Game 152: BOS vs. NYY — “A long, tough, slug-it-out game”

Usually, the standard baseball game is about 3 hours long. That makes each third, or 3 innings, to be about an hour, making each inning 20 minutes. That’s a rough estimate, but as someone who watches a lot of baseball games, it makes things easier to gauge time.

So, when the first 2 innings took nearly 90 minutes, everyone was starting to feel like this could be one of those long games between the Red Sox and Yankees that infamous umpire Joe West once complained about. And it was, to some extent, clocking in at 4 hours and 2 minutes. But it was not the predicted 6 hour game, the first 2 innings were technically on track for.

And that’s why you can’t predict baseball.

Masahiro Tanaka had a rather rough start in the final game against the Red Sox this series. He threw 83 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 8 hits and 5 runs, and struck out 3 Boston batters. In the 1st, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single to get the Red Sox on the board early.

Two consecutive singles led off the 2nd and then scored on a 2-out single. And a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd kept the ball rolling for the visiting team. After giving up a double and single to put runners in the corners, Tanaka’s night was over. David Robertson came on and gave up a double play that scored Tanaka’s lead runner.

The Yankees weren’t exactly quiet along the way. In the bottom of the 2nd, Sanchez worked a 1-out walk and then scored as part of Luke Voit’s big 2-run home run. Then in the 4th, with 2 outs, the Yankees loaded up the bases with consecutive walks to McCutchen, Judge, and Hicks. The Red Sox pulled their starter at that point, but it didn’t help. Giancarlo Stanton powered an exciting grand slam to put the Yankees in a slim lead.

But in the words of the Yankees after the game, the Red Sox really couldn’t be stopped tonight. After losing to the Yankees for the last 2 games, the team leading MLB wasn’t going to be swept and came back with a vengeance.

Chad Green came on for the Yankees in the 6th and kept them at bay, but then gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 7th to tie up the game. After giving up a single, he handed the ball over to Dellin Betances. With 1 out, he loaded up the bases with a double and intentional walk. The next batter hit a sacrifice fly and, thanks to a throwing error, allowed 2 runners to score.

Aroldis Chapman got his first outing in the 8th after coming off the DL. He gave up a single, a 1-out walk, and a 2-out 3-run home run to ensure the Red Sox’s victory. Holder closed out the 8th for Chapman, and Cole and Tarpley split the 9th to keep the visitors from adding to their growing lead.

Final score: 11-6 Red Sox, Yankees win series 2-1

However, the Red Sox sealed their AL East division title with the final out of the 9th inning. The Red Sox came pouring out of their respective dugout and bullpen to celebrate clinching the AL East right there at Yankee Stadium before moving to the messy “champagne celebration” (which usually involves more beer than champagne) in the visitors’ clubhouse.

Next up: the Yankees host the Orioles this weekend for their final series in Yankee Stadium this season. They will then travel to face the Rays for 4 games before ending their season against the Red Sox at Fenway next weekend. The Yankees need as many wins as possible to widen their lead (now only 1.5 games) and maintain home field advantage against the Athletics in the Wild Card game (which, let’s be honest, is pretty much assured for both teams).

But the Yankees should celebrate on their own. In addition to hitting a new collective home run record as a team (247), the Yankees now have 12 players who have hit 10+ home runs as Yankees in a single season. This was reached when Luke Voit hit that 2-run homer in the 2nd, his 11th of the season but 10th with the Yankees. Other Yankees that have hit 10+ Yankee homers this season: Stanton, Gregorius, Judge, Andujar, Hicks, Torres, Sanchez, Gardner, Bird, Romine, and Walker. That is quite the company of power-hitters, when most of them aren’t really known as “power-hitters”.

{Note: quote in post title taken from Boone’s post-game press conference.}

Go Yankees!

Game 151: BOS vs. NYY –Andujar & Voit back up #SevySharp

I got a little nostalgic today, as I tend to do when talking about this great rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees. I was remembering the days of Rodriguez vs. Varitek, Ortiz vs. Jeter, and Clemens vs. everyone. Even before then, many could tell stories of DiMaggio vs. Williams and Mantle vs. Yastrzemski.

And who could forget the “curse of the Bambino”? Apparently, for 86 years, Boston fans believed they were cursed because a Red Sox owner in 1920 sold the contract of the 24-year-old Babe Ruth to the Yankees to finance No, No, Nanette. (By the way, the “curse” lore has been debunked, but it still doesn’t stop the Fenway Faithful from being bitter over it, despite the fact that almost none of them were alive then.)

But with the recent retirement of Ortiz, Jeter, and Rodriguez, as I’ve mentioned before, the age of the superstars in this rivalry might be over. Even the superstars already on the roster (Stanton, Judge, and Sanchez) aren’t really the players making the difference in the game. It’s the “nobodys”, the players who aren’t the popular jerseys you’d see around the stadium. And that makes this more interesting.

In a battle of the “aces” in tonight’s middle game between the northeastern rivals, Luis Severino got the start for the Yankees and came out on top with a stellar outing. He threw 109 pitches in his 7 innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and struck out 6 Boston batters to earn his 18th win. He’s the first Yankee pitcher to have 18 wins since CC Sabathia in 2011 (he had 19 that year).

In fact, Severino kept the Red Sox scoreless through 4 innings, even throwing rather efficient innings, like just 6 pitches in the 2nd. It was in the 5th that he gave up a lead-off double that scored on an RBI single to give the Red Sox their lone run of the night.

He handed the ball over to Jonathan Holder for a scoreless 8th inning, and then Justus Sheffield got to pitch his MLB debut in the 9th. He had a bit of shaky go of it, even loading up the bases. But between the Yankees’ defense and Sheffield’s pitching, they got out of the inning and the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees usually have pretty good luck against the Red Sox’s ace, who used to play with the Rays, Blue Jays, and Tigers and the same pitcher who gave up Jeter’s 3000th hit. They continued that pattern tonight, starting with Miguel Andujar’s 1-out solo home run in the 2nd inning, his 25th home run of the season.

They then loaded up the bases with a walk to Sanchez, a single to Voit, and a 2-out walk to McCutchen. Aaron Judge stepped into the box, still looking for his first hit back from the DL. He made contact with the ball, but thanks to a fielding error, it wouldn’t count as a hit. Judge still made it all the way to 2nd as Sanchez and Voit scored.

Luke Voit added another run with his lead-off solo home run in the 4th. Then in the 6th, with 1 out and Sanchez on 1st with a walk, Voit again eked another home run, a 2-run homer that just made it to the 1st row of the right field seats (and gave a lucky fan a few minutes of TV fame). An umpire review checked to see if that fan interfered with the home run. He didn’t and the call stood, his 2nd home run of the night.

It was also the end of the Red Sox starter’s night. His first reliever didn’t have the best time either. Despite getting an initial out, he put runners on the corners with singles to McCutchen and Judge (finally his first hit off the DL). They both then scored on Aaron Hicks’ long triple. And the Red Sox changed pitchers again.

That seemed to work for them, for a time. But they got a new pitcher in the 8th inning, and the Yankees took advantage to widen their lead. Voit and Torres each singled and moved into scoring position on a ground out. Pinch-hitting Greg Bird hit into a ground out but allowed Voit to score. Hicks’ single then scored Torres to cap off the Yankees’ big night.

Final score: 10-1 Yankees

Roster moves: before the game tonight, the Yankees activated Aroldis Chapman from the DL after his lingering knee tendonitis. Had the game been closer, they might have called on the veteran closer, but instead, it allowed them some leeway to debut another important part of the Yankees organization, very nervous prospect Justus Sheffield.

And Miguel Andujar’s home run in the 2nd actually made him the fifth Yankee rookie to reach 25+ home runs in their rookie season. Judge did so last year, and the teammates join the likes of Bobby Murcer (1969), Joe Gordon (1938), and the great Joe DiMaggio (1936) for the honor of being in such a club. Not back for a player many people still are not sure could be the “Rookie of the Year”.

Go Yankees!

Game 146: NYY vs. MIN — Deny a no-hitter, have a pitchers’ duel, and still lose the game

“Baseball will punch you in the mouth now and then.” (Aaron Boone, tonight)

That sentiment feels about right as the Yankees wrap up this road trip and head back home for their final home stand. The Yankees actually played really well in their final game against the Twins, and somehow were outplayed by a team having that random better week.

Luis Severino threw 83 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 4 hits and 1 run, and struck out 5 batters. In fact, he held off the Twins’ batters for most of the game. Until the 6th inning, Severino only gave up a single hit in the 1st before keeping the Twins’ offense rather silent. With 1 out in the 6th, he gave up a single that scored on a double. Another single put runners on the corners, and a strikeout allowed one runner to move to scoring position.

With that threat looming, that was it for Severino. David Robertson came in and got a quick grounder to end the threat. He came back out in the 7th and got 2 quick outs before getting into a spot of trouble himself. A double scored on a single, and that runner scored on a double. But then he got a stellar strikeout to stem the Twins’ offense. And Zach Britton threw a flawless 12-pitch 8th inning to reset the earlier game momentum.

The Twins sent in a familiar face for the Yankees, a former foe from an AL East team, signed this year to the Twins after 5 seasons with the Rays. And he held the Yankees to a no-hitter for 7 innings. Though he still gave up a couple walks along the way, he hadn’t allowed a hit, frustrating the Yankee batters.

In the 8th, with 1 out, he gave up a walk to Luke Voit. And on the 120th pitch, Greg Bird knocked a solid double to score Voit, break his no-hitter bid, and end the shutout. That was it for the Twins’ starter’s night, a standing ovation from the home team fans, and the Yankees left Bird stranded at 2nd through 2 relievers and 2 strikeouts. Andujar hit a 1-out single in the 9th, but again, the Yankees stranded him there as the Twins’ reliever earned the save.

Final score: 3-1 Twins, Twins win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees head home tomorrow on their off-day/travel day. Then they will host the Blue Jays for the weekend. After a final off-day on Monday, they will host the Red Sox and Orioles to complete their home stand. A final road trip will include 4 games against the Rays and 3 games to close the season in Boston.

That means that the Yankees face all 4 of their division rivals for the last 16 games of the season. With the Athletics breathing down their necks in the Wild Card race, the Yankees need to take advantage of their position within the division to advance and get some space to ensure their October spot.

Injury news: It looks like Aroldis Chapman could be back very soon, maybe early next week. After some promising sessions in the Tampa complex, the Yankees brought Chapman back to rejoin the team for his final workouts to see his progress in person. His lingering issue with knee tendonitis finally moved him to the DL at the end of last month to focus on healing.

Aaron Judge got some legitimate batting practice in today, with one of the regular BP groups before the game. They expect he will continue to do this before Friday’s game back at Yankee Stadium. They won’t send him to a rehab assignment, as the RailRiders (AAA) are making a push for their league’s postseason, though there is some talk about giving him some simulated-type games and other workouts at the Tampa complex.

And if you’ve been wondering where Brett Gardner is, the veteran outfielder has been out for the last two games due to some right knee inflammation. On Monday, he dove for a line drive in the 2nd inning and fell awkwardly on his knee. While not an injury that requires any DL time, the Yankees are allowing him to rest and recover while keeping him available off the bench. Fortunately, the Yankees have a ton of current help thanks to the September call-ups.

Speaking of the call-ups, the Yankees recalled pitcher Chance Adams from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today. Every little bit counts in the Yankees’ final push towards that postseason. Fingers crossed, everyone.

Go Yankees!

Game 126: NYY vs. MIA — Just disappointed

There’s a lot of adjectives people throw around at the end of a game like tonight’s. I mean, I get it. The Marlins are one of the worst teams in baseball this season (5th worst, as of this posting), and the Yankees are still the 2nd best team in baseball. So when the script is flipped and the winning Yankees get trounced by the losing Marlins, people get frustrated or angry or disenchanted or just disappointed.

But I’m just reminded of what was said over the weekend when the 1998 team got undesired results — that disappointment from the manager (Joe Torre) and the fans was enough to motivate the team to do better, to be better. You’re not going to be disappointed if there’s no comparison for potential, that you actually have the capabilities to be better than whatever just happened. Paul O’Neill compared the feeling to disappointing your dad, and mostly, parents are disappointed in their children because they know they can be and should be better than whatever just happened. It doesn’t mean they love them any less, but they certainly want better things for them.

And I think Yankee Universe wants better things for this team. Lance Lynn got the start in tonight’s finale of this quick 2-game series in Miami. He threw 110 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 9 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, and struck out 6 batters. But he didn’t allow a single run until that 6th run and gave up 5 of his 9 hits in that inning alone.

So, in the 6th, he allowed consecutive singles that moved up on a ground out. The lead runner scored on another single, before a 3-run home run cleared the bases and put the Marlins in the lead. After giving up another single, Lynn’s night was done and he handed things over to Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle gave up a double to score Lynn’s final runner, before he got 2 solid strikeouts.

Actually, the Yankees got on the board first in the 4th. Hicks worked a 1-out walk and then scored on Neil Walker’s 2-out double. Then in the 6th, Gardner led-off with a single, stole 2nd on a strikeout, and moved to 3rd on Hicks’ single. After the Marlins’ starter intentionally walked Andujar to load the bases, the Marlins went to their bullpen. That reliever gave up a sacrifice fly to Neil Walker to score Gardner.

After the Yankees gave up the lead in the bottom of the 6th, they came back in the 7th to try to chip away at the Marlins’ lead. After 2 quick outs, pinch-hitter Voit singled and moved to 2nd on Gardner’s walk. A new reliever’s wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, and Voit then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single.

But then the Marlins’ bullpen stopped giving the Yankees opportunities to advance, something the Yankees’ bullpen clearly didn’t do. Chance Adams came into the game for the 7th inning and just struggled through his outing. He gave up consecutive walks, one of which was complicated by a throwing error that moved the lead runner to 3rd. A fielder’s choice scored that lead runner. Another batter reached safely on another error, but the next guy hit into a double play to get out of the inning.

However, Adams’ troubles continued on in the 8th. A lead-off single scored as part of a 1st pitch pinch-hitter’s 2-run homer. Then with 1 out, a walk moved to 2nd on a single and then scored on another single. Adams’ night was just done at that point, AJ Cole took 5 pitches to get a fly out to end the inning and the Yankees’ pitchers’ disappointing night.

Final score: 9-3 Marlins, split series 1-1

Next up: Tomorrow is an off-day/travel day for the Yankees as they prepare for this weekend’s 4-game series in Baltimore. Technically, it’s a 3-game series, but a make-up game made Saturday a doubleheader. Then, they’re back in the Bronx for a week to face the White Sox and Tigers before heading out to the West Coast.

Injury news/roster moves: The Yankees officially moved Aroldis Chapman to the 10-day disabled list with his recurring left knee tendinitis. To fill his roster spot, they recalled reliever Chance Adams from AAA Scranton, who pitched in tonight’s game. And Gary Sanchez’s return from his groin injury is nearing. He will play in a Gulf Coast League (Rookie) game this week before joining the RailRiders (AAA) next week for his rehab. He should then rejoin the Yankees if all goes well.

Go Yankees!

Game 125: NYY vs. MIA — Overtime in “Vice City”

The big story of the day coming into this series was how Miami would feel about the return of former super star Giancarlo Stanton and how Stanton might feel about his return to Miami. And the truth is that Miami still love Stanton as much as Stanton loves Miami. There’s no reason to believe any different. Stanton didn’t intend to leave, still lives there in the off-season, and didn’t do something stupid like bash Miami to the New York press or claim any kind of personal loyalty despite what uniform he’s wearing or what organization he works for.

Moving on…

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in tonight’s opener of this micro-series in Miami. He actually had a strong outing — 82 pitches in 6 innings, 4 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and 4 strikeouts. That lone allowed run was a 1st pitch lead-off solo home run in the 5th. And he was matched fairly evenly with the Marlins’ starter tonight, who also only allowed a single run. In the 4th, Andujar led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Torres’ 1-out single, and then scored on Neil Walker’s single.

Britton and Betances followed up Tanaka for an inning, sailing through fairly easily. Now, throughout the game, both teams got into scoring position and even loaded the bases several times but didn’t capitalize on it to break the tie. Chad Green got into such a jam in the bottom of the 9th, giving up a walk, a single, (a strikeout), and intentionally walking the bases. But Yankee Universe need not be worried for a walk-off — Green got a great strikeout and then a force ground out at 2nd to end the threat.

Holder came out for a clean, 3-strikeout 10th inning before handing things over to AJ Cole, who also got himself into a jam in the 11th. He quickly loaded up the bases with no outs. But then the next batter hit into a great grounder the defense snapped into get the out at home. After a strikeout, the final batter hit into a foul pop-up to end this threat.

So the game went into the 12th inning. Higashioka singled to lead off the inning, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s walk, and then advanced to 3rd on Hicks’ 1-out hit-by-pitch (on the hand). Higashioka then scored on Miguel Andujar’s long sacrifice fly to finally break the tie.

Aroldis Chapman came on for the 12th, but after walking his first batter, he signaled to the trainer that something was wrong with his troubled knee. So he came out of the game, and Tommy Kahnle took over. After 2 quick outs, the runner at 1st decided to make a dash for 2nd, but Higashioka fired the ball to a waiting Walker at 2nd who made the tag. The umpire called it out to end the game, but the Marlins challenged it. The call was upheld, and the game was over.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees, in 12 innings

Injury alert/roster moves: Yesterday, the Yankees sent Didi Gregorius to the 10-day disabled list due to his bruised heel injury incurred in the 1st inning of Sunday’s game. In his place, the Yankees selected infielder Luke Voit from AAA, due to his history as a NL player. Sometimes, former NL players are more comfortable hitting in NL parks (and AL players in AL parks) because they spend most of their games playing other teams in that league.

Aroldis Chapman has been doing a good job of maintaining his knee injury, but it popped up tonight in his attempt in the 12th. Enough to signal trainer Stevie Donahue (as well as manager Boone and pitching coach Rothschild). When a pro-athlete is willingly seen by a trainer, something is really wrong. The Yankees will send him to get an MRI to see how bad the injury is. However, I wouldn’t be worried. The Yankees’ bullpen, on full display tonight, is really good, so any absence of one arm won’t be as missed while he gets healthy.

Go Yankees!

Game 119: TB vs. NYY — Happ in charge & Romine’s power drive

Rain seems to be the biggest foe of baseball this season. But tonight’s game was only held off by a 21 minute delay at the beginning of the game to dry out the field a bit before the Yankees and Rays began their opening game of this mid-week series.

JA Happ got the start tonight and threw a pretty good game to earn his 3rd win as a Yankee and 13th win overall this season. Happ threw 106 pitches in his 7 scoreless innings, gave up just 1 hits and 4 walks, and struck out 4 Rays batters. Happ is certainly finding his stride as a Yankee and fitting in very nicely to the Yankees rotation.

The Yankees batters faced the odd Rays pitching pattern again. The “starter” only threw just 1 inning before his primary reliever threw 5 innings. Normally, the longest pitcher starts the game and then relievers piece together an inning or two to finish out the game. Now, the Rays were the one of the first teams to use the extreme fielding shifts and now doing this strange pitching pattern, so maybe it will catch on too.

Anyway, it’s not like it worked out well. The Yankees dinged into the Rays’ “starter” in the 1st inning. With 1 out, Stanton doubled and then advanced to 3rd on a pick-off throwing error and then scored easily on Aaron Hicks’ single. The Yankees then loaded up the bases with Gregorius’ single and Bird’s walk, but a ground out ended the early threat.

The long-term reliever (I guess) actually held off the Yankees for much of his 5 innings, pitching into the 6th. However, in the 5th, the Yankees found a small hole to capitalize on from an unlikely suspect. Walker led-off with a walk, and then Austin Romine liked the first pitch and plopped it into the right field seats for a 2-run home run to give the Yankees’ lead some cushion.

Under the Rays’ final reliever, the Yankees found one more chance to add a run in the 8th. With 2 outs, Andujar doubled and was pinch-run by Robinson. Robinson then scored on Greg Bird’s double to cap off the Yankees’ night.

Dellin Betances came out for the 8th inning, and the Rays’ lead-off batter took his first pitch into the visitors’ dugout for a solo home run to get the Rays on the board. But then Betances breezed through a quick 3 outs. And Aroldis Chapman only needed 9 pitches to earn his 31st save to close out the game.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees

There is quite a bit of conversation in regards to this year’s Rookie of the Year candidate. And it should both please and not really surprise any in Yankee Universe that both Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. While Torres has pretty much always been in the conversation due to the pre-set expectations as a prospect, the biggest standout and surprise is the rise of Andujar.

Andujar has been a consistent force for the Yankees, virtually taking up the starter’s role at 3rd and being quite the power hitter at the plate, with the team’s highest batting average and doubles. Torres, of course, made the All-Star team as the back-up 2nd baseman (finishing 2nd in voting behind a veteran superstar infielder), a huge honor for his rookie year, but Andujar was in the mix for his position, finishing 3rd behind 2 big star players for other teams. That’s how valuable these players are.

Both are great candidates for Rookie of the Year, but voting and awards season is still so far off and there’s still quite a bit of baseball yet to play. Though it would be something to have another Yankee rank so high in this category. Sanchez was 2nd in 2016, Judge won the honor last year, and both Torres and Andujar are up for it in 2018.

I’ve said it for a few years now. The Yankee farm system is really good, and it’s given me hope for the future of the franchise. And if they keep churning out these kinds of players, Yankee Universe shouldn’t be worried either.

Go Yankees!

Game 116: TEX vs. NYY — A soggy Saturday save

It’s raining along much of coast of the northeast, including over Yankee Stadium this lovely Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t initially, but the skies progressively darkened, drizzled, and then drenched the near sold-out crowd in this third of 4 games against the visiting Rangers.

Lance Lynn threw 99 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out an impressive 8 Texas batters. His lone allowed run was in the 3rd. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on an RBI single. Lynn, once again, turned out a fine performance, clearly etching his place on the Yankee rotation.

The Yankees had enough oomph to give themselves the lead early on today. In the 1st, Giancarlo Stanton hit a solid 1-out solo home run to kick things off. After another out, Andujar singled and then scored easily on Greg Bird’s double. They kept their minuscule lead until the 6th when Bird led-off with another double and then scored on Walker’s 1-out single.

That should have been enough for the Yankee bullpen and defense to coast on to victory, but with the looming clouds, it couldn’t exactly be a drama-free day, despite Robertson’s beautiful 15-pitch clean, scoreless 6th inning.

Zach Britton was called on to continue his strong show from previous games. He took 5 pitches to get 2 quick outs, but then things unraveled. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before another allowed walk scored their lead runner. Britton was just not finding that 3rd out, so the Yankees turned to Dellin Betances.

Now, Betances has been really good lately. But when the runner at 3rd spooked him, Betances fidgeted just enough to balk, and it moved all the runners up again and scored that runner from 3rd, just before he struck that batter out. Betances later sailed his way through the 8th cleanly.

With the game now tied and the rain beginning to really unload, the Yankees were determined to find the opportunity. It would be in the bottom of that 7th inning. With 1 out and another new reliever, Stanton singled and then scored as part of Miguel Andujar’s big 2-run home run into the right field seats, his 17th homer of the season.

Aroldis Chapman now needed just 3 outs for his 30th save. However, due to the rain, that was coming down in sheets at this point, he had less control over his pitches, allowing a single, a strikeout, a single, and a pop-up, before hitting the next batter to load up the bases. Things were tense, but somehow, even with a full count, Chapman pulled through and got the batter to swing at that 98 mph 3rd strike.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Injury updates: Aaron Judge is taking it slow coming off the chip fracture in his right wrist. He’s hoping to start swinging a bat early next week and then progress from there. The original timeline has him potentially coming back before the end of this month, but injuries rarely check man’s expectations and schedules as they heal.

Giancarlo Stanton has been dealing with hamstring tightness since the series in Boston. It hasn’t entirely hampered his playing, relegating him to play DH and instead allowing young players like Robinson and utility players like Walker playing in the outfield. And they too are doing well with the challenge.

And Gary Sanchez has been working out in the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, recovering from a lingering groin injury. He’s been running and doing baseball activities, but he is expected to fly up to New York to rejoin the team and complete his rehab with them. That’s a great sign because it means that he’s progressing well enough to have the team keep him close for an overnight activation when they deem him ready.

Look, for all their recent injuries and frustrating losses, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball. It’s rather unfair that they’re in the same division as the absolute best team in baseball (Red Sox), but that team is having a real record-setting kind of year of their own. While the NL is quite close and competitive, the AL is splitting into the teams that are having obviously stellar seasons and those that are really struggling.

And nowhere is that highlighted more than just within the AL East, which hosts both the best team in MLB (Red Sox) and the worst (Orioles). The AL East has long been a really strong division, but this year, it’s really showing its extremes — still really competitive for the top 2-3 teams and just discouraging for the others.

Go Yankees!