Game 128: NYY vs. OAK — Tauchman’s RBIs fall short of Happ’s allowed homers

The Yankees are having trouble finding traction in the Bay area in this midweek series. The Athletics are certainly attempting to close that gap in the AL West between them and the Astros and/or solidify their Wild Card status, and unfortunately, they’re using this series with the Yankees to do so.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees and had some trouble tamping down the home team’s bats. He threw 80 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out just 4 batters. With 2 outs in the 2nd, he gave up a single that scored on a 2-run home run to put the A’s in the lead.

To lead off the 3rd, Happ gave up a walk and a 2-run home run to double the home team’s score. Then in the 5th, he loaded up the bases with a double, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk. So with that threat, the Yankees turned to Chad Green. Green quickly got consecutive pop-outs, but then a single scored one more run for the A’s before an easy grounder got him out of the jam.

Green continued on through the next two innings, giving up a lead-off solo home run in the 6th. But he was able to control the rest of his outing and hand the game over to Ottavino who breezed through the 9th in just 9 pitches.

The Yankees were first on the board again. In the top of the 2nd, Gregorius led-off with a double and scored on Mike Tauchman’s 1-out single. After the Athletics took a nice lead, the Yankees find meager opportunities to chip away at it.

In the 6th, with 1 out, they loaded up the bases with Urshela’s single, Gregorius’ walk, and Torres’ single. After the A’s went to the bullpen for a new pitcher, Tauchman hit a sacrifice fly deep in foul territory that scored a speedy Urshela. Mike Ford led-off the 7th with a strong solo home run. After 2 outs, Sanchez singled, moved to 3rd on Urshela’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double.

After that, the Yankees were kind of stifled by the A’s bullpen, falling just short tonight.

Final score: 6-4 Athletics

CC Sabathia is enjoying his final trip to his hometown area during the regular season. Originally from Vallejo, an area northeast of San Francisco and Oakland, Sabathia and his organization PitCChIn have partnered with the local Boys & Girls Club to help kids, much like a young Sabathia many year ago.

Relieved of the pressure of starting this series (on the basis of a scheduling fluke), Sabathia has been connecting with all his old haunts and encouraging kids (like him) that they can reach for their dreams. He visited a local elementary school, invited a large group of kids to the game, and received a donation from the Boys & Girls Club to help continue his foundation’s philanthropic work in the area and back in his now-home of New York.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 122: BAL vs. NYY — A matinee sweep

For the rare mid-week afternoon matinee, the Yankees found the right stuff to pull off the desired outcome of this series — a clean sweep of the visiting Orioles. This also makes it 16 straight wins against the Orioles.

JA Happ got their start this afternoon in the final game of this 4-game series. He threw 95 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out 6 Baltimore batters. In the 1st, a 1-out walk moved to 2nd on a 2-out single and then scored on another single. Happ then got out of a bases-loaded jam to start the momentum of the game — let them threaten but shut them down. Two outs into the 3rd, a single moved to 2nd on a walk and then scored on a single.

Luis Cessa came into the game for a clean 6th but found some trouble in the 7th. With 1 out, he gave up a double and a walk. Then a 2-out double scored both runners. That was it for Cessa, so Adam Ottavino was called upon to shut down the threat. A wild pitch moved the runner to 3rd where he easily scored on a double to cap off the visitors’ runs today. Then, Britton and Chapman worked their way through the scoreless 8th and 9th to close out the Yankee pitching tonight.

Meanwhile, the Yankee bats gave their pitchers a little wiggle room. And clearly, they needed it. Gardner led-off the 1st with a walk but was out in the fielder’s choice hit by Judge. After Urshela’s short single added another runner. So Didi Gregorius’ single scored Judge, and Gary Sanchez slammed a 3-run home run up the middle into Monument Park to score Urshela and Gregorius.

Then in the 6th, with 2 outs, the Yankees loaded up the bases with Sanchez’s single, Torres’ double, and Tauchman’s walk. Mike Ford then singled home both Sanchez and Torres to edge the Yankees just into that single run lead they’d sail all the way to the last out.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees, Yankees sweep Orioles 3-0 (or 4-0 if you count the doubleheader)

Next up: After their family picnic this after, the Yankees will have another 4-game weekend series, this time hosting the Indians and a big commemorative weekend. On Saturday, they will celebrate Mariano Rivera’s new Hall of Fame plaque with a duplicate unveiled in Monument Park. And Sunday will honor the 2009 Championship with a fan gift of a replica of that year’s World Series ring.

After a travel day on Monday, the Yankees will head to the West Coast for their big road trip against the Athletics, Dodgers, and Mariners. Then they’ll be back in the Bronx to host the Athletics and Rangers before hitting the road once again.

Roster moves: And there’s more roster moves in Yankee Universe. They announced they were designating pitcher Brady Lail for assignment. The Yankees also recalled infielder Thairo Estrada to play in today’s game. And finally, they claimed pitcher Ryan Dull off waivers from the Giants. The evolution of the roster continues.

Game 116: NYY vs. TOR — Drama in “The 6”

The Yankees had their winning streak snapped with tonight’s drama-filled game at Rogers Centre. To be fair, as is often the case with division rivals, it’s often tough to face off in the opposing team’s stadium, and even more so when the visitors are (now) 37 1/2 games ahead of the home team.

JA Happ got the start in the second of this 4-game weekend series in Toronto and had one of those nights that was frustrating in all the wrong places. He threw 99 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out just 4 batters. A lead-off walk in the 1st scored on a 2-out 2-run home run to get the Jays on the board. And a lead-off solo home run in the 2nd added one more to their lead.

Then, with 2 outs in the 4th, a batter doubled. On a wild pitch, he made a dash for 3rd, which was initially called an out, but on replays and a review, the call was overturned as the runner just missed being tagged out at 3rd. After Happ gave up a walk, he let another pitch linger over the plate to become a 3-run home run, doubling the home team’s score.

Nestor Cortes Jr came on for 2 solid scoreless innings before handing the game over to Tommy Kahnle. A lead-off walk was eliminated in a great double play. But then he gave up a double that scored on a 2-run home run to cap off the Blue Jays’ scoring tonight.

The Yankees, meanwhile, had some trouble finding that offense from the previous 9 games. There was some “chirping” about the strike zone which came to a head in the 4th (more below). With 2 outs, Mike Tauchman got the Yankees on the board with a solo home run. And Mike Ford led-off the 7th with a solo home run.

This meant every run scored in tonight’s game was off home runs, from both teams.

Final score: 8-2 Blue Jays

Okay, let’s address a big issue here: baseball is a game about people, and a lot of it is about how often they fail at their job. A great batting average, for example, is getting a hit 30% of the time and getting out 70% of the time. Pitchers have to throw strikes, something batters have to hit to make home runs. A fraction of a section can mean the difference between an out and safe on a tag. And that human factor means things are going to get called wrong far too often than we’d like to believe in this replay and AI-infused world.

This, of course, is not an excuse for improvements in limiting human error. Nor is it an excuse to display, um, improper human behavior in response or in association of the system. It also means that sometimes people who aren’t behaving badly get caught up in the melee of those who do. Call it collateral damage, if you will.

Tonight, Brett Gardner became collateral damage. Look, the strike zone wasn’t great, as is too often the case with newer umpires. Yes, Gardner has been known to question the calls periodically, and his frustrations recently even resulted in a split lip as a result of a temper tantrum and helmet throw more on the reaction level of one of his own children.

However, tonight, video evidence showed that he wasn’t one of those “chirping” about the calls. (Maybe the split lip taught him a lesson on such exhibits.) Somehow, he was the only one ejected from the game. His manager, Aaron Boone initially asked if he (Boone) was the one being ejected as he was one of the ones making noise from the dugout steps. Nope, the umpire pointed to Gardner, who looked on the scene confused at first and then angry for being accused of doing something he clearly didn’t do.

Understandably, he went out to ask for clarity but was shrugged off by the umpire. Again, no excuses here, but Gardner soon found his manager holding him back from an actual confrontation. The umpire doesn’t need to justify his actions, as per MLB rules. He can toss who he wants when he wants. Fair or not, this is how the system is set up. Remember, human rules, human error, human behavior all in action, and it’s going to chafe somewhere.

However, the ejectees do have some recourse and the opportunity to appeal if they desire. A committee always reviews every ejection and brings a resulting discipline. Usually this results in a fine and a suspension from playing in a game for a comparative time, depending on the reason for the ejection. Should the committee find the ejection unwarranted, they can essentially dismiss the consequences. But they do factor in witness statements, video evidence, how events unfolded, who was involved and what each person did, and that aforementioned collateral damage. So, stay tuned for the resulting fall-out.

Go Yankees!

Game 111: BOS vs. NYY — Strong Sunday Sweep

The game began in rain delay. And for most of the hour and nine minutes, fans kind of gathered around the stadium to watch the clouds over the stadium and the dry tarp on the field. Then, right before the Yankees’ announced their start time, it poured. For about a minute. And within just a few minutes after that, the tarp was off, the field was prepped, and the finale of this rivalry weekend was in full swing.

In a fun twist, both starters were transferred to the paternity list at the beginning of this series to be with their wives for the birth of their children this weekend. (Neither are first-time dads, but no one wants to miss the birth of their children no matter how many times they’ve become fathers.) Congratulations to both expanding families. Both new again fathers were activated back on their respective rosters to start tonight’s game, though only one had a good night.

The Yankees sent JA Happ to the mound to close out this rivalry series. He threw 91 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out just 2 Boston batters. Actually, Happ held off the Red Sox for most of his outing. It wasn’t until the 5th that the visitors got on the board with consecutive solo home runs. With 2 outs in the 6th, Happ gave up a single and his lone walk, and a wild pitch moved runners to scoring position, which they did on a long single to end his night

Cessa came on to close out the 6th inning before sailing his way through the 8th. Green closed out the game with a high-count, but clean 9th inning for the save.

Meanwhile, the Yankees hit into the Red Sox’s starter early on and didn’t let up. With 1 out in the 1st, Aaron Judge smacked a long home run into the Bleacher Creature seats in Section 203 to get the Yankees on the board first. After a scoreless 2nd, the Yankees found the 3rd inning to be their liking.

With 1 out, Judge worked a walk and then scored on Gio Urshela’s 2-run home run. Gardner then doubled and scored on a double by Cameron Maybin off the back wall. Mike Ford’s single scored Maybin. After Higashioka’s double moved runners into scoring position, they did so on Mike Tauchman’s single to cap off the Yankees’ big night and force the the Red Sox starter out of the game early.

The relievers were able to stop the Yankees from adding to their big early lead, though it was clearly large enough to stop the Red Sox from coming from behind and overtaking the home team for the remaining part of the game.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees, Yankees sweep 3-0 (and overall 4-0, including makeup game)

Next up: The Yankees are back on the road to visit the Orioles this week before a 4-game home stand in Toronto. They will then come home for a home stand to face the Orioles and Indians. During that weekend, the Yankees will unveil a replica of Mariano Rivera’s Hall of Fame plaque and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2009 championship. All this before the final trip to the West Coast to close out this month.

Injury Updates: During tonight’s game, it looks like Gleyber Torres sustained a core injury, exiting the game in the 8th inning. He will be sent for tests to see how severe the injury is, hopefully avoiding a long stint on the IL, if one is deemed necessary.

And Aaron Hicks has avoided Tommy John surgery on his sore elbow, as the diagnosis was a right flexor strain. It’s enough to land him on the 10-day injured list, but not enough to warrant something more severe.

Go Yankees!

Game 108: BOS vs. NYY — #BigMaple & #GrandGleyber

The Yankees just came off facing the Red Sox last weekend, but the tables have turned as the rivalry shifts from Fenway to the Bronx. And between the two, the offense on both side were limited to a single inning, oddly the 1st. And I fully blame some really great pitching tonight.

James Paxton (aka “Big Maple”) had a great outing, throwing 100 pitches in his 6 strong innings. He only gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs and struck out 6 Boston batters to earn the eventual win. With 2 outs in the 1st, he gave up a walk that scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board first. But then, he basically breezed his way through the next 16 outs.

Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman each took an inning to close out the final third of the game. Each reliever held strong and had efficient innings — taking just 15, 8, and 9 pitches, respectively.

The Yankees, down early, bounced back early. In the bottom of the 1st, they loaded up the bases quickly. LeMahieu singled, and Judge and Encarnacion each worked walks. After an out, Gleyber Torres took the first pitch he saw tonight and sent it into the left field seats for a grand slam, his 2nd grand slam and his 21st home run of the season.

Beyond that 1st inning, there was a handful of base runners, but there wasn’t any further scoring. Again, some great pitching on both sides kept the teams limited to the damage they each did in that opening segment.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees

Roster moves: Before the game, the Yankees activated Brett Gardner from the 10-day injured list, as his “barking knee” is back and ready to go sliding around the outfield as he catches those long fly balls. They also optioned Tyler Wade back to AAA Scranton and recalled reliever Stephen Tarpley for that “fresh arm”.

The Yankees also placed JA Happ on the paternity list as his third child is due imminently. A big congratulations to JA and his wife Morgan, and to their children on becoming a big brother and big sister!

Earlier today, the Yankees partnered with MLB, Goldman Sachs, and DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI) to play in the 4th Annual Wiffle Ball Tournament, a charity game played by GS employees, some current and former ball players, and a few hundred kids in the area helped by DREAM. Cameron Maybin, through his Maybin Mission, took the lead in helping coordinate the game, joined by his teammate Domingo German, former Yankees Mickey Rivers and Mark Teixeira, and former Met John Franco.

The annual charity event has grown over the years and helps DREAM as it serves over 2500 kids in the New York area. This year, over 1000 Goldman Sachs employees volunteered their time to participate in the fundraiser, and while they played, the kids from DREAM acted as umpires and scorekeepers.

Today marks 40 years since the death of the late Thurman Munson. The Yankees’ catcher died tragically at the age of just 32 trying to land his small plane at Akron-Canton Regional Airport. The Yankees immediately retired his #15 and put up a plaque in his honor, the first Yankee captain since Lou Gehrig. It’s still a treat to see so many jerseys blazoned with his jersey number to this day.

His wife Diana Munson is a long-time friend of the Yankees, a frequent face at Old Timers’ Day, and the honored guest to throw out tonight’s ceremonial first pitch. Catching the ball was Munson’s teammate and Yankees special adviser Willie Randolph. Yankees Magazine covered the anniversary, Munson’s legacy, and featured an in-depth interview with Diana in this month’s issue with some touching moments and memories for every long-term Yankee fan.

A life and promising career cut short by an accident, a legacy we still honor and remember, and a reminder to live each day to its fullest. Forever our Yankee, #15.

Go Yankees!

Game 106: ARI vs. NYY — Flat offense travels home

The Yankees begin their home stand this week with a 2-game mini-series against the visiting Diamondbacks for some quick interleague play. And despite some great pitching, the offense seemed to carry the flat offense home from Boston.

JA Happ threw 94 pitches through 6 innings, gave up 8 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and struck out just 2 Arizona batters. In the 1st, with 1 out, he loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. A sacrifice fly scored the D-backs first run of the night. It was a tough inning for Happ, but then he sailed his way through the next 2. He then gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 4th. A double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single.

And then things got wonky. The next batter managed the rare feat of “batter’s interference”. Deep into the count, Happ threw a really low ball that bounced off the plate right as the runner at 1st made a dash for 2nd. So logically, Higashioka went for the ball to try to get the runner stealing 2nd. However, the batter wasn’t paying attention, and it looks like he went for the ball, almost maybe to stop it from rolling around the plate area, a common courtesy allowed when there’s no other runner involved. The batter’s action blocked Higashioka from getting to the ball and thus was out on “batter’s interference”.

{Media note: I searched, but there seems to be no video highlight of this incident, which is a shame because it’s a good one. So I went back and watched it on archives to try to relate it for you.}

Luis Cessa closed out the final third of the game for the Yankees with his out strong outing. His lone allowed run was a lead-off solo home run in the 7th inning to cap off Arizona’s scoring tonight. This should have been plenty of room for the Yankee offense to kick in and dominate like Yankee Universe is used to this team doing this season. But there hasn’t been a lot of “normal” lately.

Credit where credit is due, the Diamondbacks’ starter had a really good night, holding off the Yankees for most of the game. Judge led-off the 6th, and thanks to a sloppy fielding error made it all the way to 2nd. He then scored on Edwin Encarncion’s double to get the Yankees on the board. But with the bases loaded later in the inning, the Yankees couldn’t get any more runs home.

Tyler Wade hit a 1-out solo home run in the 8th inning to double the Yankees’ score, his first of the season and second of his MLB career. But the Yankees’ were stalled in their offense tonight.

Final score: 4-2 Diamondbacks

Injury update: In the 5th, Luke Voit came out of the game with what was dubbed a “core injury“. He will be sent to an MRI with results due before tomorrow’s game. Voit later said he “couldn’t get loose” before tonight’s game, and if anyone’s tried to work out without being warmed up or “loose”, you know that a muscle tightening or strain is pretty much in the cards. What that means for the infield is still up for grabs, especially with the trade deadline coming tomorrow at 4 pm EST.

Also, if you’re looking for some better moments, CC Sabathia was a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers on Monday night. He chatted with Seth about his foundation, currently being on the injured list, retiring, this year’s All-Star Game festivities, wanting his plaque to wear a Yankees cap should he get into Cooperstown, and dressing up as Yoda for Yankees’ Star Wars night.

Go Yankees!

Game 101: NYY vs. MIN — 6 homers, 2 triples, 17 runs, 3 double plays, 2 league leaders

The team from the “Mini Apple” certainly gave the team from the “Big Apple” a much-needed challenge in preparation for the final two months of the season. And while I can’t say much about the pitching for either team this series, the offense certainly had quite the time.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees in the final game against the Twins tonight and had some struggles keeping the Twins’ offense under control. He threw 74 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out just 3 batters. With 2 outs in the 1st, he gave up a single that scored on a 2-run home run to get the Twins on the board first.

In the 2nd, with 1 out, a walk moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. A lead-off walk in the 4th promptly scored with a 2-run home run. Then Happ gave up consecutive singles that moved into scoring position on a ground out.

That was it for the starter tonight, handing the ball over to Nestor Cortes Jr. Cortes gave up a sacrifice fly to score just 1 runner before closing out the inning with a strong strikeout. Cortes had a decent outing, despite giving up a lead-off solo home run in the 5th to add just 1 more run for the home team. Cortes then stayed strong into the 7th inning. Kahnle came in for 4 outs before Chapman’s 26th save sealed the series for the Yankees.

Leading up to that, the Yankees also took advantage of some weaker starting pitching. Encarnacion led-off the 2nd with a double and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. Torres then walked, and a long fly out moved the runners into scoring position, which they did on Mike Tauchman’s triple. Austin Romine’s sacrifice fly then scored Tauchman.

In the 3rd, Aaron Hicks led-off with a towering solo home run, and 2 strike outs later, Gleyber Torres smacked a solo home run to keep the batting practice rolling for the visiting team. In the 4th, with 1 out and runners LeMahieu and Judge on the corners, Hicks’ single scored LeMahieu, and Gregorius’ 2-out triple scored Judge and Hicks.

Now, with a healthy lead and because you just never know with this series, Edwin Encarnacion still added just one more insurance run with a lead-off solo home run in the 9th. This was both after he fouled one pitch off the back of his leg and then it became his 30th home run of the season.

Final score: 10-7 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to Boston for a 4-game weekend series against the Red Sox. After an off day, they will start their next home stand, first with a mini-series against the Diamondbacks and then a 4-game weekend series against the Red Sox. Then, they’ll hit the road again to face Orioles and Blue Jays.

Injury update/roster moves: As expected, Gary Sanchez was sent to the injured list with a Grade 1 left groin strain. In his stead, they recalled catcher Kyle Higashioka for back up to Romine. For the now requisite “fresh arm” portion of the Scranton Shuttle, the Yankees recalled Nestor Cortes Jr to pitch in tonight’s game and optioned Jonathan Holder back to AAA Scranton.

Go Yankees!