Game 90: NYY vs. BAL — #BirdPower not enough against a walk-off, also #ASGiancarlo

Even after all that work by the Yankees, there’s nothing like a walk-off to both energize the home team and deplete all the energy out of the visiting team that is hoping to gain in the standings behind the division leader from New England.

Fresh off his return from rehabbing his injured hamstrings, Masahiro Tanaka got the start in tonight’s game and actually had a really decent outing for the most part, throwing 80 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 Baltimore batters. In fact, Tanaka didn’t give up a run until the 4th inning, only giving up 3 hits in the scoreless first third of the game.

But then, in the 4th, with 2 outs, he gave up a single and a walk that both scored on a long double. After a throwing error and walk loaded up the bases, Tanaka got out the jam with a great strikeout. However, a lead-off solo home run in the 5th (and an out) ended Tanaka’s outing. Holder closed out the 5th with just 5 pitches.

Chad Green breezed his way through the 6th, but then got into a bit of trouble in the 7th. With 1 out, he gave up a single and a 2-run home run. Originally, however, it was ruled a single that took a wicked bounce off the back wall just out of Judge’s reach. But upon review, the ball bounced off the top of the wall, thus a home run to tie up the game at that point.

Now, to get to that tie, the Yankees put in some big work behind a particular player. In the 5th, Gregorius hit a 1-out single and Andujar worked a walk, and then both of them scored as part of a big 3-run home run by Greg Bird. And in the 7th, with 1 out, Gregorius doubled and moved to 3rd on Andujar’s single. Then after a new pitcher, Greg Bird hit a nice sacrifice fly to score Gregorius. After a walk to Romine, Neil Walker’s single scored Andujar.

So the game was tied, and Robertson cleanly got through the 8th inning with just 15 pitches to keep the Yankees alive. But with no offense breakthrough in the top of the 9th, the Yankees called on Dellin Betances to push the tie into extra innings. But there was some trouble. He hit the first batter, got an out, gave up a double, and then intentionally walked the next batter. Not a great position to be in, but then Betances came through with a great strikeout. Just one more out to go. Instead, he gave up a walk-off single.

Final score: 6-5 Orioles

Roster moves: As previously mentioned, the Yankees activated Masahiro Tanaka off the 10-day disabled list. And after the doubleheader yesterday, they also optioned Luis Cessa, Brandon Drury, and Giovanny Gallegos back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I actually called the “Scranton Shuttle” the “Scranton Shuffle”, and lately, the latter moniker kind of feels rather accurate these days.

Also, this is your final reminder to Vote #ASGiancarlo, to vote Giancarlo Stanton into the All-Star Game next week. He’s currently sitting at 3rd in the rankings, so it’s your turn, Yankee Universe, to vote consistently until 4pm (EST) tomorrow.

Go Yankees!

Game 76: NYY vs. PHI — Some “Brotherly Love” for a rookie pitcher, a fan, and a “rookie” batter

The Yankees began their series in the City of Brotherly Love and showed some love to their fans in the area in many ways. Aaron Judge played catch with a fan in the right field seats, later commenting on the good arm on the kid. Plus, their rookie pitcher threw a scoreless 5 innings.

Jonathan Loaisiga threw 86 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 1 hit and 2 walks, and struck out 8 Phillies batters. In other words, he had another great night from the mound and earned his 2nd win in as many starts. David Robertson took over for him in the 6th and continued into the 7th with some trouble. He gave up a lead-off walk that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on a 1-out single.

After another strikeout, the Yankees turned to Dellin Betances, who closed out the 7th with a strong strikeout, walked 2 players in the 8th, and still got his 3 outs unscathed. Aroldis Chapman got out of Betances’ 8th inning jam. And after 2 solid strikeouts in the 9th, he gave up a solo home run before getting a final strikeout to earn his 23rd save.

The Yankees got on the board early. In the 2nd, Bird led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ double. Later, Aaron Judge hit a great 2-out solo home run in the 5th to double the Yankees’ lead.

And in the 8th, the Yankees loaded up the bases with Gardner’s single, Judge’s walk, and Gregorius’ single. And with no outs, the Phillies changed pitchers again. But he promptly gave up a long single to Giancarlo Stanton. Both Gardner and Judge scored, and then on an off-center throw, Gregorius and Stanton ended up in scoring position. But then the Phillies found their defense and got out without further injury.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees

It’s also worth conversing about the pitchers who hit during tonight’s game because it’s an NL park and it’s always awkward to watch AL pitchers try to hit. Loaisiga, of course, got the most at-bats (2), but struck out both times. But then, because of the rotation, Dellin Betances got an at-bat in the 8th inning — he struck out in 3 pitches, 1 called strike, 2 swinging strike. I know it probably shouldn’t be, but between waving his bat like Gary Sheffield and just swinging away, it was hilarious.

If anyone wants to know how I feel about the designated hitter, just know that I was born after 1973 (when the DH was formally introduced), was raised on AL teams, and just watched a reliever swat away at perfect strikes that most teenagers would hit in batting cages.

Roster moves: Like I said yesterday, the Yankees announced today that Gary Sanchez will be placed on the 10-day disabled list with right groin strain. Technically, he will be out for 3-4 weeks, so he might miss most of next month, which would include the All-Star Game should he be voted or selected to attend.

They also opted outfielder Clint Frazier back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In those two spots, they recalled catcher Kyle Higashioka and reliever Giovanny Gallegos. Higashioka makes sense, as Romine will need some back-up as he slides into Sanchez’s starting position. But based on recent usage of the bullpen and the health of the outfield, the Frazier-Gallegos exchange makes sense.

Go Yankees!

Game 62: WAS vs. NYY — #HOPEWeek Starts, #CCStrong & #SirDidi shut out Nationals

The Yankees are back in the Bronx, and it’s HOPE Week. While the Yankees face the Nationals tonight and tomorrow before starting their series against the Rays, they are also using their days to give back to their community in their 10th Annual HOPE Week. (More on that after the game recap.)

CC Sabathia got the start in tonight’s game and zoned into a strong momentum to keep the visiting Nationals scoreless. He threw 101 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 4 hits and 3 walks, and struck out 3 batters. Also, he hit an amazing milestone in the 4th inning — his 1,500th strikeout with the Yankees. They stopped the game for a moment to allow the 44,000 fans at the stadium to give him a nice audience.

Sabathia has 2,893 in his career, making him 17th in the overall list of pitchers and the leader among active pitchers. And it’s worth noting that all but 2 listed above Sabathia on that list are in the Hall of Fame.

With 2 outs and a runner on 1st with a single, Sabathia handed the ball to Chad Green. While he was dealing with the next batter, the runner took off for 2nd, and Romine fired the ball to a waiting Torres at 2nd to make the tag. Originally ruled safe, the Yankees challenged the call and after review, the play was overturned. Then Green’s 7th inning followed Sabathia’s clean sheet, before Betances and Chapman’s 8th and 9th innings just got cleaner and cleaner.

While the Yankees’ pitching was strong, the Yankees’ batting needed to step it up and take advantage of the opportunities they could. In the 2nd, Didi Gregorius hit a solid 1-out solo home run to get things started fairly early. Aaron Hicks then worked a walk, and Walker’s single and a bad throw moved both runners into scoring position. Hicks then scored on Austin Romine’s sacrifice fly. Didi Gregorius later led-off the 6th with another solo home run to cap off the Yankees’ scoring.

Final score: 3-0 Yankees

Today, MLB released the first results of fan voting for the AL nominees of All-Star Game, and there were a lot of Yankeesa lot of Yankees that could make the roster this year if fans continue to pull through. Gary Sanchez leads all Catchers by about 13,000 votes; Gleyber Torres is a distant 2nd at 2nd; Miguel Andujar is a distant 2nd at 3rd; Didi Gregorius is 3rd in a tight field at Shortstop; and Giancarlo Stanton is a distant 2nd at Designated Hitter. Plus, all Yankee Outfielders are found in the top 15 — Aaron Judge is 3rd, Brett Gardner is 7th, and Aaron Hicks is 11th.

Based on current patterns and numbers, Sanchez and Judge are almost locks for the starting roster, so Yankee fans, do your stuff and vote!

HOPE Week is back for its 10th year. Helping Other Persevere and Excel is the motto of the Yankees annual community outreach for the last 10 seasons. It’s easily my favorite week of the year, and it’s something Yankees Director of Media Relations Jason Zillo calls “The greatest thing we do all year.”

Yesterday, during the Yankees off-day, the Yankees sent 3 of their biggest stars to the TODAY Show to preview HOPE Week and meet with the fans that pack Rockefeller Center every morning. Brett Gardner (a HOPE Week veteran since Day 1), Aaron Judge (in his 2nd HOPE Week), and Giancarlo Stanton (a HOPE Week rookie) went on the show to promote HOPE Week and talk about “bringing light to some special situations and meeting some really cool people”.

HOPE Week, Day 1: Monday, the Yankees visited Cindy and Louis Campbell who founded the “Muddy Puddles Project“, hosting the annual Mess Fest at Mohawk Day Camp (about an hour north of the City). The Campbell’s lost their 5 year old son Ty to brain cancer 6 years ago and his greatest wish before he died was just to jump in the mud puddles. So in his honor, they founded this messy, fun opportunity for children with cancer and their families to enjoy a day, raise money for pediatric cancer research (over $800,000 in five years).

Manager Aaron Boone, Bench Coach Josh Bard, Brett Gardner, Sonny Gray, Didi Gregorius, and Yankees General Partner Jenny Steinbrenner brought a $10,000 donation and Ty Campbell’s favorite cartoon Peppa Pig to join in today’s festivities. They got messy in the mud and then clean thanks to a big soapy washing station and a water balloon fight. Children from all over the area being treated for various forms of cancer got to hang out with the Yankees (and Peppa Pig), including one kid celebrating his 8th birthday. It was definitely a day to remember. (And now, I want to go jump in a bunch of mud puddles!)

HOPE Week Day 2: Today, the Yankees invited a special girl named Cassidy Warner to hang out with them. Many of you may remember Cassidy as the young girl who posted a video earlier this year about being bullied in her school and then asking people to just be nice to each other. The Yankees responded to her video with one of their own, inviting her to come and have lunch with them some time. That came true today.

Cassidy joined Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, AJ Cole, Neil Walker, a handful of coaches, and a group of local 6th graders from a national anti-bullying organization called “No Bully” to play kick ball at the field across from Yankee Stadium (where the old stadium used to stand). Cassidy then joined the Yankees for lunch at the Stadium and later joined Cindy Campbell to jointly throw out the 1st pitch before the game.

No Bully’s Vice President Erik Stangvik personally encouraged Cassidy for sharing her story and challenged the whole group to be an “upstander” instead of just being a “bystander” and stand up for people. He said, “Ultimately, it’s just being kind. It’s a pretty simple way to walk through the world.”

 

And that, I think, is the ultimate message of HOPE Week — that kindness matters. And that being kind is a lifestyle choice, something we all can choose every day. Kindness impacts our own little corner of the world and ultimately lands like ripples on the pond to affect further than we can possibly imagine.

Kindness matters.

Go Yankees!

Game 46: NYY vs. TEX — Powered bat vs. bad pitching

I’ve said it before, and I know I’ll say it again. When you see a score that looks more like an NFL score, it’s pretty much a sign that the pitching staff had a terrible night. And tonight was such a night to close out the series in Texas, for both sides. And it wasn’t pretty. At one point, it was just going to be whichever team’s pitcher could just pitch better and not allow runs to score.

The Yankees got the ball rolling, so to speak, in the 1st inning. With 1 out, Judge made it to 1st on a throwing error and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run. Then they loaded up the bases with singles to Stanton, Hicks, and Andujar, and with 2 outs, Austin Romine worked a walk to score Stanton. Neil Walker later led off the 3rd with a big solo home run right into the grassy field beyond center field to give the Yankees a rather large early lead.

Unfortunately, their starter, CC Sabathia, had a pretty bad night. He threw 91 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 7 runs, and struck out just 1 Texas batters. But he didn’t allow a run until the 4th inning. He gave up a lead-off single that scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run. Then after walking 2 batters, another batter hit a big 3-run home run to suddenly give the Rangers the lead.

The Yankees came back in the top of the 5th to literally double their score. With 1 out, Walker singled and moved to 3rd on Andujar’s double. Romine’s single scored Walker to tie up the game. And then Gleyber Torres hit a big 3-run home run. That would be it for the Rangers’ starter, but the Yankees weren’t finished this inning. Gardner doubled and then scored on Aaron Judge’s monster 2-run home run deep into the left-center field seats to push the Yankees into double-digits.

Sabathia came out for the bottom of the 5th, and despite the now very large lead again, things still weren’t working. With 1 out, he gave up a single that scored on a triple. Another single scored that runner. Holder came on in relief of Sabathia and closed out the 5th inning without allowing the Rangers to chip away at the Yankees’ lead further.

Then Chasen Shreve came on for the 6th and had his own issues, giving up 2 singles and striking out a batter (in just 8 pitches). David Robertson tried to pull a Houdini, but I’m not sure he was able to pull him out of the bullpen tonight. He promptly loaded up the bases with a walk, and then walked another batter to score the lead runner. After a strikeout, a bases-clearing double pushed the Rangers into the lead.

Dellin Betances then came on to breeze his way through the 7th, but then had his own issues in the 8th. Despite striking out the lead batter, a wild pitch allowed him to reach 1st. Betances tried to pick off that runner, but a mess throw allowed him to steal 2nd. After an out, that runner then stole 3rd and easily scored on an RBI single for an insurance run.

The Rangers won the pitching battle as their final 4 relievers refused to allow a run to score in the final 4 innings. But like I said above, this wasn’t really a great night to watch “good pitching”, as the pitching staffs gave up 25 total hits. There were a lot of base runners, thus a lot of runs scored. And honestly, it was never going to be a good result, even if it did fall into the Yankees’ favor.

Final score: 12-10 Rangers, Rangers win series 2-1

Next up: after a travel day tomorrow (Thursday), the Yankees host the Angels for the weekend and then the Astros for the week.

Roster moves: earlier today, the Yankees selected the contract of pitcher Ryan Bollinger. Bollinger was originally drafted by the Phillies in 2009, but he bounced around the minor league system a bit, and even played in Germany and Australia before finally getting signed by the Yankees last December to a minor league contract. So today, the Yankees chose him from the AA Trenton roster to fill the open roster spot. He has yet to make his MLB debut, but could sometime this weekend.

Yesterday, Gary Sanchez came out of the game with some cramps in his calf again (like early last month). Because of that, and Romine’s recent hot streak, the Yankees opted to bench Sanchez for tonight’s game. Though he would be available off the bench, if necessary.

Go Yankees!

Game 37: BOS vs. NYY — Late rally oddly falls short after bad start & rain delay

And they’re back to a tie in the AL East on this rain-soaked evening in the Bronx to close out their mid-week series against the Red Sox. CC Sabathia struggled his way through his outing, throwing 80 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 9 hits, no walks, and 4 runs, and striking out 5 batters.

In the 1st, Sabathia gave up a lead-off ground-rule double who moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on another ground out (that some people immediately questioned as to why the defense opted not to get the out at home instead). Then in the 3rd, a single and double put runners in scoring position. A single score the first runner and a fielder’s choice scored the other.

It started raining earlier, but it was manageable for most of the game until the end of the 4th. As it started really raining pretty hard, fans streaming to the concourses for cover, Sabathia took the mound for the 5th inning and gave up a lead-off solo home run before the Yankees’ grounds crew pulled out the tarp and called a rain delay. For 55 minutes, they waited for the storm to pass to resume baseball activities.

It was too long of a wait to stay warm, so the Yankees opted to call on Jonathan Holder for relief of Sabathia. And it certainly helped. Holder breezed through the 5th and 6th innings in just 17 pitches. Dellin Betances’ 7th inning followed that momentum.

The Yankees’ pitching staff was just waiting for the Yankees’ offense to kick it up and do something. The Red Sox starting pitcher held them to a single hit and 3 walks under his 5 scoreless innings and his first reliever followed suit. But then the next guy struggled in the 7th to get control of the Yankees’ late-inning heroics they’ve become rather known for this month.

With 1 out, they loaded up the bases with singles to Andujar and Torres and a walk to Walker. So the Red Sox called in another pitcher to handle this situation. He promptly walked Brett Gardner in 4 pitches to walk in the Yankees’ first run of the evening. Aaron Judge hit a short single to keep those bases loaded and score Torres. Didi Gregorius hit into a short grounder to get the out at 2nd and still score Walker, moving Gardner to 3rd. Then a wild pitch allowed the speedy Gardner (who didn’t even slide) to score the tying run.

Betances came on for a second inning, the 8th, and despite the pattern he set in the 7th, he gave up a perfect 2nd pitch that became a lead-off home run to break the tie and put the Red Sox back in the lead. The Yankees got a single and walk in the bottom of the 8th, but couldn’t get them to tie up the game. Chasen Shreve threw a solid 9th inning, but the Yankees faced a similar bottom of the 9th and no late-inning heroics came through.

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: the Yankees host the Athletics for the series this weekend, their last series before hitting the road again.

Go Yankees!

Game 34: CLE vs. NYY — Torres’ walk-off glory in sweep

With Montgomery out with elbow strain, it fell to Domingo German for the start in this afternoon’s finale against the Indians in the Bronx. And German rose to the occasion and excelled. He threw 84 pitches in his 6 scoreless innings, gave up no hits and only 2 walks, while striking out 9 Cleveland batters.

German actually matched the Indians’ starter pretty well. He held the Yankees’ batters hitless until Aaron Hicks broke the streak to lead-off the 5th inning, though he certainly walked several batters and the defense allowed a runner on an error. But the Indians held off the Yankees from scoring any runs.

Dellin Betances took over and breezed his way through the 7th inning but then got into some trouble coming out in the 8th. He gave up 3 consecutive singles that scored the Indians’ first run of the night and broke the scoreless tie. Betances was running out of steam, so the Yankees turned to Jonathan Holder, who did what he could to keep things under control. After a bunt pop-up, Holder gave up a double that scored 1 run and then a passed ball moved the runners up and scored another run. Finally, a sacrifice fly scored their final run.

And suddenly, the Indians were up 4-0. So the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 8th. Walker led-off with a walk and Austin worked a 1-out walk to end the Indians’ starter’s night. And (like my uncle implied yesterday), the Yankees got to take advantage of the Indians’ weak bullpen. After another out, Brett Gardner singled and scored Walker for the Yankees’ first run. Aaron Judge followed him with a double to score Austin and Gardner.

Now, with the Indians’ lead reduced to a single run, the Yankees called on Chasen Shreve to breeze through the top of the 9th in just 18 pitches to get back to the Yankee offense in the bottom of the inning. Hicks led-off with a double and then scored the tying run when Neil Walker doubled. A new reliever got a ground out and then intentionally walked pinch-hitting Stanton. So with Walker and Stanton on base and just 1 out, it would be Gleyber Torres to smack a deep 3-run home run into the Yankees’ bullpen, just missing Monument Park, for a great walk-off victory.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 3-0

Next up: the Yankees have an off-day tomorrow. Then they will host the Red Sox for a 3-game mid-week series on Tuesday. This series is crucial as the Yankees are just a game behind the Red Sox in the AL East. They follow up that series with a weekend series against the Athletics to close out the home stand.

Go Yankees!

Game 28: NYY vs. HOU — Streak snapped at 9

Of course most of the conversation leading up to this series would be a “rematch of the ALCS” because it is a match-up of last year’s teams from the ALCS. It’s just not 2017 any more. Thought try telling the Astros’ starter that.

Sonny Gray got the start for this first game of this series in Houston. And he actually had a pretty stellar start — throwing 97 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 4 batters. In the 1st, Gray gave up a lead-off single and then balked and advanced the runner to 2nd. That runner scored 2 ground outs later.

In the 4th, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a walk and then scored on a double. The next batter hit into a fielder’s choice that the Yankees defense quickly used to get the out at home. A walk loaded the bases, but then a well-placed strikeout and line drive ended the Astros’ threat.

In fact, other than those 2 innings, Gray kept things really clean and the Astros from doing much at all. Unfortunately, the Yankees faced a similar starter from the Astros, who held a no-hitter until Romine singled in the 6th inning. Even then, they weren’t able to do much off him, only getting 2 hits, 2 walks, and a single run.

In the 8th, with 2 outs, Torres doubled on the Astros’ starter’s 102nd pitch. The Astros went to their bullpen, and the Yankees sent in a pinch-hitter. Judge, who had a regular day-off today, came in and worked a walk, but that was it for that reliever. A new one came in and promptly gave up a single to Brett Gardner that also scored Torres. But that would be the Yankees’ best opportunity all night.

Betances and Holder each threw a great inning against the Astros, joining the long list of pretty good pitchers from both sides that took the mound tonight. Neither team was really hitting all that much, and it was always going to be a close game. It just fell towards the home town team tonight.

Final score: 2-1 Astros

Yes, that means the Yankees win streak ended at 9 games. But what a great run. The next streak is just around the corner. And they’ll have 3 more chances to pick it up again in Houston.

And thanks in part to that winning streak, MLB recognized Didi Gregorius as the Player of the Week, his first such honor. With a batting average like .357, 10 RBIs, and 7 runs scored, it’s really no wonder. Of those 10 RBIs, 4 of them were big home runs. Yankee fans have known Gregorius is a key part of this Yankee lineup (as well as in the clubhouse) for 3 years now, so it’s nice to see other people recognize his talent and impact.

And if you’re wondering about some injury updates: Brandon Drury is continuing his rehab with AAA Scranton. His migraines seem to be handled as he is clearly making his mark as part of the team. He may be ready to rejoin the team once they return to New York. Clint Frazier was promoted to AAA Scranton today after having four successful rehab games with Advanced-A Tampa. His concussion seems to be healed and he’s looking forward to a regular season with his team.

And Tyler Austin’s suspension is over after tonight’s game, so he will be reactivated for tomorrow’s game.

Go Yankees!