Game 90: TOR vs. NYY — Slow Saturday falls short

As the Southeastern US gets a battering by Hurricane Barry (stay safe!), it’s a beautiful sunny, warm day in the Bronx as the Yankees hosted their second game of this weekend series against the visiting Blue Jays. It was actually kind of a lazy Saturday afternoon for baseball, with somewhat strong pitching, but super strong defense.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees, throwing 89 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 5 hits and a walk, was responsible for the Blue Jays’ 2 runs, and struck out 5 batters. He actually held them off until that final inning. With 1 out, he gave up 2 singles to end his outing this afternoon.

Adam Ottavino took over for Happ and got a great strikeout. Both runners then stole their next base to put themselves into scoring position. The next batter singled both of them home for the only runs the Blue Jays would score today.

Cortes sailed his way through the 7th and into the 8th, with Britton closing out the 8th in just 4 pitches. Hale’s scoreless 9th kept the door open for a Yankees’ last-minute rally.

The Yankees still racked up 8 hits and 3 walks off Blue Jays’ pitchers. Their starter only lasted 2 innings due to an injury, but the rest of the bullpen stepped up to guard against the Yankees’ offense for most of the game. Their biggest opportunity came in the 5th when the Yankees loaded up the bases, but a final out to the center fielder ended that chance.

Aaron Hicks led-off the bottom of the 9th with a walk. Two outs later, DJ LeMahieu singled to put the tying run on base. Beyond just wanting to win today’s game, the Yankees were also facing the end of their streak of not being shutout. But then Aaron Judge singled Hicks home to get the Yankees on the board. An inside strikeout later, the game was a loss, but the no-shutout streak is still alive.

Final score: 2-1 Blue Jays

Roster moves: Before today’s game, the Yankees activated Luke Voit from the 10-day injured list. Voit had been dealing with lower abdominal strain, using the All-Star Break to work out at the minor league complex in Tampa. To make room, they optioned infielder Breyvic Valera back to AAA Scranton.

Finally, a Happy Birthday to DJ LeMahieu! The 31-year-old All-Star infielder is having quite the banner year, leading the Yankees in batting average (.330), hits (114), doubles (21), runs scored (65), and RBIs (64). Plus, he’s a stellar infielder, with outstanding defensive plays like today.

Go Yankees!

Game 85: NYY vs. TB — A little extra this Independence Day

The Yankees started their final series before the All-Star break tonight, the first game of a 4-game weekend series in St. Petersburg against the Rays. Starting a bit later due to the travel, local Yankee fans might have missed the area’s fireworks, but there was plenty of metaphoric ones at the Trop to make this holiday rather interesting.

Actually, it was a fairly normal game for most of the early evening. JA Happ got the start tonight, throwing 92 pitches into the 6th, giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out 5 batters. In the 1st, a 1-out single scored on a 2-out double to get the Rays on the board first.

But Happ found his momentum and carried the rest of the game, handing it off to the bullpen to close it out. Ottavino closed out the 6th, and Kahnle and Britton each gave scoreless innings to keep things moving.

The Yankees didn’t let the Rays’ early minor lead last long. Ford led-off the 3rd with a single, moved to 2nd on a passed ball, and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s single to tie up the game. Then with 2 outs, a wild pitch moved Tauchman to 2nd before he scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Later in the game, in the 7th inning, Edwin Encarnacion hit a 1st pitch solo home run for an insurance run.

Things were going good, and the Yankees just needed 3 outs in the 9th to get the win. But Aroldis Chapman wasn’t having a very good night. He gave up a walk to lead off the inning. With 1 out, the next batter hit a double that scored the runner, despite a Yankees’ unsuccessful challenge. After another out, Chapman’s consecutive wild pitches allowed the tying run to score. He then loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk before finally getting out of the inning.

So, the game went into extra innings. That certainly went in the Yankees’ favor, with another chance to make a difference. Urshela and Judge worked a walk, and Gardner’s single loaded the bases. DJ LeMahieu singled home both Urshela and Judge to break the tie. After an out, it would be Gary Sanchez to smack a big 3-run home run to ensure the large Yankee lead.

Luis Cessa came out for the 10th, but to mixed results. With 1 out, he gave up a walk and a single. After another out, the next batter singled home the lead runner, and a walk loaded the bases. A change was needed, so the Yankees called in reliever David Hale for a 5 pitch at-bat that resulted in a solid force out at 2nd to end the game.

Final score: 8-4 Yankees, in 10 innings

All-Star Game Update: Until today, it seems that the maximum number of players from each team is 3 in this new All-Star Game format. Which meant that many players were left off the starting and replacement roster, despite the fact that they are really outstanding every day. This happens every year, of course, as someone who is truly significant may be watching the game from their couch rather than on the field.

This year, the Yankees felt this in particular. While LeMahieu, Sanchez, and Chapman are well-deserved All-Stars, there are quite a few other Yankees that deserve to be on that field in Cleveland on Tuesday. But today, there was one more addition to the All-Star roster. Every year, there are players who are unable to play due to an injury and are replaced by extra reserve players. So when those injury-substitute reserve players get injured, yet another reserve player is necessary.

Well, an infielder went on the IL, and a Yankee got the call. Gleyber Torres will be making his second trip to an All-Star Game. Torres has been particularly strong in recent weeks, further proving that he was rather deserving of the call.

Go Yankees!

Game 77: HOU vs. NYY — Record setting loss on Old Timers’ Day

The Yankees know how to snap their streak in a big way. After winning 8 straight games, and the Astros losing 7 straight, the tables flipped as the Astros got tired of losing and the Yankees had pitching issues.

JA Happ had another shaky start in this afternoon’s finale against the Astros. He threw 68 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 11 hits and 8 runs, and struck out just 2 batters. The lead-off batter of the game struck a big solo home run to start the Astros off early. In the 3rd, a 1-out double scored on a 2-out single to double their score.

Then in the 4th, Happ loaded the bases with consecutive singles to set up a big grand slam to keep the visitors’ small fan base in the stands rather happy. Happ came back out for the 5th and gave up a single and 2-run home run to keep the ball rolling for the Astros before the Yankees finally opted to end the mess.

Luis Cessa gave up a solo home run before settling in and getting 12 outs (or 4 innings) and keeping the Astros to their large lead. David Hale closed out the game with a scoreless 9th. But the Yankees needed their pitching to calm down to chip away at the visitors’ lead.

In the bottom of the 5th, with 2 outs, Hicks and Gardner each singled. DJ LeMahieu smacked a big 3-run home run to finally get the Yankees on the board. But their chances to score beyond that were few. After the starter left the game, the Yankees found one more in the 8th. With 1 out, LeMahieu tripled and then scored on Aaron Judge’s baby ground out.

Final score: 9-4 Astros, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees host the Blue Jays for 3 games starting tomorrow before taking two days to travel across the pond. In London, the Yankees and Red Sox will meet to play the first ever regular season baseball series on English soil. When they come back to the states next month, they hop the train to Queens for a 2-game miniseries against the Mets before heading down to Tampa Bay for a 4-game weekend series just before the All-Star Break.

With DJ LeMahieu’s 3-run home run in the 5th inning, the Yankees set a new record for 26 consecutive games with a home run. The MLB record is 27, something the Yankees could easily tie and then break with the Toronto series this coming week.

Older Timers’ Day: The Yankees hosted their 73rd Annual Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium, featuring fan favorites and Yankee alumni like Aaron Boone, David Cone, Johnny Damon, Bucky Dent, Reggie Jackson, Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, David Wells, and Bernie Williams.

But the man on everyone’s mind today was Old Timers’ Day rookie and this year’s Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera. Rivera soaked up the greatness and fun that is this day, even going back to the mound to pitch a bit and later playing center field. But the great achievement was his first ever hit in pinstripes — an inside-the-park home run, thanks in part to some really sluggish outfielders.

Go Yankees!

Game 74: HOU vs. NYY — Rain-soaked and still triumphant

Dark skies threatened and dropped moments of rain on the Bronx most of yesterday. But things looked promising for the game, which actually started on time. The Yankees began their 4-game weekend series against the Astros tonight, and despite a rather messy and soggy 4th inning, they still pulled it out in the end.

The Yankees have had a lot of success with the new pitching model of the “opener”, especially on the back of Chad Green. Green did it again, with a strong 2 scoreless innings before handing the ball over to reliever Nestor Cortes Jr for 3 innings. His problem came after the game back from a rain delay.

But first, the Yankees took advantage of the thundering skies and jumped on a bit of weakness by the Astros’ pitching staff tonight in what turned into a very decisive 4th inning. Gary Sanchez led-off the inning with a solo home run. Stanton then doubled, and in the middle of Encarnacion’s at-bat, it started pouring.

The umpires briefly checked in with the grounds crew for a weather report as fans were scattering for the concourse and nearest overhang. Encarnacion ended up working a walk. As the rain continued to pelt down on the field, Gleyber Torres hit a big 3-run home run into the visitor’s bullpen.

Then after the inning’s first out, in the middle of Maybin’s at-bat, the umpires checked in again with the grounds crew, who came out to clean up the mound a bit from the muddy mess it was. After Maybin worked a walk, the Astros called in a new pitcher, and the grounds crew took the break to add more drying agent to the mound and at the plate.

The rain kind of lightened up as Maybin stole 2nd. After another out, DJ LeMahieu pelted a 2-run home run into Monument Park to keep the Yankees’ offense going. Voit then singled, and in the middle of Sanchez’s at-bat, the home plate umpire suddenly called the game as the rain just dumped on the Bronx. The tarp came on, and the game went into a 37 minute delay.

When the game resumed, Sanchez ended up grounding out to end the inning. So Cortes came out again for the 5th inning, after the long 4th inning and the rain delay. That might have been part of the problem because after 2 outs, he gave up 2 solo home runs to get the Astros on the board.

But the Yankees came back in the bottom of that inning to reclaim those runs. With 1 out, Encarnacion walked, Torres singled, and a wild pitch moved both into scoring position. After another out, Cameron Maybin hit a strong double to score both Encarnacion and Torres. Stanton led-off the 7th with a single and then scored as part of Edwin Encarnacion’s 2-run home run to cap off the Yankee’s big offense tonight.

Tommy Kahnle came out for the 6th inning and gave up a 1-out solo home run. Then the game was handed over to David Hale, who held the Astros off for the 7th, but he got into trouble in the final 2 innings that the Astros tried to rally to overcome the Yankees’ big lead. In the 8th, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on a 2-out single.

Hale gave up a 1-out solo home run to lead-off the 9th inning. He then gave up a walk. After an out, the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice, the Yankees unable to get a double play to end the inning. A double then scored the lead runner. After a single put runners in the corners, the Yankees called in Aroldis Chapman to close out the game. Seven pitches later, the game was over, and Chapman notched his 20th save of the season.

Final score: 10-6 Yankees

It’s worth noting that the Yankees have hit home runs in 23 straight games, making them tied for the 8th most in MLB baseball history. The Yankees’ record is 25 games way back in June 1941, during Joe DiMaggio’s famous hitting streak.

HOPE Week Day 4: Today, the Yankees honored a great nonprofit organization that provides furniture to local families in need. Kate Bialo started Furniture Sharehouse in 2007 to serve the Westchester community (a suburb of New York, just north of the City), and to date have helped more than 4000 families. The families are referred to the charity by social service agencies include survivors of house fires and natural disasters, working families bordering the poverty line, families escaping domestic violence, families transitioning from homeless shelters to permanent housing, and young adults aging out of foster care.

The Yankees showed up to the donation warehouse housed at Westchester County Airport to volunteer as “personal shoppers” for two surprised local families, the Collazos and Gullivers. Zack Britton, JA Happ, Jonathon Holder, Austin Romine, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, and bullpen coach Mike Harkey drove 2 trucks full of furniture as part of their donation to the charity and hosted a pizza party lunch for the families after helping them select new furniture for their homes.

The families and Furniture Sharehouse founder Kate Bialo were the Yankees’ guests at the game tonight, and Bialo threw out the ceremonial first pitch and accepted an additional donation of $10,000 to their operating costs (overhead, delivery, repairs, etc.) on behalf of the Yankees. The estimate is that they spend about $350 to help each family, so imagine how many more families they can help with the Yankees monetary and furniture donations. Somewhere, a family is will sleep in real beds and eat dinner around a real table tonight because of their generosity.

Go Yankees!

Game 72: TB vs. NYY — Yankees surge through the mist

There was so much hope for this series as both the Rays and Yankees were battling it out for the top position of the AL East. With the Yankees disappointing road trip, the Rays were hoping to jump ahead of the Yankees. But they didn’t count on a really simple fact — the 2019 Yankees are something else and love proving it at the most random moments in the season. And it’s only June.

Not to discount the Rays’ attempt, as they certainly gave the Yankees enough of a challenge to threaten and keep things close for a bit. JA Happ got the start for the Yankees tonight in the middle game of this series against the visiting Rays. He threw 87 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 7 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 3 Rays batters. With 1 out in the 2nd, Happ gave up 3 consecutive singles to score the Rays’ first run. And a lead-off double in the 3rd scored on a 1-out single to double their score.

Ottavino took over for Happ for a scoreless 6th inning. Tommy Kahnle’s 7th got off to a problematic start, with a lead-off walk scoring on a double before he found a quick 3 outs to close out the inning. Britton and Chapman followed that up with 2 scoreless, rather quick innings.

On the flip side of the field, the Yankees got on the board first in the 1st. LeMahieu led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Voit’s walk, advanced to 3rd on Hicks’ fielder’s choice, and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly. After the Rays grabbed a slim lead, the Yankees waited out the Rays’ 2 short-term openers for their next opportunity.

In the 5th, with 1 out and a new pitcher, Torres and Maybin singled. DJ LeMahieu’s single scored Torres, and Luke Voit’s single scored Maybin. After another out, Gary Sanchez’s single scored LeMahieu. With that, the Yankees were in a solid lead over the visitors.

But they kept going to ensure their lead and eventual win. Cameron Maybin kicked off the 7th with a solo home run, his 4th home run in as many games. And new Yankee Edwin Encarnacion earned his pinstripes with his first Yankee home run, a 1-out solo home run in the 8th.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

HOPE Week Day 2: Today, the Yankees decided to “strut their stuff” a bit with the help of some very special friends. Today’s HOPE Week honoree was Rachel Goldman, founder of Runway Heroes, a special program that hosts children with pediatric cancer for a special day of dress up and modeling some fancy clothes on the runway. They sell tickets to the shows, and all the proceeds go to pediatric cancer research.

Runway Heroes paired with Kleinfeld Bridal and the Yankees to treat 30 local children to a VIP day at the famous store. The kids each received personalized dressing robes, picked out their own outfits (courtesy of Kleinfeld), were styled by a professional glam squad and photographed by professional photographers, and then rocked the runway with some decked out Yankees.

Aroldis Chapman, Domingo German, Didi Gregorius, Kendrys Morales, Luis Severino, and Masahiro Tanaka donned some great looking suits to take turns to escort these amazing children down the runway to pose before more photographers and their families. Yankee GM Brian Cashman also participated and broke out a few dance moves, bringing smiles to many faces on the runway and in the audience.

The children and their families were the Yankees’ special guests at tonight’s game. Runway Heroes founder Rachel Goldman and a few of her special models of the day helped throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.

Go Yankees!

Game 67: NYY vs. CHW — Second City stumble

Tonight’s opener in Chicago looked like it was going to be a great start to this weekend’s 4-game series for the Yankees. But halfway through the game, things took a bit of a dive, and one swing flipped the story.

The Yankees got off to a hot start against the White Sox. In the 2nd, Didi Gregorius led-off with the single, moved to 2nd on Torres’ single, and advanced to 3rd on Gardner’s fielder’s choice out. Gregorius raced home on a wild pitch that also moved Gardner into scoring position. Clint Frazier then singled Gardner home.

Then with 2 outs in the 4th, Torres singled and scored as part of Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run. This doubled the Yankees’ score and leapt them ahead of the home team with a hefty lead early in the game.

JA Happ got the start tonight, throwing 91 pitches through 5 innings. And leading up to his final inning, he was doing great, only had 3 allowed hits and 3 walks but no runs. But in the 5th, he gave up a lead-off walk that moved to 2nd on a single, and scored on an RBI double. Then a big 3-run home run quickly tied up the game. Three outs later, Happ’s night was done.

Now, with the game tied, the Yankees needed to protect that tie and wait for their offense to pounce. Kahnle came in to right the ship and breezed his way through the 6th inning. But Adam Ottavino had a spot of trouble in the 7th, giving up a lead-off solo home run to break the tie. Later, with 2 outs and 2 runners on base, the Yankees called Holder to close out the inning and breeze his way through a scoreless 8th.

Again, they were just waiting for the Yankees’ offense to leap at the next opportunity. And they collected 3 extra hits through the final third of the game, but they didn’t do much beyond that. One could certainly question the floating strike zone (and increase in called strikeouts), but not scoring runs isn’t going to help shift the game again.

Final score: 5-4 White Sox

Roster moves: Yesterday, the Yankees optioned reliever Stephen Tarpley back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and sent 26th man reliever Chance Adams back to AA Trenton. And today, before the game, the Yankees recalled outfielder Mike Tauchman and reliever Nestor Cortes Jr from AAA Scranton.

The Yankees also placed Kendrys Morales on the 10-day IL with left calf strain. Morales felt a tightness in his calf during the first game of the doubleheader on Tuesday, further testing confirmed the strain, and to be safe, they’re giving him some rest to recover.

This year’s much anticipated 73rd Annual Old Timers’ Day will be Sunday, June 23. Yesterday, the Yankees announced the roster of Yankee alumni scheduled to attend, but one name stuck out to everyone — rookie Old Timer (and member of this year’s Hall of Fame class) Mariano Rivera. Rivera will be back in pinstripes to play ball again with many of his former teammates and many Yankee legends and fan favorites. It’s always a great day.

Scheduled alumni (or their widows*): Jesse Barfield, Aaron Boone, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, Chris Chambliss, David Cone, Johnny Damon, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Jason Giambi, Jason Grimsley, Ron Guidry, Jerry Hairston Jr., Charlie Hayes, Helen Hunter*, Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin*, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Monahan, Diana Munson*, Kay Murcer*, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Mariano Rivera, Mickey Rivers, Luis Sojo, Jean Stottlemyre, Marcus Thames, David Wells, and Bernie Williams.

Go Yankees!

Game 61: NYY vs. TOR — “The Machine” supports strong Happ outing

JA Happ faced his former team, and perhaps the familiar setting helped him with his dominant outing in the finale against the Blue Jays. Happ threw 102 pitches in his 7 innings, gave up 4 hits and 1 run, and struck out 4 Toronto batters to earn the eventual win. Actually, he held off the Blue Jays for most of the game, only giving up a lead-off solo home run in the 6th to let the home team on the board.

Chad Green continued that momentum through the 8th inning and came out for the 9th. But that’s where he got into trouble, loading up the bases with 3 consecutive singles. Aroldis Chapman was called out to get the Yankees out of the jam. Chapman got the first batter to hit into a double play that scored one run. Chapman only needed 7 total pitches to earn his 18th save of the season.

Meanwhile, the Yankees came out strong and stayed strong. In the 2nd with 2 outs, Estrada made it to 1st on a throwing error, making all successive runs that inning completely unearned. Estrada moved to 3rd on Maybin’s single and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s big double. Aaron Hicks then smacked a big 3-run home run to ease the Yankees into a strong lead.

Gio Urshela led-off the 4th with a solo home run. Maybin hit a 1-out double and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single. With that offense and strong pitching (and minimal messes on the defensive side), the Yankees were able to keep their lead and sail into the win to close out this series.

Final score: 6-2 Yankees, Blue Jays win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees travel across Lake Erie to visit the Indians for a weekend series. They’ll head home for a quick 2-game mini-series against the Mets before heading back on the road to face the White Sox. Then their final long home stand before the All-Star break, including their annual HOPE Week celebration.

Speaking of the All-Star Game, consider this your reminder to vote for your favorite players every day — up to 5 times a day on MLB and once a day on Google Search. The All-Star Game is July 9.

It’s worth noting that Gary Sanchez has revealed a team nickname for a teammate. And if you’ve been following this season, you’ll know that there are quite a few players on this team that are making quite the splash (and perhaps deserve your vote for the ASG).

But tonight’s newest moniker “The Machine” has been bestowed on infielder DJ LeMahieu. Tonight, LeMahieu led-off the roster, went 3-for-4 with a walk, hit 2 RBIs, and scored a run. Currently batting .323 (leading the Yankees roster) for the season, he’s already hit 72 hits, 7 home runs, 40 RBIs (also 1st on Yankees roster), and scored 39 runs. In other words, LeMahieu is as reliable as a “Machine”. He’s an integral cog in the Machine that is the 2019 Yankees.

Go Yankees!