Game 92: TB vs. NYY — The Rays’ 1-man offense

As can often be expected in divisional rivalry games, tonight’s opener against the visiting Rays was anything but predictable. The emotional sway of the fans in the Bronx was eventful, to say the least. Most of this was due to the 1-man offense on the Rays.

James Paxton got the start tonight, throwing 107 pitches through 6 solid innings. He gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs and struck out 7 Rays’ batters. The Rays’ lead-off batter smacked a solo home run to kick off the game. And then that same hitter came back in the 3rd to double the Rays’ lead with a 1-out solo home run.

The Yankees were held off by the Rays’ ace for the first part of the game until Edwin Encarncion hit a 2-out solo home run in the 4th to get the Yankees on the board. Then with 2 outs in the 7th, a new reliever promptly gave up a solo home run to Gio Urshela to tie up the game. In the 8th, with 2 outs, Hicks singled and then scored as part of a monster 2-run home run by Edwin Encarnacion to put the Yankees into the lead.

Now, after Paxton handed the ball over to Chad Green, Green kept things rolling as the Yankees grabbed the lead. All they needed were Aroldis Chapman to make 3 outs in the 9th to close out the game. And based on a pattern of 49-0, the Yankees should win the game when they’re leading the game going into the 9th.

But again, as in life, nothing is predictable in baseball. Chapman’s slider, which has really be a great go-to pitch for him this season, wasn’t where it needed to be tonight, and it cost them the game. The first two batters hit consecutive singles to set up the tying runs on base. Then after 2 really sharp strikeouts, that same power hitter from earlier smacked a big 3-run home run to thrust the Rays back into the lead.

The Yankees couldn’t manage a comeback in the bottom of the 9th, and thus with a called strikeout, the game was over.

Final score: 5-4 Rays

Injury updates: Luis Severino and Dellin Betances have yet to appear in a game for the Yankees this season after sustaining injuries during Spring Training. Both retroactive to March 25, Severino suffered a right shoulder rotator cuff strain and grade 2 lat strain, and Betances had a right shoulder impignment. Betances further had a setback in mid-June with his own lat strain.

Today, both pitchers threw 25 tosses from 60-feet as they resume activities in their recovery. While Betances is based in the bullpen, Severino may cut his longer return back to being a starter by doing some innings out of the bullpen. Both pitchers are understandingly frustrated that they haven’t been able to help the Yankees in their strong 2019, anxiously watching from the sidelines to get back in the game in way they can.

Also, the Yankees announced that this year’s Heart & Hustle Award nominee is DJ LeMahieu. The award is given to players who “demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game”. Former players vote for active players before the All-Star break, and each team gets a nominee. The final winner is revealed after the season, this year at the Legends for Youth dinner on November 7 in New York. Congratulations!

Go Yankees!

Games 65 & 66: NYM vs. NYY — Subway series split, big bats & messy defense

Yesterday’s game to kick off this brief stint back in New York during this odd road trip was once again at the mercy of the weather, with the rain turning the outfield once again into large puddles. So, they rescheduled last night’s game for the afternoon game of what became today’s double header against the Mets.

Game 1 (rescheduled from June 10)
Masahiro Tanaka is back from paternity leave to make this afternoon’s start of this 2-game mini-series against the Yankees’ crosstown rivals. Tanaka had a pretty great outing, throwing 101 pitches into the 7th inning, allowing 7 hits and 5 runs (4 earned), and striking out 7 Mets’ batters.

In the 3rd, the lead-off batter made it safely to 1st on a throwing error, moved to 3rd on a single, and then scored on another single. Then a big 3-run home run gave the Mets a nice cushion. In the 6th, a lead-off double scored on a 2-out single to add just one more run. Kahnle closed out the 7th for Tanaka with a great 3-pitch strikeout before handing the gave over to Hale to finish the final 2 scoreless innings for the Yankees.

Despite that wobble in the 3rd, the Yankees dominated the Mets’ pitchers throughout the afternoon. In the 2nd, Gregorius hit a 1-out double and scored on Kendrys Morales’ single. This got the Yankees on the board first, but after the Mets took the lead in the top of the 3rd, the home team just surged forward.

Gardner led-off the 3rd with a single and moved to 2nd on what was eventually called a fielder’s choice. The fielder who handled the ball in an attempt to do the double play (that never happened), but he never touched 2nd to make the force out there. A very quick replay overturned the out call. Gardner moved to 3rd when Hicks into a fielder’s choice out at 2nd (and yes, the fielder touched the bag this time). After another out, Gary Sanchez’s single scored Gardner.

In the 4th, Morales hit a 1-out single and scored as part of Gio Urshela’s 2-run home run into the visitor’s bullpen. After another out, LeMahieu made it all the way to 2nd on a bad throwing error and moved up at 3rd on a wild pitch. After Hicks worked a walk, Luke Voit smacked a big 3-run home run deep into the left field bleachers to ensure the Yankees’ lead.

But they weren’t finished. With 2 outs in the 5th, Morales doubled and scored on Urshela’s single. Urshela then scored on Brett Gardner’s great triple. Frazier led-off the 7th with a double, moved to 3rd on a grounder, and scored on Urshela’s double. And in the 8th, Voit worked a 1-out walk and then scored on Gardner’s solid 2-run home run to cap off the Yankees’ big afternoon.

It’s also worth noting that of the 12 Yankee runs only 8 were considered earned due to the sloppy defense, a rather common scene today. Not that the Yankees’ defense was immune to the sloppy defense bug either, which was the cause of some of their more recent losses (or near losses). There were 5 errors made in the first game alone (and 1 in the later one).

Final score: 12-5 Yankees

Game 2 (regularly scheduled game)
The Yankees were hoping for the mini-sweep today, but so many things just didn’t work out in their favor tonight. James Paxton got the start and was just shaky from the beginning. He threw 63 pitches into just the 3rd inning, gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out just 1 Mets’ batter.

In the 1st, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a single, and both runners scored on a 3-run home run to kick things off before anyone got an out tonight. After a scoreless 2nd, with 1 out in the 3rd, Paxton gave up 2 walks that proceeded to score on consecutive singles. After another out, another single scored a run.

That was it for Paxton’s night, and the Yankees handed things over to their 26th man for the double header, Chance Adams. Adams finished the 3rd and through the majority of the game for the next 4 innings. He too found some problems in his outing. In the 4th, the lead-off batter made it safely due to a fielding error and then scored as part of a 2-run home run. And a 2-out solo home run in the 5th kept the visitors on a roll.

After Adams had a better few innings to finish his stint, Cessa threw a flawless 8th. Things were looking up. But Stephen Tarpley had some issues in the 9th but managed to keep the damage minimal. The lead-off batter was hit by a pitch, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored on a 2-out double to cap off the Mets’ runs tonight.

The Yankees had a lone inning of offense tonight. LeMahieu led-off with a single, Voit worked a walk, and Sanchez hit a short single to load up the bases. Gleyber Torres’ single scored just LeMahieu. Clint Frazier hit into a fielder’s choice that just scored Voit. Urshela repeated the play to score Sanchez.

But with the Mets’ offensive dominance tonight, the Yankees just couldn’t catch up. But they tried. Brett Gardner even got in on the action with a lead-off solo home run in the 9th. But there was no last-minute rally to make up the difference.

Final score: 10-4 Mets, The New York teams thus split this year’s Bronx edition of the Subway Series. (The teams will have another mini-series in Queens at the beginning of next month.)

Next up: The Yankees have a travel day/off-day tomorrow (Wednesday) before they play a 4-game weekend series against the White Sox. Then they’re back in the Bronx again to face the Rays, Astros, and Blue Jays and host HOPE Week. Then it’s off to England for the much-anticipated international rivalry series in London.

Roster moves: The Yankees have been quite busy moving players into position for these last few days. As mentioned above, they activated Masahiro Tanaka from paternity leave, optioned Nestor Cortes Jr to AAA Scranton, and selected Chance Adams for the 26th man for the double header.

Injury updates: The Yankees also sent Giancarlo Stanton start his rehab assignment with the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons. Expect to hear news on Judge this weekend, as the Yankees expect both star outfielder to rejoin the team shortly. But the rough news is about Dellin Betances, who suffered a setback in his recovery with a lat strain. Betances is shut down a few weeks to nurse this new pain in his middle back.

Finally, there’s good news on the All-Star Game voting. Your Yankees are some of the fan favorites so far. Sanchez is by far leading all other AL catchers, and Voit has a good lead at AL first base. But the rest of the team are also still contenders — Urshela is pulling a strong 2nd at 3rd base; LeMahieu and Torres are in 3rd in their categories (second base and shortstop); Stanton is coming in 5th as DH; and outfielders Judge, Gardner, and Hicks are currently 7th, 13th, and 16th.

In other words, go vote today and keep the Yankees at the top of their respective categories. The top 3 in each group (top 9 in the outfield) will move on to the next round of voting. This first round of voting ends June 21 at 4 pm EST, so vote today, up to 5 times every 24 hours.

Go Yankees!

Game 38: NYY vs. TB — Under the dome’s Friday Night Lights

Tropicana Field is a strange place. It’s the only stadium in MLB to have a roof that isn’t retractable. And because of that, it has weird rules on how a ball hits a certain beam in the dome’s structure is an out/hit/home run.

Of course, there are positives to it. Florida is super hot most of they year, but in the Trop, it’s always 72° F. And when there’s inclement weather, like tonight, there’s never any rain delay, wet fields, or strangely sponsored tarps.

While it stormed outside, the Yankees kicked off their first game of this weekend series against the Rays. Domingo German got the start tonight, throwing 84 pitches in 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out 5 Rays’ batters. He kept the Rays scoreless through most of his outing until his last inning, the 5th. A lead-off double scored on a 1-out 2-run home run to get them on the board. And a 2-out solo homer eased the home team into the lead.

Despite a decent showing of Rays’ fans, the majority of tonight’s packed stadium were rooting for the visitors, as usual. And the Yankees were ready to put on a show for their local fans. DJ LeMahieu led-off the game by making it to 1st on a throwing error. Voit walked and Sanchez singled to load up the bases. After a strikeout, a passed ball allowed LeMahieu to hustle home, and Gleyber Torres singled home Voit.

After the Rays tied up the game and then took the lead in the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees only needed the 6th to switch things back in their favor. Sanchez and Frazier hit consecutive singles. After a strikeout, the Rays went to their bullpen for their first reliever.

It didn’t help. Andujar’s single loaded up the bases, and Gio Urshela’s big single scored both Sanchez and Frazier to put the Yankees back in the lead. After another strikeout, the Rays brought in another reliever, whose lone pitch of the game became a grounder to end the inning.

But Urhsela’s RBIs were enough for the Yankees to defend for the rest of the game. Kahnle, Ottavino, Britton, and Chapman each put up a scoreless inning, still allowing the Rays tried a few opportunities to threaten before getting out of the jam, thanks partly to a great defense.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

Injury updates: Didi Gregorius (elbow) has been in Tampa, trying to come back from his Tommy John surgery last off-season. So when the Yankees came to town, it was only natural for their energetic shortstop to stop in for a visit with his teammates and hang out for the game.

Aaron Hicks (back) has been spending his rehab games with the local minor league Yankees team — Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons. He has three more games scheduled with them before the Yankees will activate him onto the Yankees main roster, which looks to be next week back in the Bronx.

Dellin Betances (shoulder) and James Paxton (knee) both played catch at the Trop before tonight’s game. Betances’ recovery is slow going, progressively working his way to longer and longer tosses to see how his healing is progressing. Paxton, however, is looking good and will hopefully be back after missing just one or two starts.

And for those asking, there is no set timetable on the returns of Aaron Judge (oblique) and Giancarlo Stanton (shoulder). Stanton has resumed hitting and working out with baseball activities. But Judge is not yet ready for that, sticking solely to rehab exercises.

Get well, guys!

Go Yankees!

Game 37: SEA vs. NYY — Happ’s 1-hitter victory

The Yankees are on their way south, a brief break in their long home stand this month, and they do so on a lovely high thanks to the great game tonight. In the final game of this 4-game series against the Mariners, the Yankees relied on strong pitching to carry them into victory on this chilly Thursday evening.

Most of that fell on starter JA Happ, who threw 94 pitches in his 5 scoreless innings, gave up just 1 hit and 3 walks, and struck out 7 Seattle batters. Ottavino, Kahnle, and Britton each breezed their way through a scoreless inning of their own.

Meanwhile, the Yankees found a single opportunity early on to grab the lead. In the 2nd, Frazier and Torres each singled, and 2 outs later, Cameron Maybin’s double scored Frazier. It was this lone run, this slim lead that the Yankees spent most of the game defending against a pretty good Mariners’ starter.

When the Mariners brought in a reliever in the 8th, the Yankees found their next chance to add to their minute lead. LeMahieu led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s single, and ended up at 3rd on Gardner’s fielder’s choice out at 2nd. Gardner stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position.

After a strikeout, they intentionally walked Torres to load the bases. Feeling fine after that nasty bruise yesterday, Gio Urshela smacked a long single into right field that scored both LeMahieu and Gardner.

With a nice lead now, the Yankees sent in Aroldis Chapman for 3 outs in the 9th. But after 2 quick outs, he gave up a solo shot into the right field seats to give the Mariners their lone run of the evening. And then he got that final out to earn the save tonight, his 8th of the season.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to see the Rays just for the weekend. A brief road trip before they continue their home stand, hosting the Orioles and Rays next week. And then they hit the road again in a week-long road trip.

Scranton Shuttle: Before today’s game, the Yankees optioned pitcher Jake Barrett back to AAA Scranton and officially signed pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. To make room for him on the roster, they transferred Dellin Betances, still recovering from his shoulder injury, to the 60-day injured list.

Go Yankees!

 

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 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!