Game 64: NYY vs. CLE — Sweep denied in extra innings

I can imagine most of the Yankees are glad to see Cleveland in the rear view mirror (or rather, far above from their airplane window). This weekend series hasn’t been good for morale, and the Yankees need to put it firmly in the past to move onto the next two weeks of busy baseball. But it was nice to (eventually) pull out a win in the finale against the Indians.

Due to Tanaka’s paternity leave, the Yankees opted for the “opener” model, calling on Chad Green to start this afternoon, throwing 2 strong scoreless innings. Cortes continued the momentum with 3 more scoreless innings to allow the Yankee bats to jump way ahead.

Whether the Indians meant to or not, they too ended up with the “opener” model, as the Yankee offense didn’t allow their starter to even complete the 2nd inning. After a clean 1st and 2 outs in the 2nd, the Yankees just pounced and wouldn’t let up. Frazier hit a single and then scored as part of Brett Gardner’s big 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board first.

Then Urshela walked, moved to 2nd on Maybin’s single, and scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single. A wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position, and Hicks worked a walk to load up the bases. Luke Voit’s long double scored both Maybin and LeMahieu, forced the Indians’ starter out of the game, and gave the Yankees a rather large lead to defend early.

But they did right up until the 6th inning. Tommy Kahnle just struggled his way through the inning as the Indians chipped away at the Yankees’ lead. The lead-off batter turned Kahnle’s 1st pitch into a solo home run. A 1-out single moved to 2nd on a messy wild pitch and then scored on an RBI single. And a 2-run home run put the home team within a run of the Yankees’ lead.

Adam Ottavino came on for the 7th and would have put in another great outing, but he gave up a 1-out solo home run. That tied up the game, and things just got interesting. Britton, however, righted the ship with a scoreless 8th inning, so both teams were looking for that tie-breaking run.

With 1 out in the 9th, the Yankees loaded up the bases with a single to Voit, a double to Sanchez, and an intentional walk to Torres. Clint Frazier’s sacrifice fly scored Voit as the Yankees’ go-ahead run. And the Yankees called in their closer, Aroldis Chapman, who just needed 3 outs for the victory.

But it wasn’t that kind of weekend. The lead-off batter singled and ended up at 2nd on a pick-off error that bounced into the stands. After a walk, Chapman finally got a good 2 outs. The next batter hit into a little grounder that bounced away from Gregorius, and that fielding error allowed the tying run to cross the plate and force the game into extra innings.

In the 10th, Maybin hit a long 1-out double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. The Yankees were back in the lead. And in came Stephen Tarpley to close out the game and hunt for those elusive 3 outs. 16 pitches and 3 strikeouts later, Tarpley got his first ever save, and the Yankees weren’t swept this weekend.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees in 10 innings, Indians win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees take a short break in this road trip to host a quick 2-game series against the Mets before traveling to Chicago for a 4-game weekend series against the White Sox. They’ll be back in the Bronx for a long home stand and HOPE Week. They will face the Rays, the Astros, and Blue Jays during this final home stand before the All-Star Break. But the final weekend of this month will find the Yankees in London for the first ever MLB series to be played in the UK.

Roster moves/injury update: Yesterday’s starter Domingo German was sent to the 10-day injured list with recurring hip flexor strain. He will get an MRI to check for further problems, as he’s been battling this injury since his previous start in Kansas City, trying to pitch through the pain. In his stead, the Yankees recalled Stephen Tarpley, which ended up being a good choice for today’s game.

Go Yankees!

Game 63: NYY vs. CLE — Falling short of a CC milestone in CC’s first MLB stop

There was some sentimentality about how nice for retiring star pitcher CC Sabathia to hit another milestone, his 250th career win, against the team that helped him get his first. Sabathia’s MLB debut on April 8, 2001, was with the Indians (in this same stadium), but he threw a no-decision. His first win came 5 days later when the Indians played the Tigers in Detroit. Now, 248 wins later, that pesky #250 still lingers in potential.

Sabathia got the start in today’s game and got a bit roughed up by the Indians’ bats in this middle game of the weekend series. He threw just 69 pitches through 5 innings, gave up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out 5 Cleveland batters.

In fact, he didn’t give up much until the 4th inning. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on a double and then scored on a sacrifice fly. A questionable double scored another run, and the umpire review confirmed it wasn’t quite a home run. A snazzy, highlight reel worthy double play ended the inning for Sabathia.

After a rough, but scoreless 5th, the Yankees closed out the game with relievers. First, Jonathan Holder found his own problems in the 6th. A lead-off single scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run. Then a 2-out solo home run pushed the Indians further ahead.

Luis Cessa had a better turn with a clean 7th inning, but his 8th inning found the same stumbles. A lead-off walk moved to 3rd on a 1-out single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. The Indians’ bats just were working throughout the game.

But the Yankees’ had their moments. In the 1st, with 1 out, LeMahieu singled and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ big 2-out 2-run home run, Gregorius’ first home run of the season. But then, after the Yankees fell to the Indians’ lead, they struggled to find another opportunity.

In the 7th, with a new pitcher, Gregorius led-off with a single and ended up at 2nd on a throwing error. Gleyber Torres’ double scored Gregorius, and a ground out moved Torres to 3rd. After a pitching change and Frazier’s walk, Gio Urshela’s sacrifice fly scored Torres for just one more Yankee run today.

Final score: 8-4 Indians

CC K-Count: 3033

Again, this is quite the sentimental series for CC Sabathia and his family. This is where his career began, starting with being drafted by the Indians in 1998 (1st round, 20th overall pick), and debuting just 3 years later at the age of 20. It’s where he built his family, became a father, and found his favorite sub shop (which he visited before yesterday’s game).

But then he was traded to the Brewers in 2008 for their postseason run. Being a free agent in that off-season, the big 2007 Cy Young Award winner signed with the biggest team ever and helped take them to the World Series that year. And New York is where he’ll end his storied career. But it all started in Cleveland, not so much his “mistake on the lake”.

Go Yankees!

Game 62: NYY vs. CLE — Didi’s back in the Rock & Rock Capital

If you’ve read this blog for some time, you might know that the Cleveland-New York series are always a special time for my family. A good chunk of my maternal relatives are from northeast Ohio and thus Indians’ fans. It can become quite contentious at times, our own private rivalry. This is the only time the Yankees will be in Cleveland this season, except those we might send for the All-Star Game (hint, vote now!).

The Yankees started the offense tonight early. Sanchez led-off the 2nd with a single. Didi Gregorius (he’s back, see below) hit a long single but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. After a walk to Morales, Sanchez scored on Clint Frazier’s double to get the Yankees on the board first.

Aaron Hicks hit a 1-out solo home run in the 3rd to double the Yankees’ score. But the home team’s defense continued strong to help their starter keep control of the game and ended up making all the difference in the end.

Domingo German got the start for the Yankees in tonight’s opener of this weekend series against the Indians. He threw 92 pitches through 6 innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out 6 batters. In the 4th, with 1 out, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a walk and then scored on an RBI single. A 2-out solo home run in the 5th tied up the game. Then in the 6th, a lead-off single scored on a 2-run home run pushed the Indians in the lead.

David Hale came on for relief for the final 2 innings. After a solid 7th inning, Hale had a bit of trouble in the 8th, giving up a lead-off triple that later scored on a sacrifice fly for the unnecessary insurance run.

Final score: 5-2 Indians

Roster moves: Prior to the game, the Yankees optioned Thairo Estrada back to AAA Scranton and activated Didi Gregorius to make a pretty good debut in tonight’s game, going 2-for-4. It was nice of Gregorius to take a break from learning how to channel John Legend, his newest creative talent (like his art and emoji-laced winning game recap Tweets), to play some baseball once again.

Finally, Masahiro Tanaka and his wife Mai Sotoda are celebrating the birth of their daughter earlier today. Tanaka  will be going on paternity leave, of course, to be with his wife, daughter, and their 3-year-old son, and will miss his previously scheduled start on Sunday. Congratulations to their family on this newest addition.

Go Yankees!

 

NLDS 4: LAD vs. ATL & ALDS 3: HOU vs. CLE, BOS vs. NYY — One solid win, one strong win, one sloppy loss

Okay, after today’s games, the Division Series is down to just one series to determine which teams advance to the Championship Series. And today’s games just kept the drama of the postseason rolling. In the end, three teams emerged as overwhelmingly powerful.

NLDS: Dodgers at Braves
First, the NLDS is over thanks to the Dodgers emerging as the clear winner of that series. Mostly, this afternoon was a show of the solid Dodgers’ bullpen who held the Braves to their 2 runs scored in the 4th. The Braves put consecutive walks on the bases that moved to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt and then both scored on a long single to get the home team on the board.

But the Dodgers were the ones with the advantage. They also struck first with a 2-out walk that scored on an RBI double in the 1st. But their big inning was the 6th. With 2 outs and runners in scoring position, a new reliever for the Braves gave up a 2-run single to put the Dodgers back in the lead. Then, a lead-off single and walk scored as part of a 3-run home run to kick off the 7th to ensure their victory and advance to the next round.

Final score: 6-2 Dodgers, Dodgers defeat Braves 3-1

ALDS A: Astros at Indians
Despite the hometown fervor, the Astros would not be deterred from sweeping the Indians in this series. The Indians got a few runs early. In the 3rd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a single, then to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, before scoring on a sacrifice fly. And a 2-out solo home run in the 5th doubled the home team’s score. But while their starter held the Astros off for most of the game, I can’t say the same about their bullpen.

The Indians’ starter gave up a 1-out solo home run to the Astros. But then their bullpen crumbled. In the 7th, a single moved to 2nd on a pick-off error, to 3rd on a single, and then scored on a fielder’s choice out to tie up the game. The next batter made it to 1st on a throwing error, and a walk loaded the bases. A double then scored 2 more Astros runs.

A 1-out solo home run in the 8th kept the ball rolling, as the Astros loaded the bases with a double, a walk, and an intentional walk. A single allowed from a new pitcher scored just one run, and a wild pitch scored another, before a 3-run home run pushed them further in the lead. And a lead-off walk in the 9th moved to 2nd on a balk, made it to 3rd on a ground out, and scored on a single to cap off the Astros’ big scoring afternoon.

The Indians at least made a small effort to reclaim some of the gap in the bottom of the 9th with a last-ditch effort. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a single. A double play moved the lead runner to 3rd before he scored on a wild pitch. But they ran out of outs.

Final score: 11-3 Astros, Astros sweep series 3-0

ALDS B: Red Sox at Yankees
And up in New York, the Red Sox showed up to reclaim their lost game on Saturday, and the Yankees forgot how to play baseball. The Red Sox clearly were in command of tonight’s game from start to finish, only giving up a single run to the Yankees in the 4th. Voit led-off with a single (that the Red Sox unwisely challenged). Stanton’s single moved Voit to 3rd, and Didi Gregorius hit into a grounder at 2nd that still scored Voit. Now, it would have scored Voit either way, but the call was originally a double play. The Yankees challenged the call at 1st, and it was rightly overturned.

Now, the Yankees pitching just wasn’t working tonight, as every pitcher gave up at least one run, most multiple runs. Luis Severino wasn’t in the kind of shape we recently saw in the Wild Card game, instead struggled his way into the 4th inning, giving up 70 pitches, 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and striking out just 2 Boston batters. In the 2nd, a lead-off single stole 2nd on a strikeout, moved to 3rd on a grounder, and then scored on a single to kick off Boston’s big night.

A lead-off single in the 3rd ended up on 3rd on a single and sloppy throw and then score don a sacrifice fly. Another single left runners on the corners, and a fielder’s choice out scored a run. But it was the 4th inning that made the difference. Severino came back out for the 4th to load up the bases with 2 singles and a walk.

It was Lance Lynn’s turn. He promptly gave up a walk to score 1 run and a bases-clearing double to score 3 more. After finally getting an out in the inning, he gave up a single before trudging his way to the dugout and handing the ball to Chad Green. Green got another out but then gave up an RBI single and a 2-RBI triple.

Jonathan Holder had a better time in the 6th but then struggled on his own in the 7th, giving up 1-out ground-rule double and a 2-out walk. A single scored that lead runner. Then Jonathan Tarpley had his own troubles in the 8th. He gave up consecutive singles that scored one on a ground-rule double. A 1-out wild pitch scored the other, and a walk loaded the bases before a single scored one more run.

And in the 9th, with the Yankees so far behind, the opted to do something they’d never done before — send in a position player to pitch the final inning. This time, it was Austin Romine. And honestly, Romine had a decent outing for a non-pitcher, 10 of his 18 pitches being strikes. He got 2 quick outs before giving up a walk that scored as part of a 2-run home run to end the Red Sox’s big night.

Final score: 16-1 Red Sox, Red Sox lead series 2-1

A few game notes from the Yankees-Red Sox game: the Red Sox player that homered off Romine in the 9th (Holt) actually hit for the cycle in tonight’s game. Doing so means that he hit a single, a double, a triple, and a home run all in one game. This made his the first player in MLB history to hit for the cycle in a postseason game.

Also, 1st base umpire Angel Hernandez had a bit of trouble with some key calls there. Already notorious for his style and skills, Hernandez made 4 calls that were challenged. Of those, 3 were overturned on replay. And they weren’t even close calls. It certainly set social media on fire, which quickly dubbed tonight’s game the “Angel Hernandez game”.

Go Yankees!

ALDS 2: CLE vs. HOU, NYY vs. BOS — Drama in the AL

The NLDS teams travel today to their next stop, the lower seed’s home field for what may be the final game. Both higher seed teams are leading their series 2-0 and just need one more win to advance to the NLCS to play each other. But that “home field advantage” may alter some things for those series.

ALDS A: Indians at Astros
Meanwhile, the ALDS continued to shake things up with some drama. The Astros continued to come out strong mostly due to their solid starter, who got the Indians to strikeout 12 times in his 7 innings, only giving up a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd. The Indians couldn’t seem to pierce through much more of the Astros’ defense.

The Astros were held off from the board by a good start by the Indians’ starter Carrasco. It wasn’t until the 6th that they finally got a score. After Carrasco gave up a single and walk and got an out, the Indians called on their bullpen. But it collapsed. A double promptly scored both runners to jump the Astros ahead.

After loading up the bases and no additional outs, they went to the bullpen again. That new pitcher got out of the jam. And then with 2 outs in the 7th, he gave up a solo home run to add just one more run for the Astros. Despite the small lead the Astros held, the Indians just weren’t coming back with any kind of last-minute rally.

Final score: 3-1 Astros, Astros lead series 2-1

ALDS B: Yankees at Red Sox
With last night’s game being rather tight at the end of it all, the Yankees just running out of outs really, tonight’s game was going to be just as dramatic. Because the rivalry… And it’s clearly 2003 and 2004 all over again.

Masahiro Tanaka had a great night, throwing 78 pitches in 5 innings, giving up 3 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and striking out 4 batters along the way. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo home run in the 4th. Dellin Betances came on for a quick 6th inning, but he had some trouble in the 7th. A lead-off single scored on a 1-out double to double the Red Sox’s score. Britton and Chapman closed out the game without allowing the home team anything further.

In a series that could end up being really close, the Yankees kind of proved they deserved to be playing in the postseason. Fortunately, they faced a familiar face on the mound, who does not seem to pitch well against the Yankees ever. Price gave up a 1-out solo home run right in the 1st inning.

Then Gary Sanchez led-off the 2nd with a monster solo home run. Two outs later, Price walked Torres and Gardner. Torres then scored on Andrew McCutchen’s single to end Price’s night. His relievers, oddly, had a pretty good night keeping the Yankees from adding to their score for most of the game.

In the 7th, Judge led-off with a single and moved to 2nd on Voit’s walk. Then in a play that ended up being far too talked about online, Stanton hit into a fielder’s choice out at 2nd. Originally ruled safe, the Red Sox challenged it, and for some reason, HQ thought there was enough evidence to overturn it. A huge shame because the next batter, Gary Sanchez, hit his 2nd homer of the game, a monster 3-run home run (thus a base runner shy of a grand slam) to ensure the Yankee victory, thus sending the series back to the Bronx on an even playing field.

Final score: 6-2 Yankees, series split 1-1

And to commemorate the Yankees’ victory, Aaron Judge felt it was necessary to use his personal sound system to make sure the Yankees left their victory to the tune of “New York, New York“. While they play it after every game at Yankee Stadium regardless of the outcome, it’s especially sweet after a win. Which, as you know, happens a lot.

It’s worth noting the only time that song was actually played at Fenway was the first game back after 9/11. The Yankees later returned the honor by playing “Sweet Caroline” following the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. For all the bluster of the “rivalry”, when it matters, when it’s truly baseball at its finest, the heart of the true sports fans is shown.

Like the Boston fan that got Judge’s home run ball. He even ripped his jeans and skinned his knee, but he got it. He kept it (and didn’t throw it back). He showed it off. And he’s going to give it to his friend who’s a huge Yankees fan. Because that’s baseball.

Go Yankees!

ALDS 1: CLE vs. HOU, NYY vs. BOS & NLDS 2: COL vs. MIL, ATL vs. LAD — A very busy but predictable Friday

It’s days like this, with the flurry of activity, that really amp up the drama that leads up to the final bit of this season. For those of us who follow the entire day, it’s quite overwhelming at times. But oddly, it ended up being kind of predictable.

NLDS 2a: Rockies at Brewers
The Brewers and Rockies continue to prove they are pretty evenly matched in this postseason series. But the Brewers found their opportunities and capitalized on them well. In the 4th, a 1-out double scored on a ground-rule double to get the home team on the board. But then, they were held to that lone run for most of the game.

Then in the 8th, the Brewers loaded the bases with no outs. A single scored one runner. And 2 outs later, a single scored 2 more runs. That and some really tight pitching ensured the Brewers’ shutout victory.

Final score: 4-0 Brewers, Brewers lead series 2-0

NLDS 2b: Braves at Dodgers
The Dodgers sent their ace pitcher for tonight’s game and he just breezed his way through 8 scoreless innings allowing just 2 hits. The Braves’ offense just struggled their way through the whole game.

The Dodgers’ offense, however, found an early chance to ensure their lead in the game and series. They gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a ground out. A 2-out 2-run home run gave them that early lead. And a lead-off solo home run in the 5th added that extra insurance run for them they wouldn’t need in this game. And the Braves’ bullpen actually snapped into action to keep the Dodgers to that small early lead.

Final score: 3-0 Dodgers, Dodgers lead series 2-0

ALDS 1a: Indians at Astros
The ALDS series began today and had the Indians and Astros show off their strong pitching rotations. Seriously, of all the teams in the postseason, the two teams with the strongest starting pitching are these two teams. And while they certainly showed off their stuff, there was enough early on to give both teams hope. And then the Astros pulled away and showed why they won 103 games this season.

The Astros struck first with a lead-off solo home run in the 4th. Then a walk moved to 2nd on a 2-out single and then scored on another single to double their score. Then they came back in the 5th with consecutive solo home runs to lead-off that inning to again double that score.

The Indians finally answered back in the 6th by loading up the bases and pushing out the Astros’ starter. A wild pitch by the reliever moved all the runners up and scored the Indians’ first run. Another run scored on a ground out to half the Astros’ lead.

But the home team got both of them back in the 7th with a lead-off solo home run. Then a single moved to 2nd on a grounder and scored on a single. And a 1-out double in the 8th scored on an RBI single to finish the game on a strong note for the Astros’ fans packing their hometown park.

Final score: 7-2 Astros, Astros lead series 1-0

ALDS 1b: Yankees at Red Sox
And up in Boston, the Yankees just had a series of miscues that didn’t make tonight work in the end. JA Happ, the assumed Wild Card starter, got the start and just flustered his way into the 3rd inning. A 1-out single and walk in the 1st scored as part of a 3-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board in a hurry. After giving up a double and single to put runners on the corners, the Yankees turned to Chad Green.

Green had his own issues keeping the home team’s momentum down. He gave up a single that easily scored the runner from 3rd. A fly out moved the other runner to 3rd so that he could then score on a sacrifice fly. But then Green held them off for the 4th inning. Lynn, Britton, and Robertson then finished off the final 4 innings and kept the Red Sox to those early runs.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox has a strong starting rotation, and their ace pitcher Sale started tonight’s game and held the Yankees off until the 6th inning. Judge led-off the inning with a single but then was out on Gardner’s fielder’s choice grounder. And Stanton then singled. That was the end of Sale’s night, but he was responsible for Gardner and Stanton.

Luke Voit then hit a nice single to score Gardner, and Didi Gregorius hit into a fielder’s choice grounder at 2nd that still scored Stanton. Walks to Andujar and Sanchez loaded up the bases to prove the Red Sox’s bullpen isn’t as strong as their starters. But the Yankees also started a pattern that wasn’t going to work out well for them — load up the bases and leave them stranded.

In the 7th, they loaded up the bases with singles by McCutchen and Judge and a walk to Gardner. With 1 out, Voit hit into a ground out at 2nd that still scored McCutchen. But they left runners in scoring position again. When the Red Sox needed just 3 outs in the 9th to close out their game, Aaron Judge put a slight kink in that with a lead-off solo home run to trim the Red Sox lead down to just 1 run.

But 3 strikeouts later, the game was over. It’s just going to prove this series is going to be super

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox, Red Sox lead series 1-0

Quick side note: in the Yankees-Red Sox game, Aaron Hicks came out of the game in the 4th after hitting a single and kind of lightly running to 1st base. Replaced by Gardner (who definitely impacted the game), Hicks seemed to re-injure his hamstring injury that plagued him late last month. He will go for an MRI to figure out his postseason future. If he is out for this series, like they put him on the DL, he will be ineligible for the rest of the postseason. Hopefully, that won’t happen. But the best outcome is always the healthy outcome.

Go Yankees!

2018 Postseason Preview

And with the finishing of the tie-breaker games in the National League, we now have a postseason set and ready to go.

In the National League, the Wild Card game on Tuesday will be the Cubs hosting the Rockies. The winner of that game will face the team with the highest number of game wins the Brewers for the NLDS. The other NLDS will be between the Braves and Dodgers, starting at Dodger Stadium.

Over in the American League, Yankee Universe will be watching expectantly as the Athletics play the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The winner of that game will face the game leaders of MLB, the Red Sox, for the ALDS. The other ALDS game will be the Indians and Astros in Houston.

The NLDS begins on Thursday, the ALDS on Friday. The pattern once again is 2 games (at the higher seed’s stadium), travel day, 2 games (at the lower seed’s stadium), travel day, 1 game (back at the higher seed). The first team to 3 wins takes the Division Series and advances to the Championship Series. That is a 7-game series, pattern of 2-3-2, first to 4 wins. The winners of those advance to the World Series.

And we’re at that time of year that I start making foolish predictions. I’ve learned my lesson, and I will only take this one step at a time.

So, for the Wild Card games:

  • NL Wild Card (on Tuesday) — Rockies over Cubs
  • AL Wild Card (on Wednesday) — Yankees over Athletics

This means that I think the Rockies will end up facing the Brewers in the NLDS and the Yankees will face the Red Sox in the ALDS. But then I’ve been wrong before. I’ll be wrong again. And I’ll be wrong this postseason.

Go Yankees!