Game 58: BOS vs. NYY — Sloppy defense gives Red Sox the win

There is no denying that the Yankees have been really good this season in every area of the game like pitching, defense, base running, and offense. So it would only make sense that on a day when one of those areas suffers, it could absolutely cost the Yankees the game. Much like it did in tonight’s finale against the visiting Red Sox.

CC Sabathia was activated today to become tonight’s starter, continuing his march through his final MLB seasons. He threw 83 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 7 hits and 3 runs, and strongly struck out 8 Boston batters. With 2 outs in the 1st, he gave up a solo home run to allow the Red Sox on the board first.

In the 2nd, with 1 out, he allowed consecutive singles to put runners on the corners. Another single scored the lead runner thanks to a bit of a slow response by the Yankees’ defense. A lead-off solo home run in the 4th added another run to the Red Sox’s lead.

The Yankees didn’t get on the board until the bottom of the 4th, so they were already behind. With 1 out, Luke Voit hit a big solo home run to get the Yankees on the board. They loaded up the bases with singles by Sanchez, Hicks, and Torres. And Gio Urshela hit a sacrifice fly to score Sanchez and moved Hicks to 3rd. But then, a wonky play and some bad base running had Torres making a dash for 2nd and then getting Hicks stuck in a rundown to be eventually caught out to end the inning.

Luis Cessa came on in relief of Sabathia in the 7th and found his own troubles thanks to some further sloppy defense. With 1 out and a runner on 1st, a simple single became an easy triple and scored the the runner. Another single scored the next runner, and another single scored the final runner, furthering the Red Sox’s lead.

Cessa came back out in the 8th and gave up a double that scored on a single before he handed the ball off to David Hale. A ground out moved the runner to 2nd so he could score on a long triple to give the Red Sox a strong, rather insurmountable lead. Then Hale settled in and sailed through the rest of his outing to close out the game.

The Yankees made their best last-ditch effort to try to chip away at the Red Sox’s lead in the bottom of the 8th. They loaded up the bases again with a single to DJ LeMahieu and walks to Voit and Sanchez. A surprising balk moved the runners up and scored LeMahieu. Aaron Hicks’ ground out scored Voit and moved Sanchez to 3rd. Sanchez then scored on Gleyber Torres’ sacrifice fly. But that was it for the Yankees.

Final score: 8-5 Red Sox (no series winner yet as the Friday game will be made-up in August)

CC K-Count: 3028

Next up: The Yankees have an off-day/travel day tomorrow before they begin this weird road trip. First, they face the Blue Jays for a mid-week series before heading to Cleveland for the weekend. They break the road trip briefly to take a short trip home to host the Mets before heading out to Chicago for a 4-game weekend series to wrap up the road trip.

Tomorrow is the first day of the 2019 MLB Draft. Representatives from all over Major League Baseball gather to announce who their teams pick to join their organization. The Yankees will be represented by former outfielder, fan favorite, and current color commentator Nick Swisher. He is joined by Kelly Rodman, a Yankee scout and the first female scout in the Yankees’ organization. Rodman is also involved in many community outreach programs connecting the minor league organizations with their local communities.

The Yankees will have the 30th pick of the 1st round, the 38th pick in the compensation part of the 1st round (thanks to a trade with the Reds for Sonny Gray), and the 67th pick in the 2nd round, all selected on Monday. They will then select more potential players for the next rounds 3-40 over the next two days (Tuesday and Wednesday, with the Yankees will be the 28th team every round to select a new player.

Go Yankees!

Game 57: BOS vs. NYY — Teamwork shines in Saturday night rivalry game

The Yankees continue to dominate their division rivals and charge forward through some tough situations to come out on top in the end. Once again, when one teammate falters a bit, the rest of the team steps up and works things out to support the entire team. That is the true definition of teamwork in action. Also, if you’re only as good as your “weakest link”, the Yankees are pretty good this season.

Domingo German got a shaky start in tonight’s second (originally scheduled third) game of this rivalry series against the visiting Red Sox. He threw 87 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and still struck out 8 Boston batters in his short stint on the mound.

The Red Sox got on the board first in the 2nd. German gave up a single that moved to 2nd on another single and then scored on a 2-out single. After the Yankees grabbed a slim lead, the Red Sox came back in the 4th to chip it away, starting with a lead-off solo home run. A single moved to 2nd on a walk and then scored on a 1-out single. After another out, the Yankee opted to open their bullpen early.

But it proved to be a wise choice. Green, Kahnle, Ottavino, Holder, Britton, and Chapman divided up the remaining outs. They kept the Red Sox from adding to their score, getting out of just a few close calls with runners in scoring position.

Between this strong show by the bullpen and the Yankee bats, the game shifted twice into the home team’s favor when necessary. The Red Sox grabbed a small early lead, but the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 2nd. Torres led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Morales’ single, and scored on Gio Urshela’s 1-out single. Gardner’s soft single loaded the bases, and DJ LeMahieu’s long single scored both Morales and Urshela to give the Yankees the lead.

Then in the 5th, with the game tied and 1 out, Voit hit a nice single and moved to 2nd on a ground out. Then Gary Sanchez smacked his 18th homer of the season so far, a 2-out, 2-run home run into the Yankees’ bullpen to give the Yankees back the lead. The Yankees loaded up the bases again in that inning, but the Red Sox found enough to get a 3rd out and out of the jam.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Small game note: That 5th inning home run was Sanchez’s 18th home run of 2019. It’s also worth noting that Sanchez hit 18 home runs in all of 2018. A clear indication that Sanchez is easily on a streak to break his own season record of 33 from 2017. Math tells me that if he continues on his current momentum, he could potentially hit 51 home runs this year. Math also tells me that Sanchez’s 18 home runs are 19.5% of the homers hit by the Yankees so far this season (92), and Sanchez leads the team in that category.

Roster moves: After the game, the Yankees optioned reliever Nestor Cortes Jr back to AAA Scranton. This move is in anticipation of activating CC Sabathia for tomorrow’s finale against the Red Sox. Sabathia is really just trying to piece together starts in his final year and contribute when he can. After he retires, he can really focus on getting the help he needs for the next 50 years of his life, like a potential knee replacement and actually taking a summer vacation with his family.

Looking ahead: Didi Gregorius is now playing his final week of his rehab assignment with the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The Yankees are looking to activate the shortstop during their trip to Cleveland next weekend should Gregorius’ week go as well as expected.

Go Yankees!

Game 56: BOS vs. NYY — Rivalry series highlights newer players

Rain pouring on the area all afternoon and evening ended up postponing yesterday’s opener in this weekend’s rivalry series. (To be made up as the second game of a double header when the Red Sox return to the Bronx in August.) So after the skies cleared late last night, the field dried out, and the amazing crew at Yankee Stadium readied the field for the big series to start tonight.

JA Happ got the start tonight against the visiting Red Sox, throwing 84 pitches in 5 strong innings. He gave up 3 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run and struck out 5 batters to earn the eventual win. His lone allowed run was a lead-off solo home run in the 2nd inning. He set the momentum for the rest of the bullpen to carry through the game. Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman each threw a great scoreless inning to close out the game in support.

The Yankee batters often are rather limited against the Red Sox ace pitcher. Tonight, while they didn’t have many opportunities through most of the game, it was enough to make the difference.

In the 3rd, Urshela led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s 1-out single, and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s double to tie up the game. Then Aaron Hicks’ big 2-out single scored both Gardner and LeMahieu to give the Yankees a nice lead. And DJ LeMahieu hit a 1-out solo home run in the 5th to ensure the Yankees’ victory with an extra insurance run they didn’t need.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees

Consider this your daily reminder to vote for your favorite players to start the All-Star Game. You can vote up to 5 times per day on MLB and then vote once a day on Google Search. Show your support for your favorite players and vote often! The 2019 All-Star Game will be July 9 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

Go Yankees!

Also, our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the victims in today’s shooting in Virginia Beach. My heart breaks for their loss and hopes for healing and grace upon their community. May we continue to seek ways to unite and spread peace.

Game 17: BOS vs. NYY — Milestone slam for Gardy Party Sweep

Now, that is the way to win a game and sweep the opposing team. The Yankees sent the Red Sox on their way after sweeping their rivals in this quick 2-game mini-series. Of course, a nice come-from-behind win thanks to a bang by a veteran’s milestone.

JA Happ got the start in tonight’s game, throwing 84 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and struck out 4 Boston batters, and most of that was in the first two innings. He gave up a 2-out solo homer in the 1st, and in the 2nd, a lead-off single scored as part of a 2-out, 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board and in the lead early.

The Yankees were held off until the 4th inning. Voit led-off by working a walk, moved to 2nd on a fielder’s choice and error, and then scored on Clint Frazier’s 1-out double. But it would be the 7th inning that would leave everyone talking. They loaded up the bases with Frazier’s single and walks to Tauchman and Romine. So, with 1 out and a new pitcher, it would be Brett Gardner for tonight’s heroics. Gardner smacked a grand slam into the right field seats, instantly giving the Yankees the lead.

After Happ’s exit in the 7th, Tommy Kahnle closed out the inning with just 6 pitches to get 2 outs. Adam Ottavino got into a jam in the 8th but worked his way out without the Red Sox chipping away at the Yankees’ lead. And Aroldis Chapman earned his 3rd save of the season with 12 pitches in the 9th.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep 2-0

Next up: The Royals come into town for a 4-game weekend series before the Yankees hit the road for their first West Coast trip of the season. They will visit the Angels, Giants, and Diamondbacks before heading back home for their May home stand.

That grand slam was actually a major milestone for the veteran outfielder. It was his 3rd career grand slam (two more than Jeter, by the way), but it was also his 100th career home run. Gardner is more known for his snazzy defense and his speedy base running, so when he clubs these monster hits, it’s always something to celebrate. But tonight’s was just a little extra sweet — a career milestone… to take the win… against Boston… by a homegrown Yankee… and veteran.. and fan and clubhouse favorite.

By the way, the kid who got the grand slam ball ended up meeting Gardner outside the clubhouse, exchaning the ball for autographs and selfies. Bet he wasn’t planning on that fun twist to his night when he got tickets for tonight’s game.

Speaking of the clubhouse… the Yankees have been determined to celebrate a home series victory since Day 1 but have fallen short every time until tonight. Someone (no one’s naming names) brought in a smoke machine and flashing lights and boosted the music so that the players could celebrate their sweeping victory with a dance party in the clubhouse. None of which would have been noticed except for the smoky haze that still lingering when they allowed the media in for interviews.

Well, celebrate away and take that momentum and feeling into the next series.

Go Yankees!

Game 16: BOS vs. NYY — #BigMaple’s big rivalry shutout

James Paxton, tonight’s starter, certainly put it in words all in Yankee Universe can understand: “We want to beat Boston every time.” And maybe it was that mindset that helped surge him and the rest of the Yankee team to just dominate the visiting Red Sox in the first of their 2-game mini-series in the Bronx.

Paxton threw a stellar 110 pitches through 8 scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits and a walk and striking out 12 Boston batters to earn tonight’s win. Joe Harvey came in to close out the game with 14 pitches in the 9th inning to complete the shutout.

The Red Sox’s ace got the start for them and was only able to throw 5 innings tonight against the power-hitting of the Yankees. He held them off until the 3rd, when Gardner led-off with a double and later scored on DJ LeMahieu’s 2-out single. LeMahieu moved to 2nd on Judge’s walk and then scored on Luke Voit’s single. Clint Frazier led-off the 4th with a solo home run. Two outs later, Romine singled and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s double.

After the Red Sox went to their bullpen in the 6th, the Yankees didn’t seem to know how to slow down. Urshella doubled, Gardner walked, and both moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. Then it would be Mike Tauchman to smack a big 3-run home run into the second deck of the right field seats. And Gleyber Torres capped off the Yankees’ big night with a 1st pitch lead-off home run in the 7th.

Final score: 8-0 Yankees

Injury news and roster moves: The Yankees announced that Greg Bird has once again been plagued by the injury bug and placed on the Injured List. This time he has torn his plantar fascia, which is the connective tissue between the ball of the foot and the heel that is under the instep/arch. It is the step beyond the common injury of plantar fasciitis, or a strain in the same area, usually due to a sudden trauma or injury and is accompanied by a pop and bruising in the area. It can take up to 12 weeks to completely heal, and surgery is rarely needed.

Anyway, so Bird will actually be wearing a boot on his foot for 10-14 days during the initial pain and injury period. He won’t be back in baseball activities for at least a month, but this can’t be the kind of year Bird has been wanting.

To fill that void, the Yankees moved Jacoby Ellsbury to the 60-day IL to make room for  Spring Training stand-out Mike Ford, called up from AAA Scranton. New Jersey native Ford grew up loving recent Yankee legends like Tino Martinez and Derek Jeter, so to don the pinstripes and play in the same dirt is truly a dream come true.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 20: BOS vs. NYY — A rivalry rout

No joke. It was crazy hot today in Tampa. The weather just can’t make up its mind this Spring, but as all my friends elsewhere keep reminding me, at least there’s no snow. Just lots of sweaty, sunburnt people packed into the stadium to enjoy a Friday afternoon of baseball.

Of course, this was no ordinary game. The Yankees hosted their annual Spring rivalry game against the Red Sox. As we all know, there’s nothing ordinary about a rivalry game. And today was no exception. The Yankees dominated from the start thanks to a great pattern set by today’s starter Domingo German, who threw a strong, scoreless 4 innings.

Chapman got to face one batter in the 5th, a warm-up act of sort for Holder to close out the rest of the inning. Adam Ottavino got into the only jam of the afternoon in the 6th. He gave up 3 consecutive singles to load up the bases, with no outs. But then the next batter hit into a standard double play that scored just one run, and a ground out got the Yankees out of the inning, removing the only Red Sox threat of the afternoon.

Tarpley and Reeves closed out the final third of the game, returning to the strong dominance the Yankees seemed to maintain all afternoon. Because the Red Sox seemed to have a really off-day, with some just sloppy pitching and plays. In fact, of the ridiculous number of runs the Yankees scored today, only half of them were earned.

In the 2nd, the Yankees began their eventual rout of their long-time rivals by loading up the bases with singles to Andujar and Sanchez and a walk to Bird. Then with 1 out, DJ LeMahieu reached safely due to a bad fielding error, which allowed Andujar to score. Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Sanchez, leaving runners on the corners. Once the Red Sox pulled their starter, Aaron Judge smacked a solid 3-run home run to give the Yankees a healthy lead.

All the switch-outs and pinch-runners began in the 4th due to the length of the game at this point and the Yankees’ big lead. So with 1 out in the 4th, Tulowitzki worked a walk and replaced by Wade, who then scored on LeMahieu’s double. He was replaced by Holder, who moved to 3rd on Gardner’s single (replaced by Burns) and scored on Trey Amburgey’s sacrifice fly.

It was Stanton’s double that moved runners into scoring position (including his pinch-runner Lipka). Luke Voit’s big double then scored both Burns and Lipka. After a pitching change, Miguel Andujar singled home Voit to officially put the Yankees in double digits.

In the 5th, Bird led-off by getting to base due to a missed catch error. Wade’s single and Holder’s walk loaded up the bases. Burns hit into a grounder that finally snapped the Red Sox into good defense, getting Bird out at home. But then Amburgey’s single scored Wade, Matt Lipka hit into a fielder’s choice to score Holder, and Chris Gittens’ single scored Amburgey.

But the Yankees wanted one more. Gittens hit a 1-out double and later scored on Ryan Lavarnway’s 2-out double to add another exclamation point to the Yankees’ score today.

Final score: 14-1 Yankees

One to Watch: Chris Gittens kept jumping out to me this afternoon. In addition to his solid defense at 1st, he certainly contributed to the Yankees’ offense today in the latter half of the game. Not that they needed it, as Gittens was one of so many hits and runs scored today. But that position is key to any team’s defense, and he did so well. Gittens was signed by the Yankees in 2014 and seen most recently in Advanced-A Tampa and AA Trenton last year in between hip injuries. But he worked well today.

Next up: The Yankees host the Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon in Tampa.

History trivia: Amateur games of the sport were played from early days in America, brought over from European settlers that evolved from a combination of the children’s game of rounders and the still popular cricket. About 15 years before the Civil War, the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club was formed to help form actual rules like the shape of the field and what constituted an out.

More clubs were formed, playing ball games against each other as rules continued to be ironed out and regulations (like barring players of color and most immigrants by 1867). But it was still just a sport played by club members for fun (or “for sport”), much like people might play racquetball at today’s athletic clubs.

So, on this day (March 15) in 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first professional baseball team, facing mostly amateur and semi-professional teams and clubs. An actual league was formed two years later and lasted four years, leading many modern scholars to question its inclusion as a legitimate league in baseball history. The National League (that grew to be the one we still have today) formed in 1876, and the American League became an official league in 1901. (In that same year, the club formed known as the Orioles, later the Highlanders, and then the Yankees.)

In other words, Happy 150th Birthday, Major League Baseball. You don’t look a day over 135.

Go Yankees!

Postscript: Our deepest sympathies to those dealing with the aftermath of the violence in New Zealand. These instances are always disturbing and far too frequent. Camaraderie through outlets like sports and entertainment is often a key to healing. May we continue to push for peace, unity, and celebration of our individuality as we process, heal, and strive for better once again.  May their memories be a blessing.

Spring Game 1: NYY vs. BOS — Starting with a few bangs and a whimper

After a full week of full squad reporting, press conferences, workouts, and team building exercises, the Yankees kicked off their 2019 baseball season against their long-time rivals at Fenway South in Fort Myers, about 140 miles (or about 2 hours) south of Steinbrenner Field. Yes, the Yankees are starting 2019 by taking on the 2018 Champions. Perhaps with a small hope of transferring the title back to New York this year.

It actually started pretty good for the Yankees. Gleyber Torres began his 2019 season with a bang, a 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning to take an early lead. And the Yankee batters were hitting off the Red Sox’s pitchers today, collecting 13 total hits. In the 2nd, Tyler Wade hit a 1-out double, stole 2nd, and then stole on Matt Lipka’s double. Lipka then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double.

Nestor Cortes got to start this afternoon’s game for the Yankees, throwing into the 3rd inning. He gave up one run in the 2nd after 3 consecutive singles and then repeated that in the 3rd. So, with 2 runners on base and 2 outs, the Yankees opted to go to their bullpen. But that didn’t help right away. Another single scored the tying run, and then next batter hit a big 3-run home run over the right field fence to double the Red Sox’s score and give them the lead.

But then both teams fell into a pattern of stronger baseball, keeping the score static until the 8th inning. The Yankees got the first chance to chip away at the home team’s lead. Ryan McBroom smacked a solid 1-out home run (into this stadium’s attempt to replicate the Green Monster wall) to start their rally attempt. Trey Amburgey doubled and later scored on Kyle Holder’s single. Then with 2 walks and bases loaded, the Yankees were just a run shy of tying the game. Unfortunately, the Red Sox brought in a new pitcher that shut down their rally.

The Yankees didn’t help in the bottom of the 8th, by allowing the Red Sox to retake those 2 runs. A single and double put runners in scoring position to do so on a 1-out single. And the visiting team didn’t find another rally in them in the 9th, so the Red Sox took their first game.

Final score: 8-6 Red Sox

Not exactly the best way to start this season, but oddly reminiscent of last year — big start and not enough to beat the Red Sox by the end. Okay, now that we’ve made the comparison, we can start fresh with tomorrow’s game.

Tomorrow will be at the Rays’ Spring home field about half the distance of today’s game down the Gulf Coast of Florida. Monday will be the first home game for the Yankees.

Welcome to Spring Baseball. Boy, have we missed you.

Go Yankees!

{Media note reminder: Like every year, Spring Training unfortunately involves spotty video coverage, which sometimes leads to less available media highlights. Like today’s game was solely covered by the Red Sox’s own sports broadcast, so many of the highlights Yankee fans might prefer to see aren’t available for inclusion. Sorry!}