Game 86: MIL vs. NYY — Fouled over finale before Break

That was not exactly how the Yankees wanted to enter the All-Star Break. Though truthfully, it wasn’t like they handed over the game all that easily. Add into the fact that the Yankees haven’t won a series since they swept the Orioles in early June, and it was a hard Sunday afternoon in the Bronx.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start today for the final game in this homestand against the Brewers, and once again, he got a bit roughed up. He threw 83 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, striking out 5 batters. In the 1st, with runners on the corners with singles and 1 out, a big 3-run home run got the Brewers on the board in a hurry. They added another run with a lead-off solo shot in the 2nd. And the first out of that inning was thanks to a nifty grounder catch by Ji-Man Choi at 1st — he literally did a split to catch the ball and make the out.

After that, Tanaka was able to hold them off for a bit until things got dicey in the 5th. With 1 out, he gave up 2 singles before he was pulled from the game. Chasen Shreve came on in relief and promptly gave up an RBI single. So it was Adam Warren’s turn on the mound.

Warren had a much better outing closing out the 5th and into the 6th, with 3 strikeouts out of his 4 total outs. Tyler Webb got the final out of the 6th in just 4 pitches before handing things over to Chad Green. Green breezed his way through 2 full innings, with just 33 pitches, striking out 4 batters in the process. Aroldis Chapman had a few miscues in the 9th, but still kept the Brewers from adding to their score.

So, with a decent outing from the bullpen (including 8 of 13 total strikeouts), it would be left to the Yankees’ offense to pick up the pace. But despite ample opportunities, the Yankees had minimal moments of true power today. In the 4th, with 2 outs, Ellsbury singled, stole 2nd, and scored on Chase Headley’s single. Then Clint Frazier hit his third home run of the year, a nice solid 2-run home run into the Yankees’ bullpen to give the Yankees a fighting chance.

So, the crowd waited. And for a moment in the 6th, there was hope. Sanchez singled and Ellsbury walked to lead-off the inning, and the Brewers brought in a new pitcher. And Chase Headley smacked a long ball deep into the right field corner. As all three Yankees rounded the bases, a small nattering began in the visitor’s dugout and among the umpires. The umpires took it upon themselves to review the call, and it was overturned as foul (apparently, the review said it “hooked foul” at the last minute). He ended up striking out on the at-bat.

And that would be it in the end.

Final score: 5-3 Brewers, Brewers win series 2-1

Five Yankees are now on their way to Miami for the All-Star Game (they got their bright blue American League warm-up jerseys before the game today), and two Yankees will play in tomorrow night’s Home Run Derby. And right now, two young Yankee prospects are playing in the All-Star Futures Game — Domingo Acevedo (a pitcher from AA Trenton) and Estevan Florial (an outfielder from Full-A Charleston). It’s All-Star Week, people, and we’re just getting started!

Go Yankees!

Game 84: NYY vs. CWS – Shutout by the South Siders

A humid midwestern evening with a heat index in the mid-90s greeted fans tonight at U.S. Cellular Field on Chicago’s south side for the rubber match between the Yankees and the White Sox. Both teams were confident they would win this series, but, as always, there can only be one winner.

Michael Pineda started for the Yankees and had a decent first inning, but quickly gave up 4 runs in the second inning. Over 6 innings, Pineda allowed a final total of 5 runs, 5 hits, and a walk. So other than his brief dip in productivity (early on), Pineda actually did a pretty decent job.  At the bottom of the second, Pineda was able to get the first two batters out, but then Chicago began a hitting streak and gained 4 runs. With a single, passed ball, and a walk, 2 runners were suddenly on base. A single scored the first one, and a ground-rule double scored the other. A double then scored the final 2 runners to give the White Sox a rather hefty early lead.

With runners on the corners in the sixth, a fielder’s choice allowed Chicago’s final run to cross the plate; though the Yankees tried for the standard double play but just weren’t quick enough on that particular play. In the middle of all this, Pineda recorded his 500th career strikeout in the fifth inning; a rather big number for a rather young pitcher.

In his first outing from the bullpen this season, Nathan Eovaldi took over the mound for the Yankees in the eighth and ninth for one strikeout, and despite 2 walks and wild pitch, he gave up no runs during his tenure tonight.

Inning by inning, the White Sox starter shut down any and all Yankee scoring opportunities. The relievers (including a former Yankee reliever) in the final part of the game continued that momentum by the White Sox starter; the Yankee offense could not get past any of the Chicago pitchers tonight.

The Yankees’ offense wasn’t nearly as dramatic or productive, but it was rather heavy on Didi Gregorius (as was the defense tonight, actually). In the top of the second inning, with two outs on the board,  Gregorius stole second base and was called out, but a replay review rather quickly overturned that decision, putting Gregorius in scoring position right up until the next batter grounded out to end the inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Gregorius’ awesome diving stop to end the inning was another valiant attempts by the Yankee defense to stop the advancing South Siders.

With two outs at the top of the seventh, Gregorius (again!) hit a hard line drive down the right field line for a ground-rule double that put him in scoring position but was left stranded at the end of the inning. And in the bottom of that inning, McCann’s quick reaction and strong arm stopped a runner on a stolen base attempt. Bottom of the eighth, a solid double play by Castro and Gregorius ended the inning, in what is becoming a rather instinctive, beautiful, and standard teamwork play for the middle infielders.

And in a last-ditch effort in the ninth, facing a former teammate to many Yankees, and two men on base, a replay challenge overturned what would have been the third out. With Yankee fans hoping this game would not be a shut-out, Headley came to the plate and attempted to get a piece of the ball, hoping to continue the offensive contributions from earlier in this series, but he struck out swinging for the final out of the evening. The Yankees just couldn’t get their bats in order to dent the Sox’s early lead.

Final score: 5-0 White Sox, White Sox take the series 2-1.

News from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: The Yankees continue to be pleased with the progress of their top three prospects Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez. Kudos to Sanchez for being chosen to appear in the All-Star Futures Game in Petco Park, San Diego, on July 10. (Mateo was also supposed to participate, but a recent suspension for insubordination forces him to now miss this opportunity.)

Tampa Yankee prospect Ian Clarkin is also garnering positive attention. This young pitcher missed all 2015 due to an arm issue. Now healthy and  working strong, he has a great command of his fast ball, has added new pitches, and is working on his pitching mechanics with successful results. Clarkin is one to watch!

Be sure to vote! The ballot for the final vote for 2016 MLB All-Star Game is available online here. No Yankees in this one, but someone may strike you as deserving of a trip to San Diego.

Go Yankees!