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!

Game 77: CHW vs. NYY — Very late start and 2 big losses

Normally, games that take place in the Central Time zone start an hour behind normal game start times. Which is fine, even for evening games, for those of us still on Eastern Time. I always complain about evening games on the West Coast because they’re 3 hours behind. But by 10pm tonight (Eastern Time and the normal start time for evening West Coast games if you live in EST), the Yankees were still in the middle of a rain delay in Chicago due to a lingering squall line that seemed to want to soak the area and wouldn’t leave for at least another area.

I went ahead and looked at the schedule and found a potential reschedule date that would fit both teams, but the consensus seemed to be wanting to get the game over with. Well, maybe it wasn’t, but that’s what they did.

Anyway, so with a start time of 11pm (EST), that meant there was a rain delay of 2 hours and 50 minutes, which led to a 3 hour and 1 minute game. And if you’re doing math, that means the last out of the 9th inning happened at 2:01am (EST). Thank goodness it wasn’t one of those extra innings games. I’m guessing neither team will have an early call tomorrow before their games.

Anyway, the Yankees played their final game against the White Sox, with Luis Cessa getting the late start tonight. Cessa threw 89 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs (though only 2 were earned), and struck out just one Chicago batter. In the 2nd, with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd, a fielding error allowed the batter to make it safely to 1st and the runner to score the White Sox’s first run. A single then scored another run. And in the 4th, with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, a double doubled the White Sox’s score.

Shreve closed out the 5th for Cessa in just 6 pitches and began the momentum that would last the rest of the game and put the bullpen back in their dominant position we knew from most of the season. Herrera, Clippard, and Webb sailed their way through the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings, adding 5 strikeouts.

The Yankees actually got on the board first. Gardner led-off the game with a single, moved to 2nd on Judge’s walk, and then scored on a force attempt and fielding error. Ellsbury led-off the 4th with a walk, moved to 2nd on Romine’s 1-out single, and then scored on Ronald Torreyes’ 2-out single. Ellsbury led-off the 6th with a beautiful triple (thanks to his speediness around those bases) and then scored on Austin Romine’s ground out.

The Yankees were also faced with a tight bullpen (including 2 former Yankees) who kept them from adding to their score and handed the White Sox their second victory of the series. (Oddly, both teams only “earned” 2 runs each, which is fitting for a series they evenly split.)

Final score: 4-3 White Sox, White Sox and Yankees split the series 2-2.

Roster moves (hang on, there’s a lot): Tyler Austin was put on the 10-day disabled list due to his right hamstring bruise, and Greg Bird was transferred from the 10 to 60-day DL due to his right angle bruise (which unfortunately effectively ends his season). To make some room on the roster, the Yankees designated Mason Williams for assignment (though I expect him to remain with the organization) and optioned Miguel Andujar back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (more in a moment). The Yankees selected the contracts of Chris Carter (told you he’d be back) and Dustin Fowler and put them in the starting lineup tonight.

Now, when news broke of Andujar’s being sent back down after last night’s amazing debut, it pretty much broke the internet of Yankees Universe. I think people were hoping for a great rest of the season from the 22-year-old rookie. And with recent issues, I don’t imagine we’ll not see him again (and in the future on a more permanent basis). But the Yankees (specifically Girardi) wanted to see him playing 3rd base every day, and that’s not going to happen with Headley currently filling that spot.

Now, in even worse news for Yankee prospects, tonight was the MLB debut of Dustin Fowler. In the bottom of the 1st, he was playing right field, scheduled to lead-off the top of the 2nd, when he ran at full speed to run down a fly ball. He slammed into a low fence, the electrical box there, and a railing, nearly flipping over it into the crowd. He hobbled away, hopping a bit on his left leg before collapsing on the warning track. This was not a good sign.

The Yankees surrounded their teammate, and the medical staff called for a cart and stretcher. There was no way Fowler was leaving the field on his own two feet. Later, the medical team at the field diagnosed his injury as an “open rupture of the patellar tendon in the right knee”, and sent him into immediate surgery to repair it at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, performed by White Sox team doctor Charles A. Bush-Joseph.

On a side note, Fowler’s parents found out too late about his debut and couldn’t make it to Chicago (from their home in Georgia) in time and were going to meet him and the team in Houston for the weekend series. (But I bet they’re in Chicago now.)

Our prayers are with Fowler as he heals and recovers and aims to get back to baseball as soon as humanly possible.

And in a completely different thought line, while the Yankees were battling the White Sox about the 3rd inning, the fan voting for the All-Star Game closed. At the last count, Aaron Judge was in the lead among AL votes and for the outfielders, but other Yankees were still in the running as well. All the starters will be revealed on Sunday night (at 7pm on ESPN). After the coaches fill out the rest of their ASG roster, the final fan vote will begin to select among 5 nominated players per league.

Go Yankees!

Game 76: NYY vs. CHW — Rookies rise to the occasion despite a rainy end

Now, that’s more like it. I feel like the Yankees and White Sox finally showed the world why they each are where they are in the standings. Even as the rain loomed and then fell pretty hard towards the end of the game, the Yankees began and remained dominant through the game thanks to some amazing rookie hitters.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start tonight and threw a pretty good outing against the White Sox. Tanaka threw 101 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, striking out 5 batters. In fact, it wasn’t until the 5th inning that anything really got through Tanaka’s strength tonight. He loaded up the bases with a single, a double, and a walk. A single scored the 2 runs allowed by Tanaka to get the White Sox on the board, all before an out was recorded. A double play put an end to that, before Tanaka got out of the inning thanks to the defense.

Chasen Shreve began the 7th inning, but after a fielding error and a single put runners on base with just 1 out, the Yankees opted to go to the bullpen again. Chad Green recorded 2 strikeouts, despite loading the bases with a walk, to close out the 7th. Green then sailed his way through the 8th inning. Tyler Webb hoped to continue that momentum in the 9th, which he did after a lead-off solo home run added just one more run for the White Sox tonight.

Meanwhile, the Yankees actually got on the board first. Gardner led-off with a walk, and 2 outs and 2 wild pitches later, stood on 3rd base. He then scored on a messy throwing error as Gregorius made it safely to 1st. They loaded up the bases with 2 walks to Headley and Romine, which set-up recent call-up Miguel Andujar for a big 2-RBI single in his first major league at-bat. (Not a bad way to make your MLB debut.)

In just 5 innings of the White Sox starter, the Yankees racked up 6 walks, which would grow to 10 over the entire game. In the 6th, with a new pitcher, Romine hit a 1-out double, moved to 3rd on Andujar’s ground out (the only time tonight he didn’t make it safely on base, more later), and then scored on Tyler Wade’s double (his 1st MLB hit). Ronald Torreyes’ double then scored Wade, before he then scored on Brett Gardner’s single. And it would be Aaron Judge to hit his 27th home run of the season, a 2-run home run into the left field seats.

With a nice lead, the Yankees decided they needed just a few more in the 9th inning. Judge led-off with a walk and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 1-out 2-run home run. Headley and Romine each walked, then moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, before scoring on (who else tonight?) Andujar’s double. A new reliever finally put an end to the Yankees’ run-scoring for the night.

Final score: 12-3 Yankees

Roster moves: Okay, so Matt Holliday is still dealing with this mysterious illness, and the Yankees have moved him to the 10-day DL, with what they believe could be a “viral infection”. Doctors have ruled out mononucleosis and food allergies (what they originally thought as it was following a meal in Oakland 11 days ago).

In his place, they brought up Miguel Andujar, who proved to be one of the best call-ups this season, going 3-for-4, with 4 RBIs and a walk and is currently batting .750 after this one game. Andujar also set a record for a debut for a Yankee with those 4 RBIs, putting him ahead of Billy Martin (in 1950) and Marv Thorneberry (in 1955) who each recorded just 3 RBIs in their MLB debut.

Chris Carter accepted an outright assignment to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, after being designated for assignment earlier this week to make room for Tyler Austin. But now Austin is dealing with some hamstring issues, though he is hoping to avoid time on the DL.

Go Yankees!

Game 75: NYY vs. CHW — Last-second loss in Second City

The Yankees are now 37-1 when leading in the 9th inning, thanks to tonight’s game. And up until then things were looking rather hopeful in this second game (of four) of this series on the south side of Chicago.

Honestly, Luis Severino threw a beautiful game tonight — 105 pitches in 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, no walks, and a single run, and striking out a whopping 12 White Sox batters. Easily one of his more dominant starts. In the 3rd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a 1-out single and then scored on a 2-out double to get the first run on the board.

Meanwhile, the Yankees offense was a bit stymied by the White Sox’s starter, only getting 2 hits but 4 walks off him, so they weren’t exactly advancing much. In fact, they didn’t do much until the second reliever they faced in the 8th inning.

With 1 out, the Yankees called on pinch-hitter (and recent call-up) Tyler Wade (making his MLB debut). Wade ended up working a walk and moved to 2nd on Ellsbury’s single. After another out, Aaron Judge broke the stalemate with a single and scored Wade to tie up the game. Then it would be Gary Sanchez’s solid double to score both Ellsbury and Judge for a little cushion. But that would be all the Yankees would get all game.

Domingo German came on for the Yankees in the 8th, now that Severino was on the hook for the win. All he had to do was breeze through 3 outs. But that seemed to be a bit difficult as he threw just 10 pitches to 2 batters, 8 of which were balls to walk both batters. So, with no outs, the Yankees called on Tyler Clippard.

Clippard needed an opportunity to get back on track, and tonight seemed to be the night. Despite loading the bases with a walk, he got a great strikeout and a fly out to get the Yankees’ hopes up. Another walk scored the lead runner, putting the White Sox within 1 run of the Yankees’ lead before getting a much-needed strikeout to end the rally right there (and excite Girardi, which almost never happens during a regular game).

And had this been the 9th inning, this would have been a great game. But it wasn’t, so it wasn’t.

The Yankees turned to Dellin Betances, who seemed to follow the suit of the bullpen recently. With 1 out, Betances loaded up the bases with 2 walks and a hit-by-pitch. After a fly out put both teams on the edge of their seats, Betances gave a single that scored 2 runners — the tying run and the winning one. A walk-off single to hand the White Sox the win.

Final score: 4-3 White Sox

Roster moves: After yesterday’s game and tests, the Yankees placed Starlin Castro on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. So they selected the contract of Tyler Wade from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and called him up to make his debut with the Yankees tonight. They also optioned reliever Jonathan Holder to Scranton and recalled Tyler Webb for a fresh bullpen arm.

And in a brief follow-up from the draft earlier this month, the Yankees have signed 22 of their 40 draftees (numbers 1-17, 19-22, and 27), including their top 2 picks — Clarke Schmidt and Matt Sauer. Schmidt is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, but is looking forward to getting back into baseball, this time as part of the Yankees organization.

The future continues to look bright for the Yankees, even if the present is somewhat a bit disappointing at times. And that’s what carries us through the disappointing moments in life — hope. A belief that it certainly can’t stay bad. That the future is still filled with unlimited possibilities, the best option being another championship run, even a new dynasty. And with the Yankees, it’s never a matter of “if”, but “when”.

Go Yankees!