a total of 25 pitches. Aroldis Chapman was not available, having worked the preceding two days combined with his recent activation off the DL. Betances (3-2) earned the Tyler Clippard Pitching Award of the night when he walked Kevan Smith and Alen Hanson, and hit Yolmer Sanchez with a pitch to load the bases. He was able to retire former Yankee Melky Cabrera on a fly ball, but Jose Abreu came up and delivered a single to left, scoring the winning runs as the White Sox walked off with the 4-3 victory.
|Credit: Armando L Sanchez-Chicago Tribune|
With the loss, the Yankees (41-34) fell one game behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The Red Sox, looking like a team that wants to win, beat the Minnesota Twins, 9-2. The Tampa Bay Rays also won (4-2 in extra innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates) so they are just two games behind the Yankees. I know it’s only June and it is just one game, but right now the gulf between the Yankees and the Red Sox seems much, much greater. The Red Sox are a team ready to kick it into another gear, whereas the Yankees just keep slip, sliding away. It was difficult to watch a game that was freely given to the White Sox. The final 3 of their 4 runs were walked batters that came around to score. It was not pretty and Severino’s gem was wasted.
Next up, Masahiro Tanaka. If he pitches like he did against Yu Darvish, I like our chances. If he pitches like the guy we saw prior to the All-Japanese confrontation, it is going to be a very long night.
Trade Speculation Heats Up…
Trade speculation and theories are starting to heat up as the calendar prepares to turn to July. Between now and the July trading deadline, I am sure that we’ll be hearing plenty of possibilities for how the 2017 New York Yankees can make upgrades.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com posted “3 potential Yanks-Mets trades that make sense” yesterday. In his column, he proposed the following trades:
1. Lucas Duda for Austin Romine.
2. Jerry Blevins and/or Addison Reed for Dustin Fowler.
3. Curtis Granderson for Tyler Austin.
My immediate reaction was “I wouldn’t trade my guys for them”. Later in the day, Feinsand tweeted: Love the response to my trade column. Yankees fans: “I’d never trade those guys for that!”, Mets fans: “I’d never trade those guys for that!”. Seriously, and nothing against Kyle Higashioka, I wouldn’t trade Romine for Duda. With the belief that Greg Bird can still be a solid first baseman of the future, I’d take a less costly route to find an alternative for Tyler Austin if it comes to that. I certainly wouldn’t trade a valuable outfield prospect for a reliever that could have been had on the free agent market last off-season. Curtis Granderson? Been there, done that.
In a column that appeared on NJ.com (written by Joe Giglio), it was reported that MLB Network Radio Host Jim Bowden (former GM of the Cincinnati Reds and one-time Yankees employee during the brief reign of Syd Thrift) floated his idea of how to build a super rotation in the Bronx. Bowden indicated that he’d trade for Gerrit Cole now and sign Yu Darvish as a free agent in the off-season. His third and fourth starters would be Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, while the fifth spot would go to Yankees prospect Chance Adams. With this rotation, Bowden believes “In 2018, it’s about what kind of champagne we can put on ice”. I can’t say that I disagree with this one. I like both Cole and Darvish. Severino and Montgomery have both proven they belong in 2018 and the “time is now” is rapidly approaching for Adams. Sign me up for this possibility…I’m on board.
Odds & Ends…
The Attack of the Tylers. It’s hard to believe but 16% of the Yankees active roster is now loaded with dudes named Tyler. With Tuesday’s call-up of Tylers Webb and Wade, there are four Tyler’s with Clippard and Austin already on the roster. I wanted to name my son Tyler but given my last name ends in “ler”, his mother didn’t want a kid named “ler-ler” so I had to ditch any ideas of using the name. I went with Kyle instead (as if there weren’t enough Kyle’s already in the world). Making room for the two Tyler W’s were the placement of Starlin Castro on the disabled list and the demotion of Jonathan Holder to Triple A. It kind of feels like all of these Tylers should be using Aerosmith for their walk-up music…
The results of Castro’s MRI came back with a Grade 1 strain of the right hamstring. He’s expecting to be ready when his time on the 10-Day DL is up.
Have a great Wednesday! Hopefully Tanaka will help get us over the hump! Let’s Go Yankees!
|Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo-Chicago Tribune|
Yankees 6, White Sox 5…
Moral of the story…never take anything for granted. The Yankees took a comfortable five run lead into the bottom of the 9th inning but it was an edge of your seat, nail-biter at the end. A three-run homer and a run-scoring double made it interesting but the Yankees were able to hold on for the win over the Chicago White Sox.
There were a few stars in this game, but credit first has to go to starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery who has proven to be the stopper in the absence of CC Sabathia. Montgomery (6-4) held the White Sox to one run on five hits over seven innings while striking out eight. He issued just one free pass. Montgomery gave up his only run in the second inning when speculated trade target Todd Frazier opened with a solo shot to left center. From there, Monty kept the White Sox off the board while the Yankees built what appeared to be a comfortable lead.
A fielding error by Frazier in the fourth allowed Gary Sanchez to reach base. Aaron Judge, who had opened the inning with a walk, moved to third. Tyler Austin lofted a sacrifice fly to right which scored Judge, tying the game. Jacoby Ellsbury, fresh off the DL, singled to move Sanchez into scoring position. Chase Headley singled, scoring Sanchez. Following a walk by Austin Romine to load the bases, Ronald Torreyes hit into a double-play but Ellsbury was able to score before the White Sox completed the final out, catching Headley between second and third, to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
With one out in the sixth, Tyler Austin gave the Yankees what they were missing from first base with a line drive homer to left or as Michael Kay called it, “a bullet”. Ellsbury reached base on a fielding error by White Sox starting pitcher David Holmberg and Headley followed with a double to move Ells to third. The White Sox made a pitching change and Austin Romine greeted reliever Juan Minaya with a sac fly to center, scoring Ellsbury. A passed ball moved Headley to third. Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder that should have been the final out, but an error by first baseman Matt Davidson, the third White Sox error of the game, allowed Torreyes to reach first while Headley scored, making it 6-1 Yankees.
The Yankees got into some trouble in the 8th when Jonathan Holder replaced Montgomery to start the inning. He struck out the first batter but a single by former Yankee Melky Cabrera and a walk to Jose Abreu put Cabrera in scoring position. Avisail Garcia hit into a force out that erased Abreu at second, moving Cabrera to third. Holder was pulled and replaced by Dellin Betances who subsequently walked Frazier to load the bases. In what would prove to be one of the plays of the game, Betances struck out Davidson to end the threat.
Unable to tack on any further insurance runs, the Yankees took the 6-1 lead into the bottom of the 9th. Chasen Shreve was brought in to pitch in relief of Betances and secured the first out on a grounder by Yolmer Sanchez. But Kevan Smith and Adam Engel followed with singles to put runners at first and second. Tim Anderson punched a fly ball over the center field wall to pull the White Sox within two runs, 6-4. A frustrated Shreve was pulled for Aroldis Chapman but the White Sox kept the rally going with a single by Melky Cabrera. Fellow Cuban Jose Abreu doubled off Chapman, scoring Cabrera, and it was 6-5 Yankees. Fortunately, Chapman got Avisail Garcia on a ground out and Todd Frazier flied out to left to secure the save.
A little too close for comfort but the final result was a much-needed win. The Yankees (41-33) kept pace with the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings. The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-1, earlier in the evening. The Tampa Bay Rays were idle and slipped to 3 games back.
The game wasn’t without its bad news. Second baseman Starlin Castro left the game in the third inning after straining his right hamstring while trying to run out a grounder. He was replaced by Rob Refsnyder. Castro will have a MRI today while the Yankees decide whether or not to place him on the DL. The initial word is the Yankees will call up infield prospect Tyler Wade. Wade has 5 HR’s and 25 RBI’s for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His slash line is .313/.390/.444. In 71 games, he led the RailRiders with 13 errors but has stolen 24 bags. Wade, expected to be the utility-man of the future, will now get his first taste of the Bigs. He’ll back up Ronald Torreyes at second until Castro is able to resume play.
|Credit: Jon Durr-Getty Images|
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees were busy Monday on the transactions wire. They placed Aaron Hicks, as expected, on the 10-Day DL with a right oblique strain. Jacoby Ellsbury, who had been expected to continue his rehab with Double A Trenton was instead activated to replace Hicks. Healthy, there’s no question I prefer Hicks over Ellsbury, but since that’s not an option, I am hopeful the Yankees can get something…anything…out of first base for production. If so, it will help offset the loss of Hicks. The Yankees also sent LHP Tyler Webb and OF Mason Williams to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I was sorry to see Webb go after just two Major League appearances, but hopefully, he’ll be back. RHP Ronald Herrera and IB/OF Rob Refsnyder were recalled to replace Webb and Williams. Refsnyder will provide corner outfield relief and help at first base if necessary. Herrera had been scheduled to start last night’s game for the RailRiders so he represents a rotation insurance arm.
Matt Holliday was unavailable for the second straight day with his condition as a result of the allergic reaction suffered in Oakland. He had some medical tests ran yesterday but hopefully everything comes back good. The Yankees can ill afford to lose his productive bat for any extended period of time.
I do not want to detract from the great rookie season Aaron Judge is having, but Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger is amazing. He had his sixth multi-homer game on Sunday and now has 24 homers on the year. With a delayed start (he wasn’t promoted to the Dodgers until April 25th), he has the most home runs of any NL rookie in the first half since the All-Star Game debuted in 1933. The Dodgers have been steamrolling their opponents since he arrived. At his current pace, the son of a former Yankees utility player may catch and surpass Judge for most home runs in MLB. Bellinger and the Dodgers certainly have the mojo working right now.
|Credit: Chris Carlson-AP|
Have a great Tuesday! Hopefully it’s a two-for Tuesday as the Yankees attempt to secure their second win against the White Sox. Let’s Go Yankees!
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Rangers 7, Yankees 6…
Bad Mike seems to be making more frequent appearances these days. Unfortunately, Michael Pineda chose the day of the 71st Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium to throw up another stink ball.
The Yankees were immediately in the hole when the Texas Rangers opened with three runs in the top of the first. Delino DeShields, Jr. led off with a double and scored on a single by Elvis Andrus. Old-Timer Adrian Beltre, showing that he still has it, followed with a homer to left.
In the Rangers’ second, after Jonathan Lucroy opened with a single, Pineda came within a strike of getting out of the inning when he walked DeShields. Shin-Soo Choo made Pineda pay for it with a three-run blast to the second deck in right. It was 6-0 Rangers before most people had time to settle in to watch the game.
Pineda gave us a little view of his dominant side in the third when he retired the three batters he faced, two by strikeout. It was a facade. In the 4th, with two outs, the Rangers added what would prove to be the game-winning insurance run when rookie second baseman Drew Robinson grabbed his first major league hit with a solo home run to center. The Rangers held a commanding 7-0 lead.
Pineda (7-4) didn’t come back for the fifth so his final line was ugly. 4 innings, 6 hits, 7 runs, 3 home runs, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts. The outing pushed his ERA back over 4 to 4.12.
Tyler Webb, making his second major league appearance, pitched the fifth. It didn’t start well for Webb when he walked the first two batters on 3-2 counts. But he rebounded to get Beltre to hit into a double play and struck out Rougned Odor.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees made it a game again. Mason Williams led off with a single. Following outs by Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner, Austin Romine struck out but reached first base on a wild pitch by Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez. Aaron Judge followed with a run-scoring single to push the first Yankee run across the plate. Gary Sanchez made it 7-4 with a three-run shot to center.
The Yankees continued to chip away when Ronald Torreyes led off the bottom of the 7th with his second home run of the season, a shot to left. Both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez walked with two outs. Didi Gregorius singled to right to score Judge, but Sanchez was tagged out at third to end the inning. The Yankees had closed to within one run, 7-6. “That’s a mistake on my part. I should never be the last out at third base.” — said Sanchez through an interpreter after the game.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
A scoring opportunity was wasted in the eighth inning when Chase Headley opened with a double, but he was left stranded at second, thanks to a ground out and two strikeouts. The Yankees had one more shot in the 9th when Aaron Judge hit a two-out single but Gary Sanchez went down swinging against Rangers closer Matt Bush to end the game.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect top of the 9th, striking out the side in the losing effort. Despite the loss, it was good to see a solid effort by the Yankees bullpen. Webb, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and Chapman pitched five scoreless innings after the Pineda debacle.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Aaron Hicks left the game with right oblique tightness. He was scheduled to have a MRI last evening and the immediate word is that he could miss up to 3-4 weeks. Jacoby Ellsbury is the most likely choice for activation after a weekend of rehab starts. He was 2-for-5 on Sunday, with 2 RBI’s, for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. This would be a great time to promote Dustin Fowler, but then again, there is the small issue of room on the 40-man roster. No word yet on the Yankees plans when Hicks is placed on the DL.
Both Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro missed the game. Holliday is still dealing with the allergic reaction that arose in Oakland while Castro had a cortisone shot for a sore wrist.
The Yankees (40-33) remained tied for first place in the AL East as the Los Angeles Angeles defeated the Boston Red Sox again, 4-2. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 8-5, so they are still 2 1/2 games behind. The bottom two teams in the AL East were the only ones to gain ground. The Orioles are 4 games back, while the Toronto Blue Jays, who beat the Kansas City Royals 8-2, are 5 games.
Hopefully, the Yankees can rediscover the magic that has alluded them since the West Coast road trip. They’ll be in Chicago tonight to start a four-game series against the White Sox. If they can’t start winning with consistency, next weekend in Houston is not going to be pretty.
2017 Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium
The weather cooperated for the 71st Old Timer’s Day. It was a beautiful setting for the pre-game announcements and it was spectacular to see so many Yankee greats and their families.
Credit: Seth Wenig-AP
Following a recorded intro by the late Bob Sheppard, Michael Kay and John Sterling had the honors of the pre-game introductions.
Widows of Yankee Greats
Helen Hunter, wife of Jim “Catfish” Hunter
Jill Martin, wife of Billy Martin
Diana Munson, wife of Thurman Munson
Kay Murcer, wife of Bobby Murcer
Former Players and Managers, and a Long-Time Trainer
The Chairman of the Board
The Yankees presented two chairs from the old Yankee Stadium to Raines in recognition of his entry into the Hall of Fame, Class of 2017.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
They also gave tribute to the many members of the Yankees family that have departed in the past year.
The Old Timer’s Game saw the Clippers defeat the Bombers, 2-1.
Next Up: The Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, IL
Here are the pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (5-4, 3.74 ERA)
White Sox: David Holmberg (1-1, 2.84 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-3, 3.30 ERA)
White Sox: Jose Quintana (4-8, 4.69 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 5.74 ERA)
White Sox: Mike Pelfrey (3-6, 3.73 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Cessa (0-2, 6.57 ERA)
White Sox: James Shields (1-1, 4.26 ERA)
Have a great Monday! Let’s Go Yankees!
With the impending returns of shortstop Didi Gregorius and catcher Gary Sanchez within the next few weeks, the Yankees have some decisions to make. Granted, Kyle Higashioka goes back down to AAA to become the starting catcher for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, retaining his seat at the table (the 40-Man roster). But for Pete Kozma, the future is less certain.
There’s no reason to protect Kozma on the 40-man roster. It is possible that the Yankees stash him at AAA when Didi returns for insurance, but, realistically, why? As I type this post, shortstop Tyler Wade is the top hitter for the RailRiders with a .386 batting average (17-for-44 in 11 games). He has also stolen 6 bags. With Ronald Torreyes moving back to the super-sub role, Wade represents the greatest shortstop insurance going forward. Therefore, if it’s my call, Kozma is DFA’d upon Didi’s return. If he clears waivers, assign him to AAA. If he is claimed, so be it. It’s no great loss. The downside to assigning Kozma to AAA is the fight for playing time with Wade. So, I’d probably just cut him outright and send him on his way.
The decision then becomes what to do with the 40-man roster spot vacated by Kozma. It probably doesn’t make sense to give it to Wade (not yet anyway). I could see the Yankees giving it to a pitcher like Tyler Webb to be part of the bullpen shuttle throughout the summer. The harder decisions about the 40-man roster will have to be made after the season and before the Rule 5 Draft in December. For now, the roster decisions are about who can help us today, not tomorrow.
I know that we didn’t quite make it, but there is something about a ten-game winning streak that I’ve always loved. It cures all ails. It is so fun to go more than a week without feeling the agony of defeat. The Yankees missed making it ten-in-a-row by two games but it was still a fun ride. The sad part is that with a few clutch hits here and there and no error by the aforementioned Kozma, the Yankees probably could have extended the win streak to nine. But as they say, that’s the way the ball bounces, so I guess I’ll just have to look forward to the next streak to achieve my self-fulfilling objective for ten.
Coming into the season, I really had my doubts about Luis Severino and his ability to be a quality major league starter. I was starting to feel that his stuff played best in the bullpen. At a quick glance, his stats do not tell the story. He is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts. It sounds very pedestrian, but then you look at 20 innings pitched (an average of nearly 7 innings per game) with 27 strikeouts. More impressive is his 0.80 WHIP (14 hits and 2 walks). He is currently behind only five pitchers for the lowest WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). The only pitchers with better WHIP are Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins (0.45), James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners (0.57), Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros (0.62), Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers (0.70), and Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox (0.74). Severino is in very good company. I know it’s just three starts but this is a significant improvement over last year and it does appear to be sustainable.
Credit: Noah K Murray/USA TODAY Sports
Thanks to the improved performances of both Severino and Michael Pineda, there is reason for optimism with every starter in the rotation. This also supports that the Yankees could have another extended winning streak coming their way in the not-so-distant future. Good times at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees signed LHP Nestor Oronel, 20, to a minor league deal. The Pittsburgh Pirates released Oronel after three years in March. My first thought was that Oronel is just fodder for minor league starting pitching depth. But being a lefty and only 20 years of age (he doesn’t turn 21 until December) leads me to believe that he might be viewed as a reclamation project.
Gleyber Torres has been placed on the 7-day Minor League DL with his shoulder injury. Manager Joe Girardi said on Wednesday that he just has some inflammation in the shoulder and shouldn’t be down too long. So, it does sound as though the team (and Torres) dodged a bullet, and he will be back in the Trenton Thunder lineup soon.
The Yankees returned to the win column with Wednesday night’s win over the Chicago White Sox, 9-1. Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff, but he still went 7 innings, giving up only a single run. He struck out 6 and walked two while scattering six hits. The Yankees need this guy to be hitting on all cylinders, and he’s getting closer. It was a great offensive night as every starter had a hit, and the team was homer happy with four.
The Yankees only allowed former closer David Robertson to get one save opportunity as they took the three game set from the White Sox, two games to one. At 10-5, the Yankees are percentage points behind the Baltimore Orioles (9-4). They lead the third place Boston Red Sox by a game, although the Red Sox can cut the distance by a 1/2 game with a win today (an off day for the Yankees). Since the Orioles also play today, the Yankees could either be 1/2 game behind the O’s at the end of the day or they could be the AL East Leaders.
Friday, the Yankees head to Pittsburgh for a weekend series with the Pirates. Like the White Sox, the Pirates feature a few former Yankees. Catchers Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart, and Pitchers Ivan Nova and Wade LeBlanc. You could loosely throw Gerrit Cole into the category although he was never officially a Yankee. He was a former top draft pick who never signed. Although Nova wears Andy Pettitte’s number (46) for Pittsburgh, his first start against his former team will pit him against his old number (47) when he matches up with Jordan Montgomery on Sunday.
The Yankees deserve this day off. They’ve exceeded expectations and have been a very exciting team to watch. It’s amazing to think it’s only going to get better when Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius are back and Greg Bird is hitting like we know he can.
Have a great Thursday! One in row, Baby! Let’s make it two on Friday!
Prior to the season, I was saying the Yankees should move veteran outfielder Brett Gardner. Now, fourteen games into the 2017 season, I am more convinced than ever he should be moved. Granted, it is not his fault that he turns 34 on August 24th (I personally blame his parents) but he does not fit into the long-term view for the new and improved New York Yankees.
For the season, Gardner is batting .205 with no home runs or RBI’s. He has stolen five bags but all things considered, his production is replaceable. The Yankees need to find room to consistently start fourth outfielder Aaron Hicks. Hicks, 27, has shown he can be a productive hitter when he regularly knows that he’ll be in the lineup. For the season, Hicks has much better numbers than Gardner (outside of the total stolen bases). Hicks has received 15 less at-bats than Gardner but only has two less hits. Hicks has three home runs on the year, with eight RBI’s. His two stolen base attempts ended in failure but regardless, Hicks has been the better player. Even though he hasn’t put up the numbers for AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre-Barre this month, I think Mason Williams, 25, is a very capable fourth outfielder.
I would love to unload center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury but with his contract, he’s not going anywhere. We’re four years into his 7-year, $153 million contract and at this point, there’s nothing he can do for redemption (at least not in my eyes). He is what he is, and he’ll never be more, and he’ll never be that dude who tore up the league for the Boston Red Sox in 2011. That was his Brady Anderson year. Chained to Ellsbury for the foreseeable future, it means that Hicks would need to play either left or right. Aaron Judge is the awakening Giant in right so he’s not going anywhere. That only leaves left field. It makes the most sense to move Gardner and begin the outfield youth movement with full intensity. Gardner’s been a good Yankee so slap him on the back, give him a watch, and send him on his way.
I suppose the opposing point of view is that Ellsbury will be hurt at some point and it will be necessary to slide Gardner to center, creating a left field opening. At some point this season, the Yankees need to begin placing higher value in Dustin Fowler as the center fielder of the future unless they plan to discard Fowler (a mistake in my opinion) to make way for Jorge Mateo. I wish Mateo was closer to the Majors so that he could force a competition but at this point, Fowler will be ready much sooner. Since Mateo is still learning the position, he is much further behind Fowler than just levels in the Minor Leagues.
I wouldn’t want to over-expose Matt Holliday but he could still play left occasionally in a pinch. As former Yankee Lee Mazzilli once said (regrettably), “Left field is a position for idiots”. Not trying to demean the position, but there are others in the organization that can play the position as back up for Hicks, Ellsbury, and Judge. There always seems to be fourth outfielders readily available as free agents or ones that could easily (and cheaply) be had. I am not worried about the outfield depth. As we move deeper and deeper into the season, guys like Clint Frazier move closer to potential callups.
It’s time to move Gardy. Maybe not this exact minute but no later than July if not sooner.
Now that I’ve ripped Gardner for the day, he will probably go on a hitting tear.
Why is it that the best Yankees beat writers always move on? I remember loving the work of Peter Abraham on the LoHud Yankees Blog, and these days he is a Red Sox beat writer for the Boston Globe. I get it, he’s a Boston guy so it was an opportunity to go home. Then, I loved reading Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News and listening to his podcasts. Now, he is a writer for MLB.com writing about, Egads!, other teams. Or Marc Carig of The Star Ledger moving from the Yankees to the Mets. Next, you’ll probably tell me that Brendan Kuty or Bryan Hoch have found other things they’d like to do. Sorry, just my rant about losing Feinsand. I enjoyed his time as the Yankees beat writer for the Daily News.
The win streak ends at eight. Bummer. Usually, when a starting pitcher goes eight innings and only allows three hits and strikes out ten, the end result is a win. But on a night when the other team’s starter was a wee bit better and the Yankee bats were quiet, Luis Severino took the loss as the Yankees fell to the Chicago White Sox, 4-1. The Yankees had a chance at the end with the winning run at the plate, but Aaron Judge grounded into a force out to end the game. A grand slam would have been so cool at that moment.
The Yanks still have the chance to take the series when the teams meet for the third and final time this evening.
Tuesday evening turned out to be a double loss as top prospect Gleyber Torres was scratched from the lineup for AA Trenton Thunder due to biceps tendonitis. He will undergo a MRI to determine the extent of the injury. Hopefully, the news will be favorable.
James Kaprielian underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, so now the long road to recovery begins.
Have a great Wednesday! I think it’s time to start a new winning streak!
Credit: Andy Martin/USA TODAY Sports
With the better-than-expected start to the season, it’s easy to get caught up with the thinking that the Yankees could actually win the American League East. Sadly, I still do not believe that will be the case. I think the Boston Red Sox remain the heavy favorite to win the division. While the Yankees may be playing great without Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, the Red Sox are starting to gather some steam even though Jackie Bradley, Jr. and arguably their best player, Mookie Betts, are currently on the DL. Add Betts to the stellar starting rotation, and the Red Sox will be a very formidable force throughout the summer. We’ll have some bumps and bruises with the younger starters as time goes by, and there’s no certainty that Michael Pineda has finally turned the corner. My only reservation with the Red Sox is that they do not seem to have the same heart they did with David Ortiz in the lineup. Hanley Ramirez is a great baseball player but he’s no Big Papi.
Nevertheless, I do feel the strong start has positioned the Yankees to make a run at a Wild Card spot, especially with the horrific start of the perennial playoff contending Toronto Blue Jays.
While the Yankees are currently chasing Baltimore, the Orioles lost their lock-down closer Zach Britton for at least ten days with a left sore forearm (his throwing arm). Britton is obviously an elite closer so this severely weakens the O’s pen. Although it’s possible that Britton will be back before the O’s get to New York late next week, they do go into a head-to-head showdown with the Red Sox starting Friday night for a three-game set in their weakened state.
It is amazing to think that the Yankees have played this well without Gregorius and Sanchez. If they can continue to get solid pitching from the starting rotation, the return of Gregorius and Sanchez in a few weeks should be a great lift. It’ll almost be like getting All-Star caliber players at the trading deadline with the only difference being the Yankees do not have to give up any premier prospects (or any prospects, for that matter, other than the probable DFA of Pete Kozma).
The Yankees announced they’ve traded reliever Johnny Barbato to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later or cash. Those types of deals usually turn out to be cash. Barbato was optioned to AAA by the Pirates. It’s unfortunate that the Yankees didn’t get more out of Barbato considering they gave up dependable reliever Shawn Kelley to get him. The Pirates always seem to get high mileage out of Yankee rejects. Barbato will probably be their ace closer within a couple of years.
I apologize in advance for going off topic (non-Yankees talk) but I have been very interested in watching Cody Bellinger, a first baseman in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Bellinger, son of former Yankee Clay Bellinger, is the Dodgers top prospect and the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez. On Sunday, Bellinger was responsible for all three runs in Oklahoma City’s 3-2 win over the Memphis Redbirds. Bellinger scored a run after walking in the fourth; tied the game with a solo homer in the fifth; and singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh. For the season, the 21-year-old Bellinger is batting .372 (16-for-43) with 4 doubles, 3 homers, and 12 RBI’s. Meanwhile, for the Big League Dodgers, the 34-year-old Gonzalez is hitting .250 with no homers and 4 RBI’s. If Bellinger keeps it up, there could soon be a changing of the guard at first base in Dodger Stadium. Looks like the Dodgers could be back to the days of bringing up an All-Star to the Majors every year. If Bellinger does not get the call, top pitching prospect Julio Urias most certainly will.
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Speaking of the Oklahoma City Dodgers (in an attempt to keep this Yankees-oriented), it’s kind of cool that their stadium, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, is located at 2 S. Mickey Mantle Drive. Too bad there was no room to build the stadium across the street and down a little for 7 S. Mickey Mantle Drive.
In other non-Yankees news (or is it?), Bryan Harper stepped to the plate on Sunday in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, with the Washington Nationals trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 and Philly closer Joaquin Benoit on the mound. With two runners on base, Harper homered to center to win the game, 6-4. It was his second home run of the game and it gave him 5 RBI’s for the day. Preview of coming attractions at Yankee Stadium? Time will tell, as it often does. Hal, what’s a half-billion in the grand scheme of things? It’s just money…
Welcome back, Matt Holliday! After sitting out two games against his former team, the St Louis Cardinals, this past weekend, Matt Holliday returned on Monday to absolutely crush a baseball which allowed the Yankees to jump ahead of the Chicago White Sox with an early 3-0 lead. The ball traveled 459 feet, with exit velocity of 113.9 MPH, and according to Statcast was the second longest homer of the year (two feet behind a Carlos Gomez blast).
Aaron Judge also homered in the fourth inning with one on and two outs.
Jordan Montgomery impressed once again. You gotta love his calm demeanor on the mound (unflappable). His deceptive arm angle is a thing of beauty with the over the top motion. Montgomery gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings of work, with two walks and two strikeouts. The runs didn’t come until the seventh inning when Montgomery was tiring (a three run bomb by Yolmer Sanchez that ended Montgomery’s night). Regardless of the end, Montgomery was better the second time around (as I thought he would be). He’s an exciting part of the rotation and is quickly earning his pinstripes for the long haul.
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Adam Warren did what he does best. After Montgomery’s exit, he bridged the gap to the ninth inning. Although he finally allowed a run, he did his job and turned the game over to Aroldis Chapman with one out and a runner on base. Although Chapman did allow a single to the first hitter, pushing the lead runner to third, he needed just two pitches to earn his fourth save. The next batter, Tyler Saladino, hit into a game-ending double play.
The Yankees won 7-4, and have now won eight consecutive games.
Have a great Tuesday! Nine would be just fine!