Game 70: NYY vs. CHW — Gardy’s Father’s Day Party

In today’s finale in Chicago, the fans packed this special day for so many baseball fans. Players donned special light blue caps for the game as part of an MLB initiative to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research. And the sentiment everywhere had people talking about the special men in their lives — fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, husbands, uncles, and many others who fill that “fatherly” role in our lives. And a day at the ball park certainly is a way to celebrate those father figures in our lives, especially when they too love America’s pastime.

James Paxton got the start this afternoon and had a rather commanding outing. He threw 108 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 8 hits, a walk, and just 2 runs, and struck out 7 batters. He gave up a 2-out solo home run in the 1st to get the White Sox on the board first. But then Paxton kept things under control for most of his outing. In the 5th, a 1-out single moved to 2nd on a 2-out single and then scored on another single to double their score.

Ottavino breezed his way through a scoreless 7th inning. David Hale’s strong 8th inning was briefly interrupted by a 1-out solo home run to add just one more run for the home team. Britton then got the ball for a really quick scoreless 9th to close out the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees came on strong and just didn’t let up, mostly thanks to Yankees’ resident “dad” Brett Gardner. In the 3rd, with 1 out, the Yankees loaded the bases with a single to LeMahieu and walks to Voit and Torres. After another out, Brett Gardner singled home both LeMahieu and Voit. Gio Urshela then singled and scored Torres. After Tauchman’s walk loaded the bases again, Austin Romine singled and scored both Gardner and Urshela to really solidify the Yankees’ lead.

Gardner was hit by a pitch to lead-off the 5th and ended up at 3rd on Urshela’s double. Austin Romine’s 1-out double scored both Gardner and Urshela. In the 6th, with 1 out, Torres worked a walk, moved to 3rd on Frazier’s single, and then scored on Gardner’s fielder’s choice grounder.

Cameron Maybin got in on the fun with a 2-out solo home run in the 7th. In the 8th, Torres again walked, moved to 2nd on a grounder, and then scored on Gardner’s 2-out single to cap off the Yankees’ big night.

Final score: 10-3 Yankees, they split the series 2-2

Next up: The Yankees head home for their final home stand before the All-Star Break and kick off their annual HOPE Week. They will face the Rays first, then host the Astros for a 4-game weekend series, and close out the home stand with 3 games against the Blue Jays. Two travel days later (read: jetlag), the Yankees will face the Red Sox in London in the first ever regular season games in the UK.

And a happy Father’s Day to all those celebrating, honoring, or remembering the father figures in their lives today. The Yankees also paid tribute to their fathers or talked about becoming fathers in a series of videos. (Happ & Paxton; Judge & Stanton; Severino & Kahnle; Gardner & Gregorius; Torres & VoitGreen & Frazier; Romine & Sabathia) Enjoy!

Go Yankees!

Games 50 & 51: NYY vs. KC — Doubleheader, double win

Yesterday’s opener for this weekend series against the Royals was rained out thanks to the nasty Spring storms that have been plaguing the middle of the country yesterday. Somehow, they managed to stay dry today to help make up the game in what ended up being a fun doubleheader for the Yankees through this Saturday.

Game 1 (regularly scheduled game)
JA Happ got the start for the afternoon game and had strong outing, throwing 82 pitches through 6 innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 runs, and striking out 10 Royals batters. Happ actually held off the Royals until his final inning. With 1 out, he gave up 2 singles that scored on a 3-run home run.

The Yankees’ offense had the lead up until then. In the 1st, Hicks walk and Voit singled, and 2 outs later, they both scored on Clint Frazier’s double. In the top of the 6th, with 1 out, Gardner tripled and then scored on Gio Urshela’s sacrifice fly.

After the home team tied up the game at the end of the 6th, the Yankees found the next chance to advance right in the next inning. Hicks hit a 1-out single and scored as part of the monster 2-run home run by Luke Voit (to the delight of his huge contingency of his family and friends in the stands). In the 8th, Frazier walked and Gardner singled, and they both scored on Thairo Estrada’s 1-out double to cap off the Yankees’ offense this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Ottavino sailed through a scoreless 7th, and Cessa closed out the game with 2 solid final innings to help deliver the eventual win for the Yankees.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees

Game 2 (the make-up game from yesterday)
After they reset the field, cleaned the stands, and reopened the gates, the second game kicked off, both teams heavily dependent on their long-term arms in the bullpens. The Yankees used that 1-inning opener style, tabbing Chad Green for the 1st inning. After 2 quick outs, he gave up consecutive singles. The first one then scored on a double, but in the same play, the second runner was thrown out to end the inning.

Then the game was handed off to Chance Adams for long-term relief, four decent innings for the reliever. The middle two being the hardest for Adams. With 2 outs in the 3rd, there was a similar situation after a batter worked a walk and then scored on an RBI double. But in that same play, the batter was tagged out trying to stretch it into a triple just after the runner scored. In the 4th, with 1 out, Adams gave up a pair of doubles to scored 1 run, and a 2-out single scored 1 more.

Holder, Kahnle, and Britton each carried a scoreless inning. And Aroldis Chapman was looking for his 14th save in the 9th, and almost lost it with his own error. With 1 out, he gave up a walk and a pick-off error allowed the runner to make it all the way to 3rd and then scored on a sacrifice fly. He also earned his 250th career save.

The Yankees loaded up on the offense early and spent the game defending their lead. The Royals’ starter continued on in the 2nd, after a fairly easy 1st, but found the Yankees were ready to charge forward. They loaded up the bases with Morales’ singles, Frazier’s walk, and Urshela’s single. Austin Romine’s long single and a fielding error allowed both Morales and Frazier scored and put runners on the corners.

Then Cameron Maybin hit a nice double to score Urshela and Romine, and DJ LeMahieu’s single scored Maybin. It was at this point, with no outs, the Royals realized their starter wasn’t getting out of this inning and called in a reliever to mirror the Yankees’ pitching model tonight.

In the 3rd, Frazier worked a 1-out walk, moved to 3rd on Romine’s 2-out single, and then scored on Maybin’s single. But then the Yankees’ offense kind of faltered, and the Royals’ pitching finally snapped into action and held the visitors off.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees

Injury update: The Yankees officially assigned Didi Gregorius to the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons for his rehab assignment. Gregorius had Tommy John surgery in October. The usual return for non-pitchers is less than a year, and Gregorius is looking at a few weeks of rehab before making his return to the team. Should all go well, he could be returning prior to the All-Star Break.

Roster move: Before today’s doubleheader, the Yankees recalled reliever Chance Adams as the 26th man. Adams played a key role in the second of today’s games, even earning the win tonight.

Go Yankees!

Game 49: NYY vs. BAL — A walk to seal the sweep

There have been seasons where the Yankees just struggle in Baltimore, despite where either team are in the standings. Chalk it up to divisional rivalry of sorts, though the Orioles’ dominance wasn’t obvious in the Bronx. But 2019 certainly isn’t like any other season, and this series in particular is proving that point.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in the final game in Baltimore this series. He threw 95 pitches in 6 strong innings, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out 5 batters. In the 2nd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on a single and throwing error before scoring on a fielder’s choice. The Orioles were the first on the board.

The Yankees were unusually held off for most of the game until Clint Frazier’s 2-out solo home run in the 5th to tie up the game. In the 6th, with 2 outs, the bases loaded were loaded with LeMahieu’s 1-out walk, a 2-out double by Voit, and Morales’ walk. Gio Urshela then hit a long single to score LeMahieu and Voit.

After a pitching change helped close out the inning, the Yankees continued their advance in the 7th. With 1 out, Estrada worked a walk, stole 2nd, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. Another pitching change, another new inning, and Luke Voit hit a solid 1-out solo home run in the 8th.

Now, things were looking up for another easy win for the Yankees, but sometimes travel days (or these oddball matinees at the end of a series) spell all sorts of dramatics and quirks. After Jonathan Holder breezed through the 7th, he started the bottom of the 8th with quite a jam, walking consecutive batters and giving up a single to score the lead runner.

With 2 runners on base and no outs, the Yankees called in Tommy Kahnle to take hold of the situation. After 1 out, however, he gave up a 3-run home run to promptly tie up the game once again before closing out the inning.

So, the Yankees took the 9th inning to rally back, and thanks to some sloppy pitching (and a couple “Oriole killers”, it worked. After 2 quick outs, pinch-hitter Gleyber Torres worked a walk, pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez singled, and LeMahieu walked to load up the bases. In steps Aaron Hicks who then worked a walk, which scored Torres. A little anti-climactic for the go-ahead run, but you take what you get when it matters.

Britton breezed through the 9th in just 9 pitches, against his former team, earning just his 2nd save of the season.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees, Yankees sweep Orioles 4-0

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to Kansas City to face the Royals this weekend before they head back home for their next home stand. They will host the Padres and Red Sox before hitting the road again in June.

Injury update: After yesterday’s game, CC Sabathia was feeling it in his knee, a recurrent injury for him. With treatment and tests, it was clear that Sabathia needs some time to rest and recoup some of his strength, diagnosed officially with knee inflammation, and was eventually put on the 10-day IL.

The Yankees then recalled Nestor Cortes Jr from AAA Scranton, with plans to use the “opener” method, or the single inning pitcher to start a game followed by some long-term relievers. In other words, they’ll be relying a bit more on their bullpen, which certainly has its off-moments (like Holder’s 8th inning stint today) but has risen to the challenge more often than not.

As the Yankees close out this series in Baltimore, the most talked about highlights are the newly christened “Oriole killers”, especially Gleyber Torres. It’s actually history-making, as Torres has 12 big league home runs and 10 of them are against the Orioles. The first MLB player to have 10 of his first 12 homers be against the same team. Plus, he’s hit safely in every game he’s played against them (11 games) and has 13 RBIs and a .465 batting average against them. Yankee Universe knew how good the young infielder was, but the Orioles are just realizing how much they’re actually helping boost his records.

Go Yankees!

Game 23: NYY vs. LAA — Voit’s power & Ford’s first dinger

The streak continues for the Yankees in this middle game of their series against the Angels. Though there was a few moments where it looked like the Angels might have a rally in them, even a grand slam couldn’t stop the Yankees from dominating tonight’s game.

Starter Domingo German held control into the 7th inning, with 99 pitches, 4 hits, a walk, and an unearned run, and 5 strikeouts against the home team. German held them off until the 5th. A lead-off double, moved to 3rd on a fielding error, and then scored on a fielder’s choice out at 2nd.

In the 7th, with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd, Chad Green came into the game for relief and quickly got out of the inning. But coming back out in the 8th almost cost the Yankees the game. He loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk before giving up a big grand slam up the middle to leap the Angels up on the scoreboard.

Luis Cessa came in and promptly gave up a double and a walk. Things looked bleak again for the Yankees, but then Cessa settled in, getting a strikeout and a great double play to end the Angels’ hopes of trying to overcome the Yankees. And Zack Britton sailed his way through a 7-pitch 9th inning to earn his 1st save of the season.

Again, the Yankees needed to dominate tonight in order to earn the win, and it would be Luke Voit to lead the way again with a 1st inning 1-out solo home run, extending his on-base streak to 35 games. They loaded up the bases in the 2nd with a single to Ford, a walk to Tauchman, and a 1-out single to Thairo Estrada, his first MLB hit. Tyler Wade hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Ford to score. In the 5th, Gardner hit a 1-out single and then scored on Mike Ford’s 2-out 2-run home run.

Voit led-off the 7th with a walk, moved to 3rd on Gardner’s double, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single. After a pitching change, pinch-hitter Urshela hit into a fielder’s choice out at home. Then a walk to Tauchman loaded the bases. Austin Romine’s simple grounder scored Torres, and despite loading up the bases again with Estrada’s walk, the Yankees couldn’t add any further runs that inning.

Voit added one more to the score, an insurance run of sorts, in the top of the 8th with another 1-out solo home run. And after the Angels tried to get a few of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, the Yankees were glad for every extra insurance run they had to ensure their win tonight.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees

Mike Ford hit his first major league home run with that 5th inning 2-run homer. The Yankees were able to retrieve that milestone ball from the lucky fan that caught it in the right field seats. Ford intends to give the ball to his parents, something I think is a great gesture.

He’ll hit lots of home runs, but that first one deserves a spot on his parents’ mantle, next to the baseball trophies he won in Little League, where they cheered him on and hoped he would one day achieve his dream. Remember, he grew up in New Jersey, a huge fan of the Yankees during their most recent dynasty years. The dream was always to wear pinstripes (or away greys).

You know, somewhere, there’s some kid sleeping with his glove under his pillow, dreaming of the night he’ll get to hit his first home run with the Yankees. And someday, we’re going to watch that kid do just that.

Go Yankees!

Game 21: KC vs. NYY — A bit of redemption on Easter

The final game between the Yankees and visiting Royals made this Sunday afternoon game on a holiday worth watching. Actually, it was a Yankee dominant game, looking like a fairly easy win, until the Royals came in to bury the Yankees in a single inning. Only for the home team to rise again with a great walk-off victory. (That’s enough Easter puns. I promise.)

James Paxton had a great outing today, throwing 104 pitches in 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and a walk, and striking out 12 Kansas City batters. He really should have been the main story if not for the weird late-inning twists in today’s game Kahnle followed up, breezing through a great 7th inning. Things were looking good for the Yankees.

Plus, they had racked up enough run support to feel a little too safe. In the 1st, DJ LeMahieu led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then raced home on a passed ball to barely beat out the tag. With 2 outs in the 2nd, Ford doubled (his first MLB hit, by the way) and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. And in the 5th, Voit and Gardner each singled and then scored on Clint Frazier’s big 3-run home run to give the Yankees their nice lead.

But then it was the 8th inning that everything went a bit pear-shaped for the Yankees. Chad Green came on in relief and just could not find an out, instead loading up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. So it was up to Adam Ottavino to try to get out of that jam, but he too had issues finding an out. He promptly gave up a 2-RBI double, a 3-run home run to tie up the game, and a solo homer to suddenly give the Royals the lead. And then he got the 3 outs he needed.

Now, that wasn’t sitting well with the Yankees. They weren’t about to give up their series win that easily. Tauchman led off the bottom of the 8th with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single to tie up the game again. And just like that, the Yankees were back in it.

Chapman sailed his way through the 9th, but the Yankees didn’t find the opportunity to do so in the bottom of the inning. So it was into extra innings for a special Easter game. Britton came in a matched his predecessor’s breezy streak. And this time, the Yankees found their moment in the bottom 10th.

Tauchman and Urshela worked consecutive walks, and after a pitching change, Estrada hit a sacrifice bunt and moved both runners into scoring position. It would be the hero of the day, Austin Romine, to sneak a great single up the middle all the way to the back fence to score Tauchman for the walk-off win today.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees, in 10 innings, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees are headed to the West Coast to face the Angels, Giants, and Diamondbacks for this road trip. This will take them into May before they’re back in the Bronx again.

Injury news/roster moves: Before today’s game, the Yankees moved Aaron Judge to the 10-day injured list with his oblique injury. But the reality is that he will probably be out for about a month. Frequent MLB contributor (and famous Yankee granddaughter) Lindsay Berra wrote an article two years ago about oblique injures in baseball and the commonality of the injury in athletes and why the average return to play is about 27 days.

With Judge’s spot on the roster vacant, the Yankees decided to call up Thairo Estrada again. Despite Estrada being an infielder, the logical move would be to have a utility player like Tyler Wade to substitute in the outfield as needed. And again, despite 13 men on the IL, the Yankees are charging into this road trip on a win streak again.

And a Happy Easter to all who celebrate, however you celebrate.

Go Yankees!

Game 20: KC vs. NYY — #TanakaTime with some controversy & another injury

Well, this Saturday was certainly filled with some mixed results and emotions. The day began with the rain that lingered from last night, clearing up just before the game and would remain rather cloudy during this third game with the visiting Royals in the Bronx. Maybe that cloudiness should have been a sign for this game.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start today and had a really great outing. He threw 94 pitches in 7 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out an impressive 7 Kansas City batters. His lone allowed run was a lead-off solo homer in the 6th. He certainly earned today’s win.

Jonathan Holder closed out the game for Tanaka with 2 solid innings. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo home run in the 9th inning to double the Royals’ score. But he and Tanaka were strong enough to carry the game and limit the Royals’ impact.

The Yankees’ offense was certainly strong enough to support their pitchers today. Aaron Judge kicked things off with a 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning, and Clint Frazier led-off the 2nd with a solo home run to jump the Yankees in an early lead they would never surrender this afternoon.

After a tumultuous, yet scoreless 3rd inning for the Yankees, they came back in the 4th to dominate. Ford led-off with a walk and moved to 3rd on Romine’s double. Then, Mike Tauchman continued his power show with a big 3-run home run into the right field seats. And DJ LeMahieu promptly followed that with a solo home run on the 1st pitch of his at-bat for a great show back-to-back home runs.

In the 6th, Tauchman worked a walk and moved to 2nd on Judge’s 1-out single. Judge winced a little and held his side, coming out of the game and replaced by Tyler Wade. With 2 outs, Gleyber Torres hit a single to scored Tauchman, and Frazier’s single scored Wade to keep the runs coming.

And in the 7th, Urshela led-off with a double and scored on Austin Romine’s single to cap off the Yankees’ big afternoon. A rather great combination of Yankee offense and pitching today paid off in the end.

Final score: 9-2 Yankees

However… there were also some sour notes this afternoon. In addition to Judge’s injury (more below), there was that bad call that soured the 3rd inning for the Yankees. LeMahieu led-off with a walk, and Voit hit a 1-out single. Then Gleyber Torres smacked a big hit that aimed right for the 1st row of the left field stands. It appeared to bounce off the hands of a fan in that 1st row, but the immediate assumption was that it was going to be a home run anyway, so the call was a 3-run home run.

However… that fan seemed to lean too far over the fence, and the Royals’ manager rightfully asked for an umpire review to determine if there was fan interference. As we all watched slow-motion video and discussed the possibilities, the common thought was that it was fan interference, which is normally an automatic ground-rule double.

However… the umpire review declared it was an out due to fan interference, the implication being that the Royals’ left fielder would have made the out as he jumped to lead over and rob the home run away from Torres. And the world erupted. Well, the social media world did. And believe me, I was right there with them.

Now, the left fielder is a good player, but I just don’t think he was that good to be able to really disrupt the natural trajectory of the ball that was clearly heading out of the park. That fan interference was a bad move, but it wasn’t really interfering with the left fielder as much as it did with the ball leaving the park.

Of course, we weren’t alone in this thought. Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone was livid at the overturned call too, bounding over to the umpires in just a few large steps. Within seconds, Boone got his first ejection of the season, and the fans were 100% behind him. The players were too, as that just propelled them to get 7 more runs as Boone watched from the clubhouse.

Injury update: That 6th inning injury to Aaron Judge is a big blow to the team. Judge came up from the swing clutching his side, only to be diagnosed with an oblique injury. He was sent to New York Presbyterian in the City for further testing, including a potential rehab trajectory. This will make 13 players on the IL, as there’s no way Judge will avoid the IL at this point. There will be more we know tomorrow.

But for some good news, it looks like the Yankees will be getting Gary Sanchez back this next week. He is set to play a minor league game Monday, fly to Anaheim to meet the team on Tuesday, and then will play on Wednesday. Though, to be fair, Higashioka and Romine have certainly been doing a great job in his absence, proving how great the catching depth is on the Yankees.

Chag Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover) this week to those who observe.

Go Yankees!

Game 13: CHW vs. NYY — Drenched and shortened loss

Tonight’s home stand opener certainly didn’t go as well as they thought. And the weather itself certainly agreed. The skies threatened to storm the entire evening, even drizzling through most of the game, but it finally broke through and drenched the Bronx enough to force them to call the game early. Which, of course, meant the Yankees ran out of time to try to regain their lead against the visiting White Sox.

Starter JA Happ really struggled through his outing tonight. He threw 88 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 9 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out 5 Chicago batters. A lead-off double in the 1st scored on a 2-out single to get the White Sox on the board early and first. In the 4th, he gave up 2 walks that scored on a 2-out double.

While this was actually tolerable for the Yankees, it was the 5th inning that things really started falling apart. Happ gave up a single, a 2-run home run, and another single before the Yankees called in Jonathan Holder for relief. But then he promptly gave up a 2-run home run before powering his way through 3 strikeouts to end the inning and then keeping the Sox scoreless through the 6th.

Okay, backing up a little, the Yankees did actually do pretty well on the offense side tonight. Down by 1 run in the 1st, the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the inning. With 1 out, they loaded up the bases with a throwing error on Judge’s at-bat and 2 walks to Voit and Torres. After another out, DJ LeMahieu’s single scored both Judge and Voit. But then, Torres was caught out in a rundown trying to make it to 3rd. His distraction was enough to allow both runners to score before he got tagged out, so the risk was worth it.

Now in the lead, the Yankees continued to surge forward in the 2nd. Frazier led-off with a walk, moved to 3rd on Urshela’s double, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. Later, Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly scored Urshela. Brett Gardner hit a solid 2-out solo home run in the 4th. And in the 6th, LeMahieu walked and Frazier singled. After a pitching change, Gio Urshela’s single scored LeMahieu, and despite loading up the bases later, the Yankees’ offense stalled that inning.

And they never got another chance to restart it because it started raining. They sent Chad Green out in the 7th, and like his 2 predecessors, he had his own issues with his outing. With 1 out, he gave up back-to-back solo homers. And by then the rain was just too much.

After 41 minutes of a delay and no end in sight, the game was called as is.

Final score: 9-6 White Sox, in 7 innings

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees sent Gary Sanchez to the injured list with left calf strain. He originally sat out the previous game with some calf discomfort, not wanting to push himself to actually get injured. But on yesterday’s off-day, he noticed it was still problematic and got it check out, hoping to be able to play through the stiffness. Diagnosis: strain. So they called up Kyle Higashioka for back-up to Romine.

And be prepared: the Yankees are set to activate CC Sabathia from the IL for tomorrow’s game, so the corresponding roster move (probably a pitcher) is forthcoming. But it’s nice to see someone coming off the IL rather than being put on. Yeah, we need more of that please.

Go Yankees!