Game 110: NYY vs. BOS — Swept away thanks to a blown save

Things were looking really good for the Yankees tonight in their final game at Fenway, hoping to stop the Red Sox from sweeping the series and pushing them further down the rankings of the AL East. The Yankees were playing well and things were clicking, but late night stumbles weren’t soft enough to allow for recovery

Masahiro Tanaka had a pretty decent outing, throwing 97 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out an impressive 9 batters. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo Green Monster home run in the 5th. Robertson took over to close out the 5th and throw a scoreless 6th. Britton and Betances followed suit with scoreless innings of their own.

After being held off by a familiar foe for much of the game, the Yankee batters came alive in the 7th inning. Gardner led-off with a single and Romine worked a walk to end Boston’s starter’s night. But the offense kept coming. Robinson’s walk loaded the bases, and Aaron Hicks hit into a force attempt that was bobbled for a fielding error to score both Gardner and Romine.

Giancarlo Stanton’s single scored Robinson, and a wild pitch moved the runners up before an out was finally recorded in the inning. A new reliever got Gleyber Torres to hit into a sacrifice fly that scored Hicks before another out ended the Yankees’ big inning. Unfortunately, the Yankees continued their pattern of getting runners in scoring position and leaving them stranded. And in a series where runs were crucial, every little bit was needed and just wasn’t happening.

Anyway, the Yankees were cruising along just fine after their big 7th inning. All they needed was just to close out the 9th inning. But Aroldis Chapman was having a rough time finding consistency with the strike zone. With 2 outs, he founded the bases loaded thanks to 3 walks. A single scored 2 runs and a throwing error allowed the tying run to score and the Fenway Faithful to come alive as midnight approached in “The Olde Towne”.

And into the 10th inning they went. The Yankees batters were quickly silenced in just 9 pitches, so Jonathan Holder came on the mound with hopes to push the game into the 11th. He quickly got 2 outs, but then gave up a single, a wild pitch to put the winning run in scoring position, and then intentionally walked a batter. It was basically inevitable at that point — a single then easily scored the pinch-runner to give the Red Sox the victory.

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox, in the 10th, Red Sox sweep the Yankees 4-0

Next up: the Yankees will head to Chicago’s Southside to face the White Sox for 3 games starting tomorrow. This could help right the Yankees a bit because the White Sox are not having a good season at all. Of course, this could continue as the Yankees head back home for a long home stand to face mostly losing teams (Rangers, Mets, Rays, and Blue Jays). Of those, only the Rays have a winning season, sitting just at .500 after losing to the White Sox this weekend.

Now, it’s worth noting that the Yankees are now 9.5 games behind the Red Sox thanks to this series. However, the Yankees are still the 3rd best team in all of MLB, well behind the Red Sox and barely behind the Astros, and nicely ahead of every other division leader. Before you panic, Yankee Universe, it’s worth noting that there is still 52 games left to play this season.

And to be perfectly fair, the Red Sox are a great this year, very similar to the recent 2007 (and somewhat the 2013) championship team. Remember: competition in a competitive game is a good thing. You want to be challenged and pushed to be better than expectations. That challenge exposes where you’re weak so that you can fix those areas and truly see what you’re made of. Potential is just hypothetical until challenge exposes its depth and breadth.

Go Yankees!

Game 109: NYY vs. BOS — No “Chance” against MLB leaders

The Yankees are hitting this crucial series against the Red Sox at a really bad time. The Red Sox are easily the best team in baseball, by a long shot now, and their recent trades helped make them even stronger, including picking up a key former Yankee pitcher to start today’s game. In comparison, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball, but when you have a tight division battle like the Red Sox vs. Yankees, it’s going to look like the worst weekend ever. Plus, there’s still one more game.

To help the Yankees’ bad start to the weekend series, the Yankees called up prospect pitcher Chance Adams to start this afternoon’s game, the third game of this 4-game weekend series. And he did a great job for his MLB debut, throwing 85 pitches in 5 innings, giving up just 3 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and striking out just 2 batters.

In the 1st, with 1 out, a single took 2nd on a passed ball and then scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board early. They added one more run with a 1-out solo Green Monster homer in the 4th. But other than that, Adams (and the Yankees’ defense) held them off quite effectively. And any other game, that might have been enough to work.

Chad Green threw a beautiful 13-pitch scoreless 6th inning. AJ Cole got a quick 2 outs in the 7th but then gave up a single that moved to 2nd on another single and then scored on a ground-rule double before getting out of the inning and then throwing a clean 8th inning.

Again, all this should be enough if the Yankee batters do their jobs. But once again, the Boston starter had a great outing, and that made all the difference in the game. The former Yankee starter threw 93 pitches through 8 scoreless innings, with the Yankees only collecting 3 hits and a walk along the way.

For some reason, the Red Sox felt their lead was enough to call in their close, despite not being a save situation, and the Yankees at last found their long-awaited opportunity for a rally. After 2 quick outs, Giancarlo Stanton hit a solid double and then gave the Yankees a modicum of hope on Didi Gregorius’ double. That hope got bigger with walks to Hicks and Torres to load the bases.

But a shortened swing ended up a short fly ball to center field to end the rally hopes and the game, once again stranding runners for any potential to take back this game.

Final score: 4-1 Red Sox

Maybe Sunday’s game will be better somehow. I’m cautiously optimistic because stranger things have happened, especially in these long-time rivalry games. You just never know.

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: Before the game, the Yankees selected the contract of Chance Adams, calling him up from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. To make room, they optioned pitcher Tommy Kahnle back to AAA.

Go Yankees!

Game 108: NYY vs. BOS — Against an ace performance, just 1-run

After last night’s crazy game, the Yankees were looking to tonight’s game for at least a little normalcy. And it was, but it wasn’t in their favor.

Luis Severino struggled a bit at the beginning of his outing tonight but later found his momentum and helped keep the Red Sox from doing too much damage against the Yankees. Severino threw a season-high 115 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 2 Boston batters.

In the bottom of the 1st, with 1 out, he gave up a ground-rule double that scored as part of a 2-run home run (if you’ve been following this series, it’s the same guy as last night). A 2-out walk stole 2nd and then scored on an RBI single to give the Red Sox an early lead. With 2 outs in the 5th, he gave up a double that scored on a single to cap off Boston’s offense. Robertson and Kahnle swept through the final 7 outs, cleanly and efficiently.

That should have been enough for the Yankees to fight back and make at least a concerted attempt to match the Red Sox. But the Yankee batters were up against a pitcher having a terrific game, eventually throwing a complete 9 innings with just 86 pitches and only giving up a single hit — a lead-off solo home run into the Green Monster seats to Miguel Andujar in the 3rd.

There was seemingly nothing the Yankees could do off the Red Sox pitcher tonight. Which certainly made for a quick game, just 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was just not going to be the Yankees’ night because of his performance.

Final score 4-1 Red Sox

Roster moves: The greatest story of tonight’s roster moves was that Tommy Kahnle, tonight’s 8th inning pitcher, was in upstate New York this morning (after the RailRiders game yesterday in Rochester) when he got the call to head to Boston rather than follow the team back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He made it at some point before he threw his 13 pitches tonight in his away greys.

To make room for him, the Yankees optioned Luis Cessa back to Scranton. And with JA Happ out with hand, foot, and mouth disease for the next week or so, the Yankees will be calling up prospect pitcher Chance Adams to start tomorrow’s game in Happ’s stead. Seeing as great pitchers like Sabathia and Severino have had less than ideal outings (though honestly not terrible) against the Red Sox, perhaps a change in the rotation could help press the reset button, so to speak, for the Yankees in this weekend series.

This reminds me of my preferred version of the famed quote misattributed to Einstein: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” In other words, if things aren’t working, change is the best option. Change is usually the best option. It prevents boredom and complacency and predictability, instead inviting creativity and adventure and surprise. And isn’t that worth the risk?

Go Yankees!

Game 107: NYY vs. BOS — 4th inning slaughter

When I started this blog six seasons ago, I made a commitment to being positive no matter what happened. I was coming off reading far too many blog posts that were highly negative or gossipy, and I wanted to something different. You know, focus on the fact that baseball is a great game and the Yankees have had winning seasons (meaning, they have finish with more wins than losses) since 1993, and 2018 is shaping up to continue that pattern.

However, sometimes, it’s very difficult to keep a positive tone when there are games like tonight’s opener at Fenway. And yet, here we go…

The Yankees actually opened the scoring. Hicks led-off the game by hitting into a fielding error and moved to 2nd on Stanton’s single. Didi Gregorius hit a nice 3-run home run to kick things off. Aaron Hicks later hit a 2-out solo home run in the 2nd to give the Yankees an early lead.

And CC Sabathia didn’t have that terrible of a start. After a decent 1st inning, he got into some trouble in the 2nd by loading the bases with 2 singles and a walk. With 2 outs, he ended up walking the next batter to score the Red Sox’s first run. But then got a lucky fly out to Gardner at the foot of the Green Monster to get out of the inning. A lead-off home run in the 3rd doubled their score. With 2 outs, he fielded and then threw terribly to 1st to put runners in scoring position, but another good fly out ended that threat.

But that would be the end of Sabathia’s night. And all the message board managers will forever question the decision to pull the veteran starter at that point, perhaps preferring to allow him to go just 1 more inning. Instead, the Yankees called on one of their most reliable relievers, who has recently been decidedly less reliable, Jonathan Holder.

Holder could not find an out for anything tonight — a walk, a double, a bad fielder’s choice that scored a run, a stolen base, a 3-run homer (by the same guy as before, by the way), a double, an RBI single, and an RBI double. 7 batters, 6 runs (and responsible for the runner at 2nd), and no outs.

Chad Green immediately got 2 outs, but then had his own struggles to find that elusive 3rd out of the inning. A double scored Holder’s remaining runner, a single put runners on the corners, and another single scored the lead runner. Luis Cessa got the final batter of the inning to hit into a simple grounder at 2nd.

Cessa actually kept the Red Sox fairly under control, getting 11 outs in the middle of the game into the 8th inning. But even his outing wasn’t exactly clean. A lead-off double in the 5th scored on an RBI double. Then in the 6th, a single scored on a double, and another home run (yes, by the same guy as before). In the 8th, with 1 out, he loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk before handing the ball over to reliever Britton, who promptly gave up a single to score one run. But a great double play got him out of the inning.

Now, the Yankees weren’t limited to their early runs. They certainly did their best to try to chip away at the Red Sox’s power tonight. Didi Gregorius led-off the 5th with a solo home run, his 2nd homer of the night, and Giancarlo Stanton hit a 1-out solo home run in the 7th. And in the 9th, with 2 outs, Gardner hit a great triple. Hicks walked and advanced to 2nd on defensive indifference. Then Stanton hit a nice sacrifice fly to score Gardner before a grounder ended the game and the Yankees minuscule hopes for a last-minute rally.

Yankee pitchers gave up 19 hits, 6 walks, and 15 runs, and comparatively, the Yankee batters struck out 13 times, despite getting 8 hits. In fact, had it not been for the Red Sox’s mega 4th inning, it would have been a close game and still far too many runs allowed for either team to be considered a “good game”. Good games are when it’s a close and low score for both teams. It means everyone did their job.

This was not a good game. Fortunately, it’s only one game. And in the immortal words of a certain Southern icon (and yes, I realize this is ironic for a game played in New England with a team literally called “The Yankees”), “tomorrow is another day.”

Final score: 15-7 Red Sox

Go Yankees!

Game 81: BOS vs. NYY — 6 homers for the Bronx Bombers

We’re officially at the physical half-way point in the season. And after tonight’s game, the Yankees are tied with tonight’s opponents. Though, after this crazy weekend series, it’s kind of hard to believe either team is atop anything. However, tonight, it seemed to swing in favor of the Yankees. By a lot. And it followed the same pattern — stronger starting pitcher, major offense, huge win.

The Yankees sent in their ace pitcher to close out this series against the Red Sox. Luis Severino threw another great game, 99 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up just 2 hits and 3 walks, striking out 6 batters, and keeping the Red Sox completely scoreless.

Despite the score, the Yankees needed to exercise their power-relievers and thus gave Robertson, Betances, and Chapman the chance to get the final 8 outs of the game. Robertson and Betances kept things tight and scoreless, without allowing a base runner.  Aroldis Chapman came into the game in the 9th with 1 out and had a bit of trouble, giving up a double, a single, and a ground out that scored the Red Sox’s lone run of the game. Another grounder ended the game and Chapman’s struggles.

Meanwhile, the Yankees faced an old foe as the Red Sox’s starter (the same pitcher who gave up Jeter and Rodriguez’s 3000th hits, while he was with different teams) who the Yankees seem to know how to hit regardless of the opposing team. His fate was set in the 1st inning. With 1 out, Aaron Judge kicked off tonight’s big night with a solo home run up the middle. Then Stanton singled and Gregorius’ double put runners in scoring position, and they both scored as part of Gleyber Torres’ big 3-run home run.

In the 2nd, with 1 out, Gardner singled and then scored with Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run. Kyle Higashioka led-off the 4th with his 1st major league hit, a huge solo home run into the 2nd deck of the left field seats. And yes, there was a John Sterling home run call. And yes, the Yankees gave him a temporary silent treatment in the dugout, on Sabathia’s suggestion, before hounding him with their congratulations.

Anyway, then after an out, Aaron Hicks hit his 2nd home run of the night, a nice solo shot into Monument Park. That would be the end of the Red Sox starter’s night, but the first reliever had some issues. Judge singled, and Stanton double to move both runners to scoring position. Didi Gregorius hit a long sacrifice fly to score Judge.

After that, the reliever settled into some momentum for the next 2 innings, and his replacement had a solid 7th inning. But the 8th inning reliever had trouble, starting with Aaron Hicks hitting his 3rd (!) home run of the night to lead off the inning. Judge then walked, moved to 2nd on Drury’s single, and then scored on Neil Walker’s single to cap things off for the Yankees tonight.

Final score: 11-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: the Yankees will host the Braves starting tomorrow night for 3 games for the final home stand before the All-Star Break. But before the break, they’ll hit the road to face the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Indians.

And a small bit of trivia regarding tonight’s game: Aaron Hicks’ 3-home run game puts him in some pretty good company. Before tonight, Lou Gehrig (in 1927) and Mark Teixeira (in 2010) are the only Yankees to have 3-home run games against the Red Sox. And further, only Hicks and Teixeira did so from both sides of the plate as switch hitters. So much for all that talk from online trolls about how the Yankees should trade Hicks earlier this year…

Go Yankees!

 

Game 80: BOS vs. NYY — Not really a blowout, but a big shutout

After the Yankees’ big game yesterday, the Red Sox decided to prove they could have a big game too, taking full advantage of a weird quirk in the Yankees’ rotation — Sonny Gray’s inability to have a decent start at Yankee Stadium.

Gray threw 68 pitches into the 3rd inning, giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, 6 runs, and no strikeouts. In the 1st inning, after getting a quick 2 outs, Gray started his spiral — a single, a walk, and a single to load up the bases. The next batter hit a big grand slam to give the Red Sox an early, large lead. A double led off the 2nd, and a 1-out walk put more runners on base for the Sox. They both scored on a single and sacrifice fly, respectively.

Adam Warren came on to complete the 3rd inning for Gray, and then breezed through the 4th and 5th innings and kept the Sox to the runs they’ve already scored. Giovanny Gallegos came in and struggled his way through the 6th and 7th innings. In the 6th, a 1-out single stole 2nd and later scored on a 2-out single. And a 1-out double in the 7th scored as part of a 2-out home run.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Red Sox kept those runs coming against the usually unflappable Jonathan Holder in the 8th. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single. Then Chasen Shreve came on for the 9th. He gave up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, watched as his teammate had 2 foul balls reviewed and upheld, and then scored on a single, before breezing through 3 outs, including 2 solid strikeouts.

The Yankee pitchers gave up 17 hits and 3 walks, while the Red Sox batters gave up just 2 hits, 2 walks, and a hit-by-pitch. Yes, the Yankee batters were having the opposite kind of night as last night.

Final score: 11-0 Red Sox

In many leagues, there is usually a sort of “mercy rule“, often referred to as the “10-run rule”. Most people know this from Little League or school sports team experience. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to any professional league, so teams can win by however much they do.

And as we all know, it doesn’t matter by how much you win in a win-lose kind of sport. Like for those of you following the World Cup (soccer/football) right now, you might note how while the team was ranked by both its win-draw-loss results and its amount of goals scored per game. So those who scored a higher number of goals could potentially outrank another team that has the same number of wins or losses. That doesn’t work that way in baseball. It’s just wins and losses.

While it’s nice to have a big blowout kind of game sometimes, it’s less celebratory (for me, at least) than when they end up with a tight game that is more of a nail-biter, or a game well-fought (even if your team loses in the end).

And if you’re wondering, the modern record for biggest blowout in MLB was set in 2007 when the Rangers, down 0-3 in the 4th, came back to beat the Orioles 30-3. Which is insane on so many levels. But a great reminder that it doesn’t matter by how much a team wins or loses, just that they win or lose, which is any interesting talking point. So, talk about it.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: with some lousy pitching and minimal offense, there’s not a ton of “highlights”. So fingers cross that tomorrow there will be a video clip you’ll actually want to see.}

Game 79: BOS vs. NYY — A little of #CCStrong, a lot of #BabyBombers

The Yankees kicked off their final home stand before the All-Star Game on a high note, battling the Red Sox tonight for their first game of this weekend series. Going into tonight’s game, the Boston rivals were a game ahead of the Yankees (thanks to a less-than-ideal road trip). But the Yankees were quick to even up things in the AL East.

CC Sabathia had another solid start in tonight’s game, throwing 97 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and striking out 5 Boston batters. But he kept the Red Sox scoreless through 4 innings. In the 5th, with 2 outs, he gave up consecutive doubles to score the Sox’ lone run tonight.

Chad Green kept Sabathia’s momentum going with a solid, scoreless 8th inning, and in the 9th, Chasen Shreve got a chance to redeem himself after some bad outings this month. There’s a lot to be said about momentum and confidence. Shreve needed just 14 pitches to breeze his way through the inning, including 2 sharp strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were ready to make a dent in the Red Sox’s game tonight. Big time. In the 2nd, Gleyber Torres led-off with his first MLB triple and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s single to get the Yankees on the board first. Then Stanton led-off the 4th with a walk, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ double, and scored on Torres’ sacrifice fly. Andujar promptly hit a long 2-run home run into the left field seats, only to be followed by Greg Bird’s solo home run to ensure the Yankees’ easy victory.

Later, in the 7th, with a new pitcher on the mound, Hicks hit a nice 1-out single and then scored as part of Aaron Judge’s big 2-run home run. Then with 2 outs in the 8th, Bird hit his 2nd homer of the night, a solo shot deep into the right field seats.

Final score: 8-1 Yankees

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle alert: the Yankees sent pitcher Luis Cessa back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. With some strong left-handed pitchers coming up in the Red Sox and Braves’ rotation and bullpen, the Yankees wanted a strong bat. So they recalled infielder Brandon Drury, who has had a great time in recovery and while with the Rail Riders.

Yesterday, during the off-day, CC Sabathia hosted a charity softball game at Yankee Stadium. Sabathia and his wife Amber run the PitcchIn Foundation that helps out the Sabathia’s local communities in New York and their hometown of Oakland, like backpack drives, ball field renovations, and scholarships. This year’s big fundraiser raised over $1 million and featured current and former Yankees (like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Alex Rodriguez) alongside other celebrities (like Jennifer Lopez, Leslie Jones, Terrell Owens, Michael Rapaport, and Christopher Jackson) in front of a few hundred fans. It was a fun night for all, with Team CC beating Team Giancarlo 2-1 at the end of the night, and a great cause to help so many.

Go Yankees!