NLDS & ALDS: ATL vs. STL, WAS vs. LAD & TB vs. HOU, MIN vs. NYY — 3 Game 5s & a 3-game sweep

There is nothing normal about the postseason most years, and this year continues to prove this once again. Three of the series went to a Game 5, and only one series was a sweep. And none of those is what you might expect.

NLDS A: The Cardinals and Braves duked it out through 5 games, and it wasn’t until the 5th that the Cardinals came on strong and just made the decision to win this series.

NLDS
Game 1: Actually, the Braves had this game right up until the final inning, when the Cards came out swinging. The Braves just could not catch up in the end. 7-6 Cardinals

Game 2:
The Braves decided they weren’t going to let the series head to St. Louis without a hometown win, using this game to prove why they came out on top of the NL East by blanking the visiting Cardinals. 3-0 Braves

Game 3: This was one of those super tight games, with the Cards eking a single run by the Braves until the 9th. The visitors scored 3 big runs in that inning and ended up taking the lead in the series. 3-1 Braves

Game 4: Another nail biter in the series, as the game was tied and went into the 10th inning before the Cardinals got a walk-off home run to tie up the series. 5-4, in 10 Cardinals

Game 5: Back in Atlanta, the Braves lost their home field advantage in that 1st inning, giving up 10 runs to the visitors, who ended up dominating this game. 13-1 Cardinals

Cardinals win the series in 5 games

NLDS B: Almost everyone “knew” who was going to win this series. Almost everyone “knew” they were going to sweep this series. Almost everyone was very wrong.

Game 1: However, after this first game, “they” were rather confident they “knew” how this was going to work as the Dodgers quickly shut out the Nationals. 6-0 Dodgers

Game 2: But then the Nationals came back and just edged out the home team. 4-2 Nationals

Game 3: In DC, the Dodgers came back just crushing the home team with a big 6th inning. 10-4 Dodgers

Game 4: And somehow, the Nats weren’t about to go away quietly, relying on some solid pitching to tie up the series again and force a Game 5. 6-1 Nationals

Game 5: Another nail-biter in the NL. The game was tied right into the 10th, right up until the Dodgers’ reliever gave up a huge grand slam. The deficit too big to overcome by the home team, costing them the rest of the postseason. 7-3, in 10 Nationals

Nationals win the series in 5 games

ALDS A: As with the other league’s version of this series, games between the league leader and the wild card winner aren’t anything normal or predictable. Especially as the Rays were on quite the tear this last month in their quest for a postseason. But in this series alone, it was all about the “home field advantage”.

Game 1: The Astros started the series strong, only giving up runs to the Rays in the 8th. 6-2 Astros

Game 2: The Astros’ starter the game was just amazing, streaming through the Rays’ lineup and collecting 15 strikeouts. Not that the Rays were slacking. The Astros just played better. 3-1 Astros

Game 3: Once the game was at the Trop, the Rays came out swinging and just didn’t stop. They certainly weren’t about to let the Astros just run away with this series. 10-3 Rays

Game 4: While this wasn’t as poweful in the end, the Rays still collected 13 total hits, giving them more opportunities to score and eventually tie up the series. 4-1 Rays

Game 5: Again, this series was all about home field advantage. Once they were back in Houston, the Astros took command again and showed their fans why they deserve to go to the ALCS once again. 6-1 Astros

Astros win series in 5 games

ALDS B: The one series nobody was really talking about. Outside Yankee Universe, that is. But this one was something to really watch, as the Yankees were about to show off a bit.

Game 1: The Yankees had some really big innings, including home runs by LeMahieu and Gardner. Though Paxton started, it was Kahnle who ended up with the win for his 5th & 6th inning stint to essentially save the game early on until the Yankees powered their way through with those big runs in the 6th. 10-4 Yankees

Game 2: It was Tanaka Time in the Bronx for this game. Aand once again, the Yankee bats came through to support their starter, including a big 3rd inning offense. And while most of their runs were off RBI singles, but i was Didi Gregorius’ grand slam to ensure the Yankees’ eventual win. 8-2 Yankees

Game 3: Home field advantage didn’t seem to matter to the Yankees this series, as they took their momentum on the road. They used an opener in Green, who showed his reliability with a strong start and set the pattern for the rest of the game, backed by a good offense with homers by Torres and Maybin. 5-1 Yankees

Yankees sweep series in 3 games.

An interesting article I found was the idea that no one gives an MVP award for the Division Series. This is one writer’s idea of who should get this hypothetical award. I agreed (or at least understood) his picks in most of these games. But what do you think?

Championship Series begins tomorrow night with NLCS and Saturday with the ALCS. It is a best-of-7 series, so the first team with 4 wins will move onto the World Series next week.

My predictions: So, this first round was a mixed bag. I completely blew the NLDS. First is my prediction, second is the outcome.

  • NLDS A: Braves over Cardinals in 5 games — Cardinals in 5
  • NLDS B: Dodgers over Nationals in 3 games — Nationals in 5
  • ALDS A: Astros over Rays in 4 games — Astros in 5
  • ALDS B: Yankees over Twins in 5 games — Yankees in 3

Now for the Championship Series: (Perhaps, I’ll be better this round.)

  • NLCS: Cardinals over Nationals in 6 games
  • ALCS: Yankees over Astros in 7 games

It’s clearly going to be one of those postseasons. And let’s be honest, it’s really just beginning. But isn’t that what makes October Baseball more intriguing — that you don’t know what’s going to happen?

Go Yankees!

Game 161: NYY vs. TEX — 6th inning spirals into big loss

Yankee fans in the crowd tonight at Arlington watched a game that began with high hopes to see New York win its 104th game of the season, only to see it all fall apart in the 6th inning. It reminded me of growing up a Tribe fan when my dad and I would watch Cleveland start well, only to lose it all in the final innings.

I know, I know! Cleveland isn’t New York. But the game tonight reminded of those times watching my dad’s team battle on, only to have hope deferred. But then I am reminded that the Yankees have already secured their playoff spot as the 2019 AL East champs, and all that hope returns!

Luis Severino started for New York to face the Texas Rangers and threw 72 pitches over 3 innings. In the 1st, Severino gave up a walk to the lead-off batter followed by a strike out swinging. After another walk, Severino gave up a double that allowed both runners to score. After a mound visit and yet another walk, the 2 runners made a double steal, but an infield ground out ended the inning.

Severino found his normal momentum in the 2nd, quickly shutting down 3 batters with 3 solid strikeouts. But in the 3rd, Severino allowed his 4th walk before 3 outs to close out the inning and keep it a close game.

David Hale took the mound in the 4th, giving up a double and a walk. Another double scored both runners, so after a strike out, Hale was replaced by Tyler Lyons who eventually ended the inning with no further allowed runs. Luis Cessa took the helm in the 5th. Despite some allowed base runners, some solid defense got him out of the inning scoreless.

And then came that aforementioned 6th inning — where everything fell apart for the Yankees. Cessa returned to the mound and gave up consecutive singles and a a walk that loaded the bases. He then gave up another walk that scored a run and kept the bases loaded. After a mound visit, Cessa finally got a nice strikeout.

With just that one out and the bases still loaded, Nestor Cortes Jr. replaced Cessa and promptly gave up a grand slam, solidly placing the home team in the lead. Another 3 singles and 1 run later, this 6-run inning mercifully ended. Heller took over for Cortes in the 7th and successfully retired the side. Something Gearrin followed up in the 8th to shut down the Rangers’ big night.

The Yankee lineup started well in the 1st inning when Aaron Judge sent a triple deep to center. A sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner allowed Judge to score and put the Yankees on the scoreboard first. There was a few other chances for the Yankees when they actually got base runners, but they really failed to put runners in scoring position until the 9th inning.

Down by 8 runs, there was a glimmer of hope as Frazier worked a walked and moved to 3rd on Wade’s single. Voit’s hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, Didi Gregorius sent a 3-run RBI double to right field to clear the bases. Yankee hopes were running high despite 2 outs, but chances to score more runs ran out when a fly ball to right field was caught for the final out of the game.

Final score: 9-4 Rangers

This day in Yankee history: On September 28, 1923, in a game facing the the rival Boston Red Sox, and with legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on the team, the New York Yankees tallied up 30 hits that included just 2 home runs (one by Ruth) and 8 doubles to earn a single-game franchise record that is still unbroken almost a century later. And most of their runs that day came in (you guessed it) the 6th inning. The final score on that day 96 years ago — 24-4, Yankees!

Go Yankees!

 

Game 160: NYY vs. TEX — “Bronx Bombers” rightly set MLB HR record

The Yankees traveled to Arlington, Texas, for a weekend series with the Rangers for the final 3 games of regular season play. A high scoring game fueled by power bats in the lineup and by strong outings from 9 pitchers earned New York their 103rd season win.

James Paxton, took command of the ball for the Yankees for the 1st inning, facing 6 batters, giving up 3 hits, including a 2-run home run. At the close of the inning, Paxton exited the game as a precaution due to soreness and was replaced by Heller for the 2nd inning. Heller gave up a single to the lead-off batter, but followed with a strike out swinging and a grounder that led to a double play. In the 3rd, Tarpley came on to faced 3 batters for 3 quick outs — 2 strikeouts and a ground out.

Another pitching change in the 4th brought Loaisiga to the mound. He allowed a walk, but then got 3 outs to keep the scoreless pattern going strong. Gearrin got his chance in the 5th to keep that inning scoreless. In the 6th inning, Lyons took the ball, facing 3 batters for his 3 outs.

Taking the mound in the 7th, Michael King, a recent call up from Scranton/Wilkes-Barres, was the only Yankee pitcher to throw for more than one inning tonight. But in the 8th, King’s lead-off batter made it safely to 1st on a fielding error, moved to 2nd on a 1-out single before scoring on another single.

However, with the Yankees firmly ahead in tonight’s game, the Yankees needed a quick 3 outs again for the 9th. But Chance Adams had some trouble after striking out the lead-off batter. He then gave up a solo home run, a pair of doubles, and a 2-run home run to edge the Rangers closer to the Yankees’ lead. With just 1 out, Cortes took the ball for a pop-out to the 1st baseman and an infield ground out, allowing no further runs for the home team.

On the other side, the Yankee lineup came out swinging for the win, and it showed. In the 1st inning, Giancarlo Stanton hit a long ball to left center field for the Yankees 300th home run of the season. With 2 strikeouts in the 2nd, Cameron Maybin smashed another homer to left center that tied up the game at that point.

After a scoreless 3rd inning, Brett Gardner led off in the 4th and sent a home run ball to right center that gave New York a slim lead. With 2 outs and Ford on 1st, LeMahieu’s double moved Ford to 3rd base. Giancarlo Stanton’s single scored both Ford and LeMahiey and gave the Yankees a nice lead. At the bottom of the 6th, Gio Urshela led-off with a home run to left center. Maybin then worked a walk, and a 2-run homer that Ford sent to right scored Maybin.

In the 7th, a single line drive by Gardner, followed by another single grounder by Maybin, put two men on base. Ford worked a walk to load up the bases. DJ LeMahieu’s double to left field scored all 3 runners, but LeMahieu was tagged out trying to stretch it into a triple to end the inning.

Austin Romine led-off the 9th inning with a solo home run to center. With 1 out, and Urshela and Maybin on base, Mike Ford’s double scored both runners to give the Yankees a rather large lead they would need due to the mess in the bottom of that inning.

Final score: 14-7 Yankees

A big congratulations to the Yankees who now lead MLB in home runs for the season with 305. The Twins were briefly ahead of New York, but after tonight’s 6 homers, the Yankees were back in the lead. With 2 more regular season games, there will be several chances to add to that record for New York. This also officially sets the MLB single season record by a team.

Go Yankees!

Game 157: TOR vs. NYY: Salute to Sabathia and #SevySharp for the series

Today’s series win against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, their last home stand of the regular season, shows that the Yankees continue to be quite the force to be reckoned with. Today’s win marks the fact that New York hasn’t lost any of their last 23 home series since April.

After a pre-game ceremony to honor the legacy of CC Sabathia (more below), Luis Severino took command of the mound, throwing 80 pitches to 19 batters for 9 strikeouts. Over 5 scoreless innings, Severino had a stellar outing and gave up only 3 hits. In the 6th, Tarpley replaced Severino and gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases, and still struck out swinging 3 batters that kept the Toronto scoreless.

Tyler Lyons took the ball for the 7th inning, giving up a lead-off double and a 2-run home run. In the 8th, Cortes replaced Lyons to give up a walk, but 3 quick outs allowed no further runs. Cortes continued to close out the 9th inning, giving up 2 hits and a run.

The Yankee bats didn’t wait long to show the power of this year’s team. In the 1st, Aaron Judge took the plate and sent a solo home run ball over the center field fence for the Yankees’ first run. Voit and Stanton each walked and then scored as part of Brett Gardner’s 3-run homer sent over the right field fence into the second deck that gave the Yankees a solid lead.

In the 2nd, Romine reached on a single infield grounder and was brought home by a 2-run home run to right center field by DJ LeMahieu sent to right center field. LeMahieu led-off the 5th with a single and moved to 2nd on Judge’s single. Toronto challenged the call at 2nd, but it was upheld on review and LeMahieu was safely on base.

A wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position. And a sacrifice fly ball to left by Giancarlo Stanton scored LeMahieu and moved Judge to 3rd. Luke Voit then hit an RBI single that allowed Judge to cross the plate. In the final innings, the Yankees were not allowed any further scoring opportunities, but they kept the solid lead through the 9th inning for New York’s 102nd win this season.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees, Yankees take the series 2-1

In a pre-game ceremony this afternoon, CC Sabathia was honored for his legacy and contribution to the Yankees. Sabathia has been in pinstripes since 2009 and is second only Brett Gardner as longest-tenured player with the team.  In front of the crowd of cheering fans, Sabathia took a lap around the warning track on a golf cart, watched two  tribute videos (one from the team and one from family).

Sabathia made a short speech thanking everyone, followed by commemorative gifts from the Yankees, including a 10-day family trip to Japan for the whole Sabathia family. One of the most significant parts of the ceremony for Sabathia was throwing out the 1st pitch to his original catcher and fan, his mom Margie.

{Note: There are quite a few videos from the day for those who missed the festivities. They are included here for your enjoyment — family and friends reading inspirational letters, players share their memories, a longer tribute from players, and career highlights.}

Go Yankees!

Game 154: LAA vs. NYY: 100th win for the AL East Championship

Yankee Stadium fans were in for a treat tonight as they witnessed an outstanding game. Facing the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees earned their well-deserved 100th win that clinched the 2019 AL East Division Championship, their first division title since 2012. Despite being plagued this year by a record-breaking number of players on the IL that had many doubting a shot at a title, the Yankees continued to show their depth of talent and solid ability to play as a team, no matter who was in the lineup or on the mound. The Yankees came ready to play as a team and it showed.

Masahiro Tanaka took a solid command of the mound to start the game against the Los Angeles Angels. It was “Tanaka Time” for a full 7 innings that gave the starter his 11th win of the season. Facing 24 batters, Tanaka threw 86 pitches and gave up just one run, a solo home run to right field in the 4th. Gearrin replaced Tanaka in the 8th for an easy 3 outs. And in the 9th, Aroldis Chapman took over the mound to close the inning for the Yankees 100th season win to clinch the AL East, their first since 2012.

After a scoreless 1st, the Yankees started off the 2nd inning with a walk from lead-off batter Maybin, who was then caught on fielder’s choice by Gardner. Romine then singled, and DJ LeMahieu came to the plate and sent a 3-run homer, his 25th this year, over the right-center field fence, scoring both Gardner and Romine.  In the 4th, Brett Gardner homered to right field for another run.

Gregorius led-off the 6th with a single and then stole 2nd. Following a walk by Urshela, Maybin hit into a ground out that moved Urshela and Gregorius into scoring position. Gardner then hit a solid double that scored both Urshela and Gregorius. And in the 8th, with the Yankees solidly ahead, Cameron Maybin hit a solo home run. After a walk by Gardner, Clint Frazier then sent a 2-run home run ball over the left field fence. All ending up in a solid 100th win tonight for the Yankees.

Final score: 9-1 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

News updates: Yankee pitcher Domingo German is on restricted leave due to an investigation by MLB into alleged domestic abuse incident. No formal charges have been filed, but until the investigation is completed, the Yankees selected the contract of right-hander Michael King from AA Trenton to take German’s place on the roster.

A big congratulations to all the Yankees on their 100th season win and their new title as AL East Division Champions, such a well-deserved honor.

Go Yankees!

Game 150: NYY vs. TOR — Paxton + power batting for the win

After yesterday’s disappointing loss to Toronto, New York came back strong. On the mound, at the plate, or on the field, all the pieces seemed to come together today for the Yankees. Personal season batting records were broken as the pitchers kept a tight control of the game for their 98th win of the season.

James Paxton took command of the mound this afternoon for a stellar outing through the 5th inning. Paxton threw 101 pitches and gave up 3 hits and a run. That run didn’t come until after 4 commanding innings. In the 5th, Paxton allowed a single that advanced to 2nd on a throwing error in the infield. A walk and a sacrifice fly gave Toronto their 1st run of the game.

In the 6th, with the Yankees drastically, Gearrin replaced Paxton and gave up 2 singles, but no runs. Loaisiga replaced Gearrin for a strong 2 innings. And in the bottom of the 9th, with the Yankees securely in the lead, Ryan Dull was called to close the game. Dull allowed a double, a walk, and another double that scored those 2 runners for the Blue Jays. After a mound visit, Dull gave up a single but then stuck out the last 2 batters, leaving 2 men on base and sealing the game for the Yankees.

In addition to the strong pitching, with 19 total hits, 13 RBIs, 4 walks, and 13 runs, this game clearly belonged to the Yankees. After a quiet 1st, the 2nd inning began well with a walk by Voit who moved to 2nd on a single by Urshela. Brett Gardner’s double to left field scored Voit. In the 3rd inning, lead-off batter LeMahieu singled and ended up on 3rd on Judge’s single. Torres reached base on a fielder’s choice that got LeMahieu out at home. Luke Voit then came to the plate and hit a ground-rule double deep down the right field line to score Judge and double their score.

In the 4th, Brett Gardner hit a long ball to center for a solo home run of the season. Following a couple outs, Estrada reached base on a hit by pitch. The 5th inning started with Torres being awarded a base on a hit by pitch and a walk by Voit. So, with 2 men on base, Brett Gardner (again) hammered his 2nd homer of the game to center field, a 3-run home run and his 25th home run this year.

In the 6th, with the Yankees well ahead, LeMahieu singled on a line drive to center and scored on a 2-run home run to left by Gleyber Torres, his 37th homer this year. Luke Voit followed him with his own solo home run to center to give the Yankees an 8 run lead.

In the 9th inning, Yankee offense pressed on for more runs to pad their lead. Higashioka doubled with a fly ball to left field, followed by a single to center by Thairo Estrada that scored Higashioka. Frazier hit a deep single that moved Estrada to 3rd. Tyler Wade grounded out, but moved Frazier to 3rd as Estrada scored. Mike Ford came to the plate and sent his 11th home run of the season deep to center, scoring Frazier.

Final score: 13-3 Yankees

Injury update: Aaron Boone is cautiously optimistic but won’t speculate on a timetable that would allow the return of Gary Sanchez or Edwin Encarnacion. Sanchez is currently dealing with a groin injury, and Encarnacion is nursing an oblique injury.

Also, there are a few other players ready to come off the IL and should join the team this week as part of the final push for postseason, including Betances, Holder, Montgomery, and Stanton. And there is good news for Luis Severino, who is scheduled to make his long-awaited season debut on Tuesday when the team returns to Yankee Stadium for their final home stand.

A big congrats to the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees AA Affiliate, who won their 4th Eastern League Championship facing the Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles AA team).

Go Yankees!

Game 146: NYY vs. DET — Sloppy pitching battle

After a successful series in Boston that put New York solidly in first place in the AL East, the Yankees arrived in Detroit for a 3-game series. The evening match-up was tied for most of the game as homers were hit out of the park, records were broken, and each team battled to gain the win in a tight game that ultimately left Yankee fans disappointed.

Nestor Cortes, Jr. got the start in the opener and threw 46 pitches for a tough outing, allowing 6 hits and 4 runs into the 3rd inning. The Yankees had a strong lead in the 3rd inning, 6-0, when Cortes, Jr. allowed Detroit their first 2 runs and was quickly replaced by Luis Cessa who allowed 4 more runs to tie the game.

In the 4th inning, Cessa managed 3 ground outs in a row. But by the 5th, with the Yankees back in the lead by 2, Cessa allowed a home run on a fly ball to right field to bring Detroit to within 1 run of the Yankees.

In the 6th, Gearrin replaced Cessa and allowed 2 single grounders and an out before being replaced by Jonathan Loaisiga. Giving up 2 singles, 2 walks, and a sacrifice fly that tied the game, Loaisiga was replaced by Dull for the final out of a messy inning.

With New York ahead by just a run in the 7th, Adam Ottavino took command of the ball, allowing 1 run to tie the game. Then Britton came on for the 8th for 3 quick outs, and Chance Adams took over in the 9th with the game tied. But Adams gave up a double and single that allowed Detroit to score the winning run.

The game started well for the Bronx Bombers with a record-breaking home run in the 1st inning for Brett Gardner, his 22nd homer this year, marking a career season high for the veteran outfielder. But that was only the beginning for a big night for the Yankees.

In the 2nd inning, they began with a double by Urshela, who then scored on a single by Mike Ford. Frazier’s single to left moved Ford to 2nd, and Tyler Wade’s triple scored both Ford and Frazier. Wade then scored on another homer from Gardner, his 23rd this year, breaking his own career record he set earlier tonight. It was also Gardner’s 8th career multi-home run game, not bad for not a power-hitter. The inning ended with a seemingly secure lead for the Yankees.

But with the game tied up in the 4th, Gleyber Torres broke it by sending a home run to the Green Monster to get back the lead. The Yankees were still ahead in the 5th when Didi Gregorius smacked a solo homer. And in the 7th, Sanchez singled and scored on a game-tying homer by Edwin Encarnacion’s 33rd home run of the season.

After a Detroit pitching change, Didi Gregorius hit another home run to right to give the Yankees a 1-run lead. But with the game tied in the 9th, the Yankees were unable to get in scoring position again, as the Tigers gained a run for the win.

Final score: 12-11 Detroit

Injury update: Aaron Hicks‘ season is officially over. His initial diagnosis was a flexor strain due to a throw about a month ago. But later tests revealed UCL issues around his throwing elbow. He’s seen several physicians, and the idea of surgery (yes, that Tommy John kind of surgery) is still on the table as his injury isn’t a clear-cut as most injuries that require that surgery. It’s not ideal, but if it helps the veteran outfielder in the long run, it could be worth the missed part of the season, as it was for Gregorius this last year.

Go Yankees!