Game 112: NYY vs. BAL — A winning Monday mood

The Yankees continue their march towards the postseason, even if they have to battle a bit to get there. In their first game against the Orioles, the balance of the team held up in the end, to off-set some momentary troubles where they almost lost it.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start, to mixed results. He threw 92 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 10 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out just 4 Baltimore batters. In the 3rd, a 1-out triple scored on an RBI single. The next batter hit into a double that snapped the defense into some great action and got the runner out trying to score another run.

But it was the 6th that caused him the most trouble. A lead-off double scored on a big 2-run home run. Then a single and double moved runners into scoring position, and a sacrifice fly scored one of them. Leaving a runner on the bases, Tanaka handed the game over to Tommy Kahnle.

Kahnle got a strikeout but then gave up a 2-run home run to tie up the game at that point before getting out of the inning. Ottavino, Britton, and Chapman each got a scoreless inning to work through and keep the Orioles from adding to their score.

The Yankees gave Tanaka a nice cushion, but he almost handed it away with a bad 6th inning. Austin Romine kicked things off with a 2-out solo home run in the 2nd, upheld by an umpire review. Gardner led-off the 5th with a single and moved to 3rd on Tauchman’s 1-out single. Breyvic Valera’s long triple easily scored both runners, and DJ LeMahieu hit into a fielder’s choice and throwing error to score Valera.

In the 6th, Brett Gardner hit a 1-out solo home run, and Mike Tauchman imitated him with a 2-out solo home run just to the left of same seats in left field. After the Orioles tied up the game, Mike Ford jumped in on the action with a 1-out solo home run in the 8th to break up the tie. After Gardner got on base with a single, he scored as part of Mike Tauchman’s 2-out, 2-run home run to ensure the Yankees’ win.

Final score: 9-6 Yankees

Injury update: Gleyber Torres was back in the line up after being checked out and cleared from a “core issue”. Gio Urshela, however, was not in the line up and still resting his legs after taking a couple of foul balls off them in Sunday’s game. His right knee is bothering him more than his left shin, as knees tend to do, but he’s just more banged up and bruised than something more serious.

Go Yankees!

Game 109 & 110: BOS vs. NYY — Double the win, double the injuries

A double header is always going to be a long day at the ball park. So mix in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, and the day is going to feel eternal. The evening game was the make up of the rain out from May 30, so tonight’s game closed out that series.

Game 1 (regularly scheduled game)
Domingo German got the start for the afternoon game, commanding his way through 7 innings with 97 pitches. He gave up 5 hits and 2 runs and struck out 7 Boston batters. His allowed runs were lead-off solo home runs in the 2nd and the 5th. Jonathan Holder came in to close out the final 2 innings, sailing through the Red Sox lineup in just 26 pitches.

On the other side, the Yankees struck first in the 1st with DJ LeMahieu’s lead-off solo home run. After the Red Sox came back to tie it up, the Yankees struck hard in the 4th inning, and the Red Sox upped the ante with some dramatics. Because… rivalry game?

The Yankees loaded up the bases around a couple outs — Encarnacion singled, Urshela hit a 1-out single, and Higashioka got a short 2-out single. Then Breyvic Valera hit a single that scored Encarnacion. That triggered the Red Sox’s manager, who was quickly tossed from the game for arguing balls and strikes. Brett Gardner’s single scored both Urshela and Higashioka, before DJ LeMahieu smacked a solid 3-run home run to clear the bases.

After Judge hit a ground-rule double, the Red Sox starter was also kicked out of the game as he was walking off the mound in a pitching change. (Quick side note: first, the calls were really not that bad overall. I only had beefs with a couple, usually higher balls on the bigger guys. Also, you’re leaving the game anyway, what was the point of now getting further punishment?)

With a new pitcher on the mound, Edwin Encarnacion then singled home Judge to keep the hits coming. And finally, in the 6th, Gardner led-off with a single, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Encarnacion’s single. The Yankees firmly in the win column thanks to some Sox drama and some solid home pitching.

Final score: 9-2 Yankees

Game 2 (make-up game, rain out of May 30)
The Yankees utilized the opener style for the evening half of today’s doubleheader. The Red Sox pushed Chad Green through the 1st, and he pushed back, keeping them off the board. Nestor Cortes Jr continued the momentum with a scoreless 2nd. But a lead-off double in the 3rd scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run to give the Red Sox the lead.

Chance Adams, the Yankees’ 26th man for the doubleheader, came on for a troubled 4th. He gave up a walk and double to put runners into scoring position early. After 2 outs, a single scored both runners. His 5th inning was much cleaner, before he handed things off to the rest of the bullpen (Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman) who would push through the final half of the game and keep the Red Sox limited to their early score.

Gleyber Torres hit a 1-out solo home run in the 3rd to get the Yankees on the board. Hicks and Urshela each singled and then scored on Cameron Maybin’s double to put the Yankees in the lead. After the visitors took the lead, Torres’ lead-off solo home run in the 5th tied up the game.

So it would be the 7th for the Yankees to tip the scale in their favor. Torres (again) led-off with a double, and walks to Hicks and Urshela worked walks to load up the bases. After an out, Mike Tauchman singled home Torres and Urshela.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees (For the make-up game, the Yankees win May 30-June 2 series 3-1.)

Injury alert/roster moves: The Yankees are watching Aaron Hicks right now. During the second game tonight, in the 6th inning, he injured his elbow throwing to 3rd during a play. He eventually came out of the game in the 8th and will get an MRI tomorrow to make sure it’s nothing serious.

But the biggest news was Edwin Encarnacion. During the first game, in the 8th inning, he was hit by a pitch right on the wrist, nearly the same place Judge was hit last season and with the same results, unfortunately. A CT scan confirmed that Encarnacion has a hairline fracture in his right wrist. So they moved him to the 10-day IL (though he’ll be out at least a month). And yes, the toy parrot even got a cast to match his human.

In between the games, they recalled infielder Mike Ford from AAA Scranton to replace Encarnacion. Before the game, Chance Adams was recalled to be the 26th man in today’s doubleheader and was sent back to AAA Scranton following the second game.

Finally, our hearts go out to those dealing with tragic fallout from domestic terrorism today at an El Paso Walmart, the Garlic Festival in Gilroy (California) last week, and in Dayton last night. While our prayers are with everyone involved in the recovery, we support all those fighting to end the need for me to ever write a paragraph like this or hold a moment of silence at a ball game in memoriam.

Go Yankees!

{Edited to include further information gained overnight.}

Game 108: BOS vs. NYY — #BigMaple & #GrandGleyber

The Yankees just came off facing the Red Sox last weekend, but the tables have turned as the rivalry shifts from Fenway to the Bronx. And between the two, the offense on both side were limited to a single inning, oddly the 1st. And I fully blame some really great pitching tonight.

James Paxton (aka “Big Maple”) had a great outing, throwing 100 pitches in his 6 strong innings. He only gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs and struck out 6 Boston batters to earn the eventual win. With 2 outs in the 1st, he gave up a walk that scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board first. But then, he basically breezed his way through the next 16 outs.

Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman each took an inning to close out the final third of the game. Each reliever held strong and had efficient innings — taking just 15, 8, and 9 pitches, respectively.

The Yankees, down early, bounced back early. In the bottom of the 1st, they loaded up the bases quickly. LeMahieu singled, and Judge and Encarnacion each worked walks. After an out, Gleyber Torres took the first pitch he saw tonight and sent it into the left field seats for a grand slam, his 2nd grand slam and his 21st home run of the season.

Beyond that 1st inning, there was a handful of base runners, but there wasn’t any further scoring. Again, some great pitching on both sides kept the teams limited to the damage they each did in that opening segment.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees

Roster moves: Before the game, the Yankees activated Brett Gardner from the 10-day injured list, as his “barking knee” is back and ready to go sliding around the outfield as he catches those long fly balls. They also optioned Tyler Wade back to AAA Scranton and recalled reliever Stephen Tarpley for that “fresh arm”.

The Yankees also placed JA Happ on the paternity list as his third child is due imminently. A big congratulations to JA and his wife Morgan, and to their children on becoming a big brother and big sister!

Earlier today, the Yankees partnered with MLB, Goldman Sachs, and DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI) to play in the 4th Annual Wiffle Ball Tournament, a charity game played by GS employees, some current and former ball players, and a few hundred kids in the area helped by DREAM. Cameron Maybin, through his Maybin Mission, took the lead in helping coordinate the game, joined by his teammate Domingo German, former Yankees Mickey Rivers and Mark Teixeira, and former Met John Franco.

The annual charity event has grown over the years and helps DREAM as it serves over 2500 kids in the New York area. This year, over 1000 Goldman Sachs employees volunteered their time to participate in the fundraiser, and while they played, the kids from DREAM acted as umpires and scorekeepers.

Today marks 40 years since the death of the late Thurman Munson. The Yankees’ catcher died tragically at the age of just 32 trying to land his small plane at Akron-Canton Regional Airport. The Yankees immediately retired his #15 and put up a plaque in his honor, the first Yankee captain since Lou Gehrig. It’s still a treat to see so many jerseys blazoned with his jersey number to this day.

His wife Diana Munson is a long-time friend of the Yankees, a frequent face at Old Timers’ Day, and the honored guest to throw out tonight’s ceremonial first pitch. Catching the ball was Munson’s teammate and Yankees special adviser Willie Randolph. Yankees Magazine covered the anniversary, Munson’s legacy, and featured an in-depth interview with Diana in this month’s issue with some touching moments and memories for every long-term Yankee fan.

A life and promising career cut short by an accident, a legacy we still honor and remember, and a reminder to live each day to its fullest. Forever our Yankee, #15.

Go Yankees!

Game 104: NYY vs. BOS — The skidding story line continues…

Actually, the Yankees changed this one up a bit and kept things rather competitive in the third of this four-game series in Boston. Right up until a rather reliable reliever became rather unreliable. I’m starting to think Fenway is cursed this weekend. Not that I believe in that stuff.

CC Sabathia got the start for the Yankees this afternoon, and his outing was a mixed bag. He threw just 65 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 9 hits and 5 runs, and struck out just 3 Boston batters. This, of course, is a massive improvement over the last two games when the Red Sox pounced early and just drowned the Yankees’ starters in runs scored.

With 2 outs in the 2nd, the batter hit the ball out to the right field corner where it bounced off the “Pesky pole” and back onto the field. The play continued with the runner making it to 1st, but an umpire review showed that the ball hit the pole before bouncing back in making it an official home run.

A lead-off single in the 4th scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run. Then a single moved to 3rd on a 2-out single and scored on an RBI single. Then in the 5th, a 1-out ground-rule double scored on a double to end Sabathia’s outing. In light of recent games, this was a fairly successful start for the Yankees, limiting their opponents’ damage early on.

The Yankees actually struck first with Gio Urshela’s 1-out solo home run up the middle in the 2nd. Voit led-off the 4th with a double and scored on Urshela’s 2-out single. And in the 5th, Hicks worked a 1-out walk and scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s 2-out double.

Now, Chad Green closed out the 5th with 2 quick outs, but then he got into his own troubles, a rarity for the evergreen reliever. In the 6th, he gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a pinch-hitting sacrifice fly. A triple scored another run, and another sacrifice fly scored yet another run.

Then, with 2 outs in the 7th, Green couldn’t close it out and instead gave up a double. Nestor Cortes Jr was called in. He promptly gave up a long single that scored the Red Sox’s final run. Kahnle had clearly the best outing — a 10-pitch flawless 8th inning.

Not that Red Sox pitchers are all that good either. Despite the lower score on Thursday, the Yankees have hit quite a few off Boston’s pitching staff, and that trend continued today, racking up 11 total hits and 3 walks. In a final effort to close the gap in the scoreboard, the Yankees found a moment in the 8th. With 1 out, Torres singled, and Urshela doubled to put runners in scoring position. After another out, Kyle Higashioka hit a nice single that scored both runners.

Final score: 9-5 Red Sox

Injury update: DJ LeMahieu was noticeably absent from today’s lineup after an MRI revealed a slight groin strain. He is probably headed to the injured list for some recovery time, depending on the next evaluation tomorrow. And Brett Gardner is still nursing his knee, getting a cortisone shot to help his recovery, eyeing a return possibly next weekend.

Go Yankees!

Game 102: NYY vs. BOS — Getting trounced in Fenway

The most positive thing I can say about tonight’s game is that the Yankees still haven’t been shut out of a game in over a year. I’m not quite sure what happened tonight, as it will probably seem as one of the few flukes in an otherwise really outstanding season. But as with most rivalry games, there is little that is predictable no matter where the teams are in the standings or what kind of season either of them are having.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in what will easily be the start to forget. He threw 87 pitches into just the 4th inning, gave up 12 hits, 3 walks, and 12 runs, and struck out 4 Red Sox batters. As you can imagine, this led to the eventual earned loss. Things got off to a bad start in the 1st inning when he gave up a single and walk that scored as part of a Green Monster 3-run home run before there was an out recorded.

With 1 out, Tanaka then loaded up the bases with consecutive singles. After another out, consecutive doubles each scored 2 more runs. The inning ended with the Red Sox up by 7 runs, something the Yankees just were never able to overcome.

The Yankees found minor moments to attack, but it felt like like “bringing a knife to a gun fight” and more like “bringing a plastic spoon to a tank fight”. With 1 out in the 2nd, Gregorius doubled, moved to 3rd on Voit’s single, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single. Tauchman’s single loaded the bases, and after another out, DJ LeMahieu worked a walk to walk in Voit to double the Yankees’ minuscule score. Kyle Higashioka led-off the 5th with a solo home run into the Green Monster to cap off the Yankees’ blip on tonight’s scoreboard.

So, with the Red Sox nicely ahead, they just kept loading on the scoreboard. Despite the early lead enough to win the game, Tanaka’s 4th inning kept the door open for the home team to trounce. A 1st pitch solo home run got the ball rolling. A single moved to 2nd on a 1-out walk, and then scored on an RBI double. A ground-rule double that bounced over the short right field wall into the seats and scored 2 more runs.

That was it for Tanaka, who was mercifully taken out of the game at that point. He was floundering, but it’s not like the bullpen was able to stem the Red Sox either. Stephen Tarpley immediately gave up a double that scored the final run charged to Tanaka before he eventually got himself out of the inning.

In the 5th, a lead-off single moved to 3rd on a double and scored on a single. The next batter doubled home the runner at 3rd. And after the first out of the inning (as part of the infield fly rule), a simple ground out scored the next runner. Tarpley gave up a lead-off walk and was replaced by Luis Cessa. Cessa gave up a double that scored that lead runner, but the defense snapped into action to catch the batter trying to take 3rd.

After a clean 7th inning from Cessa, the Yankee called in a position player to close out the game. These are always a mixed bag, sometimes rather amusing, sometimes surprising. But Austin Romine actually did a decent job, with most of his pitches comfortably in the 70mph range, but the Red Sox took advantage of some well-placed pitches. To start the inning, he gave up a single and 2-run home run, and after an out, he gave up a solo home run and a double. But he only needed 21 pitches to get out of the game for the Yankees. It wasn’t like he could do any worse, like lose the game.

Final score: 19-3 Red Sox

Injury news: Brett Gardner has officially been placed on the 10-day injured list with left knee inflammation, retroactive to July 22. He’s been out of the line up and available off the bench for the last few days, but the knee isn’t improving as he’d hoped. So to the IL it is. For tonight’s game, the Yankees recalled Stephen Tarpley, who pitched in tonight’s troubled game.

And in a statement this afternoon, Troy Tulowitzki announced his retirement as a major league ball player. Despite a career with so much potential, the shortstop has been constantly plagued with injuries that kept him from building a Hall of Fame-style career. He finally got his lifelong wish of playing in pinstripes this season, but after just 5 games, Tulowitzki was hampered again by injuries.

So he’s going out as a Yankee and joining the University of Texas’ athletic department as an assistant baseball coach. His coaching skills were on display during the Spring with the Yankees as he volunteered to spend time with the younger players and work on their skills. Best of luck to “Tulo” and his family on this new chapter of life!

Go Yankees!

Game 89: TOR vs. NYY — Strong shutout opens second half

The Yankees finished the first half strong, leading the AL and heading straight for the postseason. After a good showing at the All-Star Game, the Yankees needed to come out strong in the second half without any rust from the break. So, they started this second half and this home stand with a shutout against a division rival to keep things rolling for good.

Domingo German got the start and earned his 11th win of the season in this first game against the visiting Blue Jays. He threw just 78 pitches through 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and striking out 7 Toronto batters. Kahnle continued his momentum with a scoreless 7th, and Green closed out the final 2 innings with more scoreless-ness.

The Yankee offense was slow to start against the Blue Jays’s pitching. It wasn’t until the 5th that they cracked on the board. Brett Gardner led-off with his 66th career triple and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s ground out. Then, they loaded up the bases with Judge’s single, Hicks’ double, and Sanchez’s hit by pitch. Edwin Encarnacion’s double, just inches from a grand slam, smacked a big bases-clearing double to ensure the Yankees’ victory.

While the Yankees didn’t add any more to their score, they certainly didn’t need to with their strong pitching and defense.

Final score: 4-0 Yankees

Yankee Universe new: Yankees radio announcer John Sterling is back on the air after his much-needed break. He celebrated his 81st birthday just before the All-Star Break and stayed home for the final series against the Rays before the break. Sterling had a long, unbroken streak of calling 5,060 straight Yankees games for over 30 years. Now that the streak is broken, the 81-year-old legend and “Voice of the Yankees” will take more breaks from his job, perhaps even stepping back from the away games to stay closer to his New Jersey home. Still, it will always be a good thing to hear him call a game.

Go Yankees!

Game 88: NYY vs. TB — Sleepy Sunday to close out the first half

For all the drama from the first three games of this series, this afternoon’s finale was quite mundane in comparison. James Paxton got the start for the Yankees today, throwing 99 pitches through 6 innings. He gave up 7 hits and 2 runs and struck out an impressive 11 Rays’ batters.

In the 1st, a lead-off double scored on another double. A single moved that runner to 3rd before a fielder’s choice scored the Rays’ second run. After that, the Yankees held off the Rays for the rest of the game. Kahnle, Ottavino, and Green each took 2 outs to close out the final 2 innings of the game and keep the Rays’ from adding to their early lead.

Unfortunately, the only shot the Yankees’ offense got was a 2-out solo home run in the 2nd by Brett Gardner. Collectively, both pitching staffs got 27 strike outs today, and that seemed to make quite a bit of difference by the end of the game.

Final score: 2-1 Rays, the series is split 2-2

Next up: The All-Star Break is officially underway for those not traveling to Cleveland. On Friday, the Yankees will begin the second half of the season with a long home stand against the Blue Jays, Rays, and Rockies. They’ll hit the road again to face the Twins and Red Sox.

Today, in Cleveland, as part of the All-Star Game festivities, there are two exhibition games scheduled for fans — the Celebrity Softball Game and the Futures Game. The Futures game features some of the best prospects within the minor league system. The Yankees are represented by a single player, pitcher Deivi Garcia of AA Trenton Thunder. The players used to be divided into American and World teams, but more reflective of the game on Tuesday, they now simply represent the American and National Leagues.

On Monday, the players will meet the media, workout at Progressive Field, and then have fun watching the Home Run Derby. Then Tuesday is the main event — the 90th Annual All-Star Game. In addition to Sabathia’s honoring, the Yankees are represented by Chapman, LeMahieu, Sanchez, Tanaka, and Torres. So, there’s a lot for Yankee fans to see this next week.

Go Yankees!