|Credit: Getty Images|
Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1…
It may not have resulted in the AL East championship, but CC Sabathia gave the Yankees what they needed to propel the team to the narrow victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon. Give credit to the Yankees for making the Boston Red Sox earn the division title and not handing it to them. This was a game for the ages, raising the names of Whitey Ford and Babe Ruth…
Sabathia locked into a pitching battle with Toronto’s Marcus Stroman for the first few innings. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the 4th when Aaron Judge belted a monster blast over the left field seats (484 feet) for his 52nd home run of the year. All Rise!
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But the Yankees weren’t finished. Didi Gregorius hit a one-out single to left, a ball that nearly grazed the top of the glove of Blue Jays shortstop Ryan Goins. While Starlin Castro was taking his hacks at Stroman, a wild pitch got away from catcher Russell Martin (a bouncer through his legs) allowing Didi to advance to second. With the count full, Castro singled to center, past a diving Ryan Goins who barely got a piece of his glove on the ball, to score Gregorius. The Yankees were up, 2-0.
The Blue Jays changed pitchers for the bottom of the 5th with reliever Aaron Loup replacing Stroman. Loup walked two of the first three batters he faced (the two Aarons) to put Hicks in scoring position, but the Blue Jays pulled Loup and inserted Carlos Ramirez who shut down Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius on a strikeout and fly out, respectively.
The top of the 6th brought a little drama and memories of the Jeffrey Maier incident years ago the then 12-year-old reached out to catch Derek Jeter’s fly in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS and Jeter was awarded a home run. With one out, Ryan Goins got a hold of a Sabathia pitch and sent it high to right. Momentarily, it appeared to be a home run but replayed showed a young fan reaching out to catch the ball. The play was reviewed but the call on the field (ground-rule double due to fan interference) was upheld. Goins took second and the fan was shown the exit. Sabathia struck out Teoscar Hernandez for the second out but with Josh Donaldson on deck, CC’s day was done. Chad Green came into the game and got Donaldson to hit a fly to left for the final out. The shutout remained intact much to the delight of Sabathia. Sabathia finished with 5 2/3 innings pitched, and giving up only four hits with no runs or walks. He struck out six in what may have been his final Yankees regular season start.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP|
Tommy Kahnle took over for Green in the top of the 8th and unfortunately gave his best impersonation of Dellin Betances (the bad version). The first batter he faced, Ezequiel Carrera, hit a soft dribbler on the third base side and beat the throw from Kahnle to first. Miguel Montero, pinch-hitting for Rob Refsnyder, drew a walk so the Blue Jays had the tying run on base. Kahnle was pulled and replaced with David Robertson. Ryan Goins struck out but D-Rob missed with a full count fastball to walk Teoscar Hernandez. The bases were loaded with only one out. Josh Donaldson hit a fly to left for the second out, with Carrera coming home to score on the sacrifice. Brett Gardner had to run to make the catch as the wind pulled it back, and his throw to the plate almost nailed Carrera but Gary Sanchez couldn’t hold on to the ball.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP|
Robertson came through big when he struck out Justin Smoak swinging to preserve the Yankee lead by the slim one-run margin.
Aroldis Chapman on the for the 9th inning and it was 1-2-3 game over with Starlin Castro running to his left to catch Darwin Barney’s line drive for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
The Yankees (91-70) saw their hopes for the AL East title dashed in the clubhouse when the Boston Red Sox completed their 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros. David Price got the Sox out of a bases-loaded jam in the 7th inning. Former Yankee Brian McCann did his part with a homer in the 9th inning but it wasn’t enough. The Yankees will host the AL Wild Card Game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. The winner will advance to play the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. The Red Sox will continue their current series with the Houston Astros in their ALDS matchup, moving from Boston to Houston for Game 1.
Congratulations to CC Sabathia (14-5) for his successful season. I know that I had given up hope for the aging pitcher, like many fans, but he showed that he is capable of reinventing himself ala Andy Pettitte. The win was Sabathia’s 237th of his career, passing the legendary Whitey Ford.
The troublesome knee is still a concern but CC Sabathia earned his right to be part of the 2018 Yankees. Hopefully, the team and the player can come together for a mutually rewarding contract in the off-season.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Aaron Judge will most likely not play today so if that’s the case, he finishes with a .284 batting average, 52 home runs and 114 RBI’s. His homer was the 33rd of the year at home, breaking the franchise record set by none other than the immortal George Herman “Babe” Ruth in 1921. It’s been an incredible season for the highly talented young slugger. First full season and he’s rubbing shoulders with the greatest of the greats in franchise history.
Odds & Ends…
Andrew Romine of the Detroit Tigers became the fifth player to play all nine positions in a Major League game. To play catcher, he used a ‘hand me down’ glove courtesy of his brother Austin. Romine pitched in the bottom of the 8th inning with the Tigers nursing a 3-2 lead over the Minnesota Twins. He retired the only batter he faced, Miguel Sano, on a ground out to third. He handled all of his defensive chances cleanly. A very nice accomplishment for Austin’s older brother.
|Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports|
There was a nice Twitter exchange between Aaron Judge and Marcus Stroman after yesterday’s game.
Stroman: @TheJudge44 is creating history. He hits baseballs extremely far too. Lol looking forward to competing against him the rest of my career!
Judge: Much respect @MStrooo6!! Love your fire and passion for this game!! Keep that chip on your shoulder!! 👊👊
Stroman: Always my man. The future battles will be legendary. Good luck in the playoffs young king!
Personally, I would rather see these two become Yankee teammates…
Have a great Sunday! The final game of the regular season. Let’s bring home a victory in preparation for Tuesday. Go Yankees!
Credit: 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!
I was never a fan of good-byes…
Sadly, the 2013 Major League Baseball Season has come to an end. Well, at least for the New York Yankees. It was an eventful final week that saw a farewell to the great Mariano Rivera that was unmatched by any I have seen in recent years or even during my lifetime. Mo’s final game at Yankee Stadium turned out to be the final game of his professional career as he chose not to pitch during the season-ending series in Houston to preserve his Bronx goodbye as the final exit for a storied and soon to be Hall of Fame career.
I have been a Mariano Rivera fan since the days when he set up John Wetteland in the bullpen. His 7th and 8th inning appearances before the cardiac appearances by Wetteland were electric. The ball seemed to come screaming with blazing speed yet Mo seemed so effortless in letting the ball leave his hand. He made it look easy, and for the length of his career, he proved he was just a little better than everyone else. Sure, there were a few hiccups along the way. A couple of key blown saves in critical games, but these were few and far between. His success rate was far superior to any failures, and in those failures, you knew that Mo had left his all.
Looking back, I certainly have no regrets. It was an honor and privilege to be a Yankees fan and to witness the career of the latest Yankees legend. He’ll be someone that my grandchildren will be talking about, and I can say that I saw him pitch from the beginning to the end. Mo showed how special it was to play for one team, and he is forever embedded into Yankees lore. Ichiro Suzuki will be immortalized in Cooperstown one day as a Seattle Mariner, but Seattle will never be able to call Ichiro exclusively their own. They may have had his best years, but he still is playing his final years as a Yankee, not a Mariner. Fortunately, we never had to see Mo in another uniform or his former catcher, Jorge Posada.
I have been a Yankees fan since 1974 when free agent Jim “Catfish” Hunter, then my favorite pitcher, signed with the Yankees. I had grown up very intrigued by the Yankees with their great history and tradition. Those early 70’s were still a tough time for the Yankees organization, but they were about to turn the corner following the acquisition of the team by George Steinbrenner and his partners. To digress, I always loved the quote “There is nothing in life quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner”. This quote is attributed to former Yankees minority owner and later Houston Astros owner John McMullen. The first baseball biography I recall reading when I was little was a book about Lou Gehrig, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since. So, when Catfish made the decision to join the Yankees, it was very easy for me to follow.
During the course of my Yankees fandom, I’ve considered the following players to be my favorite Yankees. Hunter, Thurman Munson, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Don Mattingly, and Mariano Rivera. All those years and I can still count my favorite active Yankees on one hand, well until today with Rivera’s retirement. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect other Yankees over the years, these guys just happened to be my personal favorites at the time they played.
Being someone who appreciates history and tradition, I’ve always felt that Rivera was the perfect man to take Jackie Robinson’s number to retirement for the final time. Mo proved that he had the character to stand with greatness, and he served the legacy of Jackie Robinson very proudly and understood its significance. I am glad that the last guy out of baseball with #42 wasn’t some thug just trying to hang on to a lost career, with rumors of a steroid past. He wears #13. Okay, sorry, I didn’t mean that, or maybe I did, but you get the point. Jackie Robinson was a great man who dealt with more adversity than any of us will ever knew. He did it while turning the other cheek and proving he was the better man. He did this while carving out a Hall of Fame career on the field. If there was a man who deserved to have his number retired across baseball, it was Robinson, and if there was a man who deserved to be the final one to walk off the field with it, it was Mo. The Baseball Gods made sure this one played out like it was supposed to.
Mo, we thank you for simply being you. You did it your way, and you never strived to be anything other than what you were. You proved better than most in shaking off the game’s failures and you never gloated in its successes. You were proud of your teammates and respectful of your opponents. Baseball needs you, and I hope that this is just the beginning as you move into the next phase of your career. I am proud, very proud, when I say that I am a Mariano Rivera fan. He exceeded my wildest expectations and he leaves as the best ever at his position. He deserves to be a first ballot entry to the Hall of Fame. Anything less is unacceptable. He was ours and he proved he belongs to the Hall like no other that I’ve personally witnessed during my lifetime. Farewell, Mo. This is not the end, but simply the closing of one chapter and the opening of the next.
AP Photo (courtesy of LoHud Yankees Blog)
The gaze from under the brim of his cat…
While the focus of this post is Rivera, I would be remiss for not saying thanks to Andy Pettitte. Time and again, he stopped losing streaks and he was clutch when it mattered most (October). He never had the brilliant stuff of Felix Hernandez or Roy Halladay, but he was a winner. His passion showed and he was a champion. It was tough watching him leave via free agency for those three years in Houston, but I am glad he came back. Even during his time in Houston, you’d hear stories about how Andy still followed the Yankees. He is part of the Yankees family and history and always will be. It was so very fitting that his final game was a complete game win in his hometown of Houston. A bit ironic that the opponent was named Clemens (Paul Clemens, no relation to Roger). For the final game of the season, Roger Clemens did make an appearance to wish farewell to Mariano, and he gave Andy a hug. There has been a lot of mudslinging between the former close friends and regardless of what Roger may have or have not done, I was glad to see the small reconciliation. Baseball is greater than any one of us, and at the end of the day, Clemens, Pettitte, and Rivera were teammates and they represented the our team. I fully expect to see all three at future Old Timer’s Day games and I am hopeful that old scars can be healed and that the game itself can move forward.
Back to Andy, he will be a hard act to follow. When you look at the Yankees pitching staff, there is not one that can match Andy’s heart. CC Sabathia appears to be on the downside of his career, Hiroki Kuroda could very well head to Japan for his final season or two, Phil Hughes has worn the pinstripes for the last time, Ivan Nova is a roller-coaster and the jury is still out on David Huff. Next season will be one of transition and it is unfortunate that we’ll no longer have Andy as an anchor to the rotation. Andy’s ceiling was never as a #1 pitcher. He came to the major leagues with question marks, but he left as one of its greatest post-season performers. We were lucky to call Andy one of our own, and I am glad that he was never dealt away in one of those knee-jerk type of trades that we saw during the George Steinbrenner regime. Sorry, George, I miss you but you gotta admit that some of those trades left a little bit to be desired…
Getting back on track, Andy leaves the game being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest lefty in Yankees’ history, the Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford. The Core Four (Rivera, Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter) did an excellent job in reaching the pinnacle of their positions in franchise history. Posada may not have matched Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey or Thurman Munson, but he can stand in the same room. DJ is obviously one of the greatest shortstops in the team’s history (along with Phil Rizzuto). For a team so stacked in history and tradition, four contemporary players reaching the upper echelon is amazing. It is the end of a terrific Yankees era, and as much as I hate to see Derek Jeter go out with an injury filled career, I would prefer for him to leave now rather than to come back next year for what most likely will be a year of reduced relevance on the roster.
What does the future hold?…
I really do not know what to expect next year. At the moment, it is uncertain if Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson will be back. Joe Girardi is talking about needing time to decide if he wants to come back which is not a good sign in my opinion. Mark Texeira will be back next year, but he is deteriorating as he ages. I am not sure that CC can get back to being the dominant pitcher he once was, and the line-up is filled with age and injury-susceptible players. The farm system at the upper levels is weak, at best. While many of said that this has been a great year of managing by Joe Girardi, I’d argue that it has not been one of Brian Cashman’s best years. I do not know how much he has been constrained by ownership, but the 10 wins that the team could have used this season could have been acquired through smart and strategic moves. The farm system is very lacking at the upper levels and I know that injuries have played a part, but at some point, Cashman has to be held accountable. Like fine wine, it is harvest season except the Yankees do not have anything to harvest. They’ll have to overpay and to give up too much young talent to field a championship squad next season. Unfortunately, neither makes sense even for the Yankees, so it feels as though we are in the midst of an era of transition. Hopefully, greatness will be waiting on the other side…
Slip, slidin’ our way to first place…
Here I was getting concerned about the uneven start to the 2012 season and the Yankees have quietly showed up at the threshold of first place in the AL East. A few weeks back, there was just a game I believe that separated the Yankees from the Red Sox. Ironic since Boston had gotten off to such a horrid start. But the Yankees started to win, and they now share first place with the Tampa Bay Rays after defeating the New York Mets tonight. The Mets game, by the way, shows that Hiroki Kuroda misses the National League. He was stellar tonight in the 9-1 victory.
Speaking of pitching, I have continued to be very pleased with the return of Andy Pettitte. He had a not-so-great start followed by perhaps his best start in years. Andy has been a great Yankee. Yes, there is the association with steroids but Andy has taken far more personal accountability than most of the ‘roid users that we have seen. When I think of the great Yankees, the guys that should be forever immortalized as part of the great Yankees franchise, Andy is in the same room. When Whitey Ford passes, Andy will be the greatest living lefthander in franchise history. I can still remember when he first came up from the minor leagues. I certainly never thought that he’d have such an illustrious career. There’s those Houston years, but the Yankees could have and should have done more to keep Andy in the fold. Conversely, maybe Andy needed a few years away to realize how much he loved the Yankees. He may be a Texan by birth and by heart, but he’s a Yankee forevermore.
Glad to see that Mark Teixeira is hitting again, but then again, it’s June so he is supposed to be…
I am anxious to see how much better the Yankees can be when Brett Gardner gets back on the field. Nothing against Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, or the rest of the fill-in’s, but the Yankees lineup has been missing Gardner’s speed…
Russell Martin deserves a contract extension. Get ‘er done!
I love David Robertson but the only place for him to go is the 8th inning. Rafael Soriano has earned the closer’s role in his absence and the team is stronger with Robertson-Soriano than it is with Soriano-Robertson…
I like the draft pick of pitcher Ty Hensley, and I appreciate his excitement about being a member of baseball’s most storied franchise…
Robinson Cano has been and still is the team’s MVP…
But Curtis Granderson gets honorable mention…
I enjoy having Joe Girardi as manager, but I am very impressed by the growth and maturity Don Mattingly has exhibited as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I will always be a Donnie Baseball fan and it is sad that he’s not a part of the Yankees organization currently. Maybe one day he can find his way home…
It’s still a long season, but I like where the Yankees are at. I fully expect an upcoming hard run by the Boston Red Sox and there’s no way that the Tampa Bay Rays are going to go away. But it should be a fun ride to the end of the season…regardless of the outcome. Go Yankees!