Games 102 & 103: KC vs. NYY — Split doubleheader thanks to more rainy days

The Yankees’ game last night was rained out, making it the 9th time that the Yankees have been weather-delayed this season. Fortunately, there was time (and a clear skies kind of forecast) for the next day for the Yankees and Royals to play and split a make-up doubleheader.

Game 1
Luis Severino had yet another bad outing in the regularly scheduled game that became the first game today, earning his 4th loss in an otherwise stellar season. He threw 95 pitches into the 5th innings, gave up 8 hits, a walk, and 6 runs, and struck out 5 Royals’ batters.

In the 3rd, a 1-out double and walk both scored on a long double to get the Royals on the board first. A lead-off single in the 5th ended up at 3rd on a ground-rule double, and then they both scored on a single. The next batter hit a 2-run home run to further the Royals’ lead, and that was it for Severino’s night. Warren came on in relief and sailed his way through the next 8 outs.

The Yankees had no trouble getting on base, but instead finding trouble scoring runs for most of the game. They were held off until the 5th inning, with Hicks’ 2-out single and Giancarlo Stanton’s 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board. In the 6th, Torres singled, moved to 2nd on Bird’s single, and then scored on Neil Walker’s single. Austin Romine hit into a double play but Bird still scored a run.

But then later in that inning, they loaded up the bases and couldn’t get anyone home once again. In the 7th, Gregorius led-off with a single and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ double. Torres, however, got thrown out trying to stretch his double into a triple. The Yankees continued to put runners in scoring position, but couldn’t chip away any further at the Royals’ early lead.

The Yankees’ later relievers David Robertson and Chasen Shreve had less than ideal outings themselves, but it didn’t matter in the long run as the damage was already done. A 3-run home run in the 8th and a sacrifice fly in the 9th added more runs for the Royals this first game of the day.

Final score for game 1: 10-5 Royals

Game 2
The second game of the day was officially the make-up game. Friday’s game was preceded by a giveaway of a bobblehead featuring CC Sabathia, who happened to be scheduled to pitch and promptly did so in tonight’s game. Sabathia had a decent outing, throwing just 79 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out an impressive 8 Royals’ batters.

He gave up a 1-out solo homer in the 3rd, and then loaded up the bases in the 5th. With 2 outs, he gave up another walk to walk in the Royals’ second run of the game. But then Jonathan Holder got a stellar strike out to end the threat. His 6th inning was less heroic, giving up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt. Chad Green came in and gave up a single to score another run but held the Royals off from further damage.

New Yankee Zach Britton had his own issues in the 7th. After 2 quick outs, he had trouble finding that 3rd out, giving up a double, a single, a walk to load the bases, and another walk to score another Royals’ run. But then Betances and Chapman each had scoreless innings to keep the Royals from adding to their score like in the first game.

Of course, this would mean nothing if the Yankees continued to put runners on base but stranded them there. So, when they struck first in the 1st, things were looking up. Gardner led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Stanton’s single, then onto 3rd on a fly out, before scoring on Miguel Andujar’s single. Bird was hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases, and Neil Walker’s sacrifice fly scored Stanton. And Shane Robinson hit his first home run as a Yankee, a big 2-out solo shot in the 4th.

After the Royals tied up the game and then took the lead, the Yankees needed another good inning so they wouldn’t end up on the wrong end of today’s games. They got that in the 8th. Greg Bird hit the 2nd pitch of his lead-off at-bat into the Yankees’ bullpen for a solid home run to re-tie up the game. Then the Yankees loaded up the bases (again) with Walker’s double, Romine’s single, and Torres’ walk. It would be Aaron Hicks’ solid sacrifice fly to score Walker, the winning run.

Final score of game 2: 5-4 Yankees

Roster moves: after Aaron Judge was moved to the 10-day DL thanks to his fractured wrist, the Yankees recalled Tyler Wade, who can easily function as a reliable utility man in the infield and outfield. They also activated pitcher JA Happ as the 26th man for today’s doubleheader. Happ will be the starter for tomorrow’s game.

And in order to get down to that magical number of 25 for the roster, the Yankees used tonight’s big trade to do so. In a deal with the Cardinals, the Yankees got infielder Luke Voit and Future Considerations (or cash for their international signings) in exchange for relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. Shreve, a favorite in the clubhouse, was on a recent upswing after some pretty disappointing outings earlier this season. Trades area always hard, but sometimes, it’s the best for everyone to shake things up and get a fresh start with a new organization. Best of luck to them all.

Also, it’s Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, New York. The induction ceremony for the class of 2018 is tomorrow afternoon. While no Yankees are entering the Hall this year, it should be a memorable event, as always, featuring some well-known faces from the other side of the field during some key events in Yankee history. With some of the recent retirements of the stars of the most recent dynasty of Yankees (like the “Core Four”), the next Yankee in the Hall is just a year or two away.

Go Yankees!

Game 100: NYY vs. TB — Trade talks louder than muted finale loss

This afternoon’s finale in St. Petersburg was certainly a disappointing way to end their brief road trip and cap off their first 100 games this season. With all the conversation about the Yankees big splashy trade (more below), the daily grind sometimes gets swept under the rug. But it’s those daily moments that add up to whether the Yankees will spend October playing baseball or watching baseball from their living room.

Luis Cessa got the start today and actually had a pretty good outing overall. He threw just 74 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 3 Rays batters. In fact, he held them off until that 6th inning. He gave up a lead-off single that scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Rays on the board, and after an out, he handed the ball over to the bullpen.

Jonathan Holder is usually pretty reliable and he actually was except for a really beautiful 2-out solo home run straight up the middle. Cole and Betances, however, kept the Rays to those runs by 2 solid innings to close out the game.

Comparatively, the Yankees pretty much matched the Rays in their offense and pitching today, falling just short of the Rays’ power. The Rays again pieced together their bullpen for an overall show of force which, based on both games this series, might actually be something that works for them.

In the 2nd (with a new reliever, of course), Torres led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Bird’s single, took 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Neil Walker’s sacrifice fly. Not a bad way to make his return to the roster. Then, after the Rays got the lead, the Yankees didn’t find their opening until the 8th inning. Gardner worked a walk to lead-off the inning, ended up at 3rd on Gregorius’ 1-out single, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly.

Basically, the game boiled down to 2 homers vs. 2 sac flies. And power wins the day.

Final score: 3-2 Rays, Rays win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees are currently heading back home for another home stand. They will host the Royals for a 4-game weekend series, and enjoy an off-day before a brief micro-series against the Orioles. Then they head out on the road again.

Roster moves: The last 24 hours have been something for the Yankees roster. First, Gary Sanchez‘s injury is back with a force and will sideline him until at least late August. Fortunately, Romine and Higashioka are more than capable of filling the void, even within the batter’s box.

Before the game, the Yankees activated Gleyber Torres from the DL due to his hip strain, and he ended up scoring that first run of today’s game. They also recalled Luis Cessa to start today’s game. To make room for these two, the Yankees optioned Giovanny Gallegos and Tyler Wade back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

And now, the big news of the day. The Yankees were working on the deal when I posted yesterday, and as I’ve made it a habit not to talk about things until they are settled, the news is out now. The Yankees worked a trade with the Baltimore Orioles to continue to shore up their already pretty powerful bullpen. They picked up veteran closer Zach Britton in exchange for prospect pitchers Cody Carroll, Josh Rogers, and Dillon Tate.

In case you’re wondering, Britton has been with the Orioles for the last 8 seasons, moving from a starter to a closer and becoming quite the force, his best season (2016) earning the O’s 47 saves thanks to his 0.54 ERA. In other words, he’s a good pick for the Yankees already packed bullpen.

Go Yankees!

Game 98: NYY vs. TB — Not so sharp Severino or Rays’ bullpen strategy

Yesterday’s finale against the Mets was rained out due to the stream of thunderstorms once again plaguing the East Coast. So they postponed the game for next month to conclude that series and headed down to their next series, a brief road trip against the Rays. And though it’s been quite stormy in the Tampa area too, the Rays are the only completely domed stadium in MLB (a roof with no retraction capabilities), so the game carried on.

Like the Yankees (and other teams at this point in the year), the Rays are down a starter. But instead of calling up a young pitcher from their farm system or finding one on the free agent market or as a result of a trade, they are playing a bit of puzzle pieces by loading up their everyday roster with bullpen pitchers and then splitting a few games a week between the bullpen.

The obvious disadvantage to this is when a starter has a bad day and they need the bullpen to back him up only to see its depletion firsthand. Or you know, finding out yet another starter is headed for the DL (as they did this week). And I’m glad I’m not writing for them or we’d have way more than a paragraph for the season.

Anyway, for the opener at the Trop, it would be Luis Severino vs. the Rays’ bullpen. And in a weird twist of fate, Severino had a rather bad night. He threw 96 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up a whopping 11 hits and 7 runs (6 earned), and still struck out 8 Rays’ batters to earn just his 3rd loss of the season.

In the 1st, he gave up a 2-out double that ended up scoring from 2nd base on a passed ball that kicked off Sanchez’s cleat almost to 3rd base. Then, he held them off until the 5th — with 1 out, 2 singles ended up scoring on a big 3-run home run. A solo shot led-off his 6th inning before a double and single put runners on the corners and Severino was forced to hand the game over to the Yankees’ bullpen.

Chad Green had some trouble keeping the Rays from adding to their lead. He gave up a single that scored the first runner, and then after an out, a failed double play (just a ground out at 2nd) allowed the other runner from Severino to score, ultimately the game-changers. But then Warren and Cole threw scoreless innings to close out the game.

Meanwhile, the rotating door on the bullpen didn’t keep the Yankees from doing their job. In the 2nd, Stanton led-off with a double and later scored on Miguel Andujar’s 2-out single. The game stayed tied for a bit, but after the Rays regained their lead, the Yankees chipped away at it.

In the 6th, with 2 outs, Giancarlo Stanton singled and ended up at 3rd when the Rays made a sloppy fielding error on Hicks’ hit. After a pitching change, the new reliever threw a passed ball that allowed Stanton to score, and Gary Sanchez’s long single scored Hicks.

The 7th inning ended up being the Yankees’ biggest offensive opportunity. With 1 out, they loaded the bases with walks to Walker, Gardner, and Judge. Another new reliever got Didi Gregorius to ground out, while the runners all moved up to scoring position and Walker scored. Stanton then singled home Gardner and Judge.

Down just a run, the Yankees’ final opportunity was basically handed to them, but they didn’t come through. Gardner led-off the 9th with a single, Judge walked, and they both moved to scoring position on Gregorius’ sacrifice bunt. The Rays opted to intentionally walk Stanton (a good decision on their part as Stanton was on fire tonight, going 4-for-4 with a walk, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored).

So the bases were loaded. Hicks hit into a little grounder and the Rays snapped into defense getting Gardner out at home. Then Sanchez hit a little grounder the Rays mishandled for the out at 2nd, but Sanchez did not run full-out to 1st and the ball beat him there for the final out. The game should’ve been tied at that point. I’m not really sure there are any words for that play other than Girardi’s old go-to phrase “it’s not what you want”.

Final score: 7-6 Rays

Roster moves: following the game on Saturday, after his great call-up story, the Yankees optioned Domingo Acevedo back to AA Trenton. They recalled Giovanny Gallegos from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Go Yankees!

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!