Game 116: TEX vs. NYY — A soggy Saturday save

It’s raining along much of coast of the northeast, including over Yankee Stadium this lovely Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t initially, but the skies progressively darkened, drizzled, and then drenched the near sold-out crowd in this third of 4 games against the visiting Rangers.

Lance Lynn threw 99 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out an impressive 8 Texas batters. His lone allowed run was in the 3rd. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on an RBI single. Lynn, once again, turned out a fine performance, clearly etching his place on the Yankee rotation.

The Yankees had enough oomph to give themselves the lead early on today. In the 1st, Giancarlo Stanton hit a solid 1-out solo home run to kick things off. After another out, Andujar singled and then scored easily on Greg Bird’s double. They kept their minuscule lead until the 6th when Bird led-off with another double and then scored on Walker’s 1-out single.

That should have been enough for the Yankee bullpen and defense to coast on to victory, but with the looming clouds, it couldn’t exactly be a drama-free day, despite Robertson’s beautiful 15-pitch clean, scoreless 6th inning.

Zach Britton was called on to continue his strong show from previous games. He took 5 pitches to get 2 quick outs, but then things unraveled. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before another allowed walk scored their lead runner. Britton was just not finding that 3rd out, so the Yankees turned to Dellin Betances.

Now, Betances has been really good lately. But when the runner at 3rd spooked him, Betances fidgeted just enough to balk, and it moved all the runners up again and scored that runner from 3rd, just before he struck that batter out. Betances later sailed his way through the 8th cleanly.

With the game now tied and the rain beginning to really unload, the Yankees were determined to find the opportunity. It would be in the bottom of that 7th inning. With 1 out and another new reliever, Stanton singled and then scored as part of Miguel Andujar’s big 2-run home run into the right field seats, his 17th homer of the season.

Aroldis Chapman now needed just 3 outs for his 30th save. However, due to the rain, that was coming down in sheets at this point, he had less control over his pitches, allowing a single, a strikeout, a single, and a pop-up, before hitting the next batter to load up the bases. Things were tense, but somehow, even with a full count, Chapman pulled through and got the batter to swing at that 98 mph 3rd strike.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Injury updates: Aaron Judge is taking it slow coming off the chip fracture in his right wrist. He’s hoping to start swinging a bat early next week and then progress from there. The original timeline has him potentially coming back before the end of this month, but injuries rarely check man’s expectations and schedules as they heal.

Giancarlo Stanton has been dealing with hamstring tightness since the series in Boston. It hasn’t entirely hampered his playing, relegating him to play DH and instead allowing young players like Robinson and utility players like Walker playing in the outfield. And they too are doing well with the challenge.

And Gary Sanchez has been working out in the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, recovering from a lingering groin injury. He’s been running and doing baseball activities, but he is expected to fly up to New York to rejoin the team and complete his rehab with them. That’s a great sign because it means that he’s progressing well enough to have the team keep him close for an overnight activation when they deem him ready.

Look, for all their recent injuries and frustrating losses, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball. It’s rather unfair that they’re in the same division as the absolute best team in baseball (Red Sox), but that team is having a real record-setting kind of year of their own. While the NL is quite close and competitive, the AL is splitting into the teams that are having obviously stellar seasons and those that are really struggling.

And nowhere is that highlighted more than just within the AL East, which hosts both the best team in MLB (Red Sox) and the worst (Orioles). The AL East has long been a really strong division, but this year, it’s really showing its extremes — still really competitive for the top 2-3 teams and just discouraging for the others.

Go Yankees!

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