Game 93: TB vs. NYY — #CCStrong and a #DidiSlam

In tonight’s second game of this 4-game series against the visiting Rays, the drama continued as it only can in these division rivalry games. The Rays are still trying to do all they can to chip away at the Yankees’ lead in the AL East. With the Yankees currently looming over the Rays at 6 games, the Rays were hoping to use this longer series to make up the deficit. And last night’s come from behind rally certainly helped. Tonight’s, however, did not.

CC Sabathia got the start in tonight’s game, throwing a strong 79 pitches in 6 innings. He gave up 5 hits and 3 runs and struck out 6 Rays batters. In both the 2nd and 4th, the Rays hit 2 solo 2-out home runs to get them on the board early and into the lead. In the 6th, with 2 outs, a single scored on an RBI double.

The Yankees were able to tie up the game briefly with Edwin Encarnacion’s lead-off solo home run in the 2nd. But once the Rays took their small lead, they were held off until the 6th when DJ LeMahieu hit a 1-out solo home run into the right field seats.

With the Rays still in a slim lead over the Yankees, the bullpen had to step in to do a better job. Cortes, normally a stalwart in the ‘pen, struggled tonight and loaded up the bases in the 7th with just 1 out. So, they called in David Hale. Hale’s first batter was last night’s hero, and he got him to hit into a great double play to get out of that jam.

Hale continued on through the scoreless 8th and into the 9th. After giving up 2 singles and just 1 out, they called in Britton to close out the game with 2 solid strikeouts.

The Yankees needed to find any weakness to charge through and flip the script. In the 8th, Torres led-off with a walk and, 2 outs later, scored on Aaron Judge’s 2-run home run to finally give the Yankees the lead. Then Voit singled, Sanchez doubled, and Encarncaion was intentionally walked to load up the bases. And Didi Gregorius, who has been still trying to find his footing after returning from the IL, seemed to find it with a monster grand slam into the right field bleacher seats.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

Okay, so there was a bit of a scuffle in the 6th inning. Sabathia struck out the final batter he faced, and the Rays’ batter said something. Sabathia heard it and questioned it. The Rays batter hostilely deflected. Tempers rose, Gregorius intercepted Sabathia, the benches cleared, some shoving ensued, heated words were exchanged, and then it fizzled out. No one was ejected. Just a “misunderstanding“, apparently.

Of course, the best part was the offended Rays player jogged out to right field for the bottom of the inning. He heard from the fans for his participation and then watched Judge’s 2-run home run “sail over his head” and into the stands to those same fans. Home field advantage indeed.

Go Yankees!

2019 All-Star Game

Today, the American and National Leagues met for the 90th All-Star Game, hosted this year in Cleveland at Progressive Field. The players arrived at the field with their families on the red carpet, looking stylish, greeting cheering fans, and posing for pictures. After a weekend of fan festivities and a rather eventful workout day and Home Run Derby, everything was leading up to this one exhibition game.

And for the seventh year in a row, the American League came out on top. This year, that was mostly due to their stellar pitching, AL pitchers collecting 16 total strikeouts on their road to victory. And the Yankees were represented on the field and on the mound, earning significant recognition for their efforts.

The AL hitters also got on the board first. In the 2nd, Bregman (Astros) hit a 1-out single and then scored on a double by Brantley (Astros). And the Yankees’ own Gary Sanchez led-off the 5th with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and scored on a single by Polanco (Twins).

The NL finally broke through the AL’s pitching in the 6th with a big 2-out solo home run up the middle by Blackmon (Rockies). But the AL came back in the 7th. Chapman (Athletics) worked a walk, got to 3rd on McCann’s (White Sox) single, and then scored on a double play incurred by Bogaerts (Red Sox). After the only mid-inning pitching change of the game, Gallo (Rangers) smacked a 1st pitch solo home run into the right field seats.

But the NL made their best effort at a rally in the 8th, loading up the bases with a walk to Grandal (Brewers), a single to Dahl (Rockies), and a 1-out walk to DeJong (Cardinals). After a strikeout, last night’s Home Run Derby champion Alonso (Mets) singled home the 2 lead runners to put the NL within a run. The remaining runners staged a double steal to move into scoring position, but a pop-up foul and great catch by McCann (White Sox) ended the NL’s hopes.

That, and an absolute stellar outing by Aroldis Chapman to close out the game and earn the save. Chapman needed just 12 pitches to breeze through his 3 batters for 3 great strikeouts to shut down the NL’s hopes of a comeback.

Final score: 4-3 American League (further bits from the game here)

The powers that be decided that the All-Star Game’s MVP would be Cleveland’s own Shane Bieber. Bieber threw a 19-pitch scoreless 5th inning to strikeout the side, meaning he struck out all 3 batters he faced. The remaining crowd in Cleveland cheered on their hometown reliever, becoming the 3rd All-Star Game MVP to win in their own park (Pedro Martinez won in 1999 in Boston, and Sandy Alomar won in 1998 in Cleveland.) While Bieber did have a great outing, he wasn’t on my list (which was led by Chapman and Gallo), but then I don’t have a vote.

The Yankees were quite the contributors to the AL victory in the Midsummer Classic tonight. Offensively, it was a mixed bag. DJ LeMahieu went 0-for-2, Gleyber Torres got a single to lead off the 8th in one of his 2 at-bats, and Gary Sanchez went 1-for-2 with that lead-off double in the 5th and scored a run in that inning.

Defensively, Sanchez held his own behind the plate for the first half of the game, catching his battery mate Masahiro Tanaka through a scoreless 2nd inning and earned the eventual win. And I’ve already mentioned Aroldis Chapman’s great 9th outing and earned the save. They become the first Yankee teammates to earn the win and the save in an All-Star Game in over 70 years.

In a fun moment in the game, after his first two quick outs, Chapman was visited at the mound by CC Sabathia, who enjoyed stealing a moment of the game just to say hello to his teammate. It made Chapman laugh, and he sailed his way to victory on a swinging strikeout.

So, we can all blame Sabathia, who also threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Indians’ legend Sandy Alomar before the game. Maybe he was the true MVP all along…

Go Yankees!

Game 87: NYY vs. TB — #CCStrong, despite offense falling short

The Rays are certainly doing their best to try to claw their way up from 2nd place in the AL East, giving the 1st place Yankees quite a challenge this weekend. In this 3rd game of the 4-game series, things were looking rather similar to the first 2 games before the Yankees were edged out by the home team.

Actually, the Rays seemed to answer back for every Yankee offensive game. After the Yankees scored at the top of the 2nd, 7th, and 9th, the Rays scored in the bottom of each of those innings to shift things in their favor. It was quite the roller coaster for the fans in the packed stadium in St. Petersburg this afternoon.

CC Sabathia was rather good today, throwing just 89 pitches in his 7 innings. He gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs and struck out 5 Rays’ batters. In the 2nd, Brett Gardner hit a nice 2-out solo home run to get the Yankees on board first. So, the Rays took advantage in the bottom of the 2nd. A 1-out walk moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a 2-out single to tie up the game.

The teams held each other to that tie for most of the game. Urshela led-off the 7th with a single, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on a double play, and then later scored on Aaron Hicks’ single. With 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, the Rays got a single that scored on a solid 2-run home run to flip the score into their favor.

Adam Ottavino breezed through a scoreless 8th inning, and Aaron Hicks smacked a 2-out solo home run in the 9th to tie up the game again. So, Chad Green got the chance to send the game into extra innings again, but with 2 outs, the next batter hit a big walk-off solo homer to give the Rays their first win of the weekend.

Final score: 4-3 Rays

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: The Yankees selected the contract of reliever Daniel Camarena to add a fresh arm to the roster this weekend. They optioned infielder Mike Ford to AAA Scranton to make room.

Masahiro Tanaka is now part of the All-Star roster. A pitcher from the Blue Jays went on the IL with a shoulder issue, so Tanaka got the call to replace him today. Tanaka was previously chosen in his rookie season (2014), but a UCL sprain kept him from the field. He is now the 5th player that will represent the Yankees on Tuesday in Cleveland, in addition to CC Sabathia who will be present to receive special recognition.

Go Yankees!

Game 86: NYY vs. TB — A little Judge, a big Gardner

The Yankees continue the drama before the All-Star Break in this second game of the 4-game weekend series. Of course, to the nearly packed Tropicana Field, it was just more of the same that fans always encounter when the Yankees come back to the Tampa area to face the Rays. Amusingly dubbed “Yankee Stadium South”, it’s one of the few times a year that the stadium is usually at capacity, and the stands are packed with Yankee fans overwhelming those in Rays’ gear.

Masahiro Tanaka threw 101 pitches to start tonight’s game, throwing into the 7th inning. He gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out 5 Rays’ batters. He held off the home team for the first part of the game, giving up lead-off solo home runs in the 4th and 5th innings to get the Rays on the board.

Then in the 7th, with 1 out, he gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a wild pitch walk. That was the end of Tanaka’s night, handing the ball over to Nestor Cortes Jr, but he loaded up the bases by hitting his first batter. After another out, the next batter singled home two runners, but the next runner got caught trying to take 3rd when the Yankee defense snapped into action.

The Yankee offense actually started the game, with a 1-out solo home run by Aaron Judge in the 1st inning. After the Rays tied it up, the Yankees came back in the 5th to retake the lead. Torres singled, and one out later, Gardner and Romine’s singles loaded the bases. Mike Tauchman’s single scored both Torres and Gardner.

Again, the Rays came back, so the Yankees needed to close the gap. So it would be Aaron Hicks to lead off the 8th inning with a solo home run. Then Cortes had a much better outing in the 8th, with a perfect inning. And David Hale came out for the 9th to keep things going, so into extra innings the game went once again.

It wasn’t until the 11th that the tie was broken. Aaron Judge got things started with a 1st pitch lead-off solo home run. Two outs later, Torres singled, and Urshela doubled to move runners into scoring position. Brett Gardner then smacked a big 3-run home run to ensure the Yankees’ eventual win.

Of course, even that was not without some drama. After Hale kept the Rays scoreless through the 10th, he was back out for the 11th. With 1 out, he gave up consecutive singles. That was enough of a threat for the Yankees, and they called in Aroldis Chapman. After he got another out, he walked the next batter to load up the bases. But the next player lined out directly to 1st to give Chapman his 24th save.

Final score: 8-4 Yankees, in 11 innings

As part of next week’s All-Star Game festivities, MLB announced that they will be honoring CC Sabathia. Sabathia began his career in Cleveland, the host to this year’s Midsummer Classic, so it only makes sense to recognize how far the retiring star pitcher has come. Though not selected for the roster, Sabathia was planning on attending the game anyway, but this honor certainly makes his sort of homecoming a different level of celebration.

In a statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “We are delighted that CC and his family will join us in Cleveland, where his Major League career began. We look forward to celebrating his many accomplishments during our All-Star Game festivities.”

Go Yankees!

Game 78: TOR vs. NYY — Middle innings’ splash

The Yankees hosted the Blue Jays tonight to start their final home series before London and the All-Star Break. And again, the Yankees were still on an offensive roll. The kind of streak the Yankees really need to boost their standings leading to the next two weeks.

CC Sabathia got the start tonight, throwing 104 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out an impressive 9 Toronto batters to set himself up for the eventual win. Most of the Blue Jays’ offense came in that 1st inning. A lead-off walk scored on a double, and 2 outs later, a single scored on another double to give the visitors an early lead.

The Yankees weren’t able to crack into the Jays’ starter until the 5th inning. With 1 out, LeMahieu and Voit singled, and then Aaron Hicks smacked a 3-run home run to both put the Yankees in the lead and to continue the record-making season (see below). But it was the 6th inning that made all the difference in the game.

Gregorius led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Torres’ double, and then scored on Gio Urshela’s single. Brett Gardner hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Torres. LeMahieu then singled, and after a pitching change, Luke Voit’s double scored both Gardner and LeMahieu. Hicks then worked a walk. Then Giancarlo Stanton smacked a huge 3-run home run (445 feet to left center field) to push the home team into a dominating lead.

Now, Sabathia and the defense held them to that early lead for most of the game until the Yankees finally took a commanding lead in those middle innings. Kahnle came in and sailed his way through the 7th inning with just 8 pitches. But it would be the 8th inning that the visitors would mount their attempt at a comeback rally.

Jonathan Holder’s struggles continued tonight, coming out to face batters in the 8th. He gave up a lead-off solo home run and then loaded the bases with consecutive singles. This set up the next batter to hit a grand slam to edge the Jays way closer to the Yankees’ lead.

That was the end of Holder’s outing, and the Yankees called in Green to finish the inning. But after 2 outs, even Green had issues and gave up 2 singles. Ottavino to the rescue — 3 pitches for a perfect strikeout to get out of that messy inning for the home team. Aroldis Chapman came in for the 9th. After 1 out, the next batter doubled and ended up at 3rd on a fielding error to then score on a sacrifice fly.

Final score: 10-8 Yankees

Yes, that 5th inning 3-run home run by Aaron Hicks made it 27 consecutive games the Yankees have hit at least one home run. That officially ties the MLB record that the Rangers set in 2002. A home run in tomorrow’s game will anoint the Yankees as the new record holders, and if any team can do it, it’s this one.

Roster moves: After the game, the Yankees made the decision to send Jonathan Holder back down to AAA Scranton to work out his issues. This has worked out well for many players in the past, even crediting such a demotion with saving their careers. I have no doubt Holder will be back soon in the kind of form we’re used to seeing him, leaving the bad mojo (or whatever it is) in Scranton. The corresponding roster move is to be determined.

Go Yankees!

Game 73: TB vs. NYY — #CCStrong leads to #LegaCCy milestone & sweep

The Yankees played the rare midweek matinee to close out this series against the Rays and just dominated the visitors from start to finish. Plus, CC Sabathia finally earned his 250th career win in a pretty great outing for the retiring starter. This makes him just the 14th pitcher to have both 3000 strikeouts and 250 wins in all MLB history.

Sabathia threw 94 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 3 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out 7 Rays’ batters. The Rays’ lone run of the day came in the 5th. With 1 out, Sabathia gave up a pair of walks. After a pop-up out, he then gave up a double to score just the lead runner. Holder and Cessa closed out the final third of the game with 3 scoreless and quick innings.

The Yankee batters, on the other hand, were basically gifted with an easy offense day when the Rays’ pitching staff just crumbled. Their starter didn’t even make it out of the 1st inning, and they depleted the bullpen so that their final pitcher was a their regular 3rd baseman. And somehow, the Rays limited the Yankees to just 9 hits and 7 walks. Of course, the 12 runs were the biggest problem for the visitors.

In the 1st, LeMahieu led-off with a single and stole 2nd, and Voit worked a walk. Then Gary Sanchez kicked off the scoring with a nice 3-run home run. Encarnacion walked but was out when Hicks hit into a fielder’s choice. Torres and Maybin then each walked to load up the bases. That was the end of the Rays’ starter’s outing.

Gio Urshela was hit by a pitch, which walked home Hicks and kept the bases loaded. After another out, DJ LeMahieu was back up in the batter’s box and singled home both Torres and Maybin to cap off the giant 6-run lead so early.

So with that huge lead, the Yankees mostly focused on supporting their starter with strong defense. It wasn’t until the 7th that they got another jump on the Rays’ pitching. With 1 out, LeMahieu and Voit worked walks, and Gary Sanchez’s double scored LeMahieu.

After another pitching change, Edwin Encarnacion’s single scored Voit, and Hicks’ walk loaded up the bases. Gleyber Torres smacked a big grand slam to just push the Yankees up and over the top of today’s runs.

Final score: 12-1 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 3-0

Next up: The Yankees home stand continues with a 4-game weekend series against the Astros, followed by 3 games against the Blue Jays. After two travel days, the Yankees will face the Red Sox for the historic London series.

HOPE Week Day 3: Today, the Yankees honored Olmedo Renteria, a blind immigrant from Ecuador, who is better known as “The Great Olmendini“, New York’s own subway magician. No, he may not make the trains work well, but he certainly makes the ride more interesting.

Today, the Yankees invited The Great Olmendini to perform a special magic show for the kindergarten class from a local school at the Yankee Stadium’s kids play area. Yankee players Luis Cessa, Nestor Cortes Jr, Chad Green, David Hale, Tommy Kahnle, and James Paxton showed up to help Renteria and enjoy the show, including riding the subway and featuring a few great magic tricks in person.

As part of their celebration of Renteria, the Yankees invited the Society of American Magicians, a prestigious group founded by famed magician Harry Houdini in 1902 in New York. The Society gave Renteria an associate membership and received a special donation from the Yankees in Renteria’s name to their foundation. And Renteria later threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Go Yankees!

Game 68: NYY vs. CHW — The Friday night blues

The advantage to having a very long season, playing 162 regular games over half a year, is that one game (at least during the regular season) doesn’t define the entire season. Unlike some other American sports, the Yankees can close the chapter on a bad game and start fresh the next day with another game and another chance at playing a good game and maybe even winning that one.

CC Sabathia is still on the hunt for that 250th win of his career, and tonight’s game just wasn’t going be it. Sabathia got the start in the second of this four game series against the White Sox. He threw 77 pitches into the 5th inning, allowed 10 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned), and struck out just 3 Chicago batters.

In the 1st, the lead-off batter doubled thanks in part of fan interference. A 1-out single put runners on the corners, and they both scored on a big 3-run home run to push the White Sox into the lead. The next batter walked, moved to 2nd on another walk, and then scored on a single. Actually, the last play was originally called out on a tag, but after the White Sox’s successfully (and honestly, rightfully) challenged the call, the run scored.

With 1 out in the 2nd, the next batter ended up at 2nd on a messy fielding error and then scored on a double. Then in the 5th, a 1-out single moved to 3rd on a 2-out single. And with runners again threatening to widen the home team’s lead, the Yankees called an end to Sabathia’s night.

Luis Cessa came in to close out the 5th, but first gave up a single to score the lead runner. In the 6th, Cessa continued the struggles that Sabathia began. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a single and then scored on a fielder’s choice and throwing error (a messy attempt at a double play). After giving up a double, Cessa gave up a big 3-run home run to ensure the White Sox win.

After giving up another single, the Yankees were forced to go back to the bullpen. David Hale closed out the rest of the game, keeping the White Sox from furthering their rather large lead. Hale breezed his way through 7 outs with just 24 pitches.

On the other side of the field, the Yankees struggled their way to find an offense. While the White Sox got 16 total hits, the Yankees only eked out 6. Luke Voit got the first one of the game, a big 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning to actually get the Yankees on the board first.

But with the implosion of the Yankee pitching and defense tonight, the Yankees were pressed to find another chance to actually do something offensively as they watched the White Sox continue to grow their lead into double digits. It wasn’t until the 9th that some snazzy base running finally broke the stalemate for the Yankees.

Gleyber Torres led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on a ground out, got to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on a rather funny little fielding error on Mike Tauchman’s at-bat. And that would be it for the Yankees on the final scoreboard, bookending the game with a blast and a blip.

Final score: 10-2 White Sox

CC K-Count: 3036

On the bright side, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton began their rehab assignments with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders tonight. Judge is having a slow start to his rehab, going 0-for-4 at the plate as tonight’s designated hitter. But Stanton helped the offense with a big 3-run home run in the 3rd. Actually, they ended up being the only runs the RailRiders scored all night, losing to the Rays’ AAA affiliate 16-3.

In random trivia that I stumbled across researching for this post, apparently, tonight’s losses spanned the entire Yankees organization. All of the Yankee affiliates lost their Friday games to their respective opponents from rookie ball on up to the big boys in Chicago.

So, all across Yankee Universe, we now close tonight’s chapter, turn the page, wake up fresh tomorrow, and start all over again. Oh, and vote for your favorite All-Stars.

Go Yankees!