Game 33: CLE vs. NYY — Sonny times defeat Cleveland defensive errors

The Yankees have won 14 of their last 15 games, something that actually has people talking all around the league, because it’s the first time they’ve done so since 1998. (And we all know what happened that year.) Plus, it was a perfect Saturday afternoon for a game, this middle game in the weekend series against the visiting Indians.

Sonny Gray had a much better outing than many of his earlier games this season, throwing 93 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 7 batters. His 2 allowed runs were a 2-out solo home run in the 5th and a ground-rule double that later scored on a ground out.

Chad Green really was the pitcher worth watching today, going 2 full scoreless and hitless innings and throw a dominant and efficient 24 pitches in the 7th and 8th innings, getting 4 of his 6 outs with strong strikeouts. David Robertson closed out the game with 2 more strikeouts in his 9th inning.

Meanwhile, like the Indians, the Yankees’ batters really didn’t get much offenive opportunities until the 5th. With 1 out, Walker and Andujar walked, and Torres singled to load the bases. Then Austin Romine worked a walk to score Walker. Ronald Torreyes hit into a play that ended up moving everyone up 2 bases thanks to 2 errors, so Andujar and Torres both scored, leaving Romine and Torreyes in scoring position. Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Romine.

A new pitcher in the 7th gave up a 1-out double to Romine, after quite the embattled at-bat. The Indians needed to switch some defenders due to an injury where the fielder trying to get Romine’s long-hit ball rammed into the back fence. Romine would go on to score on Gardner’s 2-out single.

Final score: 5-2 Yankees

Injury updates: as you know if you’ve been following this team this season, early last month seemed plagued with injuries. Fortunately, the team has been relatively healthy for a few weeks now, and those on the DL are working their way back as soon as possible. Brandon Drury found a specialist in New York that located an irritated nerve on his neck that has been causing his migraines for years. He is receiving regular treatments, and it’s paying off — his time with AAA Scranton (and now with AA Trenton) have been rather productive. The Yankees aren’t in rush with him as Andujar, Torres, and Torreyes have been outstanding for the Yankees as pinch-bench players in both their offense and defense.

Despite being out for 6-8 weeks with elbow strain, Jordan Montgomery was simply glad it wasn’t going to be the dreaded Tommy John surgery for him, which would mean 12-18 months recovery time. It’s something every pitcher dreads and sits in the back of their minds every time there’s an elbow pain of any kind. So a few weeks must sound like a decent option. It’s not great, but they can make it work on all ends. Especially as Domingo German will get his first MLB start tomorrow against the Indians in the finale of this series.

And speaking of pitchers, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren are back throwing after experiencing some shoulder and back issues (respectively), so the Yankees hope to have these reliable relievers back in the bullpen before the end of the month.

My uncle, the one who’s a huge “Tribe” fan (or a person who roots for Cleveland), texted me after the Yankees won today to tell me that the Yankees were “looking good” and that his team was suffering from “no-bullpen-itis”. I can understand that feeling, as both teams seem to suffer most of their injuries in the bullpen this season (as reflected in the above injury report). But to me, that says more about the difference in their farm systems to rely on those guys when injuries hit the major league level.

So kudos to the Yankees for having the smarts to build the organization deep. And this says far too much about the AL Central because even with these 2 losses, the Indians still lead the division and are the only team above .500. Meanwhile, the Yankees are now just a half-game behind the Red Sox in the AL East, something that clearly will change with the coming series next week.

Go Yankees!

Game 19: TOR vs. NYY — Unnecessary but big inning #6

Sometimes, all it takes in one big inning to make all the difference. But to be totally fair, the Yankees could have completely skipped their big 6th inning and still would have won the game. The Blue Jays just weren’t doing much off the Yankee pitchers today.

Not that I’m complaining…

Jordan Montgomery got the start this afternoon in the third of 4 games this weekend against the visiting Blue Jays, and he had a pretty decent outing. He threw 91 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and a run, and struck out 5 Toronto batters. That lone run came in his weakest inning — the 5th. A lead-off walk moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on another single. But then Montgomery and the defense kicked it up a notch and got the necessary 3 outs to get out of the lone troublesome inning.

Montgomery actually set a pretty good pattern for his 2 relievers to follow. Chasen Shreve’s 7th inning was flawless, and recently recalled Jonathan Holder threw rather efficiently in the scoreless 8th and 9th innings.

Like I said, there was one big inning that actually didn’t matter for the Yankees’ offense. And that’s because of Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge in the 3rd. With 2 outs, Gardner worked a walk, and then on a 3-0 count, Judge hit a big 2-run home run into the 2nd deck of the left field seats to give the Yankees an early lead. So with that lone run by the Blue Jays in the 5th, the Yankees were sitting pretty.

But why not have a big 6th inning along the way? The Yankees sent 12 batters up in the inning because the Blue Jays’ starter his initial reliever were just not able to find those 3 outs. Gardner led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, watched Judge work a walk, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single. With Stanton’s walk (and still no outs), the bases were loaded. Aaron Hicks hit into a failed force attempt, where the pitcher fielded a short grounder poorly in an attempt to get the out at home. But a missed catch error scored Judge and kept the bases loaded.

After a strikeout (the first out of this half-inning), Miguel Andujar’s double cleared the bases, scoring 3 more runs. (So, have we talked about how amazing this guy is yet? I’m pretty sure he’s this year’s Torreyes.) That would be the end of the Jays’ starter, but his reliever had issues too, promptly giving up a walk to Romine and a short single to Torreyes loaded up the bases again. Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Andujar, and Aaron Judge’s single scored Romine to cap off the Yankees’ monster inning.

It’s worth noting the Yankees actually loaded up the bases again in the 7th, but a former teammate was able to pitch out of his jam and the Yankees left them loaded. Again, not that they needed more runs.

Final score: 9-1 Yankees

Roster/injuries: before today’s game, Adam Warren was sent to the 10-day disabled list with back strain. In his place, the Yankees called up Jonathan Holder, who was able to pitch and dominate in today’s game.

And before this afternoon’s game, the Yankees hosted a Little League Parade, something do every year before select games. Local teams come, dressed in their team jerseys and hats, and parade around the field on the warning track. And then they and their parents get to watch a great game.

Here are some pictures from today’s parade. And what a great game they got to see! (With some pretty great weather!)

Go Yankees!

Game 18: TOR vs. NYY — Not so “Sonny” & still a chilly April in the Bronx

I’m so tired of talking about the weather. But when the first pitch comes with a temperature of 46° and a wind chill of 37°, it’s hard not to factor in the lingering winter-like chill, despite the calendar clearly indicating late April. I’d blame that as to why the Blue Jays, who play in Toronto, but my argument falls short as they have a retractable roof, and most of their players are not from the frigid north. I mean, perhaps, the initial idea was to form teams from players in the area, but 149 years later, rarely do you truly get a “hometown hero”. (For reference: the Yankees have one — Dellin Betances, who was born and raised in New York and grew up a big Yankees fan.)

So I guess it’s just down to the basics — the team that scored the most runs won. And the team that pitched less clean lost. Sonny Gray just had a really tough time in tonight’s start. He threw 73 pitches into the 4th inning, giving up 5 hits, 4 walks, and 5 runs, and couldn’t strike out a Blue Jay batter at all. With 1 out in the 3rd, he gave up a walk and a 2-run home run. In the 4th, a lead-off double scored on a ground-rule double. A single put runners on the corners before both scored on a 1-out single. After giving up a walk, the Yankees opted to end Gray’s troubled night.

They brought in Domingo German in relief, and despite promptly loading up the bases with a walk, he got out of the inning with 2 short fly outs to keep the Jays from adding to their score. But German had his own troubles in the 5th. A lead-off walk, a single, and a 1-out walk loaded the bases. A short single scored one run, and a 2-out walk scored one more, before German got out of a bases-loaded jam.

Adam Warren came on in relief and promptly gave up a solo home run to lead off the 6th inning. But then quickly got 3 outs before dominating the 7th and most of the 8th and keeping the Jays from doing any further damage. Chasen Shreve closed out the 8th and sailed through the 9th — throwing just 10 pitches for his 4 outs.

It is worth noting that the Yankee pitchers gave up 9 hits and 9 walks, and their bullpen collected 7 strikeouts (as Gray got none in his start). That’s 18 allowed base runners tonight.

The Yankees actually got on the board first in the 2nd inning. Hicks worked a 1-out walk and then scored as part of Tyler Austin’s 2-run home run. In the 3rd, Gregorius hit a 2-out single and then was part of Giancarlo Stanton’s 2-run home run. And in the 4th, Miguel Andujar hit a bit 2-out solo home run.

All the Yankee runs today were scored off home runs. That says a lot about the Blue Jays’ defense tonight, as the Yankees actually racked up 11 total hits and a walk.

Final score: 8-5 Blue Jays

On the plus side: for those local Yankee fans heading out to the game this weekend, the temperatures are going to be around 60°, sunny and clear skies. In other words, Spring may peak its head out this weekend and prove some great days for baseball. Hopefully, the on-field performance will be as positive and hopeful as the Yankees finish this series against the Blue Jays.

Also, after some rather tepid (often nearing ranting level) responses to his home run call for Stanton, Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling found a new one, which he showed off during Stanton’s 3rd inning blast. Oh, and Sterling sings. Thoughts?

Go Yankees!

Game 15: MIA vs. NYY — #SevySharp in rout

Detroit was rather a disappointing weekend in an unusual way. After their victory on Friday night, the freezing rain and continuous downpour forced Saturday afternoon’s game to be rescheduled to Sunday for a double-header. But then the weather continued to sour and flood the field at Comerica Park. So, the double-header was then rescheduled for their next overlapping free day — June 4. Saturday’s makeup game will be recognized as the first game, and Sunday’s makeup game (including honoring the 71st anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s rookie season) will be the night game.

Instead, the Yankees headed back home to face off against the visiting Marlins starting tonight for a quick 2-game micro-series. And no, a certain minority owner and new executive was not and will not be present for the series. Not that he’d want to see how his team did in tonight’s game. Those in the Steinbrenner box had no such problems tonight.

Luis Severino was dominant in his start tonight, throwing 86 pitches in his 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 1 hit and 1 walk, striking out 8 Miami batters. Severino ended up with his 3rd win already this season. But his next relievers got into a couple of jams and then proved they were capable of getting out them relatively unscathed.

In the 7th, Adam Warren gave up 2 singles and a walk to load up the bases before getting that third out to escape the inning. Chasen Shreve came on for the 8th and his first batter made it safely to base on a fielding error, before loading up the bases with a single and a walk with 1 out. A force out at 2nd allowed that lead runner to score an unearned run. Another walk loaded the bases again, but Shreve got a fly out to end the threat. And that would be the only run the Marlins would score tonight — an unearned run. Dellin Betances closed out the 9th inning, keeping the Marlins to that lone run.

Meanwhile, (and how do I say this nicely?) the Marlins pitching and defense left much to be desired tonight. In the 1st, the Yankees quickly loaded up the bases with Gardner’s lead-off single and 2 walks to Judge and Stanton. Gary Sanchez’s 1-out single kept the bases loaded but scored Gardner. Then Tyler Austin worked a 2-out walk to walk in Judge. Aaron Judge later hit a big 2-out solo home run in the 2nd to add to the score.

In the 3rd, Gregorius led-off with a walk and moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s single before they both scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. After Andujar walked, the Marlins decided their poor starter had enough and went to their bullpen. A quick double play made them think they made the right decision. But then the Yankees came back strong again in the 4th. With 2 outs, Stanton was hit by a pitch and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run to add more to the Yankees’ growing lead.

Tyler Austin led-off the 5th with a double and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s double. Torreyes’ single and Gardner’s walk loaded up the bases (with no outs), and Judge’s single scored Andujar. After finally getting 2 outs, Sanchez hit a long single to score the speedy Torreyes and Gardner. And in the 7th, Didi Gregorius hit his 2nd homer of the game, a 1-out solo shot into the Yankees’ bullpen to cap off the Yankees’ rout of the Marlins in Bronx Bomber fashion.

It is worth noting that of the 15 total hits and 8 walks, every Yankees starting player tonight made it on base, most more than once and most helping make that 12 run score possible.

Final score: 12-1 Yankees

That home run in the 2nd was Aaron Judge’s 60th career home run. He is the fastest player to ever reach 60 homers, which he did in 197 games. He supplants Mark McGwire who reached 60 homers in 202 games with the Athletics in 1987-1988. He has also hit safely in 17 games, a continuous streak that is worth watching early this season.

Roster moves (warming up the Scranton Shuttle): the Yankees optioned pitcher Luis Cessa back and sent outfielder Shane Robinson outright to AAA Scranton. Jace Peterson was designated for assignment and elected free agency at the end of the waiting period rather than being outrighted back to the minors, and the gamble was worth it because the Yankees re-signed him and added him to the roster prior to tonight’s game.

Injury updates: Greg Bird is recovering well from his ankle surgery, expecting to be back late May or early June. And Jacoby Ellsbury’s oblique injury is healed, and his hip soreness is healing thanks to treatments and cortisone injections. But plantar fasciitis (often in response to overuse of the foot or overstressing the arch) is plaguing him now. Let me just say, that makes basic things like running and walking rather difficult.

Brandon Drury is still dealing with his migraine issues with anti-inflammatories and specialists. Migraine sufferers learn to deal with a number of debilitating symptoms, and Drury’s blurry vision is probably his worst. He even admitted to stepping into the batter’s box in previous seasons with blurry vision due to his migraines, and if you’ve ever done even batting cages, you can imagine that trying to hit a ball traveling 90+ mph with blurry vision and a pounding headache doesn’t exactly help matters.

One more game against the Marlins before an off-day and then a 4-game series against the Blue Jays and a 4-game series against the Twins for this long 10-game (and 1 off-day) home stand. And tonight was a pretty good start.

Go Yankees!

Game 10: BAL vs. NYY — 12th inning fumble

Let’s just say that I don’t think I’m the only person who’s glad this weekend series is over. Two extra innings games in a single series is exhausting. And only about a few people (the players and coaches, plus grounds crew and stadium staff) can actually say that justifiably. Today’s extra innings game was mercifully an afternoon start, but it still ran four hours and 48 minutes in total.

Neither starter had a stellar day. The Yankees took advantage of the Orioles’ starter’s off day right in the 1st inning. Gardner and Judge hit consecutive singles, and with 1 out, Neil Walker hit into a failed force attempt that scored Gardner. Austin worked a walk to load up the bases, and Miguel Andujar singled home both Judge and Walker. Austin Romine’s 2-out single then scored Tyler Austin, and Ronald Torreyes’ double scored Andujar. The Orioles had seen enough and pulled their starter right there in the 1st inning, and from there the Yankees struggled against their bullpen.

Meanwhile, the Yankees sent Jordan Montgomery to the mound to start this finale against the Orioles. Montgomery threw 86 pitches into the 5th, but still gave up 10 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, striking out just 4 batters. In other words, down 5 runs, the Orioles spent the rest of the game chipping away at that large lead. In the 2nd, a lead-off double scored on an RBI single to start the O’s scoring. Then in the 3rd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a single, advanced to 3rd on a double play, and then scored on another single.

In the 5th, with 1 out and a single on base, a big 2-run home run put the Orioles within a run. That was it for Montgomery’s outing today. Domingo German came on to close out that inning. And the Yankees answered back in the bottom of that inning with Walker’s lead-off single. He then moved to 2nd on a ground out and to 3rd on a 2-out single by Peterson (after a challenge overturned an original out call). Austin Romine singled Walker home.

But the Orioles answered that one in the 6th — a lead-off single stole 2nd, and then scored on a 2-out single — and in the 7th — a 1-out walk scored as part of a 2-run home run to put the O’s in the lead for the first time this afternoon.

Now, in order to push this into extra innings, the Yankees needed to tie this game up, so they found their opportunity in the 7th. Austin hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Andujar’s walk, ended up at 3rd on Peterson’s fielder’s choice, hung out for a pitching change, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single to tie up the game.

Betances, Chapman, Shreve, and Robertson breezed their way through the 8-11th innings. But then so did their counterparts. The Yankees offense certainly had their moments to hope and hold on, but there just wasn’t enough to cobble together anything to break the tie.

In the 12th, Adam Warren took the mound and the Orioles saw their own opportunity to advance. Warren gave up a 1-out walk and a 2-out single. Another single scored the Orioles’ go-ahead run. But the Yankees battled back in the bottom of the inning. Romine and Gregorius each worked walks, and Gardner’s sacrifice bunt loaded up the bases thanks to a fielding error. With no outs, Judge hit a comebacker to the pitcher who quickly got the double play at home and 3rd to cut down the lead runners. A strike out later, the game was over.

Final score: 8-7 Orioles, in 12 innings, Orioles win series 3-1

It’s worth noting that neither pitching staff came off as perfectly clean, both staffs giving up 16 hits each and still striking out 12 and 15 (Yankee and Orioles, respectively) batters. It just means things weren’t as neat as they probably should be in a regular game.

Next up: the Yankees head up to Fenway to face the Red Sox for a mid-week 3 game series, starting Tuesday. (Tomorrow is an off-day/travel day.) Currently, the Red Sox are on quite a winning streak of 8 games, after losing their opener. Yes, the Red Sox are 8-1 for the season so far.

But no worries, Yankee Universe, it’s been just 10 games. It’s barely April. There’s still 152 games left to play, or 94% of the season left to play. Talk to me in like July if you feel like panicking or calling for Boone/Stanton’s resignation.

Go Yankees!

Game 9: BAL vs. NYY — It may be chilly once again, but it’s always “Sonny” when the bats work.

Well, it seems like just a few hours ago we were talking baseball. Because it was literally just hours ago when last night’s game finally came to a close after 14 innings. But it didn’t seem like it shook the Yankees’ efforts all that much today. In fact, the windy chill of the air in the neighborhood of 42° at first pitch was much more of an issue than lack of sleep for both the Yankees and the Orioles in the third game of this 4-game weekend series.

Neither seemed to faze starter Sonny Gray, who gave the Yankees a strong 6 innings. Throwing 86 pitches, he gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out just 4 Baltimore batters. In the 3rd, a 2-out single joined the lead-off walk on the base paths, and both scored on a long double to get the O’s on the board. With 2 outs in the 4th, a single then scored on an RBI double to cap off the Orioles’ scoring today.

Adam Warren struggled a bit in the 7th, giving up 2 hits and only getting 1 out, but then David Robertson came in to work his “Houdini” magic, and blast through the next 5 outs, 4 of which were unbelievable strikeouts. Because it’s standard David Robertson. Luis Cessa came on to close out the 8th with a quick 3 outs in just 10 pitches.

Meanwhile, the Yankees offense didn’t seem to realize it was missing hours of sleep, racking up 11 total hits and 7 walks over this afternoon. Andujar led-off the 2nd with a single (his first of the season), moved to 2nd on a ground out, but then was thrown out at 3rd on a fielder’s choice Romine hit into. Romine would move to 3rd on Torreyes’ double before they both scored on Brett Gardner’s single. Down by a run, in the 5th with 1 out, Torreyes singled, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s walk, hustled to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Aaron Judge’s ground out to tie up the game.

But the Yankees weren’t going to let this game go. Gregorius led off the 6th with walk, ended up at 3rd on Austin’s single, and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s sacrifice fly. Tyler Austin later scored on Austin Romine’s single (thanks to a miscommunication of fielders). And in the 7th, Gardner led-off with a walk and then scored on Aaron Judge’s double. Judge moved to 3rd on a fly out before the Orioles intentionally walked Gregorius. Gregorius promptly stole 2nd, which they would need as both runners scored on Tyler Austin’s single.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

After all the injuries yesterday, we all knew roster moves were inevtiable. Today, the Yankees made their moves. They placed Brandon Drury on the 10-day disabled list with his severe migraines, something he apparently has struggled with for about six years. They also placed CC Sabathia on the 10-day disabled list with right hip strain due to his hip soreness during his shortened outing last night. He will probably only miss one start, but the Yankees aren’t taking any chances with their veteran starter.

But then in their place, the Yankees had to make further movies. They optioned Jonathan Holder to AAA Scranton after his 42-pitch outing last night. They selected the contract of infielder Jace Peterson (who actually made the start in the outfield today and did a really good job). They also recalled pitchers Domingo German and Luis Cessa (who pitched a flawless 9th today) to fill out their depleted bullpen.

And in other injury news: the Yankees announced that reliever Ben Heller underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday after being shelved from baseball activities initially due to a bone spur in his throwing elbow. Surgery soon became inevitable, so they transferred him to the 60-day DL this week. He will be looking at that 12-18 month recovery period, with an eye on sometime early in the 2019 season with a return to the mound.

There was a rather moving piece featuring today’s starter in the recent edition of Yankees Magazine (which also serves as the game day program at Yankee Stadium). It’s worth the read, especially for those of you in Yankee Universe less familiar with what kind of player and man Sonny Gray is. He’s clearly been a good addition to the rotation and the clubhouse, and hopefully, he will continue to make his mark with the Yankees for seasons to come.

Go Yankees!

Game 7: BAL vs. NYY — That pesky 7th inning…

The Yankees played their first game under the lights in Yankee Stadium this season, with a brisk 43° at first pitch. The visiting Orioles ready to start their 4-game series against the Yankees, but the Yankees trying to continue their home winning streak.

They turned to Masahiro Tanaka with that hope, and Tanaka held the Orioles scoreless for most of his outing, throwing 93 pitches into the 7th inning. A bit sloppy in the 1st, he was aided by a great relay and tag out at home (which was originally safe but then challenged and overturned) to close out the inning, giving him the boost he needed for the next few innings of dominance. He was doing so well until the 7th inning, where he gave up a single, a 2-run home run, an out, and another single to get the Orioles on the board.

Chad Green came on in relief but had his own issues. He gave up a single and an RBI double before getting another out for the inning. Another long single scored 2 more runs for the O’s in this 5-run inning of theirs.

Adam Warren and Dellin Betances each pitched an inning to close out the game in hope the Yankees could mount a comeback. But the Yankees offense was nearly equally as stymied as their pitching had been on the O’s. The Yankees were scoreless through 5 innings, only getting a single hit (and 3 walks). But then Aaron Judge hit a 2-out solo home run in the 6th to get the Yankees on the board.

After that big 7th inning for Orioles, the Yankees had 2 more chances to mount their comeback. In the bottom of the 7th, Gregorius led-off with a double and then scored on Neil Walker’s 1-out single. Then in the 8th, Gardner led-off with an eventual walk. Actually, there was a brief moment where it looked like he might have been hit by a pitch, but after a challenge, the call was upheld. After 2 outs, Gregorius and Sanchez were both hit by pitches (maybe there was something to the previous challenge?), but 1 out later, the inning and opportunity was over.

And that was it.

Final score: 5-2 Orioles

Injury update: Clint Frazier played in a simulated game today in Tampa and will be working his way back into regular baseball activities, eventually seeing some minor league at-bats in a sort of extended Spring Training. This is great news because it means that he’ll be coming off the concussion list soon and potentially seeing some play time in the Bronx outfield due to the dwindled outfield staff right now.

On a funny note: as with many windy days, the wind has a tendency to grab all sorts of litter and debris and bounce it all over the field. Yesterday was no exception, and players often have to battle random pieces of trash as they play through the game. Normally, a bit of trash isn’t that big of a deal, but a rather large plastic bag found its way to Ronald Torreyes. Torreyes didn’t let that stop him though, grabbing the rubbish, smooshing it down, and pocketing it to dispose of it later. It was man vs. plastic, and man won.

Go Yankees!