Game 44: TB vs. NYY — 11th inning let-down

Masahiro Tanaka had a great outing this afternoon in the second game of this weekend series against the visiting Rays. He threw 88 pitches through 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and striking out 6 batters. He took a nasty grounder off his shin in the 5th, managed to finish the inning, but then came out of the game. Later x-rays came back negative, but he’ll have a nasty bruise on his shin.

The Yankees struck first in the 3rd inning. With 1 out, they loaded up the bases with singles by Brett Gardner and LeMahieu and a walk to Voit. After another strikeout, a messy wild pitch moved up the runners, and Gardner raced home to score the Yankees’ lone run this afternoon.

In the 7th, Tommy Kahnle came on in relief for Tanaka. He promptly gave up a lead-off solo home run to tie up the game but held off the Rays from doing further damage. Britton and Chapman each followed suit, breezing through with a scoreless inning of their own.

And so the game went on into extra innings. Holder continued the pattern through the 10th with a quick 11-pitch scoreless inning. But Luis Cessa had some trouble in the 11th. With 1 out, a solo home run put the Rays in the lead. And the Yankees couldn’t put together the rally for the bottom of the inning, thus falling to the visitors today.

Final score: 2-1 Rays, in 11 innings

Injury updates: James Paxton threw a bullpen session before Friday’s game and will throw again on Sunday. He still felt some pain due to his knee injury (from May 4), but it’s improved and hoping to diminish as he continues his rehab.

Didi Gregorius will start his extended Spring Training on Monday. After his Tommy John surgery last October, the shortstop will spend time working on simulated games and exercises similar real Spring Training, but compacted down from the standard 7 weeks. This is a really good sign that Gregorius could be back on the team well before the All-Star Break.

And Giancarlo Stanton took live at-bats this week. It looks like his biceps and shoulder strain injuries from early April are healed, and he will begin his rehab assignment with the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons on Monday.

(A quick note to Tampa-based Yankees fans: most of the rehabbing players seem to spend their recovery time with this team. So you could see your favorite stars for cheaper than Spring Training prices and way closer seats throughout these next few weeks and months, and you don’t have to travel to the Bronx to see them in action.)

Go Yankees!

Game 43: TB vs. NYY — A Song of Rain Delay and Walk-offs

It was Game of Thrones night at Yankee Stadium, which meant fans got to take pictures in the Iron Throne or buy show sports themed merchandise and the media team tweeted out game updates using popular show memes. Or if you’re not a fan, it was a Friday night in the Bronx and there was a pretty good baseball game. Despite the fact that the game paused again for a brief (35 minute) rain delay in the 8th inning. Or maybe because of it.

CC Sabathia got the start for the Yankees tonight and threw a pretty strong game in this first game of the series against the visiting Rays. He threw 84 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, and struck out 4 Rays batters. His lone allowed run was a 1st pitch solo home run in the 4th inning.

The Yankees actually struck first with Cameron Maybin’s first Yankee home run, a 1-out solo home run in the 2nd that nearly hit the 3rd deck of the right field seats. But they had trouble adding to that early lead, especially after the Rays tied it up in the 4th.

Ottavino and Kahnle split the 7th inning, keeping the Rays from adding to their score, but then Chad Green came out for the 8th inning and had some trouble. With 1 out, a double scored on a 2-out double. Then a single and throwing error allowed another run for the visitors to get their insurance run in tonight’s game.

And then it started raining. A lot. So the Yankees needed to come back and rally. Urshela stepped into the box and 2 pitches later, it was just too much. The tarp came out, the game was paused, and many fingers were crossed. (I opted not to insert a few obvious Game of Thrones jokes that a good portion of my readers wouldn’t understand.)

When the game resumed just 35 minutes later, things kind of screeched to a stand still. The Rays and Yankees (via Holder) pitched through a quick 6 outs. And the Yankees finally found that rally in the bottom of the 9th. Luke Voit led-off with a 1st pitch solo home run to inch the Yankees closer. Sanchez then singled and was pinch-run by Thairo Estrada. One out later, Torres doubled and Frazier was intentionally walked to load up the bases.

Then a wild pitch moved all the runners up and scored Estrada to tie up the game. Maybin hit into a fielder’s choice out at home and then stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position. And leave it to Gio Urshela to be the one to single home Frazier for the walk-off win, which was his first walk-off MLB hit. (Also, it was orange Gatorade tonight.)

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

CC K-Score: 3013

Roster moves: After coming in to be the 26th man, the Yankees optioned outfielder Mike Tauchman back to AAA Scranton after the doubleheader on Wednesday.

Also, thanks to winning over the Rays, the Yankees are now in 1st place in the AL East. And that’s worth celebrating, given all the fickle fans who seemed to desert once again in the beginning or when all the major players got injured. But what do I know? “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” (Final GoT reference for the fans alone.)

Go Yankees!

Games 41 & 42: BAL vs. NYY — Much drier now, double the win

The weather has been quite uncooperative for the Yankees this week, raining out both games Monday and Tuesday. While they called yesterday’s game early enough, they really tried to make a go of it on Monday. But they couldn’t seem to dry out the field, despite the air blowers, rakes, and the odd pitchfork stuck in the mud in center field. Believe me, it was the right call to not play in the mess.

So, Monday’s game became the first game of today’s single-admission doubleheader. And Tuesday’s game is postponed until the Orioles come back to town in August. While making it a pretty packed day for the Yankees today, they still prevailed and held strong against their division foes.

Game 1 (The Make-up Game)
JA Happ got the start, throwing just 64 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs, and striking out 3 Baltimore batters to earn the eventual win. There was actually a bit of back-and-forth between the teams this afternoon to see who’d make it out on top.

The Orioles struck first with a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning. But the Yankees mirrored that with a 2-out solo home run by Gary Sanchez in the bottom of the 1st. Then in the 2nd, a 1-out single scored on a 2-out double. And Gleyber Torres tied the game up again with a lead-off solo home run in the bottom of the inning. But then 2 outs later, Cameron Maybin’s solo home run put the Yankees in the lead, his 1st home run as a Yankee. That is, until the 4th when the Orioles hit a lead-off solo home run to tie up the game again.

However, the Yankees came back in the bottom of that inning to ensure their victory. Torres led-off again with another solo home run. And with 1 out, Urshela hit a long ball into right field, but the fielder flubbed it and allowed Urshela to make it all the way to 3rd. Another out later, Mike Tauchman singled home Urshela.

Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman closed out the game with a scoreless streak, splitting the final 11 outs and keeping the Orioles from regaining the lead.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Game 2 (The Originally Scheduled Game)
After a brief break, the field was reset, and the next game was ready to go. Domingo German was on the mound to command his way through the evening, throwing 85 pitches in 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and just 1 run, and striking out 8 Baltimore batters.

The Orioles’ lone allowed run tonight was in the 5th. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on another single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. Britton and Chapman each took a scoreless inning to close out the game, with Aroldis Chapman earning his 10th and 11th save today in both games.

The Yankees’ offense kicked in once again tonight. In the 3rd, with 2 outs, LeMahieu singled and scored on Luke Voit’s double. Gleyber Torres powered home run #3 today with a lead-off solo home run in the 4th. And in the 7th, Estrada hit a 1-out double and scored on Voit’s 2-out single.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees (Since the 3rd game won’t be played until August, this series isn’t over yet. But the Yankees are clearly on top already.)

Next up: After an off-day tomorrow, the Yankees will host the Rays for the weekend before hitting the road again. They will travel first to visit the Orioles and then to the heartland with the Royals before returning home again.

Roster moves: Since the last game, the Yankees have made quite a few roster moves. So buckle up. On Monday, they activated Aaron Hicks from the injured list, and he played his first game of the season in the second game of today. They also placed pitcher Jonathan Loaisga on the 10-day IL, retroactive to May 10, due to shoulder strain. They optioned Mike Tauchman to AAA Scranton and recalled pitchers Nestor Cortes Jr. and Chance Adams from AAA Scranton.

Yesterday, the Yankees traded for infielder Kendrys Morales from the Athletics for cash or a Player To Be Named Later. Morales has spent time with the Angels, Mariners, Twins, Royals, and Blue Jays in his 13 seasons. The Yankees also moved Loaisiga to the 60-day IL, removing him from the roster to make room for Morales.

And today, they activated Morales to play in today’s game, optioning pitcher Joe Harvey to AAA Scranton and recalled Mike Tauchman to be the 26th man for the doubleheader.

But the biggest news is regarding Miguel Andujar. On Monday, the Yankees placed him on the 10-day IL with a labrum (shoulder) tear. After further review and tests, the decision was made to have surgery to repair the tear. This does effectively end his season pretty much before it began.

Once again, the Yankees have some great “back-up” that is proving themselves not really “back-up” but rather pretty good in their own right. Like Urshela, Tauchman, Maybin, Frazier, LeMahieu, and Estrada. Really, none of those names should be on the roster, and yet all of them are holding their own and helping the Yankees charge forward with a winning season.

Go Yankees!

Game 40: NYY vs. TB — #TanakaTime + power outage = Happy Mother’s Day

I know we’ve talked some about the (few) positives of Tropicana Field, including the rarity of delays due to weather. Unfortunately, a delay due to a local power outage is unavoidable. And a 43 minute delay while the system was redirected and restarted is just inconvenient. Especially in the 9th inning.

But it just seemed to energize the Yankees in this final game of the weekend series against the Rays. Masahiro Tanaka had a great start this afternoon, throwing just 73 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run, and stuck out 7 batters to earn the eventual win. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo shot in the 6th.

It was actually the lone allowed run for the home team all day. Zach Britton and Chad Green took the final 2 innings and kept the Rays from doing much of anything, adding 5 more strikeouts to what would become quite the strikeout day at the Trop (12 by the Yankees, 17 by the Rays’ pitchers).

And somehow, despite all those strikeouts, the Yankees managed to boost their own power. They were held off until the 5th. With 2 outs, Romine doubled and scored on Mike Tauchman’s double. Tauchman then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single.

In the 8th, Voit led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s 1-out single, and ended up at 3rd when Andujar hit into a force grounder at 2nd. A wild pitch then scored Voit and kicked off a pair of challenges. The Yankees challenged the records (to check the number of balls/strikes), then the Rays challenged whether the catcher tagged Voit out at home. Neither were overturned, and the play stood as called at the count on the board.

Then the 9th inning began with a bang. Of sorts. After a single foul ball, the lights went out. And 43 minutes later, Thairo Estrada kicked-off the inning with a solo home run. Then Romine and Tauchman singled and moved into scoring position on LeMahieu’s sacrifice bunt out. Voit was intentionally walked to load up the bases. And then Gio Urshela’s double scored both Romine and Tauchman, and Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Voit to cap off the Yankees’ power surge.

Final score: 7-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees return home to continue their home stand to host the Orioles and then after a day off the Rays next weekend. Then, they’ll hit the road again to visit the Orioles and Royals.

Scranton Shuttle: Before the game, for a fresh arm, the Yankees optioned relieved Nestor Cortes Jr and recalled reliever Chad Green, who pitched in today’s game.

And a huge Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and like-a-moms out there. Across baseball, players wore pink-tinged gear, and each team had an honorary bat girl, both to recognize breast cancer awareness and survivors. Plus, players honored the moms in their lives, like CC Sabathia, who wrote a full letter in celebration of his mom on his Twitter account. And Cameron Maybin wore a special pre-game shirt in honor of his mom who is currently fighting breast cancer.

Happy Mother’s Day to my own mother, who is my faithful baseball companion. But then she got it from the passionate baseball fans in her family like her mother and grandmothers (who actually were Indians and Pirates fans). Baseball is strong in my family, much like its women.

Go Yankees!

Game 39: NYY vs. TB — Saturday night sag

Last night’s game put the Yankees within a half-game from the Rays’ lead in the AL East. They were hoping to reverse places with a win tonight, but it wasn’t to be. The Yankees just weren’t piecing together the necessary pieces to make up the win.

CC Sabathia got the start in the middle game of this series against the Rays, working his way to a no-decision. He threw 76 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out just 2 Rays’ batters. His allowed runs were lead-off solo home runs in the 2nd and 3rd.

And the Yankees finally got on the board in the 5th inning. Torres led-off with a single and then beat out the tag to score on Clint Frazier’s double. And DJ LeMahieu hit a solo home run up the middle to tie up the game in the 6th.

But then normally reliable reliever Jonathan Holder had a really off-day with his 6th inning struggle. The lead-off player singled and, 2 outs later, stole 2nd and ended up on 3rd thanks to a throwing error. Holder then gave up a walk to put runners on the corners. Consecutive singles scored 2 more runs for the home team to return them to the lead.

While the Yankee batters suddenly found their offense dry up, the Rays kept going. Yankees’ reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. gave a scoreless 7th, but then things got sticky again in the 8th. He gave up a lead-off single and a 2-out single to load a few runners for a big 3-run home run to ensure the Rays the win.

Final score: 7-2 Rays

CC K-Count: 3009

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the United States, and across the league, players will be donning specialized gear, most notably pink-tinged gear in honor of breast cancer awareness. But some players also customize in a special or unique way.

This year, outfielder Clint Frazier designed his special cleats for the weekend to honor his mother. In addition to the pastel pink Nike swish and highlights on the white cleats, the high-top area features life-like pictures of his mother’s two cats, acknowledging her “fur babies” on this Mother’s Day.

That’s a first for me. But I’m sure his mom feels honored by the gesture.

Go Yankees!

Game 38: NYY vs. TB — Under the dome’s Friday Night Lights

Tropicana Field is a strange place. It’s the only stadium in MLB to have a roof that isn’t retractable. And because of that, it has weird rules on how a ball hits a certain beam in the dome’s structure is an out/hit/home run.

Of course, there are positives to it. Florida is super hot most of they year, but in the Trop, it’s always 72° F. And when there’s inclement weather, like tonight, there’s never any rain delay, wet fields, or strangely sponsored tarps.

While it stormed outside, the Yankees kicked off their first game of this weekend series against the Rays. Domingo German got the start tonight, throwing 84 pitches in 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out 5 Rays’ batters. He kept the Rays scoreless through most of his outing until his last inning, the 5th. A lead-off double scored on a 1-out 2-run home run to get them on the board. And a 2-out solo homer eased the home team into the lead.

Despite a decent showing of Rays’ fans, the majority of tonight’s packed stadium were rooting for the visitors, as usual. And the Yankees were ready to put on a show for their local fans. DJ LeMahieu led-off the game by making it to 1st on a throwing error. Voit walked and Sanchez singled to load up the bases. After a strikeout, a passed ball allowed LeMahieu to hustle home, and Gleyber Torres singled home Voit.

After the Rays tied up the game and then took the lead in the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees only needed the 6th to switch things back in their favor. Sanchez and Frazier hit consecutive singles. After a strikeout, the Rays went to their bullpen for their first reliever.

It didn’t help. Andujar’s single loaded up the bases, and Gio Urshela’s big single scored both Sanchez and Frazier to put the Yankees back in the lead. After another strikeout, the Rays brought in another reliever, whose lone pitch of the game became a grounder to end the inning.

But Urhsela’s RBIs were enough for the Yankees to defend for the rest of the game. Kahnle, Ottavino, Britton, and Chapman each put up a scoreless inning, still allowing the Rays tried a few opportunities to threaten before getting out of the jam, thanks partly to a great defense.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

Injury updates: Didi Gregorius (elbow) has been in Tampa, trying to come back from his Tommy John surgery last off-season. So when the Yankees came to town, it was only natural for their energetic shortstop to stop in for a visit with his teammates and hang out for the game.

Aaron Hicks (back) has been spending his rehab games with the local minor league Yankees team — Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons. He has three more games scheduled with them before the Yankees will activate him onto the Yankees main roster, which looks to be next week back in the Bronx.

Dellin Betances (shoulder) and James Paxton (knee) both played catch at the Trop before tonight’s game. Betances’ recovery is slow going, progressively working his way to longer and longer tosses to see how his healing is progressing. Paxton, however, is looking good and will hopefully be back after missing just one or two starts.

And for those asking, there is no set timetable on the returns of Aaron Judge (oblique) and Giancarlo Stanton (shoulder). Stanton has resumed hitting and working out with baseball activities. But Judge is not yet ready for that, sticking solely to rehab exercises.

Get well, guys!

Go Yankees!

Game 37: SEA vs. NYY — Happ’s 1-hitter victory

The Yankees are on their way south, a brief break in their long home stand this month, and they do so on a lovely high thanks to the great game tonight. In the final game of this 4-game series against the Mariners, the Yankees relied on strong pitching to carry them into victory on this chilly Thursday evening.

Most of that fell on starter JA Happ, who threw 94 pitches in his 5 scoreless innings, gave up just 1 hit and 3 walks, and struck out 7 Seattle batters. Ottavino, Kahnle, and Britton each breezed their way through a scoreless inning of their own.

Meanwhile, the Yankees found a single opportunity early on to grab the lead. In the 2nd, Frazier and Torres each singled, and 2 outs later, Cameron Maybin’s double scored Frazier. It was this lone run, this slim lead that the Yankees spent most of the game defending against a pretty good Mariners’ starter.

When the Mariners brought in a reliever in the 8th, the Yankees found their next chance to add to their minute lead. LeMahieu led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s single, and ended up at 3rd on Gardner’s fielder’s choice out at 2nd. Gardner stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position.

After a strikeout, they intentionally walked Torres to load the bases. Feeling fine after that nasty bruise yesterday, Gio Urshela smacked a long single into right field that scored both LeMahieu and Gardner.

With a nice lead now, the Yankees sent in Aroldis Chapman for 3 outs in the 9th. But after 2 quick outs, he gave up a solo shot into the right field seats to give the Mariners their lone run of the evening. And then he got that final out to earn the save tonight, his 8th of the season.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to see the Rays just for the weekend. A brief road trip before they continue their home stand, hosting the Orioles and Rays next week. And then they hit the road again in a week-long road trip.

Scranton Shuttle: Before today’s game, the Yankees optioned pitcher Jake Barrett back to AAA Scranton and officially signed pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. To make room for him on the roster, they transferred Dellin Betances, still recovering from his shoulder injury, to the 60-day injured list.

Go Yankees!