Game 130: NYY vs. LAD — #BigMaple and Big Bats in LA

After closing the door on the disappointing Oakland series, the Yankees needed a good start to the weekend and this series in Los Angeles. And to do so against one of the best teams in baseball right now made things just a little bit sweeter.

James Paxton got the start and just dominated the Dodgers in this opener. He threw 109 pitches into the 7th, gave up 5 hits and 2 runs, and struck out an impressive 11 batters. A lead-off double in the 3rd moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on an RBI single. A 1-out double moved to 3rd on a grounder. And with a high pitch count, his outing was over.

Kahnle came in and promptly gave up a double that scored that lingering runner. But Kahnle was able to get out of the inning with just 4 pitches. And Cortes sailed his way through the final 2 scoreless innings to keep the Dodgers from adding to their meager score.

Meanwhile, the Yankees gave “Big Maple” quite a bit of run support. In the 3rd, Aaron Judge hit a 1-out solo home run, and Gary Sanchez hit a 2-out solo home run to the same seats in left field. LeMahieu and Judge led-off the 5th with consecutive singles, and after an out, Sanchez was intentionally walked to load up the bases.

Then, with those loaded bases, on the first pitch he saw of the at-bat, Didi Gregorius smacked a big grand slam to ensure the Yankees’ eventual win. Urshela then doubled, and the Dodgers went to their bullpen. Brett Gardner quickly doubled home Urshela.

With 2 outs in the 6th, Gleyber Torres hit a solid home run up the middle. Ford led-off the 8th with a single, moved to 2nd on a grounder, and then scored on Aaron Judge’s single. Finally, Didi Gregorius smacked a solo home run to lead-off the 9th to cap off the Yankees’ big night in LA.

Final score: 10-2 Yankees

Gary Sanchez’s solo home run in the 3rd was his 29th of the season, but it was also his 100th homer of his career. And that made him the fastest catcher ever to hit 100 home runs, in just 355 games. It’s also made him the fastest AL player ever (regardless of position) to do so. (The record still stands for the Phillies’ Ryan Howard at 325 games.)

And we’re already one game into the Players Weekend. Teams across MLB are paired off, one team donning dark uniforms and one team in white. Fun nicknames emblazoned across their backs, and specially created cleats, gloves, sweat bands, batting gloves and accessories find a home on the field. Aaron Judge’s cleats are notable in that they got all 217 Little League World Series players to sign his specially designed shoes for the weekend.

Go Yankees!

Game 129: NYY vs. OAK — Swept away by the Bay

Well, that didn’t end well. But on the bright side, it’s only the second time this season the Yankees have been swept (the other time was back in April in Houston), and they’ve never been swept at home. And that remains solid.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in this final game in Oakland this week. He threw 109 pitches through 6 innings, gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out 5 batters in tonight’s loss. In fact, all of the damage by the home team happened in the first third of the game under Tanaka’s watch.

He loaded up the bases in the 1st with a double and 2 walks. A fielder’s choice allowed the first runner to score, and a wild pitch moved the runners to scoring position. They did so on a 2-RBI single. And a lead-off triple in the 3rd easily scored on a single. After another single and a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners, another fielder’s choice allowed one more run for the home team.

And that was it for the A’s. So after Tanaka finished his outing strong, he handed the game over to Luis Cessa. He followed Tanaka’s later example and kept the Athletics from adding to their lead. The Yankees were hoping for the chance to play catch-up.

They got some chances, but not enough in the end. Torres hit a 1-out double in the 5th and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s single to finally get the Yankees on the board. Then in the 7th, with 1 out, Gleyber Torres smacked a solid solo home run to double the Yankees’ score. A final chip into the lead came with Torres’ 2-out solo home run in the 9th, a last-minute unsuccessful attempt to shift things into the Yankees’ favor.

And yes, that means that Gleyber Torres scored all 3 of the Yankees’ runs tonight.

Final score: 5-3 Athletics, A’s sweep Yankees 3-0

Next up: The Yankees travel down the Coast a bit to visit the Dodgers for the weekend. Starting Monday, they begin their series in Seattle before heading back home for a home stand against the Athletics and Rangers. Then they’ll hit the road again for a long road trip against the Red Sox, Tigers, and Blue Jays.

And this weekend is also Players Weekend. Yankee uniforms get their chosen nicknames along their back. Players wear specially designed cleats, gloves, and accessories. And many of the game-used special items are later auctioned off to raise money for things like community projects. Also, look for strong social media presence as players are encouraged to use their social media to help promote the weekend by posting pictures right from the dugout as the game happens, a great way to engage with all their fans in real time.

Go Yankees!

Game 128: NYY vs. OAK — Tauchman’s RBIs fall short of Happ’s allowed homers

The Yankees are having trouble finding traction in the Bay area in this midweek series. The Athletics are certainly attempting to close that gap in the AL West between them and the Astros and/or solidify their Wild Card status, and unfortunately, they’re using this series with the Yankees to do so.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees and had some trouble tamping down the home team’s bats. He threw 80 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out just 4 batters. With 2 outs in the 2nd, he gave up a single that scored on a 2-run home run to put the A’s in the lead.

To lead off the 3rd, Happ gave up a walk and a 2-run home run to double the home team’s score. Then in the 5th, he loaded up the bases with a double, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk. So with that threat, the Yankees turned to Chad Green. Green quickly got consecutive pop-outs, but then a single scored one more run for the A’s before an easy grounder got him out of the jam.

Green continued on through the next two innings, giving up a lead-off solo home run in the 6th. But he was able to control the rest of his outing and hand the game over to Ottavino who breezed through the 9th in just 9 pitches.

The Yankees were first on the board again. In the top of the 2nd, Gregorius led-off with a double and scored on Mike Tauchman’s 1-out single. After the Athletics took a nice lead, the Yankees find meager opportunities to chip away at it.

In the 6th, with 1 out, they loaded up the bases with Urshela’s single, Gregorius’ walk, and Torres’ single. After the A’s went to the bullpen for a new pitcher, Tauchman hit a sacrifice fly deep in foul territory that scored a speedy Urshela. Mike Ford led-off the 7th with a strong solo home run. After 2 outs, Sanchez singled, moved to 3rd on Urshela’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double.

After that, the Yankees were kind of stifled by the A’s bullpen, falling just short tonight.

Final score: 6-4 Athletics

CC Sabathia is enjoying his final trip to his hometown area during the regular season. Originally from Vallejo, an area northeast of San Francisco and Oakland, Sabathia and his organization PitCChIn have partnered with the local Boys & Girls Club to help kids, much like a young Sabathia many year ago.

Relieved of the pressure of starting this series (on the basis of a scheduling fluke), Sabathia has been connecting with all his old haunts and encouraging kids (like him) that they can reach for their dreams. He visited a local elementary school, invited a large group of kids to the game, and received a donation from the Boys & Girls Club to help continue his foundation’s philanthropic work in the area and back in his now-home of New York.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 127: NYY vs. OAK — Not so bright side of the bay

The Yankees kicked off their West Cost trip with a 3-game series in Oakland. But while in the “Bright Side of the Bay“, they fell a bit short of the positive experience the nickname might imply for its visitors. Though I’m sure the green and yellow-donning fans were thrilled.

Domingo German got the start, throwing 99 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned) and struck out 7 Athletics’ batters along the way. In the 1st, he gave up a 1-out walk that scored on a 2-out 2-run home run. The next batter smacked a solo home run to add another run to the home team early.

With 2 outs in the 2nd, German gave up a single. A double then scored that runner, but the batter was thrown out trying to take 3rd in a great defensive play. After tamping down, German had some issues in the 6th at the end of his outing, giving up a single and double to put runners in scoring position. After an out, a single and fielding error allowed both runners to score to solidify the A’s eventual win.

That also ended German’s night. So, in came Jonathan Loaisiga for the rest of the game. He helped shut down the Athletics from further additions to their score. For the final bit of the game, he allowed a chance for the Yankees to catch up.

They didn’t.

Actually, the Yankees got on the board first. With 2 outs in the 1st, Gary Sanchez hit his 99th career home run, a big solo shot up the middle. And Aaron Judge led-off the 8th with a monster home run, lauching 467 feet. And that was it. They certainly had plenty of chances and base-runners in the game, but in a bit of a return of previous trends, they didn’t capitalize on many of those chances.

Final score: 6-2 Athletics

There’s a running article on the Yankees website that keeps fans updated on when every player on the current Injured List is scheduled to return to the team. The hardest part is seeing those who aren’t going to be back until next season. Here’s the good news: a huge chunk of players could potentially be back with the September call-ups. Players on that list include pitchers Betances, Heller, Holder, and Severino and position players like Encarnacion, Estrada, Hicks, and Stanton.

But the most solidly scheduled return is Luke Voit. Voit is recovering from a sports hernia. He will do his rehab this next week before rejoining the Yankees when they return to the Bronx next weekend (about August 30).

Go Yankees!

Game 126: CLE vs. NYY — Coming up a little short in series split

CC Sabathia faced his former team for the final time in the regular season in today’s game, the final game of this 4-game series and this home stand. And the other guys won the battle, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Sabathia threw 67 pitches through 3 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and still struck out 5 Cleveland batters.

And almost all of that was the result of the 2nd inning. He gave up consecutive singles that moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. The next batter hit into a fielder’s choice, but everyone was safe and a runner scored. Then a big 3-run home run eased the Indians into a large early lead. Then after loading the bases with 3 straight walks, he got himself out of the jam with one of those strikeouts.

Nestor Cortes Jr had a slightly better out when he came in to pitch for the next third of the game. With 1 out in the 4th, he gave up a solo home run that needed to be reviewed by the umpires as there was a possibility of fan interference, but upon review, the call was upheld as it clearly was over the fence (and the fan was not). After a clean 5th, he gave up a lead-off double in the 6th that scored on a 1-out single. He then gave up another single that put runners in the corners.

So the Yankees turned to Luis Cessa, who got a great double play to get out of that jam. Then in the 8th, Cessa gave up a lead-off ground-rule double that bounced over the wall in centerfield. A grounder moved that runner to 3rd. But it would be a 2-run home run to cap off the Indians’ runs today.

The Yankees’ bats, meanwhile, were quite slow to start this afternoon. Unable to get past the Indians’ starter or their first reliever for the first 6 innings, they finally got on the board in the 7th. Ford led-off with a single, and then DJ LeMahieu smacked a 2-run home run into the right field seats to break the shutout.

Finally, in the 9th, Torres was hit by a pitch and ended up at 3rd on Tauchman’s 1-out single. LeMahieu’s single scored Torres, and Aaron Judge’s solid double bounced off the back wall and scored Tauchman to halve the visitor’s lead. But the Yankees ran out of outs in the end.

Final score: 8-4 Indians, they split the series 2-2

Next up: After an off-day/travel day tomorrow, the Yankee head off for a long road trip to the West Coast. First up are the California teams — the Athletics and Dodgers. The Mariners will host the Yankees to finish off their road trip before they head home the final weekend of the month to host the Athletics and Rangers.

Injury updates: Thairo Estrada becomes the 28th player to be placed on the injured list. His right hamstring tightened up on him during yesterday’s game, so after a diagnosis of a strain, he’s head to the 10-day IL. The Yankees recalled infielder Tyler Wade to help with the bench.

Luis Severino got some workouts earlier today, throwing some from the mound to simulated hitters. Dellin Betances also got some throwing time, though he has yet to throw to live hitters. Both pitchers will travel to Tampa to continue their workouts while the team is on the West Coast. Severino could begin his minor league rehab shortly after a simulated game, but Betances is further away from his return.

And Luke Voit will continue his workouts on Monday and should start his rehab games on Friday. He will miss the road trip, but he could rejoin the team when they’re back in the Bronx in 10 days. In other words, he’s the one we’ll be seeing in pinstripes before anyone else at this point.

Go Yankees!

Game 125: CLE vs. NYY — Legendary drama on sunny Saturday in the Bronx

Sunny, clear skies. A warm Saturday afternoon. Former Yankees in the Bronx. And a tight ball game. It was a good day to be at the ball park today.

James Paxton got the start today and had a decent outing overall. He threw 88 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out 4 Cleveland batters in this third game of the 4-game weekend series. Paxton bookended his outing by splitting his allowed runs.

In the 1st, a lead-off walk and double had runners in scoring position to do so on a long single to get the Indians on the board first. After the Yankees tie up things and then took the lead, the Indians found their next chance in the 5th. With 2 outs, a double and a walk on base, consecutive singles scored both runs to tie up the game.

Ottavino breezed his way through a 13-pitch 6th, and Kahnle allowed a couple of runners but got out of the 7th without allowing the visitors to add to the score. Zack Britton got into some trouble in the 8th. His lead-off double moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a wild pitch. Later with runners on the corners, he and the defense snapped into action with a standard double play. And Chapman earned his 35th save with an efficient 10-pitch 9th inning to close out the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees pieced together their eventual win. With 2 outs in the 2nd, Maybin worked a walk and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s single and a fielding error. That error gave Tauchman a bit of false hope as he was thrown out trying to make it to 2nd just after Maybin scored the Yankees’ first run.

Romine led-off the 3rd with a single but was out when Estrada hit into a fielder’s choice. After a strikeout, Estrada stole 2nd and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single and a throwing error. That tied up the game from the Indians’ strong start. Then in the 4th, Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres went back-to-back with solo home runs to put the Yankees in the lead.

In the 5th, with 2 outs, DJ LeMahieu hit a solo home run to close out the Cleveland’s starter’s afternoon. Torres got his second homer of the day, a 1-out solo home run in the 6th. That would be the insurance run they needed, just preceding the dramatic ejections of Boone, Gardner, and Sabathia.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees

Now, whenever there’s some drama that leads to ejections, I always go back and look at the graphics to see whether it was a legitimate concern or just overblown competitive machismo. But yes, it was legitimate today. The “called strikes” mostly weren’t strikes. So it had to be frustrating for both pitchers and batters when they can’t guarantee the consistency of the strike zone.

So, in this case, Maybin was openly questioning the final called strike of his at-bat in the 6th. Before things got too heated, Aaron Boone did his job and got between the umpire and Maybin. But Boone continued “chirping” as he’s prone to do, and that just seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for everything. So Boone got tossed.

But it didn’t end there. The bench was sparked in Boone’s defense. First, Brett Gardner was tossed when the umpire said he wasn’t allowed to use his bat to pound against the dugout, which doesn’t seem like something the umpires would police as it seems more like a grounds or stadium crew issue. He rushed the umpire asking him why exactly they ejected him, only to find out the umpires believe that dugout behavior with a bat is under their purview. CC Sabathia came to his teammate’s defense, and they tossed him too. Honestly, kind of ridiculous on a lot of fronts.

But before the game, the Yankees honored Yankee legend Mariano Rivera. Just a few weeks ago, we all watched the iconic closer be honored by being inducted into the Hall of Fame. To commemorate that, the Yankees hosted Rivera and his family in a pre-game ceremony where they honored this milestone with a replica plaque to be placed in Monument Park.

Mo&MoJr08.17.19
Rivera and son exit field after first pitch. (Photo credit: Yankees Twitter)

His former manager Joe Torre was also on hand for the festivities. And Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner presented Rivera’s foundation with a check for $250,000 to help build a learning center in New Rochelle, New York. Rivera threw out today’s ceremonial first pitch (a high ball, by the way) to his son, Mariano Rivera Jr and later hung out with the Yankees broadcasters to reflect on his career and today’s special event.

Go Yankees!

Game 124: CLE vs. NYY — #TanakaTime & Gardy’s Grab FTW

*Note: FTW is an online acronym for “for the win”. I feel like someone out there needs to know that before we dive into today’s post.

After last night’s rough start for the Yankees, they were looking to turn the tables on the visiting Indians. So they called on Masahiro Tanaka to right the ship, and Tanaka came through. He threw 83 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 2 Cleveland batters. His allowed runs were 1-out solo home runs in the 2nd and 7th innings.

After he gave up that 7th inning homer, he also allowed a double. So with that threat on base, the Yankees opted for reliable Kahnle for a quick 2 strikeouts to get out of the inning. Then Britton and Chapman followed suit with scoreless innings a piece to close out the game. And in more than one instance, the Yankees relied on their fantastic defense to save the day — like Brett Gardner’s snazzy grab at the wall in the 8th inning.

Meanwhile, the offense gave Tanaka and the bullpen some cushion to work with. With 1 out in the 1st, Judge singled, moved to 2nd on Urshela’s single, and advanced to 3rd on on Gregorius’ fielder’s choice. A pair of singles by Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres scored Judge and Gregorius to put the Yankees on the board first. Then, in the 5th, with 2 outs, Judge doubled and scored on Gio Urshela’s single and a fielding error for the insurance run they needed in the end.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: Before today’s game, the Yankees moved some of their pitchers around on that Scranton Shuttle. They optioned Chance Adams and outrighted Joe Mantiply and Brady Lail back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. And they recalled new Yankee Ryan Dull from Scranton to help with the bullpen in that regular “fresh arm” category.

Injury update: Luke Voit has been out of the lineup for over 2 weeks with a sports hernia. The worry was that he might have to get surgery on it, but with recent days being rather pain-free, Voit has been cleared to resume on-field work outs with AAA Scranton next week. As long as things remain good, he could be back with the team during the West Coast trip at the earliest or when the Yankees are back home.

Go Yankees!