Game 126: CLE vs. NYY — Coming up a little short in series split

CC Sabathia faced his former team for the final time in the regular season in today’s game, the final game of this 4-game series and this home stand. And the other guys won the battle, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Sabathia threw 67 pitches through 3 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and still struck out 5 Cleveland batters.

And almost all of that was the result of the 2nd inning. He gave up consecutive singles that moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. The next batter hit into a fielder’s choice, but everyone was safe and a runner scored. Then a big 3-run home run eased the Indians into a large early lead. Then after loading the bases with 3 straight walks, he got himself out of the jam with one of those strikeouts.

Nestor Cortes Jr had a slightly better out when he came in to pitch for the next third of the game. With 1 out in the 4th, he gave up a solo home run that needed to be reviewed by the umpires as there was a possibility of fan interference, but upon review, the call was upheld as it clearly was over the fence (and the fan was not). After a clean 5th, he gave up a lead-off double in the 6th that scored on a 1-out single. He then gave up another single that put runners in the corners.

So the Yankees turned to Luis Cessa, who got a great double play to get out of that jam. Then in the 8th, Cessa gave up a lead-off ground-rule double that bounced over the wall in centerfield. A grounder moved that runner to 3rd. But it would be a 2-run home run to cap off the Indians’ runs today.

The Yankees’ bats, meanwhile, were quite slow to start this afternoon. Unable to get past the Indians’ starter or their first reliever for the first 6 innings, they finally got on the board in the 7th. Ford led-off with a single, and then DJ LeMahieu smacked a 2-run home run into the right field seats to break the shutout.

Finally, in the 9th, Torres was hit by a pitch and ended up at 3rd on Tauchman’s 1-out single. LeMahieu’s single scored Torres, and Aaron Judge’s solid double bounced off the back wall and scored Tauchman to halve the visitor’s lead. But the Yankees ran out of outs in the end.

Final score: 8-4 Indians, they split the series 2-2

Next up: After an off-day/travel day tomorrow, the Yankee head off for a long road trip to the West Coast. First up are the California teams — the Athletics and Dodgers. The Mariners will host the Yankees to finish off their road trip before they head home the final weekend of the month to host the Athletics and Rangers.

Injury updates: Thairo Estrada becomes the 28th player to be placed on the injured list. His right hamstring tightened up on him during yesterday’s game, so after a diagnosis of a strain, he’s head to the 10-day IL. The Yankees recalled infielder Tyler Wade to help with the bench.

Luis Severino got some workouts earlier today, throwing some from the mound to simulated hitters. Dellin Betances also got some throwing time, though he has yet to throw to live hitters. Both pitchers will travel to Tampa to continue their workouts while the team is on the West Coast. Severino could begin his minor league rehab shortly after a simulated game, but Betances is further away from his return.

And Luke Voit will continue his workouts on Monday and should start his rehab games on Friday. He will miss the road trip, but he could rejoin the team when they’re back in the Bronx in 10 days. In other words, he’s the one we’ll be seeing in pinstripes before anyone else at this point.

Go Yankees!

Game 125: CLE vs. NYY — Legendary drama on sunny Saturday in the Bronx

Sunny, clear skies. A warm Saturday afternoon. Former Yankees in the Bronx. And a tight ball game. It was a good day to be at the ball park today.

James Paxton got the start today and had a decent outing overall. He threw 88 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out 4 Cleveland batters in this third game of the 4-game weekend series. Paxton bookended his outing by splitting his allowed runs.

In the 1st, a lead-off walk and double had runners in scoring position to do so on a long single to get the Indians on the board first. After the Yankees tie up things and then took the lead, the Indians found their next chance in the 5th. With 2 outs, a double and a walk on base, consecutive singles scored both runs to tie up the game.

Ottavino breezed his way through a 13-pitch 6th, and Kahnle allowed a couple of runners but got out of the 7th without allowing the visitors to add to the score. Zack Britton got into some trouble in the 8th. His lead-off double moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a wild pitch. Later with runners on the corners, he and the defense snapped into action with a standard double play. And Chapman earned his 35th save with an efficient 10-pitch 9th inning to close out the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees pieced together their eventual win. With 2 outs in the 2nd, Maybin worked a walk and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s single and a fielding error. That error gave Tauchman a bit of false hope as he was thrown out trying to make it to 2nd just after Maybin scored the Yankees’ first run.

Romine led-off the 3rd with a single but was out when Estrada hit into a fielder’s choice. After a strikeout, Estrada stole 2nd and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single and a throwing error. That tied up the game from the Indians’ strong start. Then in the 4th, Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres went back-to-back with solo home runs to put the Yankees in the lead.

In the 5th, with 2 outs, DJ LeMahieu hit a solo home run to close out the Cleveland’s starter’s afternoon. Torres got his second homer of the day, a 1-out solo home run in the 6th. That would be the insurance run they needed, just preceding the dramatic ejections of Boone, Gardner, and Sabathia.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees

Now, whenever there’s some drama that leads to ejections, I always go back and look at the graphics to see whether it was a legitimate concern or just overblown competitive machismo. But yes, it was legitimate today. The “called strikes” mostly weren’t strikes. So it had to be frustrating for both pitchers and batters when they can’t guarantee the consistency of the strike zone.

So, in this case, Maybin was openly questioning the final called strike of his at-bat in the 6th. Before things got too heated, Aaron Boone did his job and got between the umpire and Maybin. But Boone continued “chirping” as he’s prone to do, and that just seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for everything. So Boone got tossed.

But it didn’t end there. The bench was sparked in Boone’s defense. First, Brett Gardner was tossed when the umpire said he wasn’t allowed to use his bat to pound against the dugout, which doesn’t seem like something the umpires would police as it seems more like a grounds or stadium crew issue. He rushed the umpire asking him why exactly they ejected him, only to find out the umpires believe that dugout behavior with a bat is under their purview. CC Sabathia came to his teammate’s defense, and they tossed him too. Honestly, kind of ridiculous on a lot of fronts.

But before the game, the Yankees honored Yankee legend Mariano Rivera. Just a few weeks ago, we all watched the iconic closer be honored by being inducted into the Hall of Fame. To commemorate that, the Yankees hosted Rivera and his family in a pre-game ceremony where they honored this milestone with a replica plaque to be placed in Monument Park.

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Rivera and son exit field after first pitch. (Photo credit: Yankees Twitter)

His former manager Joe Torre was also on hand for the festivities. And Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner presented Rivera’s foundation with a check for $250,000 to help build a learning center in New Rochelle, New York. Rivera threw out today’s ceremonial first pitch (a high ball, by the way) to his son, Mariano Rivera Jr and later hung out with the Yankees broadcasters to reflect on his career and today’s special event.

Go Yankees!

Game 124: CLE vs. NYY — #TanakaTime & Gardy’s Grab FTW

*Note: FTW is an online acronym for “for the win”. I feel like someone out there needs to know that before we dive into today’s post.

After last night’s rough start for the Yankees, they were looking to turn the tables on the visiting Indians. So they called on Masahiro Tanaka to right the ship, and Tanaka came through. He threw 83 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 2 Cleveland batters. His allowed runs were 1-out solo home runs in the 2nd and 7th innings.

After he gave up that 7th inning homer, he also allowed a double. So with that threat on base, the Yankees opted for reliable Kahnle for a quick 2 strikeouts to get out of the inning. Then Britton and Chapman followed suit with scoreless innings a piece to close out the game. And in more than one instance, the Yankees relied on their fantastic defense to save the day — like Brett Gardner’s snazzy grab at the wall in the 8th inning.

Meanwhile, the offense gave Tanaka and the bullpen some cushion to work with. With 1 out in the 1st, Judge singled, moved to 2nd on Urshela’s single, and advanced to 3rd on on Gregorius’ fielder’s choice. A pair of singles by Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres scored Judge and Gregorius to put the Yankees on the board first. Then, in the 5th, with 2 outs, Judge doubled and scored on Gio Urshela’s single and a fielding error for the insurance run they needed in the end.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: Before today’s game, the Yankees moved some of their pitchers around on that Scranton Shuttle. They optioned Chance Adams and outrighted Joe Mantiply and Brady Lail back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. And they recalled new Yankee Ryan Dull from Scranton to help with the bullpen in that regular “fresh arm” category.

Injury update: Luke Voit has been out of the lineup for over 2 weeks with a sports hernia. The worry was that he might have to get surgery on it, but with recent days being rather pain-free, Voit has been cleared to resume on-field work outs with AAA Scranton next week. As long as things remain good, he could be back with the team during the West Coast trip at the earliest or when the Yankees are back home.

Go Yankees!

Game 123: CLE vs. NYY — Opening trouncing

Girardi INWYWIn the words of former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, “It’s not what you want.”

The Yankees have actually had some great success using the “opener” for games, especially when Chad Green is that opener. But whether Green was just having an off-night, or (more likely) the Indians just got on a roll with momentum and came to the Bronx ready to challenge the AL’s 1st place team.

Green threw 35 pitches and only got 1 out in the 1st. He gave up 4 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, and struck out 1 Cleveland batter in this opening game of the weekend series. He quickly loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk before getting that strikeout. Then the next batter smacked a grand slam up the middle to jump the Indians into an early big lead. After the next player hit a solo home run, Green was ready to exit the game.

But it was simply the start of a long night for Yankee pitchers. Jonathan Loaisiga came into the game, his first since returning from the IL. After an out, he gave up a single that scored on a 2-run home run. Loaisiga started finding his momentum, but he gave up another 2-out single in the 2nd that scored on another 2-run home run. Coming up with a clean inning in the 3rd, the Yankees turned to their bullpen again.

Chance Adams, unfortunately, didn’t follow the latter example in his long-term relief outing. With 1 out in the 4th, Adams gave up a double that scored on a 2-run home run. In the 5th, the lead-off batter singled but was thrown out trying to take 2nd by the Yankees’ solid defense. Then he gave up a single and walk that moved into scoring position on a balk. After another out, a single scored the lead runner.

Adams gave up a lead-off single in the 7th, but the next batter hit into a great double play. The next batter was hit by a pitch who moved to 3rd on a double. Then a single scored both runners. After an allowed walk, unable to get that final out of the inning, the Yankees turned to Nestor Cortes Jr who needed 7 pitches to get out of the inning.

Running out of relievers, the Yankees called in a position player to pitch the final 2 innings. I mean, at this point, there really couldn’t be any worse. It was clear they were going to lose the game. Mike Ford was to do the honors, with mixed results. He actually threw decent pitches (in the upper 70s and 80s mph fastballs), but too many found the sweet spot in the strike zone.

In the 8th, with 1 out, a double and single put runners in the corners. A single then scored the lead runner, and a 3-run home run cleared the bases. The next batter hit a solo home run to get in on the fun. But then after giving up a single, he got the final 2 outs of the inning. And his 9th was efficient with just 9 pitches for 3 outs, thanks to his defense that he’s normally part of.

In total, that was 24 allowed hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts, and 19 runs by Yankees’ pitchers tonight for the visiting team.

On the flip side of things, the Yankees were exactly quiet, just nowhere near as loud as their opponents. LeMahieu led-off the 1st with a single, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single and then scored on Gio Urshela’s single. Gardner’s 2-out walk loaded the bases, but they couldn’t get anyone else home.

Didi Gregorius hit a 2-out solo home run in the 5th, and Gary Sanchez’s lead-off solo home run in the 6th minutely chipped away at the Indians’ monster lead. Then in the 7th, Ford led-off by getting on base due to a throwing error. He then moved to 2nd on LeMahieu’s single and later scored on Gio Urshela’s 2-out single. Gleyber Torres barely eked out a 1-out solo home run in the 8th to cap off the Yankees’ scoring tonight.

Final score: 19-5 Yankees

There are some games that are really difficult to keep a positive spin when I discuss them on here. I guess the best things I can say off the top of my head is that at least the Yankees weren’t shutout (so that streak continues) and the Yankees have another position player-pitcher in their history (whose only problems were he kept things too inside the strike zone). And unlike some other sports, it doesn’t matter by how much you win, just that you win.

Go Yankees!

2019 All-Star Game

Today, the American and National Leagues met for the 90th All-Star Game, hosted this year in Cleveland at Progressive Field. The players arrived at the field with their families on the red carpet, looking stylish, greeting cheering fans, and posing for pictures. After a weekend of fan festivities and a rather eventful workout day and Home Run Derby, everything was leading up to this one exhibition game.

And for the seventh year in a row, the American League came out on top. This year, that was mostly due to their stellar pitching, AL pitchers collecting 16 total strikeouts on their road to victory. And the Yankees were represented on the field and on the mound, earning significant recognition for their efforts.

The AL hitters also got on the board first. In the 2nd, Bregman (Astros) hit a 1-out single and then scored on a double by Brantley (Astros). And the Yankees’ own Gary Sanchez led-off the 5th with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and scored on a single by Polanco (Twins).

The NL finally broke through the AL’s pitching in the 6th with a big 2-out solo home run up the middle by Blackmon (Rockies). But the AL came back in the 7th. Chapman (Athletics) worked a walk, got to 3rd on McCann’s (White Sox) single, and then scored on a double play incurred by Bogaerts (Red Sox). After the only mid-inning pitching change of the game, Gallo (Rangers) smacked a 1st pitch solo home run into the right field seats.

But the NL made their best effort at a rally in the 8th, loading up the bases with a walk to Grandal (Brewers), a single to Dahl (Rockies), and a 1-out walk to DeJong (Cardinals). After a strikeout, last night’s Home Run Derby champion Alonso (Mets) singled home the 2 lead runners to put the NL within a run. The remaining runners staged a double steal to move into scoring position, but a pop-up foul and great catch by McCann (White Sox) ended the NL’s hopes.

That, and an absolute stellar outing by Aroldis Chapman to close out the game and earn the save. Chapman needed just 12 pitches to breeze through his 3 batters for 3 great strikeouts to shut down the NL’s hopes of a comeback.

Final score: 4-3 American League (further bits from the game here)

The powers that be decided that the All-Star Game’s MVP would be Cleveland’s own Shane Bieber. Bieber threw a 19-pitch scoreless 5th inning to strikeout the side, meaning he struck out all 3 batters he faced. The remaining crowd in Cleveland cheered on their hometown reliever, becoming the 3rd All-Star Game MVP to win in their own park (Pedro Martinez won in 1999 in Boston, and Sandy Alomar won in 1998 in Cleveland.) While Bieber did have a great outing, he wasn’t on my list (which was led by Chapman and Gallo), but then I don’t have a vote.

The Yankees were quite the contributors to the AL victory in the Midsummer Classic tonight. Offensively, it was a mixed bag. DJ LeMahieu went 0-for-2, Gleyber Torres got a single to lead off the 8th in one of his 2 at-bats, and Gary Sanchez went 1-for-2 with that lead-off double in the 5th and scored a run in that inning.

Defensively, Sanchez held his own behind the plate for the first half of the game, catching his battery mate Masahiro Tanaka through a scoreless 2nd inning and earned the eventual win. And I’ve already mentioned Aroldis Chapman’s great 9th outing and earned the save. They become the first Yankee teammates to earn the win and the save in an All-Star Game in over 70 years.

In a fun moment in the game, after his first two quick outs, Chapman was visited at the mound by CC Sabathia, who enjoyed stealing a moment of the game just to say hello to his teammate. It made Chapman laugh, and he sailed his way to victory on a swinging strikeout.

So, we can all blame Sabathia, who also threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Indians’ legend Sandy Alomar before the game. Maybe he was the true MVP all along…

Go Yankees!

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!