Games 94 & 95: TB vs. NYY — A rain delay, an ejection, a doubleheader, and an anniversary

Thanks to the rain out yesterday, today’s scheduled got packed. And the Yankees still somehow managed to amp up the drama and make the final 2 games against the Rays all the more interesting. The afternoon game of the doubleheader was first delayed by lingering afternoon rain, pushing the start time back 1 hour and 26 minutes.

Game 1 (make-up game from July 17)
Domingo German got the start for the first game of today’s doubleheader and threw a pretty good game despite what became the major talking point — a terrible strike zone set by the home plate umpire. German threw 90 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out 5 Rays’ batters.

The allowed runs were consecutive solo home run to kick off the game. After that, German buckled in and really set a strong pattern to pass the game off to his relievers. Kahnle, Britton, and Hale threw a strong scoreless inning of their own, keeping the visitors to those early runs.

The Yankees answered back to the Rays’ early lead by tying up the game right in the turbulent 2nd inning. Didi Gregorius led-off the inning by getting all the way to 2nd on a fielding error. He then moved to 3rd on a ground out and scored on Gio Urshela’s 2-run home run.

Now, after a questionable strikeout and some bad calls on the at-bat of the two most chill guys on the team (Gardner and LeMahieu), Aaron Boone had to step in. Leading up to this, Sanchez questioned some calls, especially lower in the strike zone, for their inconsistency. The rookie home plate umpire didn’t seem to adjust, and the continuation of the questionable calls was starting to fluster everyone.

Boone did what managers need to do — take one for their guys. Several choice words later (like “savages”), Boone watched the rest of the game from the clubhouse, and the Yankees (and their fans) applauded his efforts and ended up winning the game. And I looked at the strike zone graphics following the game, it wasn’t good. Far too many called strikes were out side the box, and too many called balls were inside it. Boone and company were right to have issues with the calls.

In the 5th, Judge led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Hicks’ ground-rule double, and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s 1-out single. After another out, Luke Voit’s single scored Hicks, and Urshela’s double scored Sanchez. And Aaron Hicks’ 2-out solo home run in the 6th capped off the Yankees’ dominant afternoon.

Final score: 6-2 Yankees

Game 2 (regularly scheduled game)
After a brief clean-up and resetting the field, the second half of today’s doubleheader was ready to go. The Yankees opted to use an “opener”, the ever reliable Chad Green, who despite throwing 31 pitches in the 1st inning, kept the Rays from scoring.

Nestor Cortes Jr came on for the 2nd inning and kept things strong through most of his outing, into the 5th inning. But in the 3rd, a lead-off walk scored on a double. But he handed the ball over to Luis Cessa in the 5th, who carried things scoreless into the 8th. Ottavino closed out the final 4 outs with just 17 great pitches.

So, the Yankees were late to get on the board. Luke Voit hit a 1st pitch solo home run in the 5th inning to tie up the game. Then in the 6th, Austin Romine led-off with a double and moved to 3rd on a ground out. Walks to Judge and Encarnacion loaded up the bases, and a balk moved all the runners up and scored Romine.

Then Didi Gregorius’ single and a throwing error allowed both Judge and Encarnacion to score. After another out, the Yankees loaded up the bases again with Torres’ single and Urshela’s walk. The Rays made a pitching change, but he promptly walked Mike Tauchman to score Gregorius before finally getting out of the inning.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees continue their home stand with a weekend series against the visiting Rockies. The Yankees will spend next week on the road, first against the Twins and then in Boston for a long weekend, including a make-up game as part of a Saturday doubleheader.

Before the later game tonight, the Yankees celebrated the 20th anniversary of David Cone’s perfect game. It was a perfect day in many ways, honoring the perfect game of Don Larsen and caught by Yogi Berra. And then Cone spent most of the day just playing catch with his catcher Joe Girardi. So, in addition to the now standard commemorative bobblehead of David Cone, Cone also threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a strike of course.

And also coming up this weekend is Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown, New York. The ceremonies will include Yankee alum like Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera. There are many activities this weekend leading up to the main event of induction ceremony on Sunday afternoon. Rivera’s unanimous election to the Hall is really the biggest topic of the weekend, though for Yankee fans (and really any decent general baseball fans), it was inevitable. Our hero, our legend, our Hall of Famer.

Go Yankees!

Game 89: TOR vs. NYY — Strong shutout opens second half

The Yankees finished the first half strong, leading the AL and heading straight for the postseason. After a good showing at the All-Star Game, the Yankees needed to come out strong in the second half without any rust from the break. So, they started this second half and this home stand with a shutout against a division rival to keep things rolling for good.

Domingo German got the start and earned his 11th win of the season in this first game against the visiting Blue Jays. He threw just 78 pitches through 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and striking out 7 Toronto batters. Kahnle continued his momentum with a scoreless 7th, and Green closed out the final 2 innings with more scoreless-ness.

The Yankee offense was slow to start against the Blue Jays’s pitching. It wasn’t until the 5th that they cracked on the board. Brett Gardner led-off with his 66th career triple and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s ground out. Then, they loaded up the bases with Judge’s single, Hicks’ double, and Sanchez’s hit by pitch. Edwin Encarnacion’s double, just inches from a grand slam, smacked a big bases-clearing double to ensure the Yankees’ victory.

While the Yankees didn’t add any more to their score, they certainly didn’t need to with their strong pitching and defense.

Final score: 4-0 Yankees

Yankee Universe new: Yankees radio announcer John Sterling is back on the air after his much-needed break. He celebrated his 81st birthday just before the All-Star Break and stayed home for the final series against the Rays before the break. Sterling had a long, unbroken streak of calling 5,060 straight Yankees games for over 30 years. Now that the streak is broken, the 81-year-old legend and “Voice of the Yankees” will take more breaks from his job, perhaps even stepping back from the away games to stay closer to his New Jersey home. Still, it will always be a good thing to hear him call a game.

Go Yankees!

Game 84: NYY vs. NYM — German’s strong return

The Yankees continue their march to being the best. While still 4 games behind 1st place Dodgers for all of MLB, the Yankees easily sit atop the AL, 6 1/2 games above the Rays in the AL East, 2 games above AL Central leader Twins, and 1 1/2 games above the AL West leader Astros. At least if my math is right tonight, but the Yankees’ average is better than every other team in the AL.

Domingo German is back with the team, and his start tonight was exactly where the Yankees need him to be in the second game of this 2-game mini-series at the Mets. He threw 80 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 5 hits and just 1 run, and struck out 6 Mets batters to earn the eventual win.

His lone allowed run (and the only run by the home team all night) was a 1st pitch solo home run in the 1st. After that first pitch, German held the game strong for the remainder of his outing, setting an easy pattern for the final third of the game. Green held the game strong through the 7th and 8th inning, and Cortes close out the game with a great 18-pitch 9th inning.

The Yankees, meanwhile, got off to a good start. DJ LeMahieu doubled to lead off the game and then immediately scored on Aaron Judge’s double. Two outs later, Judge scored on Gleyber Torres’ single. In the 6th, Didi Gregorius hit a 1-out solo home run, and after a pitching change, Gio Urshela followed that up with a solo home run of his own.

Finally, LeMahieu led-off the 7th with a double. After 2 outs and a walk to Hicks, LeMahieu scored on Torres’ single to cap off the Yankees’ extra (albeit unnecessary) insurance runs.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees, Yankees and Mets split the series 1-1

Next up: The Yankees hop a plane and head to Yankee Stadium South, sorry, Tropicana Field in the Tampa Bay area to face the Rays for a 4-game series to close out the official first half of the season. The All-Star Break begins Monday, and following the Home Run Derby on Monday and the All-Star Game on Tuesday, they have two extra days off before starting Part Two of the season. They’ll host a long homestand, with the Blue Jays, Rays, and Rockies.

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees activated Domingo German from the 10-day injured list after his hip injury early last month. To make room, they optioned reliever Stephen Tarpley back to AAA Scranton.

“The Machine” is making waves beyond Yankee Universe. After receiving on of the coveted All-Star starter spots, DJ LeMahieu continued showing off and earned the honor of being June’s AL Player of the Month. Certainly well-deserved, LeMahieu is one of the many cogs in this truly amazing team, and I, for one, am glad more people beyond regular fans to recognize this.

Yankee Universe Bits: So, the greatness of the Yankees apparently extends beyond the big league guys. There are 9 minor league teams that are part of the Yankees’ farm system. (Quick reference: AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; AA Trenton Thunder; Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons; Class-A Charleston RiverDogs; Short-A Staten Island Yankees; Rookie Leagues Pulaski Yankees, Gulf Coast League Yankees East, and Gulf Coast League Yankees West; and International League Dominican Summer League Yankees)

In a game played by the DSL Yankees and the DSL Twins today, the Yankees basically blew the old minor league record of runs scored in a single game (33) by setting a new one by scoring 38 runs. And you thought the craziness in the first game in London was something!

Go Yankees!

Game 72: TB vs. NYY — Yankees surge through the mist

There was so much hope for this series as both the Rays and Yankees were battling it out for the top position of the AL East. With the Yankees disappointing road trip, the Rays were hoping to jump ahead of the Yankees. But they didn’t count on a really simple fact — the 2019 Yankees are something else and love proving it at the most random moments in the season. And it’s only June.

Not to discount the Rays’ attempt, as they certainly gave the Yankees enough of a challenge to threaten and keep things close for a bit. JA Happ got the start for the Yankees tonight in the middle game of this series against the visiting Rays. He threw 87 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 7 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 3 Rays batters. With 1 out in the 2nd, Happ gave up 3 consecutive singles to score the Rays’ first run. And a lead-off double in the 3rd scored on a 1-out single to double their score.

Ottavino took over for Happ for a scoreless 6th inning. Tommy Kahnle’s 7th got off to a problematic start, with a lead-off walk scoring on a double before he found a quick 3 outs to close out the inning. Britton and Chapman followed that up with 2 scoreless, rather quick innings.

On the flip side of the field, the Yankees got on the board first in the 1st. LeMahieu led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Voit’s walk, advanced to 3rd on Hicks’ fielder’s choice, and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly. After the Rays grabbed a slim lead, the Yankees waited out the Rays’ 2 short-term openers for their next opportunity.

In the 5th, with 1 out and a new pitcher, Torres and Maybin singled. DJ LeMahieu’s single scored Torres, and Luke Voit’s single scored Maybin. After another out, Gary Sanchez’s single scored LeMahieu. With that, the Yankees were in a solid lead over the visitors.

But they kept going to ensure their lead and eventual win. Cameron Maybin kicked off the 7th with a solo home run, his 4th home run in as many games. And new Yankee Edwin Encarnacion earned his pinstripes with his first Yankee home run, a 1-out solo home run in the 8th.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

HOPE Week Day 2: Today, the Yankees decided to “strut their stuff” a bit with the help of some very special friends. Today’s HOPE Week honoree was Rachel Goldman, founder of Runway Heroes, a special program that hosts children with pediatric cancer for a special day of dress up and modeling some fancy clothes on the runway. They sell tickets to the shows, and all the proceeds go to pediatric cancer research.

Runway Heroes paired with Kleinfeld Bridal and the Yankees to treat 30 local children to a VIP day at the famous store. The kids each received personalized dressing robes, picked out their own outfits (courtesy of Kleinfeld), were styled by a professional glam squad and photographed by professional photographers, and then rocked the runway with some decked out Yankees.

Aroldis Chapman, Domingo German, Didi Gregorius, Kendrys Morales, Luis Severino, and Masahiro Tanaka donned some great looking suits to take turns to escort these amazing children down the runway to pose before more photographers and their families. Yankee GM Brian Cashman also participated and broke out a few dance moves, bringing smiles to many faces on the runway and in the audience.

The children and their families were the Yankees’ special guests at tonight’s game. Runway Heroes founder Rachel Goldman and a few of her special models of the day helped throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.

Go Yankees!

Game 64: NYY vs. CLE — Sweep denied in extra innings

I can imagine most of the Yankees are glad to see Cleveland in the rear view mirror (or rather, far above from their airplane window). This weekend series hasn’t been good for morale, and the Yankees need to put it firmly in the past to move onto the next two weeks of busy baseball. But it was nice to (eventually) pull out a win in the finale against the Indians.

Due to Tanaka’s paternity leave, the Yankees opted for the “opener” model, calling on Chad Green to start this afternoon, throwing 2 strong scoreless innings. Cortes continued the momentum with 3 more scoreless innings to allow the Yankee bats to jump way ahead.

Whether the Indians meant to or not, they too ended up with the “opener” model, as the Yankee offense didn’t allow their starter to even complete the 2nd inning. After a clean 1st and 2 outs in the 2nd, the Yankees just pounced and wouldn’t let up. Frazier hit a single and then scored as part of Brett Gardner’s big 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board first.

Then Urshela walked, moved to 2nd on Maybin’s single, and scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single. A wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position, and Hicks worked a walk to load up the bases. Luke Voit’s long double scored both Maybin and LeMahieu, forced the Indians’ starter out of the game, and gave the Yankees a rather large lead to defend early.

But they did right up until the 6th inning. Tommy Kahnle just struggled his way through the inning as the Indians chipped away at the Yankees’ lead. The lead-off batter turned Kahnle’s 1st pitch into a solo home run. A 1-out single moved to 2nd on a messy wild pitch and then scored on an RBI single. And a 2-run home run put the home team within a run of the Yankees’ lead.

Adam Ottavino came on for the 7th and would have put in another great outing, but he gave up a 1-out solo home run. That tied up the game, and things just got interesting. Britton, however, righted the ship with a scoreless 8th inning, so both teams were looking for that tie-breaking run.

With 1 out in the 9th, the Yankees loaded up the bases with a single to Voit, a double to Sanchez, and an intentional walk to Torres. Clint Frazier’s sacrifice fly scored Voit as the Yankees’ go-ahead run. And the Yankees called in their closer, Aroldis Chapman, who just needed 3 outs for the victory.

But it wasn’t that kind of weekend. The lead-off batter singled and ended up at 2nd on a pick-off error that bounced into the stands. After a walk, Chapman finally got a good 2 outs. The next batter hit into a little grounder that bounced away from Gregorius, and that fielding error allowed the tying run to cross the plate and force the game into extra innings.

In the 10th, Maybin hit a long 1-out double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. The Yankees were back in the lead. And in came Stephen Tarpley to close out the game and hunt for those elusive 3 outs. 16 pitches and 3 strikeouts later, Tarpley got his first ever save, and the Yankees weren’t swept this weekend.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees in 10 innings, Indians win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees take a short break in this road trip to host a quick 2-game series against the Mets before traveling to Chicago for a 4-game weekend series against the White Sox. They’ll be back in the Bronx for a long home stand and HOPE Week. They will face the Rays, the Astros, and Blue Jays during this final home stand before the All-Star Break. But the final weekend of this month will find the Yankees in London for the first ever MLB series to be played in the UK.

Roster moves/injury update: Yesterday’s starter Domingo German was sent to the 10-day injured list with recurring hip flexor strain. He will get an MRI to check for further problems, as he’s been battling this injury since his previous start in Kansas City, trying to pitch through the pain. In his stead, the Yankees recalled Stephen Tarpley, which ended up being a good choice for today’s game.

Go Yankees!

Game 62: NYY vs. CLE — Didi’s back in the Rock & Rock Capital

If you’ve read this blog for some time, you might know that the Cleveland-New York series are always a special time for my family. A good chunk of my maternal relatives are from northeast Ohio and thus Indians’ fans. It can become quite contentious at times, our own private rivalry. This is the only time the Yankees will be in Cleveland this season, except those we might send for the All-Star Game (hint, vote now!).

The Yankees started the offense tonight early. Sanchez led-off the 2nd with a single. Didi Gregorius (he’s back, see below) hit a long single but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. After a walk to Morales, Sanchez scored on Clint Frazier’s double to get the Yankees on the board first.

Aaron Hicks hit a 1-out solo home run in the 3rd to double the Yankees’ score. But the home team’s defense continued strong to help their starter keep control of the game and ended up making all the difference in the end.

Domingo German got the start for the Yankees in tonight’s opener of this weekend series against the Indians. He threw 92 pitches through 6 innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out 6 batters. In the 4th, with 1 out, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a walk and then scored on an RBI single. A 2-out solo home run in the 5th tied up the game. Then in the 6th, a lead-off single scored on a 2-run home run pushed the Indians in the lead.

David Hale came on for relief for the final 2 innings. After a solid 7th inning, Hale had a bit of trouble in the 8th, giving up a lead-off triple that later scored on a sacrifice fly for the unnecessary insurance run.

Final score: 5-2 Indians

Roster moves: Prior to the game, the Yankees optioned Thairo Estrada back to AAA Scranton and activated Didi Gregorius to make a pretty good debut in tonight’s game, going 2-for-4. It was nice of Gregorius to take a break from learning how to channel John Legend, his newest creative talent (like his art and emoji-laced winning game recap Tweets), to play some baseball once again.

Finally, Masahiro Tanaka and his wife Mai Sotoda are celebrating the birth of their daughter earlier today. Tanaka  will be going on paternity leave, of course, to be with his wife, daughter, and their 3-year-old son, and will miss his previously scheduled start on Sunday. Congratulations to their family on this newest addition.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 57: BOS vs. NYY — Teamwork shines in Saturday night rivalry game

The Yankees continue to dominate their division rivals and charge forward through some tough situations to come out on top in the end. Once again, when one teammate falters a bit, the rest of the team steps up and works things out to support the entire team. That is the true definition of teamwork in action. Also, if you’re only as good as your “weakest link”, the Yankees are pretty good this season.

Domingo German got a shaky start in tonight’s second (originally scheduled third) game of this rivalry series against the visiting Red Sox. He threw 87 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and still struck out 8 Boston batters in his short stint on the mound.

The Red Sox got on the board first in the 2nd. German gave up a single that moved to 2nd on another single and then scored on a 2-out single. After the Yankees grabbed a slim lead, the Red Sox came back in the 4th to chip it away, starting with a lead-off solo home run. A single moved to 2nd on a walk and then scored on a 1-out single. After another out, the Yankee opted to open their bullpen early.

But it proved to be a wise choice. Green, Kahnle, Ottavino, Holder, Britton, and Chapman divided up the remaining outs. They kept the Red Sox from adding to their score, getting out of just a few close calls with runners in scoring position.

Between this strong show by the bullpen and the Yankee bats, the game shifted twice into the home team’s favor when necessary. The Red Sox grabbed a small early lead, but the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 2nd. Torres led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Morales’ single, and scored on Gio Urshela’s 1-out single. Gardner’s soft single loaded the bases, and DJ LeMahieu’s long single scored both Morales and Urshela to give the Yankees the lead.

Then in the 5th, with the game tied and 1 out, Voit hit a nice single and moved to 2nd on a ground out. Then Gary Sanchez smacked his 18th homer of the season so far, a 2-out, 2-run home run into the Yankees’ bullpen to give the Yankees back the lead. The Yankees loaded up the bases again in that inning, but the Red Sox found enough to get a 3rd out and out of the jam.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Small game note: That 5th inning home run was Sanchez’s 18th home run of 2019. It’s also worth noting that Sanchez hit 18 home runs in all of 2018. A clear indication that Sanchez is easily on a streak to break his own season record of 33 from 2017. Math tells me that if he continues on his current momentum, he could potentially hit 51 home runs this year. Math also tells me that Sanchez’s 18 home runs are 19.5% of the homers hit by the Yankees so far this season (92), and Sanchez leads the team in that category.

Roster moves: After the game, the Yankees optioned reliever Nestor Cortes Jr back to AAA Scranton. This move is in anticipation of activating CC Sabathia for tomorrow’s finale against the Red Sox. Sabathia is really just trying to piece together starts in his final year and contribute when he can. After he retires, he can really focus on getting the help he needs for the next 50 years of his life, like a potential knee replacement and actually taking a summer vacation with his family.

Looking ahead: Didi Gregorius is now playing his final week of his rehab assignment with the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The Yankees are looking to activate the shortstop during their trip to Cleveland next weekend should Gregorius’ week go as well as expected.

Go Yankees!