Game 103: NYY vs. CHW — White Sox white-out the Yankees

Tonight just wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ night, no matter how much effort and heart they put into the game. And in a 162 game regular season, you’re destined to have a few of those games. But never fear, Yankees fans, there are still 59 games left to play.

Bryan Mitchell got the start tonight against the White Sox. Mitchell threw 78 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and striking out 5 batters. In the 1st, a lead-off single scored on a 1-out double to start the White Sox scoring for the night. In the 2nd, a solo home run gave them a 2-0 lead. A lead-off single in the 5th, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on an RBI single. At that point, they opted to rest the recently called-up pitcher and go to the bullpen.

Diego Moreno came in to relieve Mitchell. He promptly hit his first batter and then gave up a 3-run home run before finally getting three outs for the 5th inning. Moreno escaped damage in the 6th, but found trouble again in the 7th — a 1-out single, a 2-out walk, an RBI double, and a wild pitch that scored another run. And that would be it for Moreno. Chicago firmly in the lead, the Yankees went to today’s recalled reliever Nick Rumbelow. Rumbelow actually had the absolute best inning of the Yankees’ pitching staff tonight — 8 pitches in the 1-2-3 8th inning.

The Yankees offense was just as weak as their pitching tonight. They got through the Chicago pitching in two instances. In the 3rd, Murphy led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Ryan’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly. It should be noted that Gregorius was rather robbed of a 3-run home run here as the Chicago outfielder literally reached over the fence to grab the ball back for the out. The Yankees sat on that lone run until the top of the 9th when Brian McCann hit his 17th home run, a 1-out solo shot to the right field seats.

Just wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ night with the White Sox getting 11 total hits (to the Yankees’ 5) and the Yankees striking out 11 total times (to the White Sox’s 5, coincidentally).

Final score: 8-2 White Sox.

 

In Roster Moves News, the Yankees did another switching around with the relievers and AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Rumbelow was recalled (and well-used tonight), while Nick Goody was optioned back. With Goody’s recent outings, he’d be unavailable until next week anyway.

Also, Carlos Beltran had a large bruise on his foot from fouling off a couple balls off his foot the last couple of days. He said he’ll be available to play tomorrow, however. And prospect starter Luis Severino is currently on the schedule to start on Wednesday against the Red Sox.

One more game tomorrow afternoon to conclude this crazy road trip. And it’s just August 1st. There’s 59 games left of the season and just over 2 months left. And now that the trade deadline has passed, it’s basically the final turn before the backstretch (and if you get that reference, you’re pretty awesome). So in other words, the Yankees have a lead in the AL East to protect and hopefully expand and a championship postseason to prepare for.

Go Yankees!

Game 102: NYY vs. CHW — Second City’s slow suffering

Three hours and 56 minutes. That’s how long it took the Yankees to beat the White Sox tonight. And it was quite the event tonight in the Second City.

Nathan Eovaldi got the start for the Yankees, throwing 117 in just 5.2 innings, giving up 7 hits, 3 runs, and 3 walks, and striking out 5 Chicago batters. Eovaldi wasn’t as sharp tonight (as obvious by his higher pitch count and the lack of his recent nickname), but he was given enough leeway by the Yankees offense to earn his 11th win of the season. In the 3rd, with 2 outs and a runner on base with a double, a 2-run home run put the White Sox on the board. In the 5th, an RBI double gave Chicago an extra run.

 

Adam Warren came on in relief in the 6th inning to close out Eovaldi’s 6th. Warren then pitched through the 7th and 8th innings, giving up 4 more hits and 2 more runs. A single scored on an RBI triple in the 7th, and then that runner scored on a wild pitch. Nick Goody got in another inning for the Yankees, the 9th tonight. A lead-off double scored on a 2-out single to push the White Sox up to a total of 6 runs.

Now, this would be rather depressing and rather threatening if the Yankees hadn’t leaped ahead early and often in tonight’s game.

In the 1st, Alex Rodriguez hit a 2-out double and then later scored on Carlos Beltran’s double to get the runs started. In the 2nd, Murphy led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Brendan Ryan’s single, and then moved to 3rd on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice bunt. With 1 out, Young walked and the bases were loaded. Rodriguez’s single scored Murphy, keeping the bases loaded and setting up a monster play. Mark Teixeira hit a beautiful grand slam to push the Yankees’ lead wide open.

In the 4th, Young led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on another wild pitch. When Rodriguez walked, the White Sox opened their bullpen, calling on their first of 4 relievers tonight. Teixeira’s second home run of the evening, a 2-run home run (to center field again, his latest home run area of choice). The Yankees quickly loaded the bases again with Beltran’s single, Headley’s single, and Murphy’s walk. Ryan’s single scored Beltran, and Gregorius’ sacrifice fly scored Headley.

And then it was the 5th inning, with a new pitcher, Rodriguez led-off with a walk, moved to 3rd on Teixeira’s double, and then scored on Chase Headley’s 1-out single. In the 6th, Ryan led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ ground out, and then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single. Every single starter contributed in some way to tonight’s offense, multiple hits and RBIs and runs scored — 18 total hits, 12 total RBIs, and 9 total walks.

Two interesting things from tonight’s game: first, the only inning neither team scored in was the 8th inning; second, the best pitcher for the White Sox was their 9th inning reliever, a position player who threw just 12 pitches and topped out at 85 mph fastballs and bottomed out with his 50-63 mph curveballs.

 

 

Final score: 13-6 Yankees.

Doink-doink. (That’s supposed to be the Law & Order theme, as suggested by a reader.) It’s Roster Moves time! The Yankees outrighted Chris Capuano to AAA. All you “Cap fans” can relax as he’s still very much a part of the Yankees organization, but now he can work on some of the nagging issues before being called on again. For those of you wonder what happened with Esmil Rogers, he is on his way to play for the Korean Pro League after clearing waivers, in exchange for cash considerations. And to make room for Dustin Ackley, the Yankees chose to designated Garrett Jones for assignment; Ackley will play 1st, 2nd, and all three outfield positions (he played some left field late in tonight’s game). Jones’ fans, cross your fingers and hope for a similar fate to Capuano.

Outside of the Ackley-Flores-Ramirez deal this weak, the Yankees didn’t do anything else for the trade deadline today. The biggest deterrent to the Yankees making some kind of big deal as was assumed/rumored/talked about was that most teams were only willing to negotiate if prospects Judge or Severino were on the table. They weren’t so most teams moved on to other options, and Judge and Severino were safe in the Yankees system. For now, at least.

Go Yankees!

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Game 99: NYY vs. TEX — Careening into the “ridiculous” territory

Tonight’s game was ridiculous. There is no other word for it. It was over 100° in the Dallas area today, with the first pitch temperature reading at 98°. It was so hot that the Yankees cancelled on-field BP today before the game. It just wasn’t worth having a player pass out from heat exhaustion before playing what would be this crazy game tonight. The Yankees are at Arlington for four games this week, and yesterday’s game 1 seemed rather normal in comparison to their second game tonight. With this pattern, I cannot imagine what’s in store for the next two nights. However, this blogger certainly wouldn’t complain with a bit of normal; though, upon reflection, I realize there is no “normal” this season.

The first inning should have tipped off everyone that this game wasn’t going to be normal. Chris Capuano got the start, and I’m guessing this is one outing he’d probably wish he could forget. And oddly, it wasn’t that long after he left the game that everyone else certainly forgot about his outing. That 1st inning, however, was brutal. Capuano threw 42 pitches, getting just 2 outs, giving up 3 hits, 5 walks, and 5 runs without striking out a single batter. Here’s what happened: a lead-off walk, 2 fly outs, a walk, an RBI single, a walk to load the bases, a 2-RBI single, a walk to load the bases again, and a walk to walk in a run and keep the bases loaded.

It was time to move on for everyone and bring in newly called up Diego Moreno to get that final out of the 1st inning. It was a 29-minute half-inning. And while Texas fans were already heated up (and not just because of the actual heat), Yankees fans were groaning in defeat. But nah, it’s just the 1st inning, and this is a very strange new Yankee team. A 5-run deficit is nothing to these guys.

And they proved that right away in the top of the 2nd. And it’s just easy to do this chronologically: Chris Young led-off with a double, Chase Headley singled home Young, John Ryan Murphy singled, Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Brendan Ryan doubled to score Headley and Murphy, Jacoby Ellsbury singled to score Gregorius, Brett Gardner’s single scored Ryan and tied the game, and Alex Rodriguez’s double scored Ellsbury. And that’s when the Rangers looked at the score board, now reading 6-5 Yankees with no outs, and pulled their starter from the game. Basically, a bad night for starters in Texas. The reliever finally got a strikeout, but the Yankees bounced back with Young’s walk and Headley’s single scored Gardner. With another strikeout on the board, Gregorius cleared the bases with a big triple and then scored on Ryan’s double before a third strikeout ended the inning.

Yes, the Yankees scored 11 runs in a single inning. And just like that, not only were the Yankees back in the game, they were dominating. And they never looked back.

Quickly to wrap up the Yankees pitching: Diego Moreno earned the win of tonight’s game in stellar fashion, throwing 70 pitches over his 5.1 innings, only allowing a single base runner (a walk) but no more runs or hits, and striking out 5 Rangers’ batters in the process. Adam Warren came on for the final third of the game and filled his stats with a line of zeros — no hits, no runs, no walks, and no strikeouts, with 34 pitches. And he earned the save.

Now, I wasn’t sure how that was possible, so I looked it up — to earn the save, the pitcher must be the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team; not the winning pitcher; credited with at least ⅓ of an inning pitched; and meets one of the follow — enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck; or pitches for at least three innings. Since he did the latter, he gets the save. Apparently, Warren has 4 career saves — his first was earned in similar fashion when he pitched the final 4 innings of a 7-0 game.

And even with that lead, the Yankees weren’t done with their offensive show tonight. In the 3rd, they loaded up the bases again with Gardner and Rodriguez’s singles and Teixeira’s walk. That set the stage for the dramatic that was tonight — Chris Young’s big grand slam, his 2nd of the season, 4th of his career. Then in the 4th, with 2 outs and Gardner and Teixeira on the corners, Young reached safely on a fielding error which allowed Gardner to score again.

In the 6th, with yet another new Rangers pitcher, Gardner led-off with a walk, and 1 out later, Teixeira was hit by a pitch and pinch-run (and later subbed at 1st) by Jones. Then Young doubled home Gardner, and Murphy’s 2-out single scored Jones and Young. And then in the 9th, facing a position player as the Rangers’ 7th pitcher of the evening, Ellsbury reached on the second catcher’s interference of the game and then scored when Gardner hit a 2-run home run to push the Yankees into ridiculous territory.

The Yankees were basically hitting and base-running machines — 19 hits and 10 walks, which everyone contributed in someway. It was basically the Yankees all the way from the 2nd inning until the end.

Final score: 21-5 Yankees. (Not a typo — 21 Yankee runs, like I said “ridiculous”.)

 

 

 

And it’s back! Roster moves: Without throwing a pitch, Nick Goody was optioned to AAA before the game today. In his place, the Yankees brought up reliever Diego Moreno to get longer arms in the bullpen, instead getting tonight’s real game-winner.

Go Yankees!

Game 98: NYY vs. TEX — Cautious but optimistic, and just awful heat in Texas in July

I’m sure there are perfectly lovely people who live in Texas. But it just takes me a few minutes in the Lone Star State in the middle of summer to remind me why I do not live there. At the 1st pitch in Arlington tonight, the temperature read 97°. Yes, the sun was setting and it was really hot. Ah, Texas.

Ivan Nova got the start tonight, and maybe his childhood in the Dominican Republic prepared him for outings like this because he did a pretty decent job tonight, earning his 3rd win tonight — 75 pitches in 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 runs, and 2 walks, striking out just 2 Rangers batters. The only runs allowed were in the 2nd inning. After 2 quick outs, a single scored on an RBI double and then that runner scored on a single. And while it seemed an early lead for the Rangers, even as they threatened periodically throughout the game, the Yankees pitching staff was able to keep them scoreless save that 2nd inning.

Chasen Shreve’s 6th and 7th innings were rather impressive, highlighted by 4 powerful strikeouts. Shreve is certainly turning into quite a force in the bullpen. I remember watching him in Spring Training knowing that with the right polish and opportunity, he could really be something. Shreve is something alright.

Then it was onto Justin Wilson in the 8th inning, and despite a lead-off walk, continued to hold off the Rangers effectively. Dellin Betances took the 9th and shut the Rangers down in 16 pitches.

Not in a save situation, the Yankees focused on getting and keeping the win solid. They pushed their score up enough to securely have the lead and give their pitchers a nice cushion to work with. In the 3rd, Chase Headley led-off with a single, and then Didi Gregorius hit a nice 2-run home run (his first home run off a left-handed pitcher in his career) to tie up the game. Then Brendan Ryan hit a really great triple to set him up to score on Chris Young’s sacrifice fly to put the Yankees in the lead.

In the 6th, Alex Rodriguez (celebrating his 40th birthday today) hit his 24th home run this season, a solo shot to right field. This is also his 6th home run he’s hit on his birthday over his career, currently leading that strange bit of trivia. In the 7th, Beltran walked, Headley doubled, and the Rangers took out their starter from the game. Gregorius’ single scored both Beltran and Headley to push the Yankees into a nice lead over the Rangers.

The Yankees hit 11 total hits tonight (to the Rangers’ 5). Six of those hits were by Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius, each with 3 hits. Gregorius also had what has to be his best offensive night with 4 RBIs and a run scored.

Final score: 6-2 Yankees.

Deciding to rest Tanaka on this time around the rotation, there was talk about the different routes the Yankees could take on Tuesday’s start (tomorrow), deciding to pull up a 6th starter. Just after the game tonight, the Yankees announced Chris Capuano as tomorrow’s starter. With three more games under the hot Texas sun before three games in Chicago, the Yankees want to stretch their pitching staff as far as they can go without stretching them too thin. I’m already dreading all the “armchair managers” questioning the calls as to what pitcher is in which inning and why. Please don’t be an “armchair manager” — “fan” looks so much better on you!

Some minor injuries (nothing terrible!): Jacoby Ellsbury had a bit of a sore shoulder after running into the wall at Target Field in that long running fly out yesterday; whatever soreness seemed to have abated as Ellsbury came into the game late tonight. And reliever Bryan Mitchell fell in the weight room and hit his head last week. There had been talk that Mitchell would get the start, but they were watching him, though his injury was deemed fine now. (By the way, to me, Capuano kind of seems like the logical choice, with perhaps Warren as the next option or perhaps who they will rely on should Capuano have an off day.)

Other than that, the Yankees seem to be staying healthy and playing well. Standings update: the Yankees have a very solid lead in the AL East, currently leading by 7 games over Toronto and Baltimore (who both sit at .500), 7.5 over Tampa Bay (1 game below .500), and 13 over Boston (tied with Oakland for the worst team in the AL). The Yankees are just 4 games behind the AL leader (Kansas City) to be in 2nd place in the AL. Basically, it’s looking very good for the Yankees so far this season.

Yes, I’m cautious, but I’m optimistic. “I’d rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.” (Einstein)

Go Yankees! (And a Happy 40th Birthday to Alex Rodriguez!)

 

 

Game 97: NYY vs. MIN — Big Baseball Day, NastyNate and Cooperstown

In almost competing for baseball attention, the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for the “Class of 2015” happened at the same time as the Yankees-Twins game. (And A League of Their Own, featuring another group of amazing athletes enshrined at Cooperstown, also ran at the same time as the ceremony and game.) It was basically a big baseball-drenched weekend, especially this Sunday afternoon.

In the Twin Cities, the Yankees were looking at finishing this weekend strong before heading down south. After splitting the first two games, it was time for Nathan Eovaldi to turn into “NastyNate” and go for his 10th win of the season (the first starter to do so this season on the Yankees). And that he did. He threw 100 pitches into the 9th inning, the first time in his career that he pitched in the 9th inning as a starter. Eovaldi gave up 8 hits and just 1 walk and 2 runs, striking out 5 Twins batters.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, with 1 out, the Twins hit consecutive singles that landed them in scoring position at 2nd and 3rd on a throw. The lead runner scored on a ground out. And the Twins sat at that 1-run lead briefly and then clung to that 1-run for most of the game as NastyNate just shut them down at every turn. It wasn’t until the 9th inning that the Twins finally hit Eovaldi’s exhaustion. A lead-off double put Eovaldi at the 100th pitch of the game, and it was time to give him a break.

Justin Wilson was called in to relieve Eovaldi, but unlike most times Wilson is called on, Wilson wasn’t so “Wilson-like” today. His first batter hit a single that scored the Twins’ second (and final) run of the game. After the next batter singled, Wilson was in trouble with 2 runners and no outs. Not taking any chances, Girardi turned to “Old Reliable” — Dellin Betances. 5 pitches. Betances threw a grand total of 5 pitches to get 3 outs. A fly out to a former teammate for the 1st, and then the final batter hit a line out directly to Headley at 3rd who threw the ball across the diamond to Jones at 1st to get the runner there who doubled off on the line drive. 5 pitches and a double play to end the game. Just wow.

In the meantime, what gave Eovaldi (and Wilson) some leeway is the Yankees offense that started in the 5th inning when Chase Headley hit his 9th home run of the season to lead-off that inning and tie up the game. In the 6th inning, the Yankees quickly loaded the bases with Gardner’s single and Teixeira and McCann’s walked and 1 out. Garrett Jones’ shallow single scored Gardner to put the Yankees in the lead, but kept the bases loaded. Then Headley singled deep enough to score Teixeira and McCann, moved Jones to 3rd, and forced the Twins’ starter out the game and opened the Twins’ bullpen. It was to the Yankees advantage as Jones then scored on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice bunt. And to cap off this inning and the Yankees’ scoring, Stephen Drew hit a big 2-run home run, his 13th home run of the season.

And I have to include my favorite tweet of the game which comes from the terrific defense by Jacoby Ellsbury today (and everyday really) — a running catch in the 2nd and a sliding catch in the 3rd.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1.

This is the 6th straight series the Yankees have won. No wonder the Yankees are strongly leading the AL East (and the 2nd best team in the entire AL).

And nearly 1200 miles to the east, in a tiny town in central New York, four former baseball stars joined the multitude of legends before them in a big ceremony today. The Class of 2015 is Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez. Today’s ceremony featured wigs and hair jokes, dancing, memories, gratitude, cheering, dozens of Hall of Famers, and over 50,000 guests. You can read all about the day and watch video clips here. (Full transcripts of the day include the award ceremony and the individual acceptance speeches.)

Go Yankees!

{By the way, A League of Their Own is one of my favorite baseball movies. (This is the scene why.) If you haven’t seen it (because you’ve been living under a rock or something), it’s worth the watch for anyone who loves baseball. There have been a lot of baseball-themed movies, but there’s only a handful I would deem as my favorite. Maybe a future post will feature my favorites and why. What are your top 5 baseball-themed movies? (I’ll give you points if you include something other than Field of Dreams.)}

Game 94: BAL vs. NYY — Sweeping those pesky birds out of the home nest

 

It was a beautiful sunny day in New York this afternoon — 80°, blue skies with white puffy clouds, very picturesque, very perfect summer day for baseball. A very perfect day for a sweep of those pesky birds from Baltimore.

Masahiro Tanaka was in great form today as he earned his 7th win of the season — 101 pitches through his 7.2 innings, giving up just 4 hits, no walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 7 batters. His only issues were the 3 runs that were scored today, all on solo home runs in the 2nd and 2 in the 8th. After giving up that second solo shot in the 8th and hitting 101 on his pitch count, Tanaka’s day was done. But it was a really great day. After that first home run in the 2nd, he got 12 of the 13 batters he faced, and then threw a near-perfect 7th inning with 3 consecutive strikeouts.

Chris Capuano finished off the 8th inning for Tanaka with a fly out and got the first 2 outs of the 9th before handing the ball over to Branden Pinder who took 4 pitches to get a ground out to end the game. It was going to be the day off for the “Dynamic Duo” (Betances-Miller) anyway, but they certainly weren’t needed for a set-up and save situation.

No, the Yankees offense just pummeled the Orioles’ pitching staff, including roughing up their starter. In the 1st, the Yankees quickly loaded the bases with no outs on a single and two walks. Two outs later, Chase Headley hit a double bouncing off the center field wall, as the bases cleared. Ellsbury, Gardner, and Rodriguez all scored; Rodriguez tumbled home to avoid the bad throw home, as Headley ending up at 3rd on that bad throw. Headley then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single. And within that 1 inning, the Yankees were up 4-0.

When the Orioles got a run in the 2nd, the Yankees got it back with Jacoby Ellsbury’s 3rd home run of the season, a big solo shot to the right field bleachers. And in the 3rd, the Yankees kept hammering away. With 1 out and 2 runners on base with singles, Stephen Drew doubled and scored Gregorius, finally forcing a pitching change to get the starter mercifully out of the game (after 64 pitches in just 2.1 innings). The new pitcher then allowed Ellsbury to hit a sacrifice fly that scored John Ryan Murphy.

Then with another reliever in the game, Headley led-off the 5th inning with a single, moved to 2nd on Murphy’s 1-out single, and then ended up at 3rd on a fly out. Both he and Murphy scored on Ellsbury’s solid double. And that would be 9 total runs for the Yankees.

They would collectively hit 13 hits off the Orioles’ pitching staff and 3 walks. To compare, the Yankees’ pitchers gave up 4 hits and no walks. And for the Yankees, three offensive heroes today are easily Ellsbury, Headley, and Murphy. Ellsbury went 3-for-4 at the plate, with 2 runs scored and 4 RBIs; he also upped his batting average to .308, the current BA leader. Headley went 2-for-4, with 2 runs scored and 3 RBIs; Murphy went 3-for-4, with 2 runs scored.

And I can’t forget the defense recognition once again — Teixeira grabbed a foul pop up over the dugout fence, and Tanaka snagged a liner back to the mound (both plays in the 6th inning). Now, one that probably should have been caught is Gardner losing a fly ball in the sun. Fortunately, nothing came of that base runner, but as the official scorekeeper ruled it an error on Gardner, I imagine upon appeal, that will probably be overturned and ruled a hit. (Apologies for the O’s broadcast on that last one.)

{Recent update: Just after posting this, I was informed that the official scorer reevaluated this play, removing the error from Gardner and giving the batter a double. All stats will now reflect this, giving Tanaka an additional hit against him, and removing the error from the Yankees, the game, and Gardner’s own stats.}

Final score in the Bronx: 9-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep the O’s 3-0.

Not a bad way to end this home stand. The Yankees will close out July and enter August on a big road trip. They head first to the Twin Cities for the weekend, then a 4-game series down in Arlington, before heading back up to the Windy City for next weekend’s series. Yes, a big 10-game road trip basically going up and down and up the middle of the country.

Also, Hall of Fame ceremonies are scheduled for this weekend at Cooperstown, New York. The four inductees include some former opponents (and one brief Yankee) — Craig Biggio (Astros), Randy Johnson (Mariners/Diamondbacks), Pedro Martinez (Red Sox), and John Smoltz (Braves). Johnson was a Yankee for the 2005-2006 seasons; he also played for the Expos, Astros, and Giants in his 22 year career. Martinez also spent time with the Dodgers, Expos, Mets, and Phillies in his 18 years. Smoltz spent 20 years with the Braves and spent his last year split between the Red Sox and Cardinals. Biggio, the only non-pitcher inductee this year, spent all 20 years of his career in Houston, where his #7 is also retired.

Yankee fans have to wait until 2017 before the big names from the recent dynasty start appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot — Posada will be the first in 2017, with Rivera and Pettitte finding their names on the 2019 ballot and Jeter on 2020, and it’s almost guaranteed that at least 2 of those names will be added to the Hall. But we have some time to wait and see.

And in the meantime, there’s this new dynasty to jump-start and win some new championships this century!

Go Yankees!

Game 84: OAK vs. NYY — Tex-strong, and #VoteGardy

Let’s face it. There’s a reason Mark Teixeira’s an All-Star, and had they not selected him (almost as an afterthought, actually), the entire Yankee Universe would be in an uproar. Being the AL RBI leader or basically in the running for the Home Run Derby (something he has no interest in participating) as one of the players with the most home runs this season already (22 after tonight’s game), Teixeira is also one of the best defensive 1st baseman in the league. But wearing the pinstripes and not being a big diva won’t get you a lot of fans outside New York.

New Yorkers know better, of course. And they can point to tonight’s game as proof positive to add to the many reasons 2015 is easily Mark Teixeira’s year.

So on with the game…

Oakland continues their East Coast trip to the Bronx, in tonight’s middle game of the mid-week series against the pinstriped boys. And try as they might tonight, it wasn’t going to be their night. Not if the Yankees had anything to say about it.

CC Sabathia was forced to push back his last start, which should have been part of their West Coast trip (in Anaheim), to drain some excess fluid build-up on his knee and receive some treatment. Sabathia missed a good portion of last year with knee issues, so he’s been careful to show caution and take care of it this season. The extra care paid off, as he earned the win tonight — 88 pitches over 5.1 innings, 7 hits, just 2 runs allowed, 2 walks, and a strikeout (and I’m back to what I said about Sabathia not being a “strikeout pitcher” anymore).

Those 2 runs came early in the game, the 2nd inning. The lead-off batter hit a ground-rule double due to fan interference (people, keep your hands, legs, arms, gloves, hats, and children inside the seating area at all times and don’t infer with the action on the field!), moved to 3rd on a single, and then got out at home on a fielder’s choice (good choice!) and a rundown. But then 2 runners were already on base and they both then scored on consecutive RBI singles to give the A’s a 2-0 early lead.  It didn’t last long, thankfully, because the Yankees showed up to play on the field and in the batter’s box.

Sabathia was backed up in the bullpen by Bryan Mitchell to finish out the 6th inning. And then it was Justin Wilson’s near-perfect 7-pitch 7th inning that was a thing of beauty. Dellin Betances (the Yankees other All-Star amazingness) got through the 8th tonight with 2 nasty strikeouts, his fastball averaging 97-99 mph tonight. All of that to set-up the returning of closer Andrew Miller, who unfortunately found himself a rough return — 30 pitches: a fly out, a single, a 2-run home run, a strikeout, an infielder’s fielding error, before a soft groundout ends the game. Miller exhaled, verifying with the umpires of the out first, and then celebrated his 18th save with his teammates. Not an easy comeback, but a save nonetheless.

Now in order for Sabathia and Miller to earn their win and save for this game, the Yankees have to score runs. So they did. Down 2-0 in the 2nd, the Yankees opened their scoring with a fielding error that allowed Young to reach 1st safely and then Didi Gregorius’ double scored Young; Gregorius would get tagged out going to 3rd, but Young’s run scored started the ball rolling, so to speak. Then in the bottom of the 4th, Mark Teixeira led-off with a solo home run to right field (#21 of the season). Then after Young walked and Murphy singled, Young moved to 3rd on a stolen base, followed by Murphy taking 2nd on a wild pitch. So a Jose Pirela sacrifice fly easily scored Young.

Mark Teixeira led-off the 6th inning with another solo home run to right field (and that would be #22). To cap off the scoring (and getting the insurance run the Yankees weren’t aware they needed), Stephen Drew added his own mark, a 2-out solo home run to right field. (All the Yankee home runs tonight were hit into the right field seats, in roughly the same section (Section 103 for Teixeira’s, 104 for Drew’s); so if you want a nice home run ball, this seems to be the place to watch the game.)

But as big as Teixeira’s impact was with his multi-homer game tonight, he was ridiculously consistent as a defender on the field. He got a great unassisted double play in the 1st, a big catch over the dugout fence in the 7th, and a nice diving stop in the 8th. (My favorite is the last one, by the way.)

Final score: 5-4 Yankees.

Andrew Miller and Jacoby Ellsbury were reinstated today before tonight’s game. The corresponding roster moves for them was to send down Nick Rumbelow and Ramon Flores; a pitcher and outfielder for a pitcher and outfielder, the most logical roster move I’ve seen in a long time.

Chase Headley wasn’t on the roster tonight due to a sore calf. An MRI showed some inflammation, and he said he’d be surprised to find himself on the roster for tomorrow’s series finale against Oakland. Inflammation could be a sign of bad things to come without proper rest and treatment, so we may not see Headley in the Boston games this weekend either, as they go into the All-Star break. Rest is usually the best medicine. But you never know.

The best storyline of the day though was the #VoteGardy not-a-campaign campaign. Now, as you know, Brett Gardner has been nominated as one of 5 finalists for the final fan vote to the All-Star Game (vote now, voting ends Friday, July 10 at 4 pm EST). And while Gardner has chosen not to campaign like many of the other candidates often choose to do, his teammates and other members of the Yankee organization have taken no such vow and are campaigning like crazy. Today, they all wore bald caps (because Gardner is voluntarily bald) and wrote variations of #VoteGardy on their “bald heads” to get in on the fun and remind fans to #VoteGardy. Everyone from Alex Rodriguez and Dellin Betances to Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, and Steve Donahue was donning the cap for Gardner.

This continues the Yankees’ campaign that began yesterday when they had players and coaches out in the Grand Concourse at Yankee Stadium to greet fans, encourage/help them to #VoteGardy on provided iPads, as well as sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans as they showed up before the game. Gardner may want his game to do the talking for him, but his teammates and the entirety of Yankee Universe is picking up the baton and just running with it in ridiculously creative and fun ways. Hope it works!

#VoteGardy

 

Go Yankees!