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 48: NYY vs. BAL — Bronx Bombs in Baltimore

For all the seasons I’ve complained about the schedule, I’m certainly not complaining this year. Unfortunately, there’s never any kind of idea that certain teams will be good or on a slump at any given time, so it’s not like you can really rig the system. It’s just been good for the Yankees this year, playing teams that just aren’t clicking in the first half of the season. Thus maybe the “easy schedule” has helped the Yankees, despite the spate of injuries in pinstripes.

Either way, the season continues on, and the series continued with the third of four games in Baltimore, with CC Sabathia on the mound. Sabathia had mixed results tonight, throwing 88 pitches in 5 innings, allowing 6 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs (4 earned), but nicely striking out 7 Orioles batters.

After two solid scoreless innings, the Orioles found their moments to advance. In the 3rd, a lead-off walk got out on a fielder’s choice, but then the next runner scored on a long double to get them on the board. A lead-off hit-by-pitch in the 4th later scored on a messy throwing error (the unearned run).

But it was the 5th that energized the home town crowd, starting with a lead-off solo home run. A 1-out double then scored on a 2-out 2-run home run. And after another double, the next batter technically singled before the Yankees went for the out at home. Gardner (center field) threw the ball sharply into Sanchez (catcher) to make a great, but messy tag on the lead runner.

However, the Orioles immediately challenged the call as a violation of the home plate collision rules. After a review and replay, the call was upheld. It was just messy and where the ball landed, not an intentional blocked plate, though that play can be problematic sometimes.

On the other side of the field, the Yankees weren’t exactly sitting idly by, as per their usual this season against the Orioles. In the 2nd, Gardner hit a 1-out double and then scored as part of Thairo Estrada’s 2-run home run. After Maybin worked a walk, he then scored with DJ LeMahieu’s 2-run home run.

Then it was time for the “Oriole Killers”. Gleyber Torres led-off the 3rd with a big solo home run, Gary Sanchez hit a monster 2-out solo home run in the 4th, and Torres did it again with a lead-off solo shot in the 5th. And if you’re keeping track, every run scored by a Yankee tonight was done so on a home run.

To close out the final 4 innings of the game, Kahnle, Ottavino, Green, and Chapman each put in a scoreless inning of their own to protect the Yankees’ lead.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees

CC K-Count: 3020

Look, between the mostly strong pitching, the great defense, and the big bats, the Yankees are just clicking this season. “Easy schedule” or not, things are just working for them right now, and we’re just going to take it while it lasts. Nothing lasts forever, but I’m okay with something lasting for a bit longer.

Like maybe through October.

Go Yankees!

Game 47: NYY vs. BAL — Yankee dominance continues in Charm City

The Yankee dominance, especially against the Orioles, continues. Domingo German, the unexpected rising star starter this season, got the start in the second game of this 4-game series against the Orioles. he threw 93 pitches in 5 innings, allowed 5 hits, a walk, and 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 5 batters.

In fact, he kept the home team scoreless through most of his outing, getting himself out of an earlier jam, and not finding true troubles until his final inning. The lead-off batter was hit by a pitch. The next batter hit a short grounder that German fielded himself to turn into a double play, but a bad throw allowed both runners to be safe and set up the next batter’s big 3-run home run to get the O’s on the board.

David Hale came on in relief for the final 4 innings of the game and also had a fairly strong outing. He only allowed one run. In the 6th, his lead-off batter doubled, moved to 3rd on one ground out, and scored on the next one. But Hale commanded his way through the rest of the game, earning the rare 4-out save (despite the disparity of runs scored).

But it was the Yankees’ offense to dominate the game and give quite the hefty cushion for German and Hale. In the 1st, LeMahieu and Voit kicked the game off with consecutive singles and then scored as part of Gary Sanchez’s big 3-run home run to start the big show today.

Hicks worked a 1-out walk in the 3rd and then scored on Gio Urshela’s 2-out double. Urshela then scored on Clint Frazier’s big 2-run home run. Then in the 5th, with 1 out, Hicks and Torres walked and scored on Frazier’s second big home run, a 3-run power shot up the middle.

This went unanswered by the Orioles in most of the game, but even when they got on the board, the Yankees’ lead was still too large for the O’s to really chip away too much. Plus, the Yankees still had a few more runs to add in the 6th. With 1 out, LeMahieu singled, moved to 3rd on Voit’s single, and then scored when Gary Sanchez hit into a fielder’s choice. Hicks’ single moved Sanchez to 3rd, and Gleyber Torres singled him home to cap off the Yankees runs tonight.

Final score: 11-4 Yankees

Injury updates: Giancarlo Stanton (biceps strain) was to be in Tampa this week working on his rehab assignment. He play in Monday night’s game, even smacking a big home run for the Tampa Yankee fans at Steinbrenner Field. But he ended up feeling a tightness in his left knee and didn’t play in last night’s game. This will be a small delay in his rehab, not joining the team when they visit the Royals this weekend, and may force him to have extended games with another Yankees’ minor league team.

Other Yankees are on the mend. After Masahiro Tanaka took a foul ball off his shin on his last start (Saturday vs. Rays), there was some caution about his next move. But he threw a bullpen session against Aaron Judge today, and Tanaka seemed good to go for his next start, flipping with Sabathia for upcoming starts to give Tanaka one extra day. Sabathia will start Thursday at Baltimore, Tanaka on Friday in Kansas City.

Meanwhile, the at-bats Aaron Judge (oblique strain) took against Tanaka were also a good clue for his recovery. Things are looking good for the injured power-hitter, just slower than I think everyone (including Judge) would hope for. He’s continuing to ramp up his baseball activities and progressing as much as his body will allow on his road to health.

Scranton Shuttle: The Yankees made a move for a fresh arm again before today’s game. They sent reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. back to AAA Scranton in exchange for signing David Hale to the big league roster. Being now out for the rest of 2019 after shoulder surgery, Miguel Andujar was the logical choice to move to the 60-day IL to make room for Hale on the roster.

Go Yankees!

Game 46: NYY vs. BAL — A Torres kind of rally

There have always been players that seem to play well against a certain team, like Ortiz, Trout, Bautista, and Longoria all being considered “Yankee Killers” at some point. But certain Yankees have the same affect on other teams. Currently, the two Yankee players that could be considered “Oriole Killers” are Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres. And fortunately, they were in fine form waging a big come-from-behind rally in the late innings of tonight’s game.

JA Happ got the start in tonight’s opener in Baltimore, and it was certainly one of his less than ideal starts. He threw 77 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 9 hits, a walk, and 6 runs, and struck out just 3 batters. In the 1st, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a double. A single later scored that runner to give the Orioles an early lead.

In the 3rd, Happ gave up a lead-off solo home run and, after 2 outs, another solo home run. Then, with 2 outs in the 4th, a double scored on a single. After that runner stole 2nd, he scored on another single. That was the end of Happ’s troubled outing, handing the game over to Luis Cessa.

Cessa initially kept the Orioles from adding to their lead through the 5th. But his 6th had some defensive issues. With 1 out, a solid triple later scored on a sacrifice fly before he got out of the inning. Holder then had a much better scoreless 7th inning, which Britton followed up with his own solid 8th.

Meanwhile, the Yankees seemed a little sluggish to start their offense. Gleyber Torres started things with a big 1-out solo home run in the 2nd. But it wasn’t until the 6th that they found another opportunity. LeMahieu singled and Hicks walked, and both moved up into scoring position on a ground out. Gary Sanchez singled home LeMahieu, and Kendrys Morales’ ground out scored Hicks.

Once they got rolling, the Yankees found momentum in the final third of the game. In the 7th, Urshela singled, moved to 2nd on Maybin’s 1-out walk, and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single. After a pitching change, Maybin scored on Aaron Hicks’ fly out and a really bad throwing error. With 2 outs and another pitching change in 8th, Gleyber Torres hit another solo home run, which was upheld despite an umpire review.

Then in the 9th, the Yankees found the final push for the rally. Gardner led-off with a single. Maybin then singled, but both runners ended up in scoring position due to a sluggish and sloppy defense. With 1 out, Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly scored Gardner to officially tie up the game. After Voit’s walk, Gary Sanchez smacked a big 3-run home run to finally put the Yankees in the lead.

Chapman closed out the bottom of the 9th with 3 great strikeouts, including the final pitch of a 101 mph, to earn his 12th save this year and deliver the Yankees the win.

Final score: 10-7 Yankees

Injury update: Miguel Andujar had surgery today on the torn ligament in his shoulder. He’s been troubled for quite a bit of it this season before it finally came to a point where surgery was the best option for him, despite ending this season. It is disappointing, but like many injured players this year, they are finding out that the Yankees are ready to step it up when one of their own needs a moment to heal and recover without losing a beat (or a game, usually).

Go Yankees!

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 9: NYY vs. BAL — Rather lucky in Charm City sweep

Again, after their disappointing home stand last week, the Yankees needed something to help set them on the right track. So a sweep of the Orioles this weekend seemed to do the trick.

Domingo German got the start for the Yankees and held the Orioles off for most of his outing. He pitched a no-hitter for most of the game, not giving up a single until the 6th, keeping the O’s scoreless into the 7th inning, where he gave up a single and a walk to be responsible for those runners when he handed the game off to Stephen Tarpley.

After a strikeout, Tarpley loaded the bases with a single. So a passed ball and wild pitch scored both of German’s runners. Tarpley then gave up another walk that put runners at the corners before a single scored one final run for the Orioles. Luis Cessa then came on to close out the game with 2 strong, scoreless innings.

But it was the Yankee offense that left everyone talking this weekend. In the 2nd, Gleyber Torres led-off with a solo home run, and 1-out later, Clint Frazier hit his own solo home run. Gardner led-off the 3rd with a double and then scored as part of Gary Sanchez’s 2-out 2-run home run.

After a pitching change in the 6th, with 1 out, Torres doubled, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Clint Frazier’s single (the first run not scored on a homer this weekend, by the way). With 2 outs in the 7th, Voit singled, and Gary Sanchez hit his 2nd homer of the game, a 2-run home run. Torres then worked a walk that forced another Oriole pitching change. DJ LeMahieu doubled home Torres, and Frazier’s single put runners in the corners. Gio Urshela’s single scored LeMahieu.

Gardner led-off the 8th with a walk and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s 2-out 2-run home run, his 3rd homer of the game. And the Yankees were back to home runs. (This was Sanchez’s first 3-homer game, by the way.) In the 9th, Wade walked and scored on Clint Frazier’s 2-run home run. Urshela was hit by a new reliever and then scored with Austin Romine’s 2-run home run.

Final score: 15-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep the Orioles 3-0

Next up: The Yankees travel to Houston for a 3-game series against the Astros to wrap up this first road trip. Then, after a travel day on Thursday, they head home for a long home stand against the White Sox, Red Sox, and Royals before heading out for their first West Coast road trip.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 8: NYY vs. BAL — A double Judgement Day with some late Red Thunder

Unlike in previous seasons, the Yankees seem to find their swing at Camden Yards. Usually, there’s something about the Baltimore home field that reeks of home field advantage, and for a time during these last two games, that seemed to still linger. But the Yankees somehow pulled it together in the end and found their momentum to swing things in their favor.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees in the middle game of this opening weekend series, throwing into the 5th inning and mostly keeping the Orioles from doing much tonight. With 2 outs in the 1st, a solo home run got them on the board. But then Happ worked his way through the next 3 innings without another big threat. In the 5th, he gave up a single and a 1-out walk before handing the ball over to Holder for relief.

After an infield fly pop-up out, a single scored Happ’s lead runner, but Holder kept the Orioles from adding any further to their score through the next 4 outs. But then he found trouble in the 7th. The first batter was hit by a pitch then moved to 3rd on a single. So it was on to Adam Ottavino.

A pinch-hitter hit into an unsuccessful fielder’s choice that scored one run. After an out (the first of the inning), a base runner stole 3rd which he used to his advantage when he scored on a sacrifice fly. With no more base runners, Ottavino needed just 1 more out to close out the inning without further damage. After allowing a lead-off walk, he got 2 outs in the 8th before it was Green’s turn.

Green had a bit of a sloppy way to find that final out of the 8th. His first batter was hit by a pitch, and the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice fielding error to load up the bases. The call was originally ruled out at 2nd, but Torres just tagged the base and not the runner. So when the runner came off the bag, Torres was still holding the ball in his glove away from the runner and not on the runner. The Orioles rightly challenged the call, which was overturned quickly, and play proceeded.

A ground ball later, and Green was out of the jam. Chapman earned his second save with an 18-pitch scoreless 9th inning.

The Yankees actually got on the board first with a solid 1-out solo home run up the middle by Aaron Judge. Then with 1 out in the 3rd, Gardner doubled, and Judge again smacked a big homer, a 2-run home run again up the middle. That’s home runs #1 and #2 of 2019 for Judge, by the way.

But after the Orioles tied up the game (twice) and then took the lead, the Yankees started running out of time to shift things back to their favor. They even got several opportunities once again, but they couldn’t seem find a way to score. Then in the 8th, with 2 outs and a new reliever, Torres walked and moved to 3rd on LeMahieu’s single. But it was Clint “Red Thunder” Frazier for the win, with a 3-run home run, putting the Yankees back in the lead.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees optioned Thairo Estrada back to AAA Scranton and signed infielder Gio Urshela to a major league contract. To make room for him on the roster, they moved Didi Gregorius to the 60-day injured list. Urshela, as you might remember, was a stand-out in Spring Training both defensively and at the bat. Add in his veteran experience, he is the logical choice for long-term coverage while the Yankees tread lightly with the injured Andujar.

Go Yankees!