Game 44: TB vs. NYY — 11th inning let-down

Masahiro Tanaka had a great outing this afternoon in the second game of this weekend series against the visiting Rays. He threw 88 pitches through 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and striking out 6 batters. He took a nasty grounder off his shin in the 5th, managed to finish the inning, but then came out of the game. Later x-rays came back negative, but he’ll have a nasty bruise on his shin.

The Yankees struck first in the 3rd inning. With 1 out, they loaded up the bases with singles by Brett Gardner and LeMahieu and a walk to Voit. After another strikeout, a messy wild pitch moved up the runners, and Gardner raced home to score the Yankees’ lone run this afternoon.

In the 7th, Tommy Kahnle came on in relief for Tanaka. He promptly gave up a lead-off solo home run to tie up the game but held off the Rays from doing further damage. Britton and Chapman each followed suit, breezing through with a scoreless inning of their own.

And so the game went on into extra innings. Holder continued the pattern through the 10th with a quick 11-pitch scoreless inning. But Luis Cessa had some trouble in the 11th. With 1 out, a solo home run put the Rays in the lead. And the Yankees couldn’t put together the rally for the bottom of the inning, thus falling to the visitors today.

Final score: 2-1 Rays, in 11 innings

Injury updates: James Paxton threw a bullpen session before Friday’s game and will throw again on Sunday. He still felt some pain due to his knee injury (from May 4), but it’s improved and hoping to diminish as he continues his rehab.

Didi Gregorius will start his extended Spring Training on Monday. After his Tommy John surgery last October, the shortstop will spend time working on simulated games and exercises similar real Spring Training, but compacted down from the standard 7 weeks. This is a really good sign that Gregorius could be back on the team well before the All-Star Break.

And Giancarlo Stanton took live at-bats this week. It looks like his biceps and shoulder strain injuries from early April are healed, and he will begin his rehab assignment with the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons on Monday.

(A quick note to Tampa-based Yankees fans: most of the rehabbing players seem to spend their recovery time with this team. So you could see your favorite stars for cheaper than Spring Training prices and way closer seats throughout these next few weeks and months, and you don’t have to travel to the Bronx to see them in action.)

Go Yankees!

Game 40: NYY vs. TB — #TanakaTime + power outage = Happy Mother’s Day

I know we’ve talked some about the (few) positives of Tropicana Field, including the rarity of delays due to weather. Unfortunately, a delay due to a local power outage is unavoidable. And a 43 minute delay while the system was redirected and restarted is just inconvenient. Especially in the 9th inning.

But it just seemed to energize the Yankees in this final game of the weekend series against the Rays. Masahiro Tanaka had a great start this afternoon, throwing just 73 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run, and stuck out 7 batters to earn the eventual win. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo shot in the 6th.

It was actually the lone allowed run for the home team all day. Zach Britton and Chad Green took the final 2 innings and kept the Rays from doing much of anything, adding 5 more strikeouts to what would become quite the strikeout day at the Trop (12 by the Yankees, 17 by the Rays’ pitchers).

And somehow, despite all those strikeouts, the Yankees managed to boost their own power. They were held off until the 5th. With 2 outs, Romine doubled and scored on Mike Tauchman’s double. Tauchman then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single.

In the 8th, Voit led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s 1-out single, and ended up at 3rd when Andujar hit into a force grounder at 2nd. A wild pitch then scored Voit and kicked off a pair of challenges. The Yankees challenged the records (to check the number of balls/strikes), then the Rays challenged whether the catcher tagged Voit out at home. Neither were overturned, and the play stood as called at the count on the board.

Then the 9th inning began with a bang. Of sorts. After a single foul ball, the lights went out. And 43 minutes later, Thairo Estrada kicked-off the inning with a solo home run. Then Romine and Tauchman singled and moved into scoring position on LeMahieu’s sacrifice bunt out. Voit was intentionally walked to load up the bases. And then Gio Urshela’s double scored both Romine and Tauchman, and Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Voit to cap off the Yankees’ power surge.

Final score: 7-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees return home to continue their home stand to host the Orioles and then after a day off the Rays next weekend. Then, they’ll hit the road again to visit the Orioles and Royals.

Scranton Shuttle: Before the game, for a fresh arm, the Yankees optioned relieved Nestor Cortes Jr and recalled reliever Chad Green, who pitched in today’s game.

And a huge Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and like-a-moms out there. Across baseball, players wore pink-tinged gear, and each team had an honorary bat girl, both to recognize breast cancer awareness and survivors. Plus, players honored the moms in their lives, like CC Sabathia, who wrote a full letter in celebration of his mom on his Twitter account. And Cameron Maybin wore a special pre-game shirt in honor of his mom who is currently fighting breast cancer.

Happy Mother’s Day to my own mother, who is my faithful baseball companion. But then she got it from the passionate baseball fans in her family like her mother and grandmothers (who actually were Indians and Pirates fans). Baseball is strong in my family, much like its women.

Go Yankees!

Game 35: SEA vs. NYY — A little rain delay for the Yankees’ last-minute walk-off rally

The Yankees continue to find a way to make each moment count as they march on through May and in this 4-game series with the Mariners. In the second game tonight, the Yankees found that way in rather dramatic fashion with a walk-off and a challenge to find a last-minute victory, despite a one hour and 12 minute rain delay in the latter half of the game.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start tonight, throwing 95 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 4 Seattle batters. In the 2nd, he gave up a walk and a double, but a fielder’s choice got the lead runner out at home. But a sacrifice fly scored the other runner. And a 1-out solo home run in the 6th added one more for the visitors.

Tanaka came out for the 7th, but the rain that held off most of the night just started pouring down. Enough to stop the game after an error and an out. Enough to call for a one hour and twelve minute delay. When the game returned, it would be Holder to close out the 7th for Tanaka with just 5 pitches to induce a double play, continuing his strong showing this season.

Tommy Kahnle came out for the 8th but found the Mariners ready to pounce again. With 1 out, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a fielding error and scored on a 2-out single. A double then scored one more run for the Mariners, continuing their lead. Joe Harvey closed out the 9th, with some drama, pushing the defense to be on their toes a bit, but eventually finishing strong.

The Yankees got a late start to the scoreboard. Already down, Gio Urshela led-off the 3rd with a double, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s grounder to get them on the board. But they spent most of the game (besides dodging rain) keeping the Mariners’ from gaining too big a lead.

In the 8th, Gardner and LeMahieu each worked a walk. Voit hit into a force out at 2nd to put runners on the corners. And a wild pitch allowed Gardner to score the Yankees’ second run. So in a last-ditch opportunity, the Yankees looked to the 9th inning for a rally. And found one.

With 1 out, Torres singled and then scored as part of Gio Urshela’s game-tying 2-run home run, hit neatly into Monument Park beyond center field. After Maybin singled, the Mariners changed relievers in hopes of pushing the game to extra innings, but Maybin promptly stole 2nd. After a strikeout, DJ LeMahieu singled and Maybin came around to score. It was a walk-off.

But wait, not without a challenge, just in case. The Mariners’ challenged the call to see whether their catcher actually tagged Maybin sliding home in time for the out. It was fairly quick to see the original call was correct, and the game won in a great come-from-behind and rally to victory by the home team.

A very much worth the wait through the delay for the victory celebration tonight.

Final score: 5-4 Yankees

Go Yankees!

Game 34: SEA vs. NYY — #CCStrong and big bats in opener

The Yankees started their 4-game series against the visiting Mariners tonight, with a potential battle of star pitchers set up for this first game. CC Sabathia continued his march toward retirement with another great outing, throwing 99 pitching through 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 batters.

Sabathia held them off until the 4th inning. With 1 out, a walk scored on a big 2-run home run. And then he gave up a 1-out solo home run in the 5th, and after his 5th strikeout of the game, he loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. But he got out of the jam with a great defensive grounder.

Holder came out for the 6th but then got himself into his own jam. Adam Ottavino helped get out of the inning and breezed into the 7th. Britton got the final out of the 7th before himself breezing through the 8th inning. Cessa closed out the game with a flawless, quick 9th, continuing the trend.

Meanwhile, the potential of the Mariners’ starter seemed to have been left in Seattle, as the Yankees pounced and didn’t let up for most of the first half of the game. DJ LeMahieu led off the 1st with a ground-rule double and then scored on Luke Voit’s 2-run home run.

A solo home run by Brett Gardner kicked off the big 2nd. Urshela made it to 1st on a fielding error and then scored as part of a 2-run home run hit by Thairo Estrada, his first MLB home run. Tauchman then hit a ground-rule double and scored on LeMahieu’s single.

And with 2 outs in the 3rd, Gardner tripled and then scored on Gio Urshela’s single to cap off the Yankees’ early dominating lead. It clearly ended up being more than enough for the Yankees to win tonight’s game in the end.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees

CC K-Count: 3007

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees optioned Stephen Tarpley back to AAA Scranton to make room for the activation of Clint Frazier from the IL. He sprained his ankle, including some partially torn ligaments, during a game last month. But with treatment and rehab (and the sheer will of being bored not playing ball), Frazier ended up being ready to return to tonight’s game.

Game 32: MIN vs. NYY — An un-Happ-y Star Wars Day

It’s Star Wars Day, and Yankee Stadium celebrated in style. Today’s giveaway was a bobblehead of CC Sabathia dressed as a Jedi knight. Sabathia dressed in full costume as the popular Jedi master Yoda to help hand out his figurines to waiting fans, joined around the stadium by other franchise characters dressed as storm troopers, rebel warriors, and even the stars like Darth Vader and Rey.

However, the Force was not with the Yankees this afternoon as they stumbled through this middle game of the series against the visiting Twins. JA Happ got roughed up a bit in today’s start, throwing 81 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and striking out 3 Minnesota batters.

In the 3rd, the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch and then scored on a 1-out 2-run home run to get the Twins on the board first. A lead-off double in the 5th moved to 3rd on a single and scored on a double play. And with 2 outs in the 6th, a solo home run added yet another run for the visitors.

Joe Harvey closed out of the 6th for Happ and came out for the 7th. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on a fielder’s choice and throwing error. With runners on the corners, the Yankees called in Stephen Tarpley. The first batter hit into force out at 2nd, an unsuccessful double play, thus scoring that runner from 3rd. Tarpley came back out for the 8th. He gave up a lead-off walk. A balk moved that runner to scoring position to score on a long single.

After another single, the Yankees called in recent call-up Jake Barrett to close out the inning with 2 quick outs. A 1st pitch solo homer in the 9th was the only flaw in Barrett’s Yankee debut.

The Yankees faced a former division rival pitcher as the Twins’ starter today, and it certainly felt like he had the upper hand for most of his 6 scoreless innings. Once they went to the bullpen in the 7th, the Yankees pounced. Brett Gardner led-off with a strong double, moved to 3rd on Maybin’s single, and then scored on a wild pitch. Maybin ended up at 2nd on that play and later moved to 3rd on a ground out. He then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single to chip away at the Twins’ lead.

Gary Sanchez led-off the 8th with a big solo home run, continuing his hot streak. But that was it for the Yankees’ offense. They just couldn’t seem to find another moment to wheedle away at the Twins’ big lead today.

Final score: 7-3 Twins

Tomorrow’s game, the final game of this weekend series, has been moved from 1:05 pm to 4:05 pm due to forecasted rain that will sweep through the area early tomorrow.

Injured List update: Unfortunately, James Paxton’s knee will require a trip to the Injured List. After an official diagnosis of knee inflammation, Paxton is shut down to focus on treatment. They recalled pitcher Jake Barrett, formerly with the Diamondbacks, who closed out today’s game.

And Miguel Andujar was officially activated off the IL for today’s game, starting at 3rd base today. To make room, the Yankees optioned infielder Mike Ford back to AAA Scranton.

And Luke Voit’s on-base streak has come to an end. Going 0-for-4 today, Voit’s streak ends at 42 consecutive games, tying him with Yankee greats like Teixeira (in 2010), Williams (2001), O’Neill (1996), and Mattingly (1993-94). It fell short of franchise records of 57 by Jeter (1998-99) and 53 by Rodriguez (2004). Someone else commented with measurable optimism that his next streak begins tomorrow. I’ll take that.

Go Yankees!

Game 31: MIN vs. NYY — Strong bullpen and bats support early exit

The Yankees began their new home stand with this series against the visiting Twins. It was a mixed bag for the Yankees, with another possible addition to the IL but a strong win in the end.

James Paxton got the start tonight, throwing 64 pitches in just 3 innings. He gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and an unearned run and struck out just 1 Twins batter. After holding them off for the first two innings, in the 3rd, he loaded up the bases with a walk, an out, a fielding error, and a walk. A sacrifice fly scored the Twins’ first run, and a passed ball moved runners to scoring position. But a line drive ended the inning as Paxton exited the game entirely. (More later.)

Jonathan Holder came on to sail his way scorelessly through the 4th and 5th innings, before Ottavino and Kahnle followed up with scoreless 6th and 7th innings, respectively. Collectively, the three of them powered through 12 straight batters. It was awesome.

Zack Britton got into a spot of trouble in the 8th. With 2 outs, he gave up a walk that scored as part of a bit 2-run home run to add to the Twins’ score. However, Chapman closed out the game with a solid 9th inning and earned his 6th save.

With an early exit from their starter, the Yankees needed to match their strong bullpen with a strong offense. And they did. In the 1st, Brett Gardner hit a long ball into centerfield and thanks to a bad fielding error, he powered it all the way to 3rd base. Voit worked a walk, and then Gleyber Torres’ 1-out single easily scored Gardner. After another out, Urshela hit a solid single, but the left fielder was too quick and got Voit out trying to score a run.

In the 2nd, with 1 out, Maybin walked and Wade was hit by a pitch. Then with 2 outs, Luke Voit’s single scored Maybin, but then Voit was thrown out trying to go to 2nd on the throw. Voit just couldn’t catch a base running break early on tonight.

Mike Tauchman led-off the 4th by making it to 1st thanks to a missed catch error. Maybin singled, and Wade’s sacrifice bunt moved runners to scoring position. A wild pitch scored Tauchman, and Brett Gardner’s ground out scored Maybin.

Then Gary Sanchez hit a couple of solo home runs to march his way into the Yankee history books — a lead-off one in the 5th and a 2-out one in the 7th. This is his 10th multi-home run game of his career, which he did in just 231 games. For some perspective among previous catchers, Posada hit 16 (in 1574 total games), Berra hit 15 (in 1694), and Dickey hit 15 (in 1708).

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

Okay, James Paxton has been nursing a sore right knee for most of the season. He’s been getting treatments on off-days and just powering through, but during tonight’s game, it became too much to “just deal with”. So he trusted the bullpen (rightly so) and came out of the game. He will get an MRI tomorrow and hopefully avoid the injured list.

Injury updates: Miguel Andujar and Troy Tulowitzki played in Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons games earlier this week as part of their rehab assignments. But Tulowitzki had a setback with his hamstring injury, pulled from a game, and then shut down from further baseabll activities. Andujar was actually at the game tonight and will probably be activated from the IL for tomorrow’s game.

Go Yankees!

Game 25: NYY vs. LAA — Denied a sweep

The Yankees were going for the sweep tonight in this final game of the 4-game series against the Angels. But despite a good lead built up, the Yankees were unable to hold onto it in the end as the tables tonight tipped in favor of the home team instead.

In the 3rd, Tyler Wade led-off with a single, then stole both 2nd and 3rd before scoring on DJ LeMahieu’s single to get the Yankees on the board first. Gio Urshela hit a solid 2-out solo home run in the 4th, his first as a Yankee.

And in the 5th, they loaded the bases with singles to Voit and Gardner and a walk to Sanchez. With 1 out and a new pitcher, a wild pitch scored Luke Voit, moving the other two into scoring position. And Gleyber Torres’ single scored Gardner to give the Yankees a healthy lead.

Masahiro Tanaka actually threw a great game for most of his outing, right up until the end of it. Overall, he threw 89 pitches into the 6th, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned), and just 2 strikeouts. In the 5th, Tanaka gave up a single and a 2-run home run. Twice. To tie up the game in a single inning.

In the 6th, he gave up a 1-out walk and a 2-out walk before he was replaced by Jonathan Holder. Holder’s passed ball moved runners into scoring position that allowed both runners to score on a single that gave the Angels the lead.

Stephen Tarpley came on for the 7th, an inning I’m sure the Yankees would rather forget. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and another walk and passed ball put runner on the corners. After the first out of the inning, the Yankees called in Joe Harvey.

A stolen base put runners in scoring position, and a single and fielding error scored both runners. Two walks loaded up the bases, before the Yankees’ defense snapped into action getting a force out at home. The bases still loaded, so that a big triple cleared the bases to give the Angels a distinctive lead. Kahnle returned the Yankee pitching back to the earlier model, with a quick, clean 10-pitch 8th inning.

The Yankees found one more opportunity to try to chip away at the Angels’ big lead in the 8th. Ford and Urshela worked walks, and LeMahieu’s short 1-out single loaded the bases. Opportunity for a late rally was in play. After another out, Brett Gardner worked a 4-pitch walk to score Ford. But a pitching change quickly ended the rally opportunity.

Final score: 11-5 Angels, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees travel a up the California coast to face the Giants this weekend. After a travel day, they’ll play the Diamondbacks for a quick 2-game series, before heading home to host the Twins and Mariners.

Roster moves: The Yankees continue to shift the roster around in effort to combat the growing injured list. They officially moved Clint Frazier to the 10-day Injured List and sent Jonathan Loaisiga back to AAA for a fresh arm in Joe Harvey. They also moved Luis Severino to the 60-day IL to remove him from the 40-man roster and make room for their newest trade — outfielder Cameron Maybin.

Maybin is a 12-year veteran outfielder, spending the early part of his career with the Marlins and Padres, but also 9 other teams as part of trades and signings. He also was a key part of the 2017 Astros’ World Series team. He was signed this off-season with the Giants, spending most of Spring Training with them before being released and signed by the Indians. They then traded Maybin to the Yankees for cash.

And for you numbers/trivia nerds, Maybin showed up at tonight’s game wearing jersey #38.

Go Yankees!