Game 120: TB vs. NYY — When you don’t have pitching, you don’t have anything

They always say that when you don’t have pitching, you don’t have anything (Sometimes it’s “you don’t have nothing”, but I was an English major and can’t allow myself to use a double negative unless I’m using a direct quote to make a point). But the point of that statement is proof that as much as you need those runs, you need a strong pitcher that won’t give up those runs for the other guys.

And Luis Cessa was just not having a great game tonight, in this middle game against the Rays. He threw 65 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out 4 batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out double scored on a 2-out single to get the Rays started.

Then in the 3rd, he loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk and no outs. But then he got a good strikeout, so there was hope. The next batter hit into a grounder that the Yankees failed to turn into a double play, so the lead runner scored. Another run scored on an RBI single to give the Rays a hefty lead.

They added two more when a 1-out single scored as part of a 2-run homer in the 4th. And that was the end of Cessa’s night, handing things over to Holder. Holder had a better night, getting two solid strikeouts to close out the inning. Another good outing for the reliever who’s had some issues recently.

Sonny Gray really had a chance to show off his long-term reliever skills again, starting in the 5th and pitching into the 8th. Gray had some issues, but was able to space most of them out through his outing after a bit of a snag in the 5th. A 1-out double later scored on a 2-out single to cap off the Rays’ runs tonight. Green breezed his way through the final 5 outs in just 12 pitches and kept the Rays from adding to their lead.

The Yankees’ offense was really kept to a minimum and also spread throughout the game. They collected 5 hits and 4 walks (and 2 hit-by-pitches), but only managed one run — Miguel Andujar’s lead-off home run in the 2nd. They just weren’t finding the right holes to make a difference, several times getting enough runners in scoring position but getting halted from scoring runs, and Cessa’s troubled start laid the groundwork for the eventual loss.

Final score: 6-1 Rays

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees designated last night’s reliever George Kontos for assignment in order to recall Luis Cessa.

And as we’ve said (or rather presumed) in previous posts, Cashman confirmed the obvious — Aaron Judge‘s return will not be just 3 weeks from his initial injury (July 26). He recently received a cortisone shot to help with the healing, but he’s still not resuming baseball activities like swinging a bat or playing catch.

The reality is that he broke a bone (that’s why the word “fracture” is in “chip fracture”) and bones take time to heal. And it’s not until they heal that one can even start the recovery process. It’s going to hurt. The muscles and surrounding area have been irritated by the injury and will also require time to adjust to the healing process.

Look, injuries are both simple and complicated. They’re complicated in that there is no exact formula on healing and the process because each person and each injury is going to be different. And they’re simple for the same reason — they’re going to heal when they heal and there’s not much you can do until they do. It’s frustrating, but it’s just part of life, especially when one is an elite athlete.

It certainly makes me feel like I write about injuries almost as much as I write about roster moves. So, to me, it seems that injuries are as much a part of the business of baseball as figuring out the best combination for the bullpen. It’s certainly lends itself to part of the reason why baseball is so unpredictable.

Go Yankees!

Game 118: NYM vs. NYY — Crosstown rivals surge in damp make-up game

Let’s be honest here. A few days ago, they came out with which team had the hardest schedule and which team had the easiest one. The Yankees were said to have the 5th easiest schedule because they’re mostly facing teams sitting on the bottom half of the standings, including tonight’s opponent. But you can’t really predict when a team will oddly surge or sputter. So there’s just no guarantee.

Tonight’s game was a good example of this. The Mets are having a really terrible year. Mets fans everywhere are complaining, and rightly so, about how poorly their team is performing and the fact that they’re competing with the Marlins for worst team in the NL East. (The Marlins are 4.5 games behind the Mets right now, if you’re wondering.) But baseball isn’t predictable or easy. And oh, by the way, it sort of rained some during the game, but the game played on.

Luis Severino is just not having a good time lately, and his struggles continued tonight. He threw 98 pitches in just 4 innings, gave up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out 6 Mets batters. Things started right from the first batter of the game, giving up a lead-off solo home run.

Then a double moved to 3rd on a grounder before scoring on a 2-out RBI single. In the 4th, he gave up a single and 2-run home run to double the Mets’ score. Green came on for the 5th and kept the Mets from adding to their score with a fairly clean 14-pitch inning.

AJ Cole came on for the 6th and promptly gave up a lead-off homer. Then in the 7th, with 1 out, he gave up back-to-back solo home runs. Then after a walk, the Yankees called in recent call-up George Kontos, who despite allowing a single got out of the inning without giving up more and then cleanly going through the 8th inning.

Zach Britton had a messy 9th inning to cap off this less-than ideal night for the Yankees. With 1 out, a hit-by-pitch and single threatened. The next batter hit into a ground out and potential double play, but Torres bobbled the transfer so the run scored.

Initially, the runner going to 2nd was called out, but the Mets challenged the call as if Torres didn’t properly have the ball from Gregorius before touching 2nd before the ball was bobbled. But replay worked, the call was upheld — 1 out at 2nd, runner safe at 1st, the other runner scored. Britton then gave up 2 more singles to load up the bases before the next batter hit into an easy force out at 2nd.

Now, the Yankees weren’t exactly silent, but neither were they having a great offensive day. Part of that is because the Mets sent up their strongest starter, who held the Yankees to a minimal offense into the 7th inning, while striking out an impressive 12 Yankee batters.

In the 3rd, Romine led-off with a single and Gardner walked. Giancarlo Stanton hit into a force ground out at 2nd to eliminate Gardner, but Romine still scored. A throwing error (when the infielder tried to turn two he overthrew it at 1st) helped advance Stanton to 2nd and Romine score safely. Aaron Hicks’ single later scored Stanton to tie up the game at that point.

Gardner hit a 1-out double in the 5th and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ 2-out single to chip away at the Mets’ lead. But the Mets’ starter held the Yankees off for most of his outing. The next opportunity the Yankees got was in the 8th under a new pitcher. With 2 outs, Hicks worked a walk and then scored as part of Miguel Andujar’s big 2-run home run into the left field seats.

Final score: 8-5 Mets. Picking up from the series last month that this game was the make-up from, the loss on this game means the Mets won this series 2-1.

Next up: The Yankees host division rivals, the Rays and Blue Jays, for the next 6 games through the rest of the week before hitting the road. They’ll be down in Miami for 2 games and back to Baltimore for 4 games. The Rays are the only team of those four that have a winning season so far, but they’re only 2 games above .500 and 14 games behind the Yankees.

Injury news/roster moves: After pitching a strong game yesterday, CC Sabathia felt it in his surgically repaired knee and is now on the 10-day DL with knee inflammation. This means he will miss his next start, something that has always been on the table as they watch the veteran starter’s previous injuries closely.

Now, the Yankees needed to make some moves to compensate for this temporary move. First, they moved Jordan Montgomery from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL, a move they’ve been needing to make since Montgomery will be out recovering from his Tommy John surgery far into next season.

They also optioned infielder Luke Voit to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. So, with 2 open spots on the 25-man roster, they selected the contracts of pitcher George Kontos (who pitched in tonight’s game) and infielder Ronald Torreyes from AAA. Yes, that’s right, the “Toe-Night Show” is back!

And for all you trivia nerds: On this day in 2016, two very particular Yankee prospects made their MLB debut — Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. In their very first at-bats, they hit back-to-back home runs and had everyone talking about the greatness of Yankee future. Of course, Austin is now with the Twins, as part of the trade where the Yankees acquire starter Lynn, and Judge is out on the DL with that nasty chip fracture in his wrist. But what a great memory for those who still believe in the greatness of Yankee future.

I still believe… seriously, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball. Don’t forget that. Like the only team that’s better than them is the Red Sox in all of MLB. The Yankees are 74 wins (and 44 losses), while most division leaders have 60-something wins. Any other year, this would be a blowout for the Yankees, but the Red Sox are just having a ridiculous year.

Go Yankees!