Game 93: NYY vs. CLE — Late offense came close, not close enough

The Yankees didn’t seem to find their footing in tonight’s game against the Indians for the first part of the game, both with their pitching and hitting. Domingo German had trouble out of the gate, once again, and still had some trouble staying consistent. He threw 91 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs, and still struck out 6 batters.

He gave up consecutive walks to lead off the 1st that moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. However, a ground out only allowed one run to scored before 2 strikeouts ended the threat. In the 2nd, with 1 out, a single scored on an RBI double, and after a walk, a long double scored 2 more runs. Then in the 5th, a lead-off single scored on a triple that ended German’s night.

He handed the ball over to Jonathan Holder, who promptly walked his first batter and then gave up a single to score German’s final base runner before getting out of his own jam. Then Holder sailed through the 6th inning. Shreve followed that up with 2 scoreless innings of his own, and though both were fraught with their own threats, he kept the game tight.

The Yankees were held off from their offense until the 5th inning. Bird led-off with a double, and Andujar worked a walk. Neil Walker’s double scored Bird, and a wild pitch scored Andujar and moved Walker to 3rd. One out and one single, Brett Gardner’s long sacrifice fly to score Walker.

Wade later led-off the 8th with a double and ended the Indians’ starter’s night. He moved to 3rd on a passed ball and then scored on Gardner’s ground out. With another new reliever, Judge was hit by a pitch.

And in a still questionable decision, the Indians pulled a “strike-em-out-throw-em-out” double play as Hicks struck out and Judge got tagged out stealing 2nd. Originally, Judge was ruled safe, but after an Indians’ challenge, the call was overturned. Why they’d risk a double play on a steal when Stanton was up next had everyone kind of “message board managing”.

It’s worth noting that Giancarlo Stanton hit a big solo home run to lead off the 9th inning to inch the Yankees closer to the Indians’ lead. However, 3 outs later, the Yankees ran out of outs.

Final score: 6-5 Indians

There’s been a lot of conversation, rightly so, about next week’s All-Star Game, and several new additions have been called up to replace selected players who are either inactive, injured, ineligible (starting Sunday), or choose to remove themselves from the roster. Like Aroldis Chapman. He’s been dealing with knee tendinitis since at least May, so he chose to attend but not play in the exhibition game on Tuesday. Chapman has been an All-Star previously (4 times with the Reds, 2012-2015), and will be considered as an All-Star for this year. But he’s got half of a regular season (and potential postseason) to go.

And as odd as this may seem, the benefit to this is that players selected for the game are often first-time All-Stars (like the one selected to fill Chapman’s spot). That means, they get to experience all the buzz, excitement, and special camaraderie for the first time next week. And that is kind of cool. Plus, it’s something that will forever be on their Wikipedia page, even if they just end up coaching Little League one day.

Go Yankees!

Game 92: NYY vs. CLE — Not a pitchers’ duel despite 2 Aces, just a Gardy Party

I’m still guilty of pre-judging how a game will turnout when they release the daily line-ups. And far too often, I’m very wrong. Tonight was one of those nights. I saw the pitching match-up for the opening game of this weekend series in Cleveland, and immediately thought this was going to be quite the pitching duel. The Indians sent in their ace starter, and the Yankees matched him with theirs — Luis Severino.

Severino threw 94 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 9 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out just 1 batter. (Comparatively, the Indians’ starter threw 114 pitches into the 8th inning, still gave up 9 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out 9 Yankee batters.) Severino’s allowed runs came in the odd innings — 1, 3, and 5.

In the 1st, a 2nd pitch lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single. After Romine caught a runner stealing 2nd to clear the bases, a solo home run doubled the Indians’ early lead. A lead-off single in the 3rd stole 2nd and later scored on a single. And a 2-out solo home run in the 5th capped off the Indians’ runs for the night. Warren, Robertson, Betances, and Chapman each took an inning to close out the game for Severino, throwing beautiful, efficient innings and keeping the home team to their runs total.

Much like the Indians did to the Yankees’ ace, the Yankees offense pieced together their runs to take the Indians’ ace down a peg or two. Andujar led-off the 3rd with a double, and 2 outs later, scored on Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board. Didi Gregorius then led-off the 4th with a solo home run up the middle. Then Stanton singled, moved to 3rd on Hicks’ bunt and a throwing error, and then easily scored on Greg Bird’s double.

With the game tied, Gregorius worked a walk to lead-off the 8th inning and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ 1-out double. That would be the end of the Indians’ starter’s night, and they spent the final 5 outs of the game piecing together their bullpen. With a new pitcher, Hicks stole 3rd, a call upheld (rightly so) despite a challenge on the tag, and then scored on Bird’s long sacrifice fly. Two pitchers later, in the 9th, Brett Gardner hit his 2nd home run of the game, a 2-out solo homer off the foul pole in right field.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees

The Indians-Yankees annual series is always a special series for my family because of the close ties my mom’s side has to the Northeast Ohio area. Of course, this was heightened in the 1990s when the Indians were about as good as they have been in recent years, making it to the postseason with several strong seasons, much like the Yankees did in those years. Not quite a recognized rivalry anywhere except in my family for the last 20-odd years, but something I always look forward to.

And for my Ohio family, it’s worth noting that four teams in the AL right now are actually statistically higher than the Indians — Red Sox, Astros, Yankees, and Mariners. In other words, Cleveland is enjoying success this season because the AL Central is the weakest division. It’s easy to be on top when you’re the only team in that division with a winnings season (above a .500 season average).

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 87: NYY vs. TOR — Gardner leads to victory in the 10th. Who’s in the All-Star Game? #ASGiancarlo

Another lovely summer day in Toronto allowed for a great day at the ball park, the roof open, the skies clear, and the fans cheering on their teams. And for this rubber match (the game to decide who wins the series), the Yankees and Blue Jays certainly gave the fans somehting to cheer about.

Domingo German got the start in the finale against the Jays, throwing 100 pitches in 6 innings, giving up just 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, and striking out 5 batters. In fact, his lone allowed run was a 6th inning lead-off solo shot. Warren gave a solid 2 innings in relief, and Green followed that up by breezing through the 9th inning in just 11 pitches.

Now, the Yankees actually got on the board first, in the 1st inning. With 1 out, Judge singled, moved to 3rd on Stanton’s double, and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s ground out. After that, the Yankees collected 5 more hits and 2 walks through the next 8 innings, but didn’t do anything to add to their runs.

So, with the game tied, into the 10th inning they went. The first batter up, Bird, was hit by a pitch, and because they needed some speed on the bases, the Yankees called on Tyler Wade as pinch-runner. Romine’s sacrifice bunt moved Wade to 2nd and into scoring position so that when Brett Gardner hit a nice single into left field, Wade raced home to break the tie.

Two outs later, the Yankees called on David Robertson to close out the game. 12 pitches and 3 outs later, the Yankees declared victory for the game and the series.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees, in 10 innings, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: the Yankees are on their way to Baltimore to face the Orioles for a 4-game series, starting with a doubleheader tomorrow. The first game is a make-up game of the rain-out from May 31. After their series at Camden Yards, the Yankees travel to face the Indians for a 4-game weekend series before the All-Star Break.

And speaking of the All-Star Game, MLB officially announced their fan selections for the starters, as well as its player-voted (and Commissioner’s Office selected) player reserves and pitching staff for the game next Tuesday (July 17). And there are 4 (possibly 5) Yankees on that list — Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Aroldis Chapman, and Gleyber Torres. Giancarlo Stanton is nominated for the Final Vote.

Judge received his 2nd selection as an outfield starter this year, joined by pitchers Chapman and Severino (all for very obvious reasons). Plus, Torres was selected as part of the reserves player. Now, despite the fact that he may be sidelined due to his recent hip injury, selection to be part of the All-Star Game is a badge of sorts players can wear with honor for the rest of their lives. (You can enjoy a rather extensive list of the players selected and their achievements this year so far.)

And that brings us to the Final Vote. You can vote unlimited times until this Wednesday (July 10) at 4pm (EST) for your favorite AL and NL player of the 10 nominated (5 in each league) — like Stanton, for example. Other nominees include outfielders Andrew Benintendi (Red Sox) and Andrelton Simmons (Angels), shortstops Eddie Rosario (Twins) and Jean Segura (Mariners) for the AL. In the NL are infielders Jesus Aguilar (Brewers), Brandon Belt (Giants), Matt Carpenter (Cardinals), Max Muncy (Dodgers), and Trea Turner (Nationals).

So vote often for your favorites! And use the social media hashtag: #ASGiancarlo.

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 78: NYY vs. PHI — Shut out of a sweep

The Yankees conclude their tour of the “City that Loves You Back” by not feeling so much of that love. In a quirky turn of events, about 20 years ago, the City of Philadelphia launched a campaign in a sort of response to New York’s “I Love New York” campaign with one that might encourage tourists to receive the “brotherly love” rather than be compelled to give it. So, they launched ads that relied on “Philadelphia’s heritage as the ‘City of Brotherly Love,’ infused with the Quaker values of universal love, nonviolence, tolerance, and equality.”

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of love for the Yankees tonight. Luis Cessa got the start tonight, throwing 74 pitches in his 3 innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out just 2 Phillies batters. In the 2nd, with 1 out, Cessa gave up a single who moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt. After another batter worked a walk, the next player hit a long 3-run home run for the only runs to score all night.

Giovanny Gallegos came on in relief of Cessa in the 4th and continued on for the next 3 innings, keeping the Phillies to those runs. But his strength was actually getting a strong 6 strikeouts. Holder and German continued Gallegos’ momentum, breezing their ways through the 8th and 9th scoreless innings.

But the Yankees’ offense was limited to 4 hits and 2 walks off the Phillies’ starter, but he and his lone reliever kept the Yankees completely and disappointingly scoreless for the whole game. The Yankees’ biggest show tonight was defensively, with both Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton slamming up against the back wall to make some great plays.

Final score: 3-0 Phillies, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: After a travel day and day-off tomorrow, the Yankees head back to the Bronx to face the Red Sox for a weekend series starting Friday, before 3 games against the Braves. And then, they’re on the road visiting the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Indians right up to the All-Star Game Break.

And speaking of which, have you voted for your favorite All-Star candidates yet? Time is running short (you have until July 5 at 11:59 pm EST). Vote today!

Go Yankees!