Game 152: BOS vs. NYY — “A long, tough, slug-it-out game”

Usually, the standard baseball game is about 3 hours long. That makes each third, or 3 innings, to be about an hour, making each inning 20 minutes. That’s a rough estimate, but as someone who watches a lot of baseball games, it makes things easier to gauge time.

So, when the first 2 innings took nearly 90 minutes, everyone was starting to feel like this could be one of those long games between the Red Sox and Yankees that infamous umpire Joe West once complained about. And it was, to some extent, clocking in at 4 hours and 2 minutes. But it was not the predicted 6 hour game, the first 2 innings were technically on track for.

And that’s why you can’t predict baseball.

Masahiro Tanaka had a rather rough start in the final game against the Red Sox this series. He threw 83 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 8 hits and 5 runs, and struck out 3 Boston batters. In the 1st, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single to get the Red Sox on the board early.

Two consecutive singles led off the 2nd and then scored on a 2-out single. And a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd kept the ball rolling for the visiting team. After giving up a double and single to put runners in the corners, Tanaka’s night was over. David Robertson came on and gave up a double play that scored Tanaka’s lead runner.

The Yankees weren’t exactly quiet along the way. In the bottom of the 2nd, Sanchez worked a 1-out walk and then scored as part of Luke Voit’s big 2-run home run. Then in the 4th, with 2 outs, the Yankees loaded up the bases with consecutive walks to McCutchen, Judge, and Hicks. The Red Sox pulled their starter at that point, but it didn’t help. Giancarlo Stanton powered an exciting grand slam to put the Yankees in a slim lead.

But in the words of the Yankees after the game, the Red Sox really couldn’t be stopped tonight. After losing to the Yankees for the last 2 games, the team leading MLB wasn’t going to be swept and came back with a vengeance.

Chad Green came on for the Yankees in the 6th and kept them at bay, but then gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 7th to tie up the game. After giving up a single, he handed the ball over to Dellin Betances. With 1 out, he loaded up the bases with a double and intentional walk. The next batter hit a sacrifice fly and, thanks to a throwing error, allowed 2 runners to score.

Aroldis Chapman got his first outing in the 8th after coming off the DL. He gave up a single, a 1-out walk, and a 2-out 3-run home run to ensure the Red Sox’s victory. Holder closed out the 8th for Chapman, and Cole and Tarpley split the 9th to keep the visitors from adding to their growing lead.

Final score: 11-6 Red Sox, Yankees win series 2-1

However, the Red Sox sealed their AL East division title with the final out of the 9th inning. The Red Sox came pouring out of their respective dugout and bullpen to celebrate clinching the AL East right there at Yankee Stadium before moving to the messy “champagne celebration” (which usually involves more beer than champagne) in the visitors’ clubhouse.

Next up: the Yankees host the Orioles this weekend for their final series in Yankee Stadium this season. They will then travel to face the Rays for 4 games before ending their season against the Red Sox at Fenway next weekend. The Yankees need as many wins as possible to widen their lead (now only 1.5 games) and maintain home field advantage against the Athletics in the Wild Card game (which, let’s be honest, is pretty much assured for both teams).

But the Yankees should celebrate on their own. In addition to hitting a new collective home run record as a team (247), the Yankees now have 12 players who have hit 10+ home runs as Yankees in a single season. This was reached when Luke Voit hit that 2-run homer in the 2nd, his 11th of the season but 10th with the Yankees. Other Yankees that have hit 10+ Yankee homers this season: Stanton, Gregorius, Judge, Andujar, Hicks, Torres, Sanchez, Gardner, Bird, Romine, and Walker. That is quite the company of power-hitters, when most of them aren’t really known as “power-hitters”.

{Note: quote in post title taken from Boone’s post-game press conference.}

Go Yankees!

Game 150: BOS vs. NYY — Walker overrides 2 unearned runs

It wouldn’t be a Red Sox-Yankees game without some rivalry fun — counter cheering of which team “sucks”, enough merchandise representation of the visiting team to remind everyone who they’re playing, and some good-natured ribbing between fans. Plus, it always ends up being a dramatic game in some way.

JA Happ got the start in this opening game against the Red Sox, holding his own with 102 pitches through his 6 innings. He gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 1 unearned run, while striking out 6 Boston batters. In the 3rd, Happ gave up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a balk, advanced to 3rd on a passed ball (setting up the “unearned” part), and then scored on a sacrifice fly.

That got the Red Sox on their board, but Happ and the Yankees’ defense kept them to that run for most of the game. Chad Green continued the momentum with a flawless 10-pitch 7th inning, and Robertson’s 8th was an efficient 13 pitches.

In the meantime, the Yankees were held off from doing much by a former teammate for the first 6 innings. It was the 7th, with a new pitcher, that the Yankees found their opportunity. Hicks worked a lead-off walk and Sanchez got a 1-out walk to get runners on base and threaten the Red Sox’s narrow lead at that point.

So the Red Sox went to their bullpen again for a new reliever, but he faced Neil Walker who was ready to hit his 10th home run of the season, a big 3-run home run into the 2nd deck right field seats. to give the Yankees the lead and that insurance run they would end up needing.

The Yankees handed things off to Zach Britton for the 9th inning and the save, but things got dramatic. With 1 out, he gave up a walk. A missed catch error allowed runners to end up on the corners. A throwing error by Britton himself allowed that lead runner to then score, hence the Yankees’ 2nd unearned run of the night. A double play ended the Red Sox’s final push for a comeback rally and handed the Yankees the win.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees

Aaron Judge was back in tonight’s lineup, batting 2nd and playing right field. He went 0-for-4, but says that it felt like he “never left”. Part of the reason that Judge ended up in the game was that due to inclement weather (because it’s 2018) they had to push back the game from a 1:05 pm start time to 7:05 pm. That extra time allowed for Judge to take in an extra sim game this morning and prove he was ready to swing a bat in a real game. He just hasn’t made much contact yet.

A funny moment during the game was in the 8th inning. Giancarlo Stanton stepped into the batter’s box and hit a power line drive into the left field seats, but to the left of the foul pole. We all saw it go into the seats, so fans rushed the area for the ball. But literally no one could find it. They scoured the whole area, even expanding the search area after a bit, but it just disappeared. That ball must now be on vacation with my black fuzzy socks and the top of my cherry 7-up, both of which seemed to disappear before my eyes and have yet to reappear within the last 24 hours.

Go Yankees!

Game 148: TOR vs. NYY — Falling just short of a comeback

After yesterday’s wipe-out of the Blue Jays, the Yankees certainly continued the dramatics in the middle game of the weekend series. CC Sabathia got the start tonight and after a quick 3 outs in the 1st got roughed up for the rest of his brief outing this afternoon. He threw just 50 pitches into the 3rd, gave up 7 hits and 5 runs, and struck out only 2 batters.

In the 2nd, Sabathia gave up a lead-off solo homer on the 1st pitch to get the Blue Jays started. With 1 out, the next batter singled (as it was deemed after an overturned challenge), moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, then to 3rd on a single, and scored on another single. After another out, another single scored the lead runner for another Toronto run.

Then with 1 out in the 3rd, Sabathia gave up consecutive solo home runs to call an end to his afternoon. Chad Green was called on to replace him and started keeping things in check, holding the Blue Jays scoreless into the 5th inning. And Holder closed out the 5th and threw a solid 6th inning to keep the momentum going.

The Yankees, meanwhile, were also being held off, mostly by the Blue Jays’ starter, who only gave up 2 hits in his 5 innings and struck out 10 Yankee batters. It wasn’t until the 6th that they broke the Jays’ stranglehold on the scoreboard. Didi Gregorius led-off the 6th with a solo home run into the right field seats, making this his 2nd consecutive season with 25+ home runs. Then despite loading up the bases, the Yankees left them stranded again, failing to capitalize on these easy opportunities to chip away at the Jays’ lead.

Tommy Kahnle came on for the 7th inning and struggled his way through, loading up the bases. A great play by the defense got the lead runner out at home on a ground out. After a great strikeout, Kahnle gave up a 2-RBI single to expand the Jays’ lead. He turned things over to Stephen Tarpley, who gave up a single to score one more run.

The Yankees found one more big chance to make an impact in the bottom of the 7th. Giancarlo Stanton liked the 1st pitch he saw and sent it deep into the left field seats for his 34th home run of the season.. After a pitching change and 1 out, Didi Gregorius again smacked a solo home run to edge the Yankees closer.

Another out later, Torres doubled, Walker walked, and another new reliever walked Voit to load up the bases once again. This time, Miguel Andujar made the difference — a big grand slam to put the Yankees within a single run.

Betances and Britton each gave up a 9-pitch inning to close out the game, waiting for the Yankee batters to pull a last-minute comeback rally. It was not going to happen today.

Final score: 8-7 Blue Jays

Yankee Universe encompasses much of this nation, being “America’s Team”. But recently, one of their farm teams found themselves in the path of a major disaster. Yesterday, Hurricane Florence made landfall along the Carolina coastline. The Charleston River Dogs, the Yankees’ Single-A minor league team, finished their season earlier this month. But so many people are still under the hurricane’s destruction as it lingers and creeps itself up the coast.

David Robertson’s foundation, High Socks For Hope, has a history of helping with disaster relief, like after tornadoes, Hurricane Harvey in Texas last year, and other major disasters in the southeastern U.S. Today, they announced that they will be accepting monetary and practical donations to help, if you would like to be generous.

Our prayers are with those still under the thumb of the hurricane and in its path.

Go Yankees!

Game 143: NYY vs. SEA — Mariners stay afloat but sink series

The Yankees say “farewell” to the West Coast with a disappointing end to their series in Seattle this afternoon, despite the team doing its best to attempt a solid sweep of the Mariners on their home turf.

CC Sabathia got the start and had a decent outing today, throwing 84 pitches in 5 innings, giving up 7 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and striking out 4 batters. In the 1st, with 2 outs, he gave up 2 singles to get runners on base, and then 2 more singles to score both runners to get the Mariners on the board.

Chad Green came on for 2 solid innings to continue Sabathia’s good start, but Dellin Betances had a minor blip in his 8th inning that made all the difference. He gave up a lead-off walk that stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, and then scored on a fielder’s choice.

The Yankees actually got on the board first in the top of the 1st. Stanton hit a nice 1-out double and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s double. After the Mariners took the lead in the bottom of the inning, the Yankees came back in the 4th to tie up the game. First, they loaded up the bases with singles to Walker, Voit, and Torres. Then 2 outs later, Andrew McCutchen worked a walk to score Walker.

But after the Mariners re-took the lead in the 8th, the Yankees had a frustrating 9th inning, including the very rare ejection of Brett Gardner. Gardner had issue with the strike zone, something he was actually right about, by the way. But Gardner’s last ejection was back in 2014, and he’s a pretty even-keel guy.

Final score: 3-2 Mariners, Yankees win the series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to Minnesota for a 3-game series against the Twins. After a travel day on Thursday, they will head back to the Bronx for their final home stand, 3 series against division rivals, before a final road trip against more division rivals to wrap up the season.

Injury update: Unfortunately, the lingering wrist injury of Aaron Judge has been causing some recent pain to return. His recent swings in the batting cages have caused some increased pain, something you don’t really want to deal with when you’re supposed to be coming back from an injury. That said, it means that his return time has been less assured. It also means that he may miss the rest of this season. Only time will tell over these next few weeks.

Go Yankees!

Game 138: NYY vs. OAK — A Laborious Day by the Bay

The Athletics are in a position to compete for the second Wild Card spot, and with the Red Sox firmly in the lead in the AL East, that makes the Yankees the first Wild Card spot. Though you might not think so based on Twitterverse’s disparaging comments about the state of the Yankees. Fortunately, unlike the All-Star Game, it’s not a popularity contest as to who makes the postseason.

CC Sabathia got the start for the Yankees in this opener in Oakland. And on this Labor Day, he labored his way through his outing. He threw 66 pitches into the 4th, gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs (4 earned), and struck out 4 A’s batters. The hometown kid couldn’t find his pace in this afternoon’s game.

In the 1st, with 1 out, he gave up 2 singles to get runners on base. The next single scored the lead runner, and another loaded up the bases. The next batter walked in the next run before Sabathia got a strike out. Then a throwing error allowed another run to score the unearned run. A lead-off walk in the 2nd scored on an RBI double to add another run to the home team.

After a clean 3rd inning, Sabathia came back for the 4th and got an out and gave up a double that ended his afternoon. He handed the ball over to reliever AJ Cole, responsible for that runner at 2nd. After a pop-up, Cole gave up a single that scored that runner before eventually getting out of that inning without further damage. But he ended up giving up a 2-out solo homer in the 5th for a cap on the A’s runs today.

Chad Green’s 6th inning was a clean 13 pitches, and rookie reliever Jonathan Loaisiga got a chance to show off his skills with 2 innings that included 4 strikeouts. But these two pitchers came too late to really make an impact in the game other than just keeping the Athletics at their lead.

The Yankee offense were the ones to actually get things started today. New Yankee Andrew McCutchen collected his first Yankee hit, leading off the game with a solid single. He then stole 2nd and then, thanks to a throwing error, ended up at 3rd. Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly scored McCutchen to get the Yankees on the board first.

Sanchez led-off the 2nd with a walk and then scored as part of Luke Voit’s big 1-out 2-run home run. But other than that, the Yankee batters only got 2 other hits (and 3 other walks). The A’s pitching staff kept them from doing anything further to chip away at the home team’s growing lead.

Final score: 6-3 Athletics

And in hopefully positive news for Yankee Universe, Aaron Judge finally stepped back into the batter’s box today. Well, the batter’s box in the batting cages. Still recovering for a chip fracture in his wrist after a hit by pitch at the end of July, Judge has been slower to get back into baseball activities than they originally thought. So, watching him meander to the cage with a bat in his hand set off a media firestorm.

Judge took 25 swings off a tee and 25 dry swings (like practice swings) in the cages and said he “felt good”. The next step is to try soft-toss, where the pitcher throws easy pitches for minimal contact. After that, it’s a progressively aggressive batting practice and a sort of simulated game to get back into the swing of things, so to speak.

That mean there is an update to his recovery process, making the current timeline returning him to the game in the next couple of weeks. Realistically, this means the last series at Yankee Stadium or the final road trip during the last week of this month is the most likely target.

However, like many athletes, Judge would be love to jump in and suit up for tomorrow’s game. Tempting as it is to rush things, the young outfielder still has years of play left to compete, so a full return to health is the priority and not so much the “when”.

Go Yankees!

Game 133: CHW vs. NYY — Victory denied

The Yankees set up Giancarlo Stanton for a memorable milestone, but for some reason, the White Sox’s defense decided to kick in and show that they can be pretty decent at random (really unfavorable) times. So that 300th career home run is still out there for Stanton.

CC Sabathia got the start in tonight’s closer against the visiting White Sox and actually had a decent game, despite the outcome. He threw 91 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out 6 batters. In the 2nd, with 2 outs and runners on the corners, both runners scored on an RBI double. And a 1-out walk scored on a 2-out double to add on one more run.

Chad Green came on for the 7th and gave up a lead-off home run, but then got his way through the inning with some great defense. AJ Cole and Tommy Kahnle each had a beautiful, clean, scoreless inning to close out the game. That means, it was up to the Yankee batters to do something significant.

They had about as much opportunity to do that as the White Sox (each team with 6 hits and 2-3 walks), but the closest the Yankees got to doing something significant was in the 5th inning. Walker and Torres hit consecutive singles and then Romine worked a 1-out walk to load up the bases. Ronald Torreyes hit a short single that scored Walker to get the Yankees on the board.

Then after another out, Stanton stepped up to the plate. The first pitch was a high strike that had Stanton swinging. But the catcher missed the catch, and it sailed back to the backstop. On reaction, Gleyber Torres made a mad dash for home. But because the ball bounced back quicker than expected, the catcher was able to grab it and toss it to the waiting pitcher to make the tag out at home.

Now, would Stanton have actually hit that 300th career homer? Who knows? But that wasn’t the point. The bases were loaded, and that milestone 300th homer that could’ve been a grand slam, but the White Sox took advantage of an easy play to halt the possibility. The Yankees didn’t get another good opportunity to explore the possibilities again.

Final score: 4-1 White Sox, and the White Sox win the series 2-1

Next up: The Tigers are in town for a 4-game weekend series and help usher in the September push. Then the Yankees head out the West Coast for a few important series against the Athletics and the Mariners, and then head inland to face the Twins before heading back home for their final home stand of the regular season.

Before the game, a couple of power-hitters finally met each other. “Big Al” Delia from Middletown, New Jersey, played in the Little League World Series with his hometown team earlier this summer. They were knocked out in the regional round, but “Big Al” was a huge fan favorite, even quoted at one point as the kind of player that “hits big dingers”. And today, the young Yankees fan got to meet another hitter of “big dingers” — Giancarlo Stanton and watch batting practice. And it was awesome.

After they released the regular 2019 schedule last week, it was only a matter of time before they released the Spring Training schedule. So there’s some important dates to remember to kick off the 2019 season. Players and catchers report on February 13, and the rest of the squad on February 18. The first Spring game is against the Red Sox on February 23, and the first home game is on February 25 (vs. Blue Jays).

The last Spring home game (also vs. Blue Jays) is March 23, and the last Spring game is the next day (vs. Twins). They will also play the Nationals at Nationals Park in a final Spring game on March 25 before the Season (and home) Opener March 28 against the Orioles. That’s 32 Spring games (including the one at Nationals Park) before the regular season starts.

Go Yankees!

Game 130: NYY vs. BAL — Players Weekend sweep

Another successful Players Weekend is over, and for the Yankees, it was successful on more than one plane. Sure, sweeping the Orioles was good for their morale and for their stats, but knowing their biggest rival was swept in their own series is the cream cheese icing on the red velvet cupcake. That makes the Yankees just 6 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. And with 32 games left in the season, things are looking up.

So, for this finale game in Baltimore, the Yankees called on their ace Luis Severino to close out the series and earn his 17th win of the season. He threw 107 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 8 batters. But he held them off for most of his outing.

In the 5th, he gave up a lead-off walk that stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a sacrifice fly. A big solo home run led-off the 6th, and 2 outs later, it looked like Severino was going to get out of the inning. But the next batter got on base thanks to a throwing error, so that was it for Severino.

Chad Green had his own issues trying to get that final out of the 6th. He gave up a single and a wild pitch moved both runners to scoring position. So when the next batter hit a single, that lead runner scored Severino’s unearned run. But he got out of the inning with a nice strikeout.

After getting the first out of the 7th, Green handed the ball over to Zach Britton. Britton continued to show his comfort pitching at Camden Yards against his former team, sailing his way through 5 outs in just 18 pitches. David Robertson got the nod for the potential save in the 9th and kept the Orioles scoreless to close out the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees continued to dominate the weekend with selective points of offense through the first half of the game. In the 2nd, Andujar led-off with a single but was tagged out at 2nd on Walker’s grounder. Then Luke Voit hit a solid 2-out, 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board.

Robinson led-off the 3rd with a single, and 2 outs later, Hicks joined him on the bases with a single. They both then scored on Miguel Anudjar’s double to double their score. And with a new pitcher on the mound in the 6th, the Yankees found one more opportunity to add just one more. With 1 out, Voit hit a single, moved to 2nd on Romine’s walk, made it to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on a wild pitch.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep the weekend series.

Officially, they swept 3-0 due to the originally scheduled games, but because they won the make-up game, they also swept the now-posted games 4-0. Either way, that 4 game chipping away at the Red Sox’s lead certainly helped the Yankees have a bit more hope for not settling for the Wild Card game alone and might have a shot at the Division title.

Next up: The Yankees head back to the Bronx for a week of games — 3 games against the White Sox starting tomorrow night, and a 4-game weekend series against the Tigers. They will head out to the West Coast (and Midwest) for games against the Athletics, the Mariners, and the Twins, before heading back home once again. Like I said earlier, there’s only 32 games left of the season, and the September call-ups are just a week away. This is going to get interesting, folks.

And on a final note, I wanted to highlight some great things about Players Weekend. First, it’s fun to see the oddity of “names” on the back of the Yankee jerseys, and the Yankees certainly had fun choosing which name best represented themselves. But they also got specialized cleats and colorful batting gloves and sweat bands, many of which reflected their heritage (like Gleyber Torres) or history (like Dellin Betances).

CC Sabathia used his specialty cleats to pay tribute to a group of amazing pitchers known as the “Black Aces“, a small group of black ball players that have won at least 20 games in a single season. One of those Black Aces published a book about the history of these great pitchers, including stories of Negro League pitchers that might have done the same had they been allowed to play.

His book only listed 13 players as part of this group including names like Al Downing and Bob Gibson, the last player achieving this feat in 1971. But since then, 3 other pitchers have joined their ranks — David Price, Dontrelle Willis, and Sabathia himself. It’s also interesting to me that only 2 of those players are currently in the Hall of Fame (Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins). It’s also worth noting that tonight’s starter Severino is just 3 wins away from his 20th win in a single season.

Didi Gregorius (“The Knight”) also got in on the fun, despite being out on the DL. He changed up his Twitter victory posts (Friday, Saturday 1, Saturday 2, Sunday) from using his designated emojis for the players to using their chosen nicknames as hashtags. It threw everyone for a loop at first, but now, it was clearly a nice detour from the usual. However, I think I miss the emojis and am looking forward to their return this week.

Go Yankees!