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 115: TEX vs. NYY — Less than ideal pitching halt late power surge

Masahiro Tanaka’s streak was broken in tonight’s game by a strange power surge by the Rangers. Before Tanaka’s outing tonight, he was floating on a 14-game win streak of games he started since April 17, some were ultimate “no-decisions” as they were won later in the game, but he still had 9 W’s in his statistics.

Tanaka threw 96 pitches through 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out just 2 batters. Actually, he held off the Rangers for the first third of the game. Things began to crumble in the 4th with a lead-off single that scored on a 2-run home run and a 1-out solo homer to give the Rangers the lead. And in the 5th, with 1 out and runners on the corners, a long double scored both runners to pad their lead.

AJ Cole didn’t have a great outing either. With 2 outs in the 6th, a walk and a double both scored on a single and throwing error. Another single scored that runner. And a 1-out solo shot in the 7th added another run for the Rangers.

Chad Green’s 8th also faced troubles. With 1 out and runners on the corners again, a double scored both runs to cap off the Rangers’ night. Zach Britton easily had the best outing from the Yankees’ pitching staff tonight, throwing a scoreless 9th, the first scoreless inning for the Rangers since the 3rd inning.

The Yankees spent half the game being held off by the Rangers’ starter. It wasn’t until the 5th that Brett Gardner broke through with a nice 1-out solo home run into the Yankees’ bullpen to finally get the Yankees on the board. In the 6th, Stanton worked a 1-out walk, and Gregorius hit a 2-out single. Miguel Andujar hit a ground-rule double to score Stanton, and Luke Voit got his first Yankee RBI with a single that scored Gregorius and Andujar.

A new pitcher got the Rangers out of the inning, but then gave up a lead-off home run to Austin Romine. And in the 8th (with another new pitcher), Gregorius and Andujar singled and later moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. They both scored on Romine’s single to inch the Yankees closer. But a new reliever closed out the rally and the final reliever closed out the game with 2 strikeouts and a pop-up, and the Yankees ran out of outs to stage another one.

Final score: 12-7 Rangers

And in amusing news (because we really need it after tonight’s game): a eagle-eyed Yankee fan caught last night’s winning pitcher JA Happ taking the subway home after the game. Fellow New Yorkers were certainly appreciative of the little things that matter to daily train riders — his bag was down and out of the way of people, he kept to himself (no man-spreading), and he blended into the crowd seamlessly. The picture the fan caught was probably Happ looking up at the map to affirm how many more stops until the one he takes.

So, welcome to New York, JA! It looks like you’re right at home both on the field and on the subway.

And to be fair, lots of Yankee players do take the train to work if they live in the City. Many of those with families live outside the City and thus drive into work like nearly everyone else does every day. And as someone who takes the subway a lot whenever I’m in the City, I’m a little confused as to why this is news. But after thinking about it I figured out two things I think help players feel comfortable taking public transportation in the City.

First, in this day and age, when baseball stars are less about personalities and more about their performance (as we talked about in previous posts), your average person is more concerned if they’re going to make it to work on time than whether the guy next to them is a celebrity pro-athlete.

And second, there are a lot of celebrities who live in the City and it’s basically a live set, so seeing celebrities (or people who sort of look like someone who could be famous) is a frequent occasion, and again, people are more concerned about their own daily lives than bugging someone who might be famous on the train.

So, perhaps, it’s big news outside of the City for people who don’t always take the train. Who don’t know what a commonality this is for New Yorkers (to both use the subway and see celebs frequently). Or non-Yankee or baseball fans who won’t know or care who last night’s starting pitcher was. I think there’s more news to be had about the MTA’s archaic signal system and the occassional rodent carrying pizza around the tracks.

Go Yankees!

Game 113: NYY vs. CHW — Severino & Stanton sweep Sox (the White ones)

Talk about a reversal of fortune. Before this roadtrip, I was envisioning a rather “battle of the Sox” approach to this week’s blog posts. But after a disastrous stint against the red ones, it’s rather nice to be reset by the white ones. Though the “red ones” keep winning and thus are still quite a bit ahead of the Yankees in the standings.

Luis Severino had a shaky 1st inning to start off what ended up being a pretty decent outing in tonight’s closer against the White Sox. He threw 109 pitches in his 7 innings, gave up 7 hits and 3 runs, and struck out 8 Chicago batters.

In the 1st, he gave up a single, an RBI double, and an RBI single to get them on the board. And a lead-off solo home run in the 5th capped off the Sox’s runs tonight. Then, Chad Green and Jonathan Holder each took an inning to close out the game and keep the Sox from adding to their score.

After the home team got on the board first, the Yankees pounced in the 2nd inning. Torres led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Walker’s 1-out single, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single.  Walker then scored on Shane Robinson’s single to tie the game, and Gardner was hit by a pitch to load up the bases. It would fall to Giancarlo Stanton to be the difference-maker in this game, with a big grand slam just to the left of the right field foul pole.

Aaron Hicks added his mark with a lead-off solo home run in the 5th. And other than that, the Yankees just protected their hefty lead for the rest of the game to ensure their win and sweep in Chicago.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 3-0

A few notes: Tonight’s grand slam was Stanton’s 6th career grand slam, his last one was in 2014. After the less-than-ideal start in the 1st, Severino found his momentum and got the next 13 of 14 batters out through his next 6 innings (except for that allowed homer in the 5th).

While tonight certainly end up in the positive category for the Yankees, the competition between the “Soxes” fell along the same lines as dictated by the standings. And because of the first game last Thursday, the Yankees overall were out-scored by their Sox opponents 34-31 (the Red Sox just drowned them 28-11). If the pattern continues, Yankee fans could potentially reflect “what’s on paper” and have a pretty strong home stand. But that’s relying on “what’s on paper” and not allowing for the unpredictability of baseball and life.

Next up: The Yankees head back home for a long home stand that will include the 20th reunion for the 1998 Championship team. They’ll face a 4-game series against the Rangers, a make-up game against the Mets, then 3 games each with the Rays and Blue Jays. The last series will overlap with the anniversary celebration.

Go Yankees!

Games 102 & 103: KC vs. NYY — Split doubleheader thanks to more rainy days

The Yankees’ game last night was rained out, making it the 9th time that the Yankees have been weather-delayed this season. Fortunately, there was time (and a clear skies kind of forecast) for the next day for the Yankees and Royals to play and split a make-up doubleheader.

Game 1
Luis Severino had yet another bad outing in the regularly scheduled game that became the first game today, earning his 4th loss in an otherwise stellar season. He threw 95 pitches into the 5th innings, gave up 8 hits, a walk, and 6 runs, and struck out 5 Royals’ batters.

In the 3rd, a 1-out double and walk both scored on a long double to get the Royals on the board first. A lead-off single in the 5th ended up at 3rd on a ground-rule double, and then they both scored on a single. The next batter hit a 2-run home run to further the Royals’ lead, and that was it for Severino’s night. Warren came on in relief and sailed his way through the next 8 outs.

The Yankees had no trouble getting on base, but instead finding trouble scoring runs for most of the game. They were held off until the 5th inning, with Hicks’ 2-out single and Giancarlo Stanton’s 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board. In the 6th, Torres singled, moved to 2nd on Bird’s single, and then scored on Neil Walker’s single. Austin Romine hit into a double play but Bird still scored a run.

But then later in that inning, they loaded up the bases and couldn’t get anyone home once again. In the 7th, Gregorius led-off with a single and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ double. Torres, however, got thrown out trying to stretch his double into a triple. The Yankees continued to put runners in scoring position, but couldn’t chip away any further at the Royals’ early lead.

The Yankees’ later relievers David Robertson and Chasen Shreve had less than ideal outings themselves, but it didn’t matter in the long run as the damage was already done. A 3-run home run in the 8th and a sacrifice fly in the 9th added more runs for the Royals this first game of the day.

Final score for game 1: 10-5 Royals

Game 2
The second game of the day was officially the make-up game. Friday’s game was preceded by a giveaway of a bobblehead featuring CC Sabathia, who happened to be scheduled to pitch and promptly did so in tonight’s game. Sabathia had a decent outing, throwing just 79 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out an impressive 8 Royals’ batters.

He gave up a 1-out solo homer in the 3rd, and then loaded up the bases in the 5th. With 2 outs, he gave up another walk to walk in the Royals’ second run of the game. But then Jonathan Holder got a stellar strike out to end the threat. His 6th inning was less heroic, giving up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt. Chad Green came in and gave up a single to score another run but held the Royals off from further damage.

New Yankee Zach Britton had his own issues in the 7th. After 2 quick outs, he had trouble finding that 3rd out, giving up a double, a single, a walk to load the bases, and another walk to score another Royals’ run. But then Betances and Chapman each had scoreless innings to keep the Royals from adding to their score like in the first game.

Of course, this would mean nothing if the Yankees continued to put runners on base but stranded them there. So, when they struck first in the 1st, things were looking up. Gardner led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Stanton’s single, then onto 3rd on a fly out, before scoring on Miguel Andujar’s single. Bird was hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases, and Neil Walker’s sacrifice fly scored Stanton. And Shane Robinson hit his first home run as a Yankee, a big 2-out solo shot in the 4th.

After the Royals tied up the game and then took the lead, the Yankees needed another good inning so they wouldn’t end up on the wrong end of today’s games. They got that in the 8th. Greg Bird hit the 2nd pitch of his lead-off at-bat into the Yankees’ bullpen for a solid home run to re-tie up the game. Then the Yankees loaded up the bases (again) with Walker’s double, Romine’s single, and Torres’ walk. It would be Aaron Hicks’ solid sacrifice fly to score Walker, the winning run.

Final score of game 2: 5-4 Yankees

Roster moves: after Aaron Judge was moved to the 10-day DL thanks to his fractured wrist, the Yankees recalled Tyler Wade, who can easily function as a reliable utility man in the infield and outfield. They also activated pitcher JA Happ as the 26th man for today’s doubleheader. Happ will be the starter for tomorrow’s game.

And in order to get down to that magical number of 25 for the roster, the Yankees used tonight’s big trade to do so. In a deal with the Cardinals, the Yankees got infielder Luke Voit and Future Considerations (or cash for their international signings) in exchange for relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. Shreve, a favorite in the clubhouse, was on a recent upswing after some pretty disappointing outings earlier this season. Trades area always hard, but sometimes, it’s the best for everyone to shake things up and get a fresh start with a new organization. Best of luck to them all.

Also, it’s Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, New York. The induction ceremony for the class of 2018 is tomorrow afternoon. While no Yankees are entering the Hall this year, it should be a memorable event, as always, featuring some well-known faces from the other side of the field during some key events in Yankee history. With some of the recent retirements of the stars of the most recent dynasty of Yankees (like the “Core Four”), the next Yankee in the Hall is just a year or two away.

Go Yankees!

Game 101: KC vs. NYY — A fractured win & another big trade, there was also a game

Much of tonight’s game was bookended by a big trade announcement and a rather disappointing injury. It actually kind of overshadowed the fact that there was actually a pretty good game tonight as the Yankees returned to the Bronx to host the first of this 4-game weekend series against the Royals.

Despite this season having consistent bad outings at home, Sonny Gray flipped the switch and had a good one. He threw 75 pitches in 5 scoreless innings, gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 5 batters to earn the much-needed win. And the Yankee batters actually gave him quite the cushion to work the win.

In the 1st, with 1 out, Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch on the right wrist. But he initially stayed in the game (more below), ended up on 3rd on Gregorius’ doubles, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly. After Hicks walked, Gleyber Torres made it to 1st on a fielding error, which allowed Gregorius to score.

Then in the 4th, Walker hit a 1-out single and then scored on Austin Romine’s double. After another out, they opted to pinch-hit Judge with Miguel Andujar who benefited from a throwing error. Didi Gregorius promptly followed that up by hitting the 1st pitch of that at-bat into the right field seats for a 3-run home run.

To cap off their scoring tonight, the Yankees ended the Royals’ disappointing start with the 5th inning. Hicks singled, ended up at 3rd on Torres’ single, and then scored on Greg Bird’s sacrifice fly. The Royals’ starter came out after another single and a strikeout, and their relievers certainly had a better night of holding off the Yankees’ offense.

Comparatively, Adam Warren came on for the 6th and promptly gave up a ground-rule double and a 2-run home run to get the Royals on the board before fending them off for a quick 3 outs. Robertson’s 7th inning continued that momentum with his 3 strikeouts. And Zach Britton made his Yankees debut tonight and needed just 10 pitches to sail his way through the 8th inning.

And in the 9th, Chasen Shreve came on and had an eventful outing to close out the game. With 2 outs and 2 runners on 1st and 2nd, the next batter hit a single into center field to a waiting Hicks. Then Hicks fired that ball into Romine at home (at 98.7 mph) to get the lead runner trying to score a run and keep the game going. Instead, the tag was made and the game was over.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

Okay, trade news: The Yankees made yet another big trade. This time, they added to the rotation, as they’ve been trying to do for the last two seasons. The Yankees sent infielder Brandon Drury and outfielding prospect Billy McKinney to the Blue Jays in exchange for veteran starter JA Happ.

Also, before the game, the Yankees activated Zach Britton to help in the 8th inning. To make room, the Yankees optioned Luis Cessa back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

And injury news: In the 5th, Sonny Gray got hit with a comebacker on his hand which primarily hurt his thumb. He was sent to get precautionary x-rays, but they were negative and the Yankees expect him to make his start next week against the Orioles.

Now, Aaron judge sustained a hit by a pitch in the 1st. He, of course, stayed in the game initially and scored the Yankees’ first run of the night. But by the bottom of the 4th, that wrist wasn’t getting any better. First MRIs were “unclear”, so they sent him to the hospital where he ended up being diagnosed with a chip fracture of his right wrist (officially know as the ulnar styloid bone). It doesn’t require surgery, but he won’t be able to resume baseball activities for at least 3 weeks.

Yes, that Judge injury can seem like a big hit for the Yankees, but they do already have quite the depth in the outfield (starters like Gardner, Hicks, and Stanton), as well as depth in the farm system (like Frazier and Shane Robinson). Even without his bat, the Yankees are still stepping up to do their best. The Yankees are leading in home runs with 163, 21 more than 2nd place Angels and Athletics, and just 26 of those are Judge’s (only 16%). Get well soon!

Go Yankees!

Game 99: NYY vs. TB — Complete shutout with #TanakaTime

After last night’s disappointing outing, the Yankees needed a game like tonight’s middle game against the Rays to set them back on track. And Masahiro Tanaka had a great outing, something he certainly needed, to earn his 8th win of this season. He threw 105 pitches in 9 scoreless innings, a complete game, giving up just 3 hits and a walk, and striking out 9 Rays batters in just 2 hours and 37 minutes of this game.

The Yankee batters gave Tanaka enough to work with off the Rays pitching tonight too. In the 1st, Gardner and Judge each singled and ended up in scoring position on a wild pitch strikeout. Gardner then scored on Didi Gregorius’ ground out. The in the 5th, with 1 out, Brandon Drury is hit by a pitch, moved to 3rd on Walker’s single, and unable to shake off the pain (more below), is pinch-run by Tyler Wade. Wade ended up scoring on his behalf on Austin Romine’s ground out.

The Yankees loaded up the bases in the 7th with Andujar’s single, Bird’s double, and an intentional walk to Walker. Romine then hit a sacrifice fly to score Andujar. Andujar came back again to hit a lead-off ground-rule double in the 9th and later scored on Neil Walker’s single to cap off the Yankees’ evening.

Final score: 4-0 Yankees

But in injury news: Brandon Drury‘s hit-by-pitch was a little concerning for the Yankees. But x-rays came back negative, so the Yankee are taking his bruised left hand on a day-to-day basis. And there was a lot of conversation about Gary Sanchez after the sluggish jog to 1st to end the game last night, but it turns out that his previous injury (groin strain) has returned. It’s enough to put him back on the DL again. The Yankees recalled Kyle Higashioka as back-up catcher, of course.

And in lighter news, as you know, the teams usually take batting practice prior to every game. So for the fans, watching the two big Yankee power hitters and former Home Run Derby Champions, Aaron Judge (2017) and Giancarlo Stanton (2016), is often a treat for anyone who comes early. Before today’s game, Judge and Stanton went back-and-forth hitting those monster home runs that made them champions to see which of them would hit the ball furthest. Consensus says it was Stanton.

Go Yankees!

Game 97: NYM vs. NYY — Just enough not to be so “Gray” today

Sonny Gray needed a Saturday matinée game like today to help get him back on track. And while it’s certainly not a perfect outing, by any means, the Yankees certainly stepped up to give him enough leeway to find his footing. Gray threw 94 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs (just 2 earned), and still struck out 6 Mets batters in this middle game of the weekend series.

A lead-off solo home run in the 2nd started the runs for the Mets. But Gray held them off until the 6th inning, giving up 2 1-out walks before handing the ball over to David Robertson. Robertson, however, was not having as clean of a day. A 2-out single scored the first of Gray’s runners before a sloppy pick-off error scored the other one. Robertson got the final batter to strikeout.

Holder and Betances each sailed their way through an inning, keeping the Mets to those 3 runs scored. So, logically, the Yankees called on Aroldis Chapman to close out the 9th inning, but he was certainly having his own issues — a walk, a single, a walk to load the bases, a walk to walk in the first runner, and a hit-by-pitch to walk in the next. Chapman could just not find the strike zone, so they turned to Chasen Shreve to earn his first save with a double play (that still scored a run) and a ground out to end it all.

Of course, in order to get to that point, the Yankees had to shore up enough of an offense to make a difference in light of some less-than-ideal pitching. Stanton led-off with the 4th and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ long triple. Gregorius scored on Miguel Andujar’s double (thanks to a bit of fan-interference), and Andujar scored on Greg Bird’s double. Then just to make thing interesting in this inning, Bird scored on Austin Romine’s 2-out single.

Now with a solid lead, they added to it in the 6th when Andujar hit a lead-off double and scored on Bird’s single to end the Mets’ starter’s afternoon. The new pitcher held the Yankees off for the rest of that inning, but then Aaron Judge led-off the 7th with his 26th home run of the season, a solo shot into the visitor’s dugout.

Then in the 8th, Andujar (clearly having an amazing afternoon) led-off with a single, ended up at 3rd on Drury’s single and a throwing error, and then scored on Romine’s ground out to score the insurance run the Yankees would need.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees

And we have some more roster moves. After yesterday’s game, the Yankees decided that Domingo German needed some time back in AAA to work on his mechanics and find that momentum he lost somewhere after his initial call-up earlier this year. Luis Cessa will move into his rotation spot for the duration.

With an extra spot in the bullpen, the Yankees called up pitching prospect Domingo Acevedo from AA Trenton. He actually got the call-up late last night. While he was chilling in his hotel room watching Netflix, his Trenton coaches (and a teammate to help translate) knocked on his door, and he initially thought he was in trouble. But they gave him the news and his first thought was that he needed to call his mom. She, in turn, was worried something was wrong (remember, it was late at night), but then cried with her son over the phone as he packed his bags to head to New York.

And on the injury front, it looks like the Yankees might see Gleyber Torres sometime soon. The officially sent him to begin his rehab games with the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons (formerly the Tampa Yankees). If all goes as planned, he could join the team on Wednesday while the Yankees are in town to face the Rays, just across Tampa Bay.

Go Yankees!