Missed awards, a new face, and Yankee alumni up for the Hall

Last week, the majority of the postseason awards were handed out for what some people consider the best of this year’s players and managers. Privately, I will make my selections, even if they’re not Yankees, and then I watch to see how my view of the season matches those with a vote. It was certainly a mixed bag for results once again.

Unfortunately, the Yankees walked away from 2018 with no awards. In one category, two Yankees held much of the conversation but ultimately were denied the hardware. The AL Rookie of the Year went to Shohei Ohtani, the Angels’ pitcher-DH star originally from Japan. The Yankees’ own Miguel Andujar came in a solid 2nd place, with teammate Gleyber Torres a distant 3rd. Torres held much of the ROY conversation early in the year before Andujar suddenly emerged as the highlight of the Yankees’ roster on the field and in the batter’s box. He certainly had my vote, or rather my support as I didn’t have a vote.

The Yankees also announced today a trade to help support their perpetually plagued starting rotation. In a deal with the Mariners, the Yankees acquired 30-year-old left hander James Paxton, who had a stellar 2018 but has been plagued by injuries in the past. The Yankees sent a trio of prospects to Seattle in the exchange — pitchers Justus Sheffield and Erik Swanson and outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams.

And today, the powers-that-be in Cooperstown announced 35 names that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will vote on this off-season. Each member has a ballot that they can select up to 10 players they believe deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Of course, some people submit empty ballots just so players don’t get 100% of the vote, some just vote for whatever team they write for, and some vote for really random people that don’t make any sense. But most of the members do use their votes wisely, and that’s why most of the people voted in deserve their Cooperstown plaque.

This year, headlining the ballot is Yankees’ legendary superstar Mariano Rivera. Almost assuredly a first-round selection, and he should be as close to 100% in the Hall as possible (though everyone expects someone to use their ballot to keep him from 100%). Another famed Yankee on the ballot this year is Andy Pettitte, and while many of us in Yankee Universe certainly believe he deserves the nod, his minor brush with PED usage following an injury may keep him out.

Other nominees this year include some recognizable names for Yankee fans, both in pinstripes and against them: Rick Ankiel, Jason Bay, Lance Berkman, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Travis Hafner, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Ted Lilly, Derek Lowe, Darren Oliver, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, Mariano Rivera, Miguel Tejada, Vernon Wells, Kevin Youkilis, and Michael Young. Joining this year’s first-timers are eligible former players who haven’t been completely shutout just yet: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, and Larry Walker.

I’ve made my selections (though I don’t have a vote). Who’s on your list?

Go Yankees!

Game 123: TOR vs. NYY — Remembering what was and hoping for what could be

What a beautiful day at the ball park for memories and a good ball game. Fans turned out in droves to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1998 World Series Championship team, complete with a full cadre of former Yankees (more below) before the Yankees took on the Blue Jays in the second game of this celebration weekend series.

Luis Severino got the start today and needed a strong start to reset himself after a recent rough patch. He threw 100 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out 8 batters. In fact, he held the Blue Jays scoreless through most of his outing. In the 6th, he gave up a double that ended up at 3rd on a fielding error and then scored on an RBI single.

Severino handled the ball over to Tommy Kahnle, who had a less than ideal outing. After getting one out, he gave up 2 singles that scored one run and then loaded up the bases with a walk and 2 outs. To end that threat the Yankees turned to Jonathan Holder, while Kahnle was responsible for all 3 base runners. Holder gave up a long single that scored all 3 base runners before getting the runner out trying to stretch it into a triple.

Britton and Betances had clean, scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th, respectively. And the Yankees needed it after that messy 6th. So, the Yankees sent out AJ Cole for the 9th inning, but he had a bit of trouble. With 2 outs and runners on the corners, a long double scored just 1 run before he found that 3rd out.

But unlike last night’s rain-shortened game, the Yankee offense started big and stayed big. In the 1st, Gardner led-off with a walk, stole 2nd base 2 outs later, and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run. Torres hit a 1st pitch single to kick off the 2nd and ended up all the way on 3rd thanks to a wild pitch and throwing error. He would later score on Austin Romine’s sacrifice fly.

In the 3rd, Stanton singles and Hicks walked, and then they both scored on a 1-out double by Miguel Andujar. Andujar then moved to 3rd on a throwing error off Torres’ hit and then scored on Greg Bird’s ground out. Giancarlo Stanton hit a nice 2-out solo home run in the 4th, and Andujar followed suit with a 1-out solo homer into the left field seats in the 5th.

Greg Bird led-off the 8th with a solo home run into the right field seats to snap his recent offensive skid. The Yankees then loaded up the bases with a couple singles and a hit by pitch and 1 out. A new Jays’ reliever gave up a walk to Aaron Hicks to walk in the Yankees’ next run. And Gregorius’ sacrifice fly scored Gardner to cap off the Yankees’ runs today.

On a day meant to honor a team that won 114 game in a single season, it’s only fitting the Yankees would win and win big.

Final score: 11-6 Yankees

During the 5th inning, a foul tip hit catcher Austin Romine in the face mask and stunned him a bit. Initially, he stayed in the game, but was replaced by Higashioka when the Yankees took the field in the 6th. Hits like that have been known to cause concussions, so the Yankees were smart to remove him for observation and a full check-up as a precaution. And while Higashioka can absolutely serve as strong back-up for tomorrow’s finale and even into the Miami series, be prepared for Sanchez’s return to be moved up some.

Now, the big focus of today was the celebrations in honor of the 1998 Yankees. Almost all of the favorites from that team showed up for the event, including Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Bernie Williams. Jeter and World Series MVP Brosius sent video messages due to their previous engagements and obligations to other teams (Jeter now owns the Marlins, and Brosius is a coach with the Mariners).

Joe Torre was also on hand to recall that iconic season, throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and spent time with two of his players from that season now serving as YES Network broadcasters Paul O’Neill and David Cone during the regular game. And one of the things Torre said in the broadcast stuck with me.

They were talking about how the 1998 season started out slow and how Torre held a team meeting early on to help the team focus on moving forward. Both former players O’Neill and Cone agreed that Torre never did the hype-man thing some coaches do where they scream and try to drive up that emotion, but rather focus on that he was just disappointed in how they were playing at that point. O’Neill even remarked it was like feeling like you were disappointing your father and how he always felt motivated to go out and be better after a Torre “pep talk”.

But Torre went on to say: “I always wanted to end it on a positive message. I always thought of baseball as 162 [games]. It’s a game of life. You live it every day. And if you start getting too pumped up, it’s not going to last. You can’t maintain that.” So, as we agree with Mr. Torre about this comparison of life and baseball, it’s good to remember old Aesop’s fable and remember that while it’s fun to be the hyper rabbit, it’s the consistency and persistence of the turtle that ends up successful at the mission.

Go Yankees!

Game 67: TB vs. NYY — Old Timers’ Day joy, but a series still won

For as long as I remember, summer wasn’t summer without baseball. And baseball wasn’t baseball without my dad. So, watching a ballgame on Father’s Day is a gift for me.

It reminds me of my childhood spent with dad watching games on a grainy black-and-white set while he explained the mechanics of the game and talked of legendary players. Reminds me summer days at the ballpark cheering on a favorite team, despite its dismal record, eating peanuts and telling jokes. Reminds me of the weekend Dad spent teaching us to play ball with his old bat and catcher’s mitt in the backyard. And as always, there was joy and fun building those family memories.

It is in those moments that my strong bonds between Dad and baseball are formed. Dad so enjoyed the game that we couldn’t help but learn the enjoy it too. Our family may all root for different teams now, but the common bond is still the game itself. Though he’s been gone nearly a decade now, Dad would love knowing his kids and grandkids are now building their own family memories around this same game of baseball.

And maybe that’s what he had in mind all along. Thanks, Dad!

In the final game of this weekend series against the visiting Rays, CC Sabathia had a great game overall, throwing 102 pitches into the 8th inning. He gave up 10 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and solidly struck out 10 Rays’ batters.

The only runs the Rays scored tonight came in the 2nd inning. He gave up 2 consecutive singles to put runners on the corners before a double scored the lead runner. Two outs later, the batter hit a solid single that scored both runners, but then the Yankees defense kicked in and got the runner trying to stretch his single into a double.

Leaving the game to a standing ovation, Sabathia would have had a great game and probably a win had the Yankees had any kind of offensive support. Adam Warren came on to close out the 8th for Sabathia and throw a solid 9th inning, but the Yankees’ offense limped through the game. They still managed 7 hits and 4 walks on the board, but they only run they got was a 2-out solo home run in the 5th by Aaron Hicks.

Final score: 3-1 Rays, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees travel to Washington, D.C. to complete their previously suspended game from May 15. That game will conclude first, picking up in the 6th inning with the game tied 3-3. About 30 minutes after that conclusion, they will play the make-up game from May 16. The Yankees will head back to the Bronx for their 3-game mid-week series against the Mariners before beginning their road trip against the Rays.

Before the current Yankees took the field, Yankee fans were treated to witness the celebration of the 72nd Annual Old Timers’ Day, featuring many favorite players, spanning generations of greats from the 1940s to the 2010s. Always a fan-favorite day, players from decades of former Yankee rosters take the field for a few innings, full of good-natured competition and fun.

Before the action on the field, the familiar voice of the late Bob Sheppard greeted the fans to Old Timers Day and the stadium roared to life, and current Yankee broadcasters John Sterling and Michael Kay began the introductions of each participant.

After introducing the widows of former players — Jill Martin (Billy), Kay Murcer (Bobby), Diana Munson (Thurman), and Helen Hunter (Catfish) — they continued with a plethora of former Yankee greats like Dr. Bobby Brown, Bucky Dent, Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson, and Gene Monahan, among so many others of Yankee Universe. Fans cheered with standing ovations for pitching legends Whitey Ford and Don Larsen, now in their 80s, but looking spry and all smiles today.

(Full video of today’s introductions.)

The newest members making their debut at Old Timers’ Day were Dion James, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Nick Swisher, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone. It’s a bit of stretch to call most this group “old timers” (Swisher being just 37), but it was good to see this group again. Their relative youth brought a zeal and enthusiasm to the game. Especially fan-favorite Nick Swisher, as they welcomed him back to the Bronx with roaring applause. He waved and thanked the crowd with his signature smile and genuine gratitude, obviously much missed.

As they do every year, the players divided into two teams, the Bombers and the Clippers. The sheer joy of being in pinstripes and taking the field seemed to energize the crowds, and the game did not disappoint. Wild pitches and missed catches brought good-natured ribbing, and Swisher showed off his still-sharp baseball skills with a 2-run double and a big 3-run homer into the second deck. With pitching by the likes of Pettitte and hitting by Swisher, it was inevitbale that the Bombers would outscore the Clippers, final score of 15-3 by the end of their abbreviated game.

Following the game, Swisher was unofficially dubbed the “MVP” of today’s game, saying that today’s festivities sum up the joy of what its like to play baseball for a living. He said, “I feel like every time you take the field, you have a lifetime pass to be a little kid for as long as you want. For me, I’m just happy to be here. I couldn’t believe that [homer]. You only dream of stuff like that!” Close friend David Robertson made sure he celebrated right with his own Gatorade shower during his post-game interview.

Until next year…

Go Yankees!

ALCS 5: HOU vs. NYY, NLCS 4: LAD vs. CHC — #TanakaTime dominates, Cubs beat the sweep

One coast is very happy tonight, one coast is not, the city by the lake is ecstatic, and the city on the gulf is not. Basically, we’ve got four parts of the country covered during this Championship Series, and there will always be a two that will go home unhappy.

Game 1: ALCS — Astros at Yankees
The Yankees were up against the Astros’ ace pitcher tonight, and fortunately, he wasn’t so ace-like tonight, despite still getting 8 strikeouts in just 5 innings. But the Yankees seemed to have his number. In the 2nd, with 2 outs, Castro doubled and then scored on Greg Bird’s single to get the Yankees on the board early. With 1 out and Gardner on 1st, Aaron Judge hit a big double that scored Gardner all the way from 1st.

And in the 5th, Headley hit a 1-out single and ended up at 2nd on a throwing error, and then Judge worked a 2-out walk. Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius hit consecutive RBI singles to score Headley and Judge. That was the end of the Astros’ ace starter’s night. And the bullpen had a bit of a better time against the Yankees. Until the 7th inning, when Gary Sanchez capped off the scoring with a 1-out solo home run into the left field seats.

Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka just dominated the Astros lineup today. He threw 103 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up just 3 hits and a walk and striking out 8 batters of his own. Tommy Kahnle also gave a great out, breezing through his 2 innings in just 20 pitches and keeping those Astros totally shutout of the game.

Final score: 5-0 Yankees, Yankees lead series 3-2

Game 2: NLCS — Dodgers at Cubs
The Cubs knew it was now or never if they wanted a shot at the World Series for the second year at a row. So, they sent in their ace. And unlike the earlier game, their ace actually came through for them. He threw 111 pitches into the 7th inning, only giving up 3 hits, but walking 5 batters, and striking out 9 Dodgers. But the Dodgers’ pitcher, who’s been pretty good through most of the season, certainly didn’t come through for them in this game, only pitching into the 5th inning. The Cubs relied on just 2 relievers, their final one going having a bit of struggles through his 2 innings. But the Dodgers’ bullpen was much stronger and was pieced together.

It was a bit of give and take all game. The Cubs got on the board first in the 2nd — a 1-out solo homer and a 2-out solo homer. The Dodgers answered back with a 1-out solo home run in the 3rd to get themselves on the board. The Cubs got another run in the 5th with a 1-out solo shot. And the Dodgers got a lead-off solo shot in the 8th.

And then the Dodgers just ran out of outs. Sweep denied. The Cubs are still alive and kicking.

Final score: 3-2 Cubs, Dodgers lead series 3-1

So, now the Cubs are still in that all-or-nothing mode because if the Dodgers have one good night, the Chicago team is done this year. And now, with the Yankees in the lead, the Astros are in the same position. That series is headed back to Houston (starting Friday) to battle it out in front of the Houston hometown crowd, including a former Yankee (and an Astro briefly) Andy Pettitte. Pettitte actually threw out the first pitch before today’s game and has been at several of the games this series. He and his family live outside of Houston, but based on his sonssocial media accounts, they’re pretty much still solidly Yankee fans.

Both the Yankees and Dodgers are simply one win away from facing each other in the World Series. The Astros are still at 2 wins, and the Cubs are sitting at needing all 3 remaining games for their shot. The odds are clearly in favor of the first scenario, but this is the postseason. And weird things happen in the postseason.

Go Yankees!

Game 99: NYY vs. HOU — Goodbye, new friend… Hello, old friends

Okay, the trade rumors proved true to an extent. One pitcher is on his way to the Cubs, and another is on his way to join the Yankees in Houston for their series there this week. Plus, the Yankees clearly got the better end of the deal picking up 3 prospects, including one rather promising 19 year old infielder. But that’s covered below after the game.

Because despite all the chatter being about the trade, it was still a game day, and the Yankees began their 3-game mid-week series in Houston facing the Astros, who are doing a pretty good job this year themselves. Plus, the Yankees faced off against their ace tonight, and like they did with the Giants, the Yankees proved they’re a better team than their current stats say they are.

Michael Pineda got the start tonight for the Yankees, and his command from start to finish was one of a mature starter who is now settled into his role on this team. He threw 103 pitches in his full 7 innings, giving up just 5 hits, 2 walks, and a single run, and striking out 8 Houston batters. That lone run was a lead-off solo home run right in the 1st inning, but the Astros couldn’t do much after that. In fact, they didn’t add any further runs to their score. This meant that Pineda, his relievers, and the defense spent the rest of the game defending and waiting for their offense to pick up.

Of course, it helped that Pineda’s relievers were the “Dynamic Duo” (formerly combined in with the “Warriors Three”, but that’s further explained below). Dellin Betances breezed his way through the 8th with 3 seemingly easy strikeouts, and Andrew Miller’s 9th inning and game-ending double play (after a messy attempt at one just a batter earlier) gave him his 8th save of the season.

And this save came into play because the Yankees did respond offensively against the Astros’ ace starter, albeit a few small contributions. But sometimes, the route to a win is via that “small ball”. In the 5th, with 2 outs, Didi Gregorius doubled and then scored on Chase Headley’s single. And with the game tied, the Yankees went into the 8th inning with a great opportunity in Headley’s lead-off single. He then came in to score the winning run on Austin Romine’s double. Two outs and Romine on 3rd, the starter was out of the game, and they brought in a fairly efficient reliever to close out the Yankees attempt at an insurance run. That reliever shut down the Yankees in order in the 8th.

But that 1-run difference was enough in the end. That, and the Yankee pitchers combining for 12 total strikeouts.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees.

Before the game, former Yankee and long-time Houston resident Andy Pettitte stopped by to visit his former team and help out by throwing batting practice. Pettitte, still enjoying retirement, loves visiting with his former team when they’re in town, chatting up the newer guys, checking in with the veterans, and giving some great advice to the rookies.

Roster moves: Okay, the Yankees sent their flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in exchange for 4 players, including Adam Warren. Seen as getting the better end of the deal for many reasons, the Yankees acquired outfielding prospects Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford and infielding prospect Gleyber Torres in addition to former Yankee reliever Adam Warren. (Warren was traded to the Cubs this offseason. Torres, however, is the one everyone is talking about as he’s considered one of the best prospects in the game (ranked #24).

And in case you were wondering, Torres and Crawford have been assigned to High-A Tampa, McKinney to AA Trenton, and Warren joins the Yankees in Houston.

For all you Chapman fans out there, know that Chapman is a free agent after this season. This means he could get his wish (“God willing,” as he said in an interview) and head back to New York for next season. Chapman reassured the press (and himself) that this was a good thing because the Cubs do stand a pretty good chance to be in the World Series this year. He’s right, of course, but he did express a bit of regret not being able to finish the season with his new “family” as he dubbed the Yankees. So, who knows?

Also, Luis Severino is back, being recalled to the Yankees after spending some time with their AAA Scranton team after his rehab stint back in May. The corresponding roster move hasn’t been announced yet, but I imagine before next game and all the pieces have been moved around the board, we’ll know something and things will be settled into place.

Go Yankees!

Game 62: DET vs. NYY — Breaking the streak

Truth be told, the Yankees just didn’t play very well tonight. The pitchers weren’t really on their best outings, and the Yankees bats just didn’t spark alive against the Tigers’ pitchers. Of course, it didn’t help that the Tigers’ starter is back into the form that made him a fierce name around the league. Timing is a funny issue sometimes.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start tonight, and like I said above, he just wasn’t at his strongest tonight, despite being rather efficient with his pitches. Tanaka threw 92 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, striking out 4 Detroit batters. A lead-off solo home run in the 2nd inning got things started for the Tigers.

In the 5th, a lead-off single stole 2nd base, moved to 3rd on a 1-out single, and then collectively scored on a big 3-run home run into the left field seats. And with that, the Tigers were nicely in the lead. And in the 7th, with 1 out, Tanaka gave up a single and then called it a night. Kirby Yates came in to finish off the inning, but a single and 2-RBI double later, the Tigers went from a nice lead to a strong lead. Yates did finish off the inning with a couple of ground outs, a couple of runs too late.

Nick Goody had a decent outing in the 8th with 3 great strikeouts, and Richard Bleier continues to be a good call-up with his quick 12-pitch scoreless 9th.

But the Yankees just weren’t able to make up the difference despite the decent last couple of innings from their pitchers. They had their biggest shot in the 3rd inning tonight. With 1 out, Chase Headley hit an amazing triple off the left field wall (just inches from the foul pole). Due to a minor rule that could’ve made that hit a home run, the umpires called for a review just in case the ball hit the cement or foul pole. MLB HQ upheld the original call as a triple as the ball hit the padding, making it a hit or a triple in this case. But no worries, Headley did cross the plate on Rob Refsnyder’s single for the Yankees’ lone run of the game.

Final score: 6-1 Tigers. (Winning streak broken, back to .500 on the standings.)

Draft update: Over the last three days, the Yankees selected 40 young athletes with the potential to become the next great pinstriped hero. Just 1st round draftees that have made their own MLB impact (and not always with the Yankees) include Aaron Judge (2013), Cito Culver (2010), Slade Heathcott (2009), Gerrit Cole (2008), Ian Kennedy (2006), Phil Hughes (2004), Derek Jeter (1992), and Thurman Munson (1968).

This year, represented by Yankee legend in his own right Andy Pettitte, the Yankees selected a young high school outfielder named Blake Rutherford for their 1st round draft pick. He was followed by Nick Solak, Nolan Martine, Nick Nelson, Dom Thompson-Williams, Brooks Kriske, KeithSkinner, Dalton Blaser, Tim Lynch, Trevor Lane, Connor Jones, Taylor Widener, Brian Trieglaff, Jordan Scott, Tony Hernandez, Zach Linginfelter, Mandy Alvarez, Greg Weissert, Evan Alexander, Miles Chambers, Timothy Robinson, Blair Henley, Braden Bristo, Joe Burton, Edel Luaces, Gage Burland, Phillip Diehl, William Jones, Bo Weiss, Ben Ruta, Miles Sandum, Juan Cabrera, Bryson Bowman, D.C. Clawson, Zack Hess, Tyler Honahan, Corey Dempster, Sam Ferri, Brian Keller, and Nate Brown.

Some notable details: that’s 3 catchers, 4 infielders, 10 outfielders, and 23 pitchers (17 righties, 6 lefties). While they selected just 13 high school seniors, the majority were junior or seniors in college — a sophomore, 12 juniors, 13 seniors, and one college-aged player with no college. So, it looks like they’re aiming for older, more established players, heavy on the pitchers. And based on the current roster and what I’ve seen from some of their farm system, that makes sense in their thinking.

But then, who knows? Pettitte was a 21st round draft pick and became one of the Yankee greats, his number retired in Monument Park, beloved by so many now nostalgic Yankee fans. That’s where the unpredictability of life and of baseball intersect. You just never know when the next “great one” will pop up and change the whole game.

Congrats to all those drafted! I hope you make the right decisions for you and your family and end up doing exactly what you were created to do. Especially if that’s to play for the Yankees one day…

Go Yankees!

Game 60: LAA vs. NYY — Sweeping the Angels & the Draft

Okay, so the MLB Draft is underway in New York for the next few days as the Yankees look to expand their future pinstripes from the pool of thousands of high school and college hopefuls. As of this post, they picked up their first round draft pick tonight (18th overall) and have a second draft pick (62nd overall) before tonight is over. Representing the Yankees is 1990’s 22nd round draft pick Andy Pettitte. He will continue this role through the next 2 days as the Yankees fill out their draft selections for 40 full rounds.

(I’ll post the final results as part of Saturday’s post when the draft is completed. You can follow the draft online or watch it live all weekend on MLB Network.)

In the meantime, the Yankees are back at .500 with tonight’s sweep of the Angels. Yes, the Yankees are on a bit of a hot streak. Not that anyone is complaining (except perhaps the Angels and their fans).

Ivan Nova started tonight’s game for the Yankees, back in proper form and dominating for most of the game — just 76 pitches in just over 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 batters. The Angels got on the board first in the 4th when their lead-off double scored on a 1-out single. Then a double and 1-out 2-run home run in the 7th ended Nova’s night a bit earlier than anticipated. But better safe than sorry.

So the Yankees opened the bullpen to the Warriors Three (no, I won’t concede to name from the take off the popular 90’s hip-hop/rap group). Betances easily sailed through the rest of the 7th, Miller the 8th, and Chapman the 9th for the save.

It was actually some pretty strong pitching throughout the game from all 4 pitchers, including 9 total strikeouts. While the Angels’ staff didn’t fare so well, much to the favor of Yankee Universe as it turns out.

The Yankees hit their peak in the 5th inning. Gregorius led-off the inning by working a walk, moving to 2nd on a ground out, and then scoring on Chris Parmelee’s single. Then they loaded the bases with Ellsbury’s single and Gardner’s walk. Carlos Beltran’s ground-rule double scored Parmelee and Ellsbury, only to be followed-up by Alex Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly to score Gardner and Brian McCann’s double to score Beltran.

Gardner tagged one on in the 7th with a lead-off single, moving to 2nd on a balk, then to 3rd on a wild pitch, before scoring on Rodriguez’s double. The Yankees looked like they might do something more in the 8th, even loading the bases again, but a simple ground out dashed those extra runs. Not that they needed them tonight.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep Angels 4-0

Next up: the Tigers come to visit for a weekend series in the Bronx. The MLB Draft continues through Saturday. And Old Timers’ Day is Sunday. So we have a very busy weekend ahead.

Injury update: if I was superstitious, I’d believe that 1st base was cursed. During tonight’s game, current 1st baseman Chris Parmelee went down with a hamstring injury (trying to do the splits actually) and was pulled from tonight’s game in the 7th inning. He is scheduled for an MRI and to meet with the team doctor, but there’s already talk of a stint on the DL. Yeah, just as he’s starting to find a nice home over at 1st and in the batter’s box. So, we’re onto Refsnyder at 1st apparently. Fingers crossed for Teixeira’s speedy return to make the world right again.

HOPE Week Day 4: a few years ago, Alvin Irby of Harlem, a former kindergarten and 1st grade teacher, was visiting his local barbershop and saw a few kids hanging around bored and was suddenly inspired. These kids could be using this down time to learn to enjoy reading. Thus, Irby founded Barbershop Books, an organization that provides access to books that would specifically connect with children of color.

Irby is now partnered with 10 Harlem barbershops and one in Brooklyn and caters specifically to young children ages 4-8. One of those is Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop in Harlem where Irby and a great group of kids met Dellin Betances, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and Ronald Torreyes and a special guest hip-hop artist, reading some great books to their captive audience and then enjoying lunch hosted by their Yankee guests.

With the $10,000 donation from the Yankees, Irby intends to expand Barbershop Books throughout the City. The children were guests of the Yankees at tonight’s ball game, and Irby, of course, got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.

Go Yankees!