Game 47: LAA vs. NYY — Torres continues campaign for Rookie of the Year

The Yankees are back home, and there is debate over whether home field advantage is actually a thing. I’m not sure I believe it has an overall effect on the final score, but I do believe there is an effect on home team morale and thus confidence. On the other hand, if the team is truly good, it doesn’t really matter at all where they play. They’re just going to play well regardless.

Luis Severino, however, wasn’t having a particular “SevySharp” kind of night, and still his outcome was pretty positive over the visiting Angels in tonight’s opener. He threw 99 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 4 walks, and a single run, and struck out 5 batters. That lone allowed run was a 2-out solo home run to the young star power-hitter on the Angels’ roster.

Chad Green came out for the 7th, gave up 2 hits, and still got out of the inning unscathed. Robertson threw 2 outs in the 8th, gave up a walk that advance to scoring position on a wild pitch, and was replaced by Chapman. Aroldis Chapman had a great 4-out save, sailing through the batters and keeping the Angels to that lone allowed run.

And as strong as the Yankees’ pitching staff was today, the Angels’ staff was actually pretty good themselves, many statistics quite comparable all game. The 2nd inning was by far the weirdest inning all night. Sanchez led-off the inning with a single but then got out when Didi Gregorius hit into a grounder. Originally, the call was a double play, but the Yankees saw Gregorius tag the bag at 1st before the ball made it to the 1st baseman and challenged it. So it was overturned as a single out at 2nd. Hicks worked a walk, and then another out later, Andujar’s walk loaded the bases.

And then it got messy. So Gleyber Torres singled, which easily scored Didi Gregorius as the 3rd baseman (who fielded Torres’ hit) threw the ball to 1st too slow. The ball was mishandled on both ends, so Hicks saw the opportunity to make an attempt for home too. But after contemplating which runner to get out, the Angels’ defense kicked into action and got Hicks trying to come home and end the inning. Leaving most of us watching in a bit of a “what just happened here” blur.

The game remained tied and the starters exited the game, handing it over to their respective bullpens. It would fall to the rookies again to find the lone opportunity to break the tie. In the 7th, Gleyber Torres hit a big 2-out solo home run, making this his 4th straight game to hit a home run, becoming the youngest player in the AL to do so. It was also his 9th home run of the season, and he’s only played in 28 games (of the 47).

Final score: 2-1 Yankees

During the game, the 2 best plays of the game were when Aaron Judge threw bullets from right field to cut down runners trying to advance on the Yankees. We’ve promoted “Don’t Run on Gary”, but maybe it should just be “Don’t Run on the Yankees”. Judge threw a 100.5 mph fireball straight to home plate so that Sanchez tagged the runner coming home in the 3rd inning. He also fired a powerful rocket to 2nd for a waiting Gregorius to tag out the runner trying to stretch a long single into a double. Yeah, “Don’t Run on Aaron” either.

Roster moves: Meanwhile, the Yankees moved some players around their organization, especially with talks of players like Bird coming off the DL shortly, probably this weekend. On the free day travel day yesterday, the Yankees opted recently signed pitcher Ryan Bollinger back to AA Trenton and outfielder Billy McKinney to AAA Scranton.

Today, they activated reliever Tommy Kahnle from the disabled list (after shoulder issues). They also parted ways with a few veterans in their farm system, releasing Adam Lind from AAA Scranton and trading catcher Erik Kratz to the Brewers for “future considerations” (which means either a player to be named later or cash).

Plus, they also re-signed catcher Wilkin Castillo to a minor league contract. Castillo was with the Yankees organization last season after they signed him before being released and choosing free agency in the off-season. He played for the Atlantic League (an independent baseball league) with the Long Island Ducks and is now assigned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Go Yankees!

Spring Games 29 & 30: NYY vs. ATL & TOR vs. NYY — Double the win, double the fun

Okay, it was a busy day for the Yankees playing split squad games and dealing with a mix of changes and potential alterations to the lineup. A portion of the Yankees traveled over to face the Braves in Kissimmee (on Disney World property), and another portion stayed in Tampa to face off against the visiting the Blue Jays. They will play both teams later next week — the Braves in a final exhibition game in Atlanta on Monday night and the opening series in Toronto next weekend.

Game 1: Yankees at Braves
This game was oddly routine for most of the game this afternoon. Luis Severino got the start and gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs in his 5 innings, striking out 7 batters along the way. Oddly, all of his allowed hits, walks, and runs came in just the 4th inning. He gave up a single that scored on a big 2-run home run to get the Braves on the board. He then gave up 2 walks but then buckled down and got 2 strikeouts and a ground out to get out of the inning.

Chad Green had a great 6th inning, but then gave up a single in the 7th before the Yankees handed the ball to Adam Warren. A sacrifice bunt moved that runner to 2nd and later a 2-out single scored that runner, charged to Green. Warren came out for the first out of the 8th before handing things over to Ben Heller for a flawless 2 strikeouts. Cody Carroll then flew through the 9th inning. Overall, the Yankee pitchers collected an impressive 14 total strikeouts.

The Braves actually kept the score pretty tight and in their favor for most of the game. The Yankees got on the board first in the 4th, with Aaron Hicks’ lead-off solo home run and Ryan McBroom’s 1-out solo shot. After the Braves tied up the game and then took the lead by the top of the 7th, the Yankees didn’t get their next option until the 9th inning. And boy did they pounce. McBroom led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Aguilar’s single, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ 2-out single to tie up the game.

Then Billy McKinney’s single then scored Aguilar to put the Yankee ahead, and a wild pitch moved runners to scoring position. Shane Robinson’s single scored Torres, and the Braves called for a new reliever to find that elusive 3rd out. But then Hendrix worked a walk to load the bases, and Francisco Diaz followed that up with a walk of his own to scored yet another run. Back to the top of the inning’s order, McBroom then hit a long single and 2 runners scored thanks in part to a throwing error.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

Game 2: Blue Jays at Yankees
Meanwhile, back in Tampa, the game was anything but usual, with both teams going back and forth for much of the game. David Hale got the start with mixed results in his 3 innings. He gave up a 1-out single and a 2-out 2-run homer right in the 1st inning. In the 3rd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on a 2-out single.

The Yankee batters kept the score close though. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Stanton worked a walk and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run to tie up the game. In the 4th, Miguel Andujar worked a walk, stole 2nd, and then scored on Austin Romine’s long 2-out double that bounced off the center field wall (just inches from the top off the wall to be a home run).

Judge hit a 1-out single in the 5th and then scored with Giancarlo Stanton’s monster 2-run home run that dented the Pepsi sign on the top left of the big scoreboard in left field. In the 6th, they loaded up the bases with singles by Andujar and Florial and a walk to Romine. With 1 out, Brett Gardner hit a long sacrifice fly and scored Andujar. Then Rashad Crawford hit a solid double to scored Florial. That gave the Yankees a nice lead.

Giovanny Gallegos threw a strong 2 innings, before handing the ball to JP Feyereisen in the 6th. Feyereisen had a fairly strong 6th, despite giving up a 1-out solo shot. But the lead-off batter in the 7th hit a sharp comebacker that smacked Feyereisen’s hand. He was flexing it, and they let him continue. But he struggled with control (an oddity for the young prospect) for the rest of the inning — giving up a ground-rule double, a 2-RBI single, a double play, and a walk.

Young reliever Josh Rogers came on to finish off the 7th for Feyereisen and closed out that inning scoreless before plowing through the next 2 innings and keeping the Blue Jays from adding to their score and chipping away at the Yankees’ lead.

Oddly paralleling the other game, the Yankees had a rather big offensive inning at home. This one in the bottom of the 7th. They loaded up the bases with a single, an error, and a walk. Estevan Florial worked a walk to score a run before Erik Kratz powered a big bases-clearing, 3-run double. One out later, Zack Zehner hit a big 2-run home run off the black screen above center field. Despite loading up the bases and a pitching change, the Yankees weren’t able to add more to their score.

But they really didn’t need it.

Final score: 13-6 Yankees

Ones to Watch: for the final Spring Training nominees, we’ve got outfielder Rashad Crawford and pitcher Josh Rogers. Crawford is consistent in his defense, for a second Spring in a row, and his outstanding offense today (2 hits in 2 at-bats, 1 RBI) helped the Yankees power through toward victory. And the dominance of Rogers’ pitching helped keep the Blue Jays away, throwing 7 solid outs and earning the save in today’s game. Both young players (ages 24 and 23, respectively) are certainly worth keeping an eye on, with a call to the Bronx sometime in the near future.

Next up: the Yankees play their final Florida-based Spring Training game tomorrow afternoon in Port Charlotte against the Rays. It’s almost over, everyone. Opening Day is right around the corner.

Injury: Brandon Drury is nursing a bruised elbow, buying an elbow pad to be worn for all future at-bats, and being grateful there wasn’t something more serious that would deter him from playing in the opening series next week. And Greg Bird was scheduled to start the game against the Braves, but during batting practice, Bird felt a soreness in his foot. And what complicates things is that it’s the same area that troubled him for most of last season that hampered his play time. They are sending him to further testing, while crossing fingers and hoping for the best. The small advantage is the ridiculous depth the Yankees do have now — Tyler Austin, Neil Walker, and even Austin Romine can all play 1st if necessary.

Roster: before today’s games, the Yankees sent Domingo German down to AAA Scranton, effectively making Jonathan Holder the extra reliever the Yankees hope to carry into the season. More roster moves are expected this weekend before the Yankees leave for Atlanta, but most of the spots are now pretty set. And that alone should give everyone some really big hope for this season. They’re really good. Their back-ups are really good. This whole team could be something to watch this season.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: limited media available for the home game against the Blue Jays. It was amazing, so I’m sorry you won’t get to see it.}

Spring Game 19: NYY vs. BAL — Not a good Chance at a W today

It was a beautiful day again in sunny Florida as the Yankees traveled about an hour south to face the Orioles at their Spring home field in Sarasota. The Yankees have been having a mixed bag as far as game results recently, which is a huge let-down after a strong start to the Spring. But today certainly wasn’t going to help turn that in the Yankees’ favor.

Chance Adams got the start today and really just struggled his way through 5 outs, giving up 7 total hits and 5 runs, striking out just 1 Orioles’ batter. In the 1st, a 1-out single moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on a ground out and then scored as part of a big 2-run home run to get the O’s on the board early. But the 2nd inning spun out of control for the young prospect pitcher. He quickly gave up a single and double to put runners in scoring position. With 1 out, Adams threw a messy pitch that got past Romine, but they hustled and made the out at home in a great defensive show. But then a single scored a run, and another 2-run home run broadened the O’s lead.

That would be all for Adams today. He was just not having a good pitching day. Cody Carroll came on to finish off the 2nd for Adams, but then he found his own issues in the 3rd. His lead-off batter doubled, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a single. But Carroll was able to minimize the damage and hand the ball over to David Hale to finish that inning.

Hale went on to throw through a clean 4th, 5th, and into the  inning, handing things off to Wade LeBlanc for the final out of the 6th. But then LeBlanc had a momentary blip of his own in the 7th. He gave up a lead-off double and a single, and a stolen base put 2 runners in scoring position. A sacrifice fly scored the lead runner before LeBlanc got 2 fly outs to close out the inning. JP Feyereisen threw a beautiful 8th inning, easily the best pitched inning by a Yankees’ pitcher all day. That last opinion is thanks in part to staring at the single statistic of 16 total hits allowed by Yankee pitchers today.

Meanwhile, Yankee batters collected 7 hits (and 5 walks), but only eked out a few runs in comparison to the hefty lead the Orioles racked up so early this afternoon. The Yankees’ biggest opportunity came early in the game, in the 2nd inning. They loaded up the bases quickly as Drury and McKinney worked walks and Romine singled. Ronald Torreyes hit into a little ground out that moved all the runners up and scored Drury. Shane Robinson hit a 2-out single to score the remaining runners, McKinney and Romine. Erik Kratz added one more to the Yankees’ score with a 1-out solo home run in the 4th. But outside of that, the Yankees just weren’t once again capitalizing on their opportunities.

Final score: 7-4 Orioles

Up Next: the Yankees return back to Tampa to host the Pirates tomorrow afternoon. Sonny Gray is to be the starting pitcher.

Before the game today, the Yankees released veteran infielder Adam Lind. Lind is now able to find a spot on another team seeking his skills and veteran presence, which will certainly be an asset wherever he lands. His release comes in part due to the strong Spring for Greg Bird and his assumed back-up Tyler Austin at 1st and with the rest of the infield being dominated by the recent signing of Neil Walker and other strong Springs for Drury, Wade, Andujar, and Torreyes. (And, of course, the lone assured infield spot at shortstop in Didi Gregorius.)

There’s been a lot of conversation about who would end up making the starting roster after this Spring. And while I do much of it privately and in person at games with other fans, I don’t do much on this blog because I don’t like to publish my speculations. Partly because I would have definite proof of how often I’m super wrong. And partly because I prefer to discuss actual facts and opine about tangible things. However, seeing as we have just 12 days left of Spring Training, one MLB writer came up with a pretty good prediction, adjusted for recent issues with injury and Spring performance. I do mostly agree with his opinions on this, but it still gives enough room for the final two weeks of games before Opening Day. Because stuff happens and baseball is certainly not predictable.

And for all those interested, Reggie Jackson‘s knee surgery yesterday went well and is on the mend. He was scheduled to go home from the hospital today and will have a few weeks before him to rest and heal and get back to walking again. Jackson slipped and fell on his knee during a morning walk on Tuesday. Doctors opted for surgery to repair the damage on the 72-year-old Hall of Famer. Get well soon, Mr. October!

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 13: PHI vs. NYY — Severino’s strong start, but a messy bullpen

It was actually another beautiful day in Tampa, and as we are inundated with friends and family’s pictures from the snow-covered Northeast (including NYC), it’s yet another reminder as to why baseball chose Florida and Arizona to host Spring Training. Compared to Bangor, Maine and Fort Collins, Colorado. So even when it dips into the 50’s (as it was by sunset), it’s still a much better option than shoveling feet of snow and dealing with cars sliding on the ice.

Luis Severino got his Spring start this afternoon against the visiting Phillies and actually had a really strong outing over all. He threw into the 4th inning, only giving up 3 hits, a walk, and an unearned run in addition to his 3 strong strikeouts. In fact, Severino’s only trouble came in the 4th inning. With 1 out, the second batter hit a bouncing ground-rule double. That would be it for Severino, and the Yankees wanted to work out Aroldis Chapman for the rest of the inning. After a nice strikeout, the next batter made it to 1st on a fielding error, and a single scored the Phillies’ first run.

Justus Sheffield got through the 5th fairly unscathed but struggled in the 6th. With 1 out, Sheffield gave up consecutive doubles to add another run, a single put runners on the corners, and a long sacrifice fly score yet another run. Struggling to get that final out, the Yankees turned to middle reliever Wade LeBlanc who also fought to find that final out in the 6th. He gave up a double to put 2 runners in scoring position and then another double scored both runners before a fly out mercifully ended the inning.

In the mean time, the Yankees actually grabbed the lead on the backs of the veterans early in the game. In the 4th, with 2 outs, Sanchez worked a walk and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ strong 2-run home run. Drury followed that up with a double and then scored on Eric Kratz’s long single to put the Yankees in the lead. Hicks led-off the 5th with a walk, made it to 2nd on a passed ball, and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error on a poorly hit ball by Aaron Judge. After a pitching change, Bird worked his own walk to load up the bases. And with no outs, Giancarlo Stanton stepped into the batter’s box and hit a long single into right field to score both Hicks and Judge. And Sanchez added to the fun with a nice single to score Bird. This gave the Yankees a rather big lead.

Now, reliever LeBlanc had a much better 7th inning, keeping the Phillies from adding to that score. But his 8th was less than ideal, starting with hitting the lead-off batter. Two outs later, LeBlanc once again had trouble finding that 3rd out, instead giving up a ground-rule double that scored an advancing runner to tie up the game. The Yankees turned to Giovanny Gallegos to find that elusive 3rd out. Again, it was rather elusive. Gallegos gave up a walk and a single that scored the go-ahead run for the Phillies.

Gallegos had a better 9th inning, keeping the score close, but the Yankees’ offense was non-existent by the bottom of the 9th. So the game was decided in that 8th inning.

Final score: 7-6 Phillies

One to Watch: today, there wasn’t a specific standout young player with some big flashy play. Instead, I wanted to recognize infielder Tyler Wade. Wade has been starting games this Spring. Now only 23 with a handful of MLB at-bats, he is in the short running for the job at 2nd base, a position he played today and plays with some level of consistency. Currently batting .318 this Spring overall, Wade got a solid single in the 3rd and played 8 full innings today, only substituted defensively in the 9th. He’s somebody to watch because that 2nd base job may be his to earn this season, and honestly, I think he could really shine there this year.

Next up: the Yankees head over to Wide World of Sports at Disney World (about an hour east of Tampa) to face the Braves tomorrow night. First pitch at 6:05 pm EST. Sonny Gray is set to start that game.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 2: NYY vs. PIT — Late power brings first away win

For their first away game of the season, the Yankees hopped their bus and traveled about an hour south to Bradenton to visit the Spring home of the Pirates. On this beautiful, warm sunny Saturday afternoon in Florida, the crowd packed the stadium to watch the Yankees clearly outplay the home team.

Domingo German got a bit of a shaky but scoreless start in his 2 innings before handing things over to Adam Warren. Reliever Dillon Tate got his 2 innings next, having a bit of a rough 5th inning. He gave up a single but then the Yankees worked together to catch the runner stealing 2nd. After another out, Tate gave up a perfect pitch that became a perfect home run to get the Pirates on the board. Prospect reliever JP Feyereisen showed off his skills in 2 perfect innings, setting himself up for the win. And Jonathan Holder closed out the game with his inning, keeping the Pirates from adding to their lone run.

Meanwhile, the Pirates got a bit roughed up by the Yankees hitters, giving up 11 total hits and 5 walks, despite striking out 11 batters along the way. The Yankees actually got on the board first in the 4th. With 1 out, Espinosa and Torreyes each walked, and the Pirates introduced a new pitcher. Another out later, Erik Kratz hit a solid single that scored Espinosa. After another hit batter loaded the bases, the Yankees hopes for advancing were crushed with a strikeout.

With the game tied, the Yankees found their footing again in the 9th inning. Peterson led-off with a walk, followed by Andujar’s single. So it would be Billy McKinney to smack the Yankees first home run this season — a big 3-run home run to give the Yankees a nice lead and eventual win.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees

Injury news: During his second at-bat in his Yankee debut, infielder Brandon Drury was hit on his hand in the 3rd inning. A bit scary at first, Drury remained in the game and had some basic treatment, but x-rays were deemed unnecessary. Drury, a recent acquisition, recently with the Diamondbacks, is a potential starter for 3rd base in the race to Opening Day. And his 3 seasons in Arizona certainly put him towards the lead in that race.

And Yankees prospect Thairo Estrada is still dealing with his recovery after being injured in the off-season. Estrada and his wife were out to dinner in his hometown in Venezuela when two teenage boys approached them and demanded all his cash or phone, neither which Estrada was not carrying. After searching his pockets, there was a loud bang and the boys ran off. It wasn’t until a medical follow-up later that Estrada realized he’d been shot and needed surgery to repair the wound, unfortunately leaving the bullet lodged in his hip as a permanent reminder of his ordeal. His home country is currently in the middle of a severe political and economic crisis, something Estrada carries with him as he continues his rehab for the season. He will miss Spring Training this year and hopes to start just a few weeks into the regular season (likely with AA Trenton as he was in the 2017 season).

Next up: The Yankees head across the Bay to play the Phillies tomorrow afternoon.

Go Yankees!

{Note: Sometimes, Spring Training games are not televised so there are no great highlights and clips to add to my post, which unfortunately always comes on games when something great happens (like McKinney’s homer).}

{Second note: I decided to only do the “One to Watch” for home games. I’m always looking for ways to evolve and make each season different, so this will be one of them. It’s almost always a hard category because these prospects are so good.}

Game 142: NYY vs. TEX — Baby Bombers show off in Texas finale

I wish I could say that this afternoon’s game was a great game. At first glance, it might look great because the outcome was in the Yankees’ favor. But a second look, and one has to wonder how either team was lucky enough to keep the game under 4 hours with the pitching being a bit less than stellar.

With today’s finale in Texas, the Yankees were looking to continue their march towards that postseason with some kind of power, looking to their offense to carry them into October. Usually, the pitching is there to give them some back up, but today, there was a rather mixed bag in that case.

Jordan Montgomery got the start today and once again had some struggles through his abbreviated outing. He threw 79 pitches into the 4th inning, giving up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out just 3 Texas batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out solo home run got the Rangers on the board, but with 2 outs and 2 runners in scoring position, Montgomery relied on his defense to get the final out of the inning and out of the jam. In the 4th, he gave up consecutive walks before a 1-out double would score another run.

The Yankees called on Chad Green to do what Chad Green does, and give the Yankees some long-term relief so early in the game. He gave up a sacrifice fly that scored Montgomery’s lingering runner before Green got a well-placed strikeout. Even Green had a spot of trouble in the 5th inning when his lead-off batter doubled and then promptly scored on an RBI single. But then Green zeroed in and breezed his way through his next 5 outs (and in doing so, set himself up for the win).

Tommy Kahnle closed out Green’s 6th inning and basically breezed his way through the 7th before handing the ball over to Dellin Betances. Betances found his own sticky spot in the 8th inning, despite getting 3 strikeouts for his 3 outs this inning. With just 1 out, Betances gave up consecutive walks that both scored on a double. Caleb Smith got 2 quick outs in the 9th and then gave up a walk that scored on a double before getting that 3rd out to close out the game.

And all those statistics would not spell good news for the Yankees if the Rangers had a better pitching staff. But really, they are just not good, or at least they weren’t so good tonight. The Rangers’ starter only throwing into the 4th inning. In the 1st inning, Gary Sanchez kicked things off with a solo home run into the left field seats, his 29th of the season.

Gardner singled to lead off the 3rd, moved to 2nd when Sanchez was hit by a pitch, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. This broke the early tie, but the Yankees weren’t done yet. Castro reached safely on a fielder’s choice, and due to the slowness of the Rangers’ defense, all runners were safe on all 3 bases. Aaron Judge’s long sacrifice fly scored Sanchez.

In the 4th, Ellsbury was hit by a pitch (yes, this happened a lot tonight) and Romine singled, and that would be it for the Rangers’ starter. Not that they could depend on the bullpen to halt the Yankees’ charge. Brett Gardner smacked a nice triple that scored both runners. A fairly routine single by Chase Headley scored Gardner. After Sanchez’s double, Didi Gregorius’ single scored Headley. (All of this before an out was scored this inning.) Then on a double play, Sanchez still scored to keep the momentum alive. Only to be followed up by Aaron Judge’s 40th home run of the season.

And the Rangers finally went to their bullpen to get out of this inning. But that reliever found his troubles in the next inning loading up the bases with consecutive doubles and a fielding error. Didi Gregorius singled and scored the 2 lead runners before being thrown out trying for 2nd base.

To show off a bit, Aaron Judge hit a 1-out solo home run in the 6th, and Gary Sanchez followed that with a solo home run to lead off the 8th. (More on this after the recap.) And in the 9th inning, the Yankees proved they weren’t done yet. Ellsbury led-off with a walk, and Romine singled. Tyler Wade singled home Ellsbury, and pinch-hitter Erik Kratz had his first Yankee hit, a double, that scored both Romine and Wade to cap off the Yankee runs scored today.

Now, back to what I started with is a bit of why I have a hard time calling this a great game. A “great game” is one where the pitching, hitting, defense, base running, and bullpen are all really good, even more so if both teams do so. But statistics show a different story. In total, pitchers gave up 28 hits, 10 walks, and 23 runs (5 of them homers). And here’s the biggest difference in pitching staffs — the Yankees got the Rangers’ batters swinging at 13 strikeouts, while the Rangers entire staff only got the Yankees to strikeout twice. Again, it’s hard to call this a “good game”, let alone a great one. But it’s nice to win it anyway they can.

Final score: 16-7 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Now, those “Baby Bombers” Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Both young stars hit two home runs each in today’s game, showing off the Yankee offense in the best possible way. For Aaron Judge, he hit is 40th and 41st home runs of the season, officially becoming the 2nd rookie in MLB history to hit over 40 home runs in a single season. And he’s got 20 games to at least tie up the record holder (Mark McGwire) at 49. Judge is also in some very vaunted company as the 5th Yankee to hit at least 40 home runs age 25 and under — Mantle, DiMaggio, Gehrig, and Ruth.

Now, Gary Sanchez isn’t exactly a footnote here. He has hit 50 home runs in his first 162 games (over the last 2 seasons). This season alone, Sanchez leads all catchers in the league with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs after today, and this is despite missing an entire month of baseball earlier this year. And speaking of catchers, Sanchez’s 30 home runs this season tied other legendary Yankee catchers in most home runs in a season — Posada in 2003 and Berra in 1952 and 1956.

And remember, folks, there’s still 20 games left in this season. Both Sanchez and Judge have about 20 more games to just surge ahead and show off some more. And don’t think they won’t try. We are watching the next Berra-Mantle anchored dynasty, like my grandfather used to talk about. My grandkids will hear my stories of the Sanchez-Judge era of greatness. And just maybe they’ll get their own dynasty of legends in the making.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: having a bit of trouble with the links, so I included the recap, but it only covers Judge and Sanchez’s home runs. Will link the rest as soon as I can.}

Game 134: BOS vs. NYY — September off to a stunted start

And just like that fortunes reversed. September begins, and the Yankees are still in heated contention with the Red Sox (and a few other teams) for the postseason. Sonny Gray got the start tonight, and certainly had mixed results. On one hand, he struck out 9 Boston batters in just 7 innings, but on the other, he gave up 4 runs.

Gray threw 98 pitches in those 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and a walk. And those pesky 4 runs, all scored on home runs. In the 3rd, he allowed his lone walk before a home run scored both runners to put the Red Sox in the lead. A 2-out solo home run in the 5th and a lead-off solo shot in the 7th added those 2 more runs for the Red Sox.

Meanwhile, the Yankees kicked off the offense in the 1st when Brett Gardner hit a lead-off double and then scored on Aaron Judge’s double. Then they struggled with much offense, only getting 2 more hits and a walk off the Red Sox’s starter in his 7 innings.

Aroldis Chapman’s 8th inning was almost perfect, where he got all 3 outs as strikeouts. And Adam Warren kept the Red Sox from adding to their score with a 14-pitch 9th. But unfortunately, the Red Sox’s relievers for both innings followed the example and threw 2 scoreless innings as well, leaving the Yankees in the dust.

Final score: 4-1 Red Sox

Before the game today, former Yankee legend (and Grammy-nominated classically trained guitarist) Bernie Williams performed an amazing version of the national anthem as Little Leaguers from the area who narrowly missed representing the US in the recent Little League World Series joined Yankee players all over the field to be honored for their success this season.

Roster moves: just in time for the September call-ups, the Yankees activated Matt Holliday from the DL, after his recovery from a back injury. They also transferred pitcher Luis Cessa, who is still dealing with his ribcage injury, from the 10-day to the 60-day DL, effectively removing him off the 40-man roster. This made room for the Yankees to select the contract of newly acquired Erik Kratz, promoting him from AAA Scranton.

They also recalled pitchers Jordan Montgomery, Ben Heller, and Bryan Mitchell from AAA Scranton. There is still room for additions this month, but the Yankees also want the RailRiders to work on their own upcoming postseason and potential repeat of their championship in a few weeks. They finish their season on Monday as division leaders (by 7 1/2 games!).

Like the big leagues, the team with the most wins will face the winner of the Wild Card games (to be played on Wednesday and Thursday). The RailRiders are ready for that role unless they get swept by the Phillies’ AAA team. Their Division Series (best of 5) begins next weekend. Their Championship Series is shortly after that (beginning September 12) for the “Governor’s Cup”. And the ultimate championship game between the Pacific Coast League and the International League (where the RailRiders play) to be played on September 19 at PNC Park (the RailRiders’ home park). Best of luck to you guys once again in your postseason!

Go Yankees!