Game 151: NYY vs. TOR — Pinstripe troubles in Canada

Today’s game in Toronto may have been disappointing for New York, but the good news is that the Yankees welcomed back Dellin Betances and Jordan Montgomery to the mound.  Unfortunately, the Yankees could not capitalize on it for the win in today’s rubber match.

Chad Green took command of the ball as the “opener” for just the 1st inning. Throwing 19 pitches, 12 for strikes, Green gave up a double, but allowed no runs. In the 2nd, Jordan Montgomery took the mound, his first start for the Yankees since last year’s Tommy John surgery. After 2 quick outs, Montgomery gave up a double to left. A single allowed that runner to score. Montgomery then allowed another double and thus another run before a strike out swinging ended the inning. And in the 3rd, Montgomery game up a 1-out solo homer.

Dellin Betances got his long-awaited season debut in the 4th. With the game tied, Betances faced 2 batters for 8 pitches and 2 strong strikeouts before Nestor Cortes, Jr. was called upon to end the inning with a solid strikeout. Cortes had some trouble in the 5th, giving up a bunt single, a walk, and a 3-run home run to put Toronto ahead. He then gave up another single and walk before a line out to right field ended the inning and the threat.

In the 6th inning, Heller replaced Cortes, Jr. giving up a walk and a sacrifice bunt, but no runs. Heller remained on the mound in the 7th for 3 straight strikeouts. Lyons took the mound in the 8th for 2 strikeouts and a line out to right field.

In the 1st, the Yankees were the first to score when Aaron Judge hit his 23rd homer of the season to right field. Wade hit a 1-out single in the 3rd and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s double. Judge worked a walk, and a single by Didi Gregorius that allowed LeMahieu to score.

After 3 quiet innings for the Yankee batters, the 7th inning began with a double sent to left field by Romine. LeMahieu reached base on a throwing error that also allowed Romine to score. Despite a few base runners, the Yankees were unable to capitalize on any further scoring opportunities.

Final score 6-4 Toronto, Toronto takes the series 2-1

Next up: After a travel day tomorrow, the Yankees head home for a 3-game series against the Angels, when Luis Severino is expected to make his season debut with the team on Tuesday. The Blue Jays come to the Bronx to close out the home stand next weekend before the Yankees hit the road for their last week of the regular season, visiting the Rays and Rangers.

Roster moves: Before today’s game, both Jordan Montgomery and Dellin Betances were activated and added to today roster. In order to make room for them on the 40-man roster and prepare them for the postseason roster, the Yankees transferred pitcher Jonathan Holder from the 10-day to the 60-day IL due to his lingering shoulder inflammation. They also designated reliever Ryan Dull for assignment.

Go Yankees!

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!

Game 82: NYY vs. BOS — London sweep to kick off second half

The Yankees technically split their season in half in London, ending their first 81 games with a win last night and starting their next 81 games with a win this afternoon. There’s rarely anything “normal” about rivalry games between the Yankees and Red Sox, but add in the weird stadium, 5 hours ahead in time zones, and 60,000 British fans, and there’s a whole new level of “not normal”.

London Stadium was originally built for the 2012 Summer Olympics to host the track and field competition before it was converted to be the home of the West Ham Football (Soccer) Club. The pitch (the field) was covered by imported turf from France, the padding to create the outfield space and boundaries of the diamond came from Canada, and the infield dirt was hauled in from Pennsylvania — a truly international experience.

For all the talk of the short outfield walls (just 385 feet to dead center field), the most complicated part for fielders were the way the sun came into the condensed oval, partially blocked by scaffolding to eliminate wind. This also, however, created very strange shadows and the glare of the sun off the dead white of the roofing. Both teams seemed to struggle both days with finding the ball when it was hit in the air. This certainly made the difference today when less of the balls were leaving the playing field and instead being popped up short.

The Yankees opted to go with an “opener” today, calling on reliever Stephen Tarpley to make his first MLB start. Between nerves and the unfamiliar setting, Tarpley struggled his way through that 1st inning. With 1 out, he gave up a single that scored on a 2-run home run. The next batter smacked a big solo home run, and one out later, the Red Sox got yet another solo home run to give them a nice early lead.

After a scoreless 1st for the Yankees (which seemed odd compared to the show yesterday) and the Red Sox coming in strong, the Yankees found their first opportunity to strike in the 2nd. They loaded up the bases with Encarnacion’s lead-off walk, Gregorius’ single, and Torres’ walk. Gio Urshela hit into a force out at 2nd that scored Encarnacion, and Brett Gardner’s single scored Gregorius to get the Yankees on the board, with half the Sox’s score.

Meanwhile, the game suddenly became fairly “normal”. The Red Sox’s starter was fairly dominant, throwing strong into the 6th inning and limiting the Yankees to their 2nd inning score. The Yankee relievers found a good momentum too. Cessa threw 4 strong scoreless innings before handing the ball to Adam Ottavino for a quick 11-pitch 6th, and Kahnle followed that will an 11-pitch 7th.

The Yankees finally found their next chance to advance in the 7th. LeMahieu led-off with a double, and after Judge’s walk, LeMahieu scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Gary Sanchez’s long single scored both Judge and Hicks to put the Yankees in the lead. With no outs, the Sox went to their bullpen. The new reliever promptly walked Encarnacion and gave up a 1-out single to Torres to load up the bases. And Gio Urshela singled home both Sanchez and Encarnacion.

But that’s not all. With another new reliever on the mound, Brett Gardner worked a walk to load the bases, and DJ LeMahieu smacked a ground-rule double into the right field seats to score Torres and Urshela. Judge was intentionally walked to load the bases yet again. Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly scored Gardner, and a fielding error on Gary Sanchez’s at-bat scored LeMahieu. The Yankees sent up 14 batters that frame alone and scored a season-high 9 runs.

Finally, Didi Gregorius led-off the 8th with a solo home run. This kept the Yankees’ streak alive with 31 consecutive games with a home run. Now, with an 8-run lead, the Yankees needed to just keep the status quo and sail to the end of the game. But no way were the Red Sox going to go quietly into the night.

Yankees’ reliever Chance Adams came in for the 8th, but he really had some trouble keeping those Red Sox’s bats quiet. With 1 out, he gave up consecutive singles. After another out, a wild pitch moved runners into scoring position which they did on another single. After yet another single, a double into the corner scored the lead runner. That would be it for Adams.

Zack Britton came in to try to stop the Sox’s advance, but he gave up a single that scored one more run. Still looking for that final out of the inning, he ended up walking the next batter and loading up the bases. The tying run coming to the plate, Britton dug deep and got a grounder to end the inning and get out of the jam, owing much of his success, like many of today’s pitchers, to the stellar defense today. (See the snazzy Gregorius-led defense here and here.) Despite a lead-off single, Chapman got 3 great strikeouts to close out the 9th and the game.

Final score: 12-8 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 2-0

London Trivia: Today’s game was much shorter than the marathon of last night’s nutsy show, and yet there was still 9 hours and 6 minutes of total game time. Together, both teams scored 50 runs, 9 of them home runs, and collected 65 total hits. And they will be thankful for tomorrow’s off-day as they collectively went through 30 pitchers in just 2 games.

Next up: The Yankees will need that off-day tomorrow after traveling home from the UK. On Tuesday, they begin a quick 2-game series in Queens at the Mets. Then, they’ll be back in the Tampa area to face the Rays for a 4-game weekend series before the All-Star Break. Following the break, the Yankees will begin their official second half of the 2019 season with a long homestand.

Roster moves: The Yankees played a little with the loophole in the roster for this travel series, optioning Nestor Cortes Jr and recalling Chance Adams, who came to London as part of the “taxi squad” just in case he was needed. And clearly, he was, though I doubt he’ll look back fondly at his outing. Even with the off-day tomorrow, with the depletion of the bullpen, I imagine there will be further moves once the Yankees are back stateside.

Injury update: The Yankees also sent reliever Ben Heller to AAA Scranton to begin his rehab assignment. Heller had surgery on his right elbow earlier this year. And Luke Voit was missing from today’s game roster though he was present and ready off the bench if needed. He said he felt much better after feeling some core tightness during yesterday’s game.

All-Star Roster Update: As you know, the Yankees have two starters on the All-Star Game roster this year. Gary Sanchez will be the starting catcher, and DJ LeMahieu will be the starting 2nd baseman for the AL team. Joining them in Cleveland this year is Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. This will be Chapman’s 6th All-Star Game, LeMahieu’s 3rd, and Sanchez’s 2nd.

Chapman himself noted, “To me, I thought we were going to have six or seven All-Stars from this team. It’s a little surprising.” Yes, it is. I think a lot of us in Yankee Universe were expecting that maybe those who fell short in the final vote last week might get a second chance as part of the reserves, like Voit, Urshela, Torres, and Judge.

While all 3 All-Stars this year will represent the Yankees well, it is hard not to wish the team currently sitting atop the AL in the standings isn’t better represented in this year’s Midsummer Classic. I guess, they will just have to show everyone what they missed in July by an outstanding performance in October. Besides, that’s the stat that really matters in the end.

Go Yankees!

Game 81: NYY vs. BOS — A dramatic British spin on America’s ultimate rivalry

I love London. It’s a vibrant, ecclectic city, with a perfect mix of the super historic and cutting edge all jumbled together to house its international population. Similar in many ways to New York, this European capital is certainly a perfect place to kick off the MLB’s push for a more international presence. Regular season games have been played in Asia and Latin America, host countries/regions that provide quite a few current MLB stars. An expansion of the game in a city that’s hosted games for other American professional sports seems like a natural progression for America’s pastime.

New York and Boston were rather logical choices to be the teams to play in the inaugural series in England. First, their rivalry is unmatched in sports, even in a country that boasts some of the wildest rivalries and extreme fanaticism for sports. Second, you really can’t avoid the Revolutionary War-era smack-talk between the British Empire and its former Colonial strongholds. (At least those of us who are also big history nerds.)

A quick history review: Boston was the closest city to where it all began, hosting the battles of Lexington and Concord and the site of the Boston Massacre to really kick of the War. And New York was occupied by the British for much of the War, while Washington set-up one of his most famous spy rings within the city that involved Benedict Arnold’s traitorship and uncovering Cornwallis’ plans at Yorktown that actually won the War.

Now, of course, nearly two and a half centuries later, the US-UK relationship is one of close allies. So, when American baseball comes to Great Britain, 120,000 tickets sell out their stadium. Fans all over braved the heat wave that’s sweeping Europe right now to sit through a four hour and forty-two minute game at London Stadium, the home of one of those Premier League clubs and former Olympic Stadium from summer 2012.

And for fans who’d never witnessed a rivalry game between the two legendary teams, the teams certainly delivered. We can definitely blame the fact that the field was quite different, with shorter distances in the outfield to the fence and a really big foul space that had all the outfielders covering much more ground than usual.

Based on the schedule, the Red Sox were chosen as the home team, though both teams wore their home white uniforms. (Who doesn’t want to see the Yankees in their famous pinstripes?) That meant that the Yankees were up to bat first, and they quickly became the answer to many trivia questions that start with “who is the first player in the inaugural European baseball game to…”

DJ LeMahieu led-off the game with a single (the 1st hit), and Sanchez worked a 1-out walk. Then a trio of doubles got the runs rolling — Luke Voit’s scored LeMahieu (the 1st RBI/run scored), Didi Gregorious‘ scored both Sanchez and Voit, and Edwin Encarnacion’s scored Gregorius. Then Aaron Hicks smacked a big 2-run home run (the 1st homer) to push the Yankees into a big early lead and end the Red Sox’s starter’s night too early. The new pitcher was able to close it out without further damage, with LeMahieu striking out to end the inning (1st strikeout).

But there’s no rivalry without some major drama, and the Red Sox certainly gave their best performance to match. Masahiro Tanaka got the start and seemed to mirror the struggles the Sox’s starter had, also unable to make it out of the 1st inning. He gave up a single that scored on a double and then a pair of walks to load up the bases. After an infield fly pop-up, he got a sacrifice fly that scored the lead runner. But a RBI single was followed by a big 3-run home run up the middle to suddenly tie up the game.

Tanaka trudged back to the dugout as Chad Green came out for relief. Green was assumed to start tomorrow’s game as the “opener”, but with his two-inning outing tonight, the Yankees are making other plans. Green got out of the first and kept the Red Sox scoreless into 3rd. Hale continued this momentum into the 4th before handing the ball to Nestor Cortes Jr for long-term relief in the middle innings.

In the mean time, the Yankees came back to find their opportunities to reclaim their early lead. With 2 outs in the 3rd, Torres singled and then scored as part of Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run into the right field seats. Then in the 4th, Voit led-off with a double, and Gregorius walked. Two outs later, Torres’ single loaded up the bases, and Gardner’s walk scored Voit. DJ LeMahieu then hit a bases-clearing double before scoring as part of Aaron Judge’s big 2-run home run.

Voit led-off the 5th with a double, but injured himself in the race to 2nd and was pinch-run by Urshela. Urshela took 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on Didi Gregorius’ single. After a strikeout out and pitching change, Hicks singled, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Torres’ walk loaded the bases, and LeMahieu (who else?) singled home Gregorius and Hicks to cap off the Yankees’ massive scoring today.

Back at the mound, Cortes was doing just fine for most of his outing, despite giving up a 1st pitch lead-off solo homer in the 6th. With 2 outs in the 7th, he gave up consecutive singles that scored on a 3-run home run. After giving up another single (rather than getting that 3rd out), the Yankees called in Tommy Kahnle, but he too had some trouble, unable to get an out. He gave up a walk, a wild pitch to move runners to scoring position, an RBI single, and a walk on a wild pitch that scored one more run.

It was Adam Ottavino’s turn. After an RBI double, he got the necessary out to close out that messy inning, but some allowed baserunners in the 8th had the Yankees calling for Britton. He loaded up the bases and still got out of the jam before Chapman needed just 8 pitches and a snazzy double play to close out the 9th inning and the game.

Cue the fireworks. Cue Frank Sinatra.

Final score: 17-13 Yankees

Injury update: Luke Voit did injure himself on that 5th inning double. He came out of the game after seeming to limp from 1st to 2nd and then back to the dugout. But the Yankees later revealed a tightness in his core muscles just below his navel. One of the broadcasters surmised it might be a cramp due to dehydration and the heat, and now I find myself hoping for this, which should heal overnight with hydration and rest. He’ll be evaluated tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

For the last two days, the American teams have enjoyed connecting with their English fans. On Thursday, the Yankees ran baseball clinics in a local park and gave away tons of free equipment to local clubs. On Friday, the teams worked out at the stadium, getting used to its weird dimensions and artificial turf, before many of them explored the city for sightseeing. In addition, a group of players met with athletes from the Invictus Games to host an adaptive baseball clinic. There was also a special welcome dinner for the teams at the historic Tower of London.

Before tonight’s game, both teams got a special visit from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (also known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle). The Yankees presented the Duchess (who is also an American) with a special team jersey emblazoned with “Archie” and “19” on it for their infant son born earlier this year. The Sussexes (as they are called) are patrons for the Invictus Games, an organization that allows wounded servicemen and women to compete athletically, and the Games were appointed the Official Charity Sponsor of this special series in London. The royal couple escorted some of those special athletes and their families to the mound before the game to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

On a final “note” (pun intended), the Kingdom Choir sang beautiful renditions of both national anthems before unfurled flags held by each country’s service men. If you are a royal watcher or anglophile, you might remember this outstanding choir from the Sussexes’ wedding last year. They’re truly amazing.

Go Yankees!