Game 44: NYY vs. TEX — Yanks go big in Texas

The Yankees are back on track as they continue this road trip now in Texas against the Rangers. Masahiro Tanaka actually kind of had a rough night, and because the Yankees work as a team, he still wound up with the win. He threw just 76 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 3 Texas batters.

The first allowed run was a lead-off solo shot in the 2nd inning. Then in the 4th, with 1 out, Tanaka gave up 2 consecutive walks that scored as part of a bit 3-run home run, making all of Tanaka’s allowed runs come off home runs.

Chad Green followed up Tanaka’s outing with a scoreless 6th, but then gave up a lead-off solo shot in the 7th before breezing through the next 3 batters. Robertson and Holder kept the Rangers scoreless through the final 2 innings.

Meanwhile, the Yankees actually paced out their runs through the game. In the 2nd, Sanchez led-off with a single moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on Neil Walker’s 2-out double. Walker then scored when Gleyber Torres hit a big 2-run home run. Walker later hit a big 2-out solo home run in the 4th, which was actually his 1st homer of the season, despite having a pretty decent season with consistent offensive contributions. (Here’s Sterling’s call, and there’s mixed feelings again.)

After the Rangers tied up the game in the bottom of the 4th, Aaron Judge led off the 5th with a solo home run to give the Yankees back the lead. And in the 6th, Torres hit his 2nd home run of the game, a solo shot straight up the middle. Even after the Rangers went to their bullpen, the Yankees kept advancing. Gardner walked, moved to 3rd on Judge’s double, and scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly. Judge then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double.

The Rangers were able to hold off the Yankees for the 7th and 8th innings, but then found one more opportunity in the 9th. (Because a 3-run lead just wasn’t enough.) With 1 out, Sanchez doubled, and then Aaron Hicks smacked a 2-run home run to push the Yankees into double digits.

Final score: 10-5 Yankees

The Rangers’ starter tonight is the oldest active player in MLB, at the age of 45 (on Thursday) (yes, I can hear the groans from everyone no longer 20-something). He’s been in the major leagues since 1997, making this his 21st season. (For the record, he’s played with 11 different teams, including the Yankees back in 2011.)

But the conversation about Colon starting a game against the rather youthful-leaning Yankees (which is its own conversation) was an interesting topic, as they discovered that youngest Yankee (Torres) was just 3 months old when Colon made his MLB debut with the Indians in 1997, and tonight, Torres went and hit 2 amazing home runs off him. Despite tonight’s game, Colon has actually played pretty well for the Rangers this year so far, so let’s hear it 40-somethings! (As long as they don’t do well against the Yankees.)

Go Yankees!

 

Game 42: NYY vs. KC — Hitting clinic in KC, led by Hicks & #ElGary

While none of the Yankees blamed their less-than-ideal last week (between soggy, halted and postponed games and sleeping in the airport) for their sluggish day yesterday, they certainly were able to bounce back and return to their standard form we’ve grown used to over this season.

The Yankees got off to a great start and kept the ball rolling, so to speak, in this middle game in Kansas City. Aaron Hicks led-off the game with a single and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s 2-out double to kick off the Yankees’ night, the only run they would score not on a home run tonight. Hicks led-off the 3rd with an inside-the-park home run, which could have been a double or triple if the right fielder hadn’t missed the grounder and slammed into the wall out there. Hicks jogged his way home.

In the 4th, Clint Frazier led-off with a walk, Torreyes singled, and they both then scored as part of Gleyber Torres’ 3-run home run. Then in the 7th, Gary Sanchez hit a 1-out solo home run. And they weren’t done yet. In the 9th, with 1 out, Giancarlo Stanton hit a big solo home run into the fountains behind the left-center field seats. Sanchez followed up that with another solo home run of his own, his 2nd of his game, making him the Yankees’ home run leader (at 12 this season).

Meanwhile, Luis Severino got the start and continued his display as the Yankees’ ace, throwing just 77 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 6 batters. In fact, most of those allowed hits and walks were indicative of when the Royals would breakthrough and get on the scoreboard. In the 3rd, a lead-off single scored on a double. After that runner moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, he scored on a single to tie up the game at that point.

After Torres’ big homer in the 4th, the Royals made an attempt to comeback in the 5th, with a lead-off walk and single. A routine double play still moved the lead runner to 3rd, who then scored on a single. That runner (who really isn’t that speedy of a baserunner) tried to make it all the way home on a double, but a quick relay (Stanton-Torreyes-Sanchez) got the out at home. Even after a challenge by the home team, the call was upheld.

Actually, all the challenged calls tonight went the Yankees’ way. Chad Green came on in relief for the 7th inning, and with a runner on 2nd and 1 out, the Yankees fielded a grounder at 3rd and threw it to 1st for the out. Well, actually, it was called safe, and the Yankees challenged it. But it was overturned (for obvious reasons, despite what the home crowd seemed to think).

After Betances’ clean, speedy 8th, Aroldis Chapman came on for the 9th. He gave up a lead-off walk. After a good strikeout, that runner attempted to go to 2nd. Sanchez threw to Torres for the tag, and it was called safe. But another challenge led to another overturn (as the runner comes off the bag), despite again what the crowd seems to think.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

If you noticed, Clint Frazier is finally back in the line-up. He batted 7th as the designated hitter, going 1-for-2 with a double and 2 walks, and scoring on that Torres’ home run in the 4th. A nice welcome back for him after months of dealing with that nasty concussion in Spring Training.

To bring Frazier up to the majors, the Yankees designated pitcher David Hale for assignment last Tuesday. Hale later opted for release rather than outrighting, and the Yankees then re-signed him on Friday and immediately optioned him to AAA Scranton. So expect to see more of Hale in the Bronx soon enough.

And on a final note worth discussion, Aaron Hicks’ inside-the-park home run made him in some great company. Hicks is the first Yankee to hit multiple inside-the-park home runs in a single season (his first one was April 13 in Detroit) since Mickey Mantle hit 3 in 1958. And we’re only 42 games into the season, so Hicks has a chance to make more history.

As really, the whole team does. And with the way they’re going so far, this could be one of those teams that’s not so much compared to other great seasons but rather becomes its own great season to which others are compared.

Go Yankees!

Game 40: OAK vs. NYY — Delay start didn’t hamper Yankees’ victory on #MothersDay

A major front moved through the area, as the Yankees, the Athletics, and their fans in the Bronx waited it out for two hours and 45 minutes. Not a terrible way to spend a rainy day — hanging out at Yankee Stadium with (I’m assuming for most people) your mother and/or family on this Mother’s Day.

When game time actually happened, Luis Severino got the start, throwing 106 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and just 1 run, while striking out 7 Oakland batters. That lone run came in the 5th when a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a 1-out single and then scored on a 2-out single (and throwing error).

The Yankees got things started on their own side in the 1st inning, quickly loaded up the bases with a single, a double, and a walk. Giancarlo Stanton’s single scored both Gardner and Judge. A double play moved Gregorius to 3rd before he then scored on Aaron Hicks’ single. In the 5th, the Yankees got that run back with Stanton’s solid 2-out solo home run into the Yankees’ bullpen.

In the 7th, with 1 out, the Yankees loaded the bases again with Judge’s walk, Stanton’s double (capping of his great offensive day of going 4-for-4), and Sanchez’s walk. Aaron Hicks hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Judge. And then Andujar led-off the 8th with a single, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and scored on Judge’s 2-out single.

Green and Betances sailed their way through the 7th and 8th innings, keeping the A’s to that lone run. Normally fairly reliable, Chasen Shreve came on for the 9th and somehow had quite a bit of trouble as the A’s tried to make a big splashy last-minute comeback. A 1-out solo home run doubled the A’s score, and despite 2 singles, Shreve got out of the inning without further damage.

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

As part of their Mother’s Day celebrations, the Yankees honored their own moms (and many of their wives) as well as supported breast cancer research and awareness by wearing all sorts of pink-trimmed accessories — hats, gloves, socks, special cleats, undershirts, warm-ups, sweat bands, batting and fielding gloves, and more. The Yankees also honored two breast cancer survivors and invited them to participate as “honorary bat girls” — Tina Baker (for the Athletics) and Rosa Lapaix (Yankees).

Earlier this weekend, Didi Gregorius partnered with a local florist to help deliver flowers around the Yankees’ executive offices to all the moms who work there. This is just a continuation of Gregorius’ efforts to spread good will and do good all over the City (usually tagged on social media as #DidisDeeds). We’ve seen him pay for people’s subway rides, handing out umbrellas, making burritos, and surprising young fans in a children’s hospital. What a great example to follow for Yankee fans of any age — to continually look for small ways to be kind to your community.

Next up: after an off-day tomorrow (Monday), the Yankees head down the Coast a bit to D.C. to play a 2-game micro-series against the Nationals. They’ll take another off-day/travel day on Thursday to head over to Kansas City for their 3-game weekend series there. The Nationals are a pretty good team this year in fairly tough division (4 of the 5 NL East teams are above .500), but the Royals are just struggling (nearly the worst team in MLB) this year.

And finally, a Happy Mother’s Day to my own mother, my grandmothers, my great grandmothers, my aunts, and so many of my close friends and family who are celebrating today. So many of you are/were also deeply devoted baseball fans (across the league — Indians, Pirates, Phillies, Cubs, Braves, Rays, Padres, Tigers, and Yankees), and it’s an honor to cheer along side you under normal circumstances, but especially as you are cheered on today for your hard work “off-the-field”.

Go Yankees!

Game 36: BOS vs. NYY — And the winning streak puts the Yankees on top of MLB

With tonight’s win, not only are the Yankees the sole leader of the AL East, but at 25-10, they have the best record in all of MLB. Of course, it helps that they are on a super hot streak, currently running 16-1 for their last 17 games. The actual club record was 21-1 back in 1953, one of the best years for the Yankee organization (with players like Berra, Ford, Rizzuto, and Mantle). Though current fans are making more recent comparisons — like to the 1998 team.

Masahrio Tanaka had an okay start in tonight’s game against the Red Sox, throwing 91 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 3 Boston batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out single scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board. A 1-out solo home run in the 5th added one more. And in the 6th, he gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a ground out.

But that would be it from Tanaka as the Yankees turned to Chad Green, who promptly gave up a sacrifice fly to score Tanaka’s runner from 3rd. Then in the 7th, with 2 outs, he gave up a walk that scored as part of another 2-run home run for the Red Sox. Then Shreve came on for the 8th inning and gave up a double and a walk and only getting one out, so the Yankees called on Jonathan Holder. After a well-placed strikeout, Holder intentionally loaded up the bases and still got out of the inning without a scratch.

Meanwhile, the Yankees started the offensive drive tonight in the 1st inning, when Gardner led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Judge’s single. After the Red Sox took the lead in the 2nd, the Yankees grabbed the lead in the 3rd. Gardner led-off with a double again, Judge worked a walk, and they both moved into scoring position on a ground out. Giancarlo Stanton’s double then scored both Gardner and Judge to give the lead back to the Yankees. After Sanchez’s single moved Stanton to 3rd, Stanton scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly.

Judge led-off the 5th with a single but ended up at 2nd on a throwing error. After Gregorius’ walk and Stanton’s hit-by-pitch, the Yankees were in a good place to do some big damage with the bases loaded and no outs. Gary Sanchez hit a nice sacrifice fly to center field that scored Judge, but then 2 outs later, that big moment had passed.

The Red Sox relievers then held off the Yankees for most of their time on the mound. And with their team ahead by a single run, they needed to depend on those relievers to maintain the status quo. And then the Yankees entered the bottom of the 8th and Neil Walker led-off with a strong double. After Torres worked a 1-out walk, the Red Sox brought in a new reliever to stem the home town offense.

But Brett Gardner promptly hit a big triple (though it would be a double for almost anyone else) and scored Walker and the speedy Torres, who also somehow avoided the tag at home. The sold-out stadium was post-season electric as the Yankees looked to continue their winning streak tonight. Aaron Judge then continued that momentum with a 2-run home run straight to Monument Park to solidify the Yankees win after Chapman worked a 9th inning save with 3 great strikeouts.

Final score: 9-6 Yankees

The Yankees will look to sweep the Red Sox tomorrow night to close out that series before hosting the Athletics. Fingers crossed for a better record than that great streak of 21-1 65 years ago.

Go Yankees!

Game 35: BOS vs. NYY — #SevySharp & Multi-Stanton, but late inning offense rescues again

The Yankees continue their home stand, opening this mid-week 3-game series against the Red Sox tonight. Going into this game, the Red Sox were just a game ahead of the Yankees in the AL East, and both teams know that they both need to win to advance their team’s strength in the standings. But only one team can come out on top. (It’s kind of how this thing works.)

So it was to Luis Severino that the Yankees looked to lead them in this opening game. Severino threw into the 7th inning with 109 pitches, giving up 6 runs, no walks, and 2 runs, while striking out a solid 11 Boston batters. Severino held off the Red Sox until the 5th inning, when a lead-off batter struck out but then made it safely to 1st on a wild pitch (I still hate these, by the way). Two legitimate strike outs later, a single moved that runner to 2nd before another single and long throw allowed that lead runner to score the Red Sox’s first run.

Severino gave up a lead-off single in the 7th, and that runner would be his responsibility as he headed back to the clubhouse for the night. David Robertson came on for 2 quick outs, but then he gave up a long triple that scored that runner. Green needed just 11 pitches to get out of the 8th, and Chapman threw an efficient 15-pitch 9th inning. And in total, Yankee pitchers collected 14 strikeouts (and no walks!).

Meanwhile, the Yankees rode on the wings of Giancarlo Stanton early on with his lead-off solo home runs in the 2nd to left field and in the 4th to right. So after the Red Sox tied up the game in the 7th, the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 7th. With 1 out, Walker doubled and Torres walked before a balk moved both runners to scoring position. Gardner’s walk then loaded up the bases and had the Red Sox headed back to their bullpen again. Aaron Judge promptly singled to score Walker, but a quick, strong throw home got Torres trying to score an insurance run.

They didn’t need it in the end, thanks in part to the Yankees’ strong pitching.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees

There’s been a lot of chatter about which teams will face off in a short series during the 2019 season in London, bringing America’s pastime to Great Britain. MLB announced yesterday that the two teams that will be making the trip will be the Yankees and Red Sox, bringing the best rivalry in all of sports across the pond. The NFL and NBA have traveled to England in previous seasons, and British fans and American ex-pats enjoy these special games.

The MLB has traveled outside of the US and Canada periodically over the last 22 years — in 1996 and 1999 to Monterrey, Mexico; in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 to Tokyo, Japan; in 2014 to Sydney, Australia; and 51 times since 2001 to San Juan, Puerto Rico, including last month when the Indians and Twins faced off (and dealt with a local power outage and the continued local hurricane recovery). Later this year, the Dodgers and Padres will play in Monterrey, Mexico, and next season, the Mariners and Athletics will travel to Tokyo. But the Yankees-Red Sox games in England will be the first regular season MLB games in Europe ever.

That leaves me to wonder if the Brits will embrace baseball with the same kind of enthusiasm as their football (or soccer for Americans) or perhaps cricket, a more similar sport. If anything, the Brits love their sport regardless of what kind of sport it is. I imagine they’ll love it like the Americans love soccer, with the same fervency of the moment (like the US gets during the World Cup) before moving on with other sport and fan bases once the Yankees (literally and figuratively) are flying back across the pond.

Go Yankees!

Game 30: NYY vs. HOU — #SevySharp + Stanton power = a complete shutout

If anyone doesn’t understand why Luis Severino is ace material, clearly they haven’t seen him pitch like he did tonight in Houston. Severino’s Twitter hashtag (at least for me) is #SevySharp because he throws games like this with enough frequency that it warrants attention. He threw 110 pitches in a full 9 shutout innings, giving up 5 hits and a walk, and striking out 10 Houston batters along the way.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Astros have a really good rotation, something they used strategically through last year’s postseason for their clear advantage. Their starter tonight is easily one of the best pitchers in the AL, if not baseball entirely, but the Yankee batters really let into him tonight, forcing his pitch count high early on. Plus, the Yankees have never hit a home run off their starter.

Until tonight.

And offensively, the Yankees relied on Giancarlo Stanton for some deep power to push them over into the win column tonight. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Gregorius singled and then scored on Stanton’s big 2-run home run into the right field seats. Then Stanton added to the score with a 1-out solo shot into the left field seats in the 4th.

Stanton’s next at-bat was a strikeout in the 6th, the only time tonight he’d not get on base. Then in the 8th, the Astros decided to open their bullpen. Hicks led-off with a double, and after an out, stole 3rd. After a strikeout, it would be Stanton with an RBI double to score Hicks. After Sanchez walked, the Astros called on a new reliever who did better at keeping the Yankees from adding to their lead through the next 4 outs of the game.

Final score: 4-0 Yankees

And if you’re following with math here, that makes Stanton responsible for every single run scored tonight. He actually had the best average tonight — going 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored and those 4 RBIs. That certainly helped his batting average overall this season, which has been hovering in the low .200s, up to .240 by the end of the game. For some comparison, Gregorius (who was just awarded Player of the Month) is batting .330 and Judge is batting .312.

Okay, injury news: Jordan Montgomery will officially be out for 6-8 weeks due to a left elbow flexor strain. That leaves a bit of a hole in the rotation, especially with Cessa still on the DL with his oblique injury and no return set yet. So the Yankees are looking at last night’s long-term reliever to fill the gap, or perhaps he gets a shot at it. Domingo German could really rise to the occasion or at least provide some strong first few innings (he went 4 scoreless last night) and then relying on the bullpen for a strong finish.

To fill this gap, the Yankees re-signed reliever David Hale from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to rejoin the bullpen. I don’t expect this to be the end of this conversation or roster maneuver as they find a system that works in the meantime.

Also, they moved Jacoby Ellsbury to the 60-day DL due to his left hip soreness, which effectively removes him off the 40-man roster. They needed a spot for Clint Frazier, who was officially reinstated from the 7-day concussion DL today and options to AAA Scranton. While much longer than the “7-days”, Frazier’s rehab is complete, and more importantly, his concussions are behind him. And while the Yankees certainly have a pretty good working outfield right now in Gardner, Hicks, Judge, and Stanton. Frazier is now ready to go if needed.

And following the play at the end of the 8th inning, Tyler Austin was in a bit of pain coming off the field, wincing a bit and clutching his lower right back. But after the game, Austin revealed he jammed his hip a bit on the play, and with some rest tonight, he should be ready to play tomorrow. Those little tweaks and pinches sometimes just come with the game, being an aggressive athlete and all. It’s when they don’t go away that’s the issue.

Final game in Houston is tomorrow afternoon (1:10 pm CST), for that special Thursday matinée due to travel schedules. It works out well for both teams, as the Yankees will head back to the Bronx for their next home stand, and the Astros are headed out to Arizona. But the Yankees are also hoping for a good plane ride on a second series win this road trip. Finger crossed.

Go Yankees!

Game 26: NYY vs. LAA — #TanakaTime & big early innings, win streak at 8

The Yankees continue their winning streak tonight, thanks in part to a really bad night by the Angels’ starter and part because Tanaka had a really good one. They always say that if you don’t have pitching, you don’t have anything. And boy, have we see that true on both sides of that equation. Fortunately, tonight it fell in the Yankees favor.

Masahiro Tanaka’s start was really good tonight. He threw just 88 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, and struck out 9 Angels’ batters. That lone run came as a lead-off solo shot in the 5th, the only run the Angels scored all night. Chasen Shreve kept that momentum going through the 7th, and newly signed AJ Cole took the final 2 innings. Despite quite a few allowed runners, Cole and his defense kept the Angels from chipping away at the Yankees’ large lead.

And it certainly was a large lead. Like I said, the Angels’ starter was just not having a good night from the start. After a strikeout to kick off the game, the Yankees pounced. Judge singled, Gregorius walked, and a force attempt and fielding error allowed Stanton to reach and Judge to score the Yankees’ first run. Gary Sanchez’s double scored Gregorius, and then Aaron Hicks’ ground out scored Stanton.

Then Neil Walker struck out but made it to 1st on a passed ball. In the process of the throw, Sanchez scored a run. But initially, it was ruled as the 3rd out of the inning. The Yankees weren’t having that, so they challenged and got the play overturned on replay review. Walker then scored on Miguel Andujar’s double. A ground out ended the first big inning of the night.

The Yankees came back in the 2nd inning to basically repeat the 1st. Gardner led-off with a walk and then scored on Aaron Judge’s double. A ground out moved Judge to 3rd. After another ground out, Sanchez walked, and then Aaron Hicks tripled home both Judge and Sanchez. And that was it for the Angels’ starter for the night. The Angels found their initial reliever less helpful, promptly giving up singles to Walker, Andujar, and Torres, which scored Hicks and then Walker for 2 more runs for the Yankees.

The Angels seemed to have better luck following that big 2nd inning, keeping the Yankees from adding even more runs to their lead. But they had one more chance in the 8th. With 2 outs, Sanchez doubled and Hicks walked. After the Angels changed to another reliever, the new pitcher gave up a single to Walker (who really was the key to the Yankees’ offense tonight) to score Sanchez for a final Yankees’ run.

Final score: 11-1 Yankees

Tomorrow, Sabathia hopes to close up this California trip with an “angelic” sweep. It would push the streak to 9 games. So fingers and toes crossed everyone. And we’re only just getting started with this year.

Go Yankees!