Game 111: BOS vs. NYY — Strong Sunday Sweep

The game began in rain delay. And for most of the hour and nine minutes, fans kind of gathered around the stadium to watch the clouds over the stadium and the dry tarp on the field. Then, right before the Yankees’ announced their start time, it poured. For about a minute. And within just a few minutes after that, the tarp was off, the field was prepped, and the finale of this rivalry weekend was in full swing.

In a fun twist, both starters were transferred to the paternity list at the beginning of this series to be with their wives for the birth of their children this weekend. (Neither are first-time dads, but no one wants to miss the birth of their children no matter how many times they’ve become fathers.) Congratulations to both expanding families. Both new again fathers were activated back on their respective rosters to start tonight’s game, though only one had a good night.

The Yankees sent JA Happ to the mound to close out this rivalry series. He threw 91 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out just 2 Boston batters. Actually, Happ held off the Red Sox for most of his outing. It wasn’t until the 5th that the visitors got on the board with consecutive solo home runs. With 2 outs in the 6th, Happ gave up a single and his lone walk, and a wild pitch moved runners to scoring position, which they did on a long single to end his night

Cessa came on to close out the 6th inning before sailing his way through the 8th. Green closed out the game with a high-count, but clean 9th inning for the save.

Meanwhile, the Yankees hit into the Red Sox’s starter early on and didn’t let up. With 1 out in the 1st, Aaron Judge smacked a long home run into the Bleacher Creature seats in Section 203 to get the Yankees on the board first. After a scoreless 2nd, the Yankees found the 3rd inning to be their liking.

With 1 out, Judge worked a walk and then scored on Gio Urshela’s 2-run home run. Gardner then doubled and scored on a double by Cameron Maybin off the back wall. Mike Ford’s single scored Maybin. After Higashioka’s double moved runners into scoring position, they did so on Mike Tauchman’s single to cap off the Yankees’ big night and force the the Red Sox starter out of the game early.

The relievers were able to stop the Yankees from adding to their big early lead, though it was clearly large enough to stop the Red Sox from coming from behind and overtaking the home team for the remaining part of the game.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees, Yankees sweep 3-0 (and overall 4-0, including makeup game)

Next up: The Yankees are back on the road to visit the Orioles this week before a 4-game home stand in Toronto. They will then come home for a home stand to face the Orioles and Indians. During that weekend, the Yankees will unveil a replica of Mariano Rivera’s Hall of Fame plaque and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2009 championship. All this before the final trip to the West Coast to close out this month.

Injury Updates: During tonight’s game, it looks like Gleyber Torres sustained a core injury, exiting the game in the 8th inning. He will be sent for tests to see how severe the injury is, hopefully avoiding a long stint on the IL, if one is deemed necessary.

And Aaron Hicks has avoided Tommy John surgery on his sore elbow, as the diagnosis was a right flexor strain. It’s enough to land him on the 10-day injured list, but not enough to warrant something more severe.

Go Yankees!

Game 109 & 110: BOS vs. NYY — Double the win, double the injuries

A double header is always going to be a long day at the ball park. So mix in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, and the day is going to feel eternal. The evening game was the make up of the rain out from May 30, so tonight’s game closed out that series.

Game 1 (regularly scheduled game)
Domingo German got the start for the afternoon game, commanding his way through 7 innings with 97 pitches. He gave up 5 hits and 2 runs and struck out 7 Boston batters. His allowed runs were lead-off solo home runs in the 2nd and the 5th. Jonathan Holder came in to close out the final 2 innings, sailing through the Red Sox lineup in just 26 pitches.

On the other side, the Yankees struck first in the 1st with DJ LeMahieu’s lead-off solo home run. After the Red Sox came back to tie it up, the Yankees struck hard in the 4th inning, and the Red Sox upped the ante with some dramatics. Because… rivalry game?

The Yankees loaded up the bases around a couple outs — Encarnacion singled, Urshela hit a 1-out single, and Higashioka got a short 2-out single. Then Breyvic Valera hit a single that scored Encarnacion. That triggered the Red Sox’s manager, who was quickly tossed from the game for arguing balls and strikes. Brett Gardner’s single scored both Urshela and Higashioka, before DJ LeMahieu smacked a solid 3-run home run to clear the bases.

After Judge hit a ground-rule double, the Red Sox starter was also kicked out of the game as he was walking off the mound in a pitching change. (Quick side note: first, the calls were really not that bad overall. I only had beefs with a couple, usually higher balls on the bigger guys. Also, you’re leaving the game anyway, what was the point of now getting further punishment?)

With a new pitcher on the mound, Edwin Encarnacion then singled home Judge to keep the hits coming. And finally, in the 6th, Gardner led-off with a single, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Encarnacion’s single. The Yankees firmly in the win column thanks to some Sox drama and some solid home pitching.

Final score: 9-2 Yankees

Game 2 (make-up game, rain out of May 30)
The Yankees utilized the opener style for the evening half of today’s doubleheader. The Red Sox pushed Chad Green through the 1st, and he pushed back, keeping them off the board. Nestor Cortes Jr continued the momentum with a scoreless 2nd. But a lead-off double in the 3rd scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run to give the Red Sox the lead.

Chance Adams, the Yankees’ 26th man for the doubleheader, came on for a troubled 4th. He gave up a walk and double to put runners into scoring position early. After 2 outs, a single scored both runners. His 5th inning was much cleaner, before he handed things off to the rest of the bullpen (Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman) who would push through the final half of the game and keep the Red Sox limited to their early score.

Gleyber Torres hit a 1-out solo home run in the 3rd to get the Yankees on the board. Hicks and Urshela each singled and then scored on Cameron Maybin’s double to put the Yankees in the lead. After the visitors took the lead, Torres’ lead-off solo home run in the 5th tied up the game.

So it would be the 7th for the Yankees to tip the scale in their favor. Torres (again) led-off with a double, and walks to Hicks and Urshela worked walks to load up the bases. After an out, Mike Tauchman singled home Torres and Urshela.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees (For the make-up game, the Yankees win May 30-June 2 series 3-1.)

Injury alert/roster moves: The Yankees are watching Aaron Hicks right now. During the second game tonight, in the 6th inning, he injured his elbow throwing to 3rd during a play. He eventually came out of the game in the 8th and will get an MRI tomorrow to make sure it’s nothing serious.

But the biggest news was Edwin Encarnacion. During the first game, in the 8th inning, he was hit by a pitch right on the wrist, nearly the same place Judge was hit last season and with the same results, unfortunately. A CT scan confirmed that Encarnacion has a hairline fracture in his right wrist. So they moved him to the 10-day IL (though he’ll be out at least a month). And yes, the toy parrot even got a cast to match his human.

In between the games, they recalled infielder Mike Ford from AAA Scranton to replace Encarnacion. Before the game, Chance Adams was recalled to be the 26th man in today’s doubleheader and was sent back to AAA Scranton following the second game.

Finally, our hearts go out to those dealing with tragic fallout from domestic terrorism today at an El Paso Walmart, the Garlic Festival in Gilroy (California) last week, and in Dayton last night. While our prayers are with everyone involved in the recovery, we support all those fighting to end the need for me to ever write a paragraph like this or hold a moment of silence at a ball game in memoriam.

Go Yankees!

{Edited to include further information gained overnight.}

Game 108: BOS vs. NYY — #BigMaple & #GrandGleyber

The Yankees just came off facing the Red Sox last weekend, but the tables have turned as the rivalry shifts from Fenway to the Bronx. And between the two, the offense on both side were limited to a single inning, oddly the 1st. And I fully blame some really great pitching tonight.

James Paxton (aka “Big Maple”) had a great outing, throwing 100 pitches in his 6 strong innings. He only gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs and struck out 6 Boston batters to earn the eventual win. With 2 outs in the 1st, he gave up a walk that scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board first. But then, he basically breezed his way through the next 16 outs.

Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman each took an inning to close out the final third of the game. Each reliever held strong and had efficient innings — taking just 15, 8, and 9 pitches, respectively.

The Yankees, down early, bounced back early. In the bottom of the 1st, they loaded up the bases quickly. LeMahieu singled, and Judge and Encarnacion each worked walks. After an out, Gleyber Torres took the first pitch he saw tonight and sent it into the left field seats for a grand slam, his 2nd grand slam and his 21st home run of the season.

Beyond that 1st inning, there was a handful of base runners, but there wasn’t any further scoring. Again, some great pitching on both sides kept the teams limited to the damage they each did in that opening segment.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees

Roster moves: Before the game, the Yankees activated Brett Gardner from the 10-day injured list, as his “barking knee” is back and ready to go sliding around the outfield as he catches those long fly balls. They also optioned Tyler Wade back to AAA Scranton and recalled reliever Stephen Tarpley for that “fresh arm”.

The Yankees also placed JA Happ on the paternity list as his third child is due imminently. A big congratulations to JA and his wife Morgan, and to their children on becoming a big brother and big sister!

Earlier today, the Yankees partnered with MLB, Goldman Sachs, and DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI) to play in the 4th Annual Wiffle Ball Tournament, a charity game played by GS employees, some current and former ball players, and a few hundred kids in the area helped by DREAM. Cameron Maybin, through his Maybin Mission, took the lead in helping coordinate the game, joined by his teammate Domingo German, former Yankees Mickey Rivers and Mark Teixeira, and former Met John Franco.

The annual charity event has grown over the years and helps DREAM as it serves over 2500 kids in the New York area. This year, over 1000 Goldman Sachs employees volunteered their time to participate in the fundraiser, and while they played, the kids from DREAM acted as umpires and scorekeepers.

Today marks 40 years since the death of the late Thurman Munson. The Yankees’ catcher died tragically at the age of just 32 trying to land his small plane at Akron-Canton Regional Airport. The Yankees immediately retired his #15 and put up a plaque in his honor, the first Yankee captain since Lou Gehrig. It’s still a treat to see so many jerseys blazoned with his jersey number to this day.

His wife Diana Munson is a long-time friend of the Yankees, a frequent face at Old Timers’ Day, and the honored guest to throw out tonight’s ceremonial first pitch. Catching the ball was Munson’s teammate and Yankees special adviser Willie Randolph. Yankees Magazine covered the anniversary, Munson’s legacy, and featured an in-depth interview with Diana in this month’s issue with some touching moments and memories for every long-term Yankee fan.

A life and promising career cut short by an accident, a legacy we still honor and remember, and a reminder to live each day to its fullest. Forever our Yankee, #15.

Go Yankees!

Game 105: NYY vs. BOS — German to the rescue

Finally. That was the sentiment shared by most of Yankee Universe as a result of tonight’s finale of what turned out to be a rather arduous 4-game weekend series at Fenway. The Red Sox never make things easy for the Yankees, but this series felt a little more challenging.

Domingo German was the key in tonight’s game, taking the mound for the Yankees and commanding the game from the start. He threw 77 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 4 hits, a walk, and just 3 runs, and struck out an impressive 9 Boston batters along the way. In fact, for most of his outing, German kept the Red Sox off the scoreboard, a stark divergence from the previous 3 games.

In the 4th, a 1-out single scored on a 2-out 2-run home run to get the home team on the board. Then he gave up his lone walk to lead-off the 6th that moved to 3rd on a double and then scored on a grounder. That was it for German, but that was a great cushion for the visitors too.

Tommy Kahnle closed out the 6th for German, and after giving up a 1-out single, he handed the ball over to Adam Ottavino. A single and throwing error allowed runners in the corners, and a sacrifice fly scored Kahnle’s runner. Britton came out for the 8th, and despite loading up the bases, he managed to escape the jam without adding to the scoreboard.

But Aroldis Chapman seemed to take that to the next level of drama in the 9th. He gave up a lead-off walk and a 1-out single, and a passed ball moved runners into scoring position. After a great strikeout, a long single scored both runners to inch the Red Sox closer to the Yankees, but one more strikeout ended the home team’s rally.

Meanwhile, the Yankees struck first and kept the cushion big enough for their pitching staff’s later stumbles. In the 3rd, with 1 out, Maybin worked a walk, and then Austin Romine smacked a monster 2-run home run into those Green Monster seats. The Yankees liked that pattern and repeated it in the 4th — with 1 out, Voit walked, and Didi Gregorius hit him home with a 2-run home run, this time into the right field seats.

In the 6th, Gregorius led-off with a walk but was tagged out when Torres hit into a fielder’s choice. Gio Urshela’s double scored Torres. After a pitching change, sending the Red Sox’s starter to the dugout, Cameron Maybin singled home Urshela.

The Yankees loaded up the bases in the 7th, with Hicks’ walk, Encarnacion’s double, and an intentional walk to Voit. Then things got weird with a really messy defensive play. Didi Gregorius hit a long fly ball out to center field. So he was out, but Hicks was on his way home for the traditional sacrifice fly. But then the center fielder threw the ball to 1st, where no fielder was present, so the ball rolled into the dugout as Encarnacion ran home and Voit made it all the way to 3rd on the throwing error.

Then to cap off the Yankees’ offense, with 1 out in the 8th, Maybin doubled, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a wild pitch. Call it teamwork, call it sheer determination. Whatever it was, it worked for the Yankees as they head back home again on a positive note.

Final score: 9-6 Yankees, Red Sox win series 3-1

Next up: After an off-day tomorrow (Monday), the Yankees will host a 2-game mini-series against the Diamondbacks. They get another off-day on Thursday as the Red Sox come to the Bronx for a rematch of this past weekend. They will face off in another 4 games with a doubleheader on Saturday, the evening game the make-up of the rain out on May 30th. Then they’re back on road to face other divisional rivals, the Orioles and Blue Jays.

Injury update/roster moves: DJ LeMahieu is skipping the IL right now, due to the low-level of his groin strain, which is really more of a pulled muscle than anything serious. He is available off the bench if he is needed, but really, I doubt he’ll be needed any time soon. But Gary Sanchez’s groin strain is much more serious, though he is improving as measured by strength tests. His return is probable for later in August, with September on the outset if there’s a setback.

After yesterday’s outing, CC Sabathia was on his way to the trainer’s room. After a diagnosis of inflammation in his right knee, the veteran pitcher is headed back to the injured list again while he receives treatment.  As a roster move, the Yankees recalled infielder Tyler Wade (hence the “no need” for LeMahieu, as stated above).

And the upcoming Trade Deadline is fast approaching — this Wednesday, July 31. But there have been no moves for the Yankees as of yet. So, we’re looking at a last minute deal if there is any, and most of the talks, especially after this last series, is in getting a new starter. But who knows? We got Luke Voit last year at the trade deadline, and look at how well that turned out.

Go Yankees!

Game 104: NYY vs. BOS — The skidding story line continues…

Actually, the Yankees changed this one up a bit and kept things rather competitive in the third of this four-game series in Boston. Right up until a rather reliable reliever became rather unreliable. I’m starting to think Fenway is cursed this weekend. Not that I believe in that stuff.

CC Sabathia got the start for the Yankees this afternoon, and his outing was a mixed bag. He threw just 65 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 9 hits and 5 runs, and struck out just 3 Boston batters. This, of course, is a massive improvement over the last two games when the Red Sox pounced early and just drowned the Yankees’ starters in runs scored.

With 2 outs in the 2nd, the batter hit the ball out to the right field corner where it bounced off the “Pesky pole” and back onto the field. The play continued with the runner making it to 1st, but an umpire review showed that the ball hit the pole before bouncing back in making it an official home run.

A lead-off single in the 4th scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run. Then a single moved to 3rd on a 2-out single and scored on an RBI single. Then in the 5th, a 1-out ground-rule double scored on a double to end Sabathia’s outing. In light of recent games, this was a fairly successful start for the Yankees, limiting their opponents’ damage early on.

The Yankees actually struck first with Gio Urshela’s 1-out solo home run up the middle in the 2nd. Voit led-off the 4th with a double and scored on Urshela’s 2-out single. And in the 5th, Hicks worked a 1-out walk and scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s 2-out double.

Now, Chad Green closed out the 5th with 2 quick outs, but then he got into his own troubles, a rarity for the evergreen reliever. In the 6th, he gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a pinch-hitting sacrifice fly. A triple scored another run, and another sacrifice fly scored yet another run.

Then, with 2 outs in the 7th, Green couldn’t close it out and instead gave up a double. Nestor Cortes Jr was called in. He promptly gave up a long single that scored the Red Sox’s final run. Kahnle had clearly the best outing — a 10-pitch flawless 8th inning.

Not that Red Sox pitchers are all that good either. Despite the lower score on Thursday, the Yankees have hit quite a few off Boston’s pitching staff, and that trend continued today, racking up 11 total hits and 3 walks. In a final effort to close the gap in the scoreboard, the Yankees found a moment in the 8th. With 1 out, Torres singled, and Urshela doubled to put runners in scoring position. After another out, Kyle Higashioka hit a nice single that scored both runners.

Final score: 9-5 Red Sox

Injury update: DJ LeMahieu was noticeably absent from today’s lineup after an MRI revealed a slight groin strain. He is probably headed to the injured list for some recovery time, depending on the next evaluation tomorrow. And Brett Gardner is still nursing his knee, getting a cortisone shot to help his recovery, eyeing a return possibly next weekend.

Go Yankees!

Game 103: NYY vs. BOS — Not quite the trouncing, still a rough night

Well, at least tonight wasn’t as bad as last night. The Red Sox scored the most runs the organization has ever scored in a single game against the Yankees last night. Tonight, the Yankees kept things a bit closer, or at least that’s how it ended up. Either way, the talks about what the Yankees need to do to fix this is heating up. Despite the fact that they are still comfortably atop the American League standings.

James Paxton got the start in the second game of this 4-game weekend series. He threw 99 pitches through just 4 innings, gave up 9 hits and 7 runs, and still struck out 9 Boston batters. His biggest issue is that 2 of the Red Sox’s star hitters certainly had his number tonight, and they did the most damage.

In the 1st, one led-off with a solo home run into the Green Monster seats, and then a single scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run by the other player. The first guy led-off the 3rd with another solo home run. Then a 1-out double scored on the other guy’s triple. With 2 outs in the 4th and a single on base, the first guy hit a 2-run home run to give the Red Sox a monster lead.

David Hale came on for a clean 5th inning, but he found some trouble in the 6th. With 1 out, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on another single (by the first guy, by the way). A double then scored that runner. With 2 outs in the 7th, the batter hit a questionable double that was challenged as possibly foul but upheld as fair. He then scored on another double.

Ottavino came in to get out of the 7th with a 5-pitch strikeout. Britton’s flawless 8th was a nice respite continuing to cleanse the visiting team from the mess that preceded it.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were stifled from the Red Sox’s starter, at least in the larger sense. In the first half of the game, they only managed 4 hits in 5 scoreless innings. It wasn’t until the 6th, deep in the hole on the scoreboard against the home team that the Yankees found a few opportunities to catch up.

With 2 outs, Encarnacion singled, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single, and then scored on Luke Voit’s single to get them on the board (and avoid being shutout, extending the non-shutout streak). Maybin led-off the 7th with a walk, moved to 3rd on Tauchman’s double, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single to double their score. LeMahieu hit into a double play, but Tauchman was still able to score another run.

In a last-ditch effort, the Yankees found the lone weakness in the Red Sox’s pitching staff tonight. Tauchman led-off with a single and promptly scored on Romine’s long double. After LeMahieu worked a walk, the Red Sox went to their bullpen again. A fielding error allowed Judge to make it to 1st and load up the bases. After a fly out (the first out of the inning), Didi Gregorius hit a long sacrifice fly that scored Romine. A simple grounder as the defender stepped on 3rd ended the game, with the Yankees falling short again.

Final score: 10-5 Red Sox

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees activated Cameron Maybin from the injured list. He was set to start his rehab with AAA Scranton, but with Gardner now on the IL with his “barking knee”, the Yankees needed a reliable force in the outfield. Maybin was a logical selection. To make room, the Yankees optioned reliever Stephen Tarpley back to Scranton.

Go Yankees!

Game 102: NYY vs. BOS — Getting trounced in Fenway

The most positive thing I can say about tonight’s game is that the Yankees still haven’t been shut out of a game in over a year. I’m not quite sure what happened tonight, as it will probably seem as one of the few flukes in an otherwise really outstanding season. But as with most rivalry games, there is little that is predictable no matter where the teams are in the standings or what kind of season either of them are having.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in what will easily be the start to forget. He threw 87 pitches into just the 4th inning, gave up 12 hits, 3 walks, and 12 runs, and struck out 4 Red Sox batters. As you can imagine, this led to the eventual earned loss. Things got off to a bad start in the 1st inning when he gave up a single and walk that scored as part of a Green Monster 3-run home run before there was an out recorded.

With 1 out, Tanaka then loaded up the bases with consecutive singles. After another out, consecutive doubles each scored 2 more runs. The inning ended with the Red Sox up by 7 runs, something the Yankees just were never able to overcome.

The Yankees found minor moments to attack, but it felt like like “bringing a knife to a gun fight” and more like “bringing a plastic spoon to a tank fight”. With 1 out in the 2nd, Gregorius doubled, moved to 3rd on Voit’s single, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single. Tauchman’s single loaded the bases, and after another out, DJ LeMahieu worked a walk to walk in Voit to double the Yankees’ minuscule score. Kyle Higashioka led-off the 5th with a solo home run into the Green Monster to cap off the Yankees’ blip on tonight’s scoreboard.

So, with the Red Sox nicely ahead, they just kept loading on the scoreboard. Despite the early lead enough to win the game, Tanaka’s 4th inning kept the door open for the home team to trounce. A 1st pitch solo home run got the ball rolling. A single moved to 2nd on a 1-out walk, and then scored on an RBI double. A ground-rule double that bounced over the short right field wall into the seats and scored 2 more runs.

That was it for Tanaka, who was mercifully taken out of the game at that point. He was floundering, but it’s not like the bullpen was able to stem the Red Sox either. Stephen Tarpley immediately gave up a double that scored the final run charged to Tanaka before he eventually got himself out of the inning.

In the 5th, a lead-off single moved to 3rd on a double and scored on a single. The next batter doubled home the runner at 3rd. And after the first out of the inning (as part of the infield fly rule), a simple ground out scored the next runner. Tarpley gave up a lead-off walk and was replaced by Luis Cessa. Cessa gave up a double that scored that lead runner, but the defense snapped into action to catch the batter trying to take 3rd.

After a clean 7th inning from Cessa, the Yankee called in a position player to close out the game. These are always a mixed bag, sometimes rather amusing, sometimes surprising. But Austin Romine actually did a decent job, with most of his pitches comfortably in the 70mph range, but the Red Sox took advantage of some well-placed pitches. To start the inning, he gave up a single and 2-run home run, and after an out, he gave up a solo home run and a double. But he only needed 21 pitches to get out of the game for the Yankees. It wasn’t like he could do any worse, like lose the game.

Final score: 19-3 Red Sox

Injury news: Brett Gardner has officially been placed on the 10-day injured list with left knee inflammation, retroactive to July 22. He’s been out of the line up and available off the bench for the last few days, but the knee isn’t improving as he’d hoped. So to the IL it is. For tonight’s game, the Yankees recalled Stephen Tarpley, who pitched in tonight’s troubled game.

And in a statement this afternoon, Troy Tulowitzki announced his retirement as a major league ball player. Despite a career with so much potential, the shortstop has been constantly plagued with injuries that kept him from building a Hall of Fame-style career. He finally got his lifelong wish of playing in pinstripes this season, but after just 5 games, Tulowitzki was hampered again by injuries.

So he’s going out as a Yankee and joining the University of Texas’ athletic department as an assistant baseball coach. His coaching skills were on display during the Spring with the Yankees as he volunteered to spend time with the younger players and work on their skills. Best of luck to “Tulo” and his family on this new chapter of life!

Go Yankees!