Game 146: NYY vs. MIN — Deny a no-hitter, have a pitchers’ duel, and still lose the game

“Baseball will punch you in the mouth now and then.” (Aaron Boone, tonight)

That sentiment feels about right as the Yankees wrap up this road trip and head back home for their final home stand. The Yankees actually played really well in their final game against the Twins, and somehow were outplayed by a team having that random better week.

Luis Severino threw 83 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 4 hits and 1 run, and struck out 5 batters. In fact, he held off the Twins’ batters for most of the game. Until the 6th inning, Severino only gave up a single hit in the 1st before keeping the Twins’ offense rather silent. With 1 out in the 6th, he gave up a single that scored on a double. Another single put runners on the corners, and a strikeout allowed one runner to move to scoring position.

With that threat looming, that was it for Severino. David Robertson came in and got a quick grounder to end the threat. He came back out in the 7th and got 2 quick outs before getting into a spot of trouble himself. A double scored on a single, and that runner scored on a double. But then he got a stellar strikeout to stem the Twins’ offense. And Zach Britton threw a flawless 12-pitch 8th inning to reset the earlier game momentum.

The Twins sent in a familiar face for the Yankees, a former foe from an AL East team, signed this year to the Twins after 5 seasons with the Rays. And he held the Yankees to a no-hitter for 7 innings. Though he still gave up a couple walks along the way, he hadn’t allowed a hit, frustrating the Yankee batters.

In the 8th, with 1 out, he gave up a walk to Luke Voit. And on the 120th pitch, Greg Bird knocked a solid double to score Voit, break his no-hitter bid, and end the shutout. That was it for the Twins’ starter’s night, a standing ovation from the home team fans, and the Yankees left Bird stranded at 2nd through 2 relievers and 2 strikeouts. Andujar hit a 1-out single in the 9th, but again, the Yankees stranded him there as the Twins’ reliever earned the save.

Final score: 3-1 Twins, Twins win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees head home tomorrow on their off-day/travel day. Then they will host the Blue Jays for the weekend. After a final off-day on Monday, they will host the Red Sox and Orioles to complete their home stand. A final road trip will include 4 games against the Rays and 3 games to close the season in Boston.

That means that the Yankees face all 4 of their division rivals for the last 16 games of the season. With the Athletics breathing down their necks in the Wild Card race, the Yankees need to take advantage of their position within the division to advance and get some space to ensure their October spot.

Injury news: It looks like Aroldis Chapman could be back very soon, maybe early next week. After some promising sessions in the Tampa complex, the Yankees brought Chapman back to rejoin the team for his final workouts to see his progress in person. His lingering issue with knee tendonitis finally moved him to the DL at the end of last month to focus on healing.

Aaron Judge got some legitimate batting practice in today, with one of the regular BP groups before the game. They expect he will continue to do this before Friday’s game back at Yankee Stadium. They won’t send him to a rehab assignment, as the RailRiders (AAA) are making a push for their league’s postseason, though there is some talk about giving him some simulated-type games and other workouts at the Tampa complex.

And if you’ve been wondering where Brett Gardner is, the veteran outfielder has been out for the last two games due to some right knee inflammation. On Monday, he dove for a line drive in the 2nd inning and fell awkwardly on his knee. While not an injury that requires any DL time, the Yankees are allowing him to rest and recover while keeping him available off the bench. Fortunately, the Yankees have a ton of current help thanks to the September call-ups.

Speaking of the call-ups, the Yankees recalled pitcher Chance Adams from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today. Every little bit counts in the Yankees’ final push towards that postseason. Fingers crossed, everyone.

Go Yankees!

Game 127: NYY vs. BAL — Voit-power +10

CC Sabathia got the start in his return from a brief stint on the DL so that he could rest his problematic knee. In this weekend opener against the Orioles, he had a pretty good outing overall, throwing just 80 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out an impressive 8 batters.

Actually, almost all his allowed offense was in the bottom of the 1st inning. He gave up consecutive singles that moved up on a fly out before a walk loaded up the bases. Another single scored 2 runs to get the Orioles on the board early. But then Sabathia and the Yankees’ defense held them off for the next 5 innings.

And meanwhile, the Yankees came back to tie up the game in the 4th inning when Walker worked a 1-out walk and then scored as part of Luke Voit’s 2-run home run. David Robertson came into the game in the 7th, and his first batter made it safely on a fielding error to kick off the inning. After 2 outs, a 2-run home run became an inning of unearned runs to put the Orioles back in the lead.

But the Yankees came back in the 8th, by loading up the bases with 1 out thanks to a walk to Stanton and 2 singles to Andujar and Walker. And on the 3rd pitcher of the inning, Gleyber Torres hit a solid single to score both Stanton and Andujar to once again tie up the game. But they loaded up the bases again in hopes of taking the lead, but then left them stranded.

After Betances and Green sailed their way through their innings, and the Yankees weren’t able to find another opportunity to break the tie. So the game went into an extra inning, and there the Yankees found their chance. Neil Walker broke the tie with a 1-out solo home run up the middle. Then Torres worked a walk and in an attempt to steal 2nd ended up at 3rd on a throwing error. He then scored as part of 2-run home run by Luke Voit, his 2nd homer of the game, which would be the defining factor.

So, the Orioles had one last chance in the bottom of the 10th, and the Yankees opted to send in former Oriole and temporary Yankee closer Zach Britton to earn his first save against his former team. With 2 outs, he gave up a solo home run to edge the O’s closer to the Yankees’ lead. But a ground out later, the Orioles ran out of opportunities.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees, in 10 innings

Roster moves: During the travel day yesterday, the Yankees optioned reliever Chance Adams back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for tonight’s starter. Sabathia was activated off the 10-day disabled list, only missing one scheduled start to rest his knee. Plus, the Yankees are making up a rain-out game from June as part of the doubleheader tomorrow. So, there will be a roster move to add a 26th man, as per the rules for doubleheaders.

And speaking of tonight’s starter, there is a nice article on the veteran pitcher and his family this season. It’s a nice insight on family sacrifice and finding the balance of blending work and home life, as well as the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will challenge you and support you through all of life’s ups and downs. A good life lesson either way you cut it.

Go Yankees!

Game 126: NYY vs. MIA — Just disappointed

There’s a lot of adjectives people throw around at the end of a game like tonight’s. I mean, I get it. The Marlins are one of the worst teams in baseball this season (5th worst, as of this posting), and the Yankees are still the 2nd best team in baseball. So when the script is flipped and the winning Yankees get trounced by the losing Marlins, people get frustrated or angry or disenchanted or just disappointed.

But I’m just reminded of what was said over the weekend when the 1998 team got undesired results — that disappointment from the manager (Joe Torre) and the fans was enough to motivate the team to do better, to be better. You’re not going to be disappointed if there’s no comparison for potential, that you actually have the capabilities to be better than whatever just happened. Paul O’Neill compared the feeling to disappointing your dad, and mostly, parents are disappointed in their children because they know they can be and should be better than whatever just happened. It doesn’t mean they love them any less, but they certainly want better things for them.

And I think Yankee Universe wants better things for this team. Lance Lynn got the start in tonight’s finale of this quick 2-game series in Miami. He threw 110 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 9 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, and struck out 6 batters. But he didn’t allow a single run until that 6th run and gave up 5 of his 9 hits in that inning alone.

So, in the 6th, he allowed consecutive singles that moved up on a ground out. The lead runner scored on another single, before a 3-run home run cleared the bases and put the Marlins in the lead. After giving up another single, Lynn’s night was done and he handed things over to Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle gave up a double to score Lynn’s final runner, before he got 2 solid strikeouts.

Actually, the Yankees got on the board first in the 4th. Hicks worked a 1-out walk and then scored on Neil Walker’s 2-out double. Then in the 6th, Gardner led-off with a single, stole 2nd on a strikeout, and moved to 3rd on Hicks’ single. After the Marlins’ starter intentionally walked Andujar to load the bases, the Marlins went to their bullpen. That reliever gave up a sacrifice fly to Neil Walker to score Gardner.

After the Yankees gave up the lead in the bottom of the 6th, they came back in the 7th to try to chip away at the Marlins’ lead. After 2 quick outs, pinch-hitter Voit singled and moved to 2nd on Gardner’s walk. A new reliever’s wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, and Voit then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single.

But then the Marlins’ bullpen stopped giving the Yankees opportunities to advance, something the Yankees’ bullpen clearly didn’t do. Chance Adams came into the game for the 7th inning and just struggled through his outing. He gave up consecutive walks, one of which was complicated by a throwing error that moved the lead runner to 3rd. A fielder’s choice scored that lead runner. Another batter reached safely on another error, but the next guy hit into a double play to get out of the inning.

However, Adams’ troubles continued on in the 8th. A lead-off single scored as part of a 1st pitch pinch-hitter’s 2-run homer. Then with 1 out, a walk moved to 2nd on a single and then scored on another single. Adams’ night was just done at that point, AJ Cole took 5 pitches to get a fly out to end the inning and the Yankees’ pitchers’ disappointing night.

Final score: 9-3 Marlins, split series 1-1

Next up: Tomorrow is an off-day/travel day for the Yankees as they prepare for this weekend’s 4-game series in Baltimore. Technically, it’s a 3-game series, but a make-up game made Saturday a doubleheader. Then, they’re back in the Bronx for a week to face the White Sox and Tigers before heading out to the West Coast.

Injury news/roster moves: The Yankees officially moved Aroldis Chapman to the 10-day disabled list with his recurring left knee tendinitis. To fill his roster spot, they recalled reliever Chance Adams from AAA Scranton, who pitched in tonight’s game. And Gary Sanchez’s return from his groin injury is nearing. He will play in a Gulf Coast League (Rookie) game this week before joining the RailRiders (AAA) next week for his rehab. He should then rejoin the Yankees if all goes well.

Go Yankees!

Game 114: TEX vs. NYY — Bombers return to the Bronx

In this first game of the home stand and this weekend series against the Rangers, the Yankees found their swing by scoring all their runs tonight courtesy of the home run. JA Happ is back after his stint on the DL to start tonight’s game and do a pretty good job of it.

He threw 94 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and struck out 9 Texas batters. A 2-out solo homer in the 4th got the Rangers on the board. And in the 5th, a walk and single scored on a solid double to edge them closer to the Yankees’ lead.

The Yankees offense kicked off again in the 1st, putting them in an early lead they never surrendered thanks to that signature home run ball. Gregorius worked a 2-out walk and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 20th home run, a big 2-run shot into the right field seats.

In the 4th, with 1 out and a walk to Bird, Miguel Andujar hit a 2-run home run to double their score, and Neil Walker followed him up with a solo home run for a great back-to-back show for the home town crowd. Giancarlo Stanton’s 1-out solo home run in the 5th, and Walker’s 1-out solo home run (yes, his 2nd of the night) in the 6th capped off the Yankees’ night.

Happ handed the lead over to the bullpen for Robertson, Betances, and Chapman to close out the game with an inning a piece. All three doing their job well, especially Betances’ 8-pitch 8th. Yankee pitchers combined for a solid 13 strikeouts against Rangers batters.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees

Roster moves: In anticipation of tonight’s game, the Yankees sent prospect pitcher Chance Adams back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for JA Happ as they activated him off the DL following his stint with hand, foot, and mouth disease.

After a rather popular special event last year, MLB is hosting league-wide Player’s Weekend once again this year. Scheduled for the last weekend of this month, August 24-26), players will don personalized gear and have specially chosen nicknames on their jerseys.

Teams generally have very strict rules about what colors and designs players can wear on an ordinary day, diverging only for special events like the All-Star Game, exhibition games, and those games in honor of Mothers and Fathers Days (though only pink and blue accents allowed for those). And if a team does have a name on its jersey, it’s only the last name (and sometimes a first initial or suffix to clarify in the case of more popular names).

In addition to all these fun things, there’s a patch on every sleeve where players write who inspired them to honor those special people in their lives. Fans can purchase special jerseys and hats and later game-worn jerseys to help support the charitable cause of the weekend — to support the “evolution” of baseball players, from Little League and Youth Baseball all the way up to Major League Baseball.

Play ball… and Go Yankees!

Game 109: NYY vs. BOS — No “Chance” against MLB leaders

The Yankees are hitting this crucial series against the Red Sox at a really bad time. The Red Sox are easily the best team in baseball, by a long shot now, and their recent trades helped make them even stronger, including picking up a key former Yankee pitcher to start today’s game. In comparison, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball, but when you have a tight division battle like the Red Sox vs. Yankees, it’s going to look like the worst weekend ever. Plus, there’s still one more game.

To help the Yankees’ bad start to the weekend series, the Yankees called up prospect pitcher Chance Adams to start this afternoon’s game, the third game of this 4-game weekend series. And he did a great job for his MLB debut, throwing 85 pitches in 5 innings, giving up just 3 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and striking out just 2 batters.

In the 1st, with 1 out, a single took 2nd on a passed ball and then scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board early. They added one more run with a 1-out solo Green Monster homer in the 4th. But other than that, Adams (and the Yankees’ defense) held them off quite effectively. And any other game, that might have been enough to work.

Chad Green threw a beautiful 13-pitch scoreless 6th inning. AJ Cole got a quick 2 outs in the 7th but then gave up a single that moved to 2nd on another single and then scored on a ground-rule double before getting out of the inning and then throwing a clean 8th inning.

Again, all this should be enough if the Yankee batters do their jobs. But once again, the Boston starter had a great outing, and that made all the difference in the game. The former Yankee starter threw 93 pitches through 8 scoreless innings, with the Yankees only collecting 3 hits and a walk along the way.

For some reason, the Red Sox felt their lead was enough to call in their close, despite not being a save situation, and the Yankees at last found their long-awaited opportunity for a rally. After 2 quick outs, Giancarlo Stanton hit a solid double and then gave the Yankees a modicum of hope on Didi Gregorius’ double. That hope got bigger with walks to Hicks and Torres to load the bases.

But a shortened swing ended up a short fly ball to center field to end the rally hopes and the game, once again stranding runners for any potential to take back this game.

Final score: 4-1 Red Sox

Maybe Sunday’s game will be better somehow. I’m cautiously optimistic because stranger things have happened, especially in these long-time rivalry games. You just never know.

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: Before the game, the Yankees selected the contract of Chance Adams, calling him up from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. To make room, they optioned pitcher Tommy Kahnle back to AAA.

Go Yankees!

Game 108: NYY vs. BOS — Against an ace performance, just 1-run

After last night’s crazy game, the Yankees were looking to tonight’s game for at least a little normalcy. And it was, but it wasn’t in their favor.

Luis Severino struggled a bit at the beginning of his outing tonight but later found his momentum and helped keep the Red Sox from doing too much damage against the Yankees. Severino threw a season-high 115 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 2 Boston batters.

In the bottom of the 1st, with 1 out, he gave up a ground-rule double that scored as part of a 2-run home run (if you’ve been following this series, it’s the same guy as last night). A 2-out walk stole 2nd and then scored on an RBI single to give the Red Sox an early lead. With 2 outs in the 5th, he gave up a double that scored on a single to cap off Boston’s offense. Robertson and Kahnle swept through the final 7 outs, cleanly and efficiently.

That should have been enough for the Yankees to fight back and make at least a concerted attempt to match the Red Sox. But the Yankee batters were up against a pitcher having a terrific game, eventually throwing a complete 9 innings with just 86 pitches and only giving up a single hit — a lead-off solo home run into the Green Monster seats to Miguel Andujar in the 3rd.

There was seemingly nothing the Yankees could do off the Red Sox pitcher tonight. Which certainly made for a quick game, just 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was just not going to be the Yankees’ night because of his performance.

Final score 4-1 Red Sox

Roster moves: The greatest story of tonight’s roster moves was that Tommy Kahnle, tonight’s 8th inning pitcher, was in upstate New York this morning (after the RailRiders game yesterday in Rochester) when he got the call to head to Boston rather than follow the team back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He made it at some point before he threw his 13 pitches tonight in his away greys.

To make room for him, the Yankees optioned Luis Cessa back to Scranton. And with JA Happ out with hand, foot, and mouth disease for the next week or so, the Yankees will be calling up prospect pitcher Chance Adams to start tomorrow’s game in Happ’s stead. Seeing as great pitchers like Sabathia and Severino have had less than ideal outings (though honestly not terrible) against the Red Sox, perhaps a change in the rotation could help press the reset button, so to speak, for the Yankees in this weekend series.

This reminds me of my preferred version of the famed quote misattributed to Einstein: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” In other words, if things aren’t working, change is the best option. Change is usually the best option. It prevents boredom and complacency and predictability, instead inviting creativity and adventure and surprise. And isn’t that worth the risk?

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 20: PIT vs. NYY — #ElGary is back and it’s awesome

Apparently, the local schools are on Spring Break this week, which could explain why there was a nearly sold-out crowd for a lazy Thursday afternoon at the park against the Pirates. I mean, the Pirates only play their Spring home games about an hour south, so their fans could certainly make the trek northward for a game on a good day. Regardless of the reason, the fans certainly saw an entertaining game.

Sonny Gray got the start this afternoon, throwing 3 innings with a few mixed results. In the 1st, he gave up a lead-off walk who scored on a 2-out 2-run home run to get the Pirates on the board first. In the 3rd, a 1-out double moved to 3rd on a passed ball and then scored on a ground out to add one more run for the visitors. Adam Warren got 2 outs in the 4th before handing things over to Tommy Kahnle to complete the inning and throw through the 5th.

Dellin Betances got his chance in the 6th. He gave up a lead-off single who stole 2nd and moved to 3rd on a strikeout. A 2-out 2-run home run added a bit more for the Pirates’ score. But it is worth noting that all 3 of Betances’ outs were strong strikeouts. Chasen Shreve and Ben Heller split the final 3 innings, adding 2 more strikeouts of their own. In total, Yankee pitchers struck out 12 Pittsburgh batters.

That could certainly seem like a huge blow to the Yankees’ attempts to turn the game in their favor. But with the Yankees, you just never know. In the bottom of the 1st, down 2-0 already, Gardner led-off with a walk and then scored on Aaron Judge’s big double to get on the board. In the 3rd, with 2 outs, Judge worked a walk, and Stanton was hit by the next pitcher to get on base. So it would be Gary Sanchez’s big 3-run home run into the stands in right field to push the Yankees into the lead.

In the 4th, the Yankees loaded the bases with 1 out, 2 walks, and a fielding error. Then Aaron Judge worked another walk to walk in a run (Bird). After another new pitcher, Giancarlo Stanton hit into a little ground out that moved up all the runners and scored Tyler Wade. So it would be Gary Sanchez again, this time with a double to score both runners (Gardner and Judge) to really push the Yankees deep into the lead. Tyler Austin added an exclamation point to the scoreboard with his 8th inning lead-off solo shot.

Final score: 9-5 Yankees

One to Watch: easy today again — Tyler Wade. He’s got it all really. But he certainly shines at defense at 2nd base, perfectly in sync with his right infield partner Greg Bird in fielding those grounders and setting each other up for successful defense. Wade is something to watch on a lot of levels, but he’s certainly proving his worth to the organization in general and this team in particular.

Next up: the Yankees continue their hosting duties this week as the reigning World Series champions, the Astros, come visit tomorrow night (6:35 pm EST start time). Jordan Montgomery is to start the game, and fireworks are to end it.

Before the game, Chance Adams was optioned to AAA Scranton and sent to minor league camp. Adams, the Yankees’ #2 prospect certainly got roughed up this Spring, so it gives him something to work on this season, work out the kinks, challenge himself further, and prepare for a potential breakout in 2019.

Go Yankees!