Game 162: NYY vs. TEX — 102 wins, 305 HRs, AL East champs, and the Yanks head to postseason

And suddenly, the season is over. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were sitting in our seats in Steinbrenner Field in Tampa enjoying the first day of Spring Training. One of the perks of a Florida spring is watching Yankee veterans and rookies and minor leaguers play on the same field. The anticipation of a new fresh season is palpable as fans chatter about which players are returning or what new young hopeful has been invited for the spring. It is always amazing to watch the roster come seamlessly together for the a new season.

It has been quite the season, summer baseball filled with new records set and new faces earning their much deserved spot on the Yankee roster. Despite the unexpected record injuries that saw the rise of a new generation of Yankees, we all witnessed New York pull together as a team and keep moving forward to earn their well-deserved spot as the AL East Division Champions.

And so here we are now in late September in Texas to face the Rangers before a sell-out crowd on a warm day in Arlington. It may not have been the final score Yankee fans hoped for, but with Game 162 now in the record books, all Yankee eyes are now on the postseason and October baseball.

For this last game of the season today, 6 Yankee pitchers shared the mound and gave up 10 hits for 6 runs. In the 1st inning, Chad Green was chosen to start as the opener for the Yankees. Facing 5 batters in the 1st inning, Green gave up a walk to the lead-off batter followed by a single. A throwing error allowed the 2 runners to do a double steal and score a run. Green followed with 2 strikeouts and an outfield fly out to end the inning.

Masahiro Tanaka came to the mound for a long-term relief outing, starting in the 2nd. His first inning was smooth, facing 3 batters for 3 outs, including a stellar infield play caught with a backhanded catch by Gio Urshela on 3rd for the throw to DJ LeMahieu for the out. Tanaka’s 3rd inning was a bit messier, giving up a 1-out double and a single to put runners on the corners. A sloppy throwing error on a pick-off attempt by Tanaka allowed a run. A fly out to right moved a runner to 3rd, who then scored on a single to left field. With 2 outs, a pop up caught by Urshela at 3rd finally ended the inning.

Then, in the 4th, after fielding a grounder for the out at 1st base, Urshela left the game with a sore ankle and was replaced by Wade at 3rd. After a strikeout swinging, Tanaka gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases before coming on strong, retiring the side with a ground out, stranding 3 on base.

In the 5th, Tommy Kahnle replaced Tanaka and gave up a single to left, a hit by pitch, and a walk to load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice caught the runner at home for a stellar defensive play for the out, but left the bases loaded. Kahnle gave up a single that scored 2 runs, but a great double play ended the inning.

Adam Ottavino took the mound in the 6th, giving up a single and a walk. He gave up a grounder for a force out to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly scored a run, and a pop out ended the inning. Britton came out for the 8th, giving up a single, but a great defensive double play and a swinging strikeout closed the inning. Chapman got some work in for a quick 3-out 8th inning.

The Yankee lineup was scoreless for the first two innings. In the 3rd, Aaron Judge hit his 27th season homer 408 feet over the left field fence to tie the game and give the Yankees a record 305 season home runs. Perhaps Judge’s homer for the first run scored in this last game was only fitting for the season wrap up since the first run scored for the Yankees on opening day this year was also homer, a 3-run long ball by Luke Voit.

The Yankee lineup struggled to reach base and remained scoreless for the rest of the game. Coming down to the 9th inning for their final chance for the win or at least to add a couple home runs to best the Twins for the season home run record. But three outs later, regular season play for New York was over.

Final score: 6-1 Rangers, Rangers win the series 2-1

Injury updates: The Yankees are optimistic that Edwin Encarnacion might be available for post-season play, but he is not currently in the lineup. Gio Urshela twisted his ankle on a jumping throw during an infield out in today’s game. Doctors diagnosed Urshela with a mild sprain that should heal quickly and no further tests are planned at this time.

Yankee postseason rosters, more injury updates, and postseason predictions are forthcoming. The Wild Card games are this Tuesday and Wednesday (October 1-2), with the NLDS starting on Thursday (October 3) and the ALDS on Friday (October 4). It’s shaping up to be some very interesting October baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 150: NYY vs. TOR — Paxton + power batting for the win

After yesterday’s disappointing loss to Toronto, New York came back strong. On the mound, at the plate, or on the field, all the pieces seemed to come together today for the Yankees. Personal season batting records were broken as the pitchers kept a tight control of the game for their 98th win of the season.

James Paxton took command of the mound this afternoon for a stellar outing through the 5th inning. Paxton threw 101 pitches and gave up 3 hits and a run. That run didn’t come until after 4 commanding innings. In the 5th, Paxton allowed a single that advanced to 2nd on a throwing error in the infield. A walk and a sacrifice fly gave Toronto their 1st run of the game.

In the 6th, with the Yankees drastically, Gearrin replaced Paxton and gave up 2 singles, but no runs. Loaisiga replaced Gearrin for a strong 2 innings. And in the bottom of the 9th, with the Yankees securely in the lead, Ryan Dull was called to close the game. Dull allowed a double, a walk, and another double that scored those 2 runners for the Blue Jays. After a mound visit, Dull gave up a single but then stuck out the last 2 batters, leaving 2 men on base and sealing the game for the Yankees.

In addition to the strong pitching, with 19 total hits, 13 RBIs, 4 walks, and 13 runs, this game clearly belonged to the Yankees. After a quiet 1st, the 2nd inning began well with a walk by Voit who moved to 2nd on a single by Urshela. Brett Gardner’s double to left field scored Voit. In the 3rd inning, lead-off batter LeMahieu singled and ended up on 3rd on Judge’s single. Torres reached base on a fielder’s choice that got LeMahieu out at home. Luke Voit then came to the plate and hit a ground-rule double deep down the right field line to score Judge and double their score.

In the 4th, Brett Gardner hit a long ball to center for a solo home run of the season. Following a couple outs, Estrada reached base on a hit by pitch. The 5th inning started with Torres being awarded a base on a hit by pitch and a walk by Voit. So, with 2 men on base, Brett Gardner (again) hammered his 2nd homer of the game to center field, a 3-run home run and his 25th home run this year.

In the 6th, with the Yankees well ahead, LeMahieu singled on a line drive to center and scored on a 2-run home run to left by Gleyber Torres, his 37th homer this year. Luke Voit followed him with his own solo home run to center to give the Yankees an 8 run lead.

In the 9th inning, Yankee offense pressed on for more runs to pad their lead. Higashioka doubled with a fly ball to left field, followed by a single to center by Thairo Estrada that scored Higashioka. Frazier hit a deep single that moved Estrada to 3rd. Tyler Wade grounded out, but moved Frazier to 3rd as Estrada scored. Mike Ford came to the plate and sent his 11th home run of the season deep to center, scoring Frazier.

Final score: 13-3 Yankees

Injury update: Aaron Boone is cautiously optimistic but won’t speculate on a timetable that would allow the return of Gary Sanchez or Edwin Encarnacion. Sanchez is currently dealing with a groin injury, and Encarnacion is nursing an oblique injury.

Also, there are a few other players ready to come off the IL and should join the team this week as part of the final push for postseason, including Betances, Holder, Montgomery, and Stanton. And there is good news for Luis Severino, who is scheduled to make his long-awaited season debut on Tuesday when the team returns to Yankee Stadium for their final home stand.

A big congrats to the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees AA Affiliate, who won their 4th Eastern League Championship facing the Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles AA team).

Go Yankees!

Game 147 & 148: NYY vs. DET : Striped duel as the Pinstripes sweep the Tigers

After last night’s game was postponed due to rain, the Yankees met the Tigers today for a single-admission doubleheader in Detroit. Today’s duel gave New York their 97th win of the season, putting them in 1st place in the American League.

Game 1 (regularly scheduled game)
The Yankees sent JA Happ to the mound to start the game. Happ threw 99 pitches giving up 7 hits. After giving up a home run to right center field in the bottom of the 5th that allowed 2 runs, Chad Green took over and closed the inning with a pop out in foul territory near 1st base. Green secured 3 swift outs in the 6th, but in the 7th, gave up a triple that scored the runner on a ground out.

Ben Heller took to the mound in the 8th and struck out swinging the first batter, but gave up a homer to left followed by a walk and a single before retiring the inning on a fly ball out to center. Gearrin started the 9th inning and immediately gave up a double to right field, a call that was reviewed as a possible homer before being upheld as a double. Gearrin gave up a ground out and a walk before being replaced by Lyons who finished the 9th with a strike out swinging and a fly out to secure the Yankees a win.

The Yankees were first to score today when Judge reached base in the 1st inning on a fielding error and then scored on a Luke Voit 2-run home run to center field.  In the 3rd, Judge walked and scored again on another homer, this time hit by Edwin Encarnacion deep to left field, giving the Yankees a solid lead.

After a Detroit pitching change in the 7th, Aaron Judge walked, followed by a double that Voit sent down the right field line and moved Judge to 3rd. Gregorius was intentionally walked to load the bases. Judge then scored on a wild pitch, moving the other runners up. Cameron Maybin came to the plate and doubled to both score Voit and Gregorius to give the Yankees a good lead. Romine and Judge both singled in the 8th, and a single by Voit scored Romine. And Didi Gregorius tripled to score both Judge and Voit.

Final score: 10-4 Yankees

Game 2 (make-up of Sept. 11)
The second game of tonight’s two-game match-up in Detroit welcomed CC Sabathia back to the mound for New York, throwing 56 pitches into 4 strong innings against the Tigers. Sabathia set another milestone, surpassing Hall of Famer and former Braves’ ace John Smoltz on the strikeout list with his 3085th strikeout tonight in Detroit.

But in the 4th, Sabathia gave up a walk, a single, and a double that scored 2 runs. And with just 1 out, German came on in relief. He threw 50 pitches into the 8th, giving up just 2 hits in his scoreless outing. He gave up a single and hit a batter in the 8th, German was replaced by Tommy Kahnle who secured two outs on a double play by the infield to end the 8th inning. Kahnle was back in the 9th, but after a walk, a wild pitch, and a triple that scored a run, Aroldis Chapman was called in. Chapman allowed a single, but followed that up with a swinging strikeout and force out for another New York save and win.

First up for the Yankees in this second game of the day was LeMahieu, who singled and scored on an Aaron Judge’s home run for an early lead. In the 2nd, Mike Ford grounded a single to right and scored on a double line drive to right by DJ LeMahieu. With the Yankees in a slim lead in the 5th, a ground-rule double by Wade, followed by a single to center by Didi Gregorius that allowed Wade to score.

After 3 quiet innings that kept the Yankees in the lead, Voit sent a line drive single to left field and scored on a home run to left by Gio Urshela. Yankee pitching ended the game in the 9th despite a late charge by the Tigers.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees travel to Toronto to face another division rival this weekend before heading home for the final homestand of the season to host the Angels and Blue Jays. They will then close out their season visiting the Rays and Rangers on their way to the postseason.

Injury update: JA Happ left this afternoon’s game after throwing an impressive 99 pitches due to bicep tendonitis that has bothered him for his last few starts. Hopefully, this is just a cautionary move to check with the doctor before deciding when or if Happ is back on the mound.

Edwin Encarnacion also left today’s game, right after a walk due to a strain to his left oblique. He will head back to New York for further tests. And in the second game of this doubleheader, Gary Sanchez left the field in the 4th inning with tightness in his left groin possibly due to his stealing base in the 3rd. Sanchez was replaced by Higashioka. If Sanchez is sidelined for awhile, Romine and Higashioka will share playing time.

Finally, congratulations go to CC Sabathia for being nominated as the Yankee candidate for the 2019 Robert Clemente Award, given for sportsmanship, community involvement, and contribution to baseball. Sabathia is an easy nomination for this award between his career-long tenacity and teamwork on the field and passion for his community through his own foundation. The award winner, voted on by both fans and the media, will be announced during the World Series in October. (You can vote here for Sabathia.)

Go Yankees!

Game 146: NYY vs. DET — Sloppy pitching battle

After a successful series in Boston that put New York solidly in first place in the AL East, the Yankees arrived in Detroit for a 3-game series. The evening match-up was tied for most of the game as homers were hit out of the park, records were broken, and each team battled to gain the win in a tight game that ultimately left Yankee fans disappointed.

Nestor Cortes, Jr. got the start in the opener and threw 46 pitches for a tough outing, allowing 6 hits and 4 runs into the 3rd inning. The Yankees had a strong lead in the 3rd inning, 6-0, when Cortes, Jr. allowed Detroit their first 2 runs and was quickly replaced by Luis Cessa who allowed 4 more runs to tie the game.

In the 4th inning, Cessa managed 3 ground outs in a row. But by the 5th, with the Yankees back in the lead by 2, Cessa allowed a home run on a fly ball to right field to bring Detroit to within 1 run of the Yankees.

In the 6th, Gearrin replaced Cessa and allowed 2 single grounders and an out before being replaced by Jonathan Loaisiga. Giving up 2 singles, 2 walks, and a sacrifice fly that tied the game, Loaisiga was replaced by Dull for the final out of a messy inning.

With New York ahead by just a run in the 7th, Adam Ottavino took command of the ball, allowing 1 run to tie the game. Then Britton came on for the 8th for 3 quick outs, and Chance Adams took over in the 9th with the game tied. But Adams gave up a double and single that allowed Detroit to score the winning run.

The game started well for the Bronx Bombers with a record-breaking home run in the 1st inning for Brett Gardner, his 22nd homer this year, marking a career season high for the veteran outfielder. But that was only the beginning for a big night for the Yankees.

In the 2nd inning, they began with a double by Urshela, who then scored on a single by Mike Ford. Frazier’s single to left moved Ford to 2nd, and Tyler Wade’s triple scored both Ford and Frazier. Wade then scored on another homer from Gardner, his 23rd this year, breaking his own career record he set earlier tonight. It was also Gardner’s 8th career multi-home run game, not bad for not a power-hitter. The inning ended with a seemingly secure lead for the Yankees.

But with the game tied up in the 4th, Gleyber Torres broke it by sending a home run to the Green Monster to get back the lead. The Yankees were still ahead in the 5th when Didi Gregorius smacked a solo homer. And in the 7th, Sanchez singled and scored on a game-tying homer by Edwin Encarnacion’s 33rd home run of the season.

After a Detroit pitching change, Didi Gregorius hit another home run to right to give the Yankees a 1-run lead. But with the game tied in the 9th, the Yankees were unable to get in scoring position again, as the Tigers gained a run for the win.

Final score: 12-11 Detroit

Injury update: Aaron Hicks‘ season is officially over. His initial diagnosis was a flexor strain due to a throw about a month ago. But later tests revealed UCL issues around his throwing elbow. He’s seen several physicians, and the idea of surgery (yes, that Tommy John kind of surgery) is still on the table as his injury isn’t a clear-cut as most injuries that require that surgery. It’s not ideal, but if it helps the veteran outfielder in the long run, it could be worth the missed part of the season, as it was for Gregorius this last year.

Go Yankees!

 

 

 

Game 144: NYY vs. BOS — Tanaka troubles but offense prevails

It  was another cool evening game in Boston before a near-capacity crowd that witnessed once again why New York still earns the Bronx Bombers moniker. Seemed like the Yankees got the perfect pitches needed to rack up the score and even break the home run record for the league. Pitching did not start out strong, but the relievers combined with those Yankee bats and defense held stronger for the win in the shadow of the Green Monster.

Masahiro Tanaka took the mound to start the game and threw 80 pitches over four full innings, allowing 8 hits, 4 runs, including one home run. The first 2 innings, Tanaka kept Boston scoreless, but with the Yankees ahead in the bottom of the 3rd, he seemed to begin to struggle a bit and allowed a single line drive to left field, followed by a fly ball home run to left that gave the Red Sox 2 runs. Tanaka allowed 2 more runs in the 4th on a single and 2 doubles that threatened New York’s lead, but no outs.

With that, Tanaka was done for the night. In addition to closing out the 4th for Tanaka,  Chad Green took over the mound for 3 perfect innings, facing 6 batters for 6 straight outs. In the 7th, Green struck out three more batters in a row for a stellar outing for the evening. Ottavino took over in the 8th and promptly gave up a home run to left, but he got out of the inning with 3 straight outs. And for the 9th inning, Loaisiga was given the ball, so 3 outs later, the game was over.

The first run for the Yankees came in the 2nd inning. With Sanchez on base with a single to left field, Gleyber Torres knocked a solid 2-run homer out of the park over the Green Monster to give the Yankees the early lead. In the 3rd inning, Tauchman hit a ground-rule double to left and moved to 3rd on a single from LeMahieu. A single by Aaron Judge moved LeMahieu to 3rd and scored Tauchman, and a ground out by Sanchez scored LeMahieu.

At the top of the 4th, Torres singled to left and then scored on a home run to right field by Mike Tauchman. In the top of the 5th, lead-off batter Aaron Judge hit his 21st homer of the season to left field, up and over the Green Monster and breaking the league record for most home runs in a season. A record, by the way, set last year also by the Yankees.

Then Gregorius reached on a fielding error and later scored when Gleyber Torres grounded into a force out. The next 3 innings were relatively quiet, but at the top of the 9th, Gregorius walked, and a fielding error put Sanchez on base. A throwing error then moved the runners into scoring position. So Edwin Encarnacion singled to left to score Gregorius and move Sanchez to 3rd. Despite a pitching change as Boston tried to jam up the offense, Torres doubled home Sanchez, and the Yankees tallied up a double-digit run count, besting the Red Sox in their own territory again.

Final score: 10-5 Yankees

Roster moves: The Yankees activated Thairo Estrada and Gio Urshela. Plus, both Kyle Higashioka and Breyvic Valera have been recalled from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The September call-ups continue.

Go Yankees!

Game 143: NYY vs. BOS — Happ-y Saturday!

Under a warm but cloudy sky at Fenway, the near-capacity stadium crowd of rival fans saw a game that started much the same as last night’s match-up, but with a decidedly happier ending for the Yankees.

JA Happ was the first on the mound today for New York and threw 92 pitches for a phenomenal 7 1/3 innings, allowing no runs that extended his scoreless inning streak to a 15 1/3. In the 1st inning, Happ gave up a single, followed by a strike out and a grounder to Gregorius who threw to LeMahieu at 3rd and then on to Voit at 1st for a great double play to shut down the inning and kick off a solid game for the Yankees.

Over the next 5 innings, Happ allowed just 1 walk and a single. This solid pitching, plus the Yankee defense, kept Boston from scoring. In the top of the 7th, Happ faced only one batter who struck out swinging. A pitching change gave the ball to Ottavino who secured the next two outs.

Kahnle took command of the mound in the 8th inning for an out. But he then allowed a line drive single to center followed by a ground ball to right field. So with runners in scoring position, a mound visit called in Britton to replace Kahnle who secured the next two outs.

Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th, facing 4 batters, one of which became a home run that gave Boston their sole run of the afternoon.

Yankee batters initially struggled and were shutdown in the first 3 innings. But in the 4th inning, the bats came alive. LeMahieu reached base on a single line drive to left field and moved to 3rd on a solid double by Gregorius. A ground-rule double to right field by Gary Sanchez scored LeMahieu and Gregorius.

Edwin Encarnacion promptly smacked a homer to left center field, also scoring Sanchez. Brett Gardner singled and stole 2nd, followed by a walk for Voit, but a line out ended the inning with the Yankees solidly in the lead.

The 6th inning saw more opportunities to score with the bases loaded with a double by Torres and walks to Tauchman and Gardner. But with 1 out, a double play ended the inning, stranding those runners. Stranding runners is a familar song the Yankees played through the Red Sox bullpen. Finally, in the 9th, Sanchez, on base after being hit by a pitch, scored on an RBI double hit by Edwin Encarnacion for a solid win for New York.

Final score: 5-1, Yankees

Injury update: With all eyes on the playoffs and October ball, and in hopes he can pitch in a least one more game before retiring, CC Sabathia threw in the bullpen for the first time since the flareup of his knee injury that pulled him from the mound last month. Yankee management was encouraged by how well he did, but remain cautious as to when or if Sabathia will return to the mound. Jordan Montgomery may start another rehab game soon, and his progress looks so encouraging that he may well contribute to the Yankee’ path to October.

Go Yankees!

Game 141: TEX vs. NYY — Near shutout in the Bronx

The 2019 Yankees have the honor this year of being the first team in MLB history to have a record breaking 13 players in the double digits for home runs, besting their own record last year of 12. Gary Sanchez, Edwin Encarnacion, Gleyber Torres, and DJ LeMahieu lead the list in homers followed closely by veterans and rookies alike. And tonight, a warm late summer night, the crowd at Yankee Stadium witnessed even more homers, adding to that record-breaking list for these Bronx Bombers as they out-hit, out-pitched, and generally outdid the Rangers.

Chad Green was the first to take the mound and pitched two full solid innings facing 9 batters. He allowed 2 singles and a walk, but no runs, all while striking out 4. At the top of the 3rd, Green was replaced by Luis Cessa who threw 33 pitches for three innings, striking out three and allowing two hits, but kept the Rangers scoreless through the 5th inning.

In the 6th, Ottavino replaced Cessa allowing no hits and 3 quick outs. A pitching change in the 7th brought Kahnle to the mound and despite an allowed hit and a wild pitch, he managed to get three batters to strike out swinging.

Britton replaced Kahnle in the 8th, continuing the scoreless streak of Yankee pitchers. For the final inning, the ball was handed to Cory Gearrin who faced four batters, however, one was a fly ball home run out to left center.

The Yankees were the first to score tonight. The stadium crowd witnessed strong outings from the pitchers and an equally strong defense that assisted in keeping the Rangers scoreless through most of the game.

After a quiet first 2 innings, Brett Gardner walked in the 3rd inning and scored on a home run sent over the right center field fence by Aaron Judge to put the Yankees on the board. The 4th inning saw another homer by Gleyber Torres, his 34th of the year, to add another run in the Yankee column. Then Tauchman and Romine singled, and Gardner worked a walk. But with the bases loaded and the crowd hoping for more runs, Judge struck out swinging.

In the bottom of the 6th, Tauchman reached base on a walk and scored on a grounder to left field by Austin Romine for another run. Another possible shutout looked likely until that 9th inning allowed homer. But with no further allowed runs, New York triumphed again.

Final score: 4-1, Yankees, Yankees take the series 2-1

Next up: After an off day tomorrow, the Yankees head to Boston for a 4-game wraparound weekend series rivalry to face the “Green Monster” and the Red Sox, followed by a trip to the Midwest for a 3 game match-up facing Detroit in the land of the Tigers. After 3 games in Toronto, the Yankees will be back home again in New York to face the Angels.

And finally, here’s a fun fact for pinstripe fans: On this day in 1998, the New York Yankees reached 100 wins on the earliest date in major league history with a victory over the White Sox. While the team has not yet reached 100 wins this year, the Yankees are tied with the Dodgers at 91 wins each for the most wins this season so far on this date in 2019.

Go Yankees!