Game 93: NYY vs. CLE — Late offense came close, not close enough

The Yankees didn’t seem to find their footing in tonight’s game against the Indians for the first part of the game, both with their pitching and hitting. Domingo German had trouble out of the gate, once again, and still had some trouble staying consistent. He threw 91 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs, and still struck out 6 batters.

He gave up consecutive walks to lead off the 1st that moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. However, a ground out only allowed one run to scored before 2 strikeouts ended the threat. In the 2nd, with 1 out, a single scored on an RBI double, and after a walk, a long double scored 2 more runs. Then in the 5th, a lead-off single scored on a triple that ended German’s night.

He handed the ball over to Jonathan Holder, who promptly walked his first batter and then gave up a single to score German’s final base runner before getting out of his own jam. Then Holder sailed through the 6th inning. Shreve followed that up with 2 scoreless innings of his own, and though both were fraught with their own threats, he kept the game tight.

The Yankees were held off from their offense until the 5th inning. Bird led-off with a double, and Andujar worked a walk. Neil Walker’s double scored Bird, and a wild pitch scored Andujar and moved Walker to 3rd. One out and one single, Brett Gardner’s long sacrifice fly to score Walker.

Wade later led-off the 8th with a double and ended the Indians’ starter’s night. He moved to 3rd on a passed ball and then scored on Gardner’s ground out. With another new reliever, Judge was hit by a pitch.

And in a still questionable decision, the Indians pulled a “strike-em-out-throw-em-out” double play as Hicks struck out and Judge got tagged out stealing 2nd. Originally, Judge was ruled safe, but after an Indians’ challenge, the call was overturned. Why they’d risk a double play on a steal when Stanton was up next had everyone kind of “message board managing”.

It’s worth noting that Giancarlo Stanton hit a big solo home run to lead off the 9th inning to inch the Yankees closer to the Indians’ lead. However, 3 outs later, the Yankees ran out of outs.

Final score: 6-5 Indians

There’s been a lot of conversation, rightly so, about next week’s All-Star Game, and several new additions have been called up to replace selected players who are either inactive, injured, ineligible (starting Sunday), or choose to remove themselves from the roster. Like Aroldis Chapman. He’s been dealing with knee tendinitis since at least May, so he chose to attend but not play in the exhibition game on Tuesday. Chapman has been an All-Star previously (4 times with the Reds, 2012-2015), and will be considered as an All-Star for this year. But he’s got half of a regular season (and potential postseason) to go.

And as odd as this may seem, the benefit to this is that players selected for the game are often first-time All-Stars (like the one selected to fill Chapman’s spot). That means, they get to experience all the buzz, excitement, and special camaraderie for the first time next week. And that is kind of cool. Plus, it’s something that will forever be on their Wikipedia page, even if they just end up coaching Little League one day.

Go Yankees!

Game 91: NYY vs. BAL — Strong shutout finale in Baltimore

It was a great night for Sonny Gray to close out this series in Baltimore tonight. Gray threw 90 pitches in 6 scoreless innings, gave up just 3 hits and a walk, and struck out an impressive 8 batters along the way to earning a great (and much-needed) win. AJ Cole followed his lead with 2 more scoreless innings, and Chasen Shreve closed out the game with a scoreless 9th to seal the Yankees’ shutout of the home team.

The Yankee batters gave Gray a hefty lead to feel rather secure tonight. In the 3rd, with 1 out, Gardner worked a walk, moved to 3rd on Judge’s single, and then was caught out on a fielder’s choice off Gregorius’ hit. Giancarlo Stanton singled home Judge to get the Yankees on the board, and Hicks then loaded the bases with a walk. It would be Greg Bird to really make an impact with his first career grand slam, a big home run to the right field seats.

Tyler Wade led-off the 6th inning with his first solo home run. (The Red Sox fan who caught the game on a whim during a business trip happily returned the ball for Wade’s keepsake collection.) And Austin Romine hit a 2-out solo home run in the 7th to jump in on the fun of the night.

The Yankees got creative in the 8th. With 1 out, Gregorius doubled and then moved to 3rd on Stanton’s single. A new reliever allowed Aaron Hicks to make it safely to 1st on a sloppy missed catch error, as Gregorius hustled home for an unearned run. In the 9th, Frazier hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Judge’s walk, ended up at 3rd on Gregorius’ grounder, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single.

Final score: 9-0 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1 (Yes, there were 4 games this week, but technically, the first game of the doubleheader was part of a previous series and thus is wrapped into that result to be concluded next month.)

Next up: The Yankees begin a 4-game weekend series in Cleveland tomorrow night, the final series before the All-Star Break. After the Break, the Yankees will host their cross-town rivals next weekend for a short home stand before hitting the road again.

Big bummer on the All-Star Game front — Giancarlo Stanton ended up 3rd in the Final Vote. Fans selected Mariners’ shortstop Jean Segura and Brewers’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar. That leaves just Judge, Severino, Chapman, and Torres to represent the Yankees in D.C. next Tuesday at the All-Star Game.

And the participants in the Home Run Derby were announced tonight, and it’s an interesting mix of players, all but 1 are from the NL, despite the fact that most of the home run leaders are in the AL — Jesus Aguilar (Brewers), Bryce Harper (Nationals), Max Muncy (Dodgers), Alex Bregman (Astros), Kyle Schwarber (Cubs), Javier Baez (Cubs), Freddie Freeman (Braves), and Rhys Hoskins (Phillies).

What is most interesting is that the top seed of the Derby (Aguilar) is actually 6th on the home run leaders (not including potential changes from games today) behind Martinez (Red Sox), Ramirez (Indians), Judge, Trout (Angels), and Lindor (Indians), notably all AL power-hitters, by the way. The selected Derby participants have 14-23 home runs this season. Now, it’s worth noting that if 14 home runs was the base line for being in the Derby, Judge, Stanton, Hicks, Gregorius, Torres, and Sanchez all qualified. (And 14 homer put 14 players tied at 55th place on the stats.)

 

I mean, congratulations to all the selected participants, all but Harper are first-time participants. Harper was last in the Derby in 2013 and came in 2nd. I’m just a little confused as to the process of selecting the Home Run Derby participants this year. Unless of course, 47 other players turned down the opportunity, which is quite possibly like Judge’s adamant refusal to do so starting in March.

Go Yankees!

Game 86: NYY vs. TOR — Early power wins game, with ejections & injuries

In comparison to much of the country right now, the Queen City is having some nice (and fairly standard) summer weather for this Saturday afternoon and middle game of this weekend series. The roof of Rogers Centre open to the blue skies and the Yankees ready to bounce back after last night’s game set up a great game for their fans in the Toronto area.

Luis Severino got the start and actually had a lesser outing than previous ones, despite earning his 14th win and keeping the Blue Jays from doing too much damage. He threw 97 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out just 5 batters. In the 2nd, with 1 out and a runner on 1st with a single, a 2-run home run got the Blue Jays on the board. And a 1-out solo homer in the 4th added on another.

Jonathan Holder came on for the 6th, gave up a lead-off double that moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. But then Robertson and Betances held the Jays scoreless through the next 2 innings. Aroldis Chapman got one strikeout in the 9th and then came out of the game (more below), handing things over to Chasen Shreve, who despite giving up a solo home run, still got out of the inning rather quickly. Shreve appears to be bouncing back, at least somewhat, thanks to less-pressured situations.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offense started strong and stayed strong beginning with a 1st pitch home run right up the middle by Brett Gardner. Aaron Judge followed that up with a solo home run of his own. Stanton and Hicks each worked walks before the Jays’ starter finally got a couple of outs. Then Brandon Drury hit a long double that scored both Stanton and Hicks to double the Yankees’ early score.

Then in the 3rd, Gregorius led-off with a walk. After 2 outs (and the ejection of CC Sabathia, for chirping at the umpire over the questionable strike zone), Gregorius stole 2nd, and Bird worked a walk. As the Jays’ starter exited the game, he was almost ejected, but his manager instead took his fate (for the same reason as Sabathia actually). But the new reliever gave up a quick triple to Brett Gardner (the fastest triple in 2018, by the way) that scored Gregorius and Bird. A passed ball easily allowed Gardner to later score.

But then the Blue Jays’ pitching staff was able to piece together their relievers to keep the Yankees from adding to their impressive lead. Until the 9th inning. Andujar led-off with a ground-rule double and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single. That insurance run was eventually unnecessary, but it certainly put a cap on the Yankees’ offensive show today (9 total hits, 10 total walks).

Final score: 8-5 Yankees

Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees recalled Clint Frazier and designated reliever David Hale for assignment. After being sent to AAA in anticipation for Monday’s coming doubleheader, pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga developed inflammation in his right shoulder and is probably headed for the disabled list. That leaves Luis Cessa on tap for the second game of the doubleheader in Baltimore now.

Okay, so two potential injuries during the game: after 6 pitches in the 9th, Aroldis Chapman, who’s been battling tendinitis in his left knee, was feeling some intense pain there and Boone figured it wasn’t worth the risk as the Yankees were so far ahead. And Aaron Hicks left the game in the 5th due to some cramping in his left leg.

Stadiums with artificial turf are often the source of problems, even temporary ones, for many players. The only 2 remaining stadiums in MLB are Rogers Centre (Blue Jays) and Tropicana Field (Rays), unfortunately for all players in the AL East, as division rivals play each other more than any other team.

In general, real grass surfaces have a natural give, but artificial turf has either a stiffer base or one that is too spongy. Think of the difference of beaches like Daytona (where you can literally drive onto the sand) vs. Clearwater (more like quicksand, that sinks under every step). Neither of those really work well for anything more than sunbathing, even sand castles are difficult because it’s either too dense or too soft of a foundation. But a mix (like the Pacific Coast beaches) allows for running, volleyball, soccer games, and general beach athletics (and great sand castles!).

Go Yankees!

Game 85: NYY vs. TOR — Northern Exposure

Truthfully, I have mixed feelings about all the Yankees’ division rivals and their respective cities. In general, I really like the cities they represent and the people who live there, and I can respect their passion for the game and their home team, even if I’m not a fan of their chosen team. Attending Spring Training annually and actually going to those cities is often what mixes up those feelings.

For example, I love the city of Boston, and nearly every Boston fan I’ve met is really a good person that just roots for my chosen team’s greatest rivals. I also happen to think Fenway Park is legendary and historic and a symbol of the great legacy of the sport. (And the Green Monster is just as ugly in person as you’d think.)

But the Yankees play in Toronto this weekend. And let’s just say that it’s not Boston.

And Sonny Gray wasn’t exactly having a great night to start in the opener at Rogers Centre, throwing 62 pitches in just 2 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, and still striking out 4 batters. Most of that damage was done in that 2nd inning and it wasn’t good.

A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single to get the Blue Jays on the board. A wild pitch moved the runner to 2nd and then he scored on another single. After a strikeout and another allowed single, the next batter smacked a big 3-run home run to really push the Blue Jays ahead. A hit-by-pitch, stolen base, and strikeout later, and Gray’s night was over.

David Hale came on in the 3rd and pitched into the 8th inning strong. It wasn’t until the 8th inning that the Blue Jays were able to eke through again. A lead-off double later scored on a 2-out double to cap off their runs. And Chasen Shreve needed just 3 pitches to induce a ground out for the final out of the 8th.

Meanwhile, while the Yankees certainly dented the Blue Jays’ starter’s pitch count (pushing him to 101 pitches after the 1st out of the 5th inning), they only managed 4 hits and 3 walks off him. Aaron Hicks hit a 2-out solo home run, his 16th of the season, in the 3rd inning.

Then in the 5th, the Yankees finally found their opportunity (and pretty much their only one all night). They loaded up the bases with singles to Romine and Gardner and a fielding error on Judge’s sloppy hit. Then Hicks worked a 1-out walk to score Romine and keep those bases loaded. 101 pitches with bases loaded, so it was time for a reliever. Who got a well-placed strikeout and then a line drive out to end the threat.

The Blue Jays pieced together 5 relievers to finish off their game and keep the Yankees from being any kind of threat again for the rest of the night.

Final score: 6-2 Blue Jays

Roster moves/injury updates: Well, the Yankees moved Gleyber Torres to the 10-day disabled list with right hip strain. Muscle strains are always complicated, so they anticipate Torres will be out through the All-Star break.

In his stead, a normal call-up would be Ronald Torreyes, but Torreyes has been out for about a week at this point, dealing with a personal family issue. So, they recalled Tyler Wade, who was sent down in the middle of April due to the excess of excellent bench players.

And if you’re wondering, the Yankees sent Masahiro Tanaka to join AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for his rehab assignment after dealing with hamstring issues last month.

Well, the All-Star Game fan voting has closed, and the results will be announced Sunday night. Also, based on a player ballot and selections from the Commissioner’s Office, each team will fill out most of its 32 spots with reserve players and pitchers. Each team will allow for one more spot, nominate 5 potential All-Stars, and call on fans to vote once more. (There is a rather extensive explanation about how players are chosen and eligibility.)

Speaking of the All-Star Game, the Sunday before the game, representatives from across the farm systems will play in the annual Futures Game. This year, the Yankees will be represented by prospective pitcher Justus Sheffield. Sheffield will play for Team USA in a USA vs. the World kind of structure.

Go Yankees!

Game 80: BOS vs. NYY — Not really a blowout, but a big shutout

After the Yankees’ big game yesterday, the Red Sox decided to prove they could have a big game too, taking full advantage of a weird quirk in the Yankees’ rotation — Sonny Gray’s inability to have a decent start at Yankee Stadium.

Gray threw 68 pitches into the 3rd inning, giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, 6 runs, and no strikeouts. In the 1st inning, after getting a quick 2 outs, Gray started his spiral — a single, a walk, and a single to load up the bases. The next batter hit a big grand slam to give the Red Sox an early, large lead. A double led off the 2nd, and a 1-out walk put more runners on base for the Sox. They both scored on a single and sacrifice fly, respectively.

Adam Warren came on to complete the 3rd inning for Gray, and then breezed through the 4th and 5th innings and kept the Sox to the runs they’ve already scored. Giovanny Gallegos came in and struggled his way through the 6th and 7th innings. In the 6th, a 1-out single stole 2nd and later scored on a 2-out single. And a 1-out double in the 7th scored as part of a 2-out home run.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Red Sox kept those runs coming against the usually unflappable Jonathan Holder in the 8th. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single. Then Chasen Shreve came on for the 9th. He gave up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, watched as his teammate had 2 foul balls reviewed and upheld, and then scored on a single, before breezing through 3 outs, including 2 solid strikeouts.

The Yankee pitchers gave up 17 hits and 3 walks, while the Red Sox batters gave up just 2 hits, 2 walks, and a hit-by-pitch. Yes, the Yankee batters were having the opposite kind of night as last night.

Final score: 11-0 Red Sox

In many leagues, there is usually a sort of “mercy rule“, often referred to as the “10-run rule”. Most people know this from Little League or school sports team experience. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to any professional league, so teams can win by however much they do.

And as we all know, it doesn’t matter by how much you win in a win-lose kind of sport. Like for those of you following the World Cup (soccer/football) right now, you might note how while the team was ranked by both its win-draw-loss results and its amount of goals scored per game. So those who scored a higher number of goals could potentially outrank another team that has the same number of wins or losses. That doesn’t work that way in baseball. It’s just wins and losses.

While it’s nice to have a big blowout kind of game sometimes, it’s less celebratory (for me, at least) than when they end up with a tight game that is more of a nail-biter, or a game well-fought (even if your team loses in the end).

And if you’re wondering, the modern record for biggest blowout in MLB was set in 2007 when the Rangers, down 0-3 in the 4th, came back to beat the Orioles 30-3. Which is insane on so many levels. But a great reminder that it doesn’t matter by how much a team wins or loses, just that they win or lose, which is any interesting talking point. So, talk about it.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: with some lousy pitching and minimal offense, there’s not a ton of “highlights”. So fingers cross that tomorrow there will be a video clip you’ll actually want to see.}

Game 79: BOS vs. NYY — A little of #CCStrong, a lot of #BabyBombers

The Yankees kicked off their final home stand before the All-Star Game on a high note, battling the Red Sox tonight for their first game of this weekend series. Going into tonight’s game, the Boston rivals were a game ahead of the Yankees (thanks to a less-than-ideal road trip). But the Yankees were quick to even up things in the AL East.

CC Sabathia had another solid start in tonight’s game, throwing 97 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and striking out 5 Boston batters. But he kept the Red Sox scoreless through 4 innings. In the 5th, with 2 outs, he gave up consecutive doubles to score the Sox’ lone run tonight.

Chad Green kept Sabathia’s momentum going with a solid, scoreless 8th inning, and in the 9th, Chasen Shreve got a chance to redeem himself after some bad outings this month. There’s a lot to be said about momentum and confidence. Shreve needed just 14 pitches to breeze his way through the inning, including 2 sharp strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were ready to make a dent in the Red Sox’s game tonight. Big time. In the 2nd, Gleyber Torres led-off with his first MLB triple and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s single to get the Yankees on the board first. Then Stanton led-off the 4th with a walk, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ double, and scored on Torres’ sacrifice fly. Andujar promptly hit a long 2-run home run into the left field seats, only to be followed by Greg Bird’s solo home run to ensure the Yankees’ easy victory.

Later, in the 7th, with a new pitcher on the mound, Hicks hit a nice 1-out single and then scored as part of Aaron Judge’s big 2-run home run. Then with 2 outs in the 8th, Bird hit his 2nd homer of the night, a solo shot deep into the right field seats.

Final score: 8-1 Yankees

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle alert: the Yankees sent pitcher Luis Cessa back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. With some strong left-handed pitchers coming up in the Red Sox and Braves’ rotation and bullpen, the Yankees wanted a strong bat. So they recalled infielder Brandon Drury, who has had a great time in recovery and while with the Rail Riders.

Yesterday, during the off-day, CC Sabathia hosted a charity softball game at Yankee Stadium. Sabathia and his wife Amber run the PitcchIn Foundation that helps out the Sabathia’s local communities in New York and their hometown of Oakland, like backpack drives, ball field renovations, and scholarships. This year’s big fundraiser raised over $1 million and featured current and former Yankees (like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Alex Rodriguez) alongside other celebrities (like Jennifer Lopez, Leslie Jones, Terrell Owens, Michael Rapaport, and Christopher Jackson) in front of a few hundred fans. It was a fun night for all, with Team CC beating Team Giancarlo 2-1 at the end of the night, and a great cause to help so many.

Go Yankees!

Game 77: NYY vs. PHI — Yankees find freedom of home runs

The Yankees are certainly loving “The Cradle of Liberty”, as they are finding a nice way to bounce back after this last weekend. Luis Severino continues his dominance and campaign for that coveted Cy Young award in the middle game of this series against the Phillies. He threw 103 pitches in 7 scoreless innings, gave up 6 hits, and struck out 9 Philadelphia batters to earn his 12th win of the season.

Adam Warren came on to continue the scoreless momentum through the 8th inning. Chasen Shreve redeemed himself a bit from recent less-than-stellar outings with his own scoreless 9th inning. Boone later admitted to wanting Shreve to try his hand at less crucial moments to see if he can rediscover what made him a reliable force in the bullpen.

Of course, in order to be a “less crucial moment”, the Yankees’ offense started early and often. Aaron Hicks led-off the game with a strong solo home run straight up the middle of the park, just 3 minutes into the game actually. Not a bad way to kick off the game.

Then in the 3rd, with 1 out, Hicks and Judge each singled, and then Gregorius made it to 1st to load up the bases thanks to a throwing error. After another out, Gleyber Torres singled home both Hicks and Judge, and Greg Bird followed that with a single to score Gregorius.

Romine led-off the 4th with a nice double, moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly. Then Didi Gregorius got in on the fun with a lead-off home run in the 5th to cap off the Yankees’ offense tonight.

Final score: 6-0 Yankees

During batting practice today, Giancarlo Stanton hit such a long fly ball that it bounced off this large tower beyond the left field seats and landed on the concourse behind the seats. I mean, he’s been known to hit some dingers in the past. There’s a commemorative mark on the floor in Marlins Park so far beyond the field and seats in left-center field it’s crazy. Plus, he and Judge basically competed for who can be the most ridiculous in hitting balls so far during last year’s Home Run Derby.

And speaking of the All-Star Game, they released the latest numbers in fan voting for the AL starters. And while the leaders are kind of running away with their categories, the Yankees are putting in a strong showing. Sanchez is still 2nd among catchers (by about 160,000 votes), which might be good as he’s currently out with that strain he got on Sunday. Torres, Andujar, and Stanton are all distant seconds among 2nd base, 3rd base, and DH, respectively. Gregorius is still 3rd at short stop.

In the outfield, which is quite crowded, Judge is a solid 3rd place, but still way ahead of the next few contenders. So his chances of being a starter are the most likely. In fact, almost all of the starting positions for the AL could represent 8 teams, something that doesn’t happen often. (If you’re wondering, Gardner is 8th and Hicks is 12th.) I imagine the AL coaching team might also choose a pitcher or two to fill out their roster.

So, if you want your votes to count, you need to vote now for your favorite players. You have until July 5 at 11:59 pm EST to vote 5 times every 24 hours up to 35 total times. I’m out of votes, so it’s your turn.

Go Yankees!