Game 76: NYY vs. PHI — Some “Brotherly Love” for a rookie pitcher, a fan, and a “rookie” batter

The Yankees began their series in the City of Brotherly Love and showed some love to their fans in the area in many ways. Aaron Judge played catch with a fan in the right field seats, later commenting on the good arm on the kid. Plus, their rookie pitcher threw a scoreless 5 innings.

Jonathan Loaisiga threw 86 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 1 hit and 2 walks, and struck out 8 Phillies batters. In other words, he had another great night from the mound and earned his 2nd win in as many starts. David Robertson took over for him in the 6th and continued into the 7th with some trouble. He gave up a lead-off walk that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on a 1-out single.

After another strikeout, the Yankees turned to Dellin Betances, who closed out the 7th with a strong strikeout, walked 2 players in the 8th, and still got his 3 outs unscathed. Aroldis Chapman got out of Betances’ 8th inning jam. And after 2 solid strikeouts in the 9th, he gave up a solo home run before getting a final strikeout to earn his 23rd save.

The Yankees got on the board early. In the 2nd, Bird led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ double. Later, Aaron Judge hit a great 2-out solo home run in the 5th to double the Yankees’ lead.

And in the 8th, the Yankees loaded up the bases with Gardner’s single, Judge’s walk, and Gregorius’ single. And with no outs, the Phillies changed pitchers again. But he promptly gave up a long single to Giancarlo Stanton. Both Gardner and Judge scored, and then on an off-center throw, Gregorius and Stanton ended up in scoring position. But then the Phillies found their defense and got out without further injury.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees

It’s also worth conversing about the pitchers who hit during tonight’s game because it’s an NL park and it’s always awkward to watch AL pitchers try to hit. Loaisiga, of course, got the most at-bats (2), but struck out both times. But then, because of the rotation, Dellin Betances got an at-bat in the 8th inning — he struck out in 3 pitches, 1 called strike, 2 swinging strike. I know it probably shouldn’t be, but between waving his bat like Gary Sheffield and just swinging away, it was hilarious.

If anyone wants to know how I feel about the designated hitter, just know that I was born after 1973 (when the DH was formally introduced), was raised on AL teams, and just watched a reliever swat away at perfect strikes that most teenagers would hit in batting cages.

Roster moves: Like I said yesterday, the Yankees announced today that Gary Sanchez will be placed on the 10-day disabled list with right groin strain. Technically, he will be out for 3-4 weeks, so he might miss most of next month, which would include the All-Star Game should he be voted or selected to attend.

They also opted outfielder Clint Frazier back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In those two spots, they recalled catcher Kyle Higashioka and reliever Giovanny Gallegos. Higashioka makes sense, as Romine will need some back-up as he slides into Sanchez’s starting position. But based on recent usage of the bullpen and the health of the outfield, the Frazier-Gallegos exchange makes sense.

Go Yankees!

Game 75: NYY vs. TB — Sunday swept in extras

Traditionally, a starting pitcher throws a lot of pitches (upwards of 100) and then a reliever or two come in to finish off the game. But somehow, today’s finale against the Rays ended up being a collection of relievers for both teams, a total of 14 pitchers stood on the mound today (7 per team).

For the Yankees, Domingo German kicked things off and had a rather upsetting 3 innings, giving up 9 hits and 6 runs. A lead-off triple in the 1st scored on a double, and then that runner scored on a 2-out double to give the Rays an early lead. And a lead-off solo home run in the 2nd added one more to the scoreboard. Then in the 3rd, another lead-off triple scored on a 1-out single. After another single gave the Rays another base runner, a 2-out double scored both runners.

The Yankees had quite a bit of work to do to catch up. Fortunately, they started early too. In the 2nd, Stanton led-off with a double and moved to 3rd on a ground out. After Hicks worked a walk, Miguel Andujar’s big 3-run home run into the left field seats got the Yankees on the board. Then in the 5th, Gardner worked a 1-out walk, and the Rays went to their next reliever. After another out, Didi Gregorius doubled to score Gardner, and Giancarlo Stanton followed that with his own double to score Gregorius.

So, down by just a run, the Yankees kept looking for their opportunity. It wasn’t until the 8th inning, with Giancarlo Stanton’s lead-off solo home run to tie up the game. Actually, Stanton had a great day overall, going 5-for-5, with a walk, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBIs, including this 8th inning run — his 19th homer of the season.

The game went into extra innings, and both teams continued sending in their plethora of strong relievers to face off against each other into the 12th inning. Chasen Shreve came on for the Yankees in the bottom of the 12th. He threw 1 pitch, a 92 mph fastball right down the middle of the plate, and the batter sent it the other direction, straight up center field for the walk-off home run.

Final score: 7-6 Rays, in 12 innings, Rays sweep series 3-0

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to Philadelphia for a 3-game series there starting tomorrow night, before heading back home for a 6-game home stand against the Red Sox (on Friday) and Braves (next Monday). Hopefully, they will have a much better series than this weekend.

Injury news: Gary Sanchez is probably headed to the Disabled List after today’s game. In the 10th inning, Sanchez hit into a double play but on his way to running out to 1st, he started staggering his way down the line, clutching his upper thigh area and clearly in pain. Romine came on for the bottom of the inning, but it looks like Sanchez might have strained a muscle. They will send him to get an MRI tomorrow to determine a timeline, so there’s nothing to update right now.

It’s worth noting there is another catcher on the 40-man roster — Kyle Higashioka. Most likely, they will move Romine to be the regular catcher and call up Higashioka for back-up. But there’s nothing predictable about baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 71: SEA vs. NYY — Comeback and walk-off, because… Yankees.

After his stellar MLB debut, the Yankees were hoping for a repeat performance from rookie Jonathan Loaisiga. But he had a hard time controlling the Mariners’ offense in tonight’s middle game of this series against the visiting team from Seattle. Loaisiga spent the first 3 innings getting himself into and out of jams.

But in the 4th, he gave up a lead-off walk that scored thanks to a single and a really bad throwing error. After a fielder’s choice, he then gave up a double that moved the runners to scoring position. A strikeout later, Loaisiga’s pitch count was already at 84 in the middle of the 4th inning, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and a run (and responsible for those 2 runners on base).

Chasen Shreve came on in relief of the rookie and promptly gave up a single to score both of those runners (charged to Loaisiga’s record). But Shreve continued the struggle in the 5th inning. With 1 out, he put runners in scoring position too with a single and double, that then scored on a sacrifice fly and a single.

After finding his pace again in the 6th, Holder closed out that inning before sailing his way through the 7th and 8th innings to limit the Mariners’ runs. Chapman continued Holder’s momentum with a solid 10-pitch 9th inning, all while waiting for the Yankees to catch up and surpass their visitors.

For the first 5 innings, the strong Yankee batters faced the Mariners’ star ace pitcher, and he limited the Yankees from doing much in their own house. In fact, he held them off until the 5th inning, when the Yankees were already down by 5 runs. Andujar hit a 1-out double, Hicks worked a 2-out walk, and Aaron Judge’s single and a missed catch error scored both runners to get the Yankees on the board.

The Mariners’ initial reliever shut the Yankees down in the 6th before they continued to chip away at the Mariners’ lead. In the 7th, Frazier led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Judge’s 1-out single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly. Gleyber Torres led-off the 8th with a walk, and then Gary Sanchez hit a great 2-run home run to tie up the game and electrify the Bronx.

After Chapman’s fantastic top of the 9th with the game now tied, the fans were buzzing with anticipation. But a quick 2 outs had extra innings looming. Then Gregorius singled and hope came alive again. Giancarlo Stanton stepped into the batter’s box, and with his mixed offense this season, fans were feeling mixed about whether to hold out enough hope. Stanton hit a 2-run walk-off home run anyway, his 1st walk-off as a Yankee, and the 23rd comeback win for the team.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees

Minor injury news: Brett Gardner has been dealing with a minor injury since this weekend. During the game against the Rays on Saturday, he found that his right knee was sore and inflamed. Because the MRI came back clean, the Yankees have been keeping him on the bench in hopes to avoid putting him on the DL.

Technically, the veteran outfielder could play in any of these games, because Gardner’s leg would have to be practically falling off to stop him from playing, but before it gets that far, they are hoping some rest and care avoids such a necessity. Especially with solid players on the roster (like Frazier, Judge, Hicks, and Stanton, among others).

Finally, the Yankees are mourning the loss of former pitching coach Billy Connors. After a minor career with the Cubs and Mets in the mid-1960s, Connors was hired as pitching coach with the Yankees for 5 seasons (1989-1990, 1994-1995, and 2000), making him a crucial cog in the careers of Dwight Gooden, Orlando Hernandez, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. He also served as VP of player personnel at the minor league complex in Tampa (1996-2012), specifically with young pitchers.

Before the game, the Yankees held a moment of silence in his honor. Their released statement states our collective feelings in Yankee Universe: “The Yankees organization mourns the passing of Billy Connors, who was a close and trusted friend of my family for many years. Since joining the Yankees at the conclusion of the 1988 season, Billy contributed to the organization in countless ways over his long career as a pitching coach, executive and advisor. On behalf of the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family, I extend our deepest condolences to Billy’s family, friends and loved ones.”

Go Yankees!

Game 70: SEA vs. NYY — Is it “out-pitching” or “out-hitting” the visitors?

Domingo German may have finally found his footing that made the Yankees originally give him the nod to cover for Montgomery consistently this season. German faced the visiting Mariners in their opener tonight, throwing 96 pitches in his 7 strong innings, giving up just 2 hits and 2 runs (only 1 earned), and striking out 9 Seattle batters.

In the 1st, the lead-off batter doubled, moved to 3rd on a missed catch error (enter: the unearned possibility), and then scored on a force line out at 2nd. And a 1-out solo home run in the 7th doubled the Mariners’ score.

AJ Cole followed German’s solid start with 2 strong innings of his own, keeping the Mariners from adding to their runs and adding 3 more strike outs to the Yankees’ total of 12 tonight. This was in stark comparison to the Mariners’ stats of giving up 11 hits (compared to just 2 to their batters). When one team out-hits the other can, it can also be said they were out-pitched. The Yankees did both.

Down by a run early, the Yankees came back with a 2-out solo home run by Giancarlo Stanton to tie up the game. Then in the 5th, there was a bit of a repeated effort. Bird led-off with a walk and then scored as part of Miguel Andujar’s 2-run home run. Frazier singled and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run, that also got wedged into the visitor’s bullpen bench (after it bounced off the back wall). All before an out was recorded that inning, and ensured the Yankees a strong lead in tonight’s game.

In the 7th, Andujar led-off with a single, and then after an out, the Mariners went to their bullpen. Hicks’ single moved Andujar to 3rd before Aaron Judge’s single scored him. And if that wasn’t enough, Gleyber Torres hit his 14th home run, a 1-out solo shot in the 8th inning.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

The All-Star Game released images of their uniforms the players will wear next month for warm-up day. AL players will wear predominantly blue jerseys featuring the Washington Monument, while NL players’ red jerseys will feature the dome of the Capitol. There’s also some interesting socks and matching caps. Plus, there are special caps for the players to wear at the All-Star Game while they wear their regular team uniforms.

And there’s another update for voting, and it hopefully will spur Yankees fans to kick it up a notch and vote! Gary Sanchez has been bumped from his leading spot by another player and demoted to 2nd place thanks to an extra 60,000 votes by Rays’ fans. Aaron Judge is still in the running for an outfield spot, but still at 3rd place. To be fair, 4th place is a very distant 4th place (about 500,000 votes).

However, the rest of the Yankees are a bit further down on their respective lists because of the popular fan-favorites at each position. Finishing out the outfield, Gardner is currently 7th and Hicks 13th (about 1.2 and 1.3 million votes behind the Boston leader). Behind other popular players in their positions, Stanton, Andujar, and Torres are all 2nd in their categories (by 650,000, 400,000, and 1 million votes, respectively). Oddly, the tightest category is shortstop — Gregorius coming in 4th at just 250,000 votes behind the leader, just 40,000 behind 2nd place.

Alright, Yankee Universe, time to do your stuff, and vote! Let’s ensure Judge, give Sanchez a boost and make those other categories tighter.

Go Yankees!

Game 66: TB vs. NYY — #SevySharp shines on sunny Saturday

There is a reason that baseball has a lot of warm weather references — “boys of summer”, “park”, “yard”, “sandlot”, “Summer Classic”, “hot corner”, “warm-up”, even “bleachers” (from the shortened term for “sun-bleached seats” or the “cheap seats” that don’t get tended). Six of the 30 MLB stadiums have retractable roofs of some sort (Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Brewers, Astros, and Marlins) and the Rays have a permanent roof on their home stadium.

Despite earlier games often facing snow from lingering winter season or the rainy days of spring, baseball is clearly a summer game. So while other fans get indoor sports (I’m looking at you, NBA and NHL) and NFL fans brave snowy days for their wintertime outdoor games, MLB fans get to enjoy their games on more great summer afternoons and evenings.

Today in New York was a perfect example of a great summer afternoon — sunny, clear blue skies, 81°, and a lazy Saturday afternoon to enjoy the “boys of summer” play “America’s pastime”.

Luis Severino got the start for this afternoon game against the Rays, the third of this 4-game weekend series. He had another stellar outing, throwing 102 pitches in 8 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and 2 walks, and striking out 9 batters for his 10th win of the season.

The Yankee batters continued their pattern in this series, of chipping away at the scoreboard periodically throughout the game. In the 2nd, with 1 out and a new pitcher (already!), Bird worked a walk, moved to 2nd on Hicks’ single, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ double.

The Rays’ pitcher really had trouble in the 3rd, the Yankees pushing him to 41 pitches alone in this inning. Judge led-off with a double, and Didi Gregorius singled home Judge, ending up at 2nd on a bad throw. Then with 2 outs, Bird worked a walk as Gregorius stole 3rd to put runners on the corners, and Hicks loaded up the bases with a walk. But their attempt to add to their lead ended with a strikeout. Later, in the 5th, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez hit back-to-back solo home runs to double the Yankees’ lead.

The Rays finally got things together and held off the Yankee batters from adding to their score further. After Severino was done for the day, the Yankees turned to Chasen Shreve for the 9th inning, but he had a rough time, giving up a lead-off solo home run and a deep triple. With the Rays now threatening, the Yankees wanted a sure thing and turned to closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman breezed through 3 outs in 10 pitches to earn his 20th save of the season.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees

And this is your semi-regular reminder to vote for this year’s All-Star Game. You can choose a player for each starting position for both the AL and the NL. Fan favorites will be the starters at this year’s All-Star Game, representing their teams and leagues in Washington, D.C. next month. Most of the Yankees are currently in the top running for their position, so hopefully, they’ll have a strong representation in the Capital.

Fan voting continues until July 5 at 11:59 pm EST. Fans can vote 5 times every 24 hours, up to 35 times overall, so vote today and until you get the message that says you’ve reached the limit. Once you’ve completed your 35 votes, MLB will send you a special offer as a thanks for voting. So keep voting!

And if you need voting ideas: Austin, Torres, Gregorius, Andujar, Sanchez, Stanton, Gardner, Hicks, and Judge (in that order).

Go Yankees!

Game 65: TB vs. NYY — Rookie start, rookie win

Jonathan Loaisiga had a great start in tonight’s game against the visiting Rays, the second game in their 4-game weekend series. He threw 91 pitches in his 5 scoreless innings, gave up just 3 hits and 4 walks, and struck out 6 Rays’ batters. Holder, Robertson, Betances, and Warren each took an inning to keep the Rays scoreless.

Meanwhile, the Yankee batters faced a former teammate and really did hold them off most of the game. In the 3rd, Didi Gregorius hit a 2-out solo home run to get the Yankees on the board, breaking the scoreless tie at that point. Then in the 6th, Judge led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ single (thanks to a messy defense), and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly to double the Yankees’ lead.

The Rays’ starter continued on into the 8th inning, but with 1 out, he loaded up the bases with singles to Judge and Gregorius and intentionally walking Stanton. That was it for his night, so the Rays went to their bullpen for the final 2 outs of the inning. However, in between those outs, Gary Sanchez smacked a deep double scoring all 3 runners to ensure the Yankees’ victory.

Final score: 5-0 Yankees

HOPE Week Day 5: The Yankees concluded their 10th Annual HOPE Week partnering with Mark Bustos, the founder of “Be Awesome to Somebody“. A successful, high-end hairdresser, Bustos was visiting family in the Philippines 6 years ago when he got a random idea to set-up a sort of “pop-up salon” to give free haircuts to the homeless kids he saw roaming the streets. A fresh haircut can give someone a sense of dignity and self-care that might be missing in someone who cannot afford something so simple as a haircut.

Bustos travels the world for work, and wherever he visits, he connects with the local homeless to give them free haircuts. So, in a rare day-off, he connected with the YMCA in Harlem and the New York Yankees to give haircuts to New York’s homeless community. Miguel Andujar, Aroldis Chapman, Domingo German, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Ronald Torreyes, and catching coach Jason Brown represented the Yankees at the event, later inviting Bustos to throw out the first pitch before tonight’s game.

Again, this whole week has been about thinking beyond one’s self and extending kindness into the world in some pretty cool and creative ways. It once again serves as a reminder to continue the Yankees’ example and find outlets to show kindness in your own community and sphere. They’re out there, and they’re waiting for you. So go and be kind, spread kindness, because kindness matters.

Go Yankees!

Game 53: NYY vs. BAL — After postponed game, starting the weekend with a Win

Yesterday’s scheduled game was at first highly delayed and then postponed due to the never-ending rain that swept through the area. The game is now scheduled for Thursday, July 9, as part of a single-admission doubleheader when the Yankees return to Baltimore. The first game will start at 4:05 EST, and 30 minutes after the last out, the second game will begin. There will be 3 more games in that series as regularly scheduled.

Sonny Gray got the start in tonight’s first game of their weekend series in Baltimore. He threw 90 pitches in a strong 6 innings, giving up 4 hits and just 1 run, striking out 6 batters along the way. His lone allowed run was a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning to give the Orioles (who are already having a rough year) hope.

It would be short-lived as Gray was going to have a great night and keep the Orioles to that lone run. He handed off the game to a bullpen ready to keep up that momentum in Green, Betances, and Chapman.

Meanwhile, the Yankees found their own moments with the offense to edge out the home team. In the 3rd, Walker led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Romine’s walk, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single to tie the game. Gardner next loaded up the bases, all before an out was recorded for the inning. Then Bird later hit into a short grounder that got Romine out at home, and with the bases loaded, another grounder ended the Yankees’ hopes at taking the lead at that point.

Torres led-off the 5th with a double but then got thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. Brett Gardner singled, then stole 2nd, and scored on Greg Bird’s solid triple. In the 6th, Didi Gregorius singled, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored easily on Austin Romine’s double.

Aaron Judge capped off the Yankees’ offense tonight with a 1-out solo home run in the 7th with a new pitcher. In fact, the O’s relievers mostly kept the Yankees under control and refused to allow another run.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees

And it’s time for the annual All-Star Game fan voting. Every team has nominated their starting players to start for the All-Star Game, and fans everywhere get to have their say. You can vote up to 35 total times (5 times every 24 hours) until July 5 at 11:59 pm EST. And if you’re looking for ideas for your AL ballot, the Yankee nominees are Tyler Austin (1st Base), Gleyber Torres (2nd Base), Miguel Andujar (3rd Base), Didi Gregorius (Shortstop), Gary Sanchez (Catcher), Giancarlo Stanton (Designated Hitter), and Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge (Outfielders).

The 89th All-Star Game will be Tuesday, July 17, held this year at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Since every team gets at least one representative, it will be interesting to see which Yankees are chosen to be part of the AL All-Star team this year. Will it be one of the rookies? Will it be a veteran? Will the coaches’ vote or final vote pick one of the Yankees’ relievers?

Vote now! Vote often!

Go Yankees!