Game 39: NYY vs. TB — Saturday night sag

Last night’s game put the Yankees within a half-game from the Rays’ lead in the AL East. They were hoping to reverse places with a win tonight, but it wasn’t to be. The Yankees just weren’t piecing together the necessary pieces to make up the win.

CC Sabathia got the start in the middle game of this series against the Rays, working his way to a no-decision. He threw 76 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out just 2 Rays’ batters. His allowed runs were lead-off solo home runs in the 2nd and 3rd.

And the Yankees finally got on the board in the 5th inning. Torres led-off with a single and then beat out the tag to score on Clint Frazier’s double. And DJ LeMahieu hit a solo home run up the middle to tie up the game in the 6th.

But then normally reliable reliever Jonathan Holder had a really off-day with his 6th inning struggle. The lead-off player singled and, 2 outs later, stole 2nd and ended up on 3rd thanks to a throwing error. Holder then gave up a walk to put runners on the corners. Consecutive singles scored 2 more runs for the home team to return them to the lead.

While the Yankee batters suddenly found their offense dry up, the Rays kept going. Yankees’ reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. gave a scoreless 7th, but then things got sticky again in the 8th. He gave up a lead-off single and a 2-out single to load a few runners for a big 3-run home run to ensure the Rays the win.

Final score: 7-2 Rays

CC K-Count: 3009

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the United States, and across the league, players will be donning specialized gear, most notably pink-tinged gear in honor of breast cancer awareness. But some players also customize in a special or unique way.

This year, outfielder Clint Frazier designed his special cleats for the weekend to honor his mother. In addition to the pastel pink Nike swish and highlights on the white cleats, the high-top area features life-like pictures of his mother’s two cats, acknowledging her “fur babies” on this Mother’s Day.

That’s a first for me. But I’m sure his mom feels honored by the gesture.

Go Yankees!

Game 34: SEA vs. NYY — #CCStrong and big bats in opener

The Yankees started their 4-game series against the visiting Mariners tonight, with a potential battle of star pitchers set up for this first game. CC Sabathia continued his march toward retirement with another great outing, throwing 99 pitching through 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 batters.

Sabathia held them off until the 4th inning. With 1 out, a walk scored on a big 2-run home run. And then he gave up a 1-out solo home run in the 5th, and after his 5th strikeout of the game, he loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. But he got out of the jam with a great defensive grounder.

Holder came out for the 6th but then got himself into his own jam. Adam Ottavino helped get out of the inning and breezed into the 7th. Britton got the final out of the 7th before himself breezing through the 8th inning. Cessa closed out the game with a flawless, quick 9th, continuing the trend.

Meanwhile, the potential of the Mariners’ starter seemed to have been left in Seattle, as the Yankees pounced and didn’t let up for most of the first half of the game. DJ LeMahieu led off the 1st with a ground-rule double and then scored on Luke Voit’s 2-run home run.

A solo home run by Brett Gardner kicked off the big 2nd. Urshela made it to 1st on a fielding error and then scored as part of a 2-run home run hit by Thairo Estrada, his first MLB home run. Tauchman then hit a ground-rule double and scored on LeMahieu’s single.

And with 2 outs in the 3rd, Gardner tripled and then scored on Gio Urshela’s single to cap off the Yankees’ early dominating lead. It clearly ended up being more than enough for the Yankees to win tonight’s game in the end.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees

CC K-Count: 3007

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees optioned Stephen Tarpley back to AAA Scranton to make room for the activation of Clint Frazier from the IL. He sprained his ankle, including some partially torn ligaments, during a game last month. But with treatment and rehab (and the sheer will of being bored not playing ball), Frazier ended up being ready to return to tonight’s game.

Game 33: MIN vs. NYY — Soggy shortened Sunday game

It was wet. It was cold. It was rainy. It was just a nasty day in the City from start to finish. And for the brief break between storm fronts, they squeezed in a ball game. Or at least the better part of one, as the fans and players braved the chilly rain for the nearly 3 hours before it was eventually called a bit short.

Domingo German got the start today and had a great outing in this final game of the weekend series against the visiting Twins. He threw 108 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out an impressive 7 Minnesota batters. With 2 outs in the 4th, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on walk and then scored on a single for the Twins’ lone allowed run today.

The Yankees found moments to advance against a former teammate that started today’s game for the Twins. In the 2nd, they loaded the bases with Torres’ single and walks to Gardner and Maybin. DJ LeMahieu’s 2-out single scored both Torres and Gardner, thanks in part to a throwing error. And Urhsela hit a 1-out single in the 4th and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s 2-out 2-run home run into the right field seats to double the Yankees’ score.

After a soggy start to the day, we all were counting down the outs. Once they played through 5 innings, the consensus seemed to be that at least there’s a “complete game” if they called it. When the rain began in the late 6th inning, it just got progressively worse until fans were pretty much standing in a downpour to sing “God Bless America” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the 7th inning stretch.

Both pitching staff had some issues through those later innings. Kahnle was able to close out the 7th with a 7-pitch strikeout, but Ottavino had trouble with control in the 8th, getting just 2 outs, walking one batter, and hitting another with a pitch. They called on Chapman for a 7-pitch strikeout, but even he had trouble with a really wild pitch in the mix.

The Twins sent in a new reliever for the bottom of the 8th, and again, it was messy. Gleyber Torres benefited by drawing a lead-off walk and then moved all the way to 3rd on a passed ball and wild pitch during Gardner’s at-bat. An initial request was that the mound might be too wet, but that was enough to put the game into rain delay before someone could get really hurt.

After an hour and one minute, there was no abating the weather. It’s just going to rain all night. It was already pushed back from a 1:05 pm start time, which allowed for the game to actually be played at all. They called the game as is.

Final score: 4-1 in 8 innings, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: Speaking of rain, the Yankees will host a 4-game series against the Mariners, starting tomorrow (Monday) before a quick trip down to face the Rays. They head back home for 2 more series (against the Orioles and Rays) before hitting the road again.

Injury Updates: There’s actually some really good news on this front. It looks like the Yankees may be getting some familiar faces back really soon. Clint Frazier (ankle) played in a rehab game with the AA Trenton Thunder yesterday and could be activated Monday or Tuesday. Aaron Hicks (back) will join the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons this week for his rehab game and could be finally in the Bronx this season later this week.

Further down the return list, Giancarlo Stanton (shoulder) could resume batting practice this week as part of his progress. Dellin Betances (shoulder) will be assessed and could start throwing Monday, with an aim to be back on the mound next month. And Didi Gregorius (elbow) is actually doing great in his recovery process, inciting an earlier return anticipation of possibly late June rather than later in the summer.

In other words, for all the mess that was the growing list earlier this season, the Yankees are finally stabilizing and recovering their loss earlier than anticipated in some cases. And that’s something worth celebrating.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 25: NYY vs. LAA — Denied a sweep

The Yankees were going for the sweep tonight in this final game of the 4-game series against the Angels. But despite a good lead built up, the Yankees were unable to hold onto it in the end as the tables tonight tipped in favor of the home team instead.

In the 3rd, Tyler Wade led-off with a single, then stole both 2nd and 3rd before scoring on DJ LeMahieu’s single to get the Yankees on the board first. Gio Urshela hit a solid 2-out solo home run in the 4th, his first as a Yankee.

And in the 5th, they loaded the bases with singles to Voit and Gardner and a walk to Sanchez. With 1 out and a new pitcher, a wild pitch scored Luke Voit, moving the other two into scoring position. And Gleyber Torres’ single scored Gardner to give the Yankees a healthy lead.

Masahiro Tanaka actually threw a great game for most of his outing, right up until the end of it. Overall, he threw 89 pitches into the 6th, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned), and just 2 strikeouts. In the 5th, Tanaka gave up a single and a 2-run home run. Twice. To tie up the game in a single inning.

In the 6th, he gave up a 1-out walk and a 2-out walk before he was replaced by Jonathan Holder. Holder’s passed ball moved runners into scoring position that allowed both runners to score on a single that gave the Angels the lead.

Stephen Tarpley came on for the 7th, an inning I’m sure the Yankees would rather forget. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and another walk and passed ball put runner on the corners. After the first out of the inning, the Yankees called in Joe Harvey.

A stolen base put runners in scoring position, and a single and fielding error scored both runners. Two walks loaded up the bases, before the Yankees’ defense snapped into action getting a force out at home. The bases still loaded, so that a big triple cleared the bases to give the Angels a distinctive lead. Kahnle returned the Yankee pitching back to the earlier model, with a quick, clean 10-pitch 8th inning.

The Yankees found one more opportunity to try to chip away at the Angels’ big lead in the 8th. Ford and Urshela worked walks, and LeMahieu’s short 1-out single loaded the bases. Opportunity for a late rally was in play. After another out, Brett Gardner worked a 4-pitch walk to score Ford. But a pitching change quickly ended the rally opportunity.

Final score: 11-5 Angels, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees travel a up the California coast to face the Giants this weekend. After a travel day, they’ll play the Diamondbacks for a quick 2-game series, before heading home to host the Twins and Mariners.

Roster moves: The Yankees continue to shift the roster around in effort to combat the growing injured list. They officially moved Clint Frazier to the 10-day Injured List and sent Jonathan Loaisiga back to AAA for a fresh arm in Joe Harvey. They also moved Luis Severino to the 60-day IL to remove him from the 40-man roster and make room for their newest trade — outfielder Cameron Maybin.

Maybin is a 12-year veteran outfielder, spending the early part of his career with the Marlins and Padres, but also 9 other teams as part of trades and signings. He also was a key part of the 2017 Astros’ World Series team. He was signed this off-season with the Giants, spending most of Spring Training with them before being released and signed by the Indians. They then traded Maybin to the Yankees for cash.

And for you numbers/trivia nerds, Maybin showed up at tonight’s game wearing jersey #38.

Go Yankees!

Game 24: NYY vs. LAA — Come from behind victory… once again

The Yankees are making it a pattern for the dramatic fall-behind moment only to come back and find victory over their West Coast opponent. In tonight’s third of four games this series in Anaheim, the Yankees were looking at California-native CC Sabathia to write the story (more later), but once again, it ended up being the relatively unknowns that made all the difference.

Sabathia came into tonight’s game with 2994 career strikeouts, and by all accounts, there was a high possibility that he might hit that rare feat of 3000 by the end of his outing. But call it pressure or just an off-night, things really didn’t go that way. Sabathia threw 86 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 6 hits and 5 runs (4 earned), and struck out just 3 Angels’ batters.

In the 1st, he gave up a 2-out solo home run to get the home team on the board first. But it was the 4th inning that caused so much trouble. After a lead-off home run to double their score, the Angels got a single that moved to 2nd on a bunt and fielding error, ended up at 3rd on a fielder’s choice out, and then scored as part of a big 3-run home run.

Jonathan Loaisiga came on for relief and tamped down on the Angels’ offense in his 3 innings, only allowing sporadic base runners but no further runs, an outing that would surprisingly earn the win. And it would be Aroldis Chapman to close out the game with a solid 17-pitch 9th inning to earn the save.

The Angels’ pitching used the “opener” model, where their “starter” would only pitch one inning, and the bulk of their pitching would be by a long-term reliever. And tonight, it seemed to work as it held off the Yankees for most of the game and allowed their offense to collect a rather solid lead.

The Yankees didn’t find a scoring opportunity until the 6th inning. Wade singled and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s double. Voit’s single moved LeMahieu to 3rd, and after 2 outs (and an unsuccessful challenge), LeMahieu jogged home to easily score on a passed ball to further chip away at the Angels’ lead.

Once the Angels got into their bullpen, it was the Yankees’ chance to advance. In the 7th, they loaded up the bases with a walk to Ford, single to Urshela, and walk to Tauchman. Tyler Wade then worked a walk to score Mike Ford. After another pitching chance, DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly scored Urshela, and Luke Voit’s fielder’s choice scored Tauchman to tie up the game before a bad double play ended the inning.

So it would come down to the 9th inning to break the tie. With 2 outs, Wade singled and stole 2nd to put himself in scoring position. DJ LeMahieu would again be the hero, whose single drove home Wade for the winning run.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees

CC K Count: 2997

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: Yesterday, the Yankees optioned Joe Harvey and recalled Jonathan Loaisiga for a fresh arm to pitch in tonight’s game. And before the game, the Yankees activated Gary Sanchez and recalled Stephen Tarpley, optioning Kyle Higashioka and Chad Green.

Green’s consistent issues seem out of place, so the Yankees are hoping a stint in AAA could help him get some of the kinks out of his delivery and back to the reliable Green he can be. Higashioka is only back in AAA because there’s only room for one back-up on the roster. He’s proven more than reliable when called upon, perhaps proof that time in AAA sharpens and hones players’ skills.

Injury update: Clint Frazier’s hopes to remain off the IL seem dashed after an MRI revealed his sprained ankle includes a small tear that demands he heal first. Apparently, Frazier was reminded of his injury setting foot out of bed and then when it swelled up a bit. Being forced to stay off it will definitely aid in healing it quicker than “playing through” the injury as he intended.

Go Yankees!

Game 22: NYY vs. LAA — Urshela’s extra inning heroics

The Yankees played their second extra inning game in as many days on opposite coasts. And with so many really good players still on the IL, it’s more surprising that they’re consistently winning and on the plus side of their average than the fact that they’re battling their way to get there. It actually says a lot about the depth of the organization that stars like Judge, Stanton, Sanchez, and Gregorius and still be charging ahead into successive wins.

In tonight’s opener at the Angels, Yankees starter JA Happ found a momentum that carried him through his 7 innings with just 89 pitches and minimal damage — 3 hits, 2 walks, and 2 allowed runs and 5 strikeouts. In the 2nd, with 1 out, a single scored as part of a 2-run home run for the Angels’ only regular game runs.

The Yankees kicked off the game with Luke Voit’s 1-out solo home run in the 1st, making this his 33rd straight game to get on base in some way, the current leader in all of MLB. In the 3rd, Higashioka led-off with a double, and 1-out walks to Gardner and Voit loaded the bases. Gleyber Torres’ sacrifice fly (and a bad throw from right field) scored Higashioka to tie up the game so early.

Both teams then defended their part of that tied score mostly through some stellar pitching. The Angels and Yankee starters going deep into the game, but their relievers followed up with scoreless innings of their own on into extra innings. For the Yankees, Ottavino closed out the regular game, and Kahnle and Cessa pitched in the earlier extra innings.

In the 12th, the Yankees got the chance to break the tie first. Clint Frazier led-off with a double. He then moved to 3rd on a ground out and watched them give Mike Ford his first (of 2) intentional walk. It was Gio Urshela’s sacrifice fly to allow Frazier to score the go-ahead run. But Aroldis Chapman had a hard time finding his way out of the bottom of the inning to preserve the Yankees’ lead. He gave up a lead-off single, a 2-out hit-by-pitch, and an RBI single to tie up the game again.

Both teams sailing through the 13th, it would be the 14th inning to conclude the game, over 4 hours since the 10:00 pm EST start. Torres struck out but made it safely to 1st on a late throwing error (it’s why you always run it out). He advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch and then stole 3rd after Ford’s second intentional walk. And it would be Gio Urshela again for the heroics — an RBI single to score Torres, the eventual winning run.

Jonathan Holder was strong through the 13th for the Yankees and sealed the game for them in the bottom of the 14th. His strong outing combined with Urshela’s hot bat was enough to deliver the victory to the Yankees late tonight.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees, in 14 innings

Injury update: It looks like the Yankees are going to get Gary Sanchez back really soon. He play his rehab game today with Short-A Charleston and will fly out to the West Coast tomorrow (Tuesday) to hopefully rejoin the team in their final game in Anaheim on Wednesday.

In that 12th inning double, Clint Frazier jammed his ankle diving back to 2nd on a pick-off attempt. It was enough to merit a visit from the trainer but not enough to pull him from the game. In between innings, he did get it taped up to stay in the rest of the game.

He later half-joked that the IL was “too full” for him to not consider playing through his minor sprain. And really, the truth is that his time on the regular roster will be cut short as soon as one of the regular outfielders comes off the IL. After a disappointing 2018 due to injuries, the young outfielder doesn’t want to waste a moment with the team while he can.

Go Yankees!

Game 21: KC vs. NYY — A bit of redemption on Easter

The final game between the Yankees and visiting Royals made this Sunday afternoon game on a holiday worth watching. Actually, it was a Yankee dominant game, looking like a fairly easy win, until the Royals came in to bury the Yankees in a single inning. Only for the home team to rise again with a great walk-off victory. (That’s enough Easter puns. I promise.)

James Paxton had a great outing today, throwing 104 pitches in 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and a walk, and striking out 12 Kansas City batters. He really should have been the main story if not for the weird late-inning twists in today’s game Kahnle followed up, breezing through a great 7th inning. Things were looking good for the Yankees.

Plus, they had racked up enough run support to feel a little too safe. In the 1st, DJ LeMahieu led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then raced home on a passed ball to barely beat out the tag. With 2 outs in the 2nd, Ford doubled (his first MLB hit, by the way) and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. And in the 5th, Voit and Gardner each singled and then scored on Clint Frazier’s big 3-run home run to give the Yankees their nice lead.

But then it was the 8th inning that everything went a bit pear-shaped for the Yankees. Chad Green came on in relief and just could not find an out, instead loading up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. So it was up to Adam Ottavino to try to get out of that jam, but he too had issues finding an out. He promptly gave up a 2-RBI double, a 3-run home run to tie up the game, and a solo homer to suddenly give the Royals the lead. And then he got the 3 outs he needed.

Now, that wasn’t sitting well with the Yankees. They weren’t about to give up their series win that easily. Tauchman led off the bottom of the 8th with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single to tie up the game again. And just like that, the Yankees were back in it.

Chapman sailed his way through the 9th, but the Yankees didn’t find the opportunity to do so in the bottom of the inning. So it was into extra innings for a special Easter game. Britton came in a matched his predecessor’s breezy streak. And this time, the Yankees found their moment in the bottom 10th.

Tauchman and Urshela worked consecutive walks, and after a pitching change, Estrada hit a sacrifice bunt and moved both runners into scoring position. It would be the hero of the day, Austin Romine, to sneak a great single up the middle all the way to the back fence to score Tauchman for the walk-off win today.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees, in 10 innings, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees are headed to the West Coast to face the Angels, Giants, and Diamondbacks for this road trip. This will take them into May before they’re back in the Bronx again.

Injury news/roster moves: Before today’s game, the Yankees moved Aaron Judge to the 10-day injured list with his oblique injury. But the reality is that he will probably be out for about a month. Frequent MLB contributor (and famous Yankee granddaughter) Lindsay Berra wrote an article two years ago about oblique injures in baseball and the commonality of the injury in athletes and why the average return to play is about 27 days.

With Judge’s spot on the roster vacant, the Yankees decided to call up Thairo Estrada again. Despite Estrada being an infielder, the logical move would be to have a utility player like Tyler Wade to substitute in the outfield as needed. And again, despite 13 men on the IL, the Yankees are charging into this road trip on a win streak again.

And a Happy Easter to all who celebrate, however you celebrate.

Go Yankees!