NLDS & ALDS: ATL vs. STL, WAS vs. LAD & TB vs. HOU, MIN vs. NYY — 3 Game 5s & a 3-game sweep

There is nothing normal about the postseason most years, and this year continues to prove this once again. Three of the series went to a Game 5, and only one series was a sweep. And none of those is what you might expect.

NLDS A: The Cardinals and Braves duked it out through 5 games, and it wasn’t until the 5th that the Cardinals came on strong and just made the decision to win this series.

NLDS
Game 1: Actually, the Braves had this game right up until the final inning, when the Cards came out swinging. The Braves just could not catch up in the end. 7-6 Cardinals

Game 2:
The Braves decided they weren’t going to let the series head to St. Louis without a hometown win, using this game to prove why they came out on top of the NL East by blanking the visiting Cardinals. 3-0 Braves

Game 3: This was one of those super tight games, with the Cards eking a single run by the Braves until the 9th. The visitors scored 3 big runs in that inning and ended up taking the lead in the series. 3-1 Braves

Game 4: Another nail biter in the series, as the game was tied and went into the 10th inning before the Cardinals got a walk-off home run to tie up the series. 5-4, in 10 Cardinals

Game 5: Back in Atlanta, the Braves lost their home field advantage in that 1st inning, giving up 10 runs to the visitors, who ended up dominating this game. 13-1 Cardinals

Cardinals win the series in 5 games

NLDS B: Almost everyone “knew” who was going to win this series. Almost everyone “knew” they were going to sweep this series. Almost everyone was very wrong.

Game 1: However, after this first game, “they” were rather confident they “knew” how this was going to work as the Dodgers quickly shut out the Nationals. 6-0 Dodgers

Game 2: But then the Nationals came back and just edged out the home team. 4-2 Nationals

Game 3: In DC, the Dodgers came back just crushing the home team with a big 6th inning. 10-4 Dodgers

Game 4: And somehow, the Nats weren’t about to go away quietly, relying on some solid pitching to tie up the series again and force a Game 5. 6-1 Nationals

Game 5: Another nail-biter in the NL. The game was tied right into the 10th, right up until the Dodgers’ reliever gave up a huge grand slam. The deficit too big to overcome by the home team, costing them the rest of the postseason. 7-3, in 10 Nationals

Nationals win the series in 5 games

ALDS A: As with the other league’s version of this series, games between the league leader and the wild card winner aren’t anything normal or predictable. Especially as the Rays were on quite the tear this last month in their quest for a postseason. But in this series alone, it was all about the “home field advantage”.

Game 1: The Astros started the series strong, only giving up runs to the Rays in the 8th. 6-2 Astros

Game 2: The Astros’ starter the game was just amazing, streaming through the Rays’ lineup and collecting 15 strikeouts. Not that the Rays were slacking. The Astros just played better. 3-1 Astros

Game 3: Once the game was at the Trop, the Rays came out swinging and just didn’t stop. They certainly weren’t about to let the Astros just run away with this series. 10-3 Rays

Game 4: While this wasn’t as poweful in the end, the Rays still collected 13 total hits, giving them more opportunities to score and eventually tie up the series. 4-1 Rays

Game 5: Again, this series was all about home field advantage. Once they were back in Houston, the Astros took command again and showed their fans why they deserve to go to the ALCS once again. 6-1 Astros

Astros win series in 5 games

ALDS B: The one series nobody was really talking about. Outside Yankee Universe, that is. But this one was something to really watch, as the Yankees were about to show off a bit.

Game 1: The Yankees had some really big innings, including home runs by LeMahieu and Gardner. Though Paxton started, it was Kahnle who ended up with the win for his 5th & 6th inning stint to essentially save the game early on until the Yankees powered their way through with those big runs in the 6th. 10-4 Yankees

Game 2: It was Tanaka Time in the Bronx for this game. Aand once again, the Yankee bats came through to support their starter, including a big 3rd inning offense. And while most of their runs were off RBI singles, but i was Didi Gregorius’ grand slam to ensure the Yankees’ eventual win. 8-2 Yankees

Game 3: Home field advantage didn’t seem to matter to the Yankees this series, as they took their momentum on the road. They used an opener in Green, who showed his reliability with a strong start and set the pattern for the rest of the game, backed by a good offense with homers by Torres and Maybin. 5-1 Yankees

Yankees sweep series in 3 games.

An interesting article I found was the idea that no one gives an MVP award for the Division Series. This is one writer’s idea of who should get this hypothetical award. I agreed (or at least understood) his picks in most of these games. But what do you think?

Championship Series begins tomorrow night with NLCS and Saturday with the ALCS. It is a best-of-7 series, so the first team with 4 wins will move onto the World Series next week.

My predictions: So, this first round was a mixed bag. I completely blew the NLDS. First is my prediction, second is the outcome.

  • NLDS A: Braves over Cardinals in 5 games — Cardinals in 5
  • NLDS B: Dodgers over Nationals in 3 games — Nationals in 5
  • ALDS A: Astros over Rays in 4 games — Astros in 5
  • ALDS B: Yankees over Twins in 5 games — Yankees in 3

Now for the Championship Series: (Perhaps, I’ll be better this round.)

  • NLCS: Cardinals over Nationals in 6 games
  • ALCS: Yankees over Astros in 7 games

It’s clearly going to be one of those postseasons. And let’s be honest, it’s really just beginning. But isn’t that what makes October Baseball more intriguing — that you don’t know what’s going to happen?

Go Yankees!

Game 160: NYY vs. TEX — “Bronx Bombers” rightly set MLB HR record

The Yankees traveled to Arlington, Texas, for a weekend series with the Rangers for the final 3 games of regular season play. A high scoring game fueled by power bats in the lineup and by strong outings from 9 pitchers earned New York their 103rd season win.

James Paxton, took command of the ball for the Yankees for the 1st inning, facing 6 batters, giving up 3 hits, including a 2-run home run. At the close of the inning, Paxton exited the game as a precaution due to soreness and was replaced by Heller for the 2nd inning. Heller gave up a single to the lead-off batter, but followed with a strike out swinging and a grounder that led to a double play. In the 3rd, Tarpley came on to faced 3 batters for 3 quick outs — 2 strikeouts and a ground out.

Another pitching change in the 4th brought Loaisiga to the mound. He allowed a walk, but then got 3 outs to keep the scoreless pattern going strong. Gearrin got his chance in the 5th to keep that inning scoreless. In the 6th inning, Lyons took the ball, facing 3 batters for his 3 outs.

Taking the mound in the 7th, Michael King, a recent call up from Scranton/Wilkes-Barres, was the only Yankee pitcher to throw for more than one inning tonight. But in the 8th, King’s lead-off batter made it safely to 1st on a fielding error, moved to 2nd on a 1-out single before scoring on another single.

However, with the Yankees firmly ahead in tonight’s game, the Yankees needed a quick 3 outs again for the 9th. But Chance Adams had some trouble after striking out the lead-off batter. He then gave up a solo home run, a pair of doubles, and a 2-run home run to edge the Rangers closer to the Yankees’ lead. With just 1 out, Cortes took the ball for a pop-out to the 1st baseman and an infield ground out, allowing no further runs for the home team.

On the other side, the Yankee lineup came out swinging for the win, and it showed. In the 1st inning, Giancarlo Stanton hit a long ball to left center field for the Yankees 300th home run of the season. With 2 strikeouts in the 2nd, Cameron Maybin smashed another homer to left center that tied up the game at that point.

After a scoreless 3rd inning, Brett Gardner led off in the 4th and sent a home run ball to right center that gave New York a slim lead. With 2 outs and Ford on 1st, LeMahieu’s double moved Ford to 3rd base. Giancarlo Stanton’s single scored both Ford and LeMahiey and gave the Yankees a nice lead. At the bottom of the 6th, Gio Urshela led-off with a home run to left center. Maybin then worked a walk, and a 2-run homer that Ford sent to right scored Maybin.

In the 7th, a single line drive by Gardner, followed by another single grounder by Maybin, put two men on base. Ford worked a walk to load up the bases. DJ LeMahieu’s double to left field scored all 3 runners, but LeMahieu was tagged out trying to stretch it into a triple to end the inning.

Austin Romine led-off the 9th inning with a solo home run to center. With 1 out, and Urshela and Maybin on base, Mike Ford’s double scored both runners to give the Yankees a rather large lead they would need due to the mess in the bottom of that inning.

Final score: 14-7 Yankees

A big congratulations to the Yankees who now lead MLB in home runs for the season with 305. The Twins were briefly ahead of New York, but after tonight’s 6 homers, the Yankees were back in the lead. With 2 more regular season games, there will be several chances to add to that record for New York. This also officially sets the MLB single season record by a team.

Go Yankees!

Game 159: NYY vs. TB — Yankees shut-out loss at the Trop

The Yankees faced the Tampa Bay Rays tonight at Tropicana Field for a disappointing shut-out loss. Even with 5 walks, New York had little opportunity to score, earning only 1 hit and 16 strikeouts, and leaving 9 men on base.

After last night’s marathon game that went to the Rays, tonight’s game wasn’t much better for the Yankees in the end. Giving up 9 hits and 4 runs, New York pitching was not its usual stellar self. Jonathan Loaisiga started for New York and promptly gave up a home run to center to the lead-off batter. He followed that up with 3 singles that scored another run before striking out the side.

In the 2nd, JA Happ replaced Loaisiga for a strong out of long-term relief — 6 strikeouts through 5 innings. It wasn’t until the 6th that the Rays broke through again. Happ allowed a single to center that scored on an RBI double. Kahnle replaced Happ in the 7th inning. After a throwing infield error and a walk that put 2 men on base, Kahnle was replaced by Gearrin. He then faced just one batter before turning over the ball to Tarpley for the final out of that inning.

With the Yankees still scoreless in the 8th, Tarpley came back out to face a batter for an out before being replaced by Luis Cessa. Cessa, however, gave up a home run to put the Yankees even further behind. Chapman replaced Cessa for the final 2 strikeouts of the 8th inning.

Yankee batters also struggled tonight, only earning one hit, but no runs. New York had a couple opportunities to score when batters like Voit and Wade worked walks in the 3rd, but a double play ended that hope then. A single by LeMahieu in the 6th broke the Rays’ no-hitter bid tonight, but it wasn’t much more for the Yankees. And by the 9th, the Yankees got three strikeouts in a row in this shutout loss to the Rays.

Final score: 4-0 Rays, Rays win series 2-0

Next up: The Yankees take an off-day tomorrow to travel across the Gulf of Mexico to Arlington to face the Texas Rangers for the final series this regular season. They will close out 2019 with a 3-game series this weekend.

Injury update: Gio Urshela is expected to be back in the lineup for Friday’s game in Texas facing the Rangers. Urshela did not play tonight, but the team fully expects him to be ready for this last regular season series for the Yankees this weekend.

Yankee batting record update: So far this season, the Bronx Bombers have certainly earned their nickname with a current MLB record of 299 home runs in a single season, and there’s still 3 games to be played. Also, this season, 14 Yankees have earned double-digit homers this year.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 157: TOR vs. NYY: Salute to Sabathia and #SevySharp for the series

Today’s series win against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, their last home stand of the regular season, shows that the Yankees continue to be quite the force to be reckoned with. Today’s win marks the fact that New York hasn’t lost any of their last 23 home series since April.

After a pre-game ceremony to honor the legacy of CC Sabathia (more below), Luis Severino took command of the mound, throwing 80 pitches to 19 batters for 9 strikeouts. Over 5 scoreless innings, Severino had a stellar outing and gave up only 3 hits. In the 6th, Tarpley replaced Severino and gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases, and still struck out swinging 3 batters that kept the Toronto scoreless.

Tyler Lyons took the ball for the 7th inning, giving up a lead-off double and a 2-run home run. In the 8th, Cortes replaced Lyons to give up a walk, but 3 quick outs allowed no further runs. Cortes continued to close out the 9th inning, giving up 2 hits and a run.

The Yankee bats didn’t wait long to show the power of this year’s team. In the 1st, Aaron Judge took the plate and sent a solo home run ball over the center field fence for the Yankees’ first run. Voit and Stanton each walked and then scored as part of Brett Gardner’s 3-run homer sent over the right field fence into the second deck that gave the Yankees a solid lead.

In the 2nd, Romine reached on a single infield grounder and was brought home by a 2-run home run to right center field by DJ LeMahieu sent to right center field. LeMahieu led-off the 5th with a single and moved to 2nd on Judge’s single. Toronto challenged the call at 2nd, but it was upheld on review and LeMahieu was safely on base.

A wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position. And a sacrifice fly ball to left by Giancarlo Stanton scored LeMahieu and moved Judge to 3rd. Luke Voit then hit an RBI single that allowed Judge to cross the plate. In the final innings, the Yankees were not allowed any further scoring opportunities, but they kept the solid lead through the 9th inning for New York’s 102nd win this season.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees, Yankees take the series 2-1

In a pre-game ceremony this afternoon, CC Sabathia was honored for his legacy and contribution to the Yankees. Sabathia has been in pinstripes since 2009 and is second only Brett Gardner as longest-tenured player with the team.  In front of the crowd of cheering fans, Sabathia took a lap around the warning track on a golf cart, watched two  tribute videos (one from the team and one from family).

Sabathia made a short speech thanking everyone, followed by commemorative gifts from the Yankees, including a 10-day family trip to Japan for the whole Sabathia family. One of the most significant parts of the ceremony for Sabathia was throwing out the 1st pitch to his original catcher and fan, his mom Margie.

{Note: There are quite a few videos from the day for those who missed the festivities. They are included here for your enjoyment — family and friends reading inspirational letters, players share their memories, a longer tribute from players, and career highlights.}

Go Yankees!

Game 154: LAA vs. NYY: 100th win for the AL East Championship

Yankee Stadium fans were in for a treat tonight as they witnessed an outstanding game. Facing the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees earned their well-deserved 100th win that clinched the 2019 AL East Division Championship, their first division title since 2012. Despite being plagued this year by a record-breaking number of players on the IL that had many doubting a shot at a title, the Yankees continued to show their depth of talent and solid ability to play as a team, no matter who was in the lineup or on the mound. The Yankees came ready to play as a team and it showed.

Masahiro Tanaka took a solid command of the mound to start the game against the Los Angeles Angels. It was “Tanaka Time” for a full 7 innings that gave the starter his 11th win of the season. Facing 24 batters, Tanaka threw 86 pitches and gave up just one run, a solo home run to right field in the 4th. Gearrin replaced Tanaka in the 8th for an easy 3 outs. And in the 9th, Aroldis Chapman took over the mound to close the inning for the Yankees 100th season win to clinch the AL East, their first since 2012.

After a scoreless 1st, the Yankees started off the 2nd inning with a walk from lead-off batter Maybin, who was then caught on fielder’s choice by Gardner. Romine then singled, and DJ LeMahieu came to the plate and sent a 3-run homer, his 25th this year, over the right-center field fence, scoring both Gardner and Romine.  In the 4th, Brett Gardner homered to right field for another run.

Gregorius led-off the 6th with a single and then stole 2nd. Following a walk by Urshela, Maybin hit into a ground out that moved Urshela and Gregorius into scoring position. Gardner then hit a solid double that scored both Urshela and Gregorius. And in the 8th, with the Yankees solidly ahead, Cameron Maybin hit a solo home run. After a walk by Gardner, Clint Frazier then sent a 2-run home run ball over the left field fence. All ending up in a solid 100th win tonight for the Yankees.

Final score: 9-1 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

News updates: Yankee pitcher Domingo German is on restricted leave due to an investigation by MLB into alleged domestic abuse incident. No formal charges have been filed, but until the investigation is completed, the Yankees selected the contract of right-hander Michael King from AA Trenton to take German’s place on the roster.

A big congratulations to all the Yankees on their 100th season win and their new title as AL East Division Champions, such a well-deserved honor.

Go Yankees!

Game 152: LAA vs. NYY: Shutout in the Bronx for the 99th win

After a long (and disappointing) weekend across our northern border, the Yankees were back home in the Bronx for to host the Los Angeles Angels. It ended up being a good game for the hometown crowd that witnessed another strong pitching debut this season.

Yankee Stadium welcomed back Luis Severino who took the mound for the first time since last year’s division series playoffs. Severino pitched 4 scoreless innings to a constantly cheering hometown crowd, giving up 2 hits and 2 walks and striking out 4 LA batters. Unlike Betances who was injured in his debut on Sunday, Severino came out of the game healthy and ready for the playoffs.

Loaisiga came on in relief of Severino, pitching 2 full innings, allowing 1 walk, but striking out 3 batters and allowed no runs. Tarpley took over in the 7th inning, giving up a single to center, followed by a wild pitch and a hit by pitch to put runners on the corners. But Tarpley managed to get that last strikeout to get out of the jam. He gave up 2 singles in the 8th and was replaced by Gearrin, the inning ending with a solid double play and no runs. In the top of the 9th, Adams took the mound, giving up a walk and single to center, but keeping the Angels scoreless and closed out the game with two solid strikeouts.

After a quiet 1st inning for Yankee batters, the 2nd inning began with a solid line drive to left by Torres and a walk by Voit. An RBI single to left by Gio Urshela scored Torres and gave the Yankees an early lead. Cameron Maybin doubled to left field that moved Urshela to 3rd and allowed Voit to score.

But it was the 4th inning that padded the lead for the Yankees. Urshela singled, moved to 2nd on a single by Maybin, and scored on a single by DJ LeMahieu. Judge’s walk loaded the bases, and Didi Gregorius then hit a 2-run double, scoring Maybin and LeMahieu. Finally, a 3-run home run hit by Gleyber Torres to left center field allowed Judge and Gregorius to cross the plate.

That 4th inning ended with the Yankees way ahead, much to the delight of the cheering hometown crowd.  Except for a few walks and a couple singles, the final innings were quiet for the Yankee lineup. But the Angels were kept scoreless the entire game for the Yankee win tonight.

Final score: 8-0 Yankees

Injury updates: Dellin Betances made his season debut in Toronto over the weekend, but he’s now back on the IL and is out for the rest of the season. Returning to New York with a sore ankle, tests today revealed a partially torn left Achilles tendon that apparently happened when Betances jumped on the mound in celebration after his second strikeout in Sunday’s game. After working so hard to come back this season, and with a strong outing facing the Blue Jays, this is truly heart-breaking, season-ending news for Betances.

Our congratulations to retired Yankee pitcher, Mariano “The Sandman” Rivera,  who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award, on Monday at the White House. The Hall of Famer, a 13-time All Star with 5 World Series Championships, entered the ceremony to his familiar entrance music, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. Rivera received this well-deserved award for his extraordinary contributions to sports, culture, and the community.

Go Yankees!

 

 

 

Game 151: NYY vs. TOR — Pinstripe troubles in Canada

Today’s game in Toronto may have been disappointing for New York, but the good news is that the Yankees welcomed back Dellin Betances and Jordan Montgomery to the mound.  Unfortunately, the Yankees could not capitalize on it for the win in today’s rubber match.

Chad Green took command of the ball as the “opener” for just the 1st inning. Throwing 19 pitches, 12 for strikes, Green gave up a double, but allowed no runs. In the 2nd, Jordan Montgomery took the mound, his first start for the Yankees since last year’s Tommy John surgery. After 2 quick outs, Montgomery gave up a double to left. A single allowed that runner to score. Montgomery then allowed another double and thus another run before a strike out swinging ended the inning. And in the 3rd, Montgomery game up a 1-out solo homer.

Dellin Betances got his long-awaited season debut in the 4th. With the game tied, Betances faced 2 batters for 8 pitches and 2 strong strikeouts before Nestor Cortes, Jr. was called upon to end the inning with a solid strikeout. Cortes had some trouble in the 5th, giving up a bunt single, a walk, and a 3-run home run to put Toronto ahead. He then gave up another single and walk before a line out to right field ended the inning and the threat.

In the 6th inning, Heller replaced Cortes, Jr. giving up a walk and a sacrifice bunt, but no runs. Heller remained on the mound in the 7th for 3 straight strikeouts. Lyons took the mound in the 8th for 2 strikeouts and a line out to right field.

In the 1st, the Yankees were the first to score when Aaron Judge hit his 23rd homer of the season to right field. Wade hit a 1-out single in the 3rd and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s double. Judge worked a walk, and a single by Didi Gregorius that allowed LeMahieu to score.

After 3 quiet innings for the Yankee batters, the 7th inning began with a double sent to left field by Romine. LeMahieu reached base on a throwing error that also allowed Romine to score. Despite a few base runners, the Yankees were unable to capitalize on any further scoring opportunities.

Final score 6-4 Toronto, Toronto takes the series 2-1

Next up: After a travel day tomorrow, the Yankees head home for a 3-game series against the Angels, when Luis Severino is expected to make his season debut with the team on Tuesday. The Blue Jays come to the Bronx to close out the home stand next weekend before the Yankees hit the road for their last week of the regular season, visiting the Rays and Rangers.

Roster moves: Before today’s game, both Jordan Montgomery and Dellin Betances were activated and added to today roster. In order to make room for them on the 40-man roster and prepare them for the postseason roster, the Yankees transferred pitcher Jonathan Holder from the 10-day to the 60-day IL due to his lingering shoulder inflammation. They also designated reliever Ryan Dull for assignment.

Go Yankees!