Game 73: TB vs. NYY — #CCStrong leads to #LegaCCy milestone & sweep

The Yankees played the rare midweek matinee to close out this series against the Rays and just dominated the visitors from start to finish. Plus, CC Sabathia finally earned his 250th career win in a pretty great outing for the retiring starter. This makes him just the 14th pitcher to have both 3000 strikeouts and 250 wins in all MLB history.

Sabathia threw 94 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 3 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out 7 Rays’ batters. The Rays’ lone run of the day came in the 5th. With 1 out, Sabathia gave up a pair of walks. After a pop-up out, he then gave up a double to score just the lead runner. Holder and Cessa closed out the final third of the game with 3 scoreless and quick innings.

The Yankee batters, on the other hand, were basically gifted with an easy offense day when the Rays’ pitching staff just crumbled. Their starter didn’t even make it out of the 1st inning, and they depleted the bullpen so that their final pitcher was a their regular 3rd baseman. And somehow, the Rays limited the Yankees to just 9 hits and 7 walks. Of course, the 12 runs were the biggest problem for the visitors.

In the 1st, LeMahieu led-off with a single and stole 2nd, and Voit worked a walk. Then Gary Sanchez kicked off the scoring with a nice 3-run home run. Encarnacion walked but was out when Hicks hit into a fielder’s choice. Torres and Maybin then each walked to load up the bases. That was the end of the Rays’ starter’s outing.

Gio Urshela was hit by a pitch, which walked home Hicks and kept the bases loaded. After another out, DJ LeMahieu was back up in the batter’s box and singled home both Torres and Maybin to cap off the giant 6-run lead so early.

So with that huge lead, the Yankees mostly focused on supporting their starter with strong defense. It wasn’t until the 7th that they got another jump on the Rays’ pitching. With 1 out, LeMahieu and Voit worked walks, and Gary Sanchez’s double scored LeMahieu.

After another pitching change, Edwin Encarnacion’s single scored Voit, and Hicks’ walk loaded up the bases. Gleyber Torres smacked a big grand slam to just push the Yankees up and over the top of today’s runs.

Final score: 12-1 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 3-0

Next up: The Yankees home stand continues with a 4-game weekend series against the Astros, followed by 3 games against the Blue Jays. After two travel days, the Yankees will face the Red Sox for the historic London series.

HOPE Week Day 3: Today, the Yankees honored Olmedo Renteria, a blind immigrant from Ecuador, who is better known as “The Great Olmendini“, New York’s own subway magician. No, he may not make the trains work well, but he certainly makes the ride more interesting.

Today, the Yankees invited The Great Olmendini to perform a special magic show for the kindergarten class from a local school at the Yankee Stadium’s kids play area. Yankee players Luis Cessa, Nestor Cortes Jr, Chad Green, David Hale, Tommy Kahnle, and James Paxton showed up to help Renteria and enjoy the show, including riding the subway and featuring a few great magic tricks in person.

As part of their celebration of Renteria, the Yankees invited the Society of American Magicians, a prestigious group founded by famed magician Harry Houdini in 1902 in New York. The Society gave Renteria an associate membership and received a special donation from the Yankees in Renteria’s name to their foundation. And Renteria later threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Go Yankees!

Game 72: TB vs. NYY — Yankees surge through the mist

There was so much hope for this series as both the Rays and Yankees were battling it out for the top position of the AL East. With the Yankees disappointing road trip, the Rays were hoping to jump ahead of the Yankees. But they didn’t count on a really simple fact — the 2019 Yankees are something else and love proving it at the most random moments in the season. And it’s only June.

Not to discount the Rays’ attempt, as they certainly gave the Yankees enough of a challenge to threaten and keep things close for a bit. JA Happ got the start for the Yankees tonight in the middle game of this series against the visiting Rays. He threw 87 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 7 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 3 Rays batters. With 1 out in the 2nd, Happ gave up 3 consecutive singles to score the Rays’ first run. And a lead-off double in the 3rd scored on a 1-out single to double their score.

Ottavino took over for Happ for a scoreless 6th inning. Tommy Kahnle’s 7th got off to a problematic start, with a lead-off walk scoring on a double before he found a quick 3 outs to close out the inning. Britton and Chapman followed that up with 2 scoreless, rather quick innings.

On the flip side of the field, the Yankees got on the board first in the 1st. LeMahieu led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Voit’s walk, advanced to 3rd on Hicks’ fielder’s choice, and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly. After the Rays grabbed a slim lead, the Yankees waited out the Rays’ 2 short-term openers for their next opportunity.

In the 5th, with 1 out and a new pitcher, Torres and Maybin singled. DJ LeMahieu’s single scored Torres, and Luke Voit’s single scored Maybin. After another out, Gary Sanchez’s single scored LeMahieu. With that, the Yankees were in a solid lead over the visitors.

But they kept going to ensure their lead and eventual win. Cameron Maybin kicked off the 7th with a solo home run, his 4th home run in as many games. And new Yankee Edwin Encarnacion earned his pinstripes with his first Yankee home run, a 1-out solo home run in the 8th.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

HOPE Week Day 2: Today, the Yankees decided to “strut their stuff” a bit with the help of some very special friends. Today’s HOPE Week honoree was Rachel Goldman, founder of Runway Heroes, a special program that hosts children with pediatric cancer for a special day of dress up and modeling some fancy clothes on the runway. They sell tickets to the shows, and all the proceeds go to pediatric cancer research.

Runway Heroes paired with Kleinfeld Bridal and the Yankees to treat 30 local children to a VIP day at the famous store. The kids each received personalized dressing robes, picked out their own outfits (courtesy of Kleinfeld), were styled by a professional glam squad and photographed by professional photographers, and then rocked the runway with some decked out Yankees.

Aroldis Chapman, Domingo German, Didi Gregorius, Kendrys Morales, Luis Severino, and Masahiro Tanaka donned some great looking suits to take turns to escort these amazing children down the runway to pose before more photographers and their families. Yankee GM Brian Cashman also participated and broke out a few dance moves, bringing smiles to many faces on the runway and in the audience.

The children and their families were the Yankees’ special guests at tonight’s game. Runway Heroes founder Rachel Goldman and a few of her special models of the day helped throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.

Go Yankees!

Game 71: TB vs. NYY — Completely #TanakaTime

The Yankees began their final home stand before the All-Star Break tonight (vote!), hosting the Rays for the first 3 games. Plus, they also kicked off the celebration of the much-anticipated annual community giving event known as HOPE Week (more after game recap).

Masahiro Tanaka got the start for tonight’s game and just commanded the entire game against the Rays. He threw a complete and scoreless game of 111 pitches, only giving up 2 hits and a walk, and struck out 10 Rays’ batters.

On a fun side note: I didn’t even realize it was the 9th inning when the game was suddenly over, and Tanaka was the one who threw the final out. It was only then that I was in awe of him throwing the complete game. I honestly thought there was still more baseball to play.

To be fair, the Rays’ pitchers were able to keep the Yankees from doing much on their end. But it was certainly enough to back Tanaka’s start. In the 3rd, with 1 out, Cameron Maybin singled and ended up at 2nd on a fielding error. He then scored as part of DJ LeMahieu’s big 2-out 2-run home run. Maybin added one more with a lead-off solo home run in the 5th.

Final score: 3-0 Yankees

Roster moves: After the big trade yesterday, the Yankees needed to make some moves to make room for the power hitter, who made his debut in pinstripes tonight (though he went 0-for-4). They transferred reliever Jake Barrett to the 60-day IL, activated Edwin Encarnacion, and optioned Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman to AAA Scranton.

Accordingly, it looks like Stanton and Judge will be back this week, and Encarnacion would help platoon Voit at 1st and at the DH. It also means the outfield is better refined now, eventually relying on the Stanton, Hicks, Judge, and Gardner combination there. Expect further moves to just escalate leading up to the July 31 trade deadline, especially in the hunt for another starter.

HOPE Week Day 1: A decade ago, the Yankees announced a new initiative to reach out to their community and honor local heroes doing all sorts of good. Called Helping Other Persevere and Excel, or HOPE Week, at the end of this week of celebrations, the Yankees will have helped 53 unique honorees from 7 different countries.

Today, they invited all the past HOPE Week honorees for a 10 year anniversary celebration at Yankee Stadium. Over 200 honorees and their families showed up to meet with Yankee players, staff, and alumni. And then they watched a great game to kick off this week’s festivities.

As part of the pre-game ceremonies, 2011 honoree Daniel’s Music Foundation performed the national anthem, and 2015 honoree Chris Singleton threw out the first pitch. Daniel’s Music Foundation was founded by the family of Daniel Trush, who used music therapy to help recover from a near-fatal brain aneurysm. The foundation still provides free music lessons for people with disabilities in New York and now has a state-of-the-art accessible music center in Harlem.

Four years ago today, Chris Singleton lost his mother Sharonda. Sharonda was one of 9 Bible study members who were shot and killed during the hate crime shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. At the time, Singleton was playing baseball at Charleston Southern University, and the Yankees chose to recognize and reach out to him for his community outreach in the midst of such personal loss. He was later drafted by the Cubs in 2017 but released earlier this year and officially retired as a ball player.

Singleton, now married with a young son, continues his work as an inspirational speaker and owns the clothing brand, Love Your Neighbor. His life motto continues to be “love is stronger than hate”. He was also recently hired by the Yankees to serve as the director of community outreach for their local minor league affiliate, the Charleston RiverDogs.

Go Yankees!

Game 70: NYY vs. CHW — Gardy’s Father’s Day Party

In today’s finale in Chicago, the fans packed this special day for so many baseball fans. Players donned special light blue caps for the game as part of an MLB initiative to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research. And the sentiment everywhere had people talking about the special men in their lives — fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, husbands, uncles, and many others who fill that “fatherly” role in our lives. And a day at the ball park certainly is a way to celebrate those father figures in our lives, especially when they too love America’s pastime.

James Paxton got the start this afternoon and had a rather commanding outing. He threw 108 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 8 hits, a walk, and just 2 runs, and struck out 7 batters. He gave up a 2-out solo home run in the 1st to get the White Sox on the board first. But then Paxton kept things under control for most of his outing. In the 5th, a 1-out single moved to 2nd on a 2-out single and then scored on another single to double their score.

Ottavino breezed his way through a scoreless 7th inning. David Hale’s strong 8th inning was briefly interrupted by a 1-out solo home run to add just one more run for the home team. Britton then got the ball for a really quick scoreless 9th to close out the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees came on strong and just didn’t let up, mostly thanks to Yankees’ resident “dad” Brett Gardner. In the 3rd, with 1 out, the Yankees loaded the bases with a single to LeMahieu and walks to Voit and Torres. After another out, Brett Gardner singled home both LeMahieu and Voit. Gio Urshela then singled and scored Torres. After Tauchman’s walk loaded the bases again, Austin Romine singled and scored both Gardner and Urshela to really solidify the Yankees’ lead.

Gardner was hit by a pitch to lead-off the 5th and ended up at 3rd on Urshela’s double. Austin Romine’s 1-out double scored both Gardner and Urshela. In the 6th, with 1 out, Torres worked a walk, moved to 3rd on Frazier’s single, and then scored on Gardner’s fielder’s choice grounder.

Cameron Maybin got in on the fun with a 2-out solo home run in the 7th. In the 8th, Torres again walked, moved to 2nd on a grounder, and then scored on Gardner’s 2-out single to cap off the Yankees’ big night.

Final score: 10-3 Yankees, they split the series 2-2

Next up: The Yankees head home for their final home stand before the All-Star Break and kick off their annual HOPE Week. They will face the Rays first, then host the Astros for a 4-game weekend series, and close out the home stand with 3 games against the Blue Jays. Two travel days later (read: jetlag), the Yankees will face the Red Sox in London in the first ever regular season games in the UK.

And a happy Father’s Day to all those celebrating, honoring, or remembering the father figures in their lives today. The Yankees also paid tribute to their fathers or talked about becoming fathers in a series of videos. (Happ & Paxton; Judge & Stanton; Severino & Kahnle; Gardner & Gregorius; Torres & VoitGreen & Frazier; Romine & Sabathia) Enjoy!

Go Yankees!

Game 69: NYY vs. CHW — A little rain couldn’t dampen the Yankee bats

Now, this was the kind of game the Yankees were looking for all weekend. And yet, there were some moments where that felt threatened. Blame the weather again, maybe. The rain delayed the game 32 minutes at the start and occasionally revisited the Chicago Southside during the third game of this long weekend series.

Chad Green was tapped as the opener in tonight’s game against the White Sox, throwing 33 pitches in his 2 scoreless innings. But all 6 of his outs were great strikeouts. Green set the pace for the Yankees, and all the rest of them had to do was follow his lead. Nestor Cortes Jr came on for long-term relief and follow Green’s suit, throwing strong and scoreless through the 7th inning, including 7 strikeouts.

But he came back out in the 8th, gave up consecutive singles, and handed the ball to Jonathan Holder. After 2 quick outs, Holder gave up a single that scored the lead runner to put the White Sox on the board. The next batter smacked a big 3-run home run up the middle. Chapman was able to close out the game with a clean 9th inning.

That could be bad news for the visitors, but the Yankee bats were also following Green’s lead tonight. They started in the 4th. Voit and Hicks each singled and then both scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. Gleyber Torres then hit a 1-out 2-run home run to double the score and leap the Yankees ahead first.

In the 6th, with 1 out, Sanchez worked a walk, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ single, and scored on Torres’ sacrifice fly. Cameron Maybin led-off the 7th with a 1st pitch solo home run. Brett Gardner then worked a walk, LeMahieu doubled, and Hicks walked to load up the bases. Gardner scored on Sanchez’s baby grounder.

After the White Sox came back and got on the board, the Yankees tried to take a few back in the 9th. Brett Gardner led-off with a walk and ended up at 3rd on LeMahieu’s single. After an out and a pitching change, LeMahieu moved into scoring position by stealing 2nd. But after another out, the White Sox intentionally walked Sanchez to load up the bases, only to walk Didi Gregorius to walk in the run by Gardner.

Final score: 8-4 Yankees

And in Yankee Universe news: The Yankees announced today that they traded prospect pitcher Juan Then (and cash considerations) to the Mariners for power hitter Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion spent most of his career with the Blue Jays (9 1/2 of his 15 professional seasons), was a 3-time All-Star, and has already hit 21 home runs  this season (of his 401 career homers).

Fun trivia in this trade: The Yankees originally acquired Then as part of the trade that sent reliever Nick Rumbelow to Seattle in 2017. And the Mariners just released Rumbelow this week to allow him a form of free agency.

Looking ahead now, what this means for the already overcrowded outfield is to be determined, as Judge and Stanton are due to come back shortly. Hicks, Gardner, Frazier, Maybin, and Tauchman are already considered outfielders. This means that some roster moves and some platooning of the positions (and the DH spot) are to come. Which could actually help with the prevention of injuries in the future. And anything that helps reduce the number on the IL is a good move in my book.

Go Yankees!

Game 68: NYY vs. CHW — The Friday night blues

The advantage to having a very long season, playing 162 regular games over half a year, is that one game (at least during the regular season) doesn’t define the entire season. Unlike some other American sports, the Yankees can close the chapter on a bad game and start fresh the next day with another game and another chance at playing a good game and maybe even winning that one.

CC Sabathia is still on the hunt for that 250th win of his career, and tonight’s game just wasn’t going be it. Sabathia got the start in the second of this four game series against the White Sox. He threw 77 pitches into the 5th inning, allowed 10 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned), and struck out just 3 Chicago batters.

In the 1st, the lead-off batter doubled thanks in part of fan interference. A 1-out single put runners on the corners, and they both scored on a big 3-run home run to push the White Sox into the lead. The next batter walked, moved to 2nd on another walk, and then scored on a single. Actually, the last play was originally called out on a tag, but after the White Sox’s successfully (and honestly, rightfully) challenged the call, the run scored.

With 1 out in the 2nd, the next batter ended up at 2nd on a messy fielding error and then scored on a double. Then in the 5th, a 1-out single moved to 3rd on a 2-out single. And with runners again threatening to widen the home team’s lead, the Yankees called an end to Sabathia’s night.

Luis Cessa came in to close out the 5th, but first gave up a single to score the lead runner. In the 6th, Cessa continued the struggles that Sabathia began. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a single and then scored on a fielder’s choice and throwing error (a messy attempt at a double play). After giving up a double, Cessa gave up a big 3-run home run to ensure the White Sox win.

After giving up another single, the Yankees were forced to go back to the bullpen. David Hale closed out the rest of the game, keeping the White Sox from furthering their rather large lead. Hale breezed his way through 7 outs with just 24 pitches.

On the other side of the field, the Yankees struggled their way to find an offense. While the White Sox got 16 total hits, the Yankees only eked out 6. Luke Voit got the first one of the game, a big 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning to actually get the Yankees on the board first.

But with the implosion of the Yankee pitching and defense tonight, the Yankees were pressed to find another chance to actually do something offensively as they watched the White Sox continue to grow their lead into double digits. It wasn’t until the 9th that some snazzy base running finally broke the stalemate for the Yankees.

Gleyber Torres led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on a ground out, got to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on a rather funny little fielding error on Mike Tauchman’s at-bat. And that would be it for the Yankees on the final scoreboard, bookending the game with a blast and a blip.

Final score: 10-2 White Sox

CC K-Count: 3036

On the bright side, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton began their rehab assignments with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders tonight. Judge is having a slow start to his rehab, going 0-for-4 at the plate as tonight’s designated hitter. But Stanton helped the offense with a big 3-run home run in the 3rd. Actually, they ended up being the only runs the RailRiders scored all night, losing to the Rays’ AAA affiliate 16-3.

In random trivia that I stumbled across researching for this post, apparently, tonight’s losses spanned the entire Yankees organization. All of the Yankee affiliates lost their Friday games to their respective opponents from rookie ball on up to the big boys in Chicago.

So, all across Yankee Universe, we now close tonight’s chapter, turn the page, wake up fresh tomorrow, and start all over again. Oh, and vote for your favorite All-Stars.

Go Yankees!

Game 67: NYY vs. CHW — Second City stumble

Tonight’s opener in Chicago looked like it was going to be a great start to this weekend’s 4-game series for the Yankees. But halfway through the game, things took a bit of a dive, and one swing flipped the story.

The Yankees got off to a hot start against the White Sox. In the 2nd, Didi Gregorius led-off with the single, moved to 2nd on Torres’ single, and advanced to 3rd on Gardner’s fielder’s choice out. Gregorius raced home on a wild pitch that also moved Gardner into scoring position. Clint Frazier then singled Gardner home.

Then with 2 outs in the 4th, Torres singled and scored as part of Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run. This doubled the Yankees’ score and leapt them ahead of the home team with a hefty lead early in the game.

JA Happ got the start tonight, throwing 91 pitches through 5 innings. And leading up to his final inning, he was doing great, only had 3 allowed hits and 3 walks but no runs. But in the 5th, he gave up a lead-off walk that moved to 2nd on a single, and scored on an RBI double. Then a big 3-run home run quickly tied up the game. Three outs later, Happ’s night was done.

Now, with the game tied, the Yankees needed to protect that tie and wait for their offense to pounce. Kahnle came in to right the ship and breezed his way through the 6th inning. But Adam Ottavino had a spot of trouble in the 7th, giving up a lead-off solo home run to break the tie. Later, with 2 outs and 2 runners on base, the Yankees called Holder to close out the inning and breeze his way through a scoreless 8th.

Again, they were just waiting for the Yankees’ offense to leap at the next opportunity. And they collected 3 extra hits through the final third of the game, but they didn’t do much beyond that. One could certainly question the floating strike zone (and increase in called strikeouts), but not scoring runs isn’t going to help shift the game again.

Final score: 5-4 White Sox

Roster moves: Yesterday, the Yankees optioned reliever Stephen Tarpley back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and sent 26th man reliever Chance Adams back to AA Trenton. And today, before the game, the Yankees recalled outfielder Mike Tauchman and reliever Nestor Cortes Jr from AAA Scranton.

The Yankees also placed Kendrys Morales on the 10-day IL with left calf strain. Morales felt a tightness in his calf during the first game of the doubleheader on Tuesday, further testing confirmed the strain, and to be safe, they’re giving him some rest to recover.

This year’s much anticipated 73rd Annual Old Timers’ Day will be Sunday, June 23. Yesterday, the Yankees announced the roster of Yankee alumni scheduled to attend, but one name stuck out to everyone — rookie Old Timer (and member of this year’s Hall of Fame class) Mariano Rivera. Rivera will be back in pinstripes to play ball again with many of his former teammates and many Yankee legends and fan favorites. It’s always a great day.

Scheduled alumni (or their widows*): Jesse Barfield, Aaron Boone, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, Chris Chambliss, David Cone, Johnny Damon, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Jason Giambi, Jason Grimsley, Ron Guidry, Jerry Hairston Jr., Charlie Hayes, Helen Hunter*, Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin*, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Monahan, Diana Munson*, Kay Murcer*, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Mariano Rivera, Mickey Rivers, Luis Sojo, Jean Stottlemyre, Marcus Thames, David Wells, and Bernie Williams.

Go Yankees!