NLDS & ALDS: ATL vs. STL, WAS vs. LAD & TB vs. HOU, MIN vs. NYY — 3 Game 5s & a 3-game sweep

There is nothing normal about the postseason most years, and this year continues to prove this once again. Three of the series went to a Game 5, and only one series was a sweep. And none of those is what you might expect.

NLDS A: The Cardinals and Braves duked it out through 5 games, and it wasn’t until the 5th that the Cardinals came on strong and just made the decision to win this series.

NLDS
Game 1: Actually, the Braves had this game right up until the final inning, when the Cards came out swinging. The Braves just could not catch up in the end. 7-6 Cardinals

Game 2:
The Braves decided they weren’t going to let the series head to St. Louis without a hometown win, using this game to prove why they came out on top of the NL East by blanking the visiting Cardinals. 3-0 Braves

Game 3: This was one of those super tight games, with the Cards eking a single run by the Braves until the 9th. The visitors scored 3 big runs in that inning and ended up taking the lead in the series. 3-1 Braves

Game 4: Another nail biter in the series, as the game was tied and went into the 10th inning before the Cardinals got a walk-off home run to tie up the series. 5-4, in 10 Cardinals

Game 5: Back in Atlanta, the Braves lost their home field advantage in that 1st inning, giving up 10 runs to the visitors, who ended up dominating this game. 13-1 Cardinals

Cardinals win the series in 5 games

NLDS B: Almost everyone “knew” who was going to win this series. Almost everyone “knew” they were going to sweep this series. Almost everyone was very wrong.

Game 1: However, after this first game, “they” were rather confident they “knew” how this was going to work as the Dodgers quickly shut out the Nationals. 6-0 Dodgers

Game 2: But then the Nationals came back and just edged out the home team. 4-2 Nationals

Game 3: In DC, the Dodgers came back just crushing the home team with a big 6th inning. 10-4 Dodgers

Game 4: And somehow, the Nats weren’t about to go away quietly, relying on some solid pitching to tie up the series again and force a Game 5. 6-1 Nationals

Game 5: Another nail-biter in the NL. The game was tied right into the 10th, right up until the Dodgers’ reliever gave up a huge grand slam. The deficit too big to overcome by the home team, costing them the rest of the postseason. 7-3, in 10 Nationals

Nationals win the series in 5 games

ALDS A: As with the other league’s version of this series, games between the league leader and the wild card winner aren’t anything normal or predictable. Especially as the Rays were on quite the tear this last month in their quest for a postseason. But in this series alone, it was all about the “home field advantage”.

Game 1: The Astros started the series strong, only giving up runs to the Rays in the 8th. 6-2 Astros

Game 2: The Astros’ starter the game was just amazing, streaming through the Rays’ lineup and collecting 15 strikeouts. Not that the Rays were slacking. The Astros just played better. 3-1 Astros

Game 3: Once the game was at the Trop, the Rays came out swinging and just didn’t stop. They certainly weren’t about to let the Astros just run away with this series. 10-3 Rays

Game 4: While this wasn’t as poweful in the end, the Rays still collected 13 total hits, giving them more opportunities to score and eventually tie up the series. 4-1 Rays

Game 5: Again, this series was all about home field advantage. Once they were back in Houston, the Astros took command again and showed their fans why they deserve to go to the ALCS once again. 6-1 Astros

Astros win series in 5 games

ALDS B: The one series nobody was really talking about. Outside Yankee Universe, that is. But this one was something to really watch, as the Yankees were about to show off a bit.

Game 1: The Yankees had some really big innings, including home runs by LeMahieu and Gardner. Though Paxton started, it was Kahnle who ended up with the win for his 5th & 6th inning stint to essentially save the game early on until the Yankees powered their way through with those big runs in the 6th. 10-4 Yankees

Game 2: It was Tanaka Time in the Bronx for this game. Aand once again, the Yankee bats came through to support their starter, including a big 3rd inning offense. And while most of their runs were off RBI singles, but i was Didi Gregorius’ grand slam to ensure the Yankees’ eventual win. 8-2 Yankees

Game 3: Home field advantage didn’t seem to matter to the Yankees this series, as they took their momentum on the road. They used an opener in Green, who showed his reliability with a strong start and set the pattern for the rest of the game, backed by a good offense with homers by Torres and Maybin. 5-1 Yankees

Yankees sweep series in 3 games.

An interesting article I found was the idea that no one gives an MVP award for the Division Series. This is one writer’s idea of who should get this hypothetical award. I agreed (or at least understood) his picks in most of these games. But what do you think?

Championship Series begins tomorrow night with NLCS and Saturday with the ALCS. It is a best-of-7 series, so the first team with 4 wins will move onto the World Series next week.

My predictions: So, this first round was a mixed bag. I completely blew the NLDS. First is my prediction, second is the outcome.

  • NLDS A: Braves over Cardinals in 5 games — Cardinals in 5
  • NLDS B: Dodgers over Nationals in 3 games — Nationals in 5
  • ALDS A: Astros over Rays in 4 games — Astros in 5
  • ALDS B: Yankees over Twins in 5 games — Yankees in 3

Now for the Championship Series: (Perhaps, I’ll be better this round.)

  • NLCS: Cardinals over Nationals in 6 games
  • ALCS: Yankees over Astros in 7 games

It’s clearly going to be one of those postseasons. And let’s be honest, it’s really just beginning. But isn’t that what makes October Baseball more intriguing — that you don’t know what’s going to happen?

Go Yankees!

Game 162: NYY vs. TEX — 102 wins, 305 HRs, AL East champs, and the Yanks head to postseason

And suddenly, the season is over. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were sitting in our seats in Steinbrenner Field in Tampa enjoying the first day of Spring Training. One of the perks of a Florida spring is watching Yankee veterans and rookies and minor leaguers play on the same field. The anticipation of a new fresh season is palpable as fans chatter about which players are returning or what new young hopeful has been invited for the spring. It is always amazing to watch the roster come seamlessly together for the a new season.

It has been quite the season, summer baseball filled with new records set and new faces earning their much deserved spot on the Yankee roster. Despite the unexpected record injuries that saw the rise of a new generation of Yankees, we all witnessed New York pull together as a team and keep moving forward to earn their well-deserved spot as the AL East Division Champions.

And so here we are now in late September in Texas to face the Rangers before a sell-out crowd on a warm day in Arlington. It may not have been the final score Yankee fans hoped for, but with Game 162 now in the record books, all Yankee eyes are now on the postseason and October baseball.

For this last game of the season today, 6 Yankee pitchers shared the mound and gave up 10 hits for 6 runs. In the 1st inning, Chad Green was chosen to start as the opener for the Yankees. Facing 5 batters in the 1st inning, Green gave up a walk to the lead-off batter followed by a single. A throwing error allowed the 2 runners to do a double steal and score a run. Green followed with 2 strikeouts and an outfield fly out to end the inning.

Masahiro Tanaka came to the mound for a long-term relief outing, starting in the 2nd. His first inning was smooth, facing 3 batters for 3 outs, including a stellar infield play caught with a backhanded catch by Gio Urshela on 3rd for the throw to DJ LeMahieu for the out. Tanaka’s 3rd inning was a bit messier, giving up a 1-out double and a single to put runners on the corners. A sloppy throwing error on a pick-off attempt by Tanaka allowed a run. A fly out to right moved a runner to 3rd, who then scored on a single to left field. With 2 outs, a pop up caught by Urshela at 3rd finally ended the inning.

Then, in the 4th, after fielding a grounder for the out at 1st base, Urshela left the game with a sore ankle and was replaced by Wade at 3rd. After a strikeout swinging, Tanaka gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases before coming on strong, retiring the side with a ground out, stranding 3 on base.

In the 5th, Tommy Kahnle replaced Tanaka and gave up a single to left, a hit by pitch, and a walk to load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice caught the runner at home for a stellar defensive play for the out, but left the bases loaded. Kahnle gave up a single that scored 2 runs, but a great double play ended the inning.

Adam Ottavino took the mound in the 6th, giving up a single and a walk. He gave up a grounder for a force out to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly scored a run, and a pop out ended the inning. Britton came out for the 8th, giving up a single, but a great defensive double play and a swinging strikeout closed the inning. Chapman got some work in for a quick 3-out 8th inning.

The Yankee lineup was scoreless for the first two innings. In the 3rd, Aaron Judge hit his 27th season homer 408 feet over the left field fence to tie the game and give the Yankees a record 305 season home runs. Perhaps Judge’s homer for the first run scored in this last game was only fitting for the season wrap up since the first run scored for the Yankees on opening day this year was also homer, a 3-run long ball by Luke Voit.

The Yankee lineup struggled to reach base and remained scoreless for the rest of the game. Coming down to the 9th inning for their final chance for the win or at least to add a couple home runs to best the Twins for the season home run record. But three outs later, regular season play for New York was over.

Final score: 6-1 Rangers, Rangers win the series 2-1

Injury updates: The Yankees are optimistic that Edwin Encarnacion might be available for post-season play, but he is not currently in the lineup. Gio Urshela twisted his ankle on a jumping throw during an infield out in today’s game. Doctors diagnosed Urshela with a mild sprain that should heal quickly and no further tests are planned at this time.

Yankee postseason rosters, more injury updates, and postseason predictions are forthcoming. The Wild Card games are this Tuesday and Wednesday (October 1-2), with the NLDS starting on Thursday (October 3) and the ALDS on Friday (October 4). It’s shaping up to be some very interesting October baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 151: NYY vs. TOR — Pinstripe troubles in Canada

Today’s game in Toronto may have been disappointing for New York, but the good news is that the Yankees welcomed back Dellin Betances and Jordan Montgomery to the mound.  Unfortunately, the Yankees could not capitalize on it for the win in today’s rubber match.

Chad Green took command of the ball as the “opener” for just the 1st inning. Throwing 19 pitches, 12 for strikes, Green gave up a double, but allowed no runs. In the 2nd, Jordan Montgomery took the mound, his first start for the Yankees since last year’s Tommy John surgery. After 2 quick outs, Montgomery gave up a double to left. A single allowed that runner to score. Montgomery then allowed another double and thus another run before a strike out swinging ended the inning. And in the 3rd, Montgomery game up a 1-out solo homer.

Dellin Betances got his long-awaited season debut in the 4th. With the game tied, Betances faced 2 batters for 8 pitches and 2 strong strikeouts before Nestor Cortes, Jr. was called upon to end the inning with a solid strikeout. Cortes had some trouble in the 5th, giving up a bunt single, a walk, and a 3-run home run to put Toronto ahead. He then gave up another single and walk before a line out to right field ended the inning and the threat.

In the 6th inning, Heller replaced Cortes, Jr. giving up a walk and a sacrifice bunt, but no runs. Heller remained on the mound in the 7th for 3 straight strikeouts. Lyons took the mound in the 8th for 2 strikeouts and a line out to right field.

In the 1st, the Yankees were the first to score when Aaron Judge hit his 23rd homer of the season to right field. Wade hit a 1-out single in the 3rd and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s double. Judge worked a walk, and a single by Didi Gregorius that allowed LeMahieu to score.

After 3 quiet innings for the Yankee batters, the 7th inning began with a double sent to left field by Romine. LeMahieu reached base on a throwing error that also allowed Romine to score. Despite a few base runners, the Yankees were unable to capitalize on any further scoring opportunities.

Final score 6-4 Toronto, Toronto takes the series 2-1

Next up: After a travel day tomorrow, the Yankees head home for a 3-game series against the Angels, when Luis Severino is expected to make his season debut with the team on Tuesday. The Blue Jays come to the Bronx to close out the home stand next weekend before the Yankees hit the road for their last week of the regular season, visiting the Rays and Rangers.

Roster moves: Before today’s game, both Jordan Montgomery and Dellin Betances were activated and added to today roster. In order to make room for them on the 40-man roster and prepare them for the postseason roster, the Yankees transferred pitcher Jonathan Holder from the 10-day to the 60-day IL due to his lingering shoulder inflammation. They also designated reliever Ryan Dull for assignment.

Go Yankees!

Game 147 & 148: NYY vs. DET : Striped duel as the Pinstripes sweep the Tigers

After last night’s game was postponed due to rain, the Yankees met the Tigers today for a single-admission doubleheader in Detroit. Today’s duel gave New York their 97th win of the season, putting them in 1st place in the American League.

Game 1 (regularly scheduled game)
The Yankees sent JA Happ to the mound to start the game. Happ threw 99 pitches giving up 7 hits. After giving up a home run to right center field in the bottom of the 5th that allowed 2 runs, Chad Green took over and closed the inning with a pop out in foul territory near 1st base. Green secured 3 swift outs in the 6th, but in the 7th, gave up a triple that scored the runner on a ground out.

Ben Heller took to the mound in the 8th and struck out swinging the first batter, but gave up a homer to left followed by a walk and a single before retiring the inning on a fly ball out to center. Gearrin started the 9th inning and immediately gave up a double to right field, a call that was reviewed as a possible homer before being upheld as a double. Gearrin gave up a ground out and a walk before being replaced by Lyons who finished the 9th with a strike out swinging and a fly out to secure the Yankees a win.

The Yankees were first to score today when Judge reached base in the 1st inning on a fielding error and then scored on a Luke Voit 2-run home run to center field.  In the 3rd, Judge walked and scored again on another homer, this time hit by Edwin Encarnacion deep to left field, giving the Yankees a solid lead.

After a Detroit pitching change in the 7th, Aaron Judge walked, followed by a double that Voit sent down the right field line and moved Judge to 3rd. Gregorius was intentionally walked to load the bases. Judge then scored on a wild pitch, moving the other runners up. Cameron Maybin came to the plate and doubled to both score Voit and Gregorius to give the Yankees a good lead. Romine and Judge both singled in the 8th, and a single by Voit scored Romine. And Didi Gregorius tripled to score both Judge and Voit.

Final score: 10-4 Yankees

Game 2 (make-up of Sept. 11)
The second game of tonight’s two-game match-up in Detroit welcomed CC Sabathia back to the mound for New York, throwing 56 pitches into 4 strong innings against the Tigers. Sabathia set another milestone, surpassing Hall of Famer and former Braves’ ace John Smoltz on the strikeout list with his 3085th strikeout tonight in Detroit.

But in the 4th, Sabathia gave up a walk, a single, and a double that scored 2 runs. And with just 1 out, German came on in relief. He threw 50 pitches into the 8th, giving up just 2 hits in his scoreless outing. He gave up a single and hit a batter in the 8th, German was replaced by Tommy Kahnle who secured two outs on a double play by the infield to end the 8th inning. Kahnle was back in the 9th, but after a walk, a wild pitch, and a triple that scored a run, Aroldis Chapman was called in. Chapman allowed a single, but followed that up with a swinging strikeout and force out for another New York save and win.

First up for the Yankees in this second game of the day was LeMahieu, who singled and scored on an Aaron Judge’s home run for an early lead. In the 2nd, Mike Ford grounded a single to right and scored on a double line drive to right by DJ LeMahieu. With the Yankees in a slim lead in the 5th, a ground-rule double by Wade, followed by a single to center by Didi Gregorius that allowed Wade to score.

After 3 quiet innings that kept the Yankees in the lead, Voit sent a line drive single to left field and scored on a home run to left by Gio Urshela. Yankee pitching ended the game in the 9th despite a late charge by the Tigers.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees travel to Toronto to face another division rival this weekend before heading home for the final homestand of the season to host the Angels and Blue Jays. They will then close out their season visiting the Rays and Rangers on their way to the postseason.

Injury update: JA Happ left this afternoon’s game after throwing an impressive 99 pitches due to bicep tendonitis that has bothered him for his last few starts. Hopefully, this is just a cautionary move to check with the doctor before deciding when or if Happ is back on the mound.

Edwin Encarnacion also left today’s game, right after a walk due to a strain to his left oblique. He will head back to New York for further tests. And in the second game of this doubleheader, Gary Sanchez left the field in the 4th inning with tightness in his left groin possibly due to his stealing base in the 3rd. Sanchez was replaced by Higashioka. If Sanchez is sidelined for awhile, Romine and Higashioka will share playing time.

Finally, congratulations go to CC Sabathia for being nominated as the Yankee candidate for the 2019 Robert Clemente Award, given for sportsmanship, community involvement, and contribution to baseball. Sabathia is an easy nomination for this award between his career-long tenacity and teamwork on the field and passion for his community through his own foundation. The award winner, voted on by both fans and the media, will be announced during the World Series in October. (You can vote here for Sabathia.)

Go Yankees!

Game 144: NYY vs. BOS — Tanaka troubles but offense prevails

It  was another cool evening game in Boston before a near-capacity crowd that witnessed once again why New York still earns the Bronx Bombers moniker. Seemed like the Yankees got the perfect pitches needed to rack up the score and even break the home run record for the league. Pitching did not start out strong, but the relievers combined with those Yankee bats and defense held stronger for the win in the shadow of the Green Monster.

Masahiro Tanaka took the mound to start the game and threw 80 pitches over four full innings, allowing 8 hits, 4 runs, including one home run. The first 2 innings, Tanaka kept Boston scoreless, but with the Yankees ahead in the bottom of the 3rd, he seemed to begin to struggle a bit and allowed a single line drive to left field, followed by a fly ball home run to left that gave the Red Sox 2 runs. Tanaka allowed 2 more runs in the 4th on a single and 2 doubles that threatened New York’s lead, but no outs.

With that, Tanaka was done for the night. In addition to closing out the 4th for Tanaka,  Chad Green took over the mound for 3 perfect innings, facing 6 batters for 6 straight outs. In the 7th, Green struck out three more batters in a row for a stellar outing for the evening. Ottavino took over in the 8th and promptly gave up a home run to left, but he got out of the inning with 3 straight outs. And for the 9th inning, Loaisiga was given the ball, so 3 outs later, the game was over.

The first run for the Yankees came in the 2nd inning. With Sanchez on base with a single to left field, Gleyber Torres knocked a solid 2-run homer out of the park over the Green Monster to give the Yankees the early lead. In the 3rd inning, Tauchman hit a ground-rule double to left and moved to 3rd on a single from LeMahieu. A single by Aaron Judge moved LeMahieu to 3rd and scored Tauchman, and a ground out by Sanchez scored LeMahieu.

At the top of the 4th, Torres singled to left and then scored on a home run to right field by Mike Tauchman. In the top of the 5th, lead-off batter Aaron Judge hit his 21st homer of the season to left field, up and over the Green Monster and breaking the league record for most home runs in a season. A record, by the way, set last year also by the Yankees.

Then Gregorius reached on a fielding error and later scored when Gleyber Torres grounded into a force out. The next 3 innings were relatively quiet, but at the top of the 9th, Gregorius walked, and a fielding error put Sanchez on base. A throwing error then moved the runners into scoring position. So Edwin Encarnacion singled to left to score Gregorius and move Sanchez to 3rd. Despite a pitching change as Boston tried to jam up the offense, Torres doubled home Sanchez, and the Yankees tallied up a double-digit run count, besting the Red Sox in their own territory again.

Final score: 10-5 Yankees

Roster moves: The Yankees activated Thairo Estrada and Gio Urshela. Plus, both Kyle Higashioka and Breyvic Valera have been recalled from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The September call-ups continue.

Go Yankees!

Game 141: TEX vs. NYY — Near shutout in the Bronx

The 2019 Yankees have the honor this year of being the first team in MLB history to have a record breaking 13 players in the double digits for home runs, besting their own record last year of 12. Gary Sanchez, Edwin Encarnacion, Gleyber Torres, and DJ LeMahieu lead the list in homers followed closely by veterans and rookies alike. And tonight, a warm late summer night, the crowd at Yankee Stadium witnessed even more homers, adding to that record-breaking list for these Bronx Bombers as they out-hit, out-pitched, and generally outdid the Rangers.

Chad Green was the first to take the mound and pitched two full solid innings facing 9 batters. He allowed 2 singles and a walk, but no runs, all while striking out 4. At the top of the 3rd, Green was replaced by Luis Cessa who threw 33 pitches for three innings, striking out three and allowing two hits, but kept the Rangers scoreless through the 5th inning.

In the 6th, Ottavino replaced Cessa allowing no hits and 3 quick outs. A pitching change in the 7th brought Kahnle to the mound and despite an allowed hit and a wild pitch, he managed to get three batters to strike out swinging.

Britton replaced Kahnle in the 8th, continuing the scoreless streak of Yankee pitchers. For the final inning, the ball was handed to Cory Gearrin who faced four batters, however, one was a fly ball home run out to left center.

The Yankees were the first to score tonight. The stadium crowd witnessed strong outings from the pitchers and an equally strong defense that assisted in keeping the Rangers scoreless through most of the game.

After a quiet first 2 innings, Brett Gardner walked in the 3rd inning and scored on a home run sent over the right center field fence by Aaron Judge to put the Yankees on the board. The 4th inning saw another homer by Gleyber Torres, his 34th of the year, to add another run in the Yankee column. Then Tauchman and Romine singled, and Gardner worked a walk. But with the bases loaded and the crowd hoping for more runs, Judge struck out swinging.

In the bottom of the 6th, Tauchman reached base on a walk and scored on a grounder to left field by Austin Romine for another run. Another possible shutout looked likely until that 9th inning allowed homer. But with no further allowed runs, New York triumphed again.

Final score: 4-1, Yankees, Yankees take the series 2-1

Next up: After an off day tomorrow, the Yankees head to Boston for a 4-game wraparound weekend series rivalry to face the “Green Monster” and the Red Sox, followed by a trip to the Midwest for a 3 game match-up facing Detroit in the land of the Tigers. After 3 games in Toronto, the Yankees will be back home again in New York to face the Angels.

And finally, here’s a fun fact for pinstripe fans: On this day in 1998, the New York Yankees reached 100 wins on the earliest date in major league history with a victory over the White Sox. While the team has not yet reached 100 wins this year, the Yankees are tied with the Dodgers at 91 wins each for the most wins this season so far on this date in 2019.

Go Yankees!

Game 128: NYY vs. OAK — Tauchman’s RBIs fall short of Happ’s allowed homers

The Yankees are having trouble finding traction in the Bay area in this midweek series. The Athletics are certainly attempting to close that gap in the AL West between them and the Astros and/or solidify their Wild Card status, and unfortunately, they’re using this series with the Yankees to do so.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees and had some trouble tamping down the home team’s bats. He threw 80 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out just 4 batters. With 2 outs in the 2nd, he gave up a single that scored on a 2-run home run to put the A’s in the lead.

To lead off the 3rd, Happ gave up a walk and a 2-run home run to double the home team’s score. Then in the 5th, he loaded up the bases with a double, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk. So with that threat, the Yankees turned to Chad Green. Green quickly got consecutive pop-outs, but then a single scored one more run for the A’s before an easy grounder got him out of the jam.

Green continued on through the next two innings, giving up a lead-off solo home run in the 6th. But he was able to control the rest of his outing and hand the game over to Ottavino who breezed through the 9th in just 9 pitches.

The Yankees were first on the board again. In the top of the 2nd, Gregorius led-off with a double and scored on Mike Tauchman’s 1-out single. After the Athletics took a nice lead, the Yankees find meager opportunities to chip away at it.

In the 6th, with 1 out, they loaded up the bases with Urshela’s single, Gregorius’ walk, and Torres’ single. After the A’s went to the bullpen for a new pitcher, Tauchman hit a sacrifice fly deep in foul territory that scored a speedy Urshela. Mike Ford led-off the 7th with a strong solo home run. After 2 outs, Sanchez singled, moved to 3rd on Urshela’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double.

After that, the Yankees were kind of stifled by the A’s bullpen, falling just short tonight.

Final score: 6-4 Athletics

CC Sabathia is enjoying his final trip to his hometown area during the regular season. Originally from Vallejo, an area northeast of San Francisco and Oakland, Sabathia and his organization PitCChIn have partnered with the local Boys & Girls Club to help kids, much like a young Sabathia many year ago.

Relieved of the pressure of starting this series (on the basis of a scheduling fluke), Sabathia has been connecting with all his old haunts and encouraging kids (like him) that they can reach for their dreams. He visited a local elementary school, invited a large group of kids to the game, and received a donation from the Boys & Girls Club to help continue his foundation’s philanthropic work in the area and back in his now-home of New York.

Go Yankees!