Spring Game 26: DET vs. NYY — That 6th inning again… but the Empire Strikes Back

In one week, the Yankees will be back in the Bronx for Opening Day. But in the mean time, there’s still a week of Spring baseball to play in preparation and still (as of after the game) 37 players in camp to whittle down to the magic number of 25 in the next few days.

Tonight, for the last evening game of the Spring in Tampa, the Yankees hosted the Detroit Tigers. And with a full range of regulars or 25-man roster guys on defense, the Yankees called on bullpen prospect Luis Cessa to start tonight’s game, after some pretty decent relief outings over the Spring. He continued that trend with the lone exception of the 3rd inning, allowing 2 runners on base but then getting out of the inning unscathed. Cessa’s 4 strikeouts over his 3 innings isn’t a bad statistic either.

Barbato continues to make a case for himself in the bullpen as well, with his 4th inning tonight, but it was Chapman and his flawless 5th inning that had the chatter going around the stadium. Easily his best outing of the Spring, Chapman reminded Yankee fans why they should be counting the days until his pinstripe debut (May 9th, if you really want to count down), with 2 fiery strikeouts of his own.

Reliever Nick Goody got himself into a bit of trouble by doing what he was asked to do — throw strikes. The problem with throwing strikes is that sometimes good hitters will hit them and turn them into hits and runs instead. After an initial strike out, Goody gave up back-to-back solo home runs and then a single before getting back in the business of striking out the next two batters. Like I said, a pitcher has to throw strikes, and sometimes batters hit those strikes, and sometimes really good batters hit those strikes right out of the park. No reflection on Goody here with that one. He did his job, but then so did the Tigers’ offense in this inning.

Chasen Shreve came on in the 7th inning to do what he does best — plow through the opposing team’s lineup like it’s no big deal, setting them down in order, and righting the game for the Yankees once again. And it was Diego Moreno who got the last couple of innings for the Yankees’ stable of relievers tonight, working his way effortlessly through the 8th inning and with only a small hit in the 9th that was quickly erased with a snazzy double play (more in a moment).

On the other side of the diamond, the Yankees took their time during tonight’s 2 hour, 24 minute game to get themselves on the scoreboard. Mark Teixeira kicked it in gear with a lead-off solo home run in the 7th inning (there’s something to “God Bless America”, like I’ve said before). And in the bottom of the 8th, with 2 outs, the Yankees grabbed a couple of singles and then Dustin Ackley hit the runners (Silva and Corporan) home with a solid 2-RBI double to give the Yankees the lead.

With that double play by a really great DP duo (Torreyes and Kozma) in the 9th, the Yankees took their victory on a soft ground out to short stop (Torreyes) and Sinatra serenaded the crowd to the parking lot.

Also, kudos to the Yankee pitching staff tonight who racked up 11 total strikeouts of Tigers’ batters (compared to the 3 from the Tigers’ staff).

Final score: 3-2 Yankees.

Roster update: after tonight’s game, the Yankees reassigned Diego Moreno (who got tonight’s win, by the way) to minor league camp. That brings the number down to 37. 12 more cuts to go, and I don’t imagine anyone’s looking forward to the ax (neither the one swinging it nor the one getting it). This is a tough year for this. It usually seems easier with a couple of position exceptions.

Okay, ones to watch tonight (and I’ve mentioned this a couple of times) are Ronald Torreyes and Pete Kozma. They were a powerhouse in the middle infield defense, just showing off their instinct and teamwork with that 9th inning double play. With Kozma’s offensive contribution, he certainly is making a case for himself on the 40-man roster. I don’t think Torreyes is that far behind. Scranton could watch some great defense from those two, though I’ve seen both players in other positions that certainly prove their capacity as utility players.

I remember I had a conversation once with someone whose grandson had his heart set on being a professional baseball player. I think the old school of thought is to be the next Clayton Kershaw (starting pitcher) or Bryce Harper (power-hitting outfielder), but there is so much need for infield utility players — guys who can fill in at short stop or 2nd or even play some outfield — as well as middle relievers (pitchers who fill in the innings between the starter and closer).

And I think we’re moving away from the traditional single slot roles, especially at the minor league level. Players who are more versatile are getting more play time because they can be used wherever whenever, and not just when one guy needs a break. Sure, you’re not going to see utility players or middle relievers on the front of sports magazines (and why is that, by the way?), but they are so ridiculously valuable for every team as reliable, necessary, consistent cogs in the giant organization that is a professional baseball team.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: no video links tonight as there was no broadcast tonight. Wish I could show off Teixeira’s homer or the DP, but you’ll just have to wait for those guys to do it all again. Don’t worry — they will!}

Spring Game 20: NYM vs. NYY — Empire State of Mind

Okay, this might be the first New York vs. New York game I’ve been to in forever where someone didn’t quip: “Hey, I think the team from New York is going to win this game.” The Yankees play the Mets far too often anymore for this joke to be more than a groaning pun. Fortunately, tonight’s game was spared such “dad humor”, at least on this point.

The Mets came up from Port St. Lucie to visit their crosstown rivals under a clear, crisp Spring evening. As the sun faded behind the stadium, the moon slowly rose over the right field until it hung bright and full in the night sky. A recent cold front swept through the area leaving Floridians shivering in their sweatshirts and tourists from up North enjoying the nice weather break. And with just a few exceptions, it was a rather lazy evening for 3 hours of baseball before a sell-out crowd.

And yes, the team from New York won.

Luis Severino is really something. In 77 pitches tonight, over 4.1 innings, he threw 48 strikes, including 5 strikeouts against Mets batters. The 2 hits he allowed only came in his final inning, the 5th, where he got into a bit of trouble — 2 on base with just 1 out and reaching his limit. It was time to call on the powerhouse guys from the back of the bullpen — Chapman, Betances, and Miller (in that order) to shut things down. It sort of worked.

Chapman’s first batter hit into a ground out that scored the lead runner, and a ground-rule double scored the other before a nasty strikeout closed the door on whatever rally the Mets were hoping for in the 5th inning. Betances’ 6th gave up a couple of hits, but relied on his trusty strikeouts (2 as usual) to get out of his own trouble. And Miller’s lone hit was stranded in the 7th due to his 2 strikeouts tonight in what has to be his best outing of the Spring so far.

It wasn’t until the 8th inning the Mets tried to rally their guys again to make something work on their side of the diamond, and they took advantage of an off-night by prospect Tyler Olson. With 2 outs, two runners on base with singles, in scoring position on a wild pitch, Olson walked the next batter to load up the bases. Clearly struggling, the Yankees gave him much needed relief in the form of Diego Moreno. But he too was having a bit of an off-night at first, walking his first batter to walk in the Mets’ 3rd run. After a brief consultation with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Moreno found his footing and got out of the inning and through the 9th without further damage, including 2 strike outs.

This put the final Yankees’ pitchers’ strike out count at 12. (Literally double what the Mets’ pitchers had on the Yankees’ batters tonight.)

And speaking of Yankee batters, it would be a single inning that would be the dividing line for the Yankees tonight — the 2nd. With 1 out, Headley singled and Castro doubled to put them in scoring position. Didi Gregorius’ single scored Headley to start things rolling. Then Brett Gardner’s single scored Castro, and Hicks’ single loaded the bases. Alex Rodriguez promptly plopped a short single between the left infielders to score both Gregorius and Gardner. Then with bases loaded again on Teixeira’s walk, Carlos Beltran’s sacrifice fly added one more as Hicks crossed home plate.

The Yankees added one more in the 6th, you know, just in case a 5-run inning wasn’t enough. With 2 outs and Gregorius at 2nd with a double, a slow throw to 1st allowed Dustin Fowler a single and the speedy Gregorius to score (he literally never stopped running). Fowler then stole 2nd but was left stranded there on a fly out to end the inning.

That single inning contribution was enough to earn Dustin Fowler the “One to Watch” honor in today’s post. He was replaced in the next inning by Payton (who made some decent plays in center field tonight on his own), but Fowler was the one that stood out, even if for his brief time in tonight’s game.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees.

Earlier today, the Yankees optioned Slade Heathcott to AAA Scranton, reassigning him to minor league camp. With Spring winding down, the remaining cuts will come in spurts with the final ax falling just before the Yankees leave for Miami to play the Marlins for 2 games April 1-2.

The Rays played the Cuban National Team earlier today in Havanna, as part of a diplomatic move by MLB and the United States to celebrate the opening doors to one of its Latin American neighbors, especially one that has given the game so many great players (like Chapman and the Mets’ Cespedes, who played in Tampa tonight). President Obama and his family (huge baseball fans in their own right) were present for the game as guests of Cuban president Raul Castro. Baseball dignitaries like Commissioner Manfred and MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre were also at the game (and its festivities leading up to the event), as well as legends like Dave Winfield, Derek Jeter, and Rachel Robinson.

The last time an American team played baseball in Cuba was before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Robinson traveled with the Brooklyn Dodgers for Spring Training in Cuba in the 1947. So today’s game there was part of a very historic event.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: tonight’s game was not filmed once again. Chalk it up to the disadvantages of Spring Training or blame the big game in Cuba or whatever. Sorry!}

Also, tonight, I want to extend my personal thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families of the terrorist attacks today in Brussels, Belgium. Much like baseball can be a great uniter in times of tragedy and a conduit of healing and reconciliation, we stand with you from all across the world as you heal and stand strong against the evils that seek to disturb our peace and destroy our freedoms.

Spring Game 15: TOR vs. NYY — Pitchers & Starlin shines tonight

Continuing the string of evening games this week, the Yankees hosted the Blue Jays tonight at Steinbrenner. And coming off the win against the Red Sox yesterday, the Yankees were hungry for another one, and things looked hopeful with Brett Gardner making his Spring debut and Nathan Eovaldi with the start.

Eovaldi’s first inning was simply flawless, showing off that “Nasty Nate” stuff that made the Yankee fans love him. Even when he struggled through his 2nd inning, he was still pretty solid despite 2 walks, as he was able to get the other batters to ground out, strike out, and fly out to get out of the inning scoreless, a pattern most of the Yankees pitchers would continue through the evening.

Pestano’s 3rd inning relief gave up a hit, but kept the scoreless streak alive, something Chapman continued in the 4th inning (his best all Spring so far) with 2 nice strikeouts in 3 consecutive outs. Reliever Diego Moreno’s 5th inning was flawless with his own 2 strikeouts. Then Pinder racked up 2 strikeouts of his own in the 6th inning, and James Pazos joined the parade with his own strikeout in his own flawless inning.

However, in an outing out of the ordinary for the reliever this Spring, Bleier struggled his way through the 8th inning some. A lead-off ground out opened the inning, but a pair of doubles (one scoring the other) chipped away at the Yankees’ scoreless hold over the Blue Jay before a solid strikeout closed the Blue Jays’ attempt to make something of this inning.

Yates came on to close out the game in the 9th, and despite a nice strikeout to start things going, the next batter’s solid triple (the ball went deep into the corner of right field) and a walk, Yates buckled down (thanks in large part by some excellent catching and game calling by Carlos Corporan behind the plate tonight) and got a strikeout and a fly out to end the game. Though for a second, it looked like the slight collision might cause some trouble (this is why you call the ball, guys!), but it all worked out in the end. And believe me, it was that kind of game, that kind of moment where you really weren’t sure what was going to happen when Sinatra started playing over the PA system.

The Yankees did their offensive damage early in the game, and because of some just phenomenal pitching tonight, kept the Blue Jays from doing much more than that pesky 8th inning attempt. In the 2nd inning, with 2 outs and Headley on base with a single, Starlin Castro hit a solid home run right over the right-center field fence to put the Yankees up early and as it turns out just enough for the win tonight.

Look, I really do want to recognize the Yankee pitchers tonight who were just amazing — 13 combined strikeouts (to the Blue Jays’ 3, by the way). Just great command from nearly everyone on the roster tonight.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees.

The Ones to Watch tonight: I’ve got to give it to the star reliever Moreno and the infielder Pete Kozma. Moreno, as I’ve already mentioned was just flawless on the mound tonight, coming in and commanding the game from first to final pitch of his outing. And Kozma worked the “Hot Corner” (3rd base) tonight with some snazzy defense. There wasn’t much that got by him, and his arm to get the outs at 1st (for example) was spot-on accurate, quick, and efficient. Nice going, guys!

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 2: PHI vs. NYY — One of those days…

Some days, it’s just not your day. And today, at a certain point in the middle of the game, it became awfully clear that it wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ day. Unlike yesterday, where it seemed the Yankees never lost the hunger and effort to keep charging all the way to the end. Sometimes that works out for the best (like yesterday), and sometimes it doesn’t. But there is a feeling that is almost tangible when that feeling is there.

It wasn’t so much today against the visiting Phillies.

Okay, honest opinion first, the Phillies were hitting with some consistency today and their pitching wasn’t that bad in light of things. Between contact and throwing from the mound, they were rather sloppy, but that is to be expected in Spring Training. So I will give them that. And the Yankees certainly weren’t without their sloppiness, but their hitting and pitching wasn’t nearly as consistent. And thus, the outcome of today’s game.

Like I said before, the game started off pretty good for the first part. Ivan Nova got his Spring start today, going 2 innings, giving up 2 hits and a run, and striking out just 1 of his 8 batters — a 1-out single scored on a 2-out double in the 1st inning to give the Phillies an early lead. They didn’t keep it long as the Yankees answered back with back-to-back veteran hits — Beltran’s single and Alex Rodriguez’s solid 2-run home run.

The Phillies tied up the game with a lead-off home run in the 4th inning off reliever Diego Moreno. But the Yankees came back once again with more veteran hitters — Teixeira’s single and Headley’s double put runners in scoring position. Sanchez worked a walk to load the bases, and with 2 outs, prospect Lane Adams worked his own walk to walk in the lead runner to push the Yankees ahead of the Phillies again. A strikeout ended the Yankees’ hopes for a larger lead.

Then in the 5th inning, under reliever Jacob Lindgren, the Phillies began their run rally with 2 consecutive walks to start the inning. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to scoring position before a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, and a walk brought the game back to that tie with a walked-in run. That was all for Lindgren as the Yankees brought in invitee Swarzak to close out the inning. But he too struggled. His first batter singled and scored 2 runs, and with 2 outs on the board, another single scored yet another run for the Phillies.

The Yankees made a valiant effort to gain back some of those runs themselves in the bottom of that inning. With 2 walks and 1 out, a single scored a run. But even with the bases loaded another out and a walk later, they couldn’t do anything to take advantage of all those runners. And this is where the air went out of their sails.

From there, the Phillies just kept working their lead, much to the detriment of the Yankees’ pitchers. In the 6th, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a flyout, and then scored on a really nice triple (a small hesitation as he turned 3rd made him miss the opportunity for an inside-the-park home run). After a pitching change, a fielder’s choice became a messy play, with the lead runner scoring and the batter ending up at 2nd on a missed catch error. Fortunately for the Yankees, with runners on the corners, they turned a good old-fashioned double play to get out of that inning.

And on into the 7th (which certainly felt like the longest inning of the game), the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch, the next walked, and a single scored the lead runner with the other 2 ending up in scoring position on a throwing error (and resulting messy recovery by the infielders). This triggered another pitching change, and despite a batter doubling home 2 more Phillies’ runs, he was able to shut the inning down with 2 strikeouts.

A new pitcher in the 8th still gave up a run to pad the Phillies’ expanding lead. A lead-off single moved to 2nd on a 1-out walk, and then scored on a 2-out single. The 9th inning pitcher technically threw the cleanest outing, save a single lingering fastball that a batter knocked a nice solo home run right over the left field fence.

Of the 21 total hits in the game, 15 of those were by the Phillies. Let’s just say there was bit of a pitching problem.

The “one to watch” today was the 9th inning reliever: Brady Lail. He’s a young prospect, 22 years old, having floated around the lower levels of the Yankees since 2012. Last year, he worked his way up to play 7 games in AAA Scranton. Of all the prospect relievers today, he threw the cleanest inning (even better than some of the more established guys), except that lone solo shot. But it was still a good inning, and he deserves a lot of credit for working under what could have been a very depressing and thus messy inning. Instead, the young pitcher just focused in, shook off the run, and got the outs he needed quickly. That says a lot to me.

Final score: 13-4 Phillies.

Tomorrow, the Yankees take their first Spring road trip the 45 minutes up I-4 to Lakeland to visit the Tigers’ Spring home. It’s almost hard to believe it’s already Spring, and the Yankees have 2 games already in the books.

I was chatting with someone today that said something I always say to keep myself positive after games like this. Spring Training doesn’t really count. It’s like a string of exhibition games where we basically pay to watch every team try out various players to see where (and sometimes “if”) they fit in their organization. And after a few years, you kind of pick up on where a player might start the season (like I’m pretty sure a few of the guys today will probably start 2016 in AA Trenton).

Anyway, Spring Training kind of reminds me of that old show Whose Line Is It Anyway? The host would always remind the audience that “everything is made up and the points don’t matter”, usually followed by a joke to emphasize his point like: “That’s right, the points are just like the nutrition facts on a Happy Meal” or “That’s right, the points are just like street signs to a cab driver.” So I add my own: “That’s right, the points are just like any Spring Training game despite a 13-4 score. It just doesn’t matter.”

Literally, the stats in Spring Training have absolutely no effect on the regular season. Spring Training is like live batting practice and workouts and team-building and tryouts that we are privileged to watch. And part of the fun is that you’ll never know if this is the Spring you’ll see a future Hall of Fame great break out and become the player he’s always dreamed he could be. Who knows? Maybe he’s wearing pinstripes this March.

Go Yankees!

{Media Note: the only highlight available from the game was Rodriguez’s home run in the 1st inning. My mother (who goes to nearly all the games with me) noticed that all the cameras were covered at the game, so I knew that the highlight reels were going to be slim. Sorry! But as a Yankee fan, there’s not much you’re going to want to remember except Rodriguez’s homer.}

Game 113: NYY vs. CLE — Ending one streak, ready to end another

A five-game losing streak snapped tonight in Cleveland at the last game of their mid-week series. And I think it’s just the energy boost the Yankees need to head to Toronto this weekend. With the Blue Jays on quite the winnings streak (the sole reason they’re in first in the AL East), the Yankees needed to break their losing streak and need to break the Jays winning streak in order to reclaim the top of the division once again.

But tonight, the Yankees fought off the Indians and deserved the win, especially tonight’s starter Nathan Eovaldi, who earned his 12th win of the season. His pitch count continues to be a little high, 104 in 5.1 innings, and tonight wasn’t really sharp enough to call him “Nasty Nate”. But he (and the great Yankee defense) kept the Indians from ever taking the lead. Eovaldi gave up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, striking out 4 batters. In the 3rd, runners were in scoring position with a walk, a single, and a sacrifice bunt before they scored on a sacrifice fly and a single. And in the 6th, consecutive doubles scored one run, and a single scored another. And that’s when Adam Warren come on for relief and promptly got his only batter to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Justin Wilson’s 7th inning wasn’t quite as sharp as is Wilson’s usual outing — two outs and two singles forced the bullpen to open again and put Wilson on the hook for those runners. Dellin Betances wasn’t as sharp as he usually is either and proceeded to walk his first batter to load the bases. A wild pitch scored another run before Betances finally got a really nice strike out. Betances’ 8th inning was a bit better, with 2 more strikeouts.

And then, to continue to less-than-sharp Yankees pitching (save Warren), Andrew Miller was up for his 25th save, which he did but with struggles of his own. A lead-off single advanced to 2nd on defensive indifference after 2 outs; they would pay for that when he would score on a single. Miller got a strikeout to end the inning and the game and earn that save, almost a redemption for the mess that was Tuesday night.

Now, with the Indians scoring 6 runs that might be an issue, but the Yankees were back to scoring runs again. (And the world is righting itself once again.) In the 1st, Ellsbury led-off with a single and Gardner walked, and two outs later, Brian McCann hit a big 3-run home run into the right field seats. That would be his 20th home run and make him part of a unique elite group; only 5 catchers in MLB history have at least 9 seasons with 20 or more home runs — Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza, and now Brian McCann.

Stephen Drew hit his 15th home run of the season in the 2nd inning to add another run to the Yankees’ early lead. And with the Yankees leading 4-2 going into the 4th, the Yankees added even more runs. Gregorius led-off the 4th with a single and then scored on Drew’s double. Drew then scored on Brett Gardner’s 1-out double. This forced the Indians’ starter out of the game after 70 pitches in less than four innings. Not a great night for him, though Yankee Universe isn’t really complaining.

In the 6th, Drew reached on a throwing error, moved to 2nd on a passed ball, and then scored on Gardner’s single for an additional Yankee run. Even after the Indians rallied a bit in the bottom of that inning and the next, the Yankees still maintained a firm lead thanks to the newly sparked offense. In the 8th, with 1 out, Drew walked, moved to 2nd on Ellsbury’s single, and then scored (again) on Gardner’s single.

Final score in Cleveland: 8-6 Yankees, Cleveland wins series 2-1.

While the Yankees’ pitching tonight was less than stellar (though more than adequate), the Yankees offense was quite good with two great examples. Brett Gardner went 3-for-4, with a run scored, 3 RBIs, and a walk; and Stephen Drew went 2-for-3, with 4 runs scored, 2 RBIs, and a walk. And while Gardner’s average still hovers at the top of the team statistics (at .286), Drew’s improved to .195.

There have been lots of “message board managers” that don’t understand the value of Drew because all they see is that final number — .195. They don’t see the 15 home runs or the consistent defense at 2nd or the positive impact he has within the clubhouse, instead focusing on the rare misses and the low overall batting average. (And we thought “Jeter’s replacement” would have the most issues from those “message board managers”!)

(Game show host voice:) And it’s time for… ROSTER MOVES! Before the game, the injured pitcher Diego Moreno was transferred to 60-day DL. The Yankees called up Greg Bird from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Bird came on to sub for Teixeira tonight and did a pretty good job defensively. His offensive contribution wasn’t quite as good as anticipated, going 0-for-5 with 2 strikeouts. He was the only starter to not make it on base tonight. Though not exactly the greatest start for an MLB debut, I was reminded that a certain recently retired shortstop had the same outcome in his MLB debut some 20 years ago.

Interesting note: Bird is the 15th player to make his MLB debut with the Yankees this season — pitchers Matt Tracy, Jose De Paula, Diego Moreno, Nick Goody, Branden Pinder, Jacob Lindgren, Danny Burawa, Nick Rumbelow, Caleb Cotham, and Luis Severino; outfielders Slade Heathcott, Ramon Flores, and Mason Williams; and infielders Rob Refsnyder and Greg Bird. It’s been interesting to watch the guys that made a great impression in Spring Training make their debut and make an impact on the Yankees’ drive toward the post season. Every little piece matters.

Also, the ceremonial first pitch tonight was thrown out by the twin daughters of Indians’ infielder Mike Aviles — Maya and Adriana. Adriana, age 4, was diagnosed with leukemia in May and is currently undergoing chemotherapy at the Cleveland Clinic. The Indians have been supportive of the entire Aviles family, even refusing to trade him so that he doesn’t have to move his family from the Clinic. The entire team (coaches and the team owner) shaved their heads in honor of little Adriana. She and the entire Aviles family are in our prayers.

Go Yankees!

Game 104: NYY vs. CHW — Leaving Windy City Sitting Pretty

The heat combined with the Windy City just makes for a rather miserable day at the park. Except it wasn’t so much, especially when the runs started combining with the shade as the day progressed. And for the final game in Chicago and on this road trip (and the last game outside the Eastern Time Zone), the Yankees decided to end it on a bang.

Ivan Nova got the start today as the Yankees were looking for a SuperNova kind of day. He delivered a pretty good outing — 90 pitches over 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, striking out 7 White Sox batters. Actually, keeping the White Sox scoreless for most of the game, Nova didn’t allow a run until the 6th inning — a lead-off walk scored on a 2-out single to get the White Sox on the board.

Chasen Shreve came on in relief in the 7th inning and got himself into some trouble, very un-Chasen-like. After an initial strikeout, Shreve gave up a solo home run, and then after another out, another solo home run. When he lucked out on a ground-rule double play on fan interference (seriously, people, keep your arms and gloves and children on the fan side of the fence at all times), it was time to call on the bullpen to shut down whatever rally the White Sox were working on.

And it was on to Branden Pinder for the final out of the 7th, keeping the White Sox from doing much in the 8th too. Andrew Miller, though not in a save situation, came on for the 9th to deliver an absolute nasty 1-2-3 9th inning in just 5 pitches.

But like I said before, the runs started pouring in and racking up early. Right at the top of the 1st, Jacoby Ellsbury led-off with a solo home run up center field. Then in the 4th, the Yankee offense really began. With 1 out, McCann singled, Beltran walked, and Headley singled to load the bases. Didi Gregorius’ single scored McCann and Beltran before Stephen Drew loaded the bases again with a single. Ellsbury’s sacrifice fly scored Headley, moving Gregorius and Drew to scoring position. They both did on Brett Gardner’s single.

In the 5th, Mark Teixeira hit his 29th home run of the season, a lead-off solo shot to right field. Two outs later, Headley was hit by a pitch, Gregorius walked, and it was time for the White Sox to change out its pitcher, the starter getting out after 101 pitches (in less that 5 innings). Not that their reliever had any better luck with the Yankees’ hot bats, as Stephen Drew’s double scored Headley and Gregorius to widen the Yankee lead even further.

And in the 7th, the Yankees capped their offense with a few more runs. Headley led-off with a double, moving to 3rd when Gregorius reached on a fielding error. They both scored on Drew’s triple (he fell a home run short of a cycle today, by the way). Drew scored on Ellsbury’s ground out to finalize the Yankees’ big offensive day.

The damage to the White Sox was done, with their pitching staff (their starter and his reliever splitting the game in half) giving up 11 hits, 12 runs (11 earned), and 4 walks. Like I said yesterday, some days, you just don’t have it. And fortunately for the Yankees, today’s “not having it” team was the White Sox.

Final score in Chicago: 12-3 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1. (Yankees win the road trip too, 7-4.)

 

 

Minor roster moves today: reliever Diego Moreno was placed on the DL today with some elbow pain. In his place, Pinder was recalled. I don’t know what’s worse for this paragraph — the moves due to injury or the moves due to poor performance. It’s always half-good and half-bad news, this section of the blog. Bad news for the person injured or doing poorly, and good news for the guy who gets a chance because of the problem. Nothing about this is ideal, but it’s all part of the game and the business of baseball.

And isn’t that a little bit like life too. Sometimes, we get opportunities because someone’s path is interrupted (either by force or by choice) and then have to work our way up as far as possible while we still have this brief moment of possible. Sometimes, we’re the one who are forced to take a different path or a break from the path, and then sit on the sidelines watching someone else rise to the opportunity we wanted. It’s not always a clear-cut point A to point B kind of life, but it’s making the most of every turn, stop, pause, opportunity, possibility, or step along the way. Because you don’t know how long this segment is going to last.

Safe flight, boys, and have a great day off. It’s back in the Bronx for the rivalry series on Tuesday.

Go Yankees!

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!