Game 111: NYY vs. CHW — A shutout gem from Lynn to reset the Yankees

Perhaps it was a mix of things — Lynn’s sharp pitching, the sloppy defense by the White Sox, or sheer desperation of the Yankees to pull themselves out of this skid — but things worked in the Yankees’ favor tonight (finally) after having some recent issues where they just weren’t looking like the 2018 Yankees we’ve seen most of this season.

Still rather new to the Yankees, veteran starter Lance Lynn proved his trade was worth it with a really great outing in tonight’s opener in Chicago. Lynn threw 108 pitches into the 8th inning, giving up just 2 hits and a walk, and striking out 9 White Sox batters. After a single allowed in the 1st, he got 19 consecutive outs before giving up a single in the 8th. He and the Yankee defense refused to let the White Sox do much of anything tonight.

After a standing ovation from a healthy contingency of Yankee fans in the stands on the Chicago’s south side, Lynn would cede the game to AJ Cole. Cole held the White Sox to their scoreless game through his 5 outs to close out the game.

The Yankee bats, meanwhile, took a bit to wake up. But then they were back to form. In the 4th, with 1 out, Stanton doubled and moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ double. He scored on Aaron Hicks’ single, and Gregorius then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single.

Later in the 5th, with 1 out, Higashioka and Gardner each singled to put them on the corners. A wild pitch had Kyle Higashioka scoring the next run, and Didi Gregorius’ single saw the speedy Brett Gardner rushing all the way home from 2nd to just beat the tag at home.

And to cap off the night, Gleyber Torres hit a 1-out solo home run in the 8th, and after Andujar worked a 2-out walk, he would score as part of Neil Walker’s big 2-run home run to solidify the Yankees’ big night.

Final score: 7-0 Yankees

It looks like starter JA Happ will be able to return for his scheduled start on Thursday when the Yankees return to the Bronx to face the Rangers. Happ has been dealing with the effects of hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is initially highly contagious and consists mostly of a bad rash and feeling feverish and generally terrible for about 7-10 days. Not exactly ideal for the kind of exertion one needs to pitch in a professional baseball game.

And Aaron Judge is doing some basic baseball activities with the team during the pre-game warm-ups in Chicago. He is traveling with the team while resting his chip-fractured wrist. He has yet to swing a bat because it’s still a broken bone that causes some pain and discomfort.

Initially, he was given a rough estimate of 3 weeks when he got his diagnosis (July 26), which would be August 16. But I think most people agree that we’d rather he be at 100% than risk a recurrence or be only at half his potential. Fortunately, with a break, it’s easier to tell when it’s healed, in that there’s no more break. It’s why sprains and strains are harder to gauge — there’s not definitive sign for healing that’s consistent with every person. Injuries still stink either way.

Go Yankees!

Game 108: NYY vs. BOS — Against an ace performance, just 1-run

After last night’s crazy game, the Yankees were looking to tonight’s game for at least a little normalcy. And it was, but it wasn’t in their favor.

Luis Severino struggled a bit at the beginning of his outing tonight but later found his momentum and helped keep the Red Sox from doing too much damage against the Yankees. Severino threw a season-high 115 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 2 Boston batters.

In the bottom of the 1st, with 1 out, he gave up a ground-rule double that scored as part of a 2-run home run (if you’ve been following this series, it’s the same guy as last night). A 2-out walk stole 2nd and then scored on an RBI single to give the Red Sox an early lead. With 2 outs in the 5th, he gave up a double that scored on a single to cap off Boston’s offense. Robertson and Kahnle swept through the final 7 outs, cleanly and efficiently.

That should have been enough for the Yankees to fight back and make at least a concerted attempt to match the Red Sox. But the Yankee batters were up against a pitcher having a terrific game, eventually throwing a complete 9 innings with just 86 pitches and only giving up a single hit — a lead-off solo home run into the Green Monster seats to Miguel Andujar in the 3rd.

There was seemingly nothing the Yankees could do off the Red Sox pitcher tonight. Which certainly made for a quick game, just 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was just not going to be the Yankees’ night because of his performance.

Final score 4-1 Red Sox

Roster moves: The greatest story of tonight’s roster moves was that Tommy Kahnle, tonight’s 8th inning pitcher, was in upstate New York this morning (after the RailRiders game yesterday in Rochester) when he got the call to head to Boston rather than follow the team back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He made it at some point before he threw his 13 pitches tonight in his away greys.

To make room for him, the Yankees optioned Luis Cessa back to Scranton. And with JA Happ out with hand, foot, and mouth disease for the next week or so, the Yankees will be calling up prospect pitcher Chance Adams to start tomorrow’s game in Happ’s stead. Seeing as great pitchers like Sabathia and Severino have had less than ideal outings (though honestly not terrible) against the Red Sox, perhaps a change in the rotation could help press the reset button, so to speak, for the Yankees in this weekend series.

This reminds me of my preferred version of the famed quote misattributed to Einstein: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” In other words, if things aren’t working, change is the best option. Change is usually the best option. It prevents boredom and complacency and predictability, instead inviting creativity and adventure and surprise. And isn’t that worth the risk?

Go Yankees!

Game 105: BAL vs. NYY — Andujar’s power backs #TanakaTime

With all the flurry about the trade deadline (and some very busy social media feeds), it’s almost hard to remember that there’s still games to be played and won. Like this micro-series against Baltimore. Masahiro Tanaka threw 105 pitches in his 6 scoreless innings, giving up 3 hits and 2 walks, and striking out 8 batters to set him up to earn the win tonight.

The Yankees backed his great outing with some well-placed moments of offense. Gardner led-off the 1st inning with a walk, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ walk, and then scored the Yankees’ first run of the night on Gleyber Torres’ single. In the 3rd, Gardner led-off once again, this time with a single, stole 2nd, ended up at 3rd when Stanton hit into a fielding error, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single.

Then in the 5th, the Orioles’ starter quickly loaded the bases by hitting Stanton with a pitch and giving up a single to Gregorius and a walk to Hicks. With 1 out, Greg Bird’s sacrifice fly scored Stanton, and then Miguel Andujar smacked a big 3-run home run into the left field seats, the difference maker in tonight’s game.

Following Tanaka’s outing, the Yankees turned to their bullpen to close out the game. AJ Cole had a clean 7th but then had trouble in the 8th inning, giving up a single, a walk, and a 2-run double before finally getting an out. So the Yankees turned to Dellin Betances. Unfortunately, a passed ball made things more complicated as the runner went to 3rd as Higashioka recovered and threw it down to 3rd but then a missed catch error allowed that runner to score another run for the O’s. Chapman wrapped things up with a quick 13-pitch 9th inning, his 29th save.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

JA Happ has a mild case of “foot, hand and mouth disease“, which is basically a highly contagious rash accompanied by fever, sore throat, and feeling gross. The Yankees are still counting on Happ to make his start on Saturday due to the “mild” part of that diagnosis, as a standard case usually takes about 10 days to clear up. However, Cessa is prepared to be recalled as his replacement, if necessary.

The Yankees have made some key trades already leading up to the deadline (5pm earlier today, July 31). But over the last couple of days, including yesterday’s off-day, there was just a few more. Late Sunday night, the Yankees traded minor league pitcher Caleb Frare to the White Sox for Future Considerations and signed 16-year-old international free agent and Cuban pitcher Osiel Rodriguez, currently the #10 prospect on the international market.

Two other big trades moved some things for the Yankees. They got veteran pitcher Lance Lynn (who was previously with the Cardinals) from the Twins in exchange for infielder Tyler Austin and minor league pitcher Luis Rijo. And Adam Warren is on his way to Seattle in a trade for Future Considerations.

Essentially, the Yankees acquired about $3.75 million for “Future Considerations”, or money to sign free agents off the international market. This is clearly a sign the Yankees are investing in their future player development program more than some high-priced one-off players. It’s also a sign that they’re pretty happy with the way most of the roster looks like right now, despite having starting players like Sanchez, Judge, and even Montgomery on the DL currently.

This idea is similar to a conversation that I had recently about the look of baseball. With the retirement of the most recent crop of super stars (like Jeter, Rodriguez, Ortiz, Beltran, and Ichiro), there doesn’t seem to be a focus so much on the individual stars. Sure, everyone knows Trout, Harper and Judge, but they don’t have the kind of celebrity and clout that their recent predecessors have. This is, of course, a hugely complex issue involving the rise of social media, the increase of trades, and the lack of some organizations’ player development programs.

But I’m okay with that. It gets people back to the game itself. Sure, the Trout-Harper-Judge trifecta sell shirts and specialized merchandise, but people are going to games because they love the sport. It may make name-recognition harder for fans outside a home town, but it has a refreshing side-effect.

Rarely now do I hear that so-called fans are just at a game for a particular player, something you’d hear frequently during the height of the previous celebrity era. (Though they might still go donning that jersey and get rather upset when you tell them he wasn’t a particularly good player in comparison to his current replacement.) Now, people just love a team or even the game in general. That will create true baseball fans and not just people who “stan” a certain ball player.

Go ahead and ask a fan in the stands (especially a kid) next game who their favorite current player is. I bet they’ll name a few local guys, maybe even a couple on another team. But ask them who their favorite team is. It’s a no-doubter.

Go Yankees!

Game 104: KC vs. NYY — Oh, Happ-y Day!

The Yankees sold out their 20th home game this season, despite being against a non-division rival and one of the worst teams in MLB right now. But it was a lovely Sunday mid-summer afternoon, a perfect day for America’s pastime, for the finale game of this long weekend series between the Yankees and the visiting Royals.

JA Happ got his first start as a Yankee, becoming the first pitcher to pitch for both the Blue Jays and the Yankees in a single season since David Cone in 1995, and we all know how that trade worked out. Happ had a great outing in his Yankee debut, throwing 96 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up just 3 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and struck out just 2 Kansas City batters. His lone allowed run was a 2-out solo home run in the 6th.

But the Yankee offense gave Happ a good cushion for his start today too. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Gregorius worked a walk and ended up at 2nd on a pick-off error. He then scored as part of Aaron Hicks 2-run home run to put the Yankees in the lead early. Hicks later led-off the 4th with a double and scored on Miguel Andujar’s 2-out single.

Then in the 5th, Gardner and Stanton hit consecutive singles, ending the Royals’ starter’s afternoon. With a new reliever, a ground out moved them both to scoring position, and Hicks’ walk loaded the bases. Gleyber Torres hit into a strange play, hitting the ball to the 2nd baseman who looked like he tagged Hicks on the way to 2nd before throwing out Torres at 1st for a double play.

However, the Yankees challenged the tag on Hicks, and rightly so, the play was overturned from a double play to a standard grounder to 1st. So, with 2 outs, Gardner scored and runners (Stanton and Hicks) were in scoring position. Only Stanton would then score on Greg Bird’s single. Then in the 6th, Walker was hit by a pitch, ended up at 3rd on Romine’s double, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly.

With the Yankees’ solid lead, and Happ’s great start (only 1 allowed run), the Yankees bullpen needed to keep the Royals from advancing. But it wasn’t that easy. Chad Green gave up a lead-off solo homer in the 7th, and David Robertson did the same in the 8th. But Chapman’s clean 9th inning gave him his 28th save of the season.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees have that rare off-day tomorrow (Monday) before hosting a micro-series, 2 games against the Orioles. They then hit the road for a Sox road trip — 4 games at Fenway with the Red Sox and 3 games in Chicago at the White Sox. The Yankees then host a long 11-game home stand.

And it’s official. The Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 is part of the legends represented in Cooperstown after today’s induction ceremony. This year’s class featured Jack Morris and Alan Trammel, both of the Tigers and voted by the Modern Era Baseball Committee; plus regular inductees Chipper Jones (Braves), Jim Thome (Indians), Trevor Hoffman (Padres), and Vladimir Guerrero (Expos/Angels). Guerrero chose to wear the Angels’ cap in his plaque, becoming the first player to wear an Angels’ cap in the Hall.

Congrats to this year’s inductees! And for your information, notable former Yankees up for voting in the next few years include Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte (2019), Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi (2020), Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira (2022), and Carlos Beltran and Ichiro Suzuki (2023). I would think quite a few of those names will be voted into the Hall within these next few years.

Go Yankees!

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 101: KC vs. NYY — A fractured win & another big trade, there was also a game

Much of tonight’s game was bookended by a big trade announcement and a rather disappointing injury. It actually kind of overshadowed the fact that there was actually a pretty good game tonight as the Yankees returned to the Bronx to host the first of this 4-game weekend series against the Royals.

Despite this season having consistent bad outings at home, Sonny Gray flipped the switch and had a good one. He threw 75 pitches in 5 scoreless innings, gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 5 batters to earn the much-needed win. And the Yankee batters actually gave him quite the cushion to work the win.

In the 1st, with 1 out, Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch on the right wrist. But he initially stayed in the game (more below), ended up on 3rd on Gregorius’ doubles, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly. After Hicks walked, Gleyber Torres made it to 1st on a fielding error, which allowed Gregorius to score.

Then in the 4th, Walker hit a 1-out single and then scored on Austin Romine’s double. After another out, they opted to pinch-hit Judge with Miguel Andujar who benefited from a throwing error. Didi Gregorius promptly followed that up by hitting the 1st pitch of that at-bat into the right field seats for a 3-run home run.

To cap off their scoring tonight, the Yankees ended the Royals’ disappointing start with the 5th inning. Hicks singled, ended up at 3rd on Torres’ single, and then scored on Greg Bird’s sacrifice fly. The Royals’ starter came out after another single and a strikeout, and their relievers certainly had a better night of holding off the Yankees’ offense.

Comparatively, Adam Warren came on for the 6th and promptly gave up a ground-rule double and a 2-run home run to get the Royals on the board before fending them off for a quick 3 outs. Robertson’s 7th inning continued that momentum with his 3 strikeouts. And Zach Britton made his Yankees debut tonight and needed just 10 pitches to sail his way through the 8th inning.

And in the 9th, Chasen Shreve came on and had an eventful outing to close out the game. With 2 outs and 2 runners on 1st and 2nd, the next batter hit a single into center field to a waiting Hicks. Then Hicks fired that ball into Romine at home (at 98.7 mph) to get the lead runner trying to score a run and keep the game going. Instead, the tag was made and the game was over.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

Okay, trade news: The Yankees made yet another big trade. This time, they added to the rotation, as they’ve been trying to do for the last two seasons. The Yankees sent infielder Brandon Drury and outfielding prospect Billy McKinney to the Blue Jays in exchange for veteran starter JA Happ.

Also, before the game, the Yankees activated Zach Britton to help in the 8th inning. To make room, the Yankees optioned Luis Cessa back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

And injury news: In the 5th, Sonny Gray got hit with a comebacker on his hand which primarily hurt his thumb. He was sent to get precautionary x-rays, but they were negative and the Yankees expect him to make his start next week against the Orioles.

Now, Aaron judge sustained a hit by a pitch in the 1st. He, of course, stayed in the game initially and scored the Yankees’ first run of the night. But by the bottom of the 4th, that wrist wasn’t getting any better. First MRIs were “unclear”, so they sent him to the hospital where he ended up being diagnosed with a chip fracture of his right wrist (officially know as the ulnar styloid bone). It doesn’t require surgery, but he won’t be able to resume baseball activities for at least 3 weeks.

Yes, that Judge injury can seem like a big hit for the Yankees, but they do already have quite the depth in the outfield (starters like Gardner, Hicks, and Stanton), as well as depth in the farm system (like Frazier and Shane Robinson). Even without his bat, the Yankees are still stepping up to do their best. The Yankees are leading in home runs with 163, 21 more than 2nd place Angels and Athletics, and just 26 of those are Judge’s (only 16%). Get well soon!

Go Yankees!