Game 90: NYY vs. BAL — #BirdPower not enough against a walk-off, also #ASGiancarlo

Even after all that work by the Yankees, there’s nothing like a walk-off to both energize the home team and deplete all the energy out of the visiting team that is hoping to gain in the standings behind the division leader from New England.

Fresh off his return from rehabbing his injured hamstrings, Masahiro Tanaka got the start in tonight’s game and actually had a really decent outing for the most part, throwing 80 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 Baltimore batters. In fact, Tanaka didn’t give up a run until the 4th inning, only giving up 3 hits in the scoreless first third of the game.

But then, in the 4th, with 2 outs, he gave up a single and a walk that both scored on a long double. After a throwing error and walk loaded up the bases, Tanaka got out the jam with a great strikeout. However, a lead-off solo home run in the 5th (and an out) ended Tanaka’s outing. Holder closed out the 5th with just 5 pitches.

Chad Green breezed his way through the 6th, but then got into a bit of trouble in the 7th. With 1 out, he gave up a single and a 2-run home run. Originally, however, it was ruled a single that took a wicked bounce off the back wall just out of Judge’s reach. But upon review, the ball bounced off the top of the wall, thus a home run to tie up the game at that point.

Now, to get to that tie, the Yankees put in some big work behind a particular player. In the 5th, Gregorius hit a 1-out single and Andujar worked a walk, and then both of them scored as part of a big 3-run home run by Greg Bird. And in the 7th, with 1 out, Gregorius doubled and moved to 3rd on Andujar’s single. Then after a new pitcher, Greg Bird hit a nice sacrifice fly to score Gregorius. After a walk to Romine, Neil Walker’s single scored Andujar.

So the game was tied, and Robertson cleanly got through the 8th inning with just 15 pitches to keep the Yankees alive. But with no offense breakthrough in the top of the 9th, the Yankees called on Dellin Betances to push the tie into extra innings. But there was some trouble. He hit the first batter, got an out, gave up a double, and then intentionally walked the next batter. Not a great position to be in, but then Betances came through with a great strikeout. Just one more out to go. Instead, he gave up a walk-off single.

Final score: 6-5 Orioles

Roster moves: As previously mentioned, the Yankees activated Masahiro Tanaka off the 10-day disabled list. And after the doubleheader yesterday, they also optioned Luis Cessa, Brandon Drury, and Giovanny Gallegos back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I actually called the “Scranton Shuttle” the “Scranton Shuffle”, and lately, the latter moniker kind of feels rather accurate these days.

Also, this is your final reminder to Vote #ASGiancarlo, to vote Giancarlo Stanton into the All-Star Game next week. He’s currently sitting at 3rd in the rankings, so it’s your turn, Yankee Universe, to vote consistently until 4pm (EST) tomorrow.

Go Yankees!

Games 88 & 89: NYY vs. BAL — Splitting the doubleheader, #ASGiancarlo

The Yankees penciled in the first of today’s two games back in May, when it was still a soggy Spring and rain delays were trending hotter than the latest string of summer superhero blockbusters. So it became a single-admission doubleheader for today, meaning they play one early-ish game and then a small break later, the second about regularly scheduled game-time.

Game 1:
CC Sabathia got the start in the first game and didn’t really have a great outing. It wasn’t terrible, 99 pitches into the 6th inning, allowing 7 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, and striking out just 4 Baltimore batters. But it wasn’t the kind of outing that Sabathia could be happy with, even without factoring in the eventual loss.

He held them off until the 4th. Then, he gave up a 1-out double that scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the O’s on the board. Then after loading up the bases, Sabathia worked his way out of the inning. In the 6th, he gave up a walk, a double, and a 3-run homer that pushed the Orioles into the lead.

With no outs in the 6th, Sabathia handed the ball over to Holder who got into his own jam before getting out of it. Cole followed suit with 2 scoreless innings to keep the O’s from adding to their lead.

In that first game, the Yankees actually got on the board first, thanks to Giancarlo Stanton’s lead-off solo home run in the 2nd, his 22nd of the season. In the 3rd, Higashioka led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Wade’s single before getting caught out at home on a double play that moved Wade to 2nd. Aaron Judge singled Wade home, and Didi Gregorius singled home Judge.

Under a new pitcher in the 6th, Stanton led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored on Neil Walker’s single. But then the Orioles’ bullpen kept the Yankees from retaking their lead and handed the game to the home team.

Final score for Game 1: 5-4 Orioles

Game 2:
Forty minutes and a field reset later, the second half of the doubleheader was ready to go. And Luis Cessa was tapped to start this game. Cessa was in performance mode tonight, throwing 85 pitches in 6 scoreless innings, giving up 3 hits and 3 walks, and striking out 4 batters along the way.

After dropping the first game, the Yankees were ready to come back strong and sure for the second game, striking first and keeping control of the game. Gardner led-off the 1st inning with a solid single, moved to 2nd on a fly out, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. And in a pattern for the rest of the game, they loaded up the bases but didn’t capitalize on the Orioles’ weak season patterns on display in this 2nd game.

In the 4th, with 2 outs, Walker singles and then scored on Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run. Stanton led-off the 5th with a double, moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Greg Bird’s single. That ended the Orioles’ starter’s night and for a few innings, the Yankees were held off.

Then in the 8th, with 2 outs, Frazier doubled and then scored on Austin Romine’s big 2-run home run. Walker then doubled and scored on Gardner’s double. A new pitcher loaded up the bases with walks to Judge and Gregorius. Stanton then made it to 1st safely due to a sloppy throwing error, keeping the bases loaded and scoring Gardner.

Giovanny Gallegos took over for Cessa for the final third of the game and kept the Orioles at bay until the 8th inning when a lead-off single scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run to break the shutout. Despite their extensive lead, the Yankees opted to take back those allowed run in the top of the 9th.

Andujar led-off with a double, and Frazier worked a walk. Austin Romine’s double scored Andujar, but Frazier was caught out at home. Gardner hit a 2-out single to move Romine to 3rd before scoring on Judge’s single. A new reliever finally ended the Yankees’ threat.

Final score for Game 2: 10-2 Yankees

In a weird twist, the original series was a 4-game weekend series in Baltimore. The first game was rained out and made-up today, the Yankees won the middle 2 games, and the last game was also rained out and will be made-up August 25, as the first game of a standard double header. In other words, that series’ result is still pending, though currently stands at 2-1 Yankees.

Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees called in Gallegos to be the 26th man allowed for a doubleheader. Then between innings, the Yankees recalled Luis Cessa so he could start the second game, and had to make a hard choice. They ended up optioning Brandon Drury to AAA Scranton. It wasn’t a decision that sat well with many people as Drury has been a reliable bench player, but he’s a phone call away and I can guarantee he’ll be back soon.

And this is your reminder to “Vote #ASGiancarlo“, and vote for Giancarlo Stanton to be the Yankees’ 5th representative at the All-Star Game. There are so many deserving players on the Yankees’ current roster, and every player has their own person they’d nominate that didn’t make the cut.

But that’s the way some seasons work — some rosters are just packed with All-Stars, and some years you can barely find a veteran to honor for the required lone representative. A potential of 5 Yankees (and talks of who’s forgotten) sounds like it’s the former kind of year, as does the standings and anyone with eyes watching the Yankees play this year.

Go Yankees!

Game 80: BOS vs. NYY — Not really a blowout, but a big shutout

After the Yankees’ big game yesterday, the Red Sox decided to prove they could have a big game too, taking full advantage of a weird quirk in the Yankees’ rotation — Sonny Gray’s inability to have a decent start at Yankee Stadium.

Gray threw 68 pitches into the 3rd inning, giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, 6 runs, and no strikeouts. In the 1st inning, after getting a quick 2 outs, Gray started his spiral — a single, a walk, and a single to load up the bases. The next batter hit a big grand slam to give the Red Sox an early, large lead. A double led off the 2nd, and a 1-out walk put more runners on base for the Sox. They both scored on a single and sacrifice fly, respectively.

Adam Warren came on to complete the 3rd inning for Gray, and then breezed through the 4th and 5th innings and kept the Sox to the runs they’ve already scored. Giovanny Gallegos came in and struggled his way through the 6th and 7th innings. In the 6th, a 1-out single stole 2nd and later scored on a 2-out single. And a 1-out double in the 7th scored as part of a 2-out home run.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Red Sox kept those runs coming against the usually unflappable Jonathan Holder in the 8th. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single. Then Chasen Shreve came on for the 9th. He gave up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, watched as his teammate had 2 foul balls reviewed and upheld, and then scored on a single, before breezing through 3 outs, including 2 solid strikeouts.

The Yankee pitchers gave up 17 hits and 3 walks, while the Red Sox batters gave up just 2 hits, 2 walks, and a hit-by-pitch. Yes, the Yankee batters were having the opposite kind of night as last night.

Final score: 11-0 Red Sox

In many leagues, there is usually a sort of “mercy rule“, often referred to as the “10-run rule”. Most people know this from Little League or school sports team experience. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to any professional league, so teams can win by however much they do.

And as we all know, it doesn’t matter by how much you win in a win-lose kind of sport. Like for those of you following the World Cup (soccer/football) right now, you might note how while the team was ranked by both its win-draw-loss results and its amount of goals scored per game. So those who scored a higher number of goals could potentially outrank another team that has the same number of wins or losses. That doesn’t work that way in baseball. It’s just wins and losses.

While it’s nice to have a big blowout kind of game sometimes, it’s less celebratory (for me, at least) than when they end up with a tight game that is more of a nail-biter, or a game well-fought (even if your team loses in the end).

And if you’re wondering, the modern record for biggest blowout in MLB was set in 2007 when the Rangers, down 0-3 in the 4th, came back to beat the Orioles 30-3. Which is insane on so many levels. But a great reminder that it doesn’t matter by how much a team wins or loses, just that they win or lose, which is any interesting talking point. So, talk about it.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: with some lousy pitching and minimal offense, there’s not a ton of “highlights”. So fingers cross that tomorrow there will be a video clip you’ll actually want to see.}

Game 78: NYY vs. PHI — Shut out of a sweep

The Yankees conclude their tour of the “City that Loves You Back” by not feeling so much of that love. In a quirky turn of events, about 20 years ago, the City of Philadelphia launched a campaign in a sort of response to New York’s “I Love New York” campaign with one that might encourage tourists to receive the “brotherly love” rather than be compelled to give it. So, they launched ads that relied on “Philadelphia’s heritage as the ‘City of Brotherly Love,’ infused with the Quaker values of universal love, nonviolence, tolerance, and equality.”

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of love for the Yankees tonight. Luis Cessa got the start tonight, throwing 74 pitches in his 3 innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out just 2 Phillies batters. In the 2nd, with 1 out, Cessa gave up a single who moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt. After another batter worked a walk, the next player hit a long 3-run home run for the only runs to score all night.

Giovanny Gallegos came on in relief of Cessa in the 4th and continued on for the next 3 innings, keeping the Phillies to those runs. But his strength was actually getting a strong 6 strikeouts. Holder and German continued Gallegos’ momentum, breezing their ways through the 8th and 9th scoreless innings.

But the Yankees’ offense was limited to 4 hits and 2 walks off the Phillies’ starter, but he and his lone reliever kept the Yankees completely and disappointingly scoreless for the whole game. The Yankees’ biggest show tonight was defensively, with both Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton slamming up against the back wall to make some great plays.

Final score: 3-0 Phillies, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: After a travel day and day-off tomorrow, the Yankees head back to the Bronx to face the Red Sox for a weekend series starting Friday, before 3 games against the Braves. And then, they’re on the road visiting the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Indians right up to the All-Star Game Break.

And speaking of which, have you voted for your favorite All-Star candidates yet? Time is running short (you have until July 5 at 11:59 pm EST). Vote today!

Go Yankees!

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!

Games 68 & 69: NYY vs. WAS — “Let’s play one and a half”?

Last month, the Yankees traveled to the nation’s capital to play a short series, the now popular 2-game series of this year’s schedule. But lingering showers and storms that plagued much of the country made playing in some games almost like chasing or avoiding the weather its own sport. Such delays seem to have trickled out (pun intended), so that means that we’re now in the making all those missed games up part of the schedule.

Anyway, despite over an hour delay last month, the Yankees and Nationals played 5 1/2 innings of their first game of the series before seemingly unending showers forced the powers that be to suspend the game as it was. They were supposed to pick up that game before the next game on the following day, but those same storms continued on into the next day. And it forced them to do a sort of doubleheader make-up game tonight. Or rather about a game and a half.

Game 1: The Suspended Game
The two players that made the most impact on this first game are no longer on the active roster. Now on the DL due to some hamstring strains, Masahiro Tanaka started the game for the Yankees, and all the Yankees’ runs were due to Tyler Austin’s bat. Austin is back in AAA due to some overcrowding on the Yankees’ bench.

Tanaka threw 72 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up just 4 hits, no walks, and 3 runs, and struck out just 2 batters. He gave up a 2-out solo home run in the 1st to get the Nats on the board early. And in the 2nd, a lead-off double scored on a 1-out single, who then scored on an RBI double.

The Yankees chipped away at that lead, as I said before, thanks to Tyler Austin. In the 4th, Gregorius made it all the way to 2nd on a Little League-style fielding error before scoring on Austin’s big 2-run home run. Then in the 5th, the Yankees loaded the bases — Judge walked, Stanton singled, and Sanchez walked. Gregorius hit into a fielder’s choice, getting Judge out at home, and then Austin’s sacrifice fly scored Stanton to tie up the game.

As the rain came down in the top of the 6th, the Yankees left a man stranded as the middle of the inning came and they suspended the game. So, coming back tonight to resume the game (and keep up with roster moves of pinch-hitters and replacements), Chad Green came out for the Yankees and got into a bit of trouble. With 1 out, he gave up a single and 2-run home run to give the lead back to the Nationals.

Shreve and Warren each took an inning, while waiting for the Yankees to face the Nationals’ bullpen and find the strength possibly lingering from Austin’s power last month. It wasn’t going to happen.

Final score: 5-3 Nationals

Game 2: The Rain Delay
About 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one, enough time for the grounds crew to make the field all pretty again (and the guys to change uniforms for a clean one), the game that was delayed due to rain started. There’s been a lot of talk about how bad Sonny Gray does at home in stark contrast to how well he does on the road. Tonight, he proved the formula true again. Gray threw 86 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and struck out 7 batters.

In the 2nd, he gave up consecutive singles that moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. A ground out scored the lead runner and moved the other one to 3rd. The next batter hit into a fielder’s choice that had the runner caught in a brief rundown for the out. A lead-off double in the 4th moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a sacrifice fly.

Holder, Robertson, Betance, and Chapman closed out the final 4 innings for the Yankees, collectively (with Gray) getting an impressive 15 total strikeouts and keeping the Nats to those 2 runs. Though they threatened at bit in the 9th inning, a long fly ball run down and captured on the warning track by Judge handed Chapman his 21st save.

Meanwhile, the Yankees actually struck first. Hicks led-off the game with a double, and 2 outs later, scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single. In the 5th, down by just a run, the Yankees came back. Romine led-off with a single but was out when Gray bunted into a bad grounder. Gray then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ big 2-run home run to give the Yankees back the lead.

Clint Frazier led-off the 7th by being hit by a pitch and then moved to 2nd on a sloppy pick-off error. Two outs, a walk to Judge, and a pitching change later, Stanton doubled and scored Frazier. Torres was intentionally walked to load the bases, but they ended their rally this inning with just one insurance run. It would be all they needed.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees, the short make-up series was split 1-1

Roster moves: Before the game, Clint Frazier was recalled, Ronald Torreyes sent to AAA Scranton, and Giovanny Gallegos was recalled as the Yankees’ 26th man for the doubleheader. Gallegos will be on his way back to Scranton now.

Next up: the Yankees head back to the Bronx where the Mariners await their 3-game series with them there tomorrow. After they close out this home stand, they hop a flight down to St. Petersburg to face the Rays this weekend and then up to Philadelphia for 3-games next Monday. Then home again for the final home stand before the All-Star Break.

It’s worth noting that what most people talked about for the first game was the player who hit the winning home run was not yet with the team when the game was suspended. He wasn’t called up to the main team until May 20 (5 days after the originally scheduled game). Now, because of how they have to score this, as being played on May 15, they marked this as his 1st home run. But it’s actually his 6th home run since his call-up. So, everyone is making bad jokes about time travel and pointing out the obvious problems and loopholes of how records are kept in the league.

Go Yankees!

Game 45: NYY vs. TEX — A strong Texas starter vs. a messy Yankees starter

Sometimes, the deficit is too large to overcome. Or there just are not enough outs for the offense to kick in. Or the opposing starter is just really good. Or the Yankees’ starter had a messy start. Or all of the above.

Domingo German got the start for the Yankees, and coming off his last, strong showing, this was less than ideal. He threw 85 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs, while still striking out 6 Texas batters. In the 1st with 1 out, German gave up a single and a walk that scored as part of a bit 3-run home run to get the Rangers on the board early and big.

In the 2nd, he hit the lead-off batter that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then advanced to 3rd on a ground out. German then threw another wild pitch to strike out the next batter, but due to the wild pitch, the batter to made it to 1st safely while the other runner raced home to score another run. Yet another wild pitch moved the runners up, and a walk loaded the bases. A grounder scored one more run before German finally got out of this messy inning.

German found his pace and struck out the side in the 3rd, but then came back to give up a lead-off home run in the 4th. Two outs and a single later, the Yankees had enough and went to their bullpen. AJ Cole came on in relief to throw 5 scoreless outs and keep the Rangers from adding to their lead. Shreve finished off the 6th inning and kept that momentum, before handing the game over toe Gallegos for the next 2 scoreless innings.

Deep in the hole already in the first 2 innings, the Yankees faced a pretty good veteran starter, who threw a solid 7 innings, only giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and just 2 runs during his tenure. Those 2 runs were a 2-out solo home run by Gleyber Torres in the 3rd and a 7th inning 1-out solo shot by Miguel Andujar.

But once the Rangers went to their bullpen, anything was possible, and the Yankees made every effort to chip away at the Rangers’ lead in the final 2 innings. With 1 out in the 8th, Stanton singled, and then Austin Romine hit a nice 2-run home run to put the Yankees within striking distance. After Gregorius singled, the rest of the roster left him hanging out there. And a solid 9th inning showing by their closer sealed the deal.

Final score: 6-4 Rangers

So, Aaron Boone was ejected 5 times as a player, but earned his first one as a manager tonight in the 6th inning. Apparently, Boone had been having issues all night, “chirping” from the dugout until the home plate umpire whipped around in the middle of Sanchez’s at-bat and tossed the Yankees’ rookie manager. To be fair, a lot of conversation online has been about the questionable strike zones recently, especially with larger players like Judge and Stanton. I’m not sure I agree he needed to be ejected (sometimes they do, believe me), but we all know you can’t argue balls and strikes. No matter how terrible the calls really are.

Some roster moves: on Monday, the Yankees moved some of the guys from the DL to their rehab assignments at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in preparation for their eventual return to the big leagues — Greg Bird, Billy McKinney, and Tommy Kahnle. Now, this made

Scranton Shuttle: in the same shuffle that sent a bunch of players to Scranton on the rehab, the Yankees recalled reliever Giovanny Gallegos to fill out the spot that Clint Frazier left the previous day (Sunday). And despite a strong 2 innings tonight, Gallegos is heading back to Scranton for a player that yet to be announced. Someone’s coming to Texas on that return trip, but I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

Meanwhile, with the prospect of Greg Bird coming back soon, people are wondering what will happen to Tyler Austin, who has certainly been a huge part of the Yankees’ winning streak this last month. However, Boone later said in an interview that he doesn’t expect Austin to be going anywhere anytime soon, noting the same things we’ve all been seeing in him. You don’t want to lose a good player that could easily step into the game in an emergency. Though, that certainly sounds like quite a few players on the current roster.

Go Yankees!