2019 World Series: What “home-field advantage”?

The most interesting part of this year’s World Series was the fact that neither home team won in their own ball park. In other words, the myth of “home-field advantage” was clearly busted during this championship series. Both teams really only did well before the opposite team’s fans. The reigning theory among my circle is that both team thrived on the displeasure of the home crowd.

Game 1: For the first game, the Nationals started slow but came to play with the steady surety that seemed to sum up their postseason. The Astros were on the board first in the 1st, but the Nats starter held the game strong to allow his teammates to catch up and take the lead, with the Nationals edging out a victory over the Astros. 5-4 Nationals

Game 2: But this game was all about the visiting team. Once again, the Astros got on the board in the 1st, tying up the game, and the game looked to be a bit of pitching duel. Right up until a big 7th inning, when the Nats collected 6 big runs. 12-3 Nationals

Game 3: The series moved to the nation’s capital, and the play just shifted again. In this first game, both teams kind of eked out their runs scored throughout the game, despite both teams having a lot of hits and base runners. The defense was really pushed to the test for both teams, and the visitors came out on top. 4-1 Astros

Game 4: The Astros went into this game with some powerful determination and played a game that certainly demonstrated that. A strong show by their pitching staff also helped, but it was quickly clear it was the Astros’ night from the start.  8-1 Astros

Game 5: In a raucous Sunday evening in D.C., the Nationals just couldn’t piece together much of a game. And they allowed the visiting Astros to take the lead for the first time this series. 7-1 Astros

Game 6: Now back in Houston, the lack of “home field advantage” just continued, unfortunately for the home team. The Nationals grabbed this game and flipped the script, tying up the series once again. Of course, this was also filled with all sorts of drama, strange calls, and even the very rare World Series ejection. 7-2 Nationals

Game 7: So for a winner-take-all game, this game was all that it should have been. The Astros got the lead early, and it looked like they might take home their second title in 3 years. But then the Nationals found a wide open 7th inning to jump ahead. And then they kept cushioning their lead until that final out and celebration. 6-2 Nationals

Nationals win World Series in 7 games, 4-3.

A key to many of the crucial games in the series, Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg took home the coveted honor of World Series MVP, at the potential end of his decade-long tenure with the team.

At least my predictions for this ended up on the right side, but my postseason guesses have truly been stabs in the dark this year. But a congratulations to the Nationals on their first World Series win in their franchise history.

Finally, some Yankees news: The Yankees officially dismissed pitching coach Larry Rothschild last week, despite a year remaining on his contract. The comes as the Yankees are looking to expand their starters, with Sabathia retired and a few pitchers slowly coming back off injuries. The starting pitching has been an issue for the Yankees for a few years now, so this move may be in their continued efforts to fix something that hasn’t worked. A figure in the dugout for some time now, he will be missed.

Yankee prospects have spent the last 6 weeks in Arizona playing other prospects as part of the Arizona Fall League to help hone their craft. The Yankees sent pitchers Daniel Bies, Derek Craft, Aaron McGarity and Glenn Otto; a catcher Donny Sands; outfielder Josh Stowers; and infielder Brandon Wagner. It’s been mixed results, but the point of the league is to work on their skills in the minor league off-season.

Aroldis Chapman received the AL’s highest honor for relievers — the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award. On Saturday, before Game 4, Rivera was on-hand to present a fellow Yankee with the award. Chapman converted 37 of his 42 save opportunities and held an ERA of 2.21 in his 60 game appearances, and despite how he went out in the ALCS, he was dominant for most of this season. The Brewer’s Josh Hader was selected for the NL version of the award.

More awards are coming next week, so stay posted.

Go Yankees!

Game 162: NYY vs. TEX — 102 wins, 305 HRs, AL East champs, and the Yanks head to postseason

And suddenly, the season is over. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were sitting in our seats in Steinbrenner Field in Tampa enjoying the first day of Spring Training. One of the perks of a Florida spring is watching Yankee veterans and rookies and minor leaguers play on the same field. The anticipation of a new fresh season is palpable as fans chatter about which players are returning or what new young hopeful has been invited for the spring. It is always amazing to watch the roster come seamlessly together for the a new season.

It has been quite the season, summer baseball filled with new records set and new faces earning their much deserved spot on the Yankee roster. Despite the unexpected record injuries that saw the rise of a new generation of Yankees, we all witnessed New York pull together as a team and keep moving forward to earn their well-deserved spot as the AL East Division Champions.

And so here we are now in late September in Texas to face the Rangers before a sell-out crowd on a warm day in Arlington. It may not have been the final score Yankee fans hoped for, but with Game 162 now in the record books, all Yankee eyes are now on the postseason and October baseball.

For this last game of the season today, 6 Yankee pitchers shared the mound and gave up 10 hits for 6 runs. In the 1st inning, Chad Green was chosen to start as the opener for the Yankees. Facing 5 batters in the 1st inning, Green gave up a walk to the lead-off batter followed by a single. A throwing error allowed the 2 runners to do a double steal and score a run. Green followed with 2 strikeouts and an outfield fly out to end the inning.

Masahiro Tanaka came to the mound for a long-term relief outing, starting in the 2nd. His first inning was smooth, facing 3 batters for 3 outs, including a stellar infield play caught with a backhanded catch by Gio Urshela on 3rd for the throw to DJ LeMahieu for the out. Tanaka’s 3rd inning was a bit messier, giving up a 1-out double and a single to put runners on the corners. A sloppy throwing error on a pick-off attempt by Tanaka allowed a run. A fly out to right moved a runner to 3rd, who then scored on a single to left field. With 2 outs, a pop up caught by Urshela at 3rd finally ended the inning.

Then, in the 4th, after fielding a grounder for the out at 1st base, Urshela left the game with a sore ankle and was replaced by Wade at 3rd. After a strikeout swinging, Tanaka gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases before coming on strong, retiring the side with a ground out, stranding 3 on base.

In the 5th, Tommy Kahnle replaced Tanaka and gave up a single to left, a hit by pitch, and a walk to load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice caught the runner at home for a stellar defensive play for the out, but left the bases loaded. Kahnle gave up a single that scored 2 runs, but a great double play ended the inning.

Adam Ottavino took the mound in the 6th, giving up a single and a walk. He gave up a grounder for a force out to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly scored a run, and a pop out ended the inning. Britton came out for the 8th, giving up a single, but a great defensive double play and a swinging strikeout closed the inning. Chapman got some work in for a quick 3-out 8th inning.

The Yankee lineup was scoreless for the first two innings. In the 3rd, Aaron Judge hit his 27th season homer 408 feet over the left field fence to tie the game and give the Yankees a record 305 season home runs. Perhaps Judge’s homer for the first run scored in this last game was only fitting for the season wrap up since the first run scored for the Yankees on opening day this year was also homer, a 3-run long ball by Luke Voit.

The Yankee lineup struggled to reach base and remained scoreless for the rest of the game. Coming down to the 9th inning for their final chance for the win or at least to add a couple home runs to best the Twins for the season home run record. But three outs later, regular season play for New York was over.

Final score: 6-1 Rangers, Rangers win the series 2-1

Injury updates: The Yankees are optimistic that Edwin Encarnacion might be available for post-season play, but he is not currently in the lineup. Gio Urshela twisted his ankle on a jumping throw during an infield out in today’s game. Doctors diagnosed Urshela with a mild sprain that should heal quickly and no further tests are planned at this time.

Yankee postseason rosters, more injury updates, and postseason predictions are forthcoming. The Wild Card games are this Tuesday and Wednesday (October 1-2), with the NLDS starting on Thursday (October 3) and the ALDS on Friday (October 4). It’s shaping up to be some very interesting October baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 154: LAA vs. NYY: 100th win for the AL East Championship

Yankee Stadium fans were in for a treat tonight as they witnessed an outstanding game. Facing the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees earned their well-deserved 100th win that clinched the 2019 AL East Division Championship, their first division title since 2012. Despite being plagued this year by a record-breaking number of players on the IL that had many doubting a shot at a title, the Yankees continued to show their depth of talent and solid ability to play as a team, no matter who was in the lineup or on the mound. The Yankees came ready to play as a team and it showed.

Masahiro Tanaka took a solid command of the mound to start the game against the Los Angeles Angels. It was “Tanaka Time” for a full 7 innings that gave the starter his 11th win of the season. Facing 24 batters, Tanaka threw 86 pitches and gave up just one run, a solo home run to right field in the 4th. Gearrin replaced Tanaka in the 8th for an easy 3 outs. And in the 9th, Aroldis Chapman took over the mound to close the inning for the Yankees 100th season win to clinch the AL East, their first since 2012.

After a scoreless 1st, the Yankees started off the 2nd inning with a walk from lead-off batter Maybin, who was then caught on fielder’s choice by Gardner. Romine then singled, and DJ LeMahieu came to the plate and sent a 3-run homer, his 25th this year, over the right-center field fence, scoring both Gardner and Romine.  In the 4th, Brett Gardner homered to right field for another run.

Gregorius led-off the 6th with a single and then stole 2nd. Following a walk by Urshela, Maybin hit into a ground out that moved Urshela and Gregorius into scoring position. Gardner then hit a solid double that scored both Urshela and Gregorius. And in the 8th, with the Yankees solidly ahead, Cameron Maybin hit a solo home run. After a walk by Gardner, Clint Frazier then sent a 2-run home run ball over the left field fence. All ending up in a solid 100th win tonight for the Yankees.

Final score: 9-1 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

News updates: Yankee pitcher Domingo German is on restricted leave due to an investigation by MLB into alleged domestic abuse incident. No formal charges have been filed, but until the investigation is completed, the Yankees selected the contract of right-hander Michael King from AA Trenton to take German’s place on the roster.

A big congratulations to all the Yankees on their 100th season win and their new title as AL East Division Champions, such a well-deserved honor.

Go Yankees!

Game 143: NYY vs. BOS — Happ-y Saturday!

Under a warm but cloudy sky at Fenway, the near-capacity stadium crowd of rival fans saw a game that started much the same as last night’s match-up, but with a decidedly happier ending for the Yankees.

JA Happ was the first on the mound today for New York and threw 92 pitches for a phenomenal 7 1/3 innings, allowing no runs that extended his scoreless inning streak to a 15 1/3. In the 1st inning, Happ gave up a single, followed by a strike out and a grounder to Gregorius who threw to LeMahieu at 3rd and then on to Voit at 1st for a great double play to shut down the inning and kick off a solid game for the Yankees.

Over the next 5 innings, Happ allowed just 1 walk and a single. This solid pitching, plus the Yankee defense, kept Boston from scoring. In the top of the 7th, Happ faced only one batter who struck out swinging. A pitching change gave the ball to Ottavino who secured the next two outs.

Kahnle took command of the mound in the 8th inning for an out. But he then allowed a line drive single to center followed by a ground ball to right field. So with runners in scoring position, a mound visit called in Britton to replace Kahnle who secured the next two outs.

Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th, facing 4 batters, one of which became a home run that gave Boston their sole run of the afternoon.

Yankee batters initially struggled and were shutdown in the first 3 innings. But in the 4th inning, the bats came alive. LeMahieu reached base on a single line drive to left field and moved to 3rd on a solid double by Gregorius. A ground-rule double to right field by Gary Sanchez scored LeMahieu and Gregorius.

Edwin Encarnacion promptly smacked a homer to left center field, also scoring Sanchez. Brett Gardner singled and stole 2nd, followed by a walk for Voit, but a line out ended the inning with the Yankees solidly in the lead.

The 6th inning saw more opportunities to score with the bases loaded with a double by Torres and walks to Tauchman and Gardner. But with 1 out, a double play ended the inning, stranding those runners. Stranding runners is a familar song the Yankees played through the Red Sox bullpen. Finally, in the 9th, Sanchez, on base after being hit by a pitch, scored on an RBI double hit by Edwin Encarnacion for a solid win for New York.

Final score: 5-1, Yankees

Injury update: With all eyes on the playoffs and October ball, and in hopes he can pitch in a least one more game before retiring, CC Sabathia threw in the bullpen for the first time since the flareup of his knee injury that pulled him from the mound last month. Yankee management was encouraged by how well he did, but remain cautious as to when or if Sabathia will return to the mound. Jordan Montgomery may start another rehab game soon, and his progress looks so encouraging that he may well contribute to the Yankee’ path to October.

Go Yankees!

Game 133: NYY vs. SEA — Yankees sink the Mariners

The Yankees headed to the northwest today to take on the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park in the Emerald City. But tonight, that yellow brick road was paved with pinstripes as the Bronx Bombers took the lead early in the game and never gave it up.

JA Happ took command of the mound tonight for five full innings, giving up a homerun but striking out 7 batters. In the top of the 6th, Cory Gearrin took the mound, but he struggle a bit. After facing 3 batters and being charged with a balk, he was replaced by Nestor Cortes Jr. Cortes pitched well though the 7th inning, never giving up the Yankees lead.

In the 8th, Tommy Kahnle faced 3 batters for 3 outs. Aroldis Chapman took control of the ball in the 9th with his 100+ pitches to 3 batters for 3 outs, for his 36th save and, overall, another solid win for New York.

Tonight’s roster played like teamwork in action. Infield and batters were on top of their game as they powered through. Yankee bats were first to score and never gave up the lead. After a scoreless first inning, in the top of the 2nd, Gleyber Torres slam a homer on a fly ball to center to get the Yankees on the board first. Tauchman then walked, Romine singled, and Mike Ford sent a home run to right to bring them all home.

Ford homered once again in the 4th on a fly ball to right field for his first multi-home run game in the majors. It is worth noting that Ford was added to the lineup and roster after Gregorios was removed from Sunday’s game due to his shoulder injury. Despite missing Sir Didi’s prowess, Ford’s addition to the lineup has more than proven his worth at the plate and in the field.

In the 7th, Brett Gardner hit a solid triple to left field, but the inning added no further runs. The Yankees held onto their lead the entire game for the win tonight.

Final Score: 5-4 Yankees

Roster moves: The Yankees have moved Triple-A RHP Deivi Garcia up to the bullpen with a high potential for a September call up. His impressive stats, work ethic, and consistency have not gone unnoticed by the Yankees, and Garcia is currently one of their top overall prospects.

Injury updates: Didi Gregorius is still nursing his sore right shoulder and is on a day-to-day basis. While the shoulder is improving, he is not in the lineup, but may still be available to play during the series in Seattle.

Cameron Maybin is also on a day-to-day basis with a sore left wrist. Giancarlo Stanton’s right PCL strain is progressing well and he is working agility drills with time in the batting cages. Stanton may be scheduled for rehab games this weekend.

Go Yankees!

Game 132: NYY vs. LAD — Rubber match redemption

After Saturday’s game, and that still unexplained game-changing call for time by the umpire, the Bronx Bombers roared back today as a team and claimed this game for New York. And despite so many still on the injury list, the Yankees showed up in force.

Domingo German started the game and pitched a full 6 innings, allowing only 1 run. Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle shared the 7th inning for 3 strikeouts. Zack Britton commanded the 8th and protected the Yankees lead. At the top of the 9th, Aroldis Chapman took command of the mound and finished the inning strong, striking out a Dodger favorite with his 100 mph four-seam fastball.

Yankee bats were awake and active today. At the top of the first, DJ LeMahieu homered deep to center field to get the Yankees on the board first. Didi Gregorius was drilled hard by a pitch to his right shoulder, but he took his base determined to stay in the game and moved to 2nd on a wild pitch.

The game was tied at the top of the 3rd, so Aaron Judge homered to center to regain the Yankees’ lead. Didi Gregorius’ shoulder was a concern and replaced by Mike Ford in the line up when Gregorius was later pulled from the game in the 4th. So, the bottom of that inning saw a shuffle in the Yankee infield — LeMahieu manning 1st, Ford on 2nd, and Torres as shortstop.

Mike Ford homered to right center field in the 6th to widen the Yankees lead. The 8th inning had DJ LeMahieu reach base on a grounder to center, followed by Mike Ford’s double that scored LeMahieu. In the 9th, Gardner singled and later scored on Gio Urshela’s pop out to give the Yankees their final score.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees head up the Coast to visit the Mariners for a 3-game mid-week series. After a travel day back to the East Coast on Thursday, the Yankees will host the Athletics and Rangers before hitting the road again, starting in Boston.

Injury update: Didi Gregorius had his shoulder x-rayed after being hit by pitch in tonight’s game. Results show maybe a bone bruise, but nothing to be overly concerned about. His shoulder is expected to be painful for a few days, and the treatment prescribed is mainly icing and rest. He’s, of course, anxious to return to the field as soon as possible.

Further news came out today that Luke Voit is expected to return within a week. Many other players on the Injured List are expected (hopefully) to return in September including Betances, Encarnacion, Estrada, Stanton, Hicks, and even possibly Bird.

Roster moves: Jordan Montgomery was sent to Tampa Tarpons for rehab assignment. This will be his first game since Tommy John surgery last June. Nagging post-surgery shoulder inflammation kept him out of action until now. The Yankees are hoping he will be game-ready and available as a reliever for September.

And finally, Yankees still waiting on an explanation for the umpire’s call for time out while sending Torres back to third during Saturday’s game. The unusual timing of the umpire’s call while play was still happening was a potential game changer. Just add it to the growing list of odd calls by umpires across the league this year.

Go Yankees!

Game 118: NYY vs. TOR — #TanakaTime pitchers’ duel closes out series

The Yankees say “farewell” to Toronto on a bit of an upswing. Masahiro Tanaka threw a great game, commanding the home team through 8 scoreless innings with just 94 pitches and 3 allowed hits. And Aroldis Chapman earned his 31st save with a 1-hit and still rather dramatic 9th inning to close out the really dominant game.

But then, the Blue Jays also closed out this series strong, also only using 2 of their pitchers. They limited the Yankees to just 5 hits and a walk. Fortunately, 2 of those hits resulted in a bit more. In the 5th, Gio Urshela led-off with a double and then scored on Brett Gardner’s ground-rule double bouncing over the right field wall to score the lone run of the night.

Final score: 1-0 Yankees, the Yankees and Jays split series 2-2

Next up: The Yankees are on their way home for a packed home stand. First up, they will host the Orioles for 4 games starting with a doubleheader on Monday, part of a make-up from May. Then the Indians come to the Bronx for a 4-game weekend series. After a travel day, the Yankees begin their long West Coast week to visit the Athletics, Dodgers, and Mariners.

Roster moves: And before today’s game, the Yankees refreshed their roster again, partly because they could and partly because another name is on the IL again. Reliever Stephen Tarpley’s left elbow bugged him after yesterday’s game, and tests later revealed that he will be out with an impingement. They also transferred Giancarlo Stanton from the 10-day to 60-day IL as his knee sprain is still keeping him from returning any time soon. This removed him from the 40-man roster.

With that spot and after the Yankees also optioned infileder Breyvic Valera back to AAA Scranton, they exchanged them for relievers Brady Lail and Joe Mantiply. Both “fresh arms” were officially signed to the team and placed on the roster.

Actually, the biggest sigh of relief from today was that it felt like the Yankees were back in fighting order and commanding the game once again. Not a bad way to head back home and ready for the final big push before October.

Go Yankees!