Game 10: BAL vs. NYY — 12th inning fumble

Let’s just say that I don’t think I’m the only person who’s glad this weekend series is over. Two extra innings games in a single series is exhausting. And only about a few people (the players and coaches, plus grounds crew and stadium staff) can actually say that justifiably. Today’s extra innings game was mercifully an afternoon start, but it still ran four hours and 48 minutes in total.

Neither starter had a stellar day. The Yankees took advantage of the Orioles’ starter’s off day right in the 1st inning. Gardner and Judge hit consecutive singles, and with 1 out, Neil Walker hit into a failed force attempt that scored Gardner. Austin worked a walk to load up the bases, and Miguel Andujar singled home both Judge and Walker. Austin Romine’s 2-out single then scored Tyler Austin, and Ronald Torreyes’ double scored Andujar. The Orioles had seen enough and pulled their starter right there in the 1st inning, and from there the Yankees struggled against their bullpen.

Meanwhile, the Yankees sent Jordan Montgomery to the mound to start this finale against the Orioles. Montgomery threw 86 pitches into the 5th, but still gave up 10 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, striking out just 4 batters. In other words, down 5 runs, the Orioles spent the rest of the game chipping away at that large lead. In the 2nd, a lead-off double scored on an RBI single to start the O’s scoring. Then in the 3rd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a single, advanced to 3rd on a double play, and then scored on another single.

In the 5th, with 1 out and a single on base, a big 2-run home run put the Orioles within a run. That was it for Montgomery’s outing today. Domingo German came on to close out that inning. And the Yankees answered back in the bottom of that inning with Walker’s lead-off single. He then moved to 2nd on a ground out and to 3rd on a 2-out single by Peterson (after a challenge overturned an original out call). Austin Romine singled Walker home.

But the Orioles answered that one in the 6th — a lead-off single stole 2nd, and then scored on a 2-out single — and in the 7th — a 1-out walk scored as part of a 2-run home run to put the O’s in the lead for the first time this afternoon.

Now, in order to push this into extra innings, the Yankees needed to tie this game up, so they found their opportunity in the 7th. Austin hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Andujar’s walk, ended up at 3rd on Peterson’s fielder’s choice, hung out for a pitching change, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single to tie up the game.

Betances, Chapman, Shreve, and Robertson breezed their way through the 8-11th innings. But then so did their counterparts. The Yankees offense certainly had their moments to hope and hold on, but there just wasn’t enough to cobble together anything to break the tie.

In the 12th, Adam Warren took the mound and the Orioles saw their own opportunity to advance. Warren gave up a 1-out walk and a 2-out single. Another single scored the Orioles’ go-ahead run. But the Yankees battled back in the bottom of the inning. Romine and Gregorius each worked walks, and Gardner’s sacrifice bunt loaded up the bases thanks to a fielding error. With no outs, Judge hit a comebacker to the pitcher who quickly got the double play at home and 3rd to cut down the lead runners. A strike out later, the game was over.

Final score: 8-7 Orioles, in 12 innings, Orioles win series 3-1

It’s worth noting that neither pitching staff came off as perfectly clean, both staffs giving up 16 hits each and still striking out 12 and 15 (Yankee and Orioles, respectively) batters. It just means things weren’t as neat as they probably should be in a regular game.

Next up: the Yankees head up to Fenway to face the Red Sox for a mid-week 3 game series, starting Tuesday. (Tomorrow is an off-day/travel day.) Currently, the Red Sox are on quite a winning streak of 8 games, after losing their opener. Yes, the Red Sox are 8-1 for the season so far.

But no worries, Yankee Universe, it’s been just 10 games. It’s barely April. There’s still 152 games left to play, or 94% of the season left to play. Talk to me in like July if you feel like panicking or calling for Boone/Stanton’s resignation.

Go Yankees!

Game 9: BAL vs. NYY — It may be chilly once again, but it’s always “Sonny” when the bats work.

Well, it seems like just a few hours ago we were talking baseball. Because it was literally just hours ago when last night’s game finally came to a close after 14 innings. But it didn’t seem like it shook the Yankees’ efforts all that much today. In fact, the windy chill of the air in the neighborhood of 42° at first pitch was much more of an issue than lack of sleep for both the Yankees and the Orioles in the third game of this 4-game weekend series.

Neither seemed to faze starter Sonny Gray, who gave the Yankees a strong 6 innings. Throwing 86 pitches, he gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out just 4 Baltimore batters. In the 3rd, a 2-out single joined the lead-off walk on the base paths, and both scored on a long double to get the O’s on the board. With 2 outs in the 4th, a single then scored on an RBI double to cap off the Orioles’ scoring today.

Adam Warren struggled a bit in the 7th, giving up 2 hits and only getting 1 out, but then David Robertson came in to work his “Houdini” magic, and blast through the next 5 outs, 4 of which were unbelievable strikeouts. Because it’s standard David Robertson. Luis Cessa came on to close out the 8th with a quick 3 outs in just 10 pitches.

Meanwhile, the Yankees offense didn’t seem to realize it was missing hours of sleep, racking up 11 total hits and 7 walks over this afternoon. Andujar led-off the 2nd with a single (his first of the season), moved to 2nd on a ground out, but then was thrown out at 3rd on a fielder’s choice Romine hit into. Romine would move to 3rd on Torreyes’ double before they both scored on Brett Gardner’s single. Down by a run, in the 5th with 1 out, Torreyes singled, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s walk, hustled to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Aaron Judge’s ground out to tie up the game.

But the Yankees weren’t going to let this game go. Gregorius led off the 6th with walk, ended up at 3rd on Austin’s single, and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s sacrifice fly. Tyler Austin later scored on Austin Romine’s single (thanks to a miscommunication of fielders). And in the 7th, Gardner led-off with a walk and then scored on Aaron Judge’s double. Judge moved to 3rd on a fly out before the Orioles intentionally walked Gregorius. Gregorius promptly stole 2nd, which they would need as both runners scored on Tyler Austin’s single.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

After all the injuries yesterday, we all knew roster moves were inevtiable. Today, the Yankees made their moves. They placed Brandon Drury on the 10-day disabled list with his severe migraines, something he apparently has struggled with for about six years. They also placed CC Sabathia on the 10-day disabled list with right hip strain due to his hip soreness during his shortened outing last night. He will probably only miss one start, but the Yankees aren’t taking any chances with their veteran starter.

But then in their place, the Yankees had to make further movies. They optioned Jonathan Holder to AAA Scranton after his 42-pitch outing last night. They selected the contract of infielder Jace Peterson (who actually made the start in the outfield today and did a really good job). They also recalled pitchers Domingo German and Luis Cessa (who pitched a flawless 9th today) to fill out their depleted bullpen.

And in other injury news: the Yankees announced that reliever Ben Heller underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday after being shelved from baseball activities initially due to a bone spur in his throwing elbow. Surgery soon became inevitable, so they transferred him to the 60-day DL this week. He will be looking at that 12-18 month recovery period, with an eye on sometime early in the 2019 season with a return to the mound.

There was a rather moving piece featuring today’s starter in the recent edition of Yankees Magazine (which also serves as the game day program at Yankee Stadium). It’s worth the read, especially for those of you in Yankee Universe less familiar with what kind of player and man Sonny Gray is. He’s clearly been a good addition to the rotation and the clubhouse, and hopefully, he will continue to make his mark with the Yankees for seasons to come.

Go Yankees!

Game 8: BAL vs. NYY — Extra innings letdown a perfect closure to a “bonkers” game

Truthfully, most ball games are really rather predictable. They follow the same formula — pitching, batting, defense, and the occasional base-running. The crowd cheers when runs are scored or a particular tough out is made. The rare game has something highlight reel-worthy. Then there’s whatever happened in the Bronx tonight during this 5 hour and 20 minute extra innings game.

The Yankees continue to host the Orioles during their 4-game weekend series. And tonight was rather pleasant weather (in contrast to the “snow delay” the Rockies and Braves had to contend with today). CC Sabathia got the start tonight, but he was cut short in his outing due to soreness in his right hip (more below). He still got 58 pitches in his 4 innings, giving up 4 hits, 3 of them unfortunately solo home runs, and striking out 3 Baltimore batters. All three runs were a 1-out solo shot in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings (2 by the same player, by the way).

The Yankees were able to chip away at that O’s lead responding to the first 2 runs with 2 of their own. In the bottom of the 1st, Gardner led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Judge’s hit by a pitch, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single. Then in the 3rd, Gardner led-off with double and promptly scored on Aaron Judge’s single.

So down just 1 run and Sabathia out of the game, the Yankees turned to their bullpen to help pick up the game. Tommy Kahnle struggled a bit through his 2 innings before turning things over to Betances and Robertson who fairly breezed through the 7th and 8th innings.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Didi Gregorius smacked a 1-out solo home run into the right field stands to tie up the game. After Chapman struggled his way through the 9th, but kept the O’s from adding to their score, the Yankees were unable to come back with a walk-off. So “free baseball”… and into extra innings the game went.

Now, the Yankees bullpen should be the strongest bullpen in the MLB, but they have struggled quite a bit this season. But they tried their hardest to fight this upward battle. Chad Green gave up 2 base runners in his 10th inning, but kept them from scoring. Chasen Shreve breezed through his 11th inning, but loaded up the bases in the 12th before getting out of that jam.

Jonathan Holder came on for the 13th for an efficient inning, thanks in part to Aaron Judge reaching over the right field wall to steal away a home run. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen Holder smile so much in a game.) That joy was short-lived because he just fell apart in the 14th inning. He very quickly loaded the bases — a walk, a single, and a sacrifice bunt that made it safely due to a throwing error — with no outs. Then in the middle of the next player’s at-bat, Gary Sanchez’s calf cramped up. Austin Romine rushed to gear up and jump right in, getting the batter to strikeout for the first out of the inning. But then the next batter smacked a long grand slam into the right field seats to break the tie and give the Orioles the lead again.

As you can guess, the Yankees offense didn’t have much success against the Orioles’ pitching. I mean, there were moments of hope. Like the 11th inning. With 1 out, Gregorius led-off with a walk and Walker was intentionally walked. Ronald Torreyes hit a short grounder that got Walker out at 2nd, but Torreyes beat out the second part of the double play at 1st. Well, he did after a challenge, review, and overturn. Defensive indifference let Torreyes get to 2nd and into scoring position. And suddenly, the pitcher threw a bad pitch that headed to the back wall as Gregorius booked it into home. Just as he was reaching for that plate, the pitcher came in and slid like a runner on the 3rd base side of the plate, effectively blocking Gregorius from reaching home.

A challenge ensued, but the original call of “out” was upheld. The winning run was denied. To be perfectly fair, I’m not sure how that was not “blocking the plate”, a rule on the books to keep catchers from being really harmed, except for the “catcher” was not a catcher but a pitcher and the rule books only have rules for “blocking the plate” for the catcher. Had Gregorius not dived head first and instead slid feet first, that pitcher would probably had serious injuries in that thigh from Gregorius’ spikes. (That would have caused a quick rule change). But either way, it’s something to look into, MLB HQ.

Anyway, from then on, the Yankees only eked out a Judge walk and stolen base in the 13th. So there was no comeback in store.

Final score: 7-3 Orioles

Another weird play in this “bonkers” game was in the 6th inning. So Stanton led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single, and then to 3rd on Sanchez’s fielder’s choice out at 2nd. Then Walker hit a short grounder to 3rd base, so that fielder threw the ball home to try to get Stanton out at home. But Stanton saw it coming so he tried to run back to 3rd. Unfortunately, he’s now caught in a bit of a rundown on those 90 feet between 3rd and home plate. But as he’s headed back to 3rd (which he would have outrun the catcher), he see that Sanchez has already made it to 3rd base.

This is confusing, obviously, as two players of the same team cannot share the same base. So the catcher tags both Sanchez and then Stanton out. There was quite a bit of a scuffle as the umpires tried to determine the right call. Was it a single out? A double play? Why was the Orioles’ manager getting as orange as his hat screaming at the umpires? In the end, they called it a single out on Stanton, the Orioles officially declared they were playing under protest, and the next batter hit into a ground out to end the inning.

In other words, the call and the protest didn’t matter. Neither changed the outcome of the game. Afterwards, it was revealed that the play should have been a double play because Sanchez technically crossed paths with Stanton and thus out of the base path order. So rightly, the catcher tagging them out in that order was correct. Kudos to him for his sharp thinking. But like I said, this whole play did not matter or affect the outcome of the game anyway. Other than just making it more “bonkers”.

Tonight’s mass casualty reports… I mean, injury updates: As you know, CC Sabathia was pulled from the game after the 4th inning with right hip soreness. This is his landing leg, so that pressure and force on that ball and socket joint is going to hurt after all the repeated pitching. He was sent for an MRI, which came back clear, but that doesn’t stop the soreness, which may be just overwork right now. Gary Sanchez’s 14th inning cramp up was just that — a cramp. So he’ll be okay. Though I was still expecting Romine to catch tomorrow afternoon’s game due to the regular scheduling of a day after night game.

Two other losses during the game were Brandon Drury and Tyler Wade. Drury came out of the game in the 6th inning with blurry vision and severe migraine pain. I get migraines, as do 13% of the population, and believe me, they are nothing you can just “walk off” or “rub some dirt in”. Then despite some really good defensive plays tonight, Tyler Wade just was not looking like himself. After the 8th inning, Wade left the game due to a fever and flu-like symptoms (read: nausea and feeling like roadkill).

I suspect with the depletion of the bullpen tonight and all these injuries that the Yankees will announce some roster moves before tomorrow’s game. Okay, enough with these injuries, guys. Get healthy and stay healthy, so you can win some games.

Go Yankees!

Game 7: BAL vs. NYY — That pesky 7th inning…

The Yankees played their first game under the lights in Yankee Stadium this season, with a brisk 43° at first pitch. The visiting Orioles ready to start their 4-game series against the Yankees, but the Yankees trying to continue their home winning streak.

They turned to Masahiro Tanaka with that hope, and Tanaka held the Orioles scoreless for most of his outing, throwing 93 pitches into the 7th inning. A bit sloppy in the 1st, he was aided by a great relay and tag out at home (which was originally safe but then challenged and overturned) to close out the inning, giving him the boost he needed for the next few innings of dominance. He was doing so well until the 7th inning, where he gave up a single, a 2-run home run, an out, and another single to get the Orioles on the board.

Chad Green came on in relief but had his own issues. He gave up a single and an RBI double before getting another out for the inning. Another long single scored 2 more runs for the O’s in this 5-run inning of theirs.

Adam Warren and Dellin Betances each pitched an inning to close out the game in hope the Yankees could mount a comeback. But the Yankees offense was nearly equally as stymied as their pitching had been on the O’s. The Yankees were scoreless through 5 innings, only getting a single hit (and 3 walks). But then Aaron Judge hit a 2-out solo home run in the 6th to get the Yankees on the board.

After that big 7th inning for Orioles, the Yankees had 2 more chances to mount their comeback. In the bottom of the 7th, Gregorius led-off with a double and then scored on Neil Walker’s 1-out single. Then in the 8th, Gardner led-off with an eventual walk. Actually, there was a brief moment where it looked like he might have been hit by a pitch, but after a challenge, the call was upheld. After 2 outs, Gregorius and Sanchez were both hit by pitches (maybe there was something to the previous challenge?), but 1 out later, the inning and opportunity was over.

And that was it.

Final score: 5-2 Orioles

Injury update: Clint Frazier played in a simulated game today in Tampa and will be working his way back into regular baseball activities, eventually seeing some minor league at-bats in a sort of extended Spring Training. This is great news because it means that he’ll be coming off the concussion list soon and potentially seeing some play time in the Bronx outfield due to the dwindled outfield staff right now.

On a funny note: as with many windy days, the wind has a tendency to grab all sorts of litter and debris and bounce it all over the field. Yesterday was no exception, and players often have to battle random pieces of trash as they play through the game. Normally, a bit of trash isn’t that big of a deal, but a rather large plastic bag found its way to Ronald Torreyes. Torreyes didn’t let that stop him though, grabbing the rubbish, smooshing it down, and pocketing it to dispose of it later. It was man vs. plastic, and man won.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 26: BAL vs. NYY — The Judge is in session tonight

The rain yesterday brought in what could be the final real cold front of the season. Not that I’m complaining much because of how much the Northeast is getting bombarded with snow today as well. I’m also not complaining because the weather in Tampa’s going to get back into the uncomfortable range again next week. So while it’s a bit nippy for a Florida evening in late March, it’s a momentary break from the norm.

So, the Yankees hosted the Orioles for their final evening home game of the Spring, behind Luis Cessa who had a bit of mixed results tonight in his 4 innings. He gave up a 2-out solo shot in the 1st, but really pushed through most of those first 3 innings. He got into trouble, though, in the 4th with a lead-off double, a walk, and a ground out to move runners into scoring position. A sacrifice fly scored the first run and a single scored the other before a runner found out why Yankee fans know: “don’t run on Gary”.

David Robertson had an off night (for him) in the 5th inning. He just really had a hard time finding that first out. He gave up a single that scored on a big double and a wild pitch to move the runner to 3rd. But then he got a nice fly out and that put Robertson back in the right frame of mind and plowed through 2 solid strikeouts to close out the inning.

Jonathan Holder showed the powers-that-be that he deserves a shot at that extra bullpen spot with 2 scoreless and nearly flawless 6th and 7th innings. (More on this after recap.) Aroldis Chapman, however, got into his own spot of trouble in the 8th. A sloppy error allowed a runner reach base, who then moved to 3rd on a long double. After a difficult at-bat ended in a 2nd out, a strikeout, the Yankees needed a fresh arm. They called on minor league pitcher Chaz Hebert, who got a strong strikeout to eliminate the threat. He then shut down the Orioles in order to earn his first Spring Training save ever.

The Yankee batters managed to take control of the game fairly early and stay strong thanks in part to some big bats tonight. In the 1st, down by a run, the Yankees loaded up the bases with Judge’s 1-out walk, Stanton’s 2-out single, and Sanchez’s walk. Didi Gregorius powered a big 2-RBI double to put the Yankees in a lead they wouldn’t surrender tonight. In the 2nd, with 1 out, they loaded the bases again with Torreyes’ single, Gardner’s single, and Judge’s walk. This time, it would be Greg Bird to scored 2 runs with his long single. Stanton hit into a fielder’s choice and moved Judge to 3rd where he could easily score when a throwing error allowed everyone to be safe advancing on Sanchez’s at-bat.

Then in the 4th, Aaron Judge hit a nice 1-out solo home run into the right field seating area. The Yankees were unable to do much for the middle of the game, but then they found another opportunity to advance in the 8th. Avelino led-off with a single and moved to 3rd on Gardner’s single. So it was Aaron Judge again to hit a big, no-doubter, 3-run home run to solidify the Yankees’ win tonight.

Final score: 9-4 Yankees

One to Watch: I’ve got to give it to Chaz Hebert, who had a truly stellar outing tonight. He closed out the 8th inning for Chapman, with a threat sitting right there on base, and proceed to power through a quick 9th inning. Of his 4 outs tonight, 3 were strong strikeouts. This was his first Spring Training appearance ever, so it was also his first Spring save. I had to dig up some old statistics on him because until he set foot on the mound tonight, I’d never heard his name, but his dominance impressed me. Apparently, he’s played mostly Single-A and rookie ball with the Yankees since he was signed in 2011. The 25-year-old pitcher even played in AAA Scranton briefly in 2015 before spending all of 2016 on the DL. After spending the 2017 season working his way back, an appearance like tonight could be a sign of a better 2018 season for him.

Next up: the Yankees travel down to Fort Myers to face the Twins. Jordan Montgomery is scheduled to face off with a former Yankees’ starter (now the Twins strongest veteran on their rotation).

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees continued winnowing down their roster by optioning pitchers Giovanny Gallegos and Ben Heller, infielder Tyler Austin, and outfielder Billy McKinney to AAA Scranton (and camp). The latter two were obvious decisions, but there’s been much talk about who will fill out the bullpen and both Gallegos and Heller were contenders. And now, that leaves the final spot to either Jonathan Holder (who had a stellar outing tonight) or Domingo German. However, it’s worth noting that because of how long the season is and how frequently injuries do happen, that we will be seeing many of those names (if not all) in the Bronx in 2018.

It is worth noting that one particular player has made a lasting impression and officially made the starting roster — Tyler Wade is on the team. Boone made this clear after yesterday’s game, and rightly so. Wade has been absolutely outstanding this Spring, undoubtedly earning a spot on the team. We’ve been watching Wade since his non-roster invitee days for the last three Springs, but had a really big Spring last year (.357 batting average). However, he struggled some when he got his MLB call up in the middle of the year (and bounced back and forth a bit). But with consistency this Spring earning him a regular spot (and a batting average of .316 so far), that could help improve his MLB average (.155 last year).

Another lighter note: another new ad was released today. This one features Didi Gregorius and his trademark smile as he greets teammates Aaron Hicks, CC Sabathia, and Sonny Gray hanging out around the batting cages. Gregorius’ positive outlook certainly causes him to see things differently.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: no broadcast, so minimal video links. And tonight, I’m really sorry because there were some great highlights.}

Spring Game 19: NYY vs. BAL — Not a good Chance at a W today

It was a beautiful day again in sunny Florida as the Yankees traveled about an hour south to face the Orioles at their Spring home field in Sarasota. The Yankees have been having a mixed bag as far as game results recently, which is a huge let-down after a strong start to the Spring. But today certainly wasn’t going to help turn that in the Yankees’ favor.

Chance Adams got the start today and really just struggled his way through 5 outs, giving up 7 total hits and 5 runs, striking out just 1 Orioles’ batter. In the 1st, a 1-out single moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on a ground out and then scored as part of a big 2-run home run to get the O’s on the board early. But the 2nd inning spun out of control for the young prospect pitcher. He quickly gave up a single and double to put runners in scoring position. With 1 out, Adams threw a messy pitch that got past Romine, but they hustled and made the out at home in a great defensive show. But then a single scored a run, and another 2-run home run broadened the O’s lead.

That would be all for Adams today. He was just not having a good pitching day. Cody Carroll came on to finish off the 2nd for Adams, but then he found his own issues in the 3rd. His lead-off batter doubled, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a single. But Carroll was able to minimize the damage and hand the ball over to David Hale to finish that inning.

Hale went on to throw through a clean 4th, 5th, and into the  inning, handing things off to Wade LeBlanc for the final out of the 6th. But then LeBlanc had a momentary blip of his own in the 7th. He gave up a lead-off double and a single, and a stolen base put 2 runners in scoring position. A sacrifice fly scored the lead runner before LeBlanc got 2 fly outs to close out the inning. JP Feyereisen threw a beautiful 8th inning, easily the best pitched inning by a Yankees’ pitcher all day. That last opinion is thanks in part to staring at the single statistic of 16 total hits allowed by Yankee pitchers today.

Meanwhile, Yankee batters collected 7 hits (and 5 walks), but only eked out a few runs in comparison to the hefty lead the Orioles racked up so early this afternoon. The Yankees’ biggest opportunity came early in the game, in the 2nd inning. They loaded up the bases quickly as Drury and McKinney worked walks and Romine singled. Ronald Torreyes hit into a little ground out that moved all the runners up and scored Drury. Shane Robinson hit a 2-out single to score the remaining runners, McKinney and Romine. Erik Kratz added one more to the Yankees’ score with a 1-out solo home run in the 4th. But outside of that, the Yankees just weren’t once again capitalizing on their opportunities.

Final score: 7-4 Orioles

Up Next: the Yankees return back to Tampa to host the Pirates tomorrow afternoon. Sonny Gray is to be the starting pitcher.

Before the game today, the Yankees released veteran infielder Adam Lind. Lind is now able to find a spot on another team seeking his skills and veteran presence, which will certainly be an asset wherever he lands. His release comes in part due to the strong Spring for Greg Bird and his assumed back-up Tyler Austin at 1st and with the rest of the infield being dominated by the recent signing of Neil Walker and other strong Springs for Drury, Wade, Andujar, and Torreyes. (And, of course, the lone assured infield spot at shortstop in Didi Gregorius.)

There’s been a lot of conversation about who would end up making the starting roster after this Spring. And while I do much of it privately and in person at games with other fans, I don’t do much on this blog because I don’t like to publish my speculations. Partly because I would have definite proof of how often I’m super wrong. And partly because I prefer to discuss actual facts and opine about tangible things. However, seeing as we have just 12 days left of Spring Training, one MLB writer came up with a pretty good prediction, adjusted for recent issues with injury and Spring performance. I do mostly agree with his opinions on this, but it still gives enough room for the final two weeks of games before Opening Day. Because stuff happens and baseball is certainly not predictable.

And for all those interested, Reggie Jackson‘s knee surgery yesterday went well and is on the mend. He was scheduled to go home from the hospital today and will have a few weeks before him to rest and heal and get back to walking again. Jackson slipped and fell on his knee during a morning walk on Tuesday. Doctors opted for surgery to repair the damage on the 72-year-old Hall of Famer. Get well soon, Mr. October!

Go Yankees!

Game 149: BAL vs. NYY — A rather “Gray Sonday”

It actually started off this afternoon as a bit cloudy over the stadium. I mean, it progressively got sunnier and the late afternoon shadows started creeping across the field as they always do on sunny matinee game days. The Yankees were hoping for a sweep of the Orioles in today’s finale of their 4-game series, but it was not to be. As sunny as it was today, it wasn’t so much for the Sonny on the mound today.

Sonny Gray got the start, throwing 80 pitches in just 4 innings. He gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, striking out just 4 Orioles’ batters. In the 2nd, Gray gave up a 1-out double that moved to 3rd on a ground out and later scored on an RBI single to get the O’s on the board early. A 1-out single in the 3rd scored on a 2-out double to double their score. And in the 4th, the Orioles worked a lead-off walk and a 2-out single that moved up to scoring position on a wild pitch and then promptly scored on a big 3-run home run.

With that rather substantial lead, the Yankees turned to their bullpen in the form of Bryan Mitchell for the 5th inning. He gave up consecutive singles that put runners in the corners. A fielder’s choice ended up scoring the lead runner to cap off the Orioles’ runs today. But then Mitchell found his groove and settled into a nice pattern through the next 2 innings. Betances and Kahnle closed out the final 2 innings with flawless pitching, just 10 and 11 pitches (respectively) in each inning.

So, all the Yankees had to do was make up for it. And they were facing the one starter in the league with the highest ERA. Who, apparently, decided to have a pretty good day, unfortunately for the Yankees. In his 5 innings, he only gave up 3 hits and a walk and a 2nd inning lead-off solo home run to Didi Gregorius. (And by the way, the lady who got Gregorius’ home run ball couldn’t be happier!)

The Yankees found a few opportunities to advance once the Orioles got into their bullpen. In the 6th, Sanchez worked a 1-out walk and moved to 2nd on Castro’s 2-out single. Both then scored on Matt Holliday’s double. And Judge led-off the 8th with a double, moved to 3rd when Gregorius reached safely thanks to a throwing error, and then scored on Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly {No media link}. But the Yankees weren’t able to do much more than that. And it wasn’t enough.

Final score: 6-4 Orioles, Yankees win series 3-1.

Injury updates: there are a few Yankees who are stuck on the disabled list, but the Yankees. Adam Warren has been out since September 3 (officially) with back issues and is threw some long toss prior to yesterday’s game with no issues. Warren has been an effective part of the bullpen, usually solid for long-term relief, so his hole on the roster has definitely been felt. They are hopeful that he will be back in the ‘pen before the end of the season, however.

Aaron Hicks is still recovering from his oblique injury, doing some minor workouts to get back into the momentum of coming back soon. He was briefly sidelined from his recovery due to strep throat last week, but the Yankees are hopeful that successful batting practice in the next few days will open the door to his return to pinstripes shortly thereafter.

Roster moves: reliever Caleb Smith is currently battling a viral infection, so the Yankees placed him on the 10-day DL yesterday, retroactive to September 13 (the last time he pitched in a game). Reliever Domingo German was recalled AAA Scranton to fill in Smith’s spot in the bullpen.

Postseason Prep: Okay, so despite the Yankees’ loss today, there is some good news. The Red Sox also lost their game today (thanks, Rays!), so the standings remain the same. Not that the steady spot in the standings is what you want, but it’s better than the Red Sox gaining in their lead over the Yankees in the AL East.

If the standings remain the same, the Yankees will face the Twins for the one-off Wild Card game following the regular season. The Twins are on their way to New York for a 3-game mid-week series, so people are watching how this series pans out. The Yankees are hoping to gain ground on the Red Sox and push the Twins further down the standings. But the Twins are hoping to gain ground on the Yankees and close the gap between the potential Wild Card teams. Now, as of posting, the Twins are dominating the Blue Jays, and their assumed win will mean they are just 4 games behind the Yankees. It’s going to be a rather tight final 2 weeks of this season.

But that’s what makes it rather fun!

Go Yankees!