It was a great night for Sonny Gray to close out this series in Baltimore tonight. Gray threw 90 pitches in 6 scoreless innings, gave up just 3 hits and a walk, and struck out an impressive 8 batters along the way to earning a great (and much-needed) win. AJ Cole followed his lead with 2 more scoreless innings, and Chasen Shreve closed out the game with a scoreless 9th to seal the Yankees’ shutout of the home team.
The Yankee batters gave Gray a hefty lead to feel rather secure tonight. In the 3rd, with 1 out, Gardner worked a walk, moved to 3rd on Judge’s single, and then was caught out on a fielder’s choice off Gregorius’ hit. Giancarlo Stanton singled home Judge to get the Yankees on the board, and Hicks then loaded the bases with a walk. It would be Greg Bird to really make an impact with his first career grand slam, a big home run to the right field seats.
Tyler Wade led-off the 6th inning with his first solo home run. (The Red Sox fan who caught the game on a whim during a business trip happily returned the ball for Wade’s keepsake collection.) And Austin Romine hit a 2-out solo home run in the 7th to jump in on the fun of the night.
The Yankees got creative in the 8th. With 1 out, Gregorius doubled and then moved to 3rd on Stanton’s single. A new reliever allowed Aaron Hicks to make it safely to 1st on a sloppy missed catch error, as Gregorius hustled home for an unearned run. In the 9th, Frazier hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Judge’s walk, ended up at 3rd on Gregorius’ grounder, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single.
Final score: 9-0 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1 (Yes, there were 4 games this week, but technically, the first game of the doubleheader was part of a previous series and thus is wrapped into that result to be concluded next month.)
Next up: The Yankees begin a 4-game weekend series in Cleveland tomorrow night, the final series before the All-Star Break. After the Break, the Yankees will host their cross-town rivals next weekend for a short home stand before hitting the road again.
Big bummer on the All-Star Game front — Giancarlo Stanton ended up 3rd in the Final Vote. Fans selected Mariners’ shortstop Jean Segura and Brewers’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar. That leaves just Judge, Severino, Chapman, and Torres to represent the Yankees in D.C. next Tuesday at the All-Star Game.
And the participants in the Home Run Derby were announced tonight, and it’s an interesting mix of players, all but 1 are from the NL, despite the fact that most of the home run leaders are in the AL — Jesus Aguilar (Brewers), Bryce Harper (Nationals), Max Muncy (Dodgers), Alex Bregman (Astros), Kyle Schwarber (Cubs), Javier Baez (Cubs), Freddie Freeman (Braves), and Rhys Hoskins (Phillies).
What is most interesting is that the top seed of the Derby (Aguilar) is actually 6th on the home run leaders (not including potential changes from games today) behind Martinez (Red Sox), Ramirez (Indians), Judge, Trout (Angels), and Lindor (Indians), notably all AL power-hitters, by the way. The selected Derby participants have 14-23 home runs this season. Now, it’s worth noting that if 14 home runs was the base line for being in the Derby, Judge, Stanton, Hicks, Gregorius, Torres, and Sanchez all qualified. (And 14 homer put 14 players tied at 55th place on the stats.)
I mean, congratulations to all the selected participants, all but Harper are first-time participants. Harper was last in the Derby in 2013 and came in 2nd. I’m just a little confused as to the process of selecting the Home Run Derby participants this year. Unless of course, 47 other players turned down the opportunity, which is quite possibly like Judge’s adamant refusal to do so starting in March.