NLDS & ALDS: ATL vs. STL, WAS vs. LAD & TB vs. HOU, MIN vs. NYY — 3 Game 5s & a 3-game sweep

There is nothing normal about the postseason most years, and this year continues to prove this once again. Three of the series went to a Game 5, and only one series was a sweep. And none of those is what you might expect.

NLDS A: The Cardinals and Braves duked it out through 5 games, and it wasn’t until the 5th that the Cardinals came on strong and just made the decision to win this series.

NLDS
Game 1: Actually, the Braves had this game right up until the final inning, when the Cards came out swinging. The Braves just could not catch up in the end. 7-6 Cardinals

Game 2:
The Braves decided they weren’t going to let the series head to St. Louis without a hometown win, using this game to prove why they came out on top of the NL East by blanking the visiting Cardinals. 3-0 Braves

Game 3: This was one of those super tight games, with the Cards eking a single run by the Braves until the 9th. The visitors scored 3 big runs in that inning and ended up taking the lead in the series. 3-1 Braves

Game 4: Another nail biter in the series, as the game was tied and went into the 10th inning before the Cardinals got a walk-off home run to tie up the series. 5-4, in 10 Cardinals

Game 5: Back in Atlanta, the Braves lost their home field advantage in that 1st inning, giving up 10 runs to the visitors, who ended up dominating this game. 13-1 Cardinals

Cardinals win the series in 5 games

NLDS B: Almost everyone “knew” who was going to win this series. Almost everyone “knew” they were going to sweep this series. Almost everyone was very wrong.

Game 1: However, after this first game, “they” were rather confident they “knew” how this was going to work as the Dodgers quickly shut out the Nationals. 6-0 Dodgers

Game 2: But then the Nationals came back and just edged out the home team. 4-2 Nationals

Game 3: In DC, the Dodgers came back just crushing the home team with a big 6th inning. 10-4 Dodgers

Game 4: And somehow, the Nats weren’t about to go away quietly, relying on some solid pitching to tie up the series again and force a Game 5. 6-1 Nationals

Game 5: Another nail-biter in the NL. The game was tied right into the 10th, right up until the Dodgers’ reliever gave up a huge grand slam. The deficit too big to overcome by the home team, costing them the rest of the postseason. 7-3, in 10 Nationals

Nationals win the series in 5 games

ALDS A: As with the other league’s version of this series, games between the league leader and the wild card winner aren’t anything normal or predictable. Especially as the Rays were on quite the tear this last month in their quest for a postseason. But in this series alone, it was all about the “home field advantage”.

Game 1: The Astros started the series strong, only giving up runs to the Rays in the 8th. 6-2 Astros

Game 2: The Astros’ starter the game was just amazing, streaming through the Rays’ lineup and collecting 15 strikeouts. Not that the Rays were slacking. The Astros just played better. 3-1 Astros

Game 3: Once the game was at the Trop, the Rays came out swinging and just didn’t stop. They certainly weren’t about to let the Astros just run away with this series. 10-3 Rays

Game 4: While this wasn’t as poweful in the end, the Rays still collected 13 total hits, giving them more opportunities to score and eventually tie up the series. 4-1 Rays

Game 5: Again, this series was all about home field advantage. Once they were back in Houston, the Astros took command again and showed their fans why they deserve to go to the ALCS once again. 6-1 Astros

Astros win series in 5 games

ALDS B: The one series nobody was really talking about. Outside Yankee Universe, that is. But this one was something to really watch, as the Yankees were about to show off a bit.

Game 1: The Yankees had some really big innings, including home runs by LeMahieu and Gardner. Though Paxton started, it was Kahnle who ended up with the win for his 5th & 6th inning stint to essentially save the game early on until the Yankees powered their way through with those big runs in the 6th. 10-4 Yankees

Game 2: It was Tanaka Time in the Bronx for this game. Aand once again, the Yankee bats came through to support their starter, including a big 3rd inning offense. And while most of their runs were off RBI singles, but i was Didi Gregorius’ grand slam to ensure the Yankees’ eventual win. 8-2 Yankees

Game 3: Home field advantage didn’t seem to matter to the Yankees this series, as they took their momentum on the road. They used an opener in Green, who showed his reliability with a strong start and set the pattern for the rest of the game, backed by a good offense with homers by Torres and Maybin. 5-1 Yankees

Yankees sweep series in 3 games.

An interesting article I found was the idea that no one gives an MVP award for the Division Series. This is one writer’s idea of who should get this hypothetical award. I agreed (or at least understood) his picks in most of these games. But what do you think?

Championship Series begins tomorrow night with NLCS and Saturday with the ALCS. It is a best-of-7 series, so the first team with 4 wins will move onto the World Series next week.

My predictions: So, this first round was a mixed bag. I completely blew the NLDS. First is my prediction, second is the outcome.

  • NLDS A: Braves over Cardinals in 5 games — Cardinals in 5
  • NLDS B: Dodgers over Nationals in 3 games — Nationals in 5
  • ALDS A: Astros over Rays in 4 games — Astros in 5
  • ALDS B: Yankees over Twins in 5 games — Yankees in 3

Now for the Championship Series: (Perhaps, I’ll be better this round.)

  • NLCS: Cardinals over Nationals in 6 games
  • ALCS: Yankees over Astros in 7 games

It’s clearly going to be one of those postseasons. And let’s be honest, it’s really just beginning. But isn’t that what makes October Baseball more intriguing — that you don’t know what’s going to happen?

Go Yankees!

Game 156: TOR vs. NYY — #BigMaple strikes again

Much like New York itself, this afternoon in the Bronx was filled with a bit of everything. Records were broken, pitching was on point, batters hit out of the park, and there was even a bit of drama at the plate over some rather odd calls by the umpires. But it was overall a very successful outing for the entire Yankee team who faced the Blue Jays for this second game of this weekend series at Yankee Stadium.

James “Big Maple” Paxton took stellar command of the mound for the Yankees today, throwing 87 pitches through a full 6 innings for 7 strikeouts and his 15th win of the year. Today’s game was Paxton’s 10th consecutive start that he also won.

After Paxton secured 3 quick outs in the 1st, the 2nd inning began with the ejection of Yankees manager Aaron Boone and hitting coach Marcus Thames. Unruffled, Paxton secured another 3 quick outs to close the 2nd. An infield fielding error in the 3rd caused a batter to reach 1st base, and a couple of singles allowed a run. With Paxton still on the mound in the next 3 innings, he allowed only 1 hit, but no runs.

Jonathan Loaisiga took over for Paxton at the top of the 7th, allowing 2 doubles and a run. Loaisiga’s final pitch of the 7th was recorded at 100.2 mph, his fastest pitch ever, thrown straight down the middle for a strike out swinging to end the inning. Loaisiga allowed a single in the 8th, but no runs scored. Chad Green replaced Loaisiga in the 9th to close the game, facing 3 batters for 3 strikeouts

Yankee batters were strong today and tallied up 11 hits for a total of 7 runs. In the 4th, Judge doubled a line drive to center and then scored on a double to left by Giancarlo Stanton to get the Yankees on the board. The game now tied, Mike Ford sent an RBI single to center field that brought home Stanton.

Stanton led off the 6th with a solo home run deep to center to give the Yankees a nice lead. Mike Ford doubled, followed by an RBI double from Clint Frazier that scored Ford. Wade hit a line drive to right that put him on 2nd and moved Frazier to 3rd. Kyle Higashioka came to the plate and sent a RBI 2-run single to right field that brought home both Frazier and Wade.

Finally, in the 7th, Maybin worked a walk and then moved the 2nd on a ground out. Maybin scored on a Mike Ford’s single, and Yankees earned their 101st game of the 2019 season.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

Injury updates: There was good news today for Gleyber Torres today who fell hard during a play in yesterday’s game. The MRI on his sore right hamstring came back negative. Torres will be available to play through the end of the season depending on his progress.

A bit of game drama: Yankee manager, Aaron Boone, was ejected by 3B umpire (and crew chief) Joe West for concern over questionable calls by a young home plate umpire. Also getting ejected and getting sent back to the clubhouse was Yankee hitting coach Marcus Thames.

This day in Yankee history: On September 21, 2008, the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles, 7-3, in the last game ever played at the old Yankee Stadium.

Go Yankees!

Game 155: TOR vs. NYY — Close call in weekend opener

For the second weekend in a row, New York faced the Toronto Blue Jays for a 3-game series, this time at home in the Bronx. Hopes were high for another win after last night’s game earned the Yankees their 100th win and clinched the AL East Division title.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees, throwing 82 pitches, giving up 4 hits ans 2 runs. Happ allowed no runs for the first 3 innings, but in the 4th, Happ gave up a double and an RBI single, allowing for the 1st run for the visitors. In the 5th, Happ gave up a home run to center. Facing only one batter for a swinging strikeout in the 6th, Happ was replaced by Ottavino who struck out 2 batters to close the inning.

At the top of the 7th inning, Tommy Kahnle took the mound and gave up a walk and a home run that put Jays ahead. Then, in the 8th inning, the Yankees sent in 3 pitchers for 3 batters — Gearrin, Lyons, and Heller. Heller remained on the mound for the 9th, giving up a single, a double, and a walk to load the bases, but shut down the inning with a strikeout and escaping his own jam.

Yankee bats struggled to get in scoring position for most of the game. Scoreless and behind by a run in the 4th, Aaron Judge led off the inning with a home run over the left center field fence to tie up the game. Gardner led-off the 5th with a single and then scored on a 2-run home run by Tyler Wade that put New York ahead by a run.

In the 8th, the Yankees were behind, but they loaded up the bases with a double, a single, and a walk, giving the Yankees the opportunity to tie up or even jump ahead, but all three were left on base after a force out ended the inning. Still behind by a run in the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees failed to reach base for any further scoring opportunities.

Final score: 4-3 Blue Jays

Injury updates: Gleyber Torres slipped on a play in the 4th inning and left the game in the 7th will undergo cautionary tests on his sore hamstring. And it looks like Dellin Betances does not require surgery for his partially torn Achilles’ tendon. He will remain in a walking boot and travel with the team as they pursue their quest into the post-season, watching their efforts again from the sidelines.

Finally, our condolences go out to the friends and family of Howard “Hop” Cassidy. The former NFL player served as a scout, coach, and instructor with the Yankees for 30 years before passing away today at the age of 85. As a “treasured friend” of the late George Steinbrenner, Cassidy and his legacy still impacts the organization, as Hal Steinbrenner shared his thoughts: “Always humble and with a kind word, Hop will be missed by my family and the entire Yankees organization.”

Go Yankees!

 

 

Game 152: LAA vs. NYY: Shutout in the Bronx for the 99th win

After a long (and disappointing) weekend across our northern border, the Yankees were back home in the Bronx for to host the Los Angeles Angels. It ended up being a good game for the hometown crowd that witnessed another strong pitching debut this season.

Yankee Stadium welcomed back Luis Severino who took the mound for the first time since last year’s division series playoffs. Severino pitched 4 scoreless innings to a constantly cheering hometown crowd, giving up 2 hits and 2 walks and striking out 4 LA batters. Unlike Betances who was injured in his debut on Sunday, Severino came out of the game healthy and ready for the playoffs.

Loaisiga came on in relief of Severino, pitching 2 full innings, allowing 1 walk, but striking out 3 batters and allowed no runs. Tarpley took over in the 7th inning, giving up a single to center, followed by a wild pitch and a hit by pitch to put runners on the corners. But Tarpley managed to get that last strikeout to get out of the jam. He gave up 2 singles in the 8th and was replaced by Gearrin, the inning ending with a solid double play and no runs. In the top of the 9th, Adams took the mound, giving up a walk and single to center, but keeping the Angels scoreless and closed out the game with two solid strikeouts.

After a quiet 1st inning for Yankee batters, the 2nd inning began with a solid line drive to left by Torres and a walk by Voit. An RBI single to left by Gio Urshela scored Torres and gave the Yankees an early lead. Cameron Maybin doubled to left field that moved Urshela to 3rd and allowed Voit to score.

But it was the 4th inning that padded the lead for the Yankees. Urshela singled, moved to 2nd on a single by Maybin, and scored on a single by DJ LeMahieu. Judge’s walk loaded the bases, and Didi Gregorius then hit a 2-run double, scoring Maybin and LeMahieu. Finally, a 3-run home run hit by Gleyber Torres to left center field allowed Judge and Gregorius to cross the plate.

That 4th inning ended with the Yankees way ahead, much to the delight of the cheering hometown crowd.  Except for a few walks and a couple singles, the final innings were quiet for the Yankee lineup. But the Angels were kept scoreless the entire game for the Yankee win tonight.

Final score: 8-0 Yankees

Injury updates: Dellin Betances made his season debut in Toronto over the weekend, but he’s now back on the IL and is out for the rest of the season. Returning to New York with a sore ankle, tests today revealed a partially torn left Achilles tendon that apparently happened when Betances jumped on the mound in celebration after his second strikeout in Sunday’s game. After working so hard to come back this season, and with a strong outing facing the Blue Jays, this is truly heart-breaking, season-ending news for Betances.

Our congratulations to retired Yankee pitcher, Mariano “The Sandman” Rivera,  who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award, on Monday at the White House. The Hall of Famer, a 13-time All Star with 5 World Series Championships, entered the ceremony to his familiar entrance music, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. Rivera received this well-deserved award for his extraordinary contributions to sports, culture, and the community.

Go Yankees!

 

 

 

Game 150: NYY vs. TOR — Paxton + power batting for the win

After yesterday’s disappointing loss to Toronto, New York came back strong. On the mound, at the plate, or on the field, all the pieces seemed to come together today for the Yankees. Personal season batting records were broken as the pitchers kept a tight control of the game for their 98th win of the season.

James Paxton took command of the mound this afternoon for a stellar outing through the 5th inning. Paxton threw 101 pitches and gave up 3 hits and a run. That run didn’t come until after 4 commanding innings. In the 5th, Paxton allowed a single that advanced to 2nd on a throwing error in the infield. A walk and a sacrifice fly gave Toronto their 1st run of the game.

In the 6th, with the Yankees drastically, Gearrin replaced Paxton and gave up 2 singles, but no runs. Loaisiga replaced Gearrin for a strong 2 innings. And in the bottom of the 9th, with the Yankees securely in the lead, Ryan Dull was called to close the game. Dull allowed a double, a walk, and another double that scored those 2 runners for the Blue Jays. After a mound visit, Dull gave up a single but then stuck out the last 2 batters, leaving 2 men on base and sealing the game for the Yankees.

In addition to the strong pitching, with 19 total hits, 13 RBIs, 4 walks, and 13 runs, this game clearly belonged to the Yankees. After a quiet 1st, the 2nd inning began well with a walk by Voit who moved to 2nd on a single by Urshela. Brett Gardner’s double to left field scored Voit. In the 3rd inning, lead-off batter LeMahieu singled and ended up on 3rd on Judge’s single. Torres reached base on a fielder’s choice that got LeMahieu out at home. Luke Voit then came to the plate and hit a ground-rule double deep down the right field line to score Judge and double their score.

In the 4th, Brett Gardner hit a long ball to center for a solo home run of the season. Following a couple outs, Estrada reached base on a hit by pitch. The 5th inning started with Torres being awarded a base on a hit by pitch and a walk by Voit. So, with 2 men on base, Brett Gardner (again) hammered his 2nd homer of the game to center field, a 3-run home run and his 25th home run this year.

In the 6th, with the Yankees well ahead, LeMahieu singled on a line drive to center and scored on a 2-run home run to left by Gleyber Torres, his 37th homer this year. Luke Voit followed him with his own solo home run to center to give the Yankees an 8 run lead.

In the 9th inning, Yankee offense pressed on for more runs to pad their lead. Higashioka doubled with a fly ball to left field, followed by a single to center by Thairo Estrada that scored Higashioka. Frazier hit a deep single that moved Estrada to 3rd. Tyler Wade grounded out, but moved Frazier to 3rd as Estrada scored. Mike Ford came to the plate and sent his 11th home run of the season deep to center, scoring Frazier.

Final score: 13-3 Yankees

Injury update: Aaron Boone is cautiously optimistic but won’t speculate on a timetable that would allow the return of Gary Sanchez or Edwin Encarnacion. Sanchez is currently dealing with a groin injury, and Encarnacion is nursing an oblique injury.

Also, there are a few other players ready to come off the IL and should join the team this week as part of the final push for postseason, including Betances, Holder, Montgomery, and Stanton. And there is good news for Luis Severino, who is scheduled to make his long-awaited season debut on Tuesday when the team returns to Yankee Stadium for their final home stand.

A big congrats to the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees AA Affiliate, who won their 4th Eastern League Championship facing the Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles AA team).

Go Yankees!

Game 146: NYY vs. DET — Sloppy pitching battle

After a successful series in Boston that put New York solidly in first place in the AL East, the Yankees arrived in Detroit for a 3-game series. The evening match-up was tied for most of the game as homers were hit out of the park, records were broken, and each team battled to gain the win in a tight game that ultimately left Yankee fans disappointed.

Nestor Cortes, Jr. got the start in the opener and threw 46 pitches for a tough outing, allowing 6 hits and 4 runs into the 3rd inning. The Yankees had a strong lead in the 3rd inning, 6-0, when Cortes, Jr. allowed Detroit their first 2 runs and was quickly replaced by Luis Cessa who allowed 4 more runs to tie the game.

In the 4th inning, Cessa managed 3 ground outs in a row. But by the 5th, with the Yankees back in the lead by 2, Cessa allowed a home run on a fly ball to right field to bring Detroit to within 1 run of the Yankees.

In the 6th, Gearrin replaced Cessa and allowed 2 single grounders and an out before being replaced by Jonathan Loaisiga. Giving up 2 singles, 2 walks, and a sacrifice fly that tied the game, Loaisiga was replaced by Dull for the final out of a messy inning.

With New York ahead by just a run in the 7th, Adam Ottavino took command of the ball, allowing 1 run to tie the game. Then Britton came on for the 8th for 3 quick outs, and Chance Adams took over in the 9th with the game tied. But Adams gave up a double and single that allowed Detroit to score the winning run.

The game started well for the Bronx Bombers with a record-breaking home run in the 1st inning for Brett Gardner, his 22nd homer this year, marking a career season high for the veteran outfielder. But that was only the beginning for a big night for the Yankees.

In the 2nd inning, they began with a double by Urshela, who then scored on a single by Mike Ford. Frazier’s single to left moved Ford to 2nd, and Tyler Wade’s triple scored both Ford and Frazier. Wade then scored on another homer from Gardner, his 23rd this year, breaking his own career record he set earlier tonight. It was also Gardner’s 8th career multi-home run game, not bad for not a power-hitter. The inning ended with a seemingly secure lead for the Yankees.

But with the game tied up in the 4th, Gleyber Torres broke it by sending a home run to the Green Monster to get back the lead. The Yankees were still ahead in the 5th when Didi Gregorius smacked a solo homer. And in the 7th, Sanchez singled and scored on a game-tying homer by Edwin Encarnacion’s 33rd home run of the season.

After a Detroit pitching change, Didi Gregorius hit another home run to right to give the Yankees a 1-run lead. But with the game tied in the 9th, the Yankees were unable to get in scoring position again, as the Tigers gained a run for the win.

Final score: 12-11 Detroit

Injury update: Aaron Hicks‘ season is officially over. His initial diagnosis was a flexor strain due to a throw about a month ago. But later tests revealed UCL issues around his throwing elbow. He’s seen several physicians, and the idea of surgery (yes, that Tommy John kind of surgery) is still on the table as his injury isn’t a clear-cut as most injuries that require that surgery. It’s not ideal, but if it helps the veteran outfielder in the long run, it could be worth the missed part of the season, as it was for Gregorius this last year.

Go Yankees!

 

 

 

Game 145: NYY vs. BOS — Yankees shutout Boston in game and in division

With tonight’s win, and the series win, the Red Sox are officially eliminated from the AL East division title. However, they are still in contention for the wild card, being 8 games behind the current wild card leaders (Rays, Athletics, and Indians). This day is one for many celebrations, including this shut-out win for the New York Yankees in the shadow of a defeated Green Monster.

Big Maple got the start for the Yankees tonight. James Paxton was dominant in the shut-out of the Red Sox, giving up 4 hits and 3 walks into the 7th inning. He also struck out 7 Boston batters for his 13th win of the season. Britton closed out the 7th, keeping the shut-out alive. Gearrin and Lyons each took a 1-hit, 1-strikeout inning to close out the game.

After 4 quiet scoreless innings for both teams, the Yankee batters came alive in the 5th when Austin Romine hit a home run to right field to give New York a 1-0 lead. At the top of the 7th, Gio Urshela sent his 19th season homer to left center field. Austin Romine followed with a line drive double to left and moved to 3rd on a wild pitch. A single by DJ LeMahieu then scored Romine.

After a Boston pitching change, Aaron Judge came to the plate in the 7th and served up a double line drive to center that moved LeMahieu to 3rd. Gleyber Torres’ sacrifice fly to left field allowed LeMahieu to score and the Yankees were ahead 4-0.

At the top of the 9th, Romine earned a walk and moved to 2nd on a walk from Judge. Torres followed with a single ground ball to left to load up the bases. So Luke Voit’s RBI single to left scored Romine for the 5th run in New York’s shut out victory.

Final score: 5-0, Yankees, Yankees take the series 3-1

Injury updates: While CC Sabathia is still hoping to return in some capacity this season, the news for Mike Tauchman is not so good since his injury in tonight’s game put him on the IL for 6-8 weeks. Diagnosed with a Grade 2 calf strain, Tauchman will likely be done for the season.

This allows the possibility to see more of Cameron Maybin, Clint Frazier, and/or Tyler Wade on the field. But Tauchman will be much missed from the roster. But in better news, Giancarlo Stanton could be ready to rejoin the team at home in New York next week.

Finally, before tonight’s game, former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz threw out the ceremonial first pitch and spoke to the adoring Boston crowd. This is the first public appearance by the future Hall of Famer after being shot at a club in the Dominican Republic just 2 months ago, a case still under investigation. (Full video clip here.)

Ortiz underwent several surgeries to save his life and keep the recovery progressing, both initially in the DR and later back in Boston, so his participation before tonight’s game was quite literally a miracle. While he will always be seen as a life-long opponent to the Yankees, his positive attitude, tough work ethic, and generous heart is rather appreciated by all of us across the baseball world. We are certainly glad he’s doing great, and we are glad he’s no longer in a Red Sox uniform!

Go Yankees!