Tagged: Yu Darvish

Houston Astros, 2017 World Series Champions…

Credit:  Wally Skalij — LA Times

2017 World Series

Astros 5, Dodgers 1…

Astros Win Series, 4-3

In the words of the former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, it’s not what you want. Sadly for me and those who were pulling for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was a very long night. From the second consecutive horrific start by Yu Darvish to Cody Bellinger shattering Aaron Judge’s post-season strikeout record, it was a forgettable night for the Dodger Blue as the Houston Astros claimed their first ever World Series Championship.

Credit:  Robert Gauthier – LA Times

This should have been a special and magical season for the Dodgers. Their start to the season created much talk about surpassing the tremendous accomplishments of the 1998 Yankees, then came the extended losing streak. They rebounded but in the end, they were just another World Series loser. It was a good Dodgers club, but not quite good enough.

As for me, I am kind of tired of the Houston Astros after losing two seven-game series in a row to them…first the Yankees in the ALCS and now the Dodgers in the World Series. Plus, word started popping last night that Yankees third base coach Joe Espada has decided to join the Astros as their new bench coach (replacing Alex Cora who will become the new manager for the Boston Red Sox). I guess it was just adding salt in the wound.

Nevertheless, congratulations to the Astros for the championship! It was a hard-fought win for them and the city of Houston.

The Astros controlled the game from the start. It took three pitches for Houston’s George Springer, leading off the game, to double into the left field corner off Dodgers starter Yu Darvish. Alex Bregman reached base on an error, making it to second on first baseman Cody Bellinger’s throwing error. Bellinger had moved toward second in front of the second baseman in shallow right to scoop up the grounder, but his throw back to first sailed past Darvish. It probably would have been easier for second baseman Logan Forsythe to make that play. 

Credit:  David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG

While Bregman advanced to second, Springer scored the game’s first run. Bregman stole third to put himself in prime scoring position.  It played to perfection when Jose Altuve grounded out to first, with Bregman racing home to score the second run for the Astros. Darvish settled down and retired the next two hitters to get out of the inning and finally bring the Dodgers to bat.

The Dodgers looked like they were going to answer the bell in the bottom of the 1st. Chris Taylor led off for the Dodgers with a double to deep right center. Corey Seager struck out swinging, but there was still hope with the heart of the Dodgers batting order coming up. Justin Turner was hit by a pitch when he took a ball off his forearm, the first of four batters that Astros starter Lance McCullers, Jr would plunk. Cody Bellinger struck out for the second out. Yasiel Puig was next and he, like Turner, was hit by a pitch, on the arm, to load the bases. The reinvigorated Joc Pederson came to the plate, flashing a smile, with the chance to bring momentum back to the Dodgers. Unfortunately, he grounded out to second baseman Jose Altuve for the final out.  No runs for the Dodgers. A missed opportunity for them.  In retrospect, one of the game’s key moments.

Yu Darvish was back out on the mound for the 2nd inning but he would not survive.  He started the inning by walking Brian McCann. Marwin Gonzalez doubled to the right field wall, with the slow-footed McCann moving to third. Josh Reddick grounded out to second for the first out. Then, in one of the game’s critical moments, McCullers, who should have been an easy out, hit a slow grounder between first and second. The only play for the Dodgers was to throw out McCullers at first. McCann was able to easily jog (sorry, it is hard to use the word “run” when it comes to the former Yankees catcher) home to pick up an RBI for McCullers. George Springer was next and he put an exclamation point on the Astros’ early performance with a two-run homer high over the center field wall. The Astros led, 5-0. 

Credit:  Wally Skalij – LA Times

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts came out and pulled Darvish in favor of Brandon Morrow. It may have been the final Dodger appearance for Darvish, a free agent to be. Morrow struck out Alex Bregman to end the inning but using one of your best relievers in the second inning is not exactly a blue print for success.

The Dodgers looked like they had another opportunity in the bottom of the 2nd. Logan Forsythe started things with a single to left. Austin Barnes grounded out to third (great defensive play and throw by third baseman Alex Bregman), but Forsythe was able to advance to second to put himself in scoring position. Kike Hernandez pinch hit for Morrow and was hit by a pitch (ball grazed his shirt but it would have been Ball 4 anyway). Runners at first and second. But it was not the Dodgers’ night. Chris Taylor lined a shot directly to shortstop Carlos Correa and the Astros were able to double Forsythe off second to complete the double play. Again, no runs for the Dodgers and yet another missed opportunity.

Clayton Kershaw took over for the Dodgers in the top of the 3rd inning. Kind of makes you wonder why the Dodgers didn’t go to Kershaw sooner but he did his job, retiring the Astros in order. There was still time for the Dodgers to claw their way back into the game. In the bottom of the inning, Corey Seager led off with a single to center over Jose Altuve’s head. I tried to think of a humorous line about that but I came up short. Justin Turner was hit by a pitch for the second time, this time under his left shoulder blade, and the fourth hit batter by McCullers. 

Credit:  Wally Skalij – LA Times

After McCullers struck out Cody Bellinger, Astros manager A.J. Hinch removed him and brought in Brad Peacock. Yasiel Puig flied out to center but Seager was able to tag and move to third. Two outs for Joc Pederson with a runner just 90 feet away. Pederson went down swinging.  Still no runs for the Dodgers.

Meanwhile, with Kershaw pitching strongly, the Dodgers had their next chance in the 5th. Corey Seager took a one-out walk and moved to second when Justin Turner singled to left. Alex Bregman dove for the ball and knocked it away from Carlos Correa, allowing the ball to roll into left field. The Astros pulled Brad Peacock and brought in Francisco Liriano. Cody Bellinger hit a fielder’s choice to Jose Altuve and the Astros were able to force Turner out at second with Seager moving to third. 

Credit:  Wally Skalij – LA Times

Another pitching change which brought Chris Devenski in to face Yasiel Puig. Devenski won the battle when Puig lined out to first for the final out.

The Astros were able to load the bases in the top of the 6th against Kershaw on only one hit but Kershaw was able to get out of the jam unscathed.

In the bottom of the 6th with Charlie Morton taking over the mound for the Astros, Joc Pederson singled to center…a hit that would have been more useful in his earlier at-bats. Logan Forsythe walked and the Dodgers looked like they might be in business. After Austin Barnes popped out to Carlos Correa in shallow left for the first out, Andre Ethier, pinch-hitting for Kershaw, singled to right on a roller past Jose Altuve, scoring Pederson. Forsythe moved to second.  A home run now, and it would have been a one-run game. Unfortunately, like the earlier innings, the Dodgers couldn’t move the runners. Chris Taylor struck out and Corey Seager grounded out to short. It had seemed like it might be a big inning for the Dodgers but all they had to show for it was a single run. 5-1, Astros.

From there, Morton shut down the Dodgers, retiring the next nine batters in order. When Corey Seager hit a grounder to second baseman Jose Altuve who, in turn, threw the ball to first baseman Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the 9th, the Houston Astros were World Series Champions.  

Credit:  Luis Sinco – LA Times

I am happy for Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. For them, it was good to see the elusive World Series championship come their way.  It might be the final hour for Beltran’s career so if it is the end, he gets to go out the right way.

Credit:  Jason O Watson, Getty Images North America

George Springer was rightfully named the Series MVP.  His five home runs tied a World Series record and he was seemingly at the heart of every big Astros rally in this series.

Credit:  Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG

For as much as I ripped Yuli Gurriel for his offensive gestures directed at Yu Darvish and his subsequent 2018 suspension for same, it was a very nice touch by Gurriel to tip his cap to Darvish when he came to the plate in the bottom of the 1st inning.

Credit:  John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG

The first pitches for the game were thrown by Dodgers legends Sandy Koufax and Don Newcombe, with Steve Garvey and Rick Monday on the receiving ends, respectively. It was a very nice moment for the Dodgers and their fans.

Credit:  David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG

Now, the MLB season is over and the Hot Stove League begins. Time for the Yankees to find a new manager and begin preparations for the path that hopefully leads to the 2018 World Series championship.

Odds & Ends…

Now that the World Series has ended, Masahiro Tanaka has three days to decide if he’ll opt out of his contract. So, we’ll know by Saturday where we stand with the right-hander. I am hopeful that either he decides not to opt out or that he and the Yankees are able to come together for an extension. I would prefer to see Tanaka stay.

Credit:  Anthony Causi, New York Post

It looks like the Yankees have found their replacement for former VP of Player Development, Gary Denbo, who recently departed to join Derek Jeter in Miami. Kevin Reese, most recently Director of Professional Scouting for the Yankees, will apparently take Denbo’s former role. There has not been an official announcement yet by the Yankees but it is expected shortly.

The New York Mets did not retain hitting coach Kevin Long when Long’s contract expired so there are rumors that Long could return to his former role as hitting coach for the Yankees. Nothing against Alan Cockrell or Marcus Thames, but I’d like to see Long back in Pinstripes. He is one of the many rumored names for potential Yankees manager. I do not really want to see him as the manager, but as part of the coaching staff, he’d be a great fit.

The coming days should be interesting for the Yankees and the managerial search. I find it very hard to believe that they did not have a specific choice or choices in mind when they made the decision not to retain Joe Girardi. So I don’t buy they are in the process of gathering names. I think they’ll go with an outsider rather than someone with immediate Yankee connections but we’ll see. Things should become more transparent as we move forward.  I would not be at all surprised if the new manager is Jerry Hairston, Jr.  

Credit:  USA TODAY Sports

Have a great Thursday! It was a wonderful season and a successful one for the Pinstripers.  They are only going to get better.  Go Yankees!

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Rusty Garcia & The Lonesome Bats…

Credit:  David Dermer-AP

Indians 7, Yankees 2…

The title of this post sounds like a Tex-Mex country band.  Unfortunately, it’s the description of the Friday night Yankees who dropped their fourth straight game.


It was not a great debut for Jaime Garcia.  After the game, Manager Joe Girardi said that Garcia was up in the zone.  “He didn’t throw as many strikes with his fastball as he usually does.  This is a guy that’s pitched for three different teams in three different starts and been all over the country.  He looked rusty to me.”  It wasn’t just you, Joe, he looked rusty to us too.


The Indians scored two runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning to take the lead they would not relinquish.  Carlos Santana walked with two outs.  Former Yankee Austin Jackson doubled to the left field corner, and the relay throw from Clint Frazier to Didi Gregorius to Gary Sanchez was not in time as Santana slid head first with his hand reaching home plate ahead of the tag.  Ajax took third on the play and scored a subsequent passed ball on Gary Sanchez.


The next inning, the Indians added to their lead.  Brandon Guyer hit a lead-off single to left.  Michael Brantley singled to right.  As Guyer was running to third, the throw from Aaron Judge hit the runner and bounced up into the seats.  Guyer easily scored while Brantley took second.  A ground out moved Brantley to third, and he scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Edwin Encarnacion.


The Yankees had probably their biggest opportunity in the 5th inning.  After Indians starter Trevor Bauer threw a pitch up and in to Todd Frazier (which provoked Frazier to say a few works after he spun to avoid getting hit), Frazier blasted a one-out solo home run to right center (his 18th of the year).  Ronald Torreyes singled to the right field corner.  He thought about going for two but wisely held up at first.  Brett Gardner singled to left field as Torreyes moved to third.  Clint Frazier hit a sharp grounder to Indians third baseman Giovanny Urshela who made a highlight reel play when he threw across the runner to catcher Roberto Perez to nail Torreyes at the plate. With Gardner and Frazier on base, Aaron Judge patiently took a walk to load the bases.  Gary Sanchez, representing the potential go-ahead run, had a sloppy at-bat, chasing a few pitches out of the strike zone, and went down swinging to leave the bases full.

Credit:  David Dermer-AP

The Indian came right back and added another run in the bottom of the 5th.  Brandon Guyer walked and stole second.  Michael Brantley singled to left, scoring Guyer.  A wild pitch and a subsequent ground out moved Brantley to third.  Girardi pulled Garcia and brought in Chad Green.  A wild pitch by Green allowed Brantley to score and it was 6-1 Indians.

Credit:  David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle pitched the 8th inning in relief of Green.  Jose Ramirez punched a double into left field in front of Clint Frazier, and Edwin Encarnacion followed with a double off the top of the wall in left, scoring Ramirez.  Kahnle settled down to retire the next three batters, but it was too little, too late for a team struggling to score runs.

The Yankees unsuccessfully tried one last rally in the top of the 9th against Indians reliever Bryan Shaw.  Chase Headley led off with a single to center but Todd Frazier grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.  Ronald Torreyes hit a soft infield single to short, and moved to second on defensive indifference.  Brett Gardner singled to center which scored Torreyes.  7-2, Indians.  But that would be all as Clint Frazier hit a grounder to third, erasing Gardner at second with the force out.

The Yankees (57-51) fell 3 games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Red Sox, winners of four in a row, beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-2, in 11 innings.  Bummer.  No seriously, that is who was on the mound when the Sox scored the winning run (Aaron Bummer).  Can’t blame Tyler Clippard…he gave the White Sox two scoreless innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost 2-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers so they remain 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles fell 5-2 to the Detroit Tigers so they are still 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

This was another disappointing loss.  There was so much optimism on Monday but five days later, it’s hard not to have a ‘glass is half empty’ point of view.  I hate to single out any one player since this loss was a team effort, but Matt Holliday’s bat is a liability.  He had another ‘0-fer’ performance (hitless in four at-bats with a strikeout).  As good as he has been in the clubhouse, I think this is his one and only year in Pinstripes.  While I had previously felt that Clint Frazier should stay on the MLB roster when Aaron Hicks returns, his play of late (4 for his last 27 at-bats) has me wondering if a couple of weeks back at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre until the roster expands on September 1st might be the right move.  Gary Sanchez definitely needs to clean up his play.  

Credit:  David Maxwell-Getty Images

Odds & Ends…

The last time he was in New York to pitch, Yu Darvish was a Texas Ranger going against Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees.  Last night, he returned to NYC but this time was a Los Angeles Dodger, making his NL debut, at Citi Field against Jacob DeGrom and the Mets.  Darvish fared much better against DeGrom than he did against Masahiro Tanaka.  He had a couple of Mets on base in the first inning, but settled down to go 7 strong innings, shutting out the Mets on 3 hits.  He walked only one batter while striking out 10.  He picked up the win in the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory over the Mets.  I’d say that Darvish had a much better debut than Sonny Gray, but then again, Darvish has baseball’s best team (most wins) behind him.  

Credit:  Elsa Garrison-Getty Images

According to Elias Sports, Jaime Garcia performed a MLB rarity on Friday night.  He is the first pitcher since Gus Weyhing in 1895 to have three consecutive starts in the same season with three different teams within the span of 20 days.


On July 21st, Jaime Garcia was the winning pitcher for the Atlanta Braves when they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 12-3.  Garcia pitched 7 innings and allowed 7 hits and 3 runs.  On July 28th, he was the winning pitcher for the Minnesota Twins in their 6-3 victory over the Oakland A’s.  He went 6 2/3 innings, giving up 8 hits and 3 runs.  The Yankees probably wish that he had held the Indians to only 3 runs, but then again, they would have still lost the game.  

Congrats to Tyler Austin!  His dramatic two-run home run yesterday in the bottom of the 9th inning powered the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to a 3-1 walk-off win over the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Jake Cave singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 19 games, the longest active streak in the International League and the season high for the RailRiders.


Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was a pre-game guest in the Yankees clubhouse prior to yesterday’s game.  He also watched batting practice.  I am sure that went over well with the Yankees fans who are die-hard Giants fan (not me, sorry).  

Credit:  David Dermer-AP

Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers has cleared waivers.  No thank you.  Like the pitcher, don’t like the contract.


Have a great Saturday!  Time to get back into the win column.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Back to Baseball in the Bronx…

Serious Competition for the Arms Race…

The sprint to the trading deadline begins in earnest this week as teams jockey for position over the next couple of months.  The trading deadline is Monday, July 31st at 4:00 pm Eastern.

I fully expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to be major players.  Losing their ace and perhaps the best pitcher in baseball hurts.  It does not appear that the back injury that kept Clayton Kershaw out of action for two months last year is as bad this year, but he will miss time.  Current speculation is that he’ll be out 4-6 weeks. The Los Angeles Times was already calling for Yu Darvish by Monday morning (or someone of similar ability…Sonny Gray?).  The Times used the analogy that the Chicago Cubs had to trade elite prospect Gleyber Torres last season to bring All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago.  They go on to say that the Cubs would not have won the World Series if not for the trade, adding “it was a reminder that victory goes to the bold”.  I think Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and the Dodgers will be very bold in their attempt to bolster starting pitching, particularly considering that Brandon McCarthy has gone back on the DL too.

Credit:  Jon SooHoo

I do not want to give up any top prospects beyond the recent loss of outfielder Blake Rutherford.  This is tough because I would love to see Yu Darvish or Sonny Gray run out onto the field at Yankee Stadium wearing pinstripes.  But you can’t make a deal like that without parting with top pitching talent, such as Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield.  It would make more sense to trade for a lower profile pitcher and make room on the 40-man roster soon for Adams to make his MLB debut.  But even that move comes with cost.  Adams has another year before he’ll be Rule 5 eligible so creating room on the 40-man roster for Adams costs a potential spot for a quality prospect that must be protected this year.  It doesn’t really matter if Adams is Major League-ready but that’s something only time will tell. Given the Yankees have shown they do not believe Adams is ready, it seems more likely we’ll see more roll-outs of Caleb Smith (or Luis Cessa) or eventually another one of the current 40-man roster arms like Dietrich Enns (below) or Ronald Herrera before we ever get a sniff of Adams at the MLB level.

Credit:  Sean McKeag-Times Leader  

By most accounts, the desire of the Houston Astros to acquire another starter has lessened with the activation off the DL of Collin McHugh and soon, Dallas Keuchel.  The Milwaukee Brewers remain hot for a starting pitcher as do a few other teams.  The Minnesota Twins finally completed their delayed acquisition of Atlanta starter (and former Cardinal) Jaime Garcia, while the Kansas City Royals grabbed Trevor Cahill from the San Diego Padres.  There are arms to be had and based on the prices paid by the Twins and the Royals, it is possible to get help without sacrificing the farm.  

GM Brian Cashman and crew have a very tough week ahead of them.  They have hard decisions to make and they’ll have to stand before Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner with their recommendations.  The AL East can be won, despite the presence of Chris Sale in Boston, so the decisions over the next week will go a long way toward deciding who is playing October baseball.  

Glad D-Rob’s back home…

It has been a few years since David Robertson performed in a set-up role for the Yankees, but I had forgotten how he likes to run off the field at the conclusion of an inning.  It is so great to see that again.  He is one of a kind and a direct link to the great Mariano Rivera.  I’ve been excited to have Tommy Kahnle back in the organization after being such a great admirer of his when he was a Yankees prospect, but there is something special about D-Rob and I am glad that he is back in pinstripes.  It would have been very difficult to watch him pitch for a team like the Boston Red Sox.  So, even if I haven’t said it too much on this blog site, I am very happy that D-Rob is a Yankee once again.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Next Up:  Cincinnati Reds at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…

The Yankees face the Reds for their second and final series this season.  The teams split a two-game series in Cincinnati back in early May.  The Reds represent a reunion for a few Yankees.  Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman were once prominent Reds, and Didi Gregorius was a prospect in the organization (originally signed by the Reds as an amateur free agent in 2007).

Credit:  Al Behrman-AP

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups for the two-game series:

TUESDAY

Reds:  Luis Castillo (1-3, 3.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-5, 4.09 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Reds:  Homer Bailey (2-4, 8.56 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (6-4, 3.21 ERA)

Even without playing, the Yankees were able to gain a half game on the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox replaced the Yankees at Safeco Field in Seattle and were shutout by James Paxton and the Mariners, 4-0.  The Tampa Bay Rays also lost (5-0 to the Baltimore Orioles) so it was a great day off.  The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by 2 games and increased their lead over the Rays by 1 1/2 games.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s show Todd Frazier how to rock Yankees Stadium.  Go Yankees!

Credit:  Daniel Popper-NY Daily News

Back to Work Friday!…

Aw shucks, do we really hafta?…

I have to admit the break was very nice.  I took full advantage of it and enjoyed every minute.  But alas, all good things must end.  Time to get back to baseball and hopefully what will be a very productive second half for the Pinstripers.  

I am glad the Chicago Cubs laid the Jose Quintana rumors to rest.  It was a serious overpay (in my opinion) and I don’t think the cost was worth the top prospects in the organization.  So, congratulations to GM Brian Cashman for his restraint.  There’s no doubt we need pitching but we’ll just have to find another well, and hopefully a less costly one.  The long term view is still the best view in the house.  I am sure teams will now move to other rumored trade targets, ramping up the cost for guys like Yu Darvish or Gerrit Cole (should they be placed on the market).  I’d rather see Chance Adams get a chance at some point rather than his inclusion in a trade for an older, more established pitcher.

Credit:  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With less than three weeks to the trading deadline, Thursday should just be a slight preview of the days ahead as teams jockey for position.

I thought yesterday’s trade for first baseman Garrett Cooper was a chance worth taking.  Why not?…the Yankees do not have anything to lose.  By trading Tyler Webb, it was an indication that he didn’t fit into their long-term plans.  Plus, he tied up a valuable 40-man roster spot which will be a premium in the off-season when the Yankees have to decide whom to protect and whom to potentially expose to the Rule 5 Draft.  Every move made today has ramifications on the off-season so I am sure that Cashman is being both near- and far-sighted at the same time.  Ji-Man Choi has had a couple of nice home runs but I am not sold on him as a Major League first baseman.  If he falters, it is nice to know that Cooper is waiting in the wings.  He probably represents an upgrade over Mike Ford (currently on the DL for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre).  

Stay tuned as I am sure we’re in for a ride.

I honestly did not think Aaron Judge would win the Home Run Derby last Monday.  The win didn’t surprise me and I certainly loved watching the incredible show as much as anyone.  But there was so much hype about him going into the Derby, I felt the weight of expectations would be too much.  Between Judge and Gary Sanchez, I thought Sanchez would be the one to persevere.  So, my apologies to Aaron and congratulations on the tremendous win.  Now, in one of those bottom of the 9th at-bats when the Yankees are trailing and you represent the tying or winning run, please feel free to mix in a tape measure, Statcast-blowing blast instead of the usual strikeout.  I am not trying to be critical of Judge and I am very appreciative of his consistent contributions game by game…but…outside of Clint Frazier’s recent walk-off, the bottom of the 9th at Yankee Stadium has generally meant three outs in recent weeks.

No All-Star Game recap from me, but it was tough to see a “formerly” beloved ex-Yankee hit the home run to win the game and another “probably still” beloved ex-Yankee save the win.  Robinson Cano hurts more than Andrew Miller since the added measure (salt in the wound) was that Cano on the team as an injury replacement for current Yankee Starlin Castro.  The losses of Cano leaving via free agency and the trade of Miller (not his fault) still sting.  If Cano was still a Yankee, we’d probably be talking about the potential future retirement of his number.  Now, Gary Sanchez gets the honors and Cano has a career that you primarily only see through box scores unless you live in Seattle.

Next Up:  Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Boston, MA…

The Yankees get a very quick and hard test to open the second half.  They’ll travel to Boston to play the first place Red Sox for four games in three days.  The break, outside of Chris Sale, gave the Sox the opportunity to reset their pitching rotation.  With Sale pitching Tuesday’s All-Star Game, he’ll take the mound on Saturday.  But we’ll see the top 4 pitchers in Boston’s rotation for this series.  So no fifth starters this go-around.  The Red Sox are starting to play like everyone expected although they did lose their most recent series when they were beaten by the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently tied with the Yankees for second place in the AL East.  If Boston finds a solution for their third base problem and perhaps more arms for the pen, they’ll be a formidable team although at this point, I’d have to say the Houston Astros are the likely winners of the ALCS regardless of who they play.

By catching closer Craig Kimbrel in the All-Star Game, I am hopeful that Gary Sanchez picked up a thing or two to use during his at-bats.  I think he was surprised at the movement of Kimbrel’s pitches from the catcher’s point of view.  Very weird to see a Yankee catch a Red Sox pitcher.

The Red Sox can be beaten but not by the Yankees team we saw the last couple of weeks.  They’ll need to rise to the challenge.  I hope that Dellin Betances can right the ship once and for all.  The same goes for Masahiro Tanaka.  I only hope that we are not forced to use Tyler Clippard in a critical situation.

Final Notes…

As expected, the Yankees have sent Starlin Castro to Double-A Trenton on a rehab assignment.  They also released Chris Carter after he cleared waivers so there will be no Carter Experiment III.  

Have a great Friday!  Let’s start the second half off right with a win in Beantown!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Step Aside Boys, Toe’s Got This…

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

Yankees 2, Rangers 1…

 

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

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

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

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

Big Papi, The Man Among Boys…

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

Credit:  Stuart Cahill

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


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

Odds & Ends…

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

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


Happy Saturday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Can We Just Take A Mulligan?…

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Angels 10, Yankees 5…


The win on Wednesday was just a tease.  Losing teams find ways to lose and unfortunately the Yankees gave another game away last night.  Unless they can turn this around, the Yankees are showing that the early season was just a mirage. You can’t blame Aaron Judge.  He’s trying.  He hit his 25th home run of the season and has hit safely in 24 consecutive games (the longest Yankee streak of the year).  But pitching, which has alternated between very good and very bad, is sitting in the latter category at the moment albeit with an occasional solid performance like Jordan Montgomery the other night.


Bronx Pinstripes had a great tweet last night.  “What a disaster.  At least we have Tanaka tomorrow.  …Oh wait.”  My line of thinking exactly…


The game started well enough.  Despite Cameron Maybin’s lead-off home run to give the Angels an early 1-0 lead, the Yankees quickly answered in the bottom of the first when Angels starter Jesse Chavez walked Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday with two outs.  Starlin Castro followed with a run-scoring single to tie the game.


In the bottom of the 2nd inning, it looked like this was going to be our night.  Chris Carter doubled and Ronald Torreyes reached base on an infield hit, pushing Carter to third.  Brett Gardner grounded into a force-out at second but Carter scored on the play.  Aaron Hicks singled, putting runners at the corner, bringing up Aaron Judge.  With a three-run shot to center, the Yankees were up, 5-1.  I didn’t really expect those to be the final runs scored by the Yankees.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

The Angels started chipping away in the third when both Albert Pujols and Yunel Escobar had run-scoring singles with two outs.  5-3, Yankees.  Luis Severino settled down after that for a few innings of solid work, but gave up another run in the 6th when Escobar opened the inning with a double and scored on a single by Luis Valbuena.  Valbuena, a third baseman, is a guy I thought the Yankees should have pursued in the off-season when he was a free agent.


Still, I had hope that the Yankees could lock down the Angels, score a couple of insurance runs and win the game.  Then, the 7th inning happened.  Cliff Pennington opened the inning with a single.  From there, the game unraveled.  Cameron Maybin hit a ground ball to Starlin Castro that should have been turned for a double play but Castro’s fielding error allowed Maybin to reach base, with Pennington moving to third.  So, instead of two outs and no one on, the Angels had runners at the corners with no outs.  End of game for Luis Severino.  Chasen Shreve entered the game and was greeted by a sac fly from Kole Calhoun which tied the score at 5.  Exit Shreve, enter Dellin Betances.  Maybin stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Gary Sanchez.  Albert Pujols said ‘I’ll take your gifts…thank you very much’ and lined a single to right, scoring Maybin for the lead.  Betances walked Escobar, followed by a wild pitch moving the runners to second and third.  With two outs, Andrelton Simmons doubled to give the Angels two more runs, 8-5.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

I was not ready to admit defeat and was pulling for an amazing comeback like the Yankees did earlier in the season against the Baltimore Orioles.  Yeah, right.  The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 7th and the Angels were ready for more in the 8th.  Domingo German took the mound, replacing Betances, and retired the first batter on a strikeout.  Unfortunately, this was followed by Cliff Pennington’s double and a wild pitch that moved him to third.  Cameron Maybin walked.  A failed pick-off attempt at first by German, the third Yankees error of the game, allowed Pennington to score with Maybin moving to third.  Kole Calhoun graciously accepted the latest gift, and hit a sac fly to push the score to 10-5.  


The Yankees could only muster a single from Chris Carter in the 9th, and he was left stranded at second when Ronald Torreyes grounded out.


This was a very disappointing loss.  I am not sure how you can lose two of three in your home park against the Mike Trout-less Angels.  Giving away free runs on multiple errors and wild pitches are not the signs of a successful team.  With the loss, the Yankees (39-31) fell back into a first-place tie with the idle Boston Red Sox.  The Tampa Bay Rays, who also had the night off, moved to within 2 1/2 games of the leaders.  


Yes, I am mad about this loss.  And it scares the hell out of me that we’ll be throwing Tanaka out tonight against Yu Darvish.  It doesn’t get any easier…

Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium…

The Texas Rangers make their first trip to NYC for a three-game series starting tonight.  Pete Kozma, who started the year with the Yankees when Didi Gregorius was on the DL, is currently a back-up infielder for the Rangers.  Ernesto Frieri, who previously opted out of his Yankees minor league contract, is in the Texas bullpen.

FRIDAY

Rangers:  Yu Darvish (6-5, 3.35 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 6.34 ERA)

SATURDAY

Rangers:  Austin Bibens-Dirkx (2-0, 4.25 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-1, 7.36 ERA)

SUNDAY

Rangers:  Nick Martinez (2-3, 4.33 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.56 ERA)

Y’all enjoy the games now, y’hear!

Hopefully, we’ll see the team that throttled the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles a couple of weeks ago.  I miss that team…

Odds & Ends…

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees purchased the contract of left-handed reliever Tyler Webb from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I am very excited to see Tyler finally make it to the Show.  I’ve been following his career for a few years and I’ve liked the pitcher.  I was worried in the off-season when he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  As a mature lefty reliever (he’ll turn 27 in less than a month), I thought he had the potential to stick with the Pirates.  Despite a solid Spring performance, he was returned to the Yankees in a numbers game (fortunately for us).  In 21 games for SWB, Webb is 3-1 with 3.24 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.  He has struck out 47 batters in 33 1/3 innings while allowing 33 hits and 12 runs.  He has only given up 3 walks and home runs.  They may not be elite numbers but I feel Webb has earned his shot. I am glad that he is here even if it’s only temporary.  Rob Refsnyder was sent to SWB to make room for Webb.  

Credit:  Chris O’Meara-AP

Greg Bird has been given a cortisone shot in his ankle and the hope is that he’ll soon be able to resume his rehab.  I find it highly unlikely that this will be the solution that gets Bird back on the field.  It seems to me that the problem with the ankle is more serious than we’ve been led to believe.  The cortisone shot just masks the pain, it doesn’t fix the problem.   There is daily speculation who the Yankees should look at on the trade market.  Lately, Yonder Alonso has been receiving the most attention.  I like Alonso and do feel that he’d be an upgrade over Chris Carter or Tyler Austin.  I have no problems with Matt Holliday at first other than I want to keep the guy healthy.  DH is the better avenue to accomplish that goal.  The Atlanta Braves did a wonderful job in trading for the under-utilized Matt Adams, previously of the St Louis Cardinals.  Adams has done nothing but hit since he became a Brave and has sparked speculation that injured first baseman Freddie Freeman may be moved to third when he returns.  I want GM Brian Cashman to make one of those under-the-radar but highly productive moves.  I know, easier said than done.

I think Aaron Judge should accept the invitation to participate in this year’s Home Run Derby.  I know that some players mess up their swings but like Manager Joe Girardi, I don’t think it would adversely impact Judge’s swing.  I like the idea of his exposure to the other great sluggers of the game.  It’s all part of his maturation as a Major League superstar.  The Yankees have renewed popularity this year because of guys like Judge and Gary Sanchez.  The All-Star Game is a great format to represent the pride and tradition of the Yankees.  

This is not baseball related but as an owner of a black cat, I found this one quite humorous…and true!

Have a great Friday!  Let’s not start a new losing streak today, please.

High and Inside…or maybe a little Outside…

Here is a random wish list for pitching targets leading up to the trading deadline.  I know that a couple of the names are untouchable.  I guess if I am going without restriction, I should place Clayton Kershaw at the top of the list.  Nevertheless, this is fantasyland so here’s my list.  All of these pitchers are right-handers which really wasn’t by design.  I wouldn’t even say that these are my top five choices.  They are, however, five pitchers that I feel could provide an upgrade.

YU DARVISH – Texas Rangers

Darvish is 30 and will be an unrestricted free agent this fall.  He is 4-2 with 2.76 ERA and 1.091 WHIP.  With Tommy John surgery in his recent past, he’ll carry the injury risk tag for the res t7 of his career.  Darvish is still one of the best pitchers in the AL.  I loved the guy when he came over from Japan and wished at the time the Yankees had been more aggressive in pursuit of him.  

It’s been said that Darvish could be the key to the team eventually signing Japanese superstar  and two-way ace Shohei Otani, referred to as the Japanese Babe Ruth.  

The downside to Darvish is his age (at this point of the Yankees rebuild and potential off-season cost to re-sign.  You’ll obviously have to pay quality prospects for the potential short-term rental assuming the Texas Rangers are even motivated to trade him at the deadline.

CARLOS CARRASCO – Cleveland Indians

Carrasco is also 30.  This is total fantasy as the Indians, a World Series caliber contender, are not going to part with a critical rotation piece.  There’s no doubt the Yankees have long held interest in Carrasco.  The right-hander is 4-2 this season with 2.60 ERA and 0.88 WHIP.  He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

CHRIS ARCHER – Tampa Bay Rays

Archer is 28 and is a better fit age-wise.  But I think he’s untouchable for any AL team due to the heavy premium the Rays would attach to him to trade him inside the division.  But if the Yankees could get him, I would be ecstatic.  Archer is 3-2 this season with 3.70 ERA and 1.217 WHIP.  He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.  

JON GRAY – Colorado Rockies

If I could have my pick of any pitcher, it might be Gray.  I am convinced the 25-year-old Gray is an ace-in-the-making.  He’ll be held back from ever reaching his full potential as long as he calls the Mile High City his home.  In a very small body of work this season, Gray is 0-0 with 4.38 ERA and 1.459 WHIP.  He only pitched 12 1/3 innings before going on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left foot.  Gray has begun his bullpen sessions and will soon be back on the active roster for Colorado.  He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Interestingly enough, Gray, like Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole, is a former Yankees draft pick.  The Yankees picked him in the 10th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.  He didn’t sign and was subsequently a number one pick for the Rockies the next year.  

VINCE VELASQUEZ – Philadelphia Phillies

The youngest pitcher on my list (24), Velasquez is 2-3 this year with 5.63 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.  Forget the stats, the guy has the potential to be a long term fixture in any team’s rotation.  He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.  

This isn’t meant to be a ranking of desired pitchers.  I am just randomly throwing out some names.  Granted, if any team’s first request is Gleyber Torres and is unwilling to budge, it’s discussion over.  But Clint Frazier I am not as attached to.  With Aaron Judge in the Majors with an assist by Aaron Hicks, and the promise of outfielder Dustin Fowler, I think the Yankees have the necessary ingredients for a good outfield now and for the next few years particularly considering a potential costly run at Bryce Harper in a couple of years when he hits the free agent market.  My favorite outfield prospect, Blake Rutherford, is further away but he’ll be a ready replacement when the time comes.  So, if I could package Frazier in a deal to bring a quality starting pitcher and maybe a dependable bullpen arm, I’d do it.  Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole and Tony Watson represent a combo that would be worth the inclusion of a top prospect.  And, no, Gerrit Cole is not Ivan Nova.

I am sure that we’ll be hearing many names ad nauseam over the next two months.  But regardless of what happens, it will be much better to be a buyer at the trading deadline than a seller if the team keeps playing well.  Exciting times in the Bronx.

The Yankees are hopeful that first baseman Greg Bird will be able to begin baseball activities next week.  That’s good news to hear.  Hopefully Bird has fully recovered and is ready to recapture the form he showed during Spring Training when he led the Grapefruit League in home runs.  Bird has already started light running so it should be a sign that the ankle bone bruise has healed.  I am looking forward to seeing what a healthy Bird can do.

The Yankees concluded their three-game stay in Kansas City with a loss, falling to the Royals 5-1.  I knew they were in trouble when Danny Duffy struck out the first three batters of the game.  Duffy threw a scoreless three-hitter over seven innings and recorded his first career double-digit strikeout total with ten.  The Yankees scored their only run against KC closer Kelvin Herrera in the ninth inning on a Didi Gregorius single.  

Jordan Montgomery (2-3) lasted five innings in taking the loss.  He allowed four hits, five runs and three walks (with 4 K’s). The killer was a three-run homer by Mike Moustakis in the fifth inning.  His replacement, Chad Green, was stellar in pitching the final three innings.  He only gave up a meaningless single in the sixth, a runner subsequently erased by double play.  He struck out six.  It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Green could replace Montgomery in the rotation.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees (24-14) maintained their lead in the AL East over the Baltimore Orioles (1 1/2 games) and Boston Red Sox (4 games) as all three teams lost on Thursday.  The Yankees did win the series, taking two of three, however, I always hate to see a loss on “Getaway Day” as that’s the game fresh on everyone’ mind for the flight to the next city.  

The Yankees begin a three-game series in St Petersburg, Florida tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays (21-22).  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86 ERA)

Rays:  Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 2.92 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-2, 5.80 ERA)

Rays:  Matt Andriese (3-1, 3.18 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (3-2, 4.93 ERA)

Rays:  Chris Archer (3-2, 3.70 ERA)

Have a great Friday!  Hopefully Sevy finds a way to slay the Rays!