Game 105: BAL vs. NYY — Andujar’s power backs #TanakaTime

With all the flurry about the trade deadline (and some very busy social media feeds), it’s almost hard to remember that there’s still games to be played and won. Like this micro-series against Baltimore. Masahiro Tanaka threw 105 pitches in his 6 scoreless innings, giving up 3 hits and 2 walks, and striking out 8 batters to set him up to earn the win tonight.

The Yankees backed his great outing with some well-placed moments of offense. Gardner led-off the 1st inning with a walk, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ walk, and then scored the Yankees’ first run of the night on Gleyber Torres’ single. In the 3rd, Gardner led-off once again, this time with a single, stole 2nd, ended up at 3rd when Stanton hit into a fielding error, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single.

Then in the 5th, the Orioles’ starter quickly loaded the bases by hitting Stanton with a pitch and giving up a single to Gregorius and a walk to Hicks. With 1 out, Greg Bird’s sacrifice fly scored Stanton, and then Miguel Andujar smacked a big 3-run home run into the left field seats, the difference maker in tonight’s game.

Following Tanaka’s outing, the Yankees turned to their bullpen to close out the game. AJ Cole had a clean 7th but then had trouble in the 8th inning, giving up a single, a walk, and a 2-run double before finally getting an out. So the Yankees turned to Dellin Betances. Unfortunately, a passed ball made things more complicated as the runner went to 3rd as Higashioka recovered and threw it down to 3rd but then a missed catch error allowed that runner to score another run for the O’s. Chapman wrapped things up with a quick 13-pitch 9th inning, his 29th save.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

JA Happ has a mild case of “foot, hand and mouth disease“, which is basically a highly contagious rash accompanied by fever, sore throat, and feeling gross. The Yankees are still counting on Happ to make his start on Saturday due to the “mild” part of that diagnosis, as a standard case usually takes about 10 days to clear up. However, Cessa is prepared to be recalled as his replacement, if necessary.

The Yankees have made some key trades already leading up to the deadline (5pm earlier today, July 31). But over the last couple of days, including yesterday’s off-day, there was just a few more. Late Sunday night, the Yankees traded minor league pitcher Caleb Frare to the White Sox for Future Considerations and signed 16-year-old international free agent and Cuban pitcher Osiel Rodriguez, currently the #10 prospect on the international market.

Two other big trades moved some things for the Yankees. They got veteran pitcher Lance Lynn (who was previously with the Cardinals) from the Twins in exchange for infielder Tyler Austin and minor league pitcher Luis Rijo. And Adam Warren is on his way to Seattle in a trade for Future Considerations.

Essentially, the Yankees acquired about $3.75 million for “Future Considerations”, or money to sign free agents off the international market. This is clearly a sign the Yankees are investing in their future player development program more than some high-priced one-off players. It’s also a sign that they’re pretty happy with the way most of the roster looks like right now, despite having starting players like Sanchez, Judge, and even Montgomery on the DL currently.

This idea is similar to a conversation that I had recently about the look of baseball. With the retirement of the most recent crop of super stars (like Jeter, Rodriguez, Ortiz, Beltran, and Ichiro), there doesn’t seem to be a focus so much on the individual stars. Sure, everyone knows Trout, Harper and Judge, but they don’t have the kind of celebrity and clout that their recent predecessors have. This is, of course, a hugely complex issue involving the rise of social media, the increase of trades, and the lack of some organizations’ player development programs.

But I’m okay with that. It gets people back to the game itself. Sure, the Trout-Harper-Judge trifecta sell shirts and specialized merchandise, but people are going to games because they love the sport. It may make name-recognition harder for fans outside a home town, but it has a refreshing side-effect.

Rarely now do I hear that so-called fans are just at a game for a particular player, something you’d hear frequently during the height of the previous celebrity era. (Though they might still go donning that jersey and get rather upset when you tell them he wasn’t a particularly good player in comparison to his current replacement.) Now, people just love a team or even the game in general. That will create true baseball fans and not just people who “stan” a certain ball player.

Go ahead and ask a fan in the stands (especially a kid) next game who their favorite current player is. I bet they’ll name a few local guys, maybe even a couple on another team. But ask them who their favorite team is. It’s a no-doubter.

Go Yankees!

Game 101: KC vs. NYY — A fractured win & another big trade, there was also a game

Much of tonight’s game was bookended by a big trade announcement and a rather disappointing injury. It actually kind of overshadowed the fact that there was actually a pretty good game tonight as the Yankees returned to the Bronx to host the first of this 4-game weekend series against the Royals.

Despite this season having consistent bad outings at home, Sonny Gray flipped the switch and had a good one. He threw 75 pitches in 5 scoreless innings, gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 5 batters to earn the much-needed win. And the Yankee batters actually gave him quite the cushion to work the win.

In the 1st, with 1 out, Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch on the right wrist. But he initially stayed in the game (more below), ended up on 3rd on Gregorius’ doubles, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly. After Hicks walked, Gleyber Torres made it to 1st on a fielding error, which allowed Gregorius to score.

Then in the 4th, Walker hit a 1-out single and then scored on Austin Romine’s double. After another out, they opted to pinch-hit Judge with Miguel Andujar who benefited from a throwing error. Didi Gregorius promptly followed that up by hitting the 1st pitch of that at-bat into the right field seats for a 3-run home run.

To cap off their scoring tonight, the Yankees ended the Royals’ disappointing start with the 5th inning. Hicks singled, ended up at 3rd on Torres’ single, and then scored on Greg Bird’s sacrifice fly. The Royals’ starter came out after another single and a strikeout, and their relievers certainly had a better night of holding off the Yankees’ offense.

Comparatively, Adam Warren came on for the 6th and promptly gave up a ground-rule double and a 2-run home run to get the Royals on the board before fending them off for a quick 3 outs. Robertson’s 7th inning continued that momentum with his 3 strikeouts. And Zach Britton made his Yankees debut tonight and needed just 10 pitches to sail his way through the 8th inning.

And in the 9th, Chasen Shreve came on and had an eventful outing to close out the game. With 2 outs and 2 runners on 1st and 2nd, the next batter hit a single into center field to a waiting Hicks. Then Hicks fired that ball into Romine at home (at 98.7 mph) to get the lead runner trying to score a run and keep the game going. Instead, the tag was made and the game was over.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

Okay, trade news: The Yankees made yet another big trade. This time, they added to the rotation, as they’ve been trying to do for the last two seasons. The Yankees sent infielder Brandon Drury and outfielding prospect Billy McKinney to the Blue Jays in exchange for veteran starter JA Happ.

Also, before the game, the Yankees activated Zach Britton to help in the 8th inning. To make room, the Yankees optioned Luis Cessa back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

And injury news: In the 5th, Sonny Gray got hit with a comebacker on his hand which primarily hurt his thumb. He was sent to get precautionary x-rays, but they were negative and the Yankees expect him to make his start next week against the Orioles.

Now, Aaron judge sustained a hit by a pitch in the 1st. He, of course, stayed in the game initially and scored the Yankees’ first run of the night. But by the bottom of the 4th, that wrist wasn’t getting any better. First MRIs were “unclear”, so they sent him to the hospital where he ended up being diagnosed with a chip fracture of his right wrist (officially know as the ulnar styloid bone). It doesn’t require surgery, but he won’t be able to resume baseball activities for at least 3 weeks.

Yes, that Judge injury can seem like a big hit for the Yankees, but they do already have quite the depth in the outfield (starters like Gardner, Hicks, and Stanton), as well as depth in the farm system (like Frazier and Shane Robinson). Even without his bat, the Yankees are still stepping up to do their best. The Yankees are leading in home runs with 163, 21 more than 2nd place Angels and Athletics, and just 26 of those are Judge’s (only 16%). Get well soon!

Go Yankees!

Game 96: NYM vs. NYY — Starting the second half with a stumble

And we’re back with baseball for the official second half of the season. The Yankees are hosting a short home stand, a weekend series against their crosstown rivals, the Mets. And it wasn’t exactly the kind of game they imagined to kick off this half.

Domingo German got the start and just stumbled out of the gate. He threw 71 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 3 Mets’ batters. In the 1st, he gave up a lead-off walk that scored on a 1-out double. After another out, consecutive doubles scored 2 more runs to get things started for the Mets. A lead-off solo home run in the 3rd added one more.

Adam Warren came on to close out the 4th, but then stumbled himself in the 5th. He gave up a lead-off walk who moved to 2nd on a 1-out walk and then scored on an RBI single. Another walk loaded up the bases, and a single scored yet another run while keeping the bases loaded. The next batter hit into a little grounder that the defense kicked in and got the out at home.

Chasen Shreve came in and got a great strikeout to get out of the jam in the 5th. Despite giving up a couple hits in the 6th, Shreve got out of that inning cleanly, setting a pattern for the next few relievers. Green and Holder each took an inning and kept the Mets from adding to their lead. But, in the 9th, AJ Cole gave up a lead-off single, who moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a sacrifice fly to cap off the Mets’ scoring tonight.

To be fair, the Yankee batters were facing a historically good Mets’ pitcher, who kept them to a single run in his 5 innings. In the 3rd, Gardner led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Judge’s single, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly to get the Yankees on the board.

Once the Mets dipped into their bullpen, the Yankees found a better chance to make some advances. With a reliever on the mound in the 6th, Sanchez and Bird hit consecutive singles and then both scored on Neil Walker’s 1-out double. And with a new reliever in the 8th, Gardner made it to 1st on a fielding error, ended up at 3rd on Judge’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. Stanton hit into a simple ground out that scored Judge.

Despite some opportunities and base runners, the Yankees ran out of chances and ended up falling short.

Final score: 7-5 Mets

Scranton Shuttle Alert! On Monday, the Yankees optioned Clint Frazier to AAA. Yesterday, they activated Gary Sanchez from the 10-day Disabled List, fully recovered from his groin strain at the end of last month. With the return of their primary catcher, they had no need for 2 back-up catchers, thus sending Kyle Higashioka back to Scranton. Brandon Drury was recalled to fill that empty roster spot.

In a game yesterday with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Frazier went running for a ball and made a dive in the outfield in the 1st. It shook him up a bit and he was pulled from the game before his 2nd at-bat. After seeing a doctor, he’s back on the DL under concussion protocol. The worst part about concussions is that once you get one, you tend to be prone to them. Head injuries should never be taken lightly, so I’m glad they’re being careful with him. But it’s got to be tough when you just want to play and do what you’ve been dreaming of doing for your entire life.

Go Yankees!

Game 83: ATL vs. NYY — Loading up the runs early help Yankees win

Domingo German got the start for the Yankees’ middle game against the visiting Braves, threw 82 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out 6 Atlanta batters. And actually, most of those offensive feats by the Braves didn’t happen until the 5th inning when German gave up a lead-off walk. Then 1 out later, a 2-run home run, a solo home run, and 2 singles.

Cole came in to load up the bases and get out of that jam with 2 solid strikeouts before breezing his way through the 6th inning. Adam Warren’s 7th inning was the exact opposite. With 1 out and a runner on 1st, he gave up a long 2-run home run. Giancarlo Stanton gave it his all and really tried hard to make that catch, but he dented the right field wall instead. No concussion, just a dent.

Warren got the first out of the 8th before Shreve finished off the rest of the inning with relative ease (and just 8 pitches). Chapman joined the fun with a quick 14-pitch 9th inning (8 of those were over 100 mph).

But the Yankees got on the board first. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Stanton singled and then scored with Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run. Then with 2 outs in the 2nd, Kyle Higashioka got in on the fun with a solo home run into left field (his sweet spot, apparently).

In the 3rd, the Yankees loaded the bases with walks to Judge, Hicks, and Andujar. So with 2 outs, Brandon Drury worked another walk and forced in Judge. The Braves opted to end their starter’s night right there, but their reliever promptly gave up a walk to Higashioka to score Hicks.

Brett Gardner led-off the 4th with a double, moved to 3rd on Judge’s single, and 2 outs later, scored on a wild pitch. And later, in the 8th, with 2 outs and Judge on 2nd, Giancarlo Stanton’s big 2-run home run. Not a bad way to bounce back after denting the back wall in the 7th.

Final score: 8-5 Yankees

Last few days to vote for the All-Star Game starters… go vote!

Go Yankees!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final score: 11-0 Red Sox

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

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

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

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

Go Yankees!

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

Game 77: NYY vs. PHI — Yankees find freedom of home runs

The Yankees are certainly loving “The Cradle of Liberty”, as they are finding a nice way to bounce back after this last weekend. Luis Severino continues his dominance and campaign for that coveted Cy Young award in the middle game of this series against the Phillies. He threw 103 pitches in 7 scoreless innings, gave up 6 hits, and struck out 9 Philadelphia batters to earn his 12th win of the season.

Adam Warren came on to continue the scoreless momentum through the 8th inning. Chasen Shreve redeemed himself a bit from recent less-than-stellar outings with his own scoreless 9th inning. Boone later admitted to wanting Shreve to try his hand at less crucial moments to see if he can rediscover what made him a reliable force in the bullpen.

Of course, in order to be a “less crucial moment”, the Yankees’ offense started early and often. Aaron Hicks led-off the game with a strong solo home run straight up the middle of the park, just 3 minutes into the game actually. Not a bad way to kick off the game.

Then in the 3rd, with 1 out, Hicks and Judge each singled, and then Gregorius made it to 1st to load up the bases thanks to a throwing error. After another out, Gleyber Torres singled home both Hicks and Judge, and Greg Bird followed that with a single to score Gregorius.

Romine led-off the 4th with a nice double, moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly. Then Didi Gregorius got in on the fun with a lead-off home run in the 5th to cap off the Yankees’ offense tonight.

Final score: 6-0 Yankees

During batting practice today, Giancarlo Stanton hit such a long fly ball that it bounced off this large tower beyond the left field seats and landed on the concourse behind the seats. I mean, he’s been known to hit some dingers in the past. There’s a commemorative mark on the floor in Marlins Park so far beyond the field and seats in left-center field it’s crazy. Plus, he and Judge basically competed for who can be the most ridiculous in hitting balls so far during last year’s Home Run Derby.

And speaking of the All-Star Game, they released the latest numbers in fan voting for the AL starters. And while the leaders are kind of running away with their categories, the Yankees are putting in a strong showing. Sanchez is still 2nd among catchers (by about 160,000 votes), which might be good as he’s currently out with that strain he got on Sunday. Torres, Andujar, and Stanton are all distant seconds among 2nd base, 3rd base, and DH, respectively. Gregorius is still 3rd at short stop.

In the outfield, which is quite crowded, Judge is a solid 3rd place, but still way ahead of the next few contenders. So his chances of being a starter are the most likely. In fact, almost all of the starting positions for the AL could represent 8 teams, something that doesn’t happen often. (If you’re wondering, Gardner is 8th and Hicks is 12th.) I imagine the AL coaching team might also choose a pitcher or two to fill out their roster.

So, if you want your votes to count, you need to vote now for your favorite players. You have until July 5 at 11:59 pm EST to vote 5 times every 24 hours up to 35 total times. I’m out of votes, so it’s your turn.

Go Yankees!

Game 73: NYY vs. TB — Falling short at “Yankee Stadium South”

It never fails to make new Yankee players smile, the first time they play at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, hearing the kind of roar and cheers that they get used to hearing at Yankee Stadium. You hear it at Angels Stadium in Anaheim too. So it makes sense to dub that “Yankee Stadium West”, and “The Trop” easily becomes “Yankees Stadium South”, overriding any allusions to Steinbrenner Field for the regular season.

Anyway, for the 27,252 area fans that crowded the small stadium (its capacity just a little over 30,000), at least half of them were Yankees’ fans, though Twitter estimates put them closer to 27,000, which can be the case in many previous seasons. And that certainly had an effect on the overall game, perhaps even helping the Yankees stem the Rays’ strong showing tonight.

CC Sabathia was far from clean in tonight’s opener against the Rays, but somehow got out of most of the jams along the way. He threw 92 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 9 hits, a walk, and 2 runs (1 earned), and striking out just 4 batters. Despite all those base runners, Sabathia didn’t allow any runs until the 4th inning.

With 1 out, he gave up a double and hit the next batter to get 2 more base runners. Then the next batter singled and the Yankees’ defense kicked in to try to get an out somewhere. They ended up trying the one at 2nd, and initially called out, the Rays challenged and it was quickly overturned. Meanwhile, a run scored and 2 runners were in scoring position. The next batter hit into a fielder’s choice that got the out at home, before a simple grounder ended their rally.

Then, in the 5th, the lead-off batter singled and ended up at 2nd on a throwing error by Sabathia’s bad defensive throw to Bird. Another single moved that runner to 3rd before he scored on a long sacrifice fly. A double play ended that threat.

With 1 out and a runner on base with a single in the 6th, Adam Warren came in and managed to load up the bases before getting out of the jam to the delight of the crowd on the 3rd base side of the stadium. Luis Cessa got his shot to test his return from rehab, keeping the Rays to those 2 runs during his 2 innings, despite allowing a couple of base runners himself.

Meanwhile, the Yankees had their moments once again, collecting 6 walks and 5 hits overall, but there was very few that made a difference in the game. In fact, the Rays’ starter only made it through the 1st inning, but his first reliever was actually really strong throwing into the 5th inning. Then they pieced together their bullpen to maintain their home field advantage.

In the 7th, with 1 out, Torres walked and Gardner singled to put runners on the corners. Aaron Judge singled home Torres easily, and a ground out put runners in scoring position. But then sensing their lead might be in trouble, the Rays changed pitchers again and it worked. The Rays stayed strong and that final out in the 9th was a huge letdown for the faithful fans hoping for a big come back they’ve been used to this season.

Final score: 2-1 Rays

Did you vote for the All-Star Game starters yet? Time is running short, so get your votes in now! This round of voting continues until July 5 at 11:59 pm EST.

Go Yankees!