Game 95: NYY vs. CLE — Splitting the series with loss in half finale

The Yankees were hoping to close out this first half of the season on an upswing, so to speak. But they had to settle for a split series and a loss this afternoon in Cleveland going into the All-Star break.

The Yankee bats did what usually ensures them a win — get on the board first and give enough lead to allow the starter and bullpen to keep things together. Gardner led-off the 3rd with a single, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on Gregorius’ 1-out single, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ 2-out single. And Neil Walker hit a big 2-out solo home run in the 4th to double their score.

This was good news to today’s starter Masahiro Tanaka, who was fairly efficient with just 77 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and striking out 5 Cleveland batters. The game ended up tied in the bottom of the 4th, when that lone walk scored as part of a solid 2-run home run.

With a runner at 2nd and just 1 out in the 7th, the Yankees turned to the reliable Chad Green to keep things close and get out of the threat. He did. In that inning, at least. But in the 8th, things got messy. The Indians broke the tie when their lead-off batter hit a solo homer. The next batter singled, stole 2nd, and ended up at 3rd on the steal due to a bad throwing error. The next batter was hit by a pitch, a wicked shot to the back hand on an errant inside pitch. And after an out (finally), he intentionally loaded the bases.

A long sacrifice fly to right field tested the speed of the runner against Stanton’s arm and Higashioka’s reactions. It seems the runner slid just under the tag to give the Indians their insurance run. During the throw, the other runner moved to 3rd and would later score on a bad wild pitch. A quick 12-pitch 9th by the Indians’ closer ended the Yankees chances for a rally.

Final score 5-2 Indians, series split 2-2

Next up: after today, all of MLB enters the official “half-time”, the All-Star break. A select few will travel (or are traveling) to Washington, D.C. for all the festivities of the All-Star Game. As I write this the All-Star Futures Game is underway, with Yankees’ prospect pitcher Justus Sheffield set to pitch for Team USA. The Home Run Derby will be tomorrow (Monday) night as the cap to Work-Out Day. And then after the Red Carpet Parade, the big exhibition game will be Tuesday night, featuring Judge and Severino with Torres and Chapman (both resting due to injuries) cheering on from the AL dugout.

Following a couple of days off, baseball returns on Friday, with the Yankees hosting the Mets for a 3-game weekend series. They’ll take a quick trip down to Tampa Bay for a 3-game series before returning to the Bronx for 4-games against the Royals, a day-off, and 2-games against the Orioles to close out this month.

And if you’re a trivia nerd, here’s some numbers to sound smart in conversations about baseball. The Yankees finish this first half with 62 wins, 33 losses, 4.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East but tied for 2nd (with Houston) in all of MLB.

As a team, the Yankees are 1st in home runs (160), 2nd in walks (1st in the AL, with 363), 3rd in runs scored (491) and RBIs (474), 2nd in On-base percentage plus slugging (.796), 2nd in pitching ERA (3.46), and their pitchers rank 2nd in strikeouts given (945).

Individually, the team leaders include Luis Severino in ERA (2.31, also 5th in the AL) and wins (14, also 1st in MLB), Aroldis Chapman in saves (26, 4th in MLB), Miguel Andujar in batting average (.283), Giancarlo Stanton in hits (103), and Aaron Judge in home runs (25, also 3rd in MLB), runs scored (66), RBIs (60), and OPS (.937, also 6th in AL).

Basically, things are in a good place. Plus, they hope to have both Sanchez and Torres back right after the break, though their AAA back-ups (Higashioka and Wade) are doing quite a good job in their stead. And with that looming trade deadline at the end of the month, the Yankees aren’t just battling for a winning season, they’re contending for their 28th championship. And with teams like the Astros and Red Sox (really their biggest threats this season so far) who are battling with them in nearly every category, the Yankees have some work to do.

The second half is going to be something to watch. So stay tuned. There’s so much more baseball left to play.

Go Yankees!

Game 90: NYY vs. BAL — #BirdPower not enough against a walk-off, also #ASGiancarlo

Even after all that work by the Yankees, there’s nothing like a walk-off to both energize the home team and deplete all the energy out of the visiting team that is hoping to gain in the standings behind the division leader from New England.

Fresh off his return from rehabbing his injured hamstrings, Masahiro Tanaka got the start in tonight’s game and actually had a really decent outing for the most part, throwing 80 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 Baltimore batters. In fact, Tanaka didn’t give up a run until the 4th inning, only giving up 3 hits in the scoreless first third of the game.

But then, in the 4th, with 2 outs, he gave up a single and a walk that both scored on a long double. After a throwing error and walk loaded up the bases, Tanaka got out the jam with a great strikeout. However, a lead-off solo home run in the 5th (and an out) ended Tanaka’s outing. Holder closed out the 5th with just 5 pitches.

Chad Green breezed his way through the 6th, but then got into a bit of trouble in the 7th. With 1 out, he gave up a single and a 2-run home run. Originally, however, it was ruled a single that took a wicked bounce off the back wall just out of Judge’s reach. But upon review, the ball bounced off the top of the wall, thus a home run to tie up the game at that point.

Now, to get to that tie, the Yankees put in some big work behind a particular player. In the 5th, Gregorius hit a 1-out single and Andujar worked a walk, and then both of them scored as part of a big 3-run home run by Greg Bird. And in the 7th, with 1 out, Gregorius doubled and moved to 3rd on Andujar’s single. Then after a new pitcher, Greg Bird hit a nice sacrifice fly to score Gregorius. After a walk to Romine, Neil Walker’s single scored Andujar.

So the game was tied, and Robertson cleanly got through the 8th inning with just 15 pitches to keep the Yankees alive. But with no offense breakthrough in the top of the 9th, the Yankees called on Dellin Betances to push the tie into extra innings. But there was some trouble. He hit the first batter, got an out, gave up a double, and then intentionally walked the next batter. Not a great position to be in, but then Betances came through with a great strikeout. Just one more out to go. Instead, he gave up a walk-off single.

Final score: 6-5 Orioles

Roster moves: As previously mentioned, the Yankees activated Masahiro Tanaka off the 10-day disabled list. And after the doubleheader yesterday, they also optioned Luis Cessa, Brandon Drury, and Giovanny Gallegos back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I actually called the “Scranton Shuttle” the “Scranton Shuffle”, and lately, the latter moniker kind of feels rather accurate these days.

Also, this is your final reminder to Vote #ASGiancarlo, to vote Giancarlo Stanton into the All-Star Game next week. He’s currently sitting at 3rd in the rankings, so it’s your turn, Yankee Universe, to vote consistently until 4pm (EST) tomorrow.

Go Yankees!

Game 74: NYY vs. TB — Shutout on Throwback Saturday

Well, that was disappointing.

The Rays began as a franchise 20 years ago, making this their 21st season as a major league team. Originally, they were dubbed the “Devil Rays”, their mascot a sort of large sting ray. In the last 2 decades, that has evolved into a sun ray, which looks more like a starburst or sparkle on the word “Rays”, now the official name of the team.

Now, technically, there is no real thing as a “devil ray”. There is a “devil fish“, which is an endangered species of ray due to its low reproduction rate and sensitivity to environmental alterations (like pollution and overfishing) in its native Mediterranean. In other words, this creature the team decided to honor originally isn’t part of the Florida ecosystem and is misnamed. So, transitioning to a nod to the “Sunshine State” makes a nice way to justify the name without terribly changing the name.

However, because of last season being its 20th anniversary season, the Rays rediscovered their own nostalgia for their original colors, theme, and name. So for this season, they announced that they would don a new/old “throwback” jersey and hat for 4 Saturday home games this year. Today was the third, and many Rays players are really getting into the theme by adding socks and other accessories (sweatbands, gloves, warm-ups, etc.) on those days.

It might be considered good luck as they’ve now won 2 of the 3 games they’ve played on these throwback days, the loss being a slim 1-run margin. Or maybe it’s because they’ve been playing a weird game of relying strongly on their bullpen due to a lack of healthy starters.

Sonny Gray had a sort of mixed outing. When he was hot, he was really good and set the Rays down with relative ease. When he wasn’t, they scored runs. He threw 101 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 4 runs and striking out 7 batters along the way.

In the 1st, a lead-off single scored on a 1-out double complicated by a throwing error. A lead-off double in the 2nd scored on a double. A bunt moved that runner to 3rd and a single scored him. After fending off the Rays for 15 consecutive batters, Gray gave up a 2-out solo home run just barely left of the right field foul pole.

It was time to shift to Chasen Shreve, who has been struggling lately and continued his struggles in the 7th inning. All he needed was 1 out to get out of the inning. Instead, he loaded up the bases with a walk, a single, and another walk before getting a beautiful strikeout to finally get out of the inning and his self-induced jam. Chad Green had his own issues in the 8th, giving up a couple of hits to put runners in scoring position before getting a great strikeout to end that threat.

Meanwhile, the Yankees bats were virtually silent against the Rays pitchers. Their starter threw into the 6th inning, only giving up 3 hits and a walk. Later in that inning, last night’s starter (who only threw an inning) came in for 4 outs. They just kept shifting relievers to balance the rest of the game and keep the Yankees scoreless this afternoon.

Final score: 4-0 Rays

With today’s loss, the Yankees are guaranteed a loss of this series. They haven’t lost a series since the May 21-23 against the Rangers in Texas. They have split several series along the way, but mostly, they’re riding high on generally winning most series this season so far.

Many of the talking heads are making the easy comparison to the 1998 championship team. And that makes sense to me too. At this point in the 1998 season (Game 74), the Yankees were 55-19. Currently, the 2018 Yankees are 50-24. Things evened out a bit for the 1998 Yankees after the All-Star Break, ending the season with 114 wins. If the 2018 Yankees stay on their path, they could potentially win 109 games this season. This would make them a shoo-in for the postseason, and this team deserves the same attention and chance.

But there is still so much of the season left. The season is so very long, and we’re not even at the half-way point. Just shy of it, actually, at 46.25% of the season done. And really, with the combination of crazy weather this year, potential injuries, and just your run-of-the-mill bad luck and streaks, there is really nothing predictable about baseball. It’s still anyone’s game.

Except maybe the Orioles and Royals, who’ve only won 23 games this year. But never say never. Right, Cubs fans?

Go Yankees!

Games 68 & 69: NYY vs. WAS — “Let’s play one and a half”?

Last month, the Yankees traveled to the nation’s capital to play a short series, the now popular 2-game series of this year’s schedule. But lingering showers and storms that plagued much of the country made playing in some games almost like chasing or avoiding the weather its own sport. Such delays seem to have trickled out (pun intended), so that means that we’re now in the making all those missed games up part of the schedule.

Anyway, despite over an hour delay last month, the Yankees and Nationals played 5 1/2 innings of their first game of the series before seemingly unending showers forced the powers that be to suspend the game as it was. They were supposed to pick up that game before the next game on the following day, but those same storms continued on into the next day. And it forced them to do a sort of doubleheader make-up game tonight. Or rather about a game and a half.

Game 1: The Suspended Game
The two players that made the most impact on this first game are no longer on the active roster. Now on the DL due to some hamstring strains, Masahiro Tanaka started the game for the Yankees, and all the Yankees’ runs were due to Tyler Austin’s bat. Austin is back in AAA due to some overcrowding on the Yankees’ bench.

Tanaka threw 72 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up just 4 hits, no walks, and 3 runs, and struck out just 2 batters. He gave up a 2-out solo home run in the 1st to get the Nats on the board early. And in the 2nd, a lead-off double scored on a 1-out single, who then scored on an RBI double.

The Yankees chipped away at that lead, as I said before, thanks to Tyler Austin. In the 4th, Gregorius made it all the way to 2nd on a Little League-style fielding error before scoring on Austin’s big 2-run home run. Then in the 5th, the Yankees loaded the bases — Judge walked, Stanton singled, and Sanchez walked. Gregorius hit into a fielder’s choice, getting Judge out at home, and then Austin’s sacrifice fly scored Stanton to tie up the game.

As the rain came down in the top of the 6th, the Yankees left a man stranded as the middle of the inning came and they suspended the game. So, coming back tonight to resume the game (and keep up with roster moves of pinch-hitters and replacements), Chad Green came out for the Yankees and got into a bit of trouble. With 1 out, he gave up a single and 2-run home run to give the lead back to the Nationals.

Shreve and Warren each took an inning, while waiting for the Yankees to face the Nationals’ bullpen and find the strength possibly lingering from Austin’s power last month. It wasn’t going to happen.

Final score: 5-3 Nationals

Game 2: The Rain Delay
About 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one, enough time for the grounds crew to make the field all pretty again (and the guys to change uniforms for a clean one), the game that was delayed due to rain started. There’s been a lot of talk about how bad Sonny Gray does at home in stark contrast to how well he does on the road. Tonight, he proved the formula true again. Gray threw 86 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and struck out 7 batters.

In the 2nd, he gave up consecutive singles that moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. A ground out scored the lead runner and moved the other one to 3rd. The next batter hit into a fielder’s choice that had the runner caught in a brief rundown for the out. A lead-off double in the 4th moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a sacrifice fly.

Holder, Robertson, Betance, and Chapman closed out the final 4 innings for the Yankees, collectively (with Gray) getting an impressive 15 total strikeouts and keeping the Nats to those 2 runs. Though they threatened at bit in the 9th inning, a long fly ball run down and captured on the warning track by Judge handed Chapman his 21st save.

Meanwhile, the Yankees actually struck first. Hicks led-off the game with a double, and 2 outs later, scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single. In the 5th, down by just a run, the Yankees came back. Romine led-off with a single but was out when Gray bunted into a bad grounder. Gray then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ big 2-run home run to give the Yankees back the lead.

Clint Frazier led-off the 7th by being hit by a pitch and then moved to 2nd on a sloppy pick-off error. Two outs, a walk to Judge, and a pitching change later, Stanton doubled and scored Frazier. Torres was intentionally walked to load the bases, but they ended their rally this inning with just one insurance run. It would be all they needed.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees, the short make-up series was split 1-1

Roster moves: Before the game, Clint Frazier was recalled, Ronald Torreyes sent to AAA Scranton, and Giovanny Gallegos was recalled as the Yankees’ 26th man for the doubleheader. Gallegos will be on his way back to Scranton now.

Next up: the Yankees head back to the Bronx where the Mariners await their 3-game series with them there tomorrow. After they close out this home stand, they hop a flight down to St. Petersburg to face the Rays this weekend and then up to Philadelphia for 3-games next Monday. Then home again for the final home stand before the All-Star Break.

It’s worth noting that what most people talked about for the first game was the player who hit the winning home run was not yet with the team when the game was suspended. He wasn’t called up to the main team until May 20 (5 days after the originally scheduled game). Now, because of how they have to score this, as being played on May 15, they marked this as his 1st home run. But it’s actually his 6th home run since his call-up. So, everyone is making bad jokes about time travel and pointing out the obvious problems and loopholes of how records are kept in the league.

Go Yankees!

Game 64: TB vs. NYY — 5th inning solutions

The Yankees began their long weekend series against the Rays tonight. And Domingo German finally rediscovered his momentum, thanks in part to a few precise hits from Yankee batters, and earned his first career win. German threw 91 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out an impressive 10 Rays’ batters.

It didn’t start out so well for German. His first pitch of the game became a solo home run to get the Rays on the board early. But then he followed that up with 3 straight strikeouts to end the inning.

Actually, he would get 7 straight outs into the 3rd inning, and then he gave up a walk and a single. After another out, a batter singled and scored the lead runner. But the second runner tried to score too and was thrown out by Stanton’s strong arm from left field directly to Sanchez for the tag. Then in the 6th, a lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on a single.

The Yankees answered back in the 5th inning. With 1 out, Aaron Hicks loved the first pitch he saw and fired it deep for a solid home run. Judge singled, and Sanchez worked a 2-out walk. They would both then score on Gleyber Torres’ big 3-run home run, his 13th career (and this season) homer, his 5th 3-run homer. That put the Yankees on top to stay.

After German’s 6 innings, the Yankees looked to their bullpen to close out the game. Green, Betances, and Chapman each took an inning and kept the Rays from adding to their score and tying up the game.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

Roster moves: the Yankees signed pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga from AA Trenton to fill Tanaka’s spot on the rotation. There has been a lot of talk about Loaisiga, who is a top prospect (#12 overall) in the Yankees’ organization. He will make his MLB debut tomorrow night against the Rays. To make room on the roster, the Yankees optioned Tyler Austin to AAA Scranton.

It’s worth remembering that it’s Austin’s name on the All-Star Game ballot because Bird was out for a good portion of the early season due to his ankle surgery. However, Bird is doing well once again at 1st, reverting Austin into a bench player. But he’ll play every day in Scranton.

HOPE Week Day 4: Today, the Yankees partnered with a great organization called “Wish of a Lifetime“. The non-profit, founded by a former US Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom, provides opportunities for senior citizens to cross off something amazing on their Bucket List. During his international skiing career, Bloom, always close with his own grandparents, witnessed how other nations treated their elders and wanted to figure out a way to build a culture of respect back in the U.S.

Using the similar model of  “Make A Wish”, “Wish of a Lifetime” is a welcome memory-creator for the most senior of our society. So, for today’s event, Bloom chose 87-year-old Sal Reale, who is a Korean War veteran, New York firefighter for 20 years, and life-long Yankees fan. Reale retired to the Tampa Bay area in 1977 and has wanted to revisit his old firehouse for over 40 years.

Reale, his son, and grandson were treated to a special welcome at FDNY Ladder 136 and then surprised by Tyler Austin, Greg Bird, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Chasen Shreve, and Adam Warren. They all had lunch, tried on fire gear, and listened to Reale’s stories about seeing Gehrig and DiMaggio play. The Yankees later took Reale and his family on a pregame Stadium tour which included the pregame press conference with manager Aaron Boone.

The Yankees also donated $10,000 to Wish of a Lifetime to continue their great work of making wishes come true for our amazing American seniors.

Go Yankees!

Game 62: WAS vs. NYY — #HOPEWeek Starts, #CCStrong & #SirDidi shut out Nationals

The Yankees are back in the Bronx, and it’s HOPE Week. While the Yankees face the Nationals tonight and tomorrow before starting their series against the Rays, they are also using their days to give back to their community in their 10th Annual HOPE Week. (More on that after the game recap.)

CC Sabathia got the start in tonight’s game and zoned into a strong momentum to keep the visiting Nationals scoreless. He threw 101 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 4 hits and 3 walks, and struck out 3 batters. Also, he hit an amazing milestone in the 4th inning — his 1,500th strikeout with the Yankees. They stopped the game for a moment to allow the 44,000 fans at the stadium to give him a nice audience.

Sabathia has 2,893 in his career, making him 17th in the overall list of pitchers and the leader among active pitchers. And it’s worth noting that all but 2 listed above Sabathia on that list are in the Hall of Fame.

With 2 outs and a runner on 1st with a single, Sabathia handed the ball to Chad Green. While he was dealing with the next batter, the runner took off for 2nd, and Romine fired the ball to a waiting Torres at 2nd to make the tag. Originally ruled safe, the Yankees challenged the call and after review, the play was overturned. Then Green’s 7th inning followed Sabathia’s clean sheet, before Betances and Chapman’s 8th and 9th innings just got cleaner and cleaner.

While the Yankees’ pitching was strong, the Yankees’ batting needed to step it up and take advantage of the opportunities they could. In the 2nd, Didi Gregorius hit a solid 1-out solo home run to get things started fairly early. Aaron Hicks then worked a walk, and Walker’s single and a bad throw moved both runners into scoring position. Hicks then scored on Austin Romine’s sacrifice fly. Didi Gregorius later led-off the 6th with another solo home run to cap off the Yankees’ scoring.

Final score: 3-0 Yankees

Today, MLB released the first results of fan voting for the AL nominees of All-Star Game, and there were a lot of Yankeesa lot of Yankees that could make the roster this year if fans continue to pull through. Gary Sanchez leads all Catchers by about 13,000 votes; Gleyber Torres is a distant 2nd at 2nd; Miguel Andujar is a distant 2nd at 3rd; Didi Gregorius is 3rd in a tight field at Shortstop; and Giancarlo Stanton is a distant 2nd at Designated Hitter. Plus, all Yankee Outfielders are found in the top 15 — Aaron Judge is 3rd, Brett Gardner is 7th, and Aaron Hicks is 11th.

Based on current patterns and numbers, Sanchez and Judge are almost locks for the starting roster, so Yankee fans, do your stuff and vote!

HOPE Week is back for its 10th year. Helping Other Persevere and Excel is the motto of the Yankees annual community outreach for the last 10 seasons. It’s easily my favorite week of the year, and it’s something Yankees Director of Media Relations Jason Zillo calls “The greatest thing we do all year.”

Yesterday, during the Yankees off-day, the Yankees sent 3 of their biggest stars to the TODAY Show to preview HOPE Week and meet with the fans that pack Rockefeller Center every morning. Brett Gardner (a HOPE Week veteran since Day 1), Aaron Judge (in his 2nd HOPE Week), and Giancarlo Stanton (a HOPE Week rookie) went on the show to promote HOPE Week and talk about “bringing light to some special situations and meeting some really cool people”.

HOPE Week, Day 1: Monday, the Yankees visited Cindy and Louis Campbell who founded the “Muddy Puddles Project“, hosting the annual Mess Fest at Mohawk Day Camp (about an hour north of the City). The Campbell’s lost their 5 year old son Ty to brain cancer 6 years ago and his greatest wish before he died was just to jump in the mud puddles. So in his honor, they founded this messy, fun opportunity for children with cancer and their families to enjoy a day, raise money for pediatric cancer research (over $800,000 in five years).

Manager Aaron Boone, Bench Coach Josh Bard, Brett Gardner, Sonny Gray, Didi Gregorius, and Yankees General Partner Jenny Steinbrenner brought a $10,000 donation and Ty Campbell’s favorite cartoon Peppa Pig to join in today’s festivities. They got messy in the mud and then clean thanks to a big soapy washing station and a water balloon fight. Children from all over the area being treated for various forms of cancer got to hang out with the Yankees (and Peppa Pig), including one kid celebrating his 8th birthday. It was definitely a day to remember. (And now, I want to go jump in a bunch of mud puddles!)

HOPE Week Day 2: Today, the Yankees invited a special girl named Cassidy Warner to hang out with them. Many of you may remember Cassidy as the young girl who posted a video earlier this year about being bullied in her school and then asking people to just be nice to each other. The Yankees responded to her video with one of their own, inviting her to come and have lunch with them some time. That came true today.

Cassidy joined Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, AJ Cole, Neil Walker, a handful of coaches, and a group of local 6th graders from a national anti-bullying organization called “No Bully” to play kick ball at the field across from Yankee Stadium (where the old stadium used to stand). Cassidy then joined the Yankees for lunch at the Stadium and later joined Cindy Campbell to jointly throw out the 1st pitch before the game.

No Bully’s Vice President Erik Stangvik personally encouraged Cassidy for sharing her story and challenged the whole group to be an “upstander” instead of just being a “bystander” and stand up for people. He said, “Ultimately, it’s just being kind. It’s a pretty simple way to walk through the world.”

 

And that, I think, is the ultimate message of HOPE Week — that kindness matters. And that being kind is a lifestyle choice, something we all can choose every day. Kindness impacts our own little corner of the world and ultimately lands like ripples on the pond to affect further than we can possibly imagine.

Kindness matters.

Go Yankees!

Game 59: NYY vs. NYM — New York baseball, as iconic as the City itself

The Subway Series is always special. I’ve been reading memories periodically today, reminiscing about much of the great moments between the two teams of the City. New York vs. New York is nearly as old as baseball itself, the city once filled with random teams like the Knickerbockers, Atlantics, and Bushwicks to the foundational team of the Highlanders, Gothams, and Bridegrooms (which would become the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers, respectively).

Once the game was organized and the precursor to MLB formed, the teams remaining in New York were the New York Giants, New York Yankees, and Brooklyn Dodgers. While the Giants and Dodgers faced off frequently, they only met the Yankees during the World Series if the two were the best in their leagues. Which happened a lot (12 times, 1921-1956). After the Dodger and Giants moved to the West Coast in 1957, the need for baseball was filled in New York by the newly formed Mets (in 1962). But the current New York teams didn’t meet in the Series until the legendary one in 2000.

And if you’re a bit of a trivia nerd, in their total history, the Yankees have won 40 AL Pennants, the Giants 23, the Dodgers 22, and the Mets 5. The Dodgers and Yankees have met up for 11 World Series (the Dodgers won 3 times); the Giants met the Yankees 7 times (the Giants won twice); the Yankees won their only Series against the Mets in 2000.

Not that the Mets are having a 2000 kind of year. So while the Yankees are battling to stay atop the AL East, the Mets are struggling to stay afloat in their division. And tonight’s game just reflected both teams’ seasons so far, despite the Mets sending in their best starter.

So for tonight’s opener in Queens, Masahiro Tanaka got the start for the Yankees, threw 75 pitches in his solid 5 innings, gave up just 1 hit, 1 walk, and 1 run, and struck out an impressive 8 batters. The Mets’ lone allowed run tonight was a lead-off solo homer in the 1st inning.

Now, the Yankees were held at bay for most of the game, thanks to the Mets’ ace. In fact, they were limited to a walk and a single through 5 innings. In the 6th, with 1 out, Tanaka actually made it to 1st safely on a fielding error. He moved to 2nd on Torres’ single and then to 3rd on Gardner’s walk. So with the bases loaded, Aaron Judge hit a long sacrifice fly and Tanaka sped home to tie up the game.

However, on the run home, Tanaka felt a tightness in both his hamstrings and was pulled from the game. (More below) Holder sailed his way through the 6th inning in 12 pitches. Chad Green gave up 2 singles and still got of the 7th unscathed before Betances’ speedy 9-pitch 8th and Chapman’s scoreless 9th closed out the game.

The Yankees’ batters found another opportunity in the 8th inning, the final inning of the Mets’ ace starter. With 2 outs, Torres singled and then scored with Brett Gardner’s big 2-run home run. Giancarlo Stanton’s 1-out solo home run off the left field wall (above the home run line) in the 9th inning capped off their runs tonight.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees

Injury update: Tanaka’s injury tonight was diagnosed as pulled hamstrings in his legs. This isn’t entirely unexpected, in a way. AL pitchers never have to bat or run bases except in NL-hosted games. So they aren’t used to using those muscles in the same way, so an injury from the activity isn’t ideal but not unexpected.

Now, fortunately, Tanaka’s next start isn’t scheduled until next Thursday against the Rays (in the Bronx). However, with Jordan Montgomery out for the rest of the year due to his Tommy John surgery yesterday, the Yankees will be looking for a new starter for the season. The trade deadline is July 31 (about 7 weeks away), but I expect a deal before then thanks to this recent issue.

Go Yankees!