Games 41 & 42: BAL vs. NYY — Much drier now, double the win

The weather has been quite uncooperative for the Yankees this week, raining out both games Monday and Tuesday. While they called yesterday’s game early enough, they really tried to make a go of it on Monday. But they couldn’t seem to dry out the field, despite the air blowers, rakes, and the odd pitchfork stuck in the mud in center field. Believe me, it was the right call to not play in the mess.

So, Monday’s game became the first game of today’s single-admission doubleheader. And Tuesday’s game is postponed until the Orioles come back to town in August. While making it a pretty packed day for the Yankees today, they still prevailed and held strong against their division foes.

Game 1 (The Make-up Game)
JA Happ got the start, throwing just 64 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs, and striking out 3 Baltimore batters to earn the eventual win. There was actually a bit of back-and-forth between the teams this afternoon to see who’d make it out on top.

The Orioles struck first with a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning. But the Yankees mirrored that with a 2-out solo home run by Gary Sanchez in the bottom of the 1st. Then in the 2nd, a 1-out single scored on a 2-out double. And Gleyber Torres tied the game up again with a lead-off solo home run in the bottom of the inning. But then 2 outs later, Cameron Maybin’s solo home run put the Yankees in the lead, his 1st home run as a Yankee. That is, until the 4th when the Orioles hit a lead-off solo home run to tie up the game again.

However, the Yankees came back in the bottom of that inning to ensure their victory. Torres led-off again with another solo home run. And with 1 out, Urshela hit a long ball into right field, but the fielder flubbed it and allowed Urshela to make it all the way to 3rd. Another out later, Mike Tauchman singled home Urshela.

Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman closed out the game with a scoreless streak, splitting the final 11 outs and keeping the Orioles from regaining the lead.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Game 2 (The Originally Scheduled Game)
After a brief break, the field was reset, and the next game was ready to go. Domingo German was on the mound to command his way through the evening, throwing 85 pitches in 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and just 1 run, and striking out 8 Baltimore batters.

The Orioles’ lone allowed run tonight was in the 5th. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on another single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. Britton and Chapman each took a scoreless inning to close out the game, with Aroldis Chapman earning his 10th and 11th save today in both games.

The Yankees’ offense kicked in once again tonight. In the 3rd, with 2 outs, LeMahieu singled and scored on Luke Voit’s double. Gleyber Torres powered home run #3 today with a lead-off solo home run in the 4th. And in the 7th, Estrada hit a 1-out double and scored on Voit’s 2-out single.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees (Since the 3rd game won’t be played until August, this series isn’t over yet. But the Yankees are clearly on top already.)

Next up: After an off-day tomorrow, the Yankees will host the Rays for the weekend before hitting the road again. They will travel first to visit the Orioles and then to the heartland with the Royals before returning home again.

Roster moves: Since the last game, the Yankees have made quite a few roster moves. So buckle up. On Monday, they activated Aaron Hicks from the injured list, and he played his first game of the season in the second game of today. They also placed pitcher Jonathan Loaisga on the 10-day IL, retroactive to May 10, due to shoulder strain. They optioned Mike Tauchman to AAA Scranton and recalled pitchers Nestor Cortes Jr. and Chance Adams from AAA Scranton.

Yesterday, the Yankees traded for infielder Kendrys Morales from the Athletics for cash or a Player To Be Named Later. Morales has spent time with the Angels, Mariners, Twins, Royals, and Blue Jays in his 13 seasons. The Yankees also moved Loaisiga to the 60-day IL, removing him from the roster to make room for Morales.

And today, they activated Morales to play in today’s game, optioning pitcher Joe Harvey to AAA Scranton and recalled Mike Tauchman to be the 26th man for the doubleheader.

But the biggest news is regarding Miguel Andujar. On Monday, the Yankees placed him on the 10-day IL with a labrum (shoulder) tear. After further review and tests, the decision was made to have surgery to repair the tear. This does effectively end his season pretty much before it began.

Once again, the Yankees have some great “back-up” that is proving themselves not really “back-up” but rather pretty good in their own right. Like Urshela, Tauchman, Maybin, Frazier, LeMahieu, and Estrada. Really, none of those names should be on the roster, and yet all of them are holding their own and helping the Yankees charge forward with a winning season.

Go Yankees!

Game 37: SEA vs. NYY — Happ’s 1-hitter victory

The Yankees are on their way south, a brief break in their long home stand this month, and they do so on a lovely high thanks to the great game tonight. In the final game of this 4-game series against the Mariners, the Yankees relied on strong pitching to carry them into victory on this chilly Thursday evening.

Most of that fell on starter JA Happ, who threw 94 pitches in his 5 scoreless innings, gave up just 1 hit and 3 walks, and struck out 7 Seattle batters. Ottavino, Kahnle, and Britton each breezed their way through a scoreless inning of their own.

Meanwhile, the Yankees found a single opportunity early on to grab the lead. In the 2nd, Frazier and Torres each singled, and 2 outs later, Cameron Maybin’s double scored Frazier. It was this lone run, this slim lead that the Yankees spent most of the game defending against a pretty good Mariners’ starter.

When the Mariners brought in a reliever in the 8th, the Yankees found their next chance to add to their minute lead. LeMahieu led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s single, and ended up at 3rd on Gardner’s fielder’s choice out at 2nd. Gardner stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position.

After a strikeout, they intentionally walked Torres to load the bases. Feeling fine after that nasty bruise yesterday, Gio Urshela smacked a long single into right field that scored both LeMahieu and Gardner.

With a nice lead now, the Yankees sent in Aroldis Chapman for 3 outs in the 9th. But after 2 quick outs, he gave up a solo shot into the right field seats to give the Mariners their lone run of the evening. And then he got that final out to earn the save tonight, his 8th of the season.

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

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to see the Rays just for the weekend. A brief road trip before they continue their home stand, hosting the Orioles and Rays next week. And then they hit the road again in a week-long road trip.

Scranton Shuttle: Before today’s game, the Yankees optioned pitcher Jake Barrett back to AAA Scranton and officially signed pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. To make room for him on the roster, they transferred Dellin Betances, still recovering from his shoulder injury, to the 60-day injured list.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 27: NYY vs. SF — A Grand Slam by the Bay

JA Happ had a great outing in this middle game of the weekend series in San Francisco. He threw 95 pitches in 7 scoreless innings, giving up just 5 hits and striking out just 2 batters. He set the pace for the Yankees to dominate most of this afternoon’s game. And he was supported by some great moments of the Yankee offense.

Maybin worked a walk to lead-off the 3rd inning, moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt out, and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single. In the 5th, Maybin and Estrada singled. Being a NL game, Happ got a few at-bats tonight, including hitting a bunt fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners. LeMahieu’s walk loaded up the bases.

Luke Voit was hit by a pitch, which walked in Estrada. Then with just 1 out and the bases loaded, Gary Sanchez stepped up and smacked his first career grand slam deep into the left field seats under today’s sunny skies. Fortunately, that ended up being the extra cushion the Yankees needed by the end of the game.

Luis Cessa came on in relief of Happ with a great 8th inning but started to falter in the 9th. He gave up consecutive singles to kick off the inning. A fielder’s choice put runners in the corners that would score on a solid 3-run home run. After another out, Cessa gave up a solo home run.

Unable to find that 3rd out, the Yankees called in Aroldis Chapman to close out the game for a quick 4-pitch save to shut down the Giants’ attempt at a last-minute rally.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees

It’s worth noting that in addition to being Gary Sanchez’s first career grand slam, it was also the longest grand slam ever hit in the Statcast era (an MLB tracking system since 2015), coming in at 467 feet. It was also his 7th home run of the season so far, even going on the IL for a bit.

Plus, the Yankees have now won 10 of their last 12 games, including 5 of the 6 games on this road trip. Again, I keep going back to how many amazing players are on the IL, and yet the Yankees really pull together and win more often than not.

Go Yankees!

Game 24: NYY vs. LAA — Come from behind victory… once again

The Yankees are making it a pattern for the dramatic fall-behind moment only to come back and find victory over their West Coast opponent. In tonight’s third of four games this series in Anaheim, the Yankees were looking at California-native CC Sabathia to write the story (more later), but once again, it ended up being the relatively unknowns that made all the difference.

Sabathia came into tonight’s game with 2994 career strikeouts, and by all accounts, there was a high possibility that he might hit that rare feat of 3000 by the end of his outing. But call it pressure or just an off-night, things really didn’t go that way. Sabathia threw 86 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 6 hits and 5 runs (4 earned), and struck out just 3 Angels’ batters.

In the 1st, he gave up a 2-out solo home run to get the home team on the board first. But it was the 4th inning that caused so much trouble. After a lead-off home run to double their score, the Angels got a single that moved to 2nd on a bunt and fielding error, ended up at 3rd on a fielder’s choice out, and then scored as part of a big 3-run home run.

Jonathan Loaisiga came on for relief and tamped down on the Angels’ offense in his 3 innings, only allowing sporadic base runners but no further runs, an outing that would surprisingly earn the win. And it would be Aroldis Chapman to close out the game with a solid 17-pitch 9th inning to earn the save.

The Angels’ pitching used the “opener” model, where their “starter” would only pitch one inning, and the bulk of their pitching would be by a long-term reliever. And tonight, it seemed to work as it held off the Yankees for most of the game and allowed their offense to collect a rather solid lead.

The Yankees didn’t find a scoring opportunity until the 6th inning. Wade singled and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s double. Voit’s single moved LeMahieu to 3rd, and after 2 outs (and an unsuccessful challenge), LeMahieu jogged home to easily score on a passed ball to further chip away at the Angels’ lead.

Once the Angels got into their bullpen, it was the Yankees’ chance to advance. In the 7th, they loaded up the bases with a walk to Ford, single to Urshela, and walk to Tauchman. Tyler Wade then worked a walk to score Mike Ford. After another pitching chance, DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly scored Urshela, and Luke Voit’s fielder’s choice scored Tauchman to tie up the game before a bad double play ended the inning.

So it would come down to the 9th inning to break the tie. With 2 outs, Wade singled and stole 2nd to put himself in scoring position. DJ LeMahieu would again be the hero, whose single drove home Wade for the winning run.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees

CC K Count: 2997

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: Yesterday, the Yankees optioned Joe Harvey and recalled Jonathan Loaisiga for a fresh arm to pitch in tonight’s game. And before the game, the Yankees activated Gary Sanchez and recalled Stephen Tarpley, optioning Kyle Higashioka and Chad Green.

Green’s consistent issues seem out of place, so the Yankees are hoping a stint in AAA could help him get some of the kinks out of his delivery and back to the reliable Green he can be. Higashioka is only back in AAA because there’s only room for one back-up on the roster. He’s proven more than reliable when called upon, perhaps proof that time in AAA sharpens and hones players’ skills.

Injury update: Clint Frazier’s hopes to remain off the IL seem dashed after an MRI revealed his sprained ankle includes a small tear that demands he heal first. Apparently, Frazier was reminded of his injury setting foot out of bed and then when it swelled up a bit. Being forced to stay off it will definitely aid in healing it quicker than “playing through” the injury as he intended.

Go Yankees!

Game 22: NYY vs. LAA — Urshela’s extra inning heroics

The Yankees played their second extra inning game in as many days on opposite coasts. And with so many really good players still on the IL, it’s more surprising that they’re consistently winning and on the plus side of their average than the fact that they’re battling their way to get there. It actually says a lot about the depth of the organization that stars like Judge, Stanton, Sanchez, and Gregorius and still be charging ahead into successive wins.

In tonight’s opener at the Angels, Yankees starter JA Happ found a momentum that carried him through his 7 innings with just 89 pitches and minimal damage — 3 hits, 2 walks, and 2 allowed runs and 5 strikeouts. In the 2nd, with 1 out, a single scored as part of a 2-run home run for the Angels’ only regular game runs.

The Yankees kicked off the game with Luke Voit’s 1-out solo home run in the 1st, making this his 33rd straight game to get on base in some way, the current leader in all of MLB. In the 3rd, Higashioka led-off with a double, and 1-out walks to Gardner and Voit loaded the bases. Gleyber Torres’ sacrifice fly (and a bad throw from right field) scored Higashioka to tie up the game so early.

Both teams then defended their part of that tied score mostly through some stellar pitching. The Angels and Yankee starters going deep into the game, but their relievers followed up with scoreless innings of their own on into extra innings. For the Yankees, Ottavino closed out the regular game, and Kahnle and Cessa pitched in the earlier extra innings.

In the 12th, the Yankees got the chance to break the tie first. Clint Frazier led-off with a double. He then moved to 3rd on a ground out and watched them give Mike Ford his first (of 2) intentional walk. It was Gio Urshela’s sacrifice fly to allow Frazier to score the go-ahead run. But Aroldis Chapman had a hard time finding his way out of the bottom of the inning to preserve the Yankees’ lead. He gave up a lead-off single, a 2-out hit-by-pitch, and an RBI single to tie up the game again.

Both teams sailing through the 13th, it would be the 14th inning to conclude the game, over 4 hours since the 10:00 pm EST start. Torres struck out but made it safely to 1st on a late throwing error (it’s why you always run it out). He advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch and then stole 3rd after Ford’s second intentional walk. And it would be Gio Urshela again for the heroics — an RBI single to score Torres, the eventual winning run.

Jonathan Holder was strong through the 13th for the Yankees and sealed the game for them in the bottom of the 14th. His strong outing combined with Urshela’s hot bat was enough to deliver the victory to the Yankees late tonight.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees, in 14 innings

Injury update: It looks like the Yankees are going to get Gary Sanchez back really soon. He play his rehab game today with Short-A Charleston and will fly out to the West Coast tomorrow (Tuesday) to hopefully rejoin the team in their final game in Anaheim on Wednesday.

In that 12th inning double, Clint Frazier jammed his ankle diving back to 2nd on a pick-off attempt. It was enough to merit a visit from the trainer but not enough to pull him from the game. In between innings, he did get it taped up to stay in the rest of the game.

He later half-joked that the IL was “too full” for him to not consider playing through his minor sprain. And really, the truth is that his time on the regular roster will be cut short as soon as one of the regular outfielders comes off the IL. After a disappointing 2018 due to injuries, the young outfielder doesn’t want to waste a moment with the team while he can.

Go Yankees!

Game 17: BOS vs. NYY — Milestone slam for Gardy Party Sweep

Now, that is the way to win a game and sweep the opposing team. The Yankees sent the Red Sox on their way after sweeping their rivals in this quick 2-game mini-series. Of course, a nice come-from-behind win thanks to a bang by a veteran’s milestone.

JA Happ got the start in tonight’s game, throwing 84 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and struck out 4 Boston batters, and most of that was in the first two innings. He gave up a 2-out solo homer in the 1st, and in the 2nd, a lead-off single scored as part of a 2-out, 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board and in the lead early.

The Yankees were held off until the 4th inning. Voit led-off by working a walk, moved to 2nd on a fielder’s choice and error, and then scored on Clint Frazier’s 1-out double. But it would be the 7th inning that would leave everyone talking. They loaded up the bases with Frazier’s single and walks to Tauchman and Romine. So, with 1 out and a new pitcher, it would be Brett Gardner for tonight’s heroics. Gardner smacked a grand slam into the right field seats, instantly giving the Yankees the lead.

After Happ’s exit in the 7th, Tommy Kahnle closed out the inning with just 6 pitches to get 2 outs. Adam Ottavino got into a jam in the 8th but worked his way out without the Red Sox chipping away at the Yankees’ lead. And Aroldis Chapman earned his 3rd save of the season with 12 pitches in the 9th.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep 2-0

Next up: The Royals come into town for a 4-game weekend series before the Yankees hit the road for their first West Coast trip of the season. They will visit the Angels, Giants, and Diamondbacks before heading back home for their May home stand.

That grand slam was actually a major milestone for the veteran outfielder. It was his 3rd career grand slam (two more than Jeter, by the way), but it was also his 100th career home run. Gardner is more known for his snazzy defense and his speedy base running, so when he clubs these monster hits, it’s always something to celebrate. But tonight’s was just a little extra sweet — a career milestone… to take the win… against Boston… by a homegrown Yankee… and veteran.. and fan and clubhouse favorite.

By the way, the kid who got the grand slam ball ended up meeting Gardner outside the clubhouse, exchaning the ball for autographs and selfies. Bet he wasn’t planning on that fun twist to his night when he got tickets for tonight’s game.

Speaking of the clubhouse… the Yankees have been determined to celebrate a home series victory since Day 1 but have fallen short every time until tonight. Someone (no one’s naming names) brought in a smoke machine and flashing lights and boosted the music so that the players could celebrate their sweeping victory with a dance party in the clubhouse. None of which would have been noticed except for the smoky haze that still lingering when they allowed the media in for interviews.

Well, celebrate away and take that momentum and feeling into the next series.

Go Yankees!

Game 5: DET vs. NYY — Late inning fallout

Things were looking up in tonight’s battle against the visiting Tigers for most of the game. The Yankees scored first, and even after the Tigers tied up the game, there was hope for a walk-off victory. Until there wasn’t.

In the 2nd, DJ LeMahieu hit a 1-out single, moved to 3rd on Tauchman’s ground-rule double, and then scored on Clint Frazier’s sacrifice fly. Not a bad way to make his return to the lineup by being responsible to get the Yankees on the board. But the Yankees just weren’t doing much to combat the Tigers’ pitching staff. So it was the only run they’d score tonight.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start tonight, throwing 87 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 8 hits but only 1 run, and striking out 7 Detroit batters. With 2 outs in the 6th, he gave up consecutive doubles that got the Tigers on the board to tie up the game. Other than that, it was a pretty good outing for the veteran starter, getting out of some jams and handing a decent game over to his relievers.

Adam Ottavino’s 13 pitches sailed through his 4 outs, including 3 stellar strikeouts. So, with the game tied, they went to closer Aroldis Chapman in the 9th for 3 quick outs to set up a great comeback in the bottom of the inning. But Chapman just found one problem after another. He gave up a 1-out walk that scored the go-ahead run on an RBI double. Then that runner scored on a 2-out single.

The Yankees were quickly shutdown in the bottom of the inning with 3 efficient outs by a former teammate.

Final score: 3-1 Tigers

On a lighter note: With the recent injuries and subsequent call-ups, there are many ways that players will get themselves to the game to join the team and be ready to jump in the game if called upon. They’ve hopped last-minute planes (the usual option), trains, subways, hailed cabs, and driven a car. But Tyler Wade’s journey to Yankee Stadium was a new one but one built for 2019.

Wade was set to play with the Yankees’ AAA team the RailRiders in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area of Pennsylvania. But upon getting that coveted call, he did the most logical thing millennials do when they need to get somewhere fast. He opened his phone and ordered an Uber. A few minutes later, he got into a minivan and told the driver to “floor it” the 128 miles to Yankee Stadium.

That’s right, it’s 128 miles from PNC Field in Moosic, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Scranton) to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. That’s an estimated $166.49 – $267.59. Plus tip, which I’m sure was part of the promise of reciprocity for “flooring it”. And my guess is he would be able to expense that back to the Yankees.

And yes, he made it to Yankee Stadium for the game last night, though he didn’t play then. He started at 2nd base tonight, going 1-for-3. Another good start for a another call-up.

Go Yankees!