Game 115: TEX vs. NYY — Less than ideal pitching halt late power surge

Masahiro Tanaka’s streak was broken in tonight’s game by a strange power surge by the Rangers. Before Tanaka’s outing tonight, he was floating on a 14-game win streak of games he started since April 17, some were ultimate “no-decisions” as they were won later in the game, but he still had 9 W’s in his statistics.

Tanaka threw 96 pitches through 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out just 2 batters. Actually, he held off the Rangers for the first third of the game. Things began to crumble in the 4th with a lead-off single that scored on a 2-run home run and a 1-out solo homer to give the Rangers the lead. And in the 5th, with 1 out and runners on the corners, a long double scored both runners to pad their lead.

AJ Cole didn’t have a great outing either. With 2 outs in the 6th, a walk and a double both scored on a single and throwing error. Another single scored that runner. And a 1-out solo shot in the 7th added another run for the Rangers.

Chad Green’s 8th also faced troubles. With 1 out and runners on the corners again, a double scored both runs to cap off the Rangers’ night. Zach Britton easily had the best outing from the Yankees’ pitching staff tonight, throwing a scoreless 9th, the first scoreless inning for the Rangers since the 3rd inning.

The Yankees spent half the game being held off by the Rangers’ starter. It wasn’t until the 5th that Brett Gardner broke through with a nice 1-out solo home run into the Yankees’ bullpen to finally get the Yankees on the board. In the 6th, Stanton worked a 1-out walk, and Gregorius hit a 2-out single. Miguel Andujar hit a ground-rule double to score Stanton, and Luke Voit got his first Yankee RBI with a single that scored Gregorius and Andujar.

A new pitcher got the Rangers out of the inning, but then gave up a lead-off home run to Austin Romine. And in the 8th (with another new pitcher), Gregorius and Andujar singled and later moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. They both scored on Romine’s single to inch the Yankees closer. But a new reliever closed out the rally and the final reliever closed out the game with 2 strikeouts and a pop-up, and the Yankees ran out of outs to stage another one.

Final score: 12-7 Rangers

And in amusing news (because we really need it after tonight’s game): a eagle-eyed Yankee fan caught last night’s winning pitcher JA Happ taking the subway home after the game. Fellow New Yorkers were certainly appreciative of the little things that matter to daily train riders — his bag was down and out of the way of people, he kept to himself (no man-spreading), and he blended into the crowd seamlessly. The picture the fan caught was probably Happ looking up at the map to affirm how many more stops until the one he takes.

So, welcome to New York, JA! It looks like you’re right at home both on the field and on the subway.

And to be fair, lots of Yankee players do take the train to work if they live in the City. Many of those with families live outside the City and thus drive into work like nearly everyone else does every day. And as someone who takes the subway a lot whenever I’m in the City, I’m a little confused as to why this is news. But after thinking about it I figured out two things I think help players feel comfortable taking public transportation in the City.

First, in this day and age, when baseball stars are less about personalities and more about their performance (as we talked about in previous posts), your average person is more concerned if they’re going to make it to work on time than whether the guy next to them is a celebrity pro-athlete.

And second, there are a lot of celebrities who live in the City and it’s basically a live set, so seeing celebrities (or people who sort of look like someone who could be famous) is a frequent occasion, and again, people are more concerned about their own daily lives than bugging someone who might be famous on the train.

So, perhaps, it’s big news outside of the City for people who don’t always take the train. Who don’t know what a commonality this is for New Yorkers (to both use the subway and see celebs frequently). Or non-Yankee or baseball fans who won’t know or care who last night’s starting pitcher was. I think there’s more news to be had about the MTA’s archaic signal system and the occassional rodent carrying pizza around the tracks.

Go Yankees!

Game 111: NYY vs. CHW — A shutout gem from Lynn to reset the Yankees

Perhaps it was a mix of things — Lynn’s sharp pitching, the sloppy defense by the White Sox, or sheer desperation of the Yankees to pull themselves out of this skid — but things worked in the Yankees’ favor tonight (finally) after having some recent issues where they just weren’t looking like the 2018 Yankees we’ve seen most of this season.

Still rather new to the Yankees, veteran starter Lance Lynn proved his trade was worth it with a really great outing in tonight’s opener in Chicago. Lynn threw 108 pitches into the 8th inning, giving up just 2 hits and a walk, and striking out 9 White Sox batters. After a single allowed in the 1st, he got 19 consecutive outs before giving up a single in the 8th. He and the Yankee defense refused to let the White Sox do much of anything tonight.

After a standing ovation from a healthy contingency of Yankee fans in the stands on the Chicago’s south side, Lynn would cede the game to AJ Cole. Cole held the White Sox to their scoreless game through his 5 outs to close out the game.

The Yankee bats, meanwhile, took a bit to wake up. But then they were back to form. In the 4th, with 1 out, Stanton doubled and moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ double. He scored on Aaron Hicks’ single, and Gregorius then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single.

Later in the 5th, with 1 out, Higashioka and Gardner each singled to put them on the corners. A wild pitch had Kyle Higashioka scoring the next run, and Didi Gregorius’ single saw the speedy Brett Gardner rushing all the way home from 2nd to just beat the tag at home.

And to cap off the night, Gleyber Torres hit a 1-out solo home run in the 8th, and after Andujar worked a 2-out walk, he would score as part of Neil Walker’s big 2-run home run to solidify the Yankees’ big night.

Final score: 7-0 Yankees

It looks like starter JA Happ will be able to return for his scheduled start on Thursday when the Yankees return to the Bronx to face the Rangers. Happ has been dealing with the effects of hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is initially highly contagious and consists mostly of a bad rash and feeling feverish and generally terrible for about 7-10 days. Not exactly ideal for the kind of exertion one needs to pitch in a professional baseball game.

And Aaron Judge is doing some basic baseball activities with the team during the pre-game warm-ups in Chicago. He is traveling with the team while resting his chip-fractured wrist. He has yet to swing a bat because it’s still a broken bone that causes some pain and discomfort.

Initially, he was given a rough estimate of 3 weeks when he got his diagnosis (July 26), which would be August 16. But I think most people agree that we’d rather he be at 100% than risk a recurrence or be only at half his potential. Fortunately, with a break, it’s easier to tell when it’s healed, in that there’s no more break. It’s why sprains and strains are harder to gauge — there’s not definitive sign for healing that’s consistent with every person. Injuries still stink either way.

Go Yankees!

Game 109: NYY vs. BOS — No “Chance” against MLB leaders

The Yankees are hitting this crucial series against the Red Sox at a really bad time. The Red Sox are easily the best team in baseball, by a long shot now, and their recent trades helped make them even stronger, including picking up a key former Yankee pitcher to start today’s game. In comparison, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball, but when you have a tight division battle like the Red Sox vs. Yankees, it’s going to look like the worst weekend ever. Plus, there’s still one more game.

To help the Yankees’ bad start to the weekend series, the Yankees called up prospect pitcher Chance Adams to start this afternoon’s game, the third game of this 4-game weekend series. And he did a great job for his MLB debut, throwing 85 pitches in 5 innings, giving up just 3 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and striking out just 2 batters.

In the 1st, with 1 out, a single took 2nd on a passed ball and then scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board early. They added one more run with a 1-out solo Green Monster homer in the 4th. But other than that, Adams (and the Yankees’ defense) held them off quite effectively. And any other game, that might have been enough to work.

Chad Green threw a beautiful 13-pitch scoreless 6th inning. AJ Cole got a quick 2 outs in the 7th but then gave up a single that moved to 2nd on another single and then scored on a ground-rule double before getting out of the inning and then throwing a clean 8th inning.

Again, all this should be enough if the Yankee batters do their jobs. But once again, the Boston starter had a great outing, and that made all the difference in the game. The former Yankee starter threw 93 pitches through 8 scoreless innings, with the Yankees only collecting 3 hits and a walk along the way.

For some reason, the Red Sox felt their lead was enough to call in their close, despite not being a save situation, and the Yankees at last found their long-awaited opportunity for a rally. After 2 quick outs, Giancarlo Stanton hit a solid double and then gave the Yankees a modicum of hope on Didi Gregorius’ double. That hope got bigger with walks to Hicks and Torres to load the bases.

But a shortened swing ended up a short fly ball to center field to end the rally hopes and the game, once again stranding runners for any potential to take back this game.

Final score: 4-1 Red Sox

Maybe Sunday’s game will be better somehow. I’m cautiously optimistic because stranger things have happened, especially in these long-time rivalry games. You just never know.

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: Before the game, the Yankees selected the contract of Chance Adams, calling him up from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. To make room, they optioned pitcher Tommy Kahnle back to AAA.

Go Yankees!

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 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 91: NYY vs. BAL — Strong shutout finale in Baltimore

It was a great night for Sonny Gray to close out this series in Baltimore tonight. Gray threw 90 pitches in 6 scoreless innings, gave up just 3 hits and a walk, and struck out an impressive 8 batters along the way to earning a great (and much-needed) win. AJ Cole followed his lead with 2 more scoreless innings, and Chasen Shreve closed out the game with a scoreless 9th to seal the Yankees’ shutout of the home team.

The Yankee batters gave Gray a hefty lead to feel rather secure tonight. In the 3rd, with 1 out, Gardner worked a walk, moved to 3rd on Judge’s single, and then was caught out on a fielder’s choice off Gregorius’ hit. Giancarlo Stanton singled home Judge to get the Yankees on the board, and Hicks then loaded the bases with a walk. It would be Greg Bird to really make an impact with his first career grand slam, a big home run to the right field seats.

Tyler Wade led-off the 6th inning with his first solo home run. (The Red Sox fan who caught the game on a whim during a business trip happily returned the ball for Wade’s keepsake collection.) And Austin Romine hit a 2-out solo home run in the 7th to jump in on the fun of the night.

The Yankees got creative in the 8th. With 1 out, Gregorius doubled and then moved to 3rd on Stanton’s single. A new reliever allowed Aaron Hicks to make it safely to 1st on a sloppy missed catch error, as Gregorius hustled home for an unearned run. In the 9th, Frazier hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Judge’s walk, ended up at 3rd on Gregorius’ grounder, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single.

Final score: 9-0 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1 (Yes, there were 4 games this week, but technically, the first game of the doubleheader was part of a previous series and thus is wrapped into that result to be concluded next month.)

Next up: The Yankees begin a 4-game weekend series in Cleveland tomorrow night, the final series before the All-Star Break. After the Break, the Yankees will host their cross-town rivals next weekend for a short home stand before hitting the road again.

Big bummer on the All-Star Game front — Giancarlo Stanton ended up 3rd in the Final Vote. Fans selected Mariners’ shortstop Jean Segura and Brewers’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar. That leaves just Judge, Severino, Chapman, and Torres to represent the Yankees in D.C. next Tuesday at the All-Star Game.

And the participants in the Home Run Derby were announced tonight, and it’s an interesting mix of players, all but 1 are from the NL, despite the fact that most of the home run leaders are in the AL — Jesus Aguilar (Brewers), Bryce Harper (Nationals), Max Muncy (Dodgers), Alex Bregman (Astros), Kyle Schwarber (Cubs), Javier Baez (Cubs), Freddie Freeman (Braves), and Rhys Hoskins (Phillies).

What is most interesting is that the top seed of the Derby (Aguilar) is actually 6th on the home run leaders (not including potential changes from games today) behind Martinez (Red Sox), Ramirez (Indians), Judge, Trout (Angels), and Lindor (Indians), notably all AL power-hitters, by the way. The selected Derby participants have 14-23 home runs this season. Now, it’s worth noting that if 14 home runs was the base line for being in the Derby, Judge, Stanton, Hicks, Gregorius, Torres, and Sanchez all qualified. (And 14 homer put 14 players tied at 55th place on the stats.)

 

I mean, congratulations to all the selected participants, all but Harper are first-time participants. Harper was last in the Derby in 2013 and came in 2nd. I’m just a little confused as to the process of selecting the Home Run Derby participants this year. Unless of course, 47 other players turned down the opportunity, which is quite possibly like Judge’s adamant refusal to do so starting in March.

Go Yankees!

Game 82: ATL vs. NYY — 11th inning oopsie

The Yankees had a ridiculous amount of opportunities to make the difference of the game, pretty consistently throughout, and yet didn’t do much along the lines of the Yankees’ offense this past weekend. They ended up leaving 12 runners in scoring position in the game, mostly in the latter half.

Jonathan Loaisiga got the start in tonight’s opener against the Braves, throwing 92 pitches in just 4 innings, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs, and striking out just 3 Atlanta batters. The lead-off batter in the 3rd hit a solo shot to get the Braves on the board. Then in the 4th, with 1 out, Loaisiga gave up 3 consecutive doubles that scored 2 more runs for Atlanta.

The Yankees actually got on the board first with Aaron Judge’s 1-out solo home run in the 1st. Then Gleyber Torres led-off the 3rd with a double, advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on another wild pitch. In the 5th, with 1 out, the Yankees began putting runners in scoring position by loading the bases with Torres’ single and 2 walks to Gardner and Judge. Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly scored Torres (and tie up the game), but a pop-up out ended that opportunity.

So, after Loaisiga’s night ended, the Yankees got 2 innings each out of both Holder and Green. And Aroldis Chapman’s 9th inning was just amazing, 10 of his 18 pitches were over 100 mph (2 were 104 mph). But with the game tied, the extra innings became inevitable. Betances allowed 2 baserunners and still got out of the 10th inning unscathed.

But then in the 11th, David Robertson got his chance and would have succeeded except for some defensive issues. The lead-off batter made it safely to 1st on a fielding error, but then he was out on a ground out that failed to convert to a double play. The next batter hit a long fly ball to right-center field and Judge didn’t jump in time to grab the ball. It bounced in his glove and then on the top of the back wall for a 2-run home run.

Final score: 5-3 Braves, in 11 innings

Scranton Shuttle (roster moves): Following the game, and the depleted bullpen, the Yankees sent Jonathan Loaisiga to AAA, and reactivated AJ Cole after a brief rehab stint. The Yankees have a doubleheader next Monday in Baltimore, which means they can carry a 26th man on their roster. Logically then, Loaisiga will be back for those games.

In fun Yankee Universe News: the Yankees just signed Luis Severino’s 19-year-old brother Rafael, as part of the international signing period. The younger Severino is part of an academy in their native Dominican Republic and has a pitching arm that regularly throws in the upper 80s. The elder brother is super excited and brags on his younger sibling’s work ethic and potential. Two Severinos with the Yankees? Yes, please!

These are the final days for the All-Star Game voting on the starters for the game. So it’s time now to get your final votes in and have your voice heard. Fans have until July 5 (Thursday) at 11:59 pm EST to vote for their favorites. The All-Star Game is Tuesday, July 17. And it looks like Aaron Judge is one of the front-runners to start in the outfield, and the chances for Severino or perhaps one of the outstanding relievers for other representation in D.C.

Go Yankees!