Game 162: NYY vs. TEX — 102 wins, 305 HRs, AL East champs, and the Yanks head to postseason

And suddenly, the season is over. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were sitting in our seats in Steinbrenner Field in Tampa enjoying the first day of Spring Training. One of the perks of a Florida spring is watching Yankee veterans and rookies and minor leaguers play on the same field. The anticipation of a new fresh season is palpable as fans chatter about which players are returning or what new young hopeful has been invited for the spring. It is always amazing to watch the roster come seamlessly together for the a new season.

It has been quite the season, summer baseball filled with new records set and new faces earning their much deserved spot on the Yankee roster. Despite the unexpected record injuries that saw the rise of a new generation of Yankees, we all witnessed New York pull together as a team and keep moving forward to earn their well-deserved spot as the AL East Division Champions.

And so here we are now in late September in Texas to face the Rangers before a sell-out crowd on a warm day in Arlington. It may not have been the final score Yankee fans hoped for, but with Game 162 now in the record books, all Yankee eyes are now on the postseason and October baseball.

For this last game of the season today, 6 Yankee pitchers shared the mound and gave up 10 hits for 6 runs. In the 1st inning, Chad Green was chosen to start as the opener for the Yankees. Facing 5 batters in the 1st inning, Green gave up a walk to the lead-off batter followed by a single. A throwing error allowed the 2 runners to do a double steal and score a run. Green followed with 2 strikeouts and an outfield fly out to end the inning.

Masahiro Tanaka came to the mound for a long-term relief outing, starting in the 2nd. His first inning was smooth, facing 3 batters for 3 outs, including a stellar infield play caught with a backhanded catch by Gio Urshela on 3rd for the throw to DJ LeMahieu for the out. Tanaka’s 3rd inning was a bit messier, giving up a 1-out double and a single to put runners on the corners. A sloppy throwing error on a pick-off attempt by Tanaka allowed a run. A fly out to right moved a runner to 3rd, who then scored on a single to left field. With 2 outs, a pop up caught by Urshela at 3rd finally ended the inning.

Then, in the 4th, after fielding a grounder for the out at 1st base, Urshela left the game with a sore ankle and was replaced by Wade at 3rd. After a strikeout swinging, Tanaka gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases before coming on strong, retiring the side with a ground out, stranding 3 on base.

In the 5th, Tommy Kahnle replaced Tanaka and gave up a single to left, a hit by pitch, and a walk to load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice caught the runner at home for a stellar defensive play for the out, but left the bases loaded. Kahnle gave up a single that scored 2 runs, but a great double play ended the inning.

Adam Ottavino took the mound in the 6th, giving up a single and a walk. He gave up a grounder for a force out to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly scored a run, and a pop out ended the inning. Britton came out for the 8th, giving up a single, but a great defensive double play and a swinging strikeout closed the inning. Chapman got some work in for a quick 3-out 8th inning.

The Yankee lineup was scoreless for the first two innings. In the 3rd, Aaron Judge hit his 27th season homer 408 feet over the left field fence to tie the game and give the Yankees a record 305 season home runs. Perhaps Judge’s homer for the first run scored in this last game was only fitting for the season wrap up since the first run scored for the Yankees on opening day this year was also homer, a 3-run long ball by Luke Voit.

The Yankee lineup struggled to reach base and remained scoreless for the rest of the game. Coming down to the 9th inning for their final chance for the win or at least to add a couple home runs to best the Twins for the season home run record. But three outs later, regular season play for New York was over.

Final score: 6-1 Rangers, Rangers win the series 2-1

Injury updates: The Yankees are optimistic that Edwin Encarnacion might be available for post-season play, but he is not currently in the lineup. Gio Urshela twisted his ankle on a jumping throw during an infield out in today’s game. Doctors diagnosed Urshela with a mild sprain that should heal quickly and no further tests are planned at this time.

Yankee postseason rosters, more injury updates, and postseason predictions are forthcoming. The Wild Card games are this Tuesday and Wednesday (October 1-2), with the NLDS starting on Thursday (October 3) and the ALDS on Friday (October 4). It’s shaping up to be some very interesting October baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 153: LAA vs. NYY — Sabathia’s last stand, but still waiting for #100

Under a clear New York evening sky, tonight’s crowd in the Bronx had the privilege of witnessing Yankee veteran CC Sabathia pitch his final regular season start at Yankee Stadium. Sabathia tipped his hat in appreciation to the roaring crowd, who gave him a well-deserved standing ovation as the All-Star pitcher walked off the mound to be congratulated by his teammates in front of the dugout. Sabathia, who has been a Yankee longer than any current player except Brett Gardner, may well be called upon for the playoffs. So fans have reason to hope for a few more priceless chances to see “Dub” pitch before he officially retires.

Yankee starter, CC Sabathia, pitched into the 3rd inning tonight, throwing 62 pitches to 15 batters for 4 strikeouts and giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs. In the 1st inning, Sabathia gave up 2 singles, but no runs. In the 2nd, Sabathia each of his 3 batters struck out swinging. Sabathia returned in the 3rd to allow a walk and 2 singles that scored a run. Another walk and a mound visit was followed by another single that gave up a second run to the Angels, and Sabathia was done for the evening.

After a break in the action as the crowd gave Sabathia his farewell ovation, German replaced Sabathia for the 3rd out to end the inning. German got 3 quick outs in the 4th, followed by a single and a walk in the 5th, but allowed no runs. Adam Ottavino took over in the 6th, giving up a double and 2 singles to load the bases. His wild throwing error to home allowed a runner to score. Kahnle replaced Ottavino for the final 2 strikeouts of the 6th. Green was called on in the 7th, and despite a walk and hit by pitch, allowed no runs. Britton’s 8th ended up being 3 solid outs in a row, and Cessa’s 9th allowed a single but no further runs.

New York was hoping to get that 100th season win tonight, but the goal proved elusive when the Yankee batters struggled to even get in scoring position. After a scoreless 1st inning, the 2nd inning began with lead-off batter Giancarlo Stanton as he was welcomed back to the Bronx with an ovation from the stadium crowd. Returning from time on the IL for a knee injury, Stanton doubled a line drive to center that put the Yankees in scoring position, but 3 outs followed and Stanton was left on base.

The Yankees scored 2 runs in the 3rd inning when LeMahieu led off with a walk and then crossed the plate on Aaron Judge’s 24th home run to right field. But then that awful pattern emerged again: A solid double put Torres on 2nd to lead off the 3rd, but 3 outs followed that left him on base; and in the 4th, Gardner bunted for a single and moved to 2nd base on a wild pitch, but then 3 outs later, he too was stranded.

After a quick, scoreless run for the next 4 innings, the last chance for the Yankees to score was in the 9th. With 1 out, Gardner hit a ground ball to center field, and the crowd was quite hopeful to tie up the game, but 2 quick outs followed and ended the evening.

Final score: 3-2 Angels

Injury update: Dellin Betances was in the dugout for tonight’s game, sporting a walking boot to protect his partially torn Archilles tendon. No surgery is scheduled at this time. The Yankees still have 9 players on the IL, none of which will be returning for the playoffs. The 9 include Betances, Tauchman, Hale, Holder, Bird, Hicks, Ellsbury, Andujar, and Barrett.

The Yankees also activated Giancarlo Stanton from the 60-day IL to play in tonight’s game. Stanton looked strong in his outing but was unable to contribute much in tonight’s game, much like the rest of his offensive teammates. Also, the Blue Jays claimed pitcher Ryan Dull off waivers. Best of luck to him on his journey.

Go Yankees!

Game 149: NYY vs. TOR — Even a butterfly couldn’t help in extras

For this weekend’s 3-game series, the Yankees traveled across the northern border to Toronto to meet the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Tonight’s game was long and grueling, tied for most of the innings as both teams battled for the win, even going into extra innings to battle it down to a walk-off.

Masahiro Tanaka took the mound for New York through 5 innings, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs, for a not so memorable start. Tanaka started well and quickly faced 3 batters for 3 outs.  In the 2nd, Tanaka gave up a home run to left field, and later, 2 singles and a double allowed 2 more runs in the 4th. And Tanaka gave up a double and a single that scored another run for Toronto in the 5th. Tanaka was replaced in the 6th by Tommy Kahnle who gave up a single, but no runs.

Adam Ottavino took over in the 7th. He gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. After a walk and fielder’s choice, runners were on the corners, but a balk moved the runners up and scored a run for the home team to tie up the game at that point. Zack Britton took strong command in the 8th for 3 quick outs, including a swinging strikeout and a rather close call with a butterfly. (Yes, a real live butterfly.)

Cessa came out for the 9th and 10th, and gave up a couple of singles, but allowed no runs, keeping the game tied. Tyler Lyons replaced Cessa for the 11th, facing 3 batters for 3 outs. But when Lyons remained on the mound in the 12th, things didn’t resolve in their favor. Lyons gave up a home run to the first batter of that inning, allowing a walk-off win for the Blue Jays.

Scoreless in the first 4 innings and behind by 3 runs in the 5th inning, New York bats finally came alive in a big way. Gardner doubled and then promptly scored on a double by Clint Frazier. A single to left by Austin Romine scored Frazier.

LeMahieu’s single on moved Romine to 2nd, and Torres hit into a fielder’s choice that left runners on the corners. Luke Voit then reached base on a fielder’s choice, scoring Romine to tie-up the game. And wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position so that Gio Urshela’s single allowed both Torres and Voit to score and jump the Yankees ahead.

After the Blue Jays evened up the score again by the 7th, the Yankees tried to break that tie through the rest of their game. And while they certainly had some great opportunities, they never were able to cross home pate again.

Final score: 6-5 Blue Jays, in 12 innings

Injury update: Good news for JA Happ. Sidelined with recurring bicep tendonitis, he is showing improvement since a cortisone shot. He is expected to return to the mound next week during the Yankees’ final home stand. And he could be joined by some other teammates working their way off the IL as well.

Roster moves: In the last week, the Yankees have activated pitchers Ben Heller and CC Sabathia from the IL, and both pitched pretty well this week too. They also put Mike Tauchman on the 10-day IL due to his calf strain. Stephen Tarpley began his rehab assignment with the AA Trenton Thunder on Tuesday before being activated back to the major league roster on Thursday. And they also designated reliever Adonis Rosa for assignment before outrighting him to AAA Scranton.

Finally, MLB is currently featuring the New York Yankees for their annual honoring of Hispanic Heritage Month. The story features several current and former players. Check out the video here.

Go Yankees!

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 138: OAK vs. NYY — September call-ups as playoffs await

Happy September, Yankee fans! It’s that time of year when baseball fans everywhere dare to dream that their favorite team might just have that wild chance to make it to Fall Classic. Much like a movie where the underdog team from nowhere takes home the title, fans everywhere are hoping for a miracle and a chance to win it all.  Whereas most fans will be simply hoping, Yankees fans have a solid reason to be confident that their first place AL East team will be standing on that World Series field on October 22.

As the September call-ups begin today, MLB teams across the league are scrambling to put together a team of the best players who are at their peak of performance and health for that shot at the playoffs. We saw that kind of team today as over 40,000 fans packed Yankee Stadium  to watch the New York Yankees best the Oakland Athletics on that path to October baseball.

JA Happ had a remarkable scoreless outing on the mound for the Yankees through 6 full innings, throwing 98 pitches but allowing no runs. Happ was replaced by recent call-up Ryan Dull in the 7th, who struggled his way through his outing. After loading up the bases with 1 out, a double scored 2 runs, and a grounder scored a third.

Chance Adams took the mound in the 8th and gave up a 1-out solo homer to right field to keep pushing the visitors into a strong lead. Ottavino took command of the ball in the 9th and kept the A’s from gaining any further runs.

Kept scoreless in the first 7 innings, behind by 4 runs, and at the risk of being shut out for the first time since last season, the Yankees found their first real chance to do something in the bottom of the 8th inning. They loaded the bases with a walk to Tauchman, a single to LeMahieu, and a walk to Judge. A sacrifice fly by Gleyber Torres scored Mike Tauchman to get the Yankees on the board. Then after a pitching change and another out, Didi Gregorius’ single scored 2 more runs to edge the Yankees closer to the lead.

Down by just one run in the 9th, Brett Gardner hit a lead-off home run to deep right field to tie the game. Mike Ford quickly came in to pinch-hit for Frazier, and Ford promptly smacked a walk-off home run over the right center field fence into the Yankees’ bullpen to win the game for the Yankees.

This was Mike Ford’s 10th home run as a Yankee and his first walk-off home run, celebrated with a smile, a perfect bat flip, and the celebratory Gatorade shower thanks to fellow home run hitter Gardner.

Final score: 5-4 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

Roster moves/injury updates: Prior to today’s game, the Yankees moved David Hale, a right-handed reliever, to the 60-day IL for his continuing back strain. They also sent Edwin Encarnacion and Luis Severino to start their rehab assignments with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

As part of the September call-ups, Yankees called-up three relief pitchers including Chance Adams, Ryan Dull, and Tyler Lyons. With the spot open with the move by Hale, the Yankees selected the contract of Lyons and recalled Dulle, Adams, and Frazier. Both Dull and Adams played in today’s game, and these pitcher-heavy call-ups certainly signal that the Yankees seem to be looking for a particular skill set of pitches to fill spots in the bullpen.

Mike Mussina Day:  Before today’s game, the Yankees honored former pitcher Mike Mussina, or “Moose”, to celebrate his induction into the Hall Fame this summer with an official “Mike Mussina Hall of Fame Celebration“. The first 18,000 fans through the gates today received a Mike Mussina t-shirt, and fans were treated to pre-game festivities including the unveiling of his Cooperstown replica plaque to be displayed alongside other Hall of Famers like fellow teammate Mariano Rivera.

The Yankees also handed him a $35,000 donation to benefit of Montoursville Area Athletice Department (PA). Moose is active in his hometown community athletics programs, serving on the Little League Board of Directors, operating a training camp for local student athletes, and serving as head basketball coach at the high school. In fact, when he got the call regarding his Hall of Fame election, he was busy with a team practice. Mussina also had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch today to his son, Peyton.

Go Yankees!

 

 

Game 137: OAK vs. NYY — Bronx Bombers for the win

The Bronx Bombers gave the hometown New York crowd quite a show today. Despite facing a strong pitching team in this often frustrating extra inning match-up, New York never gave up and earned this well-deserved win.

Domingo German started the game and pitched a solid 5 innings, throwing 90 pitches for 5 strikeouts, allowing two runs. Loaisiga replaced German at the top of the 6th and managed to get out of the inning with no further runs allowed.

A pitching change at the top of the 7th brought Adam Ottavino to the helm, but he struggled with a couple wild pitches, beaning one batter. After 2 outs, he was replaced by Kahnle who faced one batter for the third out to close the inning. The 8th inning brought up Zack Britton who faced only two batters for two outs before leaving the game with a sudden injury to his leg. (More below.)

Green replaced Britton, who walked three batters and loaded the bases before securing the third out. In the top of the 9th, with the game tied up, Chapman faced 5 batters for two walks and finished with a solid swinging strike as the game headed into extra innings. Cory Gearrin came in to close out the game for 2 strong innings, facing 6 batters for 6 quick outs.

The Yankees faced some strong arms today from only 4 pitchers that tallied up 15 total strikeouts and only gave up 6 hits to the home team. And yet, even with several scoreless innings, the Bronx Bombers showed why their nickname suits them. All 4 runs today were homers sent to the outfield stands amid the cheering hometown crowd.

After a scoreless 1st, Gary Sanchez sent a home run to left field in the 2nd to put the Yankees on the board first, and then did it again with a lead-off solo home run over the fence to right center to tie the game at that point. Aaron Judge homered in the bottom of the 8th to again even up the game’s score and send it into eventual extra innings.

So, as the game went into the 11th inning, DJ LeMaheiu smashed a walk-off homer to right center to take the game for the Yankees. That’s four batters. Four homers. For the win.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

Injury update: As mentioned above, Zack Britton left the game in the 5th with a severe right calf cramp. Since the pain seemed to ease up, there are no scheduled tests but the Yankees will just wait and see how quickly Britton recovers from appears to be a kind of “charley horse” injury.

CC Sabathia, who left Friday’s game with intense pain and inflammation in his right knee, has been placed on the 10-day IL. Sabathia is confident he will return to the mound soon for his last season before retiring at the end of the season. To fill his spot on the roster, the Yankees recalled Jonathan Loaisiga, who came in to pitch in today’s game.

Go Yankees!

Game 132: NYY vs. LAD — Rubber match redemption

After Saturday’s game, and that still unexplained game-changing call for time by the umpire, the Bronx Bombers roared back today as a team and claimed this game for New York. And despite so many still on the injury list, the Yankees showed up in force.

Domingo German started the game and pitched a full 6 innings, allowing only 1 run. Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle shared the 7th inning for 3 strikeouts. Zack Britton commanded the 8th and protected the Yankees lead. At the top of the 9th, Aroldis Chapman took command of the mound and finished the inning strong, striking out a Dodger favorite with his 100 mph four-seam fastball.

Yankee bats were awake and active today. At the top of the first, DJ LeMahieu homered deep to center field to get the Yankees on the board first. Didi Gregorius was drilled hard by a pitch to his right shoulder, but he took his base determined to stay in the game and moved to 2nd on a wild pitch.

The game was tied at the top of the 3rd, so Aaron Judge homered to center to regain the Yankees’ lead. Didi Gregorius’ shoulder was a concern and replaced by Mike Ford in the line up when Gregorius was later pulled from the game in the 4th. So, the bottom of that inning saw a shuffle in the Yankee infield — LeMahieu manning 1st, Ford on 2nd, and Torres as shortstop.

Mike Ford homered to right center field in the 6th to widen the Yankees lead. The 8th inning had DJ LeMahieu reach base on a grounder to center, followed by Mike Ford’s double that scored LeMahieu. In the 9th, Gardner singled and later scored on Gio Urshela’s pop out to give the Yankees their final score.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees head up the Coast to visit the Mariners for a 3-game mid-week series. After a travel day back to the East Coast on Thursday, the Yankees will host the Athletics and Rangers before hitting the road again, starting in Boston.

Injury update: Didi Gregorius had his shoulder x-rayed after being hit by pitch in tonight’s game. Results show maybe a bone bruise, but nothing to be overly concerned about. His shoulder is expected to be painful for a few days, and the treatment prescribed is mainly icing and rest. He’s, of course, anxious to return to the field as soon as possible.

Further news came out today that Luke Voit is expected to return within a week. Many other players on the Injured List are expected (hopefully) to return in September including Betances, Encarnacion, Estrada, Stanton, Hicks, and even possibly Bird.

Roster moves: Jordan Montgomery was sent to Tampa Tarpons for rehab assignment. This will be his first game since Tommy John surgery last June. Nagging post-surgery shoulder inflammation kept him out of action until now. The Yankees are hoping he will be game-ready and available as a reliever for September.

And finally, Yankees still waiting on an explanation for the umpire’s call for time out while sending Torres back to third during Saturday’s game. The unusual timing of the umpire’s call while play was still happening was a potential game changer. Just add it to the growing list of odd calls by umpires across the league this year.

Go Yankees!