Game 146: NYY vs. DET — Sloppy pitching battle

After a successful series in Boston that put New York solidly in first place in the AL East, the Yankees arrived in Detroit for a 3-game series. The evening match-up was tied for most of the game as homers were hit out of the park, records were broken, and each team battled to gain the win in a tight game that ultimately left Yankee fans disappointed.

Nestor Cortes, Jr. got the start in the opener and threw 46 pitches for a tough outing, allowing 6 hits and 4 runs into the 3rd inning. The Yankees had a strong lead in the 3rd inning, 6-0, when Cortes, Jr. allowed Detroit their first 2 runs and was quickly replaced by Luis Cessa who allowed 4 more runs to tie the game.

In the 4th inning, Cessa managed 3 ground outs in a row. But by the 5th, with the Yankees back in the lead by 2, Cessa allowed a home run on a fly ball to right field to bring Detroit to within 1 run of the Yankees.

In the 6th, Gearrin replaced Cessa and allowed 2 single grounders and an out before being replaced by Jonathan Loaisiga. Giving up 2 singles, 2 walks, and a sacrifice fly that tied the game, Loaisiga was replaced by Dull for the final out of a messy inning.

With New York ahead by just a run in the 7th, Adam Ottavino took command of the ball, allowing 1 run to tie the game. Then Britton came on for the 8th for 3 quick outs, and Chance Adams took over in the 9th with the game tied. But Adams gave up a double and single that allowed Detroit to score the winning run.

The game started well for the Bronx Bombers with a record-breaking home run in the 1st inning for Brett Gardner, his 22nd homer this year, marking a career season high for the veteran outfielder. But that was only the beginning for a big night for the Yankees.

In the 2nd inning, they began with a double by Urshela, who then scored on a single by Mike Ford. Frazier’s single to left moved Ford to 2nd, and Tyler Wade’s triple scored both Ford and Frazier. Wade then scored on another homer from Gardner, his 23rd this year, breaking his own career record he set earlier tonight. It was also Gardner’s 8th career multi-home run game, not bad for not a power-hitter. The inning ended with a seemingly secure lead for the Yankees.

But with the game tied up in the 4th, Gleyber Torres broke it by sending a home run to the Green Monster to get back the lead. The Yankees were still ahead in the 5th when Didi Gregorius smacked a solo homer. And in the 7th, Sanchez singled and scored on a game-tying homer by Edwin Encarnacion’s 33rd home run of the season.

After a Detroit pitching change, Didi Gregorius hit another home run to right to give the Yankees a 1-run lead. But with the game tied in the 9th, the Yankees were unable to get in scoring position again, as the Tigers gained a run for the win.

Final score: 12-11 Detroit

Injury update: Aaron Hicks‘ season is officially over. His initial diagnosis was a flexor strain due to a throw about a month ago. But later tests revealed UCL issues around his throwing elbow. He’s seen several physicians, and the idea of surgery (yes, that Tommy John kind of surgery) is still on the table as his injury isn’t a clear-cut as most injuries that require that surgery. It’s not ideal, but if it helps the veteran outfielder in the long run, it could be worth the missed part of the season, as it was for Gregorius this last year.

Go Yankees!

 

 

 

Game 140: TEX vs. NYY: Big Maple in command

After yesterday’s dreary shutout at Yankee Stadium, tonight’s team roared back with a near shutout of their own. A strong pitching outing from New York in the form of James Paxton and Jonathan Loaisiga, plus stellar defense and more record-breaking batting, showed the crowd why the Yankees are on a hopeful path to the Fall Classic this year.

James Paxton, “Big Maple”, took a firm command of the mound for the Yankees tonight. He faced the Rangers and easily breezed his way through the lineup for 7 scoreless phenomenal innings.

A pitching change in top of the 8th brought Jonathan Loaisiga to the mound allowing a walk, but the defense easily shut down the inning with a double play by the Wade-Gregorius-Voit combination to keep the Yankees firmly in the lead. Loaisiga was back in the 9th, and while allowing one home run, the New York defense shut down the inning with a final ground out maintaining the Yankee lead for a solid win for the pinstripes tonight.

The Yankee bats were alive and well throughout the game. In the 1st, Gary Sanchez sent a fly ball over the fence in center field for the first home run, scoring Didi Gregorius and the Yankees were on the board and in the lead 2-0.

In the 6th, LeMahieu and Aaron Judge singled on grounders and scored on Didi Gregorius’ homer to right center field. Gary Sanchez followed him with another homer also to right center. Encarnacion then singled and scored on a home run sent to right field by Brett Gardner to increase their lead over Texas.

The 7th inning saw Sanchez take his base after being hit by a pitch and promptly scored on a fly ball home run to left field from Edwin Encarnacion, placing the Yankees ahead by double-digit runs, and a shutout seemed probable. But then that homer in the 9th gave a run back to the Rangers that quashed the near shutout. It was quite the game. Another strong display of the the range of talent the Yankees have in abundance this year.

Final score: 10-1 Yankees

Injury update: CC Sabathia remains on the IL until at least Sept. 10. After his knee was drained and treated with a cortisone shot and lubricant, Sabathia is feeling better but has yet to test the knee. Apparently on a “wait and see” list, his day-to-day will be monitored in hopes to see Sabathia on the mound at least once more before his retires. Whether he gets to pitch again this season or not, Sabathia’s legacy is already well established.

While pitchers David Hale and Jake Barrett are definitely out for the season, others like Dellin Betances, Thairo Estrada, Aaron Hicks, Gio Urshela, Jordan Montgomery, Stephen Tarpley, Giancarlo Stanton, Jonathan Holder, and Luis Severino are expected to return in later this month. A few, like Montgomery, are already starting their rehab assignments to work their way back to the Bronx.

Go Yankees!

Game 134: NYY vs. SEA — #TanakaTime topples T-Mobile Park

The Yankees continue their West Coast trip with an upswing, dominating the Mariners in this middle game of their mid-week series in Seattle. Of course, it helps that Masahiro Tanaka was on fire tonight and came pretty close to a no-hitter.

Over 7 scoreless innings, Tanaka threw 106 pitches, gave up 7 strikeouts and 1 ball, and only allowed 3 hits. Luis Cessa took over in the 8th and faced 6 batters for 6 outs to close the game with another victory for the Yankees.

From the 1st inning, the Yankee bats showed their consistency and strength. LeMahieu hit a sharp line drive to left and then scored on a monster 2-run home run to center by Aaron Judge to get the Yankees on the board. The 3rd inning was all about the 3’s — Torres singled and moved to 3rd on Sanchez’s single to center, before Brett Gardner fired a 3-run home run to right, adding those 3 runs to the scoreboard for a solid lead.

In the 5th, Urshela doubles, moved to 3rd on Tauchman’s grounder, and then scored on Austin Romine’s grounder. And at the top of the 9th, Sanchez reached 2nd on a throwing error, and Gardner worked a walk. Urshela’s fielder’s choice got Sanchez out at 3rd, so when Tauchman was hit by pitch, the bases were loaded. Austin Romine earned a walk to bring home Gardner for another run.

Final score: 7-0 Yankees

Aaron Judge’s home run in the 1st, all 462 feet of it, was his 100th career home run. Judge became the 3rd fastest player to hit 100 career homers, in just 371 games. He fell short of former Phillies’ star Ryan Howard (with 325 games) and teammate Gary Sanchez (with 355 games).

Injury update: Aaron Hicks is due for an exam on his strained flexor muscles. After a positive assessment, hopes are that he can begin throwing soon. And Giancarlo Stanton traveled with the team to Seattle to get some workouts in, continuing his road back to pinstripes. He’s been throwing some, hitting off the tee, and running in the outfield, and today he hit some on-field batting practice before the game. Close, but not yet for these two outfielders.

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 101: NYY vs. MIN — 6 homers, 2 triples, 17 runs, 3 double plays, 2 league leaders

The team from the “Mini Apple” certainly gave the team from the “Big Apple” a much-needed challenge in preparation for the final two months of the season. And while I can’t say much about the pitching for either team this series, the offense certainly had quite the time.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees in the final game against the Twins tonight and had some struggles keeping the Twins’ offense under control. He threw 74 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out just 3 batters. With 2 outs in the 1st, he gave up a single that scored on a 2-run home run to get the Twins on the board first.

In the 2nd, with 1 out, a walk moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. A lead-off walk in the 4th promptly scored with a 2-run home run. Then Happ gave up consecutive singles that moved into scoring position on a ground out.

That was it for the starter tonight, handing the ball over to Nestor Cortes Jr. Cortes gave up a sacrifice fly to score just 1 runner before closing out the inning with a strong strikeout. Cortes had a decent outing, despite giving up a lead-off solo home run in the 5th to add just 1 more run for the home team. Cortes then stayed strong into the 7th inning. Kahnle came in for 4 outs before Chapman’s 26th save sealed the series for the Yankees.

Leading up to that, the Yankees also took advantage of some weaker starting pitching. Encarnacion led-off the 2nd with a double and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. Torres then walked, and a long fly out moved the runners into scoring position, which they did on Mike Tauchman’s triple. Austin Romine’s sacrifice fly then scored Tauchman.

In the 3rd, Aaron Hicks led-off with a towering solo home run, and 2 strike outs later, Gleyber Torres smacked a solo home run to keep the batting practice rolling for the visiting team. In the 4th, with 1 out and runners LeMahieu and Judge on the corners, Hicks’ single scored LeMahieu, and Gregorius’ 2-out triple scored Judge and Hicks.

Now, with a healthy lead and because you just never know with this series, Edwin Encarnacion still added just one more insurance run with a lead-off solo home run in the 9th. This was both after he fouled one pitch off the back of his leg and then it became his 30th home run of the season.

Final score: 10-7 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to Boston for a 4-game weekend series against the Red Sox. After an off day, they will start their next home stand, first with a mini-series against the Diamondbacks and then a 4-game weekend series against the Red Sox. Then, they’ll hit the road again to face Orioles and Blue Jays.

Injury update/roster moves: As expected, Gary Sanchez was sent to the injured list with a Grade 1 left groin strain. In his stead, they recalled catcher Kyle Higashioka for back up to Romine. For the now requisite “fresh arm” portion of the Scranton Shuttle, the Yankees recalled Nestor Cortes Jr to pitch in tonight’s game and optioned Jonathan Holder back to AAA Scranton.

Go Yankees!

Game 100: NYY vs. MIN — The 10-inning roller coaster

Five hours of eventful baseball isn’t a bad way to spend a Tuesday baseball. The Twins are currently sitting atop the AL Central, just a few games behind the Yankees in the overall AL. So these two teams are positioned for some really good baseball during this mid-week series. After yesterday’s “Triple Play Game”, tonight’s game became quite the battle for the Yankees to come from way behind and then challenge the home team for extra inning glory.

Being the visiting team gave the Yankees the opportunity to strike first, so they did. Hicks led-off with a walk and moved to 3rd on Encarnacion’s 1-out double. They both scored on Didi Gregorius’ 2-out double. But the Yankees’ offense tapered off a bit.

Meanwhile, Domingo German had a night he’d prefer to forget, with a less than stellar start. He threw 82 pitches into just the 4th inning, gave up 9 hits, 2 walks, and 8 runs, and struck out just 3 Twins’ batters. In the 2nd, a lead-off double later scored on a 1-out single to get the home team on the board. A lead-off solo home run in the 3rd tied up the game, but the Twins followed it up immediately with another solo home run to grab the lead.

And then came the 4th inning. The lead-off double moved to 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on a single. After an out, German loaded up the bases with a single and hit-by-pitch. An easy ground out moved all the runners up and scored a run. Then a 3-run home run leaped the Twins into a big lead, and the Yankees ended German’s night by going to their bullpen.

David Hale came in to close out the 4th without adding further runs, despite giving up consecutive singles to threaten. His 5th inning was a bit of a struggle too. A lead-off single moved to 2nd on a grounder and then scored on a double. But then Hale and the Yankees’ defense kicked in and carried them through the next inning without further damage.

The Yankees did find a moment in the top of the 5th to chip away at the Twins’ lead. With 1 out, Judge and Encarnacion each singled. After another out, Didi Gregorius smacked a 3-run home run to score the runners and continue Gregorius’ big offensive night. That was also Gregorius’ 100th career home run, and honestly, this swing alone can be credited with the the turning point in the game because it motivated the Yankees to keep the game close.

They came back in the 8th to charge forward with some of that motivation. Torres led-off with a walk, moved to 3rd on Urshela’s double, and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s double. After a strikeout, Aaron Judge’s double scored both Urshela and Tauchman. The Twins brought in a new reliever. After another strikeout, Voit worked a walk and was pinch-run by LeMahieu. After another pitching change, Didi Gregorius (once again) doubled home Judge and LeMahieu to take the lead in the game.

Kahnle had a scoreless 7th inning, handing the game over to Zack Britton for the 8th. But the Twins were chomping at the bit to not let the Yankees take this game from them. With 1 out, Britton gave up a single that then scored on a big 2-run home run that swung the game back into the Twins’ favor.

Well, that wasn’t going to last long in this game. With 2 outs in the 9th, just an out away from victory for the Twins, Tauchman worked a walk, and then Aaron Hicks smacked a big 2-run home run to give the lead back to the Yankees. It was now handed over to Aroldis Chapman for a 3-out save. But again, not in this game. Chapman gave up 3 consecutive walks to load up the bases, and a sacrifice fly tied up the game.

And into the 10th inning. With 1 out, Gregorius and Romine singled. Gleyber Torres’ single scored Gregorius to give the Yankees back the lead. After another out, Torres made a dash for 2nd as the Twins’ pitcher threw a wild pitch. So in this roller coaster of a game, Romine does his own dash for home to score the insurance run for the Yankees.

So once again, the Yankees needed just 3 outs. Adam Ottavino came in and quickly got a strikeout. He then gave up 2 walks. A fielder’s choice out at 2nd put runners on the corners, and another walk loaded up the bases. Now just an out away and in a jam, the Yankees called on the ever reliable Chad Green. Green came in for just 5 pitches. The batter lined the ball out to center field where Aaron Hicks went running and then sliding into the warning track dirt for a beautiful catch to end the game.

Final score: 14-12 Yankees, in 10 innings

Injury alert: Gary Sanchez came out of the game after the 8th inning. He closed out the big offensive inning by hitting into an easy ground out, but on his jog to first, he seemed to pull up a bit limping. After heading down to the clubhouse, he was initially diagnosed with a groin injury and sent for further testings and an MRI. He will probably be headed to the injured list.

Go Yankees!

Game 98: COL vs. NYY — Hall of Fame Weekend thankfully overshadows Sunday’s loss

Sure, the focus was on New York this afternoon. Just about 190 miles north of the Bronx. And on yet another hot summer day, one setting of Yankees clearly overshadowed another. I’m not sure anyone is disappointed by that today.

In the final game of this home stand and in the weekend series against the Rockies, the Yankees struggled their way through the scorching afternoon that just didn’t pan out like the earlier games thanks to a combination of sluggish pitching and defense and offense. Basically, the Yankees didn’t play well, and they added mental anguish to the physical oppression of the humid atmosphere.

James Paxton got the start and threw 77 pitches into just the 4th inning. He gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 7 runs (only 4 earned runs) and still struck out 6 Colorado batters to earn the inevitable loss. Things got off to a bad start when his first batter smacked his 2nd pitch into the right field seats. But then Paxton sailed his way through 6 outs. So things were looking up. For a moment.

In the 3rd, he loaded up the bases with a walk, a bunt and fielding error, and a single. After a strikeout, a double scored 2 runs before a fielder’s choice out kept runners on the corners. A walk loaded the bases again, and a long single scored 2 more runs. After a walk and 1-out single put runners on the bases that ended up in scoring position due to slow defense, the Yankees went to the bullpen.

Chad Green’s first batter hit a ground-rule double that scored both runners. But then Green settled into that strong pattern he’s known for and carried the game into the 6th inning. Ottavino kept things scoreless through 3 outs overlapping the 6th and 7th innings.

Stephen Tarpley closed out the 7th and pitched through the 8th. But he found a bit of trouble in the 8th. He gave up a lead-off walk that moved to 3rd on a 1-out double. After another out, he loaded up the bases with an intentional walk. But a passed ball moved all the runners up and score the lead runner. Chapman’s 9th inning wasn’t a save opportunity, but he efficiently worked through it with 18 pitches.

Like I said, things were looking up earlier in the game for the Yankees. Including tying up the game early with a 1st pitch solo home run shot to lead-off the 1st by DJ LeMahieu. Then down by quite a bit, Mike Tauchman’s 2-out solo home run in the 5th doubled the Yankees’ score.

In a last-ditch effort, the Yankees got one more chance on the scoreboard in the 8th. Tauchman led-off by working a walk. Two outs later, Aaron Hicks launched a 2-run home run deep into the 2nd deck of the right field seats to again double the home team’s score. But that was all they could piece together today — runs scored on small homers.

Final score: 8-4 Rockies, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees hit the road for a week-long road trip. They will play a midweek series at the Twins starting Monday, and then head back to the East Coast for a 4-game weekend series against the Red Sox. They will then head home for another home stand against the Diamondbacks and Red Sox.

Meanwhile, in upstate New York, Yankees fans were in full force to celebrate their Yankee alumni and legends as they were officially inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. And 58 Hall of Famers (including Joe Torre, Reggie Jackson, and Hank Aaron) packed the stage to watch the festivities as thousands of fans basked in the sunny, clear skies to witness the festivities in Cooperstown as six very special men were honored.

Bernie Williams opened the afternoon by playing the national anthem on his guitar in his smooth signature musical style. He later came back to play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, much to the delight of the crowd. Then, Yankees’ pitcher Mike Mussina kicked off the festivities, setting a familiar pattern of sharing stories from his childhood and playing days and honoring those special people and his family that helped him along the way.

Brandy Halladay, wife of the late pitcher Roy Halladay, spoke next in honor of her husband’s honor. Halladay split his career between the Blue Jays and Phillies and settled in the Tampa Bay area (near where both teams host Spring Training), before passing away in a tragic plane crash off the Florida coast in November 2017. His teenage sons following in his footsteps in high school sports, and his eldest Braden was recently drafted by the Blue Jays though he will continue on to Penn State first.

Mariners’ legendary power-hitter Edgar Martinez finally made it into the Hall after being selected in his 10th and final year on the ballot. Fans from his fellow Puerto Rico were thrilled to see their hometown hero honored and cheered on as he specifically thanked them in Spanish.

White Sox designated hitter Harold Baines and Cubs’ closer Lee Smith were selected by the Today’s Game Era Committee in December. Often overlooked by the original ballot rounds, Baines and Smith rightfully join the rest of their inductees on the stage and in the Hall today.

Finally, after a brief video introduction by former teammate and friend Andy Pettitte, Yankees legendary closer Mariano Rivera was inducted in the Hall of Fame, taking his turn to tell his story. He began by thanking God, his wife and sons, his parents and family, and the Yankees organization and fans. Rivera was graciously intentional as he told his story of persevering — from his try out for the Yankees, to learning English in the minors, to being sent back (along with Jeter) after his initial call up, to finding his rightful home as the Yankees’ closer. He closed out his speech with a flurry of gratitude for his family and friends in Panama, spoken in Spanish for their benefit and enjoyment.

{Media note: Further video clips can be found here for future perusal.}

Next year’s ceremonies will be July 26, 2020, and could feature names like Jeter, Soriano, Abreu, Giambi, Lee, and Beckett (in addition to repeat names like Pettitte, Bonds, Vizquel, Ramirez, and Sheffield). It could be an even larger class than the fairly “large class” of 6 for each of the last 2 years.

Go Yankees!

Game 97: COL vs. NYY — The Yankees are hot, and so are their bats

I should begin by saying that while, yes, it is summer, it’s really ridiculously, unseasonably hot outside for most of the United States right now. At 1 pm in the Bronx (first pitch), it was 94° F and sunny and only got hotter as the game went on, as temperature generally peak around 3 pm.

To be fair to the visiting team, they’ve been dealing with higher than average temperatures in their home town too. Basically, this oppressive heat continues, so take care of yourselves, America. We’re in this together, sweating and hydrating and pushing through until this “heat dome” breaks and we can breathe again.

And yet, there’s still lives to be lived and baseball to be played. Masahiro Tanaka got the start in today’s game, the middle game of this weekend series against the Rockies, and pretty much sailed his way through his first 5 innings. He threw just 47 efficient pitches, giving up just 2 hits. But his 6th inning was a doozy. With 1 out, a single that scored on a RBI double. After giving up a walk, a 3-run home run planted the Rockies firmly on the board. Then a double scored on a long single. Before some good defense and a strikeout got Tanaka out of the inning.

Now, that would be really bad except for the fact that the Rockies are really not good. And that allowed the Yankees to grab an early large lead to cushion anything that might trip up Tanaka’s otherwise quality start. In the 1st, LeMahieu led-off with a single and scored on Aaron Judge’s double to kick off the Yankees’ offense today.

Didi Gregorius led-off the big 2nd inning with a double and promptly scored on Gleyber Torres’ single and a throwing error that finished with Torres sliding into 3rd base. (That messy Rockies’ defense.) Austin Romine’s single easily scored Torres, and after a strikeout (the first out of the inning), Romine stole 2nd. Then, walks to LeMahieu and Judge loaded the bases. Aaron Hicks singled and scored Romine, and Edwin Encarnacion’s double scored LeMahieu and Judge.

That was the end of the Rockies’ starter, but their bullpen didn’t have much luck against the Yankees either. In the 4th, Hicks walked, and after an out, Luke Voit was hit by an errant pitch right on the jaw. Understandably, he was a bit shaken up as he took 1st base, but he stayed in for rest of that inning. Didi Gregorius’ single scored Hicks, and Torres’ long single scored both Voit and Gregorius.

After the Rockies chipped away at the Yankees’ lead, the Yankees found another opportunity to widen that gap again. In the 7th, Gardner led-off with a walk, moved to 3rd on LeMahieu’s single, and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s fielder’s choice. After a strikeout and pitching change, Encarnacion singled home Tauchman to cap off the Yankees’ big afternoon.

The Yankees were able to close out the game with their strong bullpen once again. Kahnle breezed through a scoreless 7th, and Hale was solid once again through the final 2 innings to hand the Yankees another win.

Final score: 11-5 Yankees

It’s worth noting that the Yankees scored a whopping 11 runs, and not a single one of those runs were due to home runs. An odd statistic for the so-called “Bronx Bombers”. But it doesn’t really matter how you score runs, just that you score more than your opponent.

Luke Voit did come out of the game after scoring on Torres’ single in the 4th. He was definitely hurting, and getting hit in the face isn’t the best place to absorb a 91 mph fastball. (Honestly, it’s never fun or not going to hurt when you get hit by a speeding baseball, but there are fleshier areas that can absorb the impact better and simply bruise. The posterior is a prime example.) Voit was sent for tests and x-rays, but everything came up clean. He’s being observed as determined by concussion protocol due to the impact on his head. Stay safe out there, guys!

Also, before today’s game, the Yankees welcomed astronaut (and Yankees’ fan) Mike Massimino to honor the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. On the mound that day, exactly when they touched down in Tranquility Base, was Yankees pitcher Jack Aker. So today, Massimino threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Aker to symbolically bridge the gap between space and baseball, reminding us that together we can encompass the galaxy with our dreams.

Go Yankees!

Games 94 & 95: TB vs. NYY — A rain delay, an ejection, a doubleheader, and an anniversary

Thanks to the rain out yesterday, today’s scheduled got packed. And the Yankees still somehow managed to amp up the drama and make the final 2 games against the Rays all the more interesting. The afternoon game of the doubleheader was first delayed by lingering afternoon rain, pushing the start time back 1 hour and 26 minutes.

Game 1 (make-up game from July 17)
Domingo German got the start for the first game of today’s doubleheader and threw a pretty good game despite what became the major talking point — a terrible strike zone set by the home plate umpire. German threw 90 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out 5 Rays’ batters.

The allowed runs were consecutive solo home run to kick off the game. After that, German buckled in and really set a strong pattern to pass the game off to his relievers. Kahnle, Britton, and Hale threw a strong scoreless inning of their own, keeping the visitors to those early runs.

The Yankees answered back to the Rays’ early lead by tying up the game right in the turbulent 2nd inning. Didi Gregorius led-off the inning by getting all the way to 2nd on a fielding error. He then moved to 3rd on a ground out and scored on Gio Urshela’s 2-run home run.

Now, after a questionable strikeout and some bad calls on the at-bat of the two most chill guys on the team (Gardner and LeMahieu), Aaron Boone had to step in. Leading up to this, Sanchez questioned some calls, especially lower in the strike zone, for their inconsistency. The rookie home plate umpire didn’t seem to adjust, and the continuation of the questionable calls was starting to fluster everyone.

Boone did what managers need to do — take one for their guys. Several choice words later (like “savages”), Boone watched the rest of the game from the clubhouse, and the Yankees (and their fans) applauded his efforts and ended up winning the game. And I looked at the strike zone graphics following the game, it wasn’t good. Far too many called strikes were out side the box, and too many called balls were inside it. Boone and company were right to have issues with the calls.

In the 5th, Judge led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Hicks’ ground-rule double, and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s 1-out single. After another out, Luke Voit’s single scored Hicks, and Urshela’s double scored Sanchez. And Aaron Hicks’ 2-out solo home run in the 6th capped off the Yankees’ dominant afternoon.

Final score: 6-2 Yankees

Game 2 (regularly scheduled game)
After a brief clean-up and resetting the field, the second half of today’s doubleheader was ready to go. The Yankees opted to use an “opener”, the ever reliable Chad Green, who despite throwing 31 pitches in the 1st inning, kept the Rays from scoring.

Nestor Cortes Jr came on for the 2nd inning and kept things strong through most of his outing, into the 5th inning. But in the 3rd, a lead-off walk scored on a double. But he handed the ball over to Luis Cessa in the 5th, who carried things scoreless into the 8th. Ottavino closed out the final 4 outs with just 17 great pitches.

So, the Yankees were late to get on the board. Luke Voit hit a 1st pitch solo home run in the 5th inning to tie up the game. Then in the 6th, Austin Romine led-off with a double and moved to 3rd on a ground out. Walks to Judge and Encarnacion loaded up the bases, and a balk moved all the runners up and scored Romine.

Then Didi Gregorius’ single and a throwing error allowed both Judge and Encarnacion to score. After another out, the Yankees loaded up the bases again with Torres’ single and Urshela’s walk. The Rays made a pitching change, but he promptly walked Mike Tauchman to score Gregorius before finally getting out of the inning.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees continue their home stand with a weekend series against the visiting Rockies. The Yankees will spend next week on the road, first against the Twins and then in Boston for a long weekend, including a make-up game as part of a Saturday doubleheader.

Before the later game tonight, the Yankees celebrated the 20th anniversary of David Cone’s perfect game. It was a perfect day in many ways, honoring the perfect game of Don Larsen and caught by Yogi Berra. And then Cone spent most of the day just playing catch with his catcher Joe Girardi. So, in addition to the now standard commemorative bobblehead of David Cone, Cone also threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a strike of course.

And also coming up this weekend is Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown, New York. The ceremonies will include Yankee alum like Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera. There are many activities this weekend leading up to the main event of induction ceremony on Sunday afternoon. Rivera’s unanimous election to the Hall is really the biggest topic of the weekend, though for Yankee fans (and really any decent general baseball fans), it was inevitable. Our hero, our legend, our Hall of Famer.

Go Yankees!