Game 37: BOS vs. NYY — Late rally oddly falls short after bad start & rain delay

And they’re back to a tie in the AL East on this rain-soaked evening in the Bronx to close out their mid-week series against the Red Sox. CC Sabathia struggled his way through his outing, throwing 80 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 9 hits, no walks, and 4 runs, and striking out 5 batters.

In the 1st, Sabathia gave up a lead-off ground-rule double who moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on another ground out (that some people immediately questioned as to why the defense opted not to get the out at home instead). Then in the 3rd, a single and double put runners in scoring position. A single score the first runner and a fielder’s choice scored the other.

It started raining earlier, but it was manageable for most of the game until the end of the 4th. As it started really raining pretty hard, fans streaming to the concourses for cover, Sabathia took the mound for the 5th inning and gave up a lead-off solo home run before the Yankees’ grounds crew pulled out the tarp and called a rain delay. For 55 minutes, they waited for the storm to pass to resume baseball activities.

It was too long of a wait to stay warm, so the Yankees opted to call on Jonathan Holder for relief of Sabathia. And it certainly helped. Holder breezed through the 5th and 6th innings in just 17 pitches. Dellin Betances’ 7th inning followed that momentum.

The Yankees’ pitching staff was just waiting for the Yankees’ offense to kick it up and do something. The Red Sox starting pitcher held them to a single hit and 3 walks under his 5 scoreless innings and his first reliever followed suit. But then the next guy struggled in the 7th to get control of the Yankees’ late-inning heroics they’ve become rather known for this month.

With 1 out, they loaded up the bases with singles to Andujar and Torres and a walk to Walker. So the Red Sox called in another pitcher to handle this situation. He promptly walked Brett Gardner in 4 pitches to walk in the Yankees’ first run of the evening. Aaron Judge hit a short single to keep those bases loaded and score Torres. Didi Gregorius hit into a short grounder to get the out at 2nd and still score Walker, moving Gardner to 3rd. Then a wild pitch allowed the speedy Gardner (who didn’t even slide) to score the tying run.

Betances came on for a second inning, the 8th, and despite the pattern he set in the 7th, he gave up a perfect 2nd pitch that became a lead-off home run to break the tie and put the Red Sox back in the lead. The Yankees got a single and walk in the bottom of the 8th, but couldn’t get them to tie up the game. Chasen Shreve threw a solid 9th inning, but the Yankees faced a similar bottom of the 9th and no late-inning heroics came through.

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: the Yankees host the Athletics for the series this weekend, their last series before hitting the road again.

Go Yankees!

Game 36: BOS vs. NYY — And the winning streak puts the Yankees on top of MLB

With tonight’s win, not only are the Yankees the sole leader of the AL East, but at 25-10, they have the best record in all of MLB. Of course, it helps that they are on a super hot streak, currently running 16-1 for their last 17 games. The actual club record was 21-1 back in 1953, one of the best years for the Yankee organization (with players like Berra, Ford, Rizzuto, and Mantle). Though current fans are making more recent comparisons — like to the 1998 team.

Masahrio Tanaka had an okay start in tonight’s game against the Red Sox, throwing 91 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 3 Boston batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out single scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board. A 1-out solo home run in the 5th added one more. And in the 6th, he gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a ground out.

But that would be it from Tanaka as the Yankees turned to Chad Green, who promptly gave up a sacrifice fly to score Tanaka’s runner from 3rd. Then in the 7th, with 2 outs, he gave up a walk that scored as part of another 2-run home run for the Red Sox. Then Shreve came on for the 8th inning and gave up a double and a walk and only getting one out, so the Yankees called on Jonathan Holder. After a well-placed strikeout, Holder intentionally loaded up the bases and still got out of the inning without a scratch.

Meanwhile, the Yankees started the offensive drive tonight in the 1st inning, when Gardner led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Judge’s single. After the Red Sox took the lead in the 2nd, the Yankees grabbed the lead in the 3rd. Gardner led-off with a double again, Judge worked a walk, and they both moved into scoring position on a ground out. Giancarlo Stanton’s double then scored both Gardner and Judge to give the lead back to the Yankees. After Sanchez’s single moved Stanton to 3rd, Stanton scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly.

Judge led-off the 5th with a single but ended up at 2nd on a throwing error. After Gregorius’ walk and Stanton’s hit-by-pitch, the Yankees were in a good place to do some big damage with the bases loaded and no outs. Gary Sanchez hit a nice sacrifice fly to center field that scored Judge, but then 2 outs later, that big moment had passed.

The Red Sox relievers then held off the Yankees for most of their time on the mound. And with their team ahead by a single run, they needed to depend on those relievers to maintain the status quo. And then the Yankees entered the bottom of the 8th and Neil Walker led-off with a strong double. After Torres worked a 1-out walk, the Red Sox brought in a new reliever to stem the home town offense.

But Brett Gardner promptly hit a big triple (though it would be a double for almost anyone else) and scored Walker and the speedy Torres, who also somehow avoided the tag at home. The sold-out stadium was post-season electric as the Yankees looked to continue their winning streak tonight. Aaron Judge then continued that momentum with a 2-run home run straight to Monument Park to solidify the Yankees win after Chapman worked a 9th inning save with 3 great strikeouts.

Final score: 9-6 Yankees

The Yankees will look to sweep the Red Sox tomorrow night to close out that series before hosting the Athletics. Fingers crossed for a better record than that great streak of 21-1 65 years ago.

Go Yankees!

Game 35: BOS vs. NYY — #SevySharp & Multi-Stanton, but late inning offense rescues again

The Yankees continue their home stand, opening this mid-week 3-game series against the Red Sox tonight. Going into this game, the Red Sox were just a game ahead of the Yankees in the AL East, and both teams know that they both need to win to advance their team’s strength in the standings. But only one team can come out on top. (It’s kind of how this thing works.)

So it was to Luis Severino that the Yankees looked to lead them in this opening game. Severino threw into the 7th inning with 109 pitches, giving up 6 runs, no walks, and 2 runs, while striking out a solid 11 Boston batters. Severino held off the Red Sox until the 5th inning, when a lead-off batter struck out but then made it safely to 1st on a wild pitch (I still hate these, by the way). Two legitimate strike outs later, a single moved that runner to 2nd before another single and long throw allowed that lead runner to score the Red Sox’s first run.

Severino gave up a lead-off single in the 7th, and that runner would be his responsibility as he headed back to the clubhouse for the night. David Robertson came on for 2 quick outs, but then he gave up a long triple that scored that runner. Green needed just 11 pitches to get out of the 8th, and Chapman threw an efficient 15-pitch 9th inning. And in total, Yankee pitchers collected 14 strikeouts (and no walks!).

Meanwhile, the Yankees rode on the wings of Giancarlo Stanton early on with his lead-off solo home runs in the 2nd to left field and in the 4th to right. So after the Red Sox tied up the game in the 7th, the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 7th. With 1 out, Walker doubled and Torres walked before a balk moved both runners to scoring position. Gardner’s walk then loaded up the bases and had the Red Sox headed back to their bullpen again. Aaron Judge promptly singled to score Walker, but a quick, strong throw home got Torres trying to score an insurance run.

They didn’t need it in the end, thanks in part to the Yankees’ strong pitching.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees

There’s been a lot of chatter about which teams will face off in a short series during the 2019 season in London, bringing America’s pastime to Great Britain. MLB announced yesterday that the two teams that will be making the trip will be the Yankees and Red Sox, bringing the best rivalry in all of sports across the pond. The NFL and NBA have traveled to England in previous seasons, and British fans and American ex-pats enjoy these special games.

The MLB has traveled outside of the US and Canada periodically over the last 22 years — in 1996 and 1999 to Monterrey, Mexico; in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 to Tokyo, Japan; in 2014 to Sydney, Australia; and 51 times since 2001 to San Juan, Puerto Rico, including last month when the Indians and Twins faced off (and dealt with a local power outage and the continued local hurricane recovery). Later this year, the Dodgers and Padres will play in Monterrey, Mexico, and next season, the Mariners and Athletics will travel to Tokyo. But the Yankees-Red Sox games in England will be the first regular season MLB games in Europe ever.

That leaves me to wonder if the Brits will embrace baseball with the same kind of enthusiasm as their football (or soccer for Americans) or perhaps cricket, a more similar sport. If anything, the Brits love their sport regardless of what kind of sport it is. I imagine they’ll love it like the Americans love soccer, with the same fervency of the moment (like the US gets during the World Cup) before moving on with other sport and fan bases once the Yankees (literally and figuratively) are flying back across the pond.

Go Yankees!

Game 13: NYY vs. BOS — A rainy night in Fenway

The first half of tonight’s game was played in the middle of a constant rain storm, progressively getting worse until they had to stop the game entirely to wait out until the passing front was finished with its downpour over the Boston area. The Yankees were looking to take this series onto their next one, but the Red Sox wanted last night’s game back and get them back on their winning momentum.

Sonny Gray got the start for tonight’s finale in Fenway, throwing 68 pitches in just over 3 rainy innings, giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, striking out just 3 batters. In the 2nd, he pitched his way through the line-up, all 9 batters as the Red Sox began their advance. A lead-off single moved to 2nd on a walk, to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on a single. Another walk loaded the bases, and all runners moved up on a sacrifice fly, scoring another run. A messy fielder’s choice attempt and throwing error scored another run, and left 2 runners in scoring position. Another single scored yet another run before Gray found those final 2 outs of the inning to mercifully end the Red Sox’s dominance.

The Red Sox continued their roll in the 3rd. A lead-off double scored on a ground-rule double. A wild pitch on a strikeout allowed the batter to reach safely and the other runner to move to 3rd. After another out, the next batter hit into a little grounder at 2nd to score one more run for the home team.

German came on in relief of Gray and threw a very efficient 39 pitches in his 3 innings, with Kahnle and Warren breezing through their own innings (the 7th and 8th, respectively). All three relievers found the momentum that Gray seemed to lack tonight.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox starter effectively shut down the Yankees, running a no-hitter until Judge hit a lead-off double in the 7th inning. They Yankees just weren’t hitting off him at all. They would, however, hit off his reliever. After a pretty good 8th inning, the Yankees kept him from finding an out in the 9th inning.

Judge worked a walk, and then he and Stanton benefited on 2 errors — a fielding error allowed Stanton to reach safely, a throwing error allowed Judge to land at 3rd. After Gregorius worked a walk, it would be Gary Sanchez for the big hit of the night — a 3-run bases-clearing double to finally get the Yankees on the board. A new reliever for Boston quickly got the 3 outs they needed to close out the game.

Final score: 6-3 Red Sox, Boston wins series 2-1

The rain delay during tonight’s game halted play for 45 minutes, between the 5th and 6th innings, as they waited out the weather. Not too terrible of a delay in light of things. But I cannot imagine the earlier part of the game was all that pleasant for either team. Of course, a better score might have helped the Yankees.

Next up: the Yankees travel to Detroit to face off against the Tigers.

Following up from yesterday’s melee, the league handed down its disciplines for those involved in the fracas. The pitcher who drilled Tyler Austin (Joe Kelly) received a 6-game suspension and a fine, and Tyler Austin received a 5-game suspension and a fine. They are both appealing their punishments. (They do often get reduced or overturned upon appeal, so it’s always worth the effort.)

Boston’s manager (Alex Cora) and Yankees’ 3rd base coach Phil Nevin got into it a bit themselves last night and were also fined as part of the decision today. And 4 players on the Disabled List were fined due to a violation in the rule book about not entering the playing field while on the DL. Those players are 3 Red Sox players and CC Sabathia. I don’t expect any of these players or Cora or Nevin to appeal their fines. (It’s usually upheld, so it’s not usually worth the effort.)

Roster updates: Aaron Hicks is back, finally off the disabled list where he’s been since he injured his right intercostal muscle on Opening Day in Toronto. In his place, the Yankees designated Shane Robinson for assignment. The outfield may be back sooner than expected, so take these small signs as moments of hope.

Go Yankees!

Game 12: NYY vs. BOS — Rivalry drama flares up in Fenway

Every year, the Yankees and Red Sox face off as division rivals multiple times. This year, both teams get 3 chances to host the other, facing off 19 times in total, as per the rules. Since 2013, MLB dictates that division rivals must face off 19 times over the season, 6-7 times against other teams in their league (AL or NL) and 20 times against teams in the other league (AL vs. NL). We’re on Game 2 vs. the Red Sox of 19 times this season, and the rivalry, for all intents and purposes, is so far from dead.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in tonight’s middle game of the series in Boston. He threw 83 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and striking out just 3 batters. However, Tanaka bookended his outing with his bad moments. Because leaving out the 1st and 5th innings, Tanaka was on fire, just plowing through the Red Sox line up.

In the 1st, after 2 quick outs, Tanaka gave up a solo home run to get the Red Sox on the board. A single, wild pitch, and walk seemed to indicate he was rattled, but he pulled it together and began the really good part of his outing, getting 10 straight outs really efficiently. But in the 5th, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a 1-out single and then scored on a double. After another out, he gave up a walk to load up the bases. But then a lingering pitch was served straight up the middle for a grand slam home run to boost the Red Sox’s score. (Which probably should’ve been the big story of the game, but this is no ordinary game.)

Fortunately, the Yankees’ relievers initially were much cleaner in their outings. Chad Green had a pretty solid 2 innings in the 6th and 7th, and David Robertson commanded his 8th inning, both keeping the Red Sox from adding to their score. Aroldis Chapman, however, struggled his way through the 9th, giving up a single that ended up at 3rd on a double. Two outs later, Chapman’s wild pitch allowed both runners to move up and thus one to score another run. But a nice strike out ended that inning.

And in any other game, 7 allowed runs might be a huge problem. But the Yankees weren’t about to allow another repeat of yesterday’s messy game, and instead created one of their own. In the 1st, the Yankees took advantage of the Red Sox’s starter having a bad night. Gardner led-off with a single and Judge worked a walk, and they both scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s big triple. 1 out later, Gary Sanchez hit a 2-run Green Monster home run to give the Yankees a very early lead.

In the 3rd, Sanchez led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Walker’s single, and then scored on Tyler Austin’s single. Tyler Wade bunted into a fielder’s choice for the out at 2nd, which ultimately reignited the rivalry. (More after the recap.) A quick double play ended further hope to add to their score. At least in that inning.  In the 4th, Gardner and Judge hit consecutive singles, and Gardner took 3rd on a long fly out. He then scored on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly. Judge scored on Gary Sanchez’s second Green Monster 2-run home run of the game.

And in the 6th, Gardner led-off with a walk, stole 2nd but ended up at 3rd on a throwing error, and then scored on Stanton’s single. Stanton then took 2nd and 3rd on 2 wild pitches before scoring on Gregorius’ sacrifice fly to cap off the Yankees’ scoring today.

Final score: 10-7 Yankees

Brawl in Fenway: okay, so that brief mention of a scuffle in the 3rd was the first sign of issues. Tyler Austin slid into 2nd with a bit too much gusto and ended up kind of spiking the short stop in the ankle (he’s fine, by the way, and stayed in the entire game without injury). Well, benches cleared, and the situation was handled quickly. The umpires had a bit of a rules check to make sure the slide wasn’t malicious in intent (which could result in an automatic double play). It wasn’t, so the game went on.

Things were just fine. Both teams playing hard and wanting to win. The Red Sox wanting to extend their win streak to 10 game, the Yankees needing to even out their own win-loss record. And then the 7th inning… With 1 out, the new reliever took 4 pitches and drilled Tyler Austin in the back. Austin spiked his bat in anger. He knew it was intentional. When the pitcher started yelling at him, Austin threw off his helmet and charged the mound. More empty benches.

It took some time to settle down all the tempers and sort things out. In the end, the reliever was ejected, joined by Austin as the two primary instigators in the incident (as usual). And for reasons I’m still not quite sure, 3rd base coach Phil Nevin and Tommy Kahnle joined Austin in the clubhouse for the rest of the game. Later, Kahnle said he didn’t like how an umpire shoved him out of the way and told him so, so the umpire ejected him for “disrespect”. Nevin’s ejection is much more of mystery, but I suppose it’s probably closer to Kahnle’s than Austin’s.

Now, following the game, the reliever said that it wasn’t intentional and the pitch “just got away from him”, but his teammate who got spiked in the 3rd said he was proud and felt “protected” by the reliever’s “actions” in the 7th. You can be the judge when you watch the clip, but the incident is far to close to the Dempster-Rodriguez hit-by-pitch incident in 2013 and drew a lot of comparisons online. (By the way, despite mirroring tonight’s standard line of “it got away from me”, now-retired pitcher Ryan Dempster later admitted in 2016 he totally intended to hit Alex Rodriguez that game.)

Like I said, you be the judge. Either way, the game is messy anyway, and there’s far too many injuries in a single season. It’s not cool to injure someone intentionally, either with spikes (as the Red Sox say Austin did) or with a pitch to the back (as the Yankees say Kelly did). The sides will fall along “party lines” as they always do, but now that this game is over, let’s close the page on today and start tomorrow fresh. They’re will be plenty more games (17 actually) to get the best revenge — winning more games than your opponent. Don’t stoop low to “even the score”, go high, be classy, and just be the better team and win.

Go Yankees!

Game 11: NYY vs. BOS — That was just ugly.

“Ugly.” That word got thrown around first tonight somewhere in the 2nd inning. You know that things aren’t really going to get better if you’re using that word so early in the game. And it certainly didn’t.

The Yankees and Red Sox kick off their rivalry this year in this “ugly” game. Oddly, both teams sent up their ace pitchers (who finished 2nd and 3rd for the AL Cy Young Award last year), and they both gave up 8 total hits over their outings. So, I guess we can say safely that the biggest difference tonight was all about the defense. Luis Severino threw 94 pitches in 5 innings, and gave up 5 runs along the way.

Things started off tolerably. In the 1st, Severino gave up a double, a walk, and an RBI single to get the Red Sox on the board. But then it kind of got “ugly”. In the 2nd, a lead-off single and a 1-out single scored on a big triple. That runner then scored on a single to add more to their lead. An obvious example of the defensive issues came in this inning with a bad throwing error to try to get the runner stealing 2nd. And in the 4th, a 1-out walk moved to 3rd on a big double and then scored on a sacrifice fly.

Despite those 8 hits, the Red Sox were able to leave most of those runners stranded on the bases. The only run the Yankees scored had to leave the park to count. So that fell to Aaron Judge in the 5th inning with a huge 2-out solo home run straight up the middle 444 feet.

Tommy Kahnle came in to the game in the 6th inning, but thanks to a bit of sloppy defense and some poorly placed pitches, his struggles were even more drastic. With 1 out, he loaded the bases with a double and 2 walks. Another double scored 2 runners, and a sacrifice fly scored another. After giving up another walk, the Yankees went back to their bullpen. Chasen Shreve ran into his own issues, hitting his first batter to load up the bases again. A fielding error allowed all runners to be safe and another run to score, and a walk moved up everyone for another scored run. And then it would be an 83 mph splitter down the middle that would end up in the Green Monster seats for a grand slam to cap off their night.

Shreve had a much better 7th inning, getting 3 solid strikeouts. That strong comeback was all the momentum Luis Cessa needed to breeze his way through the 8th in just 12 pitches. The Yankees were hitting tonight, just not enough and not terribly well. It’s also worth noting that of the 14 scored runs, only 8 of them were earned thanks to all those errors.

Final score: 14-1 Red Sox

Injury update: in some much-needed good new today, the Yankees sent Aaron Hicks to his rehab assignment, joining AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His outing went well, and Hicks felt like his old self. If things continue to go well, he could join the Yankees in Detroit for that series this weekend.

Roster moves: the Yankees signed minor leaguer Shane Robinson to a professional contract, putting him in tonight’s game, starting in center field and getting a solid hit tonight. To make room for him on the roster, they designated Jace Peterson for assignment.

In little bit of side news: the Yankees and Mets made a minor league trade of outfielders that also has legacy undertones. The Yankees sent Kendall Coleman to the Mets, and the Mets sent the Yankees L.J. Mazzilli. And if you’re wondering why that sounds familiar, it’s because he’s Lee Mazzilli’s son.

And if that name sounds familiar: Lee Mazzilli (the dad) played mostly for the Mets in his 14 year career and was part of the 1986 World Series team. He also played about half the 1982 season with the Yankees. He later was a coach with the Yankees in 2000-2003, served as the Orioles manager in 2004-2005, and then came back to the Yankees in 2006 before becoming a Special Advisor to the Yankees. His oldest daughter Lacey also is in Yankee Universe as part of the on-air talent for Yankees On Demand, which films special segments for the network and in-house production.

In other words, the Yankees just got themselves another Mazzilli. How L.J. develops is too early to say, but for now, it’s a fun trivia moment for long-time Yankee fans.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 28: BOS vs. NYY — Shut out at home again

It’s really only fair. The Yankees totally beat the Red Sox in their Spring home earlier this month, so they decided to return the favor. It was a nice day for baseball, fairly comfortable weather, clear skies. Of course, there were the requisite rowdy fans (on both sides) who try to liven up the rivalry hype without understanding the basic parameters of the long-standing rivalry. (In other words, fair-weather fans who don’t really understand words like teamwork, cheering, and baseball.)

Anyway, the Red Sox paid the Yankees their annual visit, watched by a passionate sold-out crowd, and helmed by Masahiro Tanaka. Today was easily Tanaka’s best start of the Spring, throwing into the 6th inning and getting 6 strong strikeouts. His lone allowed run was a lead-off solo shot in the 3rd inning. With 2 outs, he gave up a couple hits in the 6th, and the Yankees called in Tommy Kahnle for that inning’s final out.

Chasen Shreve came on in the 7th and had a bit of struggles, starting with a solo shot to lead-off the inning. A double then scored on a 1 out single, but then that runner got tagged out trying to stretch the hit into a double. (Seriously, Gardner’s arm is not to be tested.) Dellin Betances celebrated his birthday by having some trouble on the mound in the 8th inning. He gave up a walk and a single before finally getting a strikeout.

Brady Lail came on in relief and got his own strikeout, but then a single scored Betances’ lead runner before another strikeout got him out of the inning. And two more strikeouts later in the 9th, he gave up consecutive strikeouts, unable to find that 3rd out. Reliever Andrew Schwaab came on and gave up an RBI single before finding that 3rd out to end the Red Sox’s rule today.

Yankee pitchers gave up 13 hits today, and still struck out 11 Boston batters. But Yankee batters had much less luck, only collecting 5 hits and striking out 9 times. And, the biggest stat of the day — no runs scored. Shutout again at home. Bummer.

Final score: 5-0 Red Sox

One to Watch: Angel Aguilar came into the game in the 5th (see below) and really did a stellar job at 3rd base covering for Drury. The young infielder could certainly hold his own with veterans on the field.

Next up: the Yankees play their only split squad games of the season. Part of the team will play the final home Spring game against the Blue Jays, while another part of the team will travel to Disney to play the Braves. Pitchers on the schedule are David Hale and Luis Severino, respectively.

Injury: Brandon Drury was hit by a pitch on the elbow in the 5th. He continued the game, even ending up at 3rd on Walker’s ground-rule double. But while the Red Sox were making a pitching change, the Yankees trainer noticed Drury wasn’t moving his left arm well. So they pulled him and sent him for tests, specifically x-rays, which thankfully came back negative. Angel Aguilar filled in for Drury and proved an excellent back-up (see above).

Another lighter note: the Yankees released another ad. This one revised a previous ad they did parodying American Idol, calling it “Roll Call Idol“. In this version, Greg Bird “auditions” to change up his response to Roll Call, being judge by Yankee veterans Gardner, Gregorius, and Sabathia (or their impressions of Simon, Paula, and Randy).

And if you’ve been following all these ads this week, there’s also a ton of outtakes and bloopers to laugh at. (The links for: Roll Call Idol, Didi’s World, Relief Heating Company, and Catch and Release.)

Go Yankees!