Game 70: NYY vs. CHW — Gardy’s Father’s Day Party

In today’s finale in Chicago, the fans packed this special day for so many baseball fans. Players donned special light blue caps for the game as part of an MLB initiative to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research. And the sentiment everywhere had people talking about the special men in their lives — fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, husbands, uncles, and many others who fill that “fatherly” role in our lives. And a day at the ball park certainly is a way to celebrate those father figures in our lives, especially when they too love America’s pastime.

James Paxton got the start this afternoon and had a rather commanding outing. He threw 108 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 8 hits, a walk, and just 2 runs, and struck out 7 batters. He gave up a 2-out solo home run in the 1st to get the White Sox on the board first. But then Paxton kept things under control for most of his outing. In the 5th, a 1-out single moved to 2nd on a 2-out single and then scored on another single to double their score.

Ottavino breezed his way through a scoreless 7th inning. David Hale’s strong 8th inning was briefly interrupted by a 1-out solo home run to add just one more run for the home team. Britton then got the ball for a really quick scoreless 9th to close out the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees came on strong and just didn’t let up, mostly thanks to Yankees’ resident “dad” Brett Gardner. In the 3rd, with 1 out, the Yankees loaded the bases with a single to LeMahieu and walks to Voit and Torres. After another out, Brett Gardner singled home both LeMahieu and Voit. Gio Urshela then singled and scored Torres. After Tauchman’s walk loaded the bases again, Austin Romine singled and scored both Gardner and Urshela to really solidify the Yankees’ lead.

Gardner was hit by a pitch to lead-off the 5th and ended up at 3rd on Urshela’s double. Austin Romine’s 1-out double scored both Gardner and Urshela. In the 6th, with 1 out, Torres worked a walk, moved to 3rd on Frazier’s single, and then scored on Gardner’s fielder’s choice grounder.

Cameron Maybin got in on the fun with a 2-out solo home run in the 7th. In the 8th, Torres again walked, moved to 2nd on a grounder, and then scored on Gardner’s 2-out single to cap off the Yankees’ big night.

Final score: 10-3 Yankees, they split the series 2-2

Next up: The Yankees head home for their final home stand before the All-Star Break and kick off their annual HOPE Week. They will face the Rays first, then host the Astros for a 4-game weekend series, and close out the home stand with 3 games against the Blue Jays. Two travel days later (read: jetlag), the Yankees will face the Red Sox in London in the first ever regular season games in the UK.

And a happy Father’s Day to all those celebrating, honoring, or remembering the father figures in their lives today. The Yankees also paid tribute to their fathers or talked about becoming fathers in a series of videos. (Happ & Paxton; Judge & Stanton; Severino & Kahnle; Gardner & Gregorius; Torres & VoitGreen & Frazier; Romine & Sabathia) Enjoy!

Go Yankees!

Game 69: NYY vs. CHW — A little rain couldn’t dampen the Yankee bats

Now, this was the kind of game the Yankees were looking for all weekend. And yet, there were some moments where that felt threatened. Blame the weather again, maybe. The rain delayed the game 32 minutes at the start and occasionally revisited the Chicago Southside during the third game of this long weekend series.

Chad Green was tapped as the opener in tonight’s game against the White Sox, throwing 33 pitches in his 2 scoreless innings. But all 6 of his outs were great strikeouts. Green set the pace for the Yankees, and all the rest of them had to do was follow his lead. Nestor Cortes Jr came on for long-term relief and follow Green’s suit, throwing strong and scoreless through the 7th inning, including 7 strikeouts.

But he came back out in the 8th, gave up consecutive singles, and handed the ball to Jonathan Holder. After 2 quick outs, Holder gave up a single that scored the lead runner to put the White Sox on the board. The next batter smacked a big 3-run home run up the middle. Chapman was able to close out the game with a clean 9th inning.

That could be bad news for the visitors, but the Yankee bats were also following Green’s lead tonight. They started in the 4th. Voit and Hicks each singled and then both scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. Gleyber Torres then hit a 1-out 2-run home run to double the score and leap the Yankees ahead first.

In the 6th, with 1 out, Sanchez worked a walk, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ single, and scored on Torres’ sacrifice fly. Cameron Maybin led-off the 7th with a 1st pitch solo home run. Brett Gardner then worked a walk, LeMahieu doubled, and Hicks walked to load up the bases. Gardner scored on Sanchez’s baby grounder.

After the White Sox came back and got on the board, the Yankees tried to take a few back in the 9th. Brett Gardner led-off with a walk and ended up at 3rd on LeMahieu’s single. After an out and a pitching change, LeMahieu moved into scoring position by stealing 2nd. But after another out, the White Sox intentionally walked Sanchez to load up the bases, only to walk Didi Gregorius to walk in the run by Gardner.

Final score: 8-4 Yankees

And in Yankee Universe news: The Yankees announced today that they traded prospect pitcher Juan Then (and cash considerations) to the Mariners for outfielder and power hitter Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion spent most of his career with the Blue Jays (9 1/2 of his 15 professional seasons), was a 3-time All-Star, and has already hit 21 home runs  this season (of his 401 career homers).

Fun trivia in this trade: The Yankees originally acquired Then as part of the trade that sent reliever Nick Rumbelow to Seattle in 2017. And the Mariners just released Rumbelow this week to allow him a form of free agency.

Now, what this means for the already overcrowded outfield is to be determined, especially as Judge and Stanton are due to come back shortly. Hicks, Gardner, Frazier, Maybin, and Tauchman are already considered outfielders. This means that some roster moves and some platooning of the positions (and the DH spot) are to come. Which could actually help with the prevention of injuries in the future. And anything that helps reduce the number on the IL is a good move in my book.

Go Yankees!

Game 68: NYY vs. CHW — The Friday night blues

The advantage to having a very long season, playing 162 regular games over half a year, is that one game (at least during the regular season) doesn’t define the entire season. Unlike some other American sports, the Yankees can close the chapter on a bad game and start fresh the next day with another game and another chance at playing a good game and maybe even winning that one.

CC Sabathia is still on the hunt for that 250th win of his career, and tonight’s game just wasn’t going be it. Sabathia got the start in the second of this four game series against the White Sox. He threw 77 pitches into the 5th inning, allowed 10 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned), and struck out just 3 Chicago batters.

In the 1st, the lead-off batter doubled thanks in part of fan interference. A 1-out single put runners on the corners, and they both scored on a big 3-run home run to push the White Sox into the lead. The next batter walked, moved to 2nd on another walk, and then scored on a single. Actually, the last play was originally called out on a tag, but after the White Sox’s successfully (and honestly, rightfully) challenged the call, the run scored.

With 1 out in the 2nd, the next batter ended up at 2nd on a messy fielding error and then scored on a double. Then in the 5th, a 1-out single moved to 3rd on a 2-out single. And with runners again threatening to widen the home team’s lead, the Yankees called an end to Sabathia’s night.

Luis Cessa came in to close out the 5th, but first gave up a single to score the lead runner. In the 6th, Cessa continued the struggles that Sabathia began. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a single and then scored on a fielder’s choice and throwing error (a messy attempt at a double play). After giving up a double, Cessa gave up a big 3-run home run to ensure the White Sox win.

After giving up another single, the Yankees were forced to go back to the bullpen. David Hale closed out the rest of the game, keeping the White Sox from furthering their rather large lead. Hale breezed his way through 7 outs with just 24 pitches.

On the other side of the field, the Yankees struggled their way to find an offense. While the White Sox got 16 total hits, the Yankees only eked out 6. Luke Voit got the first one of the game, a big 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning to actually get the Yankees on the board first.

But with the implosion of the Yankee pitching and defense tonight, the Yankees were pressed to find another chance to actually do something offensively as they watched the White Sox continue to grow their lead into double digits. It wasn’t until the 9th that some snazzy base running finally broke the stalemate for the Yankees.

Gleyber Torres led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on a ground out, got to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on a rather funny little fielding error on Mike Tauchman’s at-bat. And that would be it for the Yankees on the final scoreboard, bookending the game with a blast and a blip.

Final score: 10-2 White Sox

CC K-Count: 3036

On the bright side, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton began their rehab assignments with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders tonight. Judge is having a slow start to his rehab, going 0-for-4 at the plate as tonight’s designated hitter. But Stanton helped the offense with a big 3-run home run in the 3rd. Actually, they ended up being the only runs the RailRiders scored all night, losing to the Rays’ AAA affiliate 16-3.

In random trivia that I stumbled across researching for this post, apparently, tonight’s losses spanned the entire Yankees organization. All of the Yankee affiliates lost their Friday games to their respective opponents from rookie ball on up to the big boys in Chicago.

So, all across Yankee Universe, we now close tonight’s chapter, turn the page, wake up fresh tomorrow, and start all over again. Oh, and vote for your favorite All-Stars.

Go Yankees!

Game 67: NYY vs. CHW — Second City stumble

Tonight’s opener in Chicago looked like it was going to be a great start to this weekend’s 4-game series for the Yankees. But halfway through the game, things took a bit of a dive, and one swing flipped the story.

The Yankees got off to a hot start against the White Sox. In the 2nd, Didi Gregorius led-off with the single, moved to 2nd on Torres’ single, and advanced to 3rd on Gardner’s fielder’s choice out. Gregorius raced home on a wild pitch that also moved Gardner into scoring position. Clint Frazier then singled Gardner home.

Then with 2 outs in the 4th, Torres singled and scored as part of Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run. This doubled the Yankees’ score and leapt them ahead of the home team with a hefty lead early in the game.

JA Happ got the start tonight, throwing 91 pitches through 5 innings. And leading up to his final inning, he was doing great, only had 3 allowed hits and 3 walks but no runs. But in the 5th, he gave up a lead-off walk that moved to 2nd on a single, and scored on an RBI double. Then a big 3-run home run quickly tied up the game. Three outs later, Happ’s night was done.

Now, with the game tied, the Yankees needed to protect that tie and wait for their offense to pounce. Kahnle came in to right the ship and breezed his way through the 6th inning. But Adam Ottavino had a spot of trouble in the 7th, giving up a lead-off solo home run to break the tie. Later, with 2 outs and 2 runners on base, the Yankees called Holder to close out the inning and breeze his way through a scoreless 8th.

Again, they were just waiting for the Yankees’ offense to leap at the next opportunity. And they collected 3 extra hits through the final third of the game, but they didn’t do much beyond that. One could certainly question the floating strike zone (and increase in called strikeouts), but not scoring runs isn’t going to help shift the game again.

Final score: 5-4 White Sox

Roster moves: Yesterday, the Yankees optioned reliever Stephen Tarpley back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and sent 26th man reliever Chance Adams back to AA Trenton. And today, before the game, the Yankees recalled outfielder Mike Tauchman and reliever Nestor Cortes Jr from AAA Scranton.

The Yankees also placed Kendrys Morales on the 10-day IL with left calf strain. Morales felt a tightness in his calf during the first game of the doubleheader on Tuesday, further testing confirmed the strain, and to be safe, they’re giving him some rest to recover.

This year’s much anticipated 73rd Annual Old Timers’ Day will be Sunday, June 23. Yesterday, the Yankees announced the roster of Yankee alumni scheduled to attend, but one name stuck out to everyone — rookie Old Timer (and member of this year’s Hall of Fame class) Mariano Rivera. Rivera will be back in pinstripes to play ball again with many of his former teammates and many Yankee legends and fan favorites. It’s always a great day.

Scheduled alumni (or their widows*): Jesse Barfield, Aaron Boone, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, Chris Chambliss, David Cone, Johnny Damon, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Jason Giambi, Jason Grimsley, Ron Guidry, Jerry Hairston Jr., Charlie Hayes, Helen Hunter*, Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin*, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Monahan, Diana Munson*, Kay Murcer*, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Mariano Rivera, Mickey Rivers, Luis Sojo, Jean Stottlemyre, Marcus Thames, David Wells, and Bernie Williams.

Go Yankees!

Game 15: CHW vs. NYY — Grand slammed out of series win

Once again, the Yankees were edged out of a win in a single moment, today’s being a really spectacular one for the visiting White Sox. And unfortunately for the Yankees, this also means they lost 3 consecutive home series, something they haven’t done since 1982 by the way. (They finished 79-83 that year, a losing season and still nowhere near last place.)

The Yankees certainly started off pretty well. Judge worked a 1-out walk in the 1st and then scored on Luke Voit’s 2-out double. And in the 3rd, Tauchman walked, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and scored on Aaron Judge’s single. Once again, the Yankees led the game first with the backing of a strong pitching staff.

Masahiro Tanaka actually started out really sharp, leading most of us to home for a good return to “Tanaka Time”, breezing his way through 3 solid innings. But then it was the 4th inning, and things kind of fell apart. With 1 out, he loaded the bases with a double and 2 walks before a monster grand slam got the White Sox on the board in a big way. After loading the bases in the 5th, the Yankees opted to end Tanaka’s outing after 81 pitches (nearly half in the last 2 innings).

Luis Cessa came on to stem the White Sox’s momentum, getting a quick sacrifice fly to score just one more run for them before closing things out for the inning and pitching into the 6th. Kahnle came in for the final 2 outs of that inning, shutting the Sox down in just 9 pitches. Ottavino, Harvey, and Green finished out the final third of the game with a clean inning a piece.

Collectively, the Yankee pitchers amassed 14 strikeouts, and they still couldn’t seem to overcome that grand slam. The Yankee batters have been really struggling this series against the White Sox relievers, and today was no exception.

Final score: 5-2 White Sox, White Sox win series 2-1

Next up: After an off-day tomorrow (maybe to do taxes), the Yankees will host the Red Sox for 2 games, with the first day being an observance of Jackie Robinson Day. The Royals come to town on Thursday for a 4-game weekend series before the Yankees hit the road again to start their first West Coast trip of the season.

And in fun trivia news: On this day in 1955, the Yankees first African-America player, Elston Howard, made his MLB debut. The Yankees lost to the Red Sox in Boston that day, but Howard, normally a catcher, came into the game in the 6th as a replacement in left field. He also got an RBI single in his first at-bat in the 8th, scoring Mickey Mantle. Not a bad way to make your mark on Yankees history.

Go Yankees!

Game 14: CHW vs. NYY — Sun shines on CC’s Saturday return

If one could script a return to the rotation for a retiring pitcher’s final season, I’m pretty sure Hollywood would demand more dramatics, more pitches, and more strikeouts. But for the Yankees right now (and their veteran starter), this was a pretty great way to write the comeback story for CC Sabathia’s final season with the Yankees.

Sabathia threw just 62 pitches through his 5 scoreless innings, giving up just a single hit in the 3rd and striking out 3 White Sox batters along the way. The visiting White Sox didn’t really stand much of a chance against today’s Yankee pitchers, with Sabathia leading the way once again. Domingo German powered through the 6th and 7th before Britton and Chapman each breezed through 9-pitch innings to close out the game and completely blank the White Sox.

I will give credit where credit is due. The Yankees faced a former teammate in Chicago’s starter, and he held the Yankees off the scoreboard through 6 strong innings. After giving up a single to Torres in the 7th, the White Sox went to their bullpen. Bird made it safely to 1st on a fielder’s choice fielding error.

After another pitching change, Frazier’s single loaded up the bases. The Yankees called on Luke Voit to pinch hit, and his single scored Torres to break through the scoreless tie. Kyle Higashioka’s sacrifice fly scored Bird and moved Frazier to 3rd so that he could then score on Tyler Wade’s sacrifice bunt.  Aaron Judge’s lead-off solo home run in the 8th capped off the Yankees’ runs, but it was more than enough for a victory celebration in the Bronx.

Final score: 4-0 Yankees

CC K count: 2989

{Note: We’re adding this new segment after every CC Sabathia start for the rest of the season. The 3000 strikeout club is an elite group of pitchers, nearly all are in the Hall of Fame. The last name on the list, the one right above Sabathia right now, is Braves pitcher John Smoltz with 3084, but 11 more strikeouts gets Sabathia on the list forever. Only 1 other pitcher earned the honor as a Yankee, Phil Niekro, though a few others have been Yankees at some point in their careers.}

Roster moves: Before today’s game, the Yankees reinstated CC from the IL and sent Stephen Tarpley to AAA Scranton to make room for the veteran starter. I imagine we’ll see Tarpley again before long.

Injury news: There is an update on Dellin Betances. When the Yankees originally signed him in 2006, they were aware of an asymptomatic bone spur behind his right shoulder (his throwing arm). But the most recent diagnosis is that it’s no longer the case and the cause of his most recent discomfort and shut down the All-Star reliever for at least 3 weeks from baseball activities.

They are treating him with a cortisone injection to target the bone spur, a normal part of treatment. Surgery is only necessary if the spur causes significant damage to the area, but right now, that does not seem to be the case. This is good news for Betances and the Yankees because it means that his return is weeks away, just a few more than they initially hoped.

And they certainly need all the hope they can get with the growing list of players on the IL, hopefully and progressively dropping off the IL sooner rather than later. Stay healthy, guys!

Go Yankees!

Game 13: CHW vs. NYY — Drenched and shortened loss

Tonight’s home stand opener certainly didn’t go as well as they thought. And the weather itself certainly agreed. The skies threatened to storm the entire evening, even drizzling through most of the game, but it finally broke through and drenched the Bronx enough to force them to call the game early. Which, of course, meant the Yankees ran out of time to try to regain their lead against the visiting White Sox.

Starter JA Happ really struggled through his outing tonight. He threw 88 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 9 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out 5 Chicago batters. A lead-off double in the 1st scored on a 2-out single to get the White Sox on the board early and first. In the 4th, he gave up 2 walks that scored on a 2-out double.

While this was actually tolerable for the Yankees, it was the 5th inning that things really started falling apart. Happ gave up a single, a 2-run home run, and another single before the Yankees called in Jonathan Holder for relief. But then he promptly gave up a 2-run home run before powering his way through 3 strikeouts to end the inning and then keeping the Sox scoreless through the 6th.

Okay, backing up a little, the Yankees did actually do pretty well on the offense side tonight. Down by 1 run in the 1st, the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the inning. With 1 out, they loaded up the bases with a throwing error on Judge’s at-bat and 2 walks to Voit and Torres. After another out, DJ LeMahieu’s single scored both Judge and Voit. But then, Torres was caught out in a rundown trying to make it to 3rd. His distraction was enough to allow both runners to score before he got tagged out, so the risk was worth it.

Now in the lead, the Yankees continued to surge forward in the 2nd. Frazier led-off with a walk, moved to 3rd on Urshela’s double, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. Later, Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly scored Urshela. Brett Gardner hit a solid 2-out solo home run in the 4th. And in the 6th, LeMahieu walked and Frazier singled. After a pitching change, Gio Urshela’s single scored LeMahieu, and despite loading up the bases later, the Yankees’ offense stalled that inning.

And they never got another chance to restart it because it started raining. They sent Chad Green out in the 7th, and like his 2 predecessors, he had his own issues with his outing. With 1 out, he gave up back-to-back solo homers. And by then the rain was just too much.

After 41 minutes of a delay and no end in sight, the game was called as is.

Final score: 9-6 White Sox, in 7 innings

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees sent Gary Sanchez to the injured list with left calf strain. He originally sat out the previous game with some calf discomfort, not wanting to push himself to actually get injured. But on yesterday’s off-day, he noticed it was still problematic and got it check out, hoping to be able to play through the stiffness. Diagnosis: strain. So they called up Kyle Higashioka for back-up to Romine.

And be prepared: the Yankees are set to activate CC Sabathia from the IL for tomorrow’s game, so the corresponding roster move (probably a pitcher) is forthcoming. But it’s nice to see someone coming off the IL rather than being put on. Yeah, we need more of that please.

Go Yankees!