Happy September, Yankee fans! It’s that time of year when baseball fans everywhere dare to dream that their favorite team might just have that wild chance to make it to Fall Classic. Much like a movie where the underdog team from nowhere takes home the title, fans everywhere are hoping for a miracle and a chance to win it all. Whereas most fans will be simply hoping, Yankees fans have a solid reason to be confident that their first place AL East team will be standing on that World Series field on October 22.
As the September call-ups begin today, MLB teams across the league are scrambling to put together a team of the best players who are at their peak of performance and health for that shot at the playoffs. We saw that kind of team today as over 40,000 fans packed Yankee Stadium to watch the New York Yankees best the Oakland Athletics on that path to October baseball.
JA Happ had a remarkable scoreless outing on the mound for the Yankees through 6 full innings, throwing 98 pitches but allowing no runs. Happ was replaced by recent call-up Ryan Dull in the 7th, who struggled his way through his outing. After loading up the bases with 1 out, a double scored 2 runs, and a grounder scored a third.
Chance Adams took the mound in the 8th and gave up a 1-out solo homer to right field to keep pushing the visitors into a strong lead. Ottavino took command of the ball in the 9th and kept the A’s from gaining any further runs.
Kept scoreless in the first 7 innings, behind by 4 runs, and at the risk of being shut out for the first time since last season, the Yankees found their first real chance to do something in the bottom of the 8th inning. They loaded the bases with a walk to Tauchman, a single to LeMahieu, and a walk to Judge. A sacrifice fly by Gleyber Torres scored Mike Tauchman to get the Yankees on the board. Then after a pitching change and another out, Didi Gregorius’ single scored 2 more runs to edge the Yankees closer to the lead.
Down by just one run in the 9th, Brett Gardner hit a lead-off home run to deep right field to tie the game. Mike Ford quickly came in to pinch-hit for Frazier, and Ford promptly smacked a walk-off home run over the right center field fence into the Yankees’ bullpen to win the game for the Yankees.
This was Mike Ford’s 10th home run as a Yankee and his first walk-off home run, celebrated with a smile, a perfect bat flip, and the celebratory Gatorade shower thanks to fellow home run hitter Gardner.
Final score: 5-4 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1
Roster moves/injury updates: Prior to today’s game, the Yankees moved David Hale, a right-handed reliever, to the 60-day IL for his continuing back strain. They also sent Edwin Encarnacion and Luis Severino to start their rehab assignments with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
As part of the September call-ups, Yankees called-up three relief pitchers including Chance Adams, Ryan Dull, and Tyler Lyons. With the spot open with the move by Hale, the Yankees selected the contract of Lyons and recalled Dulle, Adams, and Frazier. Both Dull and Adams played in today’s game, and these pitcher-heavy call-ups certainly signal that the Yankees seem to be looking for a particular skill set of pitches to fill spots in the bullpen.
Mike Mussina Day: Before today’s game, the Yankees honored former pitcher Mike Mussina, or “Moose”, to celebrate his induction into the Hall Fame this summer with an official “Mike Mussina Hall of Fame Celebration“. The first 18,000 fans through the gates today received a Mike Mussina t-shirt, and fans were treated to pre-game festivities including the unveiling of his Cooperstown replica plaque to be displayed alongside other Hall of Famers like fellow teammate Mariano Rivera.
The Yankees also handed him a $35,000 donation to benefit of Montoursville Area Athletice Department (PA). Moose is active in his hometown community athletics programs, serving on the Little League Board of Directors, operating a training camp for local student athletes, and serving as head basketball coach at the high school. In fact, when he got the call regarding his Hall of Fame election, he was busy with a team practice. Mussina also had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch today to his son, Peyton.