Game 144: LAD vs. NYY — A shut out, remembering icons

The misery of statistics strikes again. CC Sabathia threw a really beautiful game tonight into the 7th inning, keeping the visiting Dodgers scoreless and limited, but because he wasn’t the pitcher on record when the Yankees scored the leading runs, he gets nothing. And there’s something that’s just not right about that. Sabathia’s great game consisted of 93 pitches, just 3 allowed hits and a walk, and 7 strikeouts to the visiting Dodgers.

He handed things off to reliever Adam Warren in the 7th after one out, and Warren breezed his way through the inning to become the pitcher on record, setting himself up for his 6th win of the season. Tyler Clippard continued the scoreless streak in the 8th before handing things over the Dellin Betances for a nice 4-out save, his 11th of the season.

Like I said, the Yankees didn’t give Sabathia the win because they couldn’t capitalize on earlier opportunities, despite the fact that the Dodgers starter tonight was not as sharp as he should’ve been. He even came out of the game early, in the 4th inning and overall gave the Yankees 7 base runners. But they couldn’t seem to do much with it.

It would be three pitchers later, the Dodgers’ long-term reliever tonight that the Yankees were able to dent into his outing rather nicely. In the 7th, with 1 out, Jacoby Ellsbury and Didi Gregorius went back-to-back with solo home runs to get the Yankees on the board. Gary Sanchez led-off the 8th with the insurance run, a solo home run, his 14th of his abbreviated season (in just about 6 weeks, by the way).

Final score: 3-0 Yankees.

Injury alert: Aaron Judge came out of tonight’s game with a right oblique strain. He injured it during an at-bat in the 4th. He stayed in the game through that inning, but was replaced at the top of the 5th. No news yet on roster moves, but I imagine a stint on the DL and a replacement being called up shortly. How this constant shifting will affect the postseason for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (who are working their way towards the championship, fingers crossed), only time will tell.

If you know anything about the Dodgers since they moved across the country 60 years ago, I think the one name that everyone will think of is their long-time broadcaster and famous game announcer Vin Scully, the “Voice of the Dodgers” as he’s affectionately known there. Scully is a relic days gone by, a classic really, calling the game like my grandfather grew up hearing it. Scully actually started his career with the Dodgers while they were here in New York, back in 1950 and moved with them when they moved to Los Angeles in 1957, becoming the regular play-by-play announcer in 1964.

Scully, who will turn 89 years old later this year, will hang up his microphone at the end of this season. The last home game for the Dodgers will be less than 2 weeks from today (September 25) against the Rockies, but the Dodgers are looking like they may be headed for the post season. So it would only be fitting if the icon got a few more games in before he truly enjoyed his retirement.

Also, if you’ve never had the pleasure of listening to Scully call a game, check out this highlight reel made at the end of last year when MLB knew that 2016 would be his last. Enjoy!

Also, MLB contributor Lindsay Berra (yes, Yogi’s granddaughter) spoke with Yankees long-time radio broadcaster and icon himself John Sterling, who shared his Vin Scully memories, before the broadcasters themselves discussed both Scully and Sterling.

Go Yankees!

Game 143: LAD vs. NYY — Trounced by long ago rivals

There are some games that are easy to write about, and some games that aren’t so much. I know I’ve shared that sentiment before. The ones that are difficult are either those with limited excitement or those that are just painful to watch as Yankee fans. Okay, so to be fair, the Dodgers are at the top of their division, and they are a pretty good team this year (as a friend of mine likes to remind me at least once a week these days, and he’s actually right this season).

Of course, it didn’t help that Bryan Mitchell got pounced on by the Dodgers’ offense early and often in this first game of the mid-week series. Mitchell threw 47 pitches in just over 2 innings, gave up 8 hits, no walks, and 6 runs (though only 2 were earned), and struck out just 2 batters. In the 1st, Mitchell gave up consecutive singles, and a fly out put runners on the corners. A fielder’s choice (a delayed attempt at a double play really) allowed one run to score to get the Dodgers on the board.

In the 2nd, with 2 outs and runners on the corners with singles, the next batter reached on a messy fielding error that ended up allowing both runners to score. A single then scored one more run for the Dodgers in that inning to give the Dodgers a rather hefty lead in just the 2nd inning. Mitchell came back in the 3rd for a quick out and then just couldn’t get another one. A single and double put runners in scoring position so that a single scored the first runner.

It was time to go to the bullpen, with Mitchell just unable to find control of his pitching tonight. Chasen Shreve came on in relief and promptly got a strike out. During the next at-bat, the runner at 1st stole 2nd, thanks in part to a bad throwing error by catcher Sanchez (a rare thing for the rookie catcher). Of course, the fact that it scored another run didn’t help matters.

Richard Bleier then gave some beautiful long-term relief, throwing 61 pitches through the next 4 innings, striking out 3 LA batters and giving the Yankees a bit of a breather. James Pazos came on for the 8th and breezed his way through the first 2 outs, but a nicely thrown strike found its way into the right field seats to give the Dodgers one more run. Ben Heller’s 9th inning looked eerily similar when a 2-out solo shot also found the right field seats.

The Yankees had only two real chances to do something big offensively. Starlin Castro’s big lead-off home run in the 2nd, and Aaron Judge’s monster lead-off homer into the left field bleachers in the 5th. Overall, the Yankees only created 5 hits (2 of them those home runs) and 3 walks and struck out 11 times tonight. It just wasn’t their night in any capacity really.

Final score: 8-2 Dodgers.

Going into tonight’s game, the weird tidbit everyone seemed to talk about was this “former rivalry”. Long before interleague games were an everyday thing, long before color tv was normal, long before there was baseball on the Left Coast, the Brooklyn Dodgers only faced the New York Yankees when both were champions of their respective leagues (1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1956). It should be noted that the only year the Yankees didn’t win a “Subway Series” between any NL New York team is 1955, made famous for that disastrously wrong call of safe when Jackie Robinson collided with catcher Yogi Berra at the plate as Robinson stole home.

Today’s fans don’t think about the Dodgers being a rival for the Yankees unless they’re aware of baseball history or may have seen a game at Ebbets Field or the really old incarnation of Yankee Stadium prior to the Dodgers move westward in 1957. It should also be noted that they wouldn’t have moved to Los Angeles if the Brooklyn city council agreed to a new stadium proposal that would’ve put the Dodgers exactly where Barclays Center is today. A stadium was destined to be there, and while it’s a pretty cool stadium that’s there now, it’s still a shame they couldn’t have made it work 60 years ago for a great team like the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Go Yankees!

Game 136: TOR vs. NYY — A bit of hard work on Labor Day

Today, America spent its federal day to honor the laborer with BBQs, last days at the pools and beaches, movie marathons, and ball games all over the country. Including 42,141 at Yankee Stadium The Yankees also hosted some American Olympic medalists fresh from this year’s games at Rio, and the current CIA director threw out the ceremonial first pitch (which was really good, by the way).

And then they played a game against Toronto to kick off this home stand, sending Masahiro Tanaka to the mound to start today’s game. While certainly not his best outing, Tanaka still maintained a decent one. He threw 105 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs, striking out just 4 batters.

In the 1st, a lead-off double scored on an RBI single. Later, with 1 out and runners on the corners, an instinctive fielder’s choice got the out at home before Tanaka could shut down the early attempt by the AL East leaders to get too far ahead of the Yankees. Tanaka held the Blue Jays off from further damage until the 7th inning, giving up a lead-off walk and getting a deep fly out before his afternoon was done.

Jonathan Holder came on and promptly got another fly out, but then walking his next 2 batters loaded the bases and ended his time on the mound. Ben Heller didn’t help much, giving up a 2-run single. But then Layne shut things down for the final out of that long 7th inning. Clippard and Betances both breezed through the 8th & 9th innings, respectively with minimal pitches. Toronto gave Clippard a bit of a challenge, but he pulled through on the replay. Betances earned his 9th save in just 10 pitches, with 2 strikeouts.

Now, this could be terrible news for the Yankees, but as rough as the Yankees pitchers had in the 1st & 7th innings, the Blue Jays’ starter was just having an awful day himself, only lasting through 4 innings before the Jays opened the bullpen and had a much better job of keeping the Yankees from adding to their score.

Fortunately, the Yankees certainly made their mark early. In the 1st, Gardner led-off with a single before scoring as part of Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2-run home run into the right field seats. Tyler Austin started the 3rd inning with a double before scoring on Ellsbury’s 1-out single. And in the 4th, with 1 out, Castro singled and Romine worked a walk, and they both scored on Tyler Austin’s 2-out double to cap off the Yankees scoring.

Like I said, that called the end to Toronto’s starter, and once they got into their bullpen, the Yankees didn’t do much offensively. But they made a big enough dent to protect their lead through the rest of the game.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees.

Okay, I have to highlight the defense of two of the Baby Bombers — Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Judge made a couple of key plays — a head-first diving grab in the 2nd and a catch right at the wall in the 7th. And Sanchez continued his strength behind the plate, getting a runner stealing 2nd in the 4th inning.

Roster news: the final word on Aaron Hicks was to move him to the 15-day DL, retroactive to September 1st when he strained his hamstring. I don’t really think he’s coming back this season. Hamstring injuries aren’t really easy to gauge as far as recovery and easy to mess up again if they aren’t completely healed; they often feel healed well before they are which leads many people to jump back into regular activities before they’re really healthy again. Rest up, and get well.

Go Yankees

Game 131: NYY vs. KC — Tanaka Time, a rain delay, & an extra inning

Like so many of the country recently, the Midwest certain faced the threat of drenching rain for most of the day. The looming storm system delayed through most of the day and then bee-lined for Kauffman Stadium, east of the city to show up about halfway into the game. So one of those fair-weather fans, basically.

Which is a shame because the Yankees, behind starter Masahiro Tanaka, were rather dominant in the game tonight. At least, pre-rain delay. Tanaka threw just 71 pitches through 5 innings, gave up 4 hits, no walks, and 2 runs, striking out 4 Royals batters. In the 3rd, a 2-out single scored easily on a really nice triple. And a 1-out solo shot in the 4th doubled the Royals’ score under Tanaka.

Meanwhile, the Yankees certainly pushed the Royals’ starter out early, in the middle of the 4th inning. They came on strong early. McCann led-off with 2nd with a single and then scored on Aaron Judge’s big 1-out, 2-run home run. Gardner later worked a 2-out walk and then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s double. Then with the bases loaded in the 4th with consecutive singles, Chase Headley’s sacrifice fly scored one run, but back-to-back strike outs to end the inning. With 2 runners on base in the 4th and just 1 out, the Royals relieved their exhausted starter for their bullpen, which seemed to keep the Yankees from adding to their lead for a bit.

And then it rained. Now, technically, if there is a delay that they can’t overcome or come back from, it’s only considered a full game if there have been a full 5 innings played, which I think is what they were doing as both teams pushed their way through that 5th inning as the radar looked “not promising” when the skies opened and the rain came down in literal sheets.

After 59 minutes, the heavy rain had moved on to plague a different part of the area, though it certainly lingered with a bit of drizzle for much of the rest of the night. And the game continued on, however, Tanaka, unfortunately having sat for 59 minutes, was done for the night.

So it was on to Adam Warren, who couldn’t seem to get a handle on pitching tonight, giving up a single and RBI double to start the bottom of the 6th inning. Tommy Layne did a bit better by getting a ground out before hitting a batter. The Royals crowd seemed to think the right response was booing. One reporter commented on this reaction with a well-placed sarcastic observation: “Because, obviously, Layne intentionally hit Morales with an 0-2 pitch. Yes, every fan base does this.”

Tyler Clippard to the rescue, getting the next batter to ground into an around-the-horn double play (3rd baseman to 2nd for the first out to 1st for the second).  Clippard shut the Royals down through the 7th inning as well and so came out for the 8th, but he walked his first batter.

And it was onto Dellin Betances. The runner promptly stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error by (gasp) Gary Sanchez. That runner then scored on a sacrifice fly to tie up the game, much to the glee of the what was left of the 22,000 Royals fans. But then Betances sailed through the 9th, matching the Royals’ 9th inning pitcher with 3-up, 3-down. So it was onto extra innings.

In the 10th, Brian McCann led-off with a single and was pinch-run by Hicks. Headley’s single moved Hicks to 2nd. Two strikeouts and a wild pitch later, they were in scoring position. Then Gardner worked a walk to load up the bases. All Yankee fans held their collective breaths. Jacoby Ellsbury singled and scored Hicks, the winning run, keeping the bases loaded. But a pop-up ended the hopes for an insurance run.

So it was the Royals’ turn to try to regain the lead. Ben Heller came on for the save and hit the first batter who then stole 2nd. A single put runners on the corners for a second before the speedy runner at 1st stole 2nd too. A strike out later, Heller opted to intentionally walk the next batter and load up the bases, partly to give his relief a chance to warm up.

So it was Chasen Shreve now to sew things up. He threw a grand total of 5 pitches, all strikes, for a strikeout and a fly out to end the game and earn his first career save. Shreve later said, “I want to be that guy. It’s been a frustrating year for me. I’m just trying to finish strong. If I can help the team win, that’s what I’m here to do.”

Final score 5-4 Yankees, in 10 innings.

A few other players worth noting tonight were the Yankee veterans: at the plate, Jacoby Ellsbury went 4-for-6 with 2 RBIs tonight, and Brian McCann 3-for-5, with a run scored; and in the field, Chase Headley and Brett Gardner showed off their defensive instincts. Basically, it was the 30-somethings reminding the Baby Bombers that they’re still pretty good too. (And believe me, we 30-somethings are pretty awesome.)

Roster updates: Before the game, obviously, the Yankees recalled Chasen Shreve from AAA Scranton. To make room for him, the Yankees optioned Kirby Yates to the Pulaski Yankees. Now, this is actually good news because their season is over, so it means they’re probably sending him down just to pull him back in 2 days for the September call-up.

And as part of the Ivan Nova trade, the Yankees were to be given “players to be named later”. They acquired outfielder Tito Polo and pitcher Stephen Tarpley today as said players.

One more game in Kansas City, well, later tonight actually. And then it’s September call-ups time. There’s always a few surprises, so be prepared. This season has been anything but normal. But baseball, like life, is anything but predictable. And really, who wants predictable? Be adventurous!

Go Yankees!

Game 125: NYY vs. SEA — A gem in the Emerald City

CC Sabathia certainly threw a gem of a game in the “Emerald City” tonight in the middle game of this series against the Mariners. (I really wanted to get that pun out of the way quickly). Sabathia threw 101 pitches through 7 full innings, giving up just 3 hits, a walk, and the Mariners’ single run of the night, while striking out 7 batters. This was like vintage Sabathia for his 8th win of the season. His lone issue came in the 3rd inning when a 1-out triple scored on an RBI single (there’s 2 of those 3 hits) before the next batter hit into an unassisted double play by Mark Teixeira who also got the runner doubling off 1st. Teixeira makes those look easy sometimes.

Sabathia handed the game off to Tommy Layne who quickly shut down the Mariners in just 8 pitches in his 8th inning. Dellin Betances added 2 more strikeouts of his own in his 9th inning, hand-delivering the Yankees the win. There haven’t been many save opportunities for Betances as the wins have been too big (more than a 3-run difference), so he’s been getting almost standard bullpen work. Not that anyone is complaining as he’s still racking up his “innings pitched” and “strikeouts” statistics.

The Yankees certainly weren’t hesitating in the batter’s box, gathering 9 hits, 3 walks, and still swinging away at 10 strikeouts. In the 2nd, with 2 outs, Aaron Judge reached on a fielding error and later scored on Ronald Torreyes’ double to get the Yankees on the board first. Then with the game tied in the 5th inning, Torreyes led-off with a double and then was there to watch Jacoby Ellsbury’s big 2-run home run sail out of the park to give the Yankees the lead they’d never give back.

In the 6th, Teixeira led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on McCann’s ground out, and then scored on Judge’s sacrifice fly. Two singles and a stolen base later, the Yankees were looking to add to their score, but the Mariners perhaps wisely pulled their exhausted starter and the threat was quickly over. But then the Yankees wanted that insurance run in the 9th inning and saw their opportunity when Ellsbury ended up all the way at 2nd on another bad fielding error. He then scored easily on Didi Gregorius’ ground-rule double.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees.

Roster news: the Yankees placed pitcher Anthony Swarzak on the 15-day DL due to rotator cuff inflammation in his throwing shoulder. That is not good. In his place, they recalled reliever Ben Heller.

So the Yankees are looking at a rubber match tomorrow afternoon before heading home for a quick weekend series against the Orioles. They hit the road for a week to Kansas City and then Baltimore. Based on where Baltimore is in the standings, facing them two weekends in a row could either be incredibly helpful or incredibly harmful. I think you can guess which way I’m hoping they lean these next 10 days.

Go Yankees!

Game 122: NYY vs. LAA — Maybe not a superhero but flying high on hope and grit

I wish the Yankees were the kind of team that had fun nicknames based on superheroes because there are games when I’d like to refer to a pitcher as such. And with all the constant rotation, there’s enough superheroes in either of the main two comic book universes to lend itself to every single player on the Yankees in recent years. (If you don’t believe me, google it or ask your local teenager. And you can blame my recent superhero movie marathon this weekend for my mental road trip.)

Anyway, even without any special nicknames, the Yankees seem to take advantage of the low-season of the Angels in tonight’s middle game of the series. One reporter put it rather succinctly: “So, the Angels are just not good.” But Luis Cessa certainly was. Cessa threw 85 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up just 3 hits and a walk and striking out 5 Angels batters. For being a rookie, he’s certainly having a rather strong season. Now with the starting rotation depleted with injuries and unexpected career slumps, it’s nice to be able to have kids like Cessa step up and do well.

Clippard and Layne covered the 7th and 8th innings, respectively and kept the Angels scoreless for two more innings. In fact, the Angels had an interesting streak — going 17 innings without scoring a run. (Their last run scored was the 3-inning 8th against the Mariners on Thursday night.) But that was snapped when Dellin Betances threw his first pitch to one of the legends on the Angels’ roster (Pujols) who promptly sent it deep into the left field seats (and tied with 90’s legend Mark McGwire on the all-time homers list at 583). Then Betances shut the next 3 batters down in 14 pitches.

On the flip side, the Yankees’ offense took control early on and never let go, thanks to Cessa and company. In the 1st inning, with 2 outs, Gary Sanchez hit his 6th home run of his career (and the season), a solo shot to left field to get the Yankees on the board. Then Didi singled and moved to 3rd on Castro’s double to put them in scoring position. Which was extremely helpful as Brian McCann’s single easily scored both of them.

The Yankees came back in the 6th, down 2 outs. Castro and McCann each singled, putting them on the corners. And then Brian McCann stole his first base of the season. Yes, you read that right: McCann stole 2nd and not on a passed ball or wild pitch. Both runners then scored on Aaron Judge’s single.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees.

Okay, I got to brag a little on the defense in tonight’s game — like Didi Gregorius lying out flat to make a great catch in the 5th, Gary Sanchez’s quick reaction in the 6th to nab out a runner headed back to 1st with the help of tonight’s 1st baseman Tyler Austin, and the most talked about Brett Gardner practically sitting on the outfield fence to rob the batter in the 7th inning of a home run.

And it does help to play in what is essentially “Yankee Stadium West”. There are a ton of Yankee fans on the Left Coast, and many of them in the LA area. So when the Yankees come into town, there is a large contingency of Yankee fans that populate Angel Stadium. So when the Yankees do something good, you could almost imagine you might be in home territory with all the cheering from the 44,129 fans.

One more game there tomorrow afternoon as the Yankees go for the sweep before heading up the coast to Seattle. Seattle sits ahead of the Yankees on Wild Card standings, currently at 3 games ahead of the Yankees. So the Yankees are looking to close that gap or even flip it in these next 4 games. It’s going to be a tight squeeze these next 40 games before the end of the season, but the Yankees, as Gary Sanchez said on Twitter today, are in it to win it.

Go Yankees!

Game 120: TOR vs. NYY — Disappointing defense & oddities of record-keeping

The Yankees were looking to grab the series finale from the visiting Blue Jays in today’s rubber match. The Blue Jays reminded the Yankees why they’ve been leading the AL East, and why the Yankees, well, haven’t.

And while CC Sabathia certainly didn’t have the cleanest outing, it was still a pretty good one. Girardi agreed with that assessment in his post-game interview, noting that it’s rather unfair how ERA is tabulated because to charge Sabathia for all the runs is to discount all the defense failed to do to back him up. It’s a team effort, which means that the team should get credit for the successes or failures, especially when it’s not just a strikeout or something that actually is simply between the pitcher and his catcher.

Anyway, Sabathia got the start and threw 98 pitches through his 6 innings. He gave up 9 hits and a walk, was credited with all 7 of Toronto’s runs, all while still striking out 12 batters. (Yes, you read that right — 12!) In the 2nd, the Blue Jays scored first. With 1 out and 2 runners on base with a single and that lone walk, a double scored the first run, and then another double scored 2 more runs to give the Jays an early 3-0 lead.

Sabathia was cruising through the rest of his outing until the 5th. He gave up a lead-off single. The next batter hit a slow grounder to 3rd, which Headley was too slow to get to and throw to 1st, so both runners were safe at 1st and 2nd. The next batter hit again to Headley, who stepped on the bag for the first out and attempted to get a double play at 1st, but threw far above Austin’s head. The runners ended up in scoring position on the error. Another single scored the lead runner, before a 2-out 3-run home run jumped the Blue Jays far ahead of the Yankees.

After Sabathia’s clean 6th inning, he was done for the afternoon. The Yankees sent in recently recalled Kirby Yates who kept the Blue Jays scoreless in the 7th. Tommy Layne’s 8th inning was a nearly perfect 14 pitches, and Anthony Swarzak redeemed himself some after yesterday’s mess with a 16 pitch scoreless 9th inning.

The Yankees weren’t exactly quiet offensively, but they couldn’t make the offense cobble together more than a handful of runs scattered through the game in comparison. And oddly only in the even-numbered innings. Gary Sanchez led-off the 2nd inning with a big solo home run straight up the middle of the field to the netting above Monument Park.

Starlin Castro then followed suit with a solo shot into the left field corner seats to lead off the 4th inning. Chase Headley’s 6th inning 1-out home run into the left field bleachers closed the gap some. And in the 8th, with 1 out and Headley on base with a single, the Blue Jays finally pulled their starter. An out and a single later, Aaron Judge’s single scored the final Yankees’ run of the afternoon.

Final score: 7-4 Blue Jays, Blue Jays win series 2-1.

The Blue Jays’ closer got his 27th save of the season today. That number got me thinking and researching something. Even with the changes made to the roster, and the loss of both Miller and Chapman, the Yankees have actually had more recorded saves than the Blue Jays (36 to Toronto’s 34), but the Blue Jays have had more save opportunities (47 to the Yankees’ 45). This means that the Blue Jays have actually blown more saves than the Yankees overall.

Another fun fact: the Yankees pitchers currently lead the AL in strikeouts (1,059), coming in 3rd in the league (behind the Dodgers and Nationals). Thanks in part to the kind of outings like Sabathia threw tonight. No, I’m still no over 12!

Scranton Shuttle: The Yankees optioned Chasen Shreve back to AAA Scranton before the game today and recalled reliever Kirby Yates, who contributed much to today’s game.

Baby Bomber Gary Sanchez joins some rather illustrious company with his recent show of power. His homer in the 4th inning was his 5th in his last 4 games, which made him the 3rd Yankee ever to hit 5 home runs in their first 15 games. (The other two were Steve Whitaker in 1966 and Shelley Duncan in 2007.)

Go Yankees!