Game 133: CHW vs. NYY — Victory denied

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Yankees!

Game 132: CHW vs. NYY — A Walker walk-off

After a disappointing start to the home stand and series yesterday, the Yankees needed a good kind of comeback win to put things right. And both starters gave it their best to keep the other team from doing much for most of the game.

Lance Lynn got the start for the Yankees, throwing 103 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 7 hits, a walk and 3 runs, and struck out 5 White Sox batters. It wasn’t until the 5th inning that he gave up the White Sox’s first run — a 1-out single that then scored on an RBI double. And after 2 outs in the 6th, he gave up 2 singles to end his night.

Jonathan Holder came on in relief and had a bit of trouble finding that 3rd out of the inning. He promptly gave up consecutive singles that scored both of Lynn’s runs and one of his own, before he finally got that out to get out of the inning. But then Holder breezed his way through the next 2 innings cleanly, handing the 9th over to Dellin Betances for a quick 9-pitch inning.

The Yankees didn’t respond back to the White Sox’s lead until the bottom of the 6th when Gardner led-off with a speedy triple, as only Gardner can do. Two outs later, Miguel Andujar hit a nice 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board and slice the White Sox’s leave in half. Then in the 8th, Stanton led-off with a single and scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run to tie up the game.

So with the game tied and Betances’ flawless 9th inning, the Yankees got their final shot at a comeback in the bottom of the inning. With 1 out, Neil Walker came in to pinch-hit and loved the first pitch he saw and sent it sailing into the right field seats for a walk-off home run.

And because it’s that kind of game and fans in the Bronx, the 40,000+ fans still lingering in the Bronx were rewarded with some intense cheering and celebrating on a well-earned victory.

Final score: 5-4 Yankees

And with hope for the future, MLB released its preliminary schedule for 2019 last week. The Yankees also have their work cut out for them next year including that special series against the Red Sox in London, the first official MLB games in the UK.

Go Yankees!

Game 131: CHW vs. NYY — 9th inning derailment

It ended up being one of those games that started off so good and just spiraled out of control at the end. It’s never a fun feeling when it starts feeling helpless. And this on a game where an interesting milestone was reached and one still lingers for the Yankees newcomers.

The Yankees got on the board first in the 4th inning. Andujar led-off with a walk and then Gleyber Torres hit a giant 1-out 2-run home run into Monument Park. But they didn’t do much more than that tonight. They only got 3 hits and 4 walks all night, despite only getting 3 strikeouts. That means they spent the night hitting grounders and fly balls.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in this opening game against the visiting White Sox. It wasn’t really a great outing, but it wasn’t that bad for most of it. He threw 98 pitches in 7 innings, gave up 10 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out 7 batters, and got himself out of several really bad jams.

But Tanaka held them off through the first half of the game. It wasn’t until the 6th that he got into some trouble. With 1 out, he loaded up the bases (again), gave up a double that scored the Sox’s first 2 runs and a sacrifice fly that scored the 3rd. And in the 7th, a lead-off single ended up at 2nd on a fielding error and then scored on a double. But then he left the runner stranded as he got 3 good fly outs.

Tommy Kahnle threw a really great clean 8th inning before handing the ball over to AJ Cole for a really messy 9th inning. He gave up a lead-off single and tried to pick him off but a bad throw allowed that runner to move to 2nd. A ground out moved that runner to 3rd and then scored when the next batter hit into a fielding error, which allowed the new runner to make it to 2nd. He then stole 3rd. And the next batter technically struck out, but it was on a wild pitch that allowed him to safely make it to 1st as the runner at 3rd slid into home for yet another run scored.

The Yankees just didn’t show up to play tonight. And if they did, they didn’t bring their A-game. It wasn’t good and it didn’t get better. Which is tough to say because of like Torreyes’ triple and a solid double play.

Final score: 6-2 White Sox

Okay, the milestones: Giancarlo Stanton is currently sitting at 299 career home runs, so each at-bat could potentially be his 300th. So Stanton going 0-for-4 tonight didn’t get him near that milestone. But there’s always tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next…

And Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres are now part of an elite group of rookies. With Torres’ big 444 foot homer in the 4th (his longest home run in his career, so far), they became the 8th rookie duo in MLB history to have 2 rookies on the same team have at least 20 home runs. (Andujar currently has 21 home runs.) Add in that both players should easily be in the mix for Rookie of the Year, and this is going to be something to watch develop over time.

On a final note: in light of tonight’s loss, I wanted to include a Tweet I read last week that I’ve been saving to share on another day of disappointment. It still very much applies and it puts things into perspective. Remember that the Yankees are still the 2nd best team in all of baseball. So just take a moment, Yankee Universe.

 

(Note: as of today, they are actually 35 games over .500 and on track to 102 season wins, currently 83 wins and 48 losses.)

Go Yankees!

Game 113: NYY vs. CHW — Severino & Stanton sweep Sox (the White ones)

Talk about a reversal of fortune. Before this roadtrip, I was envisioning a rather “battle of the Sox” approach to this week’s blog posts. But after a disastrous stint against the red ones, it’s rather nice to be reset by the white ones. Though the “red ones” keep winning and thus are still quite a bit ahead of the Yankees in the standings.

Luis Severino had a shaky 1st inning to start off what ended up being a pretty decent outing in tonight’s closer against the White Sox. He threw 109 pitches in his 7 innings, gave up 7 hits and 3 runs, and struck out 8 Chicago batters.

In the 1st, he gave up a single, an RBI double, and an RBI single to get them on the board. And a lead-off solo home run in the 5th capped off the Sox’s runs tonight. Then, Chad Green and Jonathan Holder each took an inning to close out the game and keep the Sox from adding to their score.

After the home team got on the board first, the Yankees pounced in the 2nd inning. Torres led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Walker’s 1-out single, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single.  Walker then scored on Shane Robinson’s single to tie the game, and Gardner was hit by a pitch to load up the bases. It would fall to Giancarlo Stanton to be the difference-maker in this game, with a big grand slam just to the left of the right field foul pole.

Aaron Hicks added his mark with a lead-off solo home run in the 5th. And other than that, the Yankees just protected their hefty lead for the rest of the game to ensure their win and sweep in Chicago.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 3-0

A few notes: Tonight’s grand slam was Stanton’s 6th career grand slam, his last one was in 2014. After the less-than-ideal start in the 1st, Severino found his momentum and got the next 13 of 14 batters out through his next 6 innings (except for that allowed homer in the 5th).

While tonight certainly end up in the positive category for the Yankees, the competition between the “Soxes” fell along the same lines as dictated by the standings. And because of the first game last Thursday, the Yankees overall were out-scored by their Sox opponents 34-31 (the Red Sox just drowned them 28-11). If the pattern continues, Yankee fans could potentially reflect “what’s on paper” and have a pretty strong home stand. But that’s relying on “what’s on paper” and not allowing for the unpredictability of baseball and life.

Next up: The Yankees head back home for a long home stand that will include the 20th reunion for the 1998 Championship team. They’ll face a 4-game series against the Rangers, a make-up game against the Mets, then 3 games each with the Rays and Blue Jays. The last series will overlap with the anniversary celebration.

Go Yankees!

Game 112: NYY vs. CHW — #CCStrong, Andu power, 20 Ks, & 13 innings

Four hours and 26 minutes, 13 innings, it was one of those games. This game only really became a pain due to a single pitch, already in extra innings. And both teams certainly fought hard for this one.

The White Sox just came off an away sweep of the Rays, so their team morale was high going into this series. Last night’s game was more characteristic of how they’ve played all year, but tonight’s was reminiscent of how they played over the weekend. In other words, the White Sox finding themselves came about 4 months too late for them but just in time to push other teams to work harder. And I’m always personally for a challenge and better competition.

CC Sabathia got the start for the middle game of this series in Chicago, throwing 103 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 4 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, while striking out an impressive 12 batters. (Sabathia is certainly racking up his own career statistics this year, currently sitting at 17th on the all-time strike out leaders with his 2,945 just behind legends like John Smoltz, Curt Schilling, Bob Gibson, and Pedro Martinez.)

Sabathia’s lone allowed run was in the 3rd. A lead-off walk ended up at 3rd on a 1-out double and then scored a long sacrifice fly. Green came on to close out the 6th once Sabathia reached his limit, and set a nice pattern for the bullpen. Robertson, Betances, and Holder (who really needed a good outing) all threw clean, scoreless innings to keep the home team at that lone run.

The Yankees, however, were held off for much of the game, reduced to just 2 hits and 2 walks through the first 6 innings. Though there were a few that could have been beautiful home runs without a center fielder that insisted on becoming Spider-man to bring them back over the wall. But then Miguel Andujar smacked the first pitch of the 7th inning into the left field seats to tie up the game with his 15th home run this season.

With the game tied, the 10th inning became a reality, and the Yankees found their next big opportunity. Gardner worked a 1-out walk, and with 2 outs, the White Sox changed pitchers to face Stanton. That worked out in the Yankees’ favor as Giancarlo smacked a 2-run home run to break the tie and had many Sox fans heading for the exits.

What do we always say? Don’t leave until the last out… because the bottom of the 10th inning changed the game again.

The Yankees needed a reliable closer to declare victory, so logic dictated Zach Britton. He barely hit the first batter who promptly moved to 2nd and then 3rd on 2 wild pitches. Two outs and down to his last strike, Britton made the mistake of leaving a pitch too high in the zone and it became a huge 2-run home run to tie up the game and reward the faithful Sox fans waiting for that last out.

Not knowing how much longer this game could be, the Yankees turned to an old friend in a new position to make a difference — Sonny Gray, the Yankees newest long-reliever. Gray came through in the best way, throwing through the next 3 innings, keeping the Sox scoreless, and (more importantly) earning the win in tonight’s game.

Of course, to do this, the Yankees found opportunity #3 in the top of the 13th inning. With 1 out and the 2nd pitcher in the inning, Didi Gregorius worked a walk, moved to 2nd on Voit’s single, and then scored from 2nd when Miguel Andujar hit a solid single to put the Yankees back in the lead. Gray’s quick 3 outs in the bottom of the inning solidified the win, ending with the 20th (!) strikeout of the game.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees, in 13 innings

The Yankees announced that they would be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1998 Championship team on Saturday, August 18, before the game against the Blue Jays. They also announced that legends from that team would appear like Rivera, Posada, Pettitte, Williams, Martinez, O’Neill, Cone, Wells, and manager Joe Torre. Jeter and Brosius (the 1998 World Series MVP) would be sending in video messages, unable to attend due to their current commitments to their new teams (Marlins and Mariners, respectively).

And if you’ve been wondering about a certain Yankees outfielder who’s been noticeably absent this entire season, the Yankees announced that Jacoby Ellsbury had surgery on his left hip on Monday to repair the torn labrum there. It was something they were hoping to avoid, hoping the body would heal itself without resorting to surgery, but they got to the end of that possibility and made the decision to proceed. It will take roughly 6 months to recover, so he potentially could be back by Spring Training 2019.

Go Yankees!

Game 111: NYY vs. CHW — A shutout gem from Lynn to reset the Yankees

Perhaps it was a mix of things — Lynn’s sharp pitching, the sloppy defense by the White Sox, or sheer desperation of the Yankees to pull themselves out of this skid — but things worked in the Yankees’ favor tonight (finally) after having some recent issues where they just weren’t looking like the 2018 Yankees we’ve seen most of this season.

Still rather new to the Yankees, veteran starter Lance Lynn proved his trade was worth it with a really great outing in tonight’s opener in Chicago. Lynn threw 108 pitches into the 8th inning, giving up just 2 hits and a walk, and striking out 9 White Sox batters. After a single allowed in the 1st, he got 19 consecutive outs before giving up a single in the 8th. He and the Yankee defense refused to let the White Sox do much of anything tonight.

After a standing ovation from a healthy contingency of Yankee fans in the stands on the Chicago’s south side, Lynn would cede the game to AJ Cole. Cole held the White Sox to their scoreless game through his 5 outs to close out the game.

The Yankee bats, meanwhile, took a bit to wake up. But then they were back to form. In the 4th, with 1 out, Stanton doubled and moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ double. He scored on Aaron Hicks’ single, and Gregorius then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single.

Later in the 5th, with 1 out, Higashioka and Gardner each singled to put them on the corners. A wild pitch had Kyle Higashioka scoring the next run, and Didi Gregorius’ single saw the speedy Brett Gardner rushing all the way home from 2nd to just beat the tag at home.

And to cap off the night, Gleyber Torres hit a 1-out solo home run in the 8th, and after Andujar worked a 2-out walk, he would score as part of Neil Walker’s big 2-run home run to solidify the Yankees’ big night.

Final score: 7-0 Yankees

It looks like starter JA Happ will be able to return for his scheduled start on Thursday when the Yankees return to the Bronx to face the Rangers. Happ has been dealing with the effects of hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is initially highly contagious and consists mostly of a bad rash and feeling feverish and generally terrible for about 7-10 days. Not exactly ideal for the kind of exertion one needs to pitch in a professional baseball game.

And Aaron Judge is doing some basic baseball activities with the team during the pre-game warm-ups in Chicago. He is traveling with the team while resting his chip-fractured wrist. He has yet to swing a bat because it’s still a broken bone that causes some pain and discomfort.

Initially, he was given a rough estimate of 3 weeks when he got his diagnosis (July 26), which would be August 16. But I think most people agree that we’d rather he be at 100% than risk a recurrence or be only at half his potential. Fortunately, with a break, it’s easier to tell when it’s healed, in that there’s no more break. It’s why sprains and strains are harder to gauge — there’s not definitive sign for healing that’s consistent with every person. Injuries still stink either way.

Go Yankees!

Game 93: NYY vs. MIN — Another series loss despite new additions

The Yankees haven’t won a series since the sweep on June 9-11. And now, as the Yankees board a plane for their second West Coast trip to start an early weekend, that fact is still true after dropping today’s game and the mid-week series to the Twins.

Jordan Montgomery got the nod to close out the series this afternoon, throwing 104 pitches in his 6 innings. He gave up 7 hits, a walk, and 6 runs, striking out just 3 Minnesota batters. Actually, outside of a single inning, Montgomery had a stellar outing. In just the 2nd inning, Montgomery threw 38 pitches, gave up 5 hits and a walk, and allowed all 6 of the Twins’ runs this game.

In that inning, with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, a single scored 2 runs. After a walk, another single scored another run, and a big 3-run home run doubled the Twins’ score and lead. It created a rather big mountain for the Yankees to scale during the game. Perhaps they left their hiking boots back in the Bronx.

The Yankees were able to get on base during the game, but they didn’t do anything to collect runs. In fact, they were held off from doing so until the 7th inning, the end of the Twins’ starter’s day. Clint Frazier led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Romine’s hit-by-pitch, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single. An error on that same play moved Gardner and Romine to scoring position, but a new pitcher shut down any hopes for a comeback rally that inning.

Well, the bullpen in both cases continued their pretty strong showing this series. The Yankees’ offense was unable to break through again for the final two innings, and the Yankees’ relievers also fended off the Twins’ bats from adding to their solid lead. Chad Green and new Yankee Tommy Kahnle each gave a scoreless inning, but the Yankees would fall short in the end thanks to that monster early lead.

Final score: 6-1 Twins, Twins win series 2-1

Big roster news: the Yankees and White Sox orchestrated a big trade. In preparation, the Yankees optioned Chasen Shreve back to AAA Scranton and designated Rob Refsnyder and Ji-Man Choi for assignment.

The Yankees sent prospect pitcher Ian Clarkin and prospect outfielders Blake Rutherford and Tito Polo along with Yankees’ bullpen staple Tyler Clippard (who was decidedly sad to go but understood the reasoning) to the southside of Chicago. In exchange, the White Sox sent reliever Tommy Kahnle (who pitched in today’s game), infielder Todd Frazier (also the 2015 HR Derby winner), and former Yankee closer David Robertson. (Yes, Yankee Universe, D-Rob and his “high socks” are back in the Bronx.) All three new Yankees arrived during the game, suited up, and a Kahnle and Frazier even got to play later in the game.

Now, how this will pan out will be interesting. Todd Frazier is usually a regular 3rd baseman, but he does have experience at 1st; so while Headley is still on the team and playing, I can’t see Girardi using Frazier for anything but 1st. Kahnle will naturally fall right into the bullpen, which shouldn’t be much of an issue, except whether he is a 1-inning guy or long-term may yet be determined.

The biggest question mark really is Robertson, who is a great closer and was great as one for the Yankees, though he fell into the 8th inning slot next due to the Yankees’ legend Mariano Rivera being the everyday closer. With the likes of Chapman and Betances still in play on the team, the most common thought will be having Robertson slide back into his 8th inning role and move Betances to sticky situations or closing out non-save games.

And if you’re wondering, Todd Frazier donned #29, Kahlne #48, and Robertson is back in his old #30. Clint Frazier willingly gave up his #30 for Robertson, asking instead for #77, a quirky nod to hero Mantle (#7) and good friend Judge (#99).

Go Yankees!