Spring Game 27: NYY vs. MIN — Cool and sunny Spring win

Well, today was another nice day in Florida, a cool, clear afternoon to play some baseball in the last few bits of Spring Training. Of course, back in New York, the city and stadium are digging themselves out from underneath the latest snow storm. The Yankees took themselves about 2.5 hours (or 143 miles) down the Gulf Coast to visit the Twins in Fort Myers.

Jordan Montgomery got the start in today’s game, throwing an impressive 6 strong innings. He kept the Twins from doing much damage all afternoon, with a single exception. In the 5th, he gave up 3 consecutive singles to load up the bases before getting the first out of the inning, a fly out. A sacrifice fly scored one run and moved the other runners into scoring position, but a fly out ended that threat. Those 3 allowed hits were half of Montgomery’s allowed hit all 6 innings. This certainly sets him up to be a rather interesting cog in this season’s rotation.

Domingo German also put up his case as to why they should pick him (over Holder) for the final bullpen spot. In his 3 innings today, he kept the Twins scoreless and hitless. In other words, he was dominant and a completely valid contender for what could be long-term relief in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Twins pitching staff became a rotating door as it certainly kept the Yankees from doing much of anything today as well. Billy McKinney kicked off the minimal scoring today with a 2-out solo home run into the right field seating area in the 2nd inning. After the Twins tied things up in the 5th, the Yankees came back in the top of the 6th. With 2 outs, Tyler Austin doubled and then scored on Austin Romine’s long single to give the Yankees the slim lead.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees

Next up: the Yankees will host their annual big rivalry game as the Red Sox come north to Tampa to face off for an afternoon game. Masahiro Tanaka currently listed as the starting pitcher for the game.

Yet another lighter side: Another commercial was released today for the Yankees. This time, it stars Dellin Betances, Masahiro Tanaka, and David Robertson (with a cameo from a familiar face to regular Spring Training fans). It’s all in the release, guys.

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 12: NYY vs. NYM — Errors mean unearned runs, but then Billy McKinney…

March has really become a beautiful month, like postcard-perfect Spring Training weather. Originally, there was a prediction of rain, but a slight shift sped the storms through the area much earlier. In other words, the Yankees’ long bus ride ended with a really beautiful day to play a game on the Atlantic coast. But it was a less than beautiful game (mostly).

Domingo German got the start in today’s game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, throwing into the 3rd inning, getting the Mets’ batters to strikeout 5 times of his 8 outs. And both his allowed runs were unearned, setting the stage for the majority of runs scored on both sides today. After 2 stellar innings, German struggled in the 3rd, allowing a lead-off walk before getting 2 of those 5 strikeouts. But then he loaded up the bases with another single and a walk. A messy fielding error in center field (thanks to the sun) allowed the batter to make it to 1st safely and scored the Mets’ first 2 runs.

Ben Heller came on in relief and got out of the inning. He almost had a strong outing, except allowing a 2-out solo shot in the 4th to add one more run to the Mets’ score. Reliever Dillon Tate came on and breezed through the 5th before having his own issues in the 6th. With 1 out and a runner on 1st, a single up the middle and a fielding error by Tate put runners in the corners. The next batter hit up the middle again, and the defense desperately tried to do a double play but only got the out at second to allow the run to score. Brady Lail and Cale Coshow closed out the final third of the game and kept the Mets from adding to their lead.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ bats had a bit of a slow start themselves. It wasn’t until the 4th that the Yankees found their first opportunity. Tyler Austin led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Romine’s 1-out single, advanced to 3rd on a passed ball, and then scored on Ronald Torreyes’ ground out to get the Yankees on the board. The Yankees were held to that lone run for a good portion of the game, and once again, it will fall to the “replacement” guys to charge forward and make the difference.

In the 8th, with 1 out, the Yankees loaded up the bases with singles to Avelino, Higashioka, and Holder. Then Trey Amburgey worked a walk to score a second Yankee run. Jeff Hendrix hit up the middle which was mishandled by the 2nd baseman, allowing everyone to advance safely, the bases stay loaded, and Higashioka to score another run. The Mets changed pitchers, which helped initially with a pop out. But then Billy McKinney. Yes, he did what you’d expect him to do, for the second day in a row. McKinney smacked a big grand slam homer to give the Yankees a big lead. (Told you yesterday you wouldn’t have to wait long for footage!)

But that wasn’t all. In the 9th, Avelino led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Higashioka’s ground-rule double, and then scored on Jonathan Holder’s single. Then Trey Amburgey joined in on the fun with a big 3-run home run to solidify the Yankees’ big win today. And then the Mets got their 3 outs to get out of the inning.

It’s worth noting that the Yankee pitchers gave up 6 hits, allowed only 1 earned run, and struck out 10 Mets’ batters. But the Mets’ pitchers gave up 17 total hits (yes, you read that right), 6 earned runs (in just last 2 innings), and struck out 8 Yankees. And today, the stats certainly reflected the dominant team.

Final score: 11-4 Yankees

There are a few teams that are always fun to watch as a Yankees’ fan. Boston certainly takes the leading spot, but the Mets do run a close second. For a similar reason and a very different reason. First, no matter where the teams are in the standings, the games between the Red Sox-Yankees or Mets-Yankees are always intense, and both teams seem to really play harder. But the deep-seated rivalry between Boston and New York brings that historic element (which also spills over into other sports like football and basketball).

But the Mets-Yankees games feed into the strong New York civic pride. Those games are seen as a strong representation of the City’s best, and thus a representation that their City is the best. If you can only have one winner, it’s always going to be New York. Sure, it’s always a bad joke: “the winner of today’s game is going to be New York”. But it hits on a truth that New Yorkers feel (and many people echo in their own hometowns) — that their City is the best, the winners, the champions, the king. That civic pride brings a really different element to the crosstown rivalry games I don’t see duplicated in other same-city teams (like Angels-Dodgers or Oakland-San Francisco). But maybe that’s because it’s New York, and they’ve always been a pretty strong baseball center (including two of those now West Coast teams).

Next up: we’re back at Steinbrenner Field to host the Phillies. No starting pitchers have been announced yet, as I imagine the people making those decisions are currently snoozing on the bus ride back to Tampa. (It’s about a 3-hour drive to/from Port St. Lucie.) But it’s Spring, so it could literally be anybody. And isn’t that part of the fun?

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 11: NYY vs. DET — Last chance power again saves the day

Giancarlo Stanton got a second chance in left field in today’s game in Lakeland against the Tigers, and had a pretty good afternoon. No sun distractions, no errors, a bit of a redemption day for the outfielder, who was drafted as a center fielder and moved to right to accommodate a teammate on the Marlins. Sunday’s home game against the Rays was the first time Stanton had ever professionally played in left field, but today’s game was the first time the Yankees can consider it worth considering a possibility for the veteran player. With five strong regular players (Stanton, Judge, Ellsbury, Gardner, and Hicks) and some stellar AAA level guys (like Frazier, Cave, and Austin), the outfield is busting at the seams with some of the best outfielders in the business. Flexibility will be key to juggling the 2018 outfielders, and also heavily weighted in case of injury.

Anyway, Jordan Montgomery got his third start of the Spring, pitching into the 4th inning, but struggling really only in the 2nd. With 1 out, he loaded the bases with 2 walks and a single, before another allowed walk scored the Tigers’ first run. Montgomery was able to keep the Tigers from doing much more than that in his tenure. Jonathan Holder came on in relief to close out the 4th and pitch through the 5th, but there he too had a spot of trouble. A ground-rule double led off the inning, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on a long single.

But then the Yankees’ pitchers breezed through the rest of the game, led by Chasen Shreve for 4 outs in the 6th and 7th. Cody Carroll finished off the 7th and threw into the 8th, all 3 of his outs were strong strikeouts. Trevor Lane’s 2 outs to finish the 8th continued the magic, and prospect JP Feyereisen gave up 2 baserunners, but kept the 9th inning scoreless thanks mostly to a great defense behind him.

Meanwhile, the Tigers’ pitchers really had both the most trouble and the most success against the Yankees’ batters — giving up 12 total hits but getting 14 total strikeouts. In the 4th, Stanton hit a 1-out double and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ single to tie up the game and get the Yankees on the board. With 2 outs in the 6th, Sanchez worked a walk, moved to 2nd on Hicks’ single, and then scored on Adam Lind’s single.

But it would be the final 2 innings that made the difference of the game. In the 8th, Tyler Austin led-off with a double and ended up at 3rd when Shane Robinson reached safely on a fielding error, and Kratz’s walk loaded up the bases. Estevan Florial hit into a ground out at 2nd, but allowed Austin to score and leave runners in the corners. In a cool double steal, Robinson scored and Florial moved to 2nd. And in the 9th, Wade made it all the way to 2nd due to a fielding error and ended up at 3rd on Torreyes’ single. Despite a stolen base getting Torreyes into scoring position, Billy McKinney smacked a big 3-run home run to clear the bases and solidify the Yankees’ win today.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

Next up: the Yankees continue this away jaunt with a road trip to visit the Mets’ Spring home in Port St. Lucie. PSL is about 3 hours (160 miles) across the state on the Atlantic coast, about halfway between Melbourne and West Palm Beach. The Mets will visit Tampa on Saturday to return the favor for the regular season crosstown rivals.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: no broadcast, no available highlights to share. Sorry! McKinney is always wonderful to watch hit, so I imagine we’ll get another chance to showcase his upcoming power via video.}

Spring Game 7: NYY vs. PHI — #CCStrong, Baby Bombers alert!

Under more clear blue, sunny skies, fans scattered themselves across Spectrum Field in Clearwater, filling about three-quarters of the Phillies’ Spring home stadium, to watch the Yankees come for another visit. CC Sabathia got his Spring start this year, looking to duplicate (or even exceed) his 2017 success. And boy was today a good day for Sabathia. In his 2 innings, he dominated Phillies’ batters, getting 3 solid strikeouts and set himself up for the eventual win.

Domingo German came on in relief for Sabathia and breezed his way through the 3rd. He threw 3 solid innings with a single issue — a 1-out solo home run in the 4th to get the Phillies on the board. Wade LeBlanc had a bit of an issue in the 6th, giving up a double, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and an RBI ground out before breezing his way through the 7th unscathed.

Actually, the best inning for Phillies’ batters was the 8th. It was also the worst for reliever Giovanny Gallegos. He gave up a lead-off single and 2 walks to load up the bases, with no outs. A big double scored 2 runs for the Phillies, again with no outs. So the Yankees went to their bullpen and called on the final pitcher of the afternoon Ben Heller for the final 6 outs, which he breezed through.

Meanwhile, the thing that really marked this game (and sent many Phillies fans home early) were the unending home runs by Yankee batters today — well, 5 in total. Miguel Andujar set the pace with a big lead-off 1st pitch solo home run in the 2nd. With 2 outs, Tyler Austin, Romine, and Cave then loaded up the bases, but an early pitching change ended Yankee hopes to add to their lead. That’s okay. Andujar came back in the 3rd and hit a 2-out home run to double the Yankees’ score, and that was his 4th just this Spring.

Then the rest of the team got in on the action. Brandon Drury led-off the 5th with his own solo home run, and Tyler Austin followed suit with a lead-off home run in the 6th. They changed things up a bit in the 7th as Estevan Florial narrowly missed a home run, smacking a long triple before scoring the first non-homer run on Ronald Torreyes’ sacrifice fly. But then it was back to business as usual when Billy McKinney hit a solo home run to cap off the Yankees’ scoring today.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees

Next up: the Yankees host the Braves tomorrow afternoon back at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Masahiro Tanaka is schedule to make his Spring debut, looking to repeat his 2017 Spring excellence and redeem his less-than-stellar 2017 regular season. (And in personal news, it’s supposed to be about 12° cooler for local fans, or back to a more tolerable normal temperature for Spring Training around here.)

Also, if you’re watching the farm system, it’s worth noting that the powers-that-be recently ranked the Yankees farm system and prospects at #6 overall. They were #2 last year but found themselves demoted due to how many prospects found themselves playing in the Bronx last year and no longer considered “prospects” (Frazier, Green, and Montgomery), as well as many who’ve been shipped off to other teams (Fowler, Kaprielian, and Mateo). But there are plenty of really good guys left — Andujar, Florial, and Gleyber Torres jump to mind. In other words, the farm system is so loaded that the future looks really good, regardless of how many players come and go.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 2: NYY vs. PIT — Late power brings first away win

For their first away game of the season, the Yankees hopped their bus and traveled about an hour south to Bradenton to visit the Spring home of the Pirates. On this beautiful, warm sunny Saturday afternoon in Florida, the crowd packed the stadium to watch the Yankees clearly outplay the home team.

Domingo German got a bit of a shaky but scoreless start in his 2 innings before handing things over to Adam Warren. Reliever Dillon Tate got his 2 innings next, having a bit of a rough 5th inning. He gave up a single but then the Yankees worked together to catch the runner stealing 2nd. After another out, Tate gave up a perfect pitch that became a perfect home run to get the Pirates on the board. Prospect reliever JP Feyereisen showed off his skills in 2 perfect innings, setting himself up for the win. And Jonathan Holder closed out the game with his inning, keeping the Pirates from adding to their lone run.

Meanwhile, the Pirates got a bit roughed up by the Yankees hitters, giving up 11 total hits and 5 walks, despite striking out 11 batters along the way. The Yankees actually got on the board first in the 4th. With 1 out, Espinosa and Torreyes each walked, and the Pirates introduced a new pitcher. Another out later, Erik Kratz hit a solid single that scored Espinosa. After another hit batter loaded the bases, the Yankees hopes for advancing were crushed with a strikeout.

With the game tied, the Yankees found their footing again in the 9th inning. Peterson led-off with a walk, followed by Andujar’s single. So it would be Billy McKinney to smack the Yankees first home run this season — a big 3-run home run to give the Yankees a nice lead and eventual win.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees

Injury news: During his second at-bat in his Yankee debut, infielder Brandon Drury was hit on his hand in the 3rd inning. A bit scary at first, Drury remained in the game and had some basic treatment, but x-rays were deemed unnecessary. Drury, a recent acquisition, recently with the Diamondbacks, is a potential starter for 3rd base in the race to Opening Day. And his 3 seasons in Arizona certainly put him towards the lead in that race.

And Yankees prospect Thairo Estrada is still dealing with his recovery after being injured in the off-season. Estrada and his wife were out to dinner in his hometown in Venezuela when two teenage boys approached them and demanded all his cash or phone, neither which Estrada was not carrying. After searching his pockets, there was a loud bang and the boys ran off. It wasn’t until a medical follow-up later that Estrada realized he’d been shot and needed surgery to repair the wound, unfortunately leaving the bullet lodged in his hip as a permanent reminder of his ordeal. His home country is currently in the middle of a severe political and economic crisis, something Estrada carries with him as he continues his rehab for the season. He will miss Spring Training this year and hopes to start just a few weeks into the regular season (likely with AA Trenton as he was in the 2017 season).

Next up: The Yankees head across the Bay to play the Phillies tomorrow afternoon.

Go Yankees!

{Note: Sometimes, Spring Training games are not televised so there are no great highlights and clips to add to my post, which unfortunately always comes on games when something great happens (like McKinney’s homer).}

{Second note: I decided to only do the “One to Watch” for home games. I’m always looking for ways to evolve and make each season different, so this will be one of them. It’s almost always a hard category because these prospects are so good.}

World Series 2: HOU vs. LAD — Extra inning craziness

What do you get when you start with former Dodgers’ broadcaster and legend Vin Scully, major awards, an ace pitcher, 2 power-hitting teams, a nearly unstoppable bullpen, 8 home runs (5 of them in extra innings), extra innings, and 93° at first pitch? A “crazy, kooky, cuckoo dream“, as one sportswriter dubbed it.

Yes, the Vin Scully came out on the field before the game to supposedly throw out the first pitch, but as he rambled on in his familiar entertaining manner, he revealed that he would have help from former Dodgers, catcher Steve Yeager and pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, both part of 1981 championship team before together the three of them sent the game off with his famous opening: “It’s time for Dodger baseball!” A real treat for long-time Dodger fans (and long-time baseball fans in general).

And then, yes, there was a game. And it wasn’t really anything typical. Or for that matter, quick (compared to last night’s speedy conclusion) — clocking in at 4 hours and 19 minutes. To be fair, I did question whether the Dodgers were going to be able to break through the Astros’ starter Verlander tonight, the same pitcher that stymied the Yankees in the ALCS. And he was good again, throwing 79 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 2 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 batters. Comparatively, his counterpart Hill was less dominant, but still had a pretty good outcome — 60 pitches in 4 innings, 3 hits, 3 walks, a run, and 7 strikeouts.

The Astros got on the board first in the 3rd inning by playing a little small ball. A lead-off single moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, ended up at 3rd on a single, and then scored on another single. The Dodgers answered back in the 5th with a 2-out solo home run to tie up the game and also break up Verlander’s running no-hitter (what a way to break up a no hitter!). The Dodgers came back in the 6th and added to their score with a 2-out walk that scored as part of a 2-run home run.

So it would be down to the bullpen to make the difference. And the Dodgers’ bullpen was running on 27 straight innings (going into this game) with absolutely no runs allowed. Basically, the way we in Yankee Universe talked about the strength of the Yankees’ bullpen, they were doing the same with the Dodgers’ bullpen. And that was totally working for them. Until the 8th inning. A lead-off ground-rule double by the Astros’ forced the Dodgers to call in their closer early for a 6-out save, but instead he allowed the runner to score on a 1-out single (breaking the aforementioned scoreless streak). And then a lead-off solo home run right up the middle tied up the game in the 9th inning. With Dodgers’ fans everywhere screaming, “You just needed 3 outs!”

And without a Dodgers’ walk-off something in the bottom of the 9th inning, the game went into extra innings. And it became a home run palooza as neither bullpen could really hold it together. Consecutive home runs led off the top of the 10th inning to push the Astros ahead. With another runner on base with a double, the Astros shut down that rally quickly with a new reliever, a fly out, an intentional walk, and a double play. The Dodgers answered back in the bottom with their own lead-off home run (all 3 this inning hit into the same area of the left field bleachers). Two outs later, a batter worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then went flying (impressive for this player) around the bases to scored on a shallow single to tie up the game again.

Another new reliever got the final out to send Game 2 into the 11th inning. The Astros got a lead-off single that promptly stole 2nd base (free tacos for everyone!) and then scored when the next batter hit a 2-run home run (to the right field seats, so they didn’t feel left out of the fun). So the Dodgers focused in on their final chance to push for a 12th or walk-off, but the Astros finally found a pitcher that worked for them — and still gave up a 2-out solo home run.

Final score: 7-6 Astros, in 11 innings, series split 1-1

The Series heads to Houston for the weekend, with Game 3 starting Friday night. And really, the bottom line really did come down to pitching, a hypothetical conversation I had earlier today. Dodgers’ pitchers gave up 14 total hits and 5 walks, striking out 8 Astros’ batters. While the Astros’ pitching staff gave up just 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 11 Dodgers’ batters. The reality is that the Astros, led by Verlander, threw a better game tonight, and they won their battle. But huge props to the Dodgers for not letting pesky things like stats deter them from making a win really hard for their opponents.

And before tonight’s game, MLB announced its winners of the Hank Aaron Award, to recognize the league’s top hitters in both leagues. This season, the award was presented to the Astros’ Jose Altuve and the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton. Altuve has been quite the force for the Astros (both as a hitter and an infielder), and Stanton, who also won the award in 2014, made a run for Maris’ home run record this year, falling just short at 59 home runs (though it was certainly a career high and franchise record). In other words, both awards are well-deserved. Both young players were on hand to receive their awards from the award’s namesake legendary hitter Hank Aaron and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

Yankees trivia tie-in: Derek Jeter won the award in 2006 and 2009, and Alex Rodriguez currently holds the record for the most, winning it with the Yankees in 2007 after also being awarded while he was with the Rangers in 2001, 2002, and 2003.

And in Yankee news, there will be a nice representation of young Yankees in the Arizona Fall League, a few you might remember from Spring Training appearances like Billy McKinney, Kyle Holder, and Justus Sheffield. They will join other young Yankees Thairo Estrada, Estevan Florial, Albert Abreu, Cody Carroll, and Andrew Schwaab to fine-tune their skills in hopes to make it to the show one day soon.

Go Yankees!