Game 90: NYY vs. BAL — #BirdPower not enough against a walk-off, also #ASGiancarlo

Even after all that work by the Yankees, there’s nothing like a walk-off to both energize the home team and deplete all the energy out of the visiting team that is hoping to gain in the standings behind the division leader from New England.

Fresh off his return from rehabbing his injured hamstrings, Masahiro Tanaka got the start in tonight’s game and actually had a really decent outing for the most part, throwing 80 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 Baltimore batters. In fact, Tanaka didn’t give up a run until the 4th inning, only giving up 3 hits in the scoreless first third of the game.

But then, in the 4th, with 2 outs, he gave up a single and a walk that both scored on a long double. After a throwing error and walk loaded up the bases, Tanaka got out the jam with a great strikeout. However, a lead-off solo home run in the 5th (and an out) ended Tanaka’s outing. Holder closed out the 5th with just 5 pitches.

Chad Green breezed his way through the 6th, but then got into a bit of trouble in the 7th. With 1 out, he gave up a single and a 2-run home run. Originally, however, it was ruled a single that took a wicked bounce off the back wall just out of Judge’s reach. But upon review, the ball bounced off the top of the wall, thus a home run to tie up the game at that point.

Now, to get to that tie, the Yankees put in some big work behind a particular player. In the 5th, Gregorius hit a 1-out single and Andujar worked a walk, and then both of them scored as part of a big 3-run home run by Greg Bird. And in the 7th, with 1 out, Gregorius doubled and moved to 3rd on Andujar’s single. Then after a new pitcher, Greg Bird hit a nice sacrifice fly to score Gregorius. After a walk to Romine, Neil Walker’s single scored Andujar.

So the game was tied, and Robertson cleanly got through the 8th inning with just 15 pitches to keep the Yankees alive. But with no offense breakthrough in the top of the 9th, the Yankees called on Dellin Betances to push the tie into extra innings. But there was some trouble. He hit the first batter, got an out, gave up a double, and then intentionally walked the next batter. Not a great position to be in, but then Betances came through with a great strikeout. Just one more out to go. Instead, he gave up a walk-off single.

Final score: 6-5 Orioles

Roster moves: As previously mentioned, the Yankees activated Masahiro Tanaka off the 10-day disabled list. And after the doubleheader yesterday, they also optioned Luis Cessa, Brandon Drury, and Giovanny Gallegos back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I actually called the “Scranton Shuttle” the “Scranton Shuffle”, and lately, the latter moniker kind of feels rather accurate these days.

Also, this is your final reminder to Vote #ASGiancarlo, to vote Giancarlo Stanton into the All-Star Game next week. He’s currently sitting at 3rd in the rankings, so it’s your turn, Yankee Universe, to vote consistently until 4pm (EST) tomorrow.

Go Yankees!

Games 88 & 89: NYY vs. BAL — Splitting the doubleheader, #ASGiancarlo

The Yankees penciled in the first of today’s two games back in May, when it was still a soggy Spring and rain delays were trending hotter than the latest string of summer superhero blockbusters. So it became a single-admission doubleheader for today, meaning they play one early-ish game and then a small break later, the second about regularly scheduled game-time.

Game 1:
CC Sabathia got the start in the first game and didn’t really have a great outing. It wasn’t terrible, 99 pitches into the 6th inning, allowing 7 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, and striking out just 4 Baltimore batters. But it wasn’t the kind of outing that Sabathia could be happy with, even without factoring in the eventual loss.

He held them off until the 4th. Then, he gave up a 1-out double that scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the O’s on the board. Then after loading up the bases, Sabathia worked his way out of the inning. In the 6th, he gave up a walk, a double, and a 3-run homer that pushed the Orioles into the lead.

With no outs in the 6th, Sabathia handed the ball over to Holder who got into his own jam before getting out of it. Cole followed suit with 2 scoreless innings to keep the O’s from adding to their lead.

In that first game, the Yankees actually got on the board first, thanks to Giancarlo Stanton’s lead-off solo home run in the 2nd, his 22nd of the season. In the 3rd, Higashioka led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Wade’s single before getting caught out at home on a double play that moved Wade to 2nd. Aaron Judge singled Wade home, and Didi Gregorius singled home Judge.

Under a new pitcher in the 6th, Stanton led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored on Neil Walker’s single. But then the Orioles’ bullpen kept the Yankees from retaking their lead and handed the game to the home team.

Final score for Game 1: 5-4 Orioles

Game 2:
Forty minutes and a field reset later, the second half of the doubleheader was ready to go. And Luis Cessa was tapped to start this game. Cessa was in performance mode tonight, throwing 85 pitches in 6 scoreless innings, giving up 3 hits and 3 walks, and striking out 4 batters along the way.

After dropping the first game, the Yankees were ready to come back strong and sure for the second game, striking first and keeping control of the game. Gardner led-off the 1st inning with a solid single, moved to 2nd on a fly out, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. And in a pattern for the rest of the game, they loaded up the bases but didn’t capitalize on the Orioles’ weak season patterns on display in this 2nd game.

In the 4th, with 2 outs, Walker singles and then scored on Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run. Stanton led-off the 5th with a double, moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Greg Bird’s single. That ended the Orioles’ starter’s night and for a few innings, the Yankees were held off.

Then in the 8th, with 2 outs, Frazier doubled and then scored on Austin Romine’s big 2-run home run. Walker then doubled and scored on Gardner’s double. A new pitcher loaded up the bases with walks to Judge and Gregorius. Stanton then made it to 1st safely due to a sloppy throwing error, keeping the bases loaded and scoring Gardner.

Giovanny Gallegos took over for Cessa for the final third of the game and kept the Orioles at bay until the 8th inning when a lead-off single scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run to break the shutout. Despite their extensive lead, the Yankees opted to take back those allowed run in the top of the 9th.

Andujar led-off with a double, and Frazier worked a walk. Austin Romine’s double scored Andujar, but Frazier was caught out at home. Gardner hit a 2-out single to move Romine to 3rd before scoring on Judge’s single. A new reliever finally ended the Yankees’ threat.

Final score for Game 2: 10-2 Yankees

In a weird twist, the original series was a 4-game weekend series in Baltimore. The first game was rained out and made-up today, the Yankees won the middle 2 games, and the last game was also rained out and will be made-up August 25, as the first game of a standard double header. In other words, that series’ result is still pending, though currently stands at 2-1 Yankees.

Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees called in Gallegos to be the 26th man allowed for a doubleheader. Then between innings, the Yankees recalled Luis Cessa so he could start the second game, and had to make a hard choice. They ended up optioning Brandon Drury to AAA Scranton. It wasn’t a decision that sat well with many people as Drury has been a reliable bench player, but he’s a phone call away and I can guarantee he’ll be back soon.

And this is your reminder to “Vote #ASGiancarlo“, and vote for Giancarlo Stanton to be the Yankees’ 5th representative at the All-Star Game. There are so many deserving players on the Yankees’ current roster, and every player has their own person they’d nominate that didn’t make the cut.

But that’s the way some seasons work — some rosters are just packed with All-Stars, and some years you can barely find a veteran to honor for the required lone representative. A potential of 5 Yankees (and talks of who’s forgotten) sounds like it’s the former kind of year, as does the standings and anyone with eyes watching the Yankees play this year.

Go Yankees!

Game 86: NYY vs. TOR — Early power wins game, with ejections & injuries

In comparison to much of the country right now, the Queen City is having some nice (and fairly standard) summer weather for this Saturday afternoon and middle game of this weekend series. The roof of Rogers Centre open to the blue skies and the Yankees ready to bounce back after last night’s game set up a great game for their fans in the Toronto area.

Luis Severino got the start and actually had a lesser outing than previous ones, despite earning his 14th win and keeping the Blue Jays from doing too much damage. He threw 97 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out just 5 batters. In the 2nd, with 1 out and a runner on 1st with a single, a 2-run home run got the Blue Jays on the board. And a 1-out solo homer in the 4th added on another.

Jonathan Holder came on for the 6th, gave up a lead-off double that moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. But then Robertson and Betances held the Jays scoreless through the next 2 innings. Aroldis Chapman got one strikeout in the 9th and then came out of the game (more below), handing things over to Chasen Shreve, who despite giving up a solo home run, still got out of the inning rather quickly. Shreve appears to be bouncing back, at least somewhat, thanks to less-pressured situations.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offense started strong and stayed strong beginning with a 1st pitch home run right up the middle by Brett Gardner. Aaron Judge followed that up with a solo home run of his own. Stanton and Hicks each worked walks before the Jays’ starter finally got a couple of outs. Then Brandon Drury hit a long double that scored both Stanton and Hicks to double the Yankees’ early score.

Then in the 3rd, Gregorius led-off with a walk. After 2 outs (and the ejection of CC Sabathia, for chirping at the umpire over the questionable strike zone), Gregorius stole 2nd, and Bird worked a walk. As the Jays’ starter exited the game, he was almost ejected, but his manager instead took his fate (for the same reason as Sabathia actually). But the new reliever gave up a quick triple to Brett Gardner (the fastest triple in 2018, by the way) that scored Gregorius and Bird. A passed ball easily allowed Gardner to later score.

But then the Blue Jays’ pitching staff was able to piece together their relievers to keep the Yankees from adding to their impressive lead. Until the 9th inning. Andujar led-off with a ground-rule double and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single. That insurance run was eventually unnecessary, but it certainly put a cap on the Yankees’ offensive show today (9 total hits, 10 total walks).

Final score: 8-5 Yankees

Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees recalled Clint Frazier and designated reliever David Hale for assignment. After being sent to AAA in anticipation for Monday’s coming doubleheader, pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga developed inflammation in his right shoulder and is probably headed for the disabled list. That leaves Luis Cessa on tap for the second game of the doubleheader in Baltimore now.

Okay, so two potential injuries during the game: after 6 pitches in the 9th, Aroldis Chapman, who’s been battling tendinitis in his left knee, was feeling some intense pain there and Boone figured it wasn’t worth the risk as the Yankees were so far ahead. And Aaron Hicks left the game in the 5th due to some cramping in his left leg.

Stadiums with artificial turf are often the source of problems, even temporary ones, for many players. The only 2 remaining stadiums in MLB are Rogers Centre (Blue Jays) and Tropicana Field (Rays), unfortunately for all players in the AL East, as division rivals play each other more than any other team.

In general, real grass surfaces have a natural give, but artificial turf has either a stiffer base or one that is too spongy. Think of the difference of beaches like Daytona (where you can literally drive onto the sand) vs. Clearwater (more like quicksand, that sinks under every step). Neither of those really work well for anything more than sunbathing, even sand castles are difficult because it’s either too dense or too soft of a foundation. But a mix (like the Pacific Coast beaches) allows for running, volleyball, soccer games, and general beach athletics (and great sand castles!).

Go Yankees!

Game 83: ATL vs. NYY — Loading up the runs early help Yankees win

Domingo German got the start for the Yankees’ middle game against the visiting Braves, threw 82 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out 6 Atlanta batters. And actually, most of those offensive feats by the Braves didn’t happen until the 5th inning when German gave up a lead-off walk. Then 1 out later, a 2-run home run, a solo home run, and 2 singles.

Cole came in to load up the bases and get out of that jam with 2 solid strikeouts before breezing his way through the 6th inning. Adam Warren’s 7th inning was the exact opposite. With 1 out and a runner on 1st, he gave up a long 2-run home run. Giancarlo Stanton gave it his all and really tried hard to make that catch, but he dented the right field wall instead. No concussion, just a dent.

Warren got the first out of the 8th before Shreve finished off the rest of the inning with relative ease (and just 8 pitches). Chapman joined the fun with a quick 14-pitch 9th inning (8 of those were over 100 mph).

But the Yankees got on the board first. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Stanton singled and then scored with Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run. Then with 2 outs in the 2nd, Kyle Higashioka got in on the fun with a solo home run into left field (his sweet spot, apparently).

In the 3rd, the Yankees loaded the bases with walks to Judge, Hicks, and Andujar. So with 2 outs, Brandon Drury worked another walk and forced in Judge. The Braves opted to end their starter’s night right there, but their reliever promptly gave up a walk to Higashioka to score Hicks.

Brett Gardner led-off the 4th with a double, moved to 3rd on Judge’s single, and 2 outs later, scored on a wild pitch. And later, in the 8th, with 2 outs and Judge on 2nd, Giancarlo Stanton’s big 2-run home run. Not a bad way to bounce back after denting the back wall in the 7th.

Final score: 8-5 Yankees

Last few days to vote for the All-Star Game starters… go vote!

Go Yankees!

Game 79: BOS vs. NYY — A little of #CCStrong, a lot of #BabyBombers

The Yankees kicked off their final home stand before the All-Star Game on a high note, battling the Red Sox tonight for their first game of this weekend series. Going into tonight’s game, the Boston rivals were a game ahead of the Yankees (thanks to a less-than-ideal road trip). But the Yankees were quick to even up things in the AL East.

CC Sabathia had another solid start in tonight’s game, throwing 97 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and striking out 5 Boston batters. But he kept the Red Sox scoreless through 4 innings. In the 5th, with 2 outs, he gave up consecutive doubles to score the Sox’ lone run tonight.

Chad Green kept Sabathia’s momentum going with a solid, scoreless 8th inning, and in the 9th, Chasen Shreve got a chance to redeem himself after some bad outings this month. There’s a lot to be said about momentum and confidence. Shreve needed just 14 pitches to breeze his way through the inning, including 2 sharp strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were ready to make a dent in the Red Sox’s game tonight. Big time. In the 2nd, Gleyber Torres led-off with his first MLB triple and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s single to get the Yankees on the board first. Then Stanton led-off the 4th with a walk, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ double, and scored on Torres’ sacrifice fly. Andujar promptly hit a long 2-run home run into the left field seats, only to be followed by Greg Bird’s solo home run to ensure the Yankees’ easy victory.

Later, in the 7th, with a new pitcher on the mound, Hicks hit a nice 1-out single and then scored as part of Aaron Judge’s big 2-run home run. Then with 2 outs in the 8th, Bird hit his 2nd homer of the night, a solo shot deep into the right field seats.

Final score: 8-1 Yankees

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle alert: the Yankees sent pitcher Luis Cessa back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. With some strong left-handed pitchers coming up in the Red Sox and Braves’ rotation and bullpen, the Yankees wanted a strong bat. So they recalled infielder Brandon Drury, who has had a great time in recovery and while with the Rail Riders.

Yesterday, during the off-day, CC Sabathia hosted a charity softball game at Yankee Stadium. Sabathia and his wife Amber run the PitcchIn Foundation that helps out the Sabathia’s local communities in New York and their hometown of Oakland, like backpack drives, ball field renovations, and scholarships. This year’s big fundraiser raised over $1 million and featured current and former Yankees (like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Alex Rodriguez) alongside other celebrities (like Jennifer Lopez, Leslie Jones, Terrell Owens, Michael Rapaport, and Christopher Jackson) in front of a few hundred fans. It was a fun night for all, with Team CC beating Team Giancarlo 2-1 at the end of the night, and a great cause to help so many.

Go Yankees!

Game 33: CLE vs. NYY — Sonny times defeat Cleveland defensive errors

The Yankees have won 14 of their last 15 games, something that actually has people talking all around the league, because it’s the first time they’ve done so since 1998. (And we all know what happened that year.) Plus, it was a perfect Saturday afternoon for a game, this middle game in the weekend series against the visiting Indians.

Sonny Gray had a much better outing than many of his earlier games this season, throwing 93 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 7 batters. His 2 allowed runs were a 2-out solo home run in the 5th and a ground-rule double that later scored on a ground out.

Chad Green really was the pitcher worth watching today, going 2 full scoreless and hitless innings and throw a dominant and efficient 24 pitches in the 7th and 8th innings, getting 4 of his 6 outs with strong strikeouts. David Robertson closed out the game with 2 more strikeouts in his 9th inning.

Meanwhile, like the Indians, the Yankees’ batters really didn’t get much offenive opportunities until the 5th. With 1 out, Walker and Andujar walked, and Torres singled to load the bases. Then Austin Romine worked a walk to score Walker. Ronald Torreyes hit into a play that ended up moving everyone up 2 bases thanks to 2 errors, so Andujar and Torres both scored, leaving Romine and Torreyes in scoring position. Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Romine.

A new pitcher in the 7th gave up a 1-out double to Romine, after quite the embattled at-bat. The Indians needed to switch some defenders due to an injury where the fielder trying to get Romine’s long-hit ball rammed into the back fence. Romine would go on to score on Gardner’s 2-out single.

Final score: 5-2 Yankees

Injury updates: as you know if you’ve been following this team this season, early last month seemed plagued with injuries. Fortunately, the team has been relatively healthy for a few weeks now, and those on the DL are working their way back as soon as possible. Brandon Drury found a specialist in New York that located an irritated nerve on his neck that has been causing his migraines for years. He is receiving regular treatments, and it’s paying off — his time with AAA Scranton (and now with AA Trenton) have been rather productive. The Yankees aren’t in rush with him as Andujar, Torres, and Torreyes have been outstanding for the Yankees as pinch-bench players in both their offense and defense.

Despite being out for 6-8 weeks with elbow strain, Jordan Montgomery was simply glad it wasn’t going to be the dreaded Tommy John surgery for him, which would mean 12-18 months recovery time. It’s something every pitcher dreads and sits in the back of their minds every time there’s an elbow pain of any kind. So a few weeks must sound like a decent option. It’s not great, but they can make it work on all ends. Especially as Domingo German will get his first MLB start tomorrow against the Indians in the finale of this series.

And speaking of pitchers, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren are back throwing after experiencing some shoulder and back issues (respectively), so the Yankees hope to have these reliable relievers back in the bullpen before the end of the month.

My uncle, the one who’s a huge “Tribe” fan (or a person who roots for Cleveland), texted me after the Yankees won today to tell me that the Yankees were “looking good” and that his team was suffering from “no-bullpen-itis”. I can understand that feeling, as both teams seem to suffer most of their injuries in the bullpen this season (as reflected in the above injury report). But to me, that says more about the difference in their farm systems to rely on those guys when injuries hit the major league level.

So kudos to the Yankees for having the smarts to build the organization deep. And this says far too much about the AL Central because even with these 2 losses, the Indians still lead the division and are the only team above .500. Meanwhile, the Yankees are now just a half-game behind the Red Sox in the AL East, something that clearly will change with the coming series next week.

Go Yankees!

Game 28: NYY vs. HOU — Streak snapped at 9

Of course most of the conversation leading up to this series would be a “rematch of the ALCS” because it is a match-up of last year’s teams from the ALCS. It’s just not 2017 any more. Thought try telling the Astros’ starter that.

Sonny Gray got the start for this first game of this series in Houston. And he actually had a pretty stellar start — throwing 97 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 4 batters. In the 1st, Gray gave up a lead-off single and then balked and advanced the runner to 2nd. That runner scored 2 ground outs later.

In the 4th, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a walk and then scored on a double. The next batter hit into a fielder’s choice that the Yankees defense quickly used to get the out at home. A walk loaded the bases, but then a well-placed strikeout and line drive ended the Astros’ threat.

In fact, other than those 2 innings, Gray kept things really clean and the Astros from doing much at all. Unfortunately, the Yankees faced a similar starter from the Astros, who held a no-hitter until Romine singled in the 6th inning. Even then, they weren’t able to do much off him, only getting 2 hits, 2 walks, and a single run.

In the 8th, with 2 outs, Torres doubled on the Astros’ starter’s 102nd pitch. The Astros went to their bullpen, and the Yankees sent in a pinch-hitter. Judge, who had a regular day-off today, came in and worked a walk, but that was it for that reliever. A new one came in and promptly gave up a single to Brett Gardner that also scored Torres. But that would be the Yankees’ best opportunity all night.

Betances and Holder each threw a great inning against the Astros, joining the long list of pretty good pitchers from both sides that took the mound tonight. Neither team was really hitting all that much, and it was always going to be a close game. It just fell towards the home town team tonight.

Final score: 2-1 Astros

Yes, that means the Yankees win streak ended at 9 games. But what a great run. The next streak is just around the corner. And they’ll have 3 more chances to pick it up again in Houston.

And thanks in part to that winning streak, MLB recognized Didi Gregorius as the Player of the Week, his first such honor. With a batting average like .357, 10 RBIs, and 7 runs scored, it’s really no wonder. Of those 10 RBIs, 4 of them were big home runs. Yankee fans have known Gregorius is a key part of this Yankee lineup (as well as in the clubhouse) for 3 years now, so it’s nice to see other people recognize his talent and impact.

And if you’re wondering about some injury updates: Brandon Drury is continuing his rehab with AAA Scranton. His migraines seem to be handled as he is clearly making his mark as part of the team. He may be ready to rejoin the team once they return to New York. Clint Frazier was promoted to AAA Scranton today after having four successful rehab games with Advanced-A Tampa. His concussion seems to be healed and he’s looking forward to a regular season with his team.

And Tyler Austin’s suspension is over after tonight’s game, so he will be reactivated for tomorrow’s game.

Go Yankees!