Game 152: BOS vs. NYY — “A long, tough, slug-it-out game”

Usually, the standard baseball game is about 3 hours long. That makes each third, or 3 innings, to be about an hour, making each inning 20 minutes. That’s a rough estimate, but as someone who watches a lot of baseball games, it makes things easier to gauge time.

So, when the first 2 innings took nearly 90 minutes, everyone was starting to feel like this could be one of those long games between the Red Sox and Yankees that infamous umpire Joe West once complained about. And it was, to some extent, clocking in at 4 hours and 2 minutes. But it was not the predicted 6 hour game, the first 2 innings were technically on track for.

And that’s why you can’t predict baseball.

Masahiro Tanaka had a rather rough start in the final game against the Red Sox this series. He threw 83 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 8 hits and 5 runs, and struck out 3 Boston batters. In the 1st, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single to get the Red Sox on the board early.

Two consecutive singles led off the 2nd and then scored on a 2-out single. And a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd kept the ball rolling for the visiting team. After giving up a double and single to put runners in the corners, Tanaka’s night was over. David Robertson came on and gave up a double play that scored Tanaka’s lead runner.

The Yankees weren’t exactly quiet along the way. In the bottom of the 2nd, Sanchez worked a 1-out walk and then scored as part of Luke Voit’s big 2-run home run. Then in the 4th, with 2 outs, the Yankees loaded up the bases with consecutive walks to McCutchen, Judge, and Hicks. The Red Sox pulled their starter at that point, but it didn’t help. Giancarlo Stanton powered an exciting grand slam to put the Yankees in a slim lead.

But in the words of the Yankees after the game, the Red Sox really couldn’t be stopped tonight. After losing to the Yankees for the last 2 games, the team leading MLB wasn’t going to be swept and came back with a vengeance.

Chad Green came on for the Yankees in the 6th and kept them at bay, but then gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 7th to tie up the game. After giving up a single, he handed the ball over to Dellin Betances. With 1 out, he loaded up the bases with a double and intentional walk. The next batter hit a sacrifice fly and, thanks to a throwing error, allowed 2 runners to score.

Aroldis Chapman got his first outing in the 8th after coming off the DL. He gave up a single, a 1-out walk, and a 2-out 3-run home run to ensure the Red Sox’s victory. Holder closed out the 8th for Chapman, and Cole and Tarpley split the 9th to keep the visitors from adding to their growing lead.

Final score: 11-6 Red Sox, Yankees win series 2-1

However, the Red Sox sealed their AL East division title with the final out of the 9th inning. The Red Sox came pouring out of their respective dugout and bullpen to celebrate clinching the AL East right there at Yankee Stadium before moving to the messy “champagne celebration” (which usually involves more beer than champagne) in the visitors’ clubhouse.

Next up: the Yankees host the Orioles this weekend for their final series in Yankee Stadium this season. They will then travel to face the Rays for 4 games before ending their season against the Red Sox at Fenway next weekend. The Yankees need as many wins as possible to widen their lead (now only 1.5 games) and maintain home field advantage against the Athletics in the Wild Card game (which, let’s be honest, is pretty much assured for both teams).

But the Yankees should celebrate on their own. In addition to hitting a new collective home run record as a team (247), the Yankees now have 12 players who have hit 10+ home runs as Yankees in a single season. This was reached when Luke Voit hit that 2-run homer in the 2nd, his 11th of the season but 10th with the Yankees. Other Yankees that have hit 10+ Yankee homers this season: Stanton, Gregorius, Judge, Andujar, Hicks, Torres, Sanchez, Gardner, Bird, Romine, and Walker. That is quite the company of power-hitters, when most of them aren’t really known as “power-hitters”.

{Note: quote in post title taken from Boone’s post-game press conference.}

Go Yankees!

Game 151: BOS vs. NYY –Andujar & Voit back up #SevySharp

I got a little nostalgic today, as I tend to do when talking about this great rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees. I was remembering the days of Rodriguez vs. Varitek, Ortiz vs. Jeter, and Clemens vs. everyone. Even before then, many could tell stories of DiMaggio vs. Williams and Mantle vs. Yastrzemski.

And who could forget the “curse of the Bambino”? Apparently, for 86 years, Boston fans believed they were cursed because a Red Sox owner in 1920 sold the contract of the 24-year-old Babe Ruth to the Yankees to finance No, No, Nanette. (By the way, the “curse” lore has been debunked, but it still doesn’t stop the Fenway Faithful from being bitter over it, despite the fact that almost none of them were alive then.)

But with the recent retirement of Ortiz, Jeter, and Rodriguez, as I’ve mentioned before, the age of the superstars in this rivalry might be over. Even the superstars already on the roster (Stanton, Judge, and Sanchez) aren’t really the players making the difference in the game. It’s the “nobodys”, the players who aren’t the popular jerseys you’d see around the stadium. And that makes this more interesting.

In a battle of the “aces” in tonight’s middle game between the northeastern rivals, Luis Severino got the start for the Yankees and came out on top with a stellar outing. He threw 109 pitches in his 7 innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and struck out 6 Boston batters to earn his 18th win. He’s the first Yankee pitcher to have 18 wins since CC Sabathia in 2011 (he had 19 that year).

In fact, Severino kept the Red Sox scoreless through 4 innings, even throwing rather efficient innings, like just 6 pitches in the 2nd. It was in the 5th that he gave up a lead-off double that scored on an RBI single to give the Red Sox their lone run of the night.

He handed the ball over to Jonathan Holder for a scoreless 8th inning, and then Justus Sheffield got to pitch his MLB debut in the 9th. He had a bit of shaky go of it, even loading up the bases. But between the Yankees’ defense and Sheffield’s pitching, they got out of the inning and the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees usually have pretty good luck against the Red Sox’s ace, who used to play with the Rays, Blue Jays, and Tigers and the same pitcher who gave up Jeter’s 3000th hit. They continued that pattern tonight, starting with Miguel Andujar’s 1-out solo home run in the 2nd inning, his 25th home run of the season.

They then loaded up the bases with a walk to Sanchez, a single to Voit, and a 2-out walk to McCutchen. Aaron Judge stepped into the box, still looking for his first hit back from the DL. He made contact with the ball, but thanks to a fielding error, it wouldn’t count as a hit. Judge still made it all the way to 2nd as Sanchez and Voit scored.

Luke Voit added another run with his lead-off solo home run in the 4th. Then in the 6th, with 1 out and Sanchez on 1st with a walk, Voit again eked another home run, a 2-run homer that just made it to the 1st row of the right field seats (and gave a lucky fan a few minutes of TV fame). An umpire review checked to see if that fan interfered with the home run. He didn’t and the call stood, his 2nd home run of the night.

It was also the end of the Red Sox starter’s night. His first reliever didn’t have the best time either. Despite getting an initial out, he put runners on the corners with singles to McCutchen and Judge (finally his first hit off the DL). They both then scored on Aaron Hicks’ long triple. And the Red Sox changed pitchers again.

That seemed to work for them, for a time. But they got a new pitcher in the 8th inning, and the Yankees took advantage to widen their lead. Voit and Torres each singled and moved into scoring position on a ground out. Pinch-hitting Greg Bird hit into a ground out but allowed Voit to score. Hicks’ single then scored Torres to cap off the Yankees’ big night.

Final score: 10-1 Yankees

Roster moves: before the game tonight, the Yankees activated Aroldis Chapman from the DL after his lingering knee tendonitis. Had the game been closer, they might have called on the veteran closer, but instead, it allowed them some leeway to debut another important part of the Yankees organization, very nervous prospect Justus Sheffield.

And Miguel Andujar’s home run in the 2nd actually made him the fifth Yankee rookie to reach 25+ home runs in their rookie season. Judge did so last year, and the teammates join the likes of Bobby Murcer (1969), Joe Gordon (1938), and the great Joe DiMaggio (1936) for the honor of being in such a club. Not back for a player many people still are not sure could be the “Rookie of the Year”.

Go Yankees!

Game 150: BOS vs. NYY — Walker overrides 2 unearned runs

It wouldn’t be a Red Sox-Yankees game without some rivalry fun — counter cheering of which team “sucks”, enough merchandise representation of the visiting team to remind everyone who they’re playing, and some good-natured ribbing between fans. Plus, it always ends up being a dramatic game in some way.

JA Happ got the start in this opening game against the Red Sox, holding his own with 102 pitches through his 6 innings. He gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 1 unearned run, while striking out 6 Boston batters. In the 3rd, Happ gave up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a balk, advanced to 3rd on a passed ball (setting up the “unearned” part), and then scored on a sacrifice fly.

That got the Red Sox on their board, but Happ and the Yankees’ defense kept them to that run for most of the game. Chad Green continued the momentum with a flawless 10-pitch 7th inning, and Robertson’s 8th was an efficient 13 pitches.

In the meantime, the Yankees were held off from doing much by a former teammate for the first 6 innings. It was the 7th, with a new pitcher, that the Yankees found their opportunity. Hicks worked a lead-off walk and Sanchez got a 1-out walk to get runners on base and threaten the Red Sox’s narrow lead at that point.

So the Red Sox went to their bullpen again for a new reliever, but he faced Neil Walker who was ready to hit his 10th home run of the season, a big 3-run home run into the 2nd deck right field seats. to give the Yankees the lead and that insurance run they would end up needing.

The Yankees handed things off to Zach Britton for the 9th inning and the save, but things got dramatic. With 1 out, he gave up a walk. A missed catch error allowed runners to end up on the corners. A throwing error by Britton himself allowed that lead runner to then score, hence the Yankees’ 2nd unearned run of the night. A double play ended the Red Sox’s final push for a comeback rally and handed the Yankees the win.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees

Aaron Judge was back in tonight’s lineup, batting 2nd and playing right field. He went 0-for-4, but says that it felt like he “never left”. Part of the reason that Judge ended up in the game was that due to inclement weather (because it’s 2018) they had to push back the game from a 1:05 pm start time to 7:05 pm. That extra time allowed for Judge to take in an extra sim game this morning and prove he was ready to swing a bat in a real game. He just hasn’t made much contact yet.

A funny moment during the game was in the 8th inning. Giancarlo Stanton stepped into the batter’s box and hit a power line drive into the left field seats, but to the left of the foul pole. We all saw it go into the seats, so fans rushed the area for the ball. But literally no one could find it. They scoured the whole area, even expanding the search area after a bit, but it just disappeared. That ball must now be on vacation with my black fuzzy socks and the top of my cherry 7-up, both of which seemed to disappear before my eyes and have yet to reappear within the last 24 hours.

Go Yankees!

Game 110: NYY vs. BOS — Swept away thanks to a blown save

Things were looking really good for the Yankees tonight in their final game at Fenway, hoping to stop the Red Sox from sweeping the series and pushing them further down the rankings of the AL East. The Yankees were playing well and things were clicking, but late night stumbles weren’t soft enough to allow for recovery

Masahiro Tanaka had a pretty decent outing, throwing 97 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out an impressive 9 batters. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo Green Monster home run in the 5th. Robertson took over to close out the 5th and throw a scoreless 6th. Britton and Betances followed suit with scoreless innings of their own.

After being held off by a familiar foe for much of the game, the Yankee batters came alive in the 7th inning. Gardner led-off with a single and Romine worked a walk to end Boston’s starter’s night. But the offense kept coming. Robinson’s walk loaded the bases, and Aaron Hicks hit into a force attempt that was bobbled for a fielding error to score both Gardner and Romine.

Giancarlo Stanton’s single scored Robinson, and a wild pitch moved the runners up before an out was finally recorded in the inning. A new reliever got Gleyber Torres to hit into a sacrifice fly that scored Hicks before another out ended the Yankees’ big inning. Unfortunately, the Yankees continued their pattern of getting runners in scoring position and leaving them stranded. And in a series where runs were crucial, every little bit was needed and just wasn’t happening.

Anyway, the Yankees were cruising along just fine after their big 7th inning. All they needed was just to close out the 9th inning. But Aroldis Chapman was having a rough time finding consistency with the strike zone. With 2 outs, he founded the bases loaded thanks to 3 walks. A single scored 2 runs and a throwing error allowed the tying run to score and the Fenway Faithful to come alive as midnight approached in “The Olde Towne”.

And into the 10th inning they went. The Yankees batters were quickly silenced in just 9 pitches, so Jonathan Holder came on the mound with hopes to push the game into the 11th. He quickly got 2 outs, but then gave up a single, a wild pitch to put the winning run in scoring position, and then intentionally walked a batter. It was basically inevitable at that point — a single then easily scored the pinch-runner to give the Red Sox the victory.

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox, in the 10th, Red Sox sweep the Yankees 4-0

Next up: the Yankees will head to Chicago’s Southside to face the White Sox for 3 games starting tomorrow. This could help right the Yankees a bit because the White Sox are not having a good season at all. Of course, this could continue as the Yankees head back home for a long home stand to face mostly losing teams (Rangers, Mets, Rays, and Blue Jays). Of those, only the Rays have a winning season, sitting just at .500 after losing to the White Sox this weekend.

Now, it’s worth noting that the Yankees are now 9.5 games behind the Red Sox thanks to this series. However, the Yankees are still the 3rd best team in all of MLB, well behind the Red Sox and barely behind the Astros, and nicely ahead of every other division leader. Before you panic, Yankee Universe, it’s worth noting that there is still 52 games left to play this season.

And to be perfectly fair, the Red Sox are a great this year, very similar to the recent 2007 (and somewhat the 2013) championship team. Remember: competition in a competitive game is a good thing. You want to be challenged and pushed to be better than expectations. That challenge exposes where you’re weak so that you can fix those areas and truly see what you’re made of. Potential is just hypothetical until challenge exposes its depth and breadth.

Go Yankees!

Game 109: NYY vs. BOS — No “Chance” against MLB leaders

The Yankees are hitting this crucial series against the Red Sox at a really bad time. The Red Sox are easily the best team in baseball, by a long shot now, and their recent trades helped make them even stronger, including picking up a key former Yankee pitcher to start today’s game. In comparison, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball, but when you have a tight division battle like the Red Sox vs. Yankees, it’s going to look like the worst weekend ever. Plus, there’s still one more game.

To help the Yankees’ bad start to the weekend series, the Yankees called up prospect pitcher Chance Adams to start this afternoon’s game, the third game of this 4-game weekend series. And he did a great job for his MLB debut, throwing 85 pitches in 5 innings, giving up just 3 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and striking out just 2 batters.

In the 1st, with 1 out, a single took 2nd on a passed ball and then scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board early. They added one more run with a 1-out solo Green Monster homer in the 4th. But other than that, Adams (and the Yankees’ defense) held them off quite effectively. And any other game, that might have been enough to work.

Chad Green threw a beautiful 13-pitch scoreless 6th inning. AJ Cole got a quick 2 outs in the 7th but then gave up a single that moved to 2nd on another single and then scored on a ground-rule double before getting out of the inning and then throwing a clean 8th inning.

Again, all this should be enough if the Yankee batters do their jobs. But once again, the Boston starter had a great outing, and that made all the difference in the game. The former Yankee starter threw 93 pitches through 8 scoreless innings, with the Yankees only collecting 3 hits and a walk along the way.

For some reason, the Red Sox felt their lead was enough to call in their close, despite not being a save situation, and the Yankees at last found their long-awaited opportunity for a rally. After 2 quick outs, Giancarlo Stanton hit a solid double and then gave the Yankees a modicum of hope on Didi Gregorius’ double. That hope got bigger with walks to Hicks and Torres to load the bases.

But a shortened swing ended up a short fly ball to center field to end the rally hopes and the game, once again stranding runners for any potential to take back this game.

Final score: 4-1 Red Sox

Maybe Sunday’s game will be better somehow. I’m cautiously optimistic because stranger things have happened, especially in these long-time rivalry games. You just never know.

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: Before the game, the Yankees selected the contract of Chance Adams, calling him up from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. To make room, they optioned pitcher Tommy Kahnle back to AAA.

Go Yankees!

Game 108: NYY vs. BOS — Against an ace performance, just 1-run

After last night’s crazy game, the Yankees were looking to tonight’s game for at least a little normalcy. And it was, but it wasn’t in their favor.

Luis Severino struggled a bit at the beginning of his outing tonight but later found his momentum and helped keep the Red Sox from doing too much damage against the Yankees. Severino threw a season-high 115 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 2 Boston batters.

In the bottom of the 1st, with 1 out, he gave up a ground-rule double that scored as part of a 2-run home run (if you’ve been following this series, it’s the same guy as last night). A 2-out walk stole 2nd and then scored on an RBI single to give the Red Sox an early lead. With 2 outs in the 5th, he gave up a double that scored on a single to cap off Boston’s offense. Robertson and Kahnle swept through the final 7 outs, cleanly and efficiently.

That should have been enough for the Yankees to fight back and make at least a concerted attempt to match the Red Sox. But the Yankee batters were up against a pitcher having a terrific game, eventually throwing a complete 9 innings with just 86 pitches and only giving up a single hit — a lead-off solo home run into the Green Monster seats to Miguel Andujar in the 3rd.

There was seemingly nothing the Yankees could do off the Red Sox pitcher tonight. Which certainly made for a quick game, just 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was just not going to be the Yankees’ night because of his performance.

Final score 4-1 Red Sox

Roster moves: The greatest story of tonight’s roster moves was that Tommy Kahnle, tonight’s 8th inning pitcher, was in upstate New York this morning (after the RailRiders game yesterday in Rochester) when he got the call to head to Boston rather than follow the team back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He made it at some point before he threw his 13 pitches tonight in his away greys.

To make room for him, the Yankees optioned Luis Cessa back to Scranton. And with JA Happ out with hand, foot, and mouth disease for the next week or so, the Yankees will be calling up prospect pitcher Chance Adams to start tomorrow’s game in Happ’s stead. Seeing as great pitchers like Sabathia and Severino have had less than ideal outings (though honestly not terrible) against the Red Sox, perhaps a change in the rotation could help press the reset button, so to speak, for the Yankees in this weekend series.

This reminds me of my preferred version of the famed quote misattributed to Einstein: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” In other words, if things aren’t working, change is the best option. Change is usually the best option. It prevents boredom and complacency and predictability, instead inviting creativity and adventure and surprise. And isn’t that worth the risk?

Go Yankees!

Game 107: NYY vs. BOS — 4th inning slaughter

When I started this blog six seasons ago, I made a commitment to being positive no matter what happened. I was coming off reading far too many blog posts that were highly negative or gossipy, and I wanted to something different. You know, focus on the fact that baseball is a great game and the Yankees have had winning seasons (meaning, they have finish with more wins than losses) since 1993, and 2018 is shaping up to continue that pattern.

However, sometimes, it’s very difficult to keep a positive tone when there are games like tonight’s opener at Fenway. And yet, here we go…

The Yankees actually opened the scoring. Hicks led-off the game by hitting into a fielding error and moved to 2nd on Stanton’s single. Didi Gregorius hit a nice 3-run home run to kick things off. Aaron Hicks later hit a 2-out solo home run in the 2nd to give the Yankees an early lead.

And CC Sabathia didn’t have that terrible of a start. After a decent 1st inning, he got into some trouble in the 2nd by loading the bases with 2 singles and a walk. With 2 outs, he ended up walking the next batter to score the Red Sox’s first run. But then got a lucky fly out to Gardner at the foot of the Green Monster to get out of the inning. A lead-off home run in the 3rd doubled their score. With 2 outs, he fielded and then threw terribly to 1st to put runners in scoring position, but another good fly out ended that threat.

But that would be the end of Sabathia’s night. And all the message board managers will forever question the decision to pull the veteran starter at that point, perhaps preferring to allow him to go just 1 more inning. Instead, the Yankees called on one of their most reliable relievers, who has recently been decidedly less reliable, Jonathan Holder.

Holder could not find an out for anything tonight — a walk, a double, a bad fielder’s choice that scored a run, a stolen base, a 3-run homer (by the same guy as before, by the way), a double, an RBI single, and an RBI double. 7 batters, 6 runs (and responsible for the runner at 2nd), and no outs.

Chad Green immediately got 2 outs, but then had his own struggles to find that elusive 3rd out of the inning. A double scored Holder’s remaining runner, a single put runners on the corners, and another single scored the lead runner. Luis Cessa got the final batter of the inning to hit into a simple grounder at 2nd.

Cessa actually kept the Red Sox fairly under control, getting 11 outs in the middle of the game into the 8th inning. But even his outing wasn’t exactly clean. A lead-off double in the 5th scored on an RBI double. Then in the 6th, a single scored on a double, and another home run (yes, by the same guy as before). In the 8th, with 1 out, he loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk before handing the ball over to reliever Britton, who promptly gave up a single to score one run. But a great double play got him out of the inning.

Now, the Yankees weren’t limited to their early runs. They certainly did their best to try to chip away at the Red Sox’s power tonight. Didi Gregorius led-off the 5th with a solo home run, his 2nd homer of the night, and Giancarlo Stanton hit a 1-out solo home run in the 7th. And in the 9th, with 2 outs, Gardner hit a great triple. Hicks walked and advanced to 2nd on defensive indifference. Then Stanton hit a nice sacrifice fly to score Gardner before a grounder ended the game and the Yankees minuscule hopes for a last-minute rally.

Yankee pitchers gave up 19 hits, 6 walks, and 15 runs, and comparatively, the Yankee batters struck out 13 times, despite getting 8 hits. In fact, had it not been for the Red Sox’s mega 4th inning, it would have been a close game and still far too many runs allowed for either team to be considered a “good game”. Good games are when it’s a close and low score for both teams. It means everyone did their job.

This was not a good game. Fortunately, it’s only one game. And in the immortal words of a certain Southern icon (and yes, I realize this is ironic for a game played in New England with a team literally called “The Yankees”), “tomorrow is another day.”

Final score: 15-7 Red Sox

Go Yankees!