Game 22: MIN vs. NYY — #CCStrong, #ElGary, & #SirDidi

The Yankees continue their dominant homestand with tonight’s win over the visiting Twins. It is their 4th straight win, and the Yankees are really starting to click in many ways. Fortunately, their starters (for the most part) are also hitting a good stride too, including tonight’s starter CC Sabathia.

He threw 82 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up just 2 hits, a walk, and an unearned run and struck out 4 batters. In the 1st inning, with 2 outs, he gave up a walk. The next batter technically doubled, but a fielding error allowed the lead runner to score and the other runner to make it to 3rd on the throw. But that would be the only bad inning for Sabathia, who powered through the rest of his outing like the veteran he is.

Dellin Betances’ 7th inning didn’t start off well either. He gave up a lead-off walk who ended up at 2nd on a pick-off error. One out later, that runner scored on a short single and missed catch error. After giving up another walk, the Yankees called in Robertson for a quick 7-pitch 2-out end to the inning. Chasen Shreve’s 8th hit a couple of bumps too — a 1-out double scored on a 2-out double for the Twins’ only truly earned run of the night. Holder finished up the game with a breezy 9th inning.

But those 3 “bumpy” innings were really nothing in comparison to the Yankees’ offense. The Twins’ starter at least spread out the Yankees runs through his outing. In the 2nd, Gary Sanchez hit a 1-out solo home run. With 1 out in the 3rd, Gardner worked a walk, moved to 3rd on Judge’s double, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single.

Then in the 4th, again with 1 out, Walker technically struck out but made it safely to 1st on a messy wild pitch. Andujar followed him by making it to base safely on a fielding error. Gleyber Torres earned his first career RBI with a single that scored Walker. And Judge led-off the 5th with a single and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ big 2-run home run, his 8th of the season so far.

That would be the end of the Twins’ starter’s night, and the first reliever powered through the rest of the 5th inning, shutting down the Yankees with 3 consecutive strikeouts. That momentum continued through the 6th with a new reliever, but the same reliever had trouble in the 7th. Aaron Judge led-off that inning with a solo home run. Then with 1 out and Stanton on 1st, Gary Sanchez hit another home run tonight, a bit 2-run homer up the middle to cap off the Yankees’ runs tonight.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

Roster moves: before tonight’s game, the Yankees announced a trade with the Nationals, reliever A.J. Cole to the Yankees for cash considerations. To make room for him on the roster, the Yankees also designated pitcher David Hale for assignment. And the Orioles officially claimed infielder Jace Peterson off waivers after Peterson had been DFA’d last week.

Go Yankees!

Game 20: TOR vs. NYY — A strong series win, #SevySharp, & a big call-up

Today was a beautiful Spring day in the Bronx, a great day for Sunday afternoon baseball as the Yankees were looking at winning their first regular series (read: not those 2-game micro-series) this season. And the Blue Jays were hoping for a split to boost their big start this April. It could only fall one way, and the Yankees were just in command from the start.

That was mostly due to the outstanding outing by Luis Severino. He threw 112 pitches in his 7 innings, but gave up just 3 hits, 2 walks, and a run, and struck out 6 Blue Jay batters. In fact, that lone run didn’t happen until the 6th inning, a 1-out solo shot to get the Jays on the board. Robertson continued the dominance through the 8th, and Chapman got into a spot of trouble with a couple walks in the 9th, but he got out of it like he does, keeping the Blue Jays to that lone run.

Meanwhile, the Yankees gave Severino a bit of leeway that he wouldn’t need. Didi Gregorius hit a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning to start their offense. In the 2nd, Sanchez led-off with a walk and moved to 3rd on Andujar’s 1-out double. They both then scored on Austin Romine’s double. And after the Blue Jays got on the board, the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 6th. With 1 out, Sanchez doubled and moved to 3rd on Tyler Austin’s single.

After the Jays went to their bullpen for a reliever, Miguel Andujar’s double scored Sanchez. (By the way, Andujar went 4-for-4 with an RBI and run scored today, and is currently batting .308. So much for your average bench player.) And in the 7th, Hicks led-off with a single, stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error, and then scored on Gregorius’ sacrifice fly.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: the Yankees host the Twins for a 4-game midweek series, starting Monday. This will end with that rare Thursday matinée, as the Yankees will be hopping a plane for Los Angeles to face the Angels. (Yes, West Coast Week starts early this year, so prepare now.)

Roster moves (Scranton Shuttle Alert!): before today’s game, the Yankees designated Jace Peterson for assignment and optioned Tyler Wade to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In the process, they signed reliever David Hale from AAA Scranton and recalled infield prospect Gleyber Torres from AAA Scranton.

There were two things that Yankee Universe talked about for this game today. First, the Yankees called up prospect Gleyber Torres for his first major league game. Despite playing mostly shortstop (and a little 3rd base) in Scranton, he actually started at 2nd base and batted 8th in the lineup. However, today, he went 0-for-4 at the plate, so he’s still waiting for that 1st big hit.

Torres is only 21 years old, and this prompted a brief conversation about how old the Yankees are this season. In today’s starting roster, there was no one over 30. In fact, catcher Austin Romine was the oldest starter at 29 years and 151 days. A huge shift from recent years where the Yankees were often the oldest team in the MLB, due to its plethora of veterans including Jeter, Rodriguez, Ichiro, Kuroda, Soriano, Teixeira, and Sabathia (who is currently the oldest active Yankee at age 37).

But the thing most people will talk about regarding this game is the replay in the 8th. So here’s what happened — with 1 out, Tyler Austin hit a short grounder to the short stop who fired it to the 1st baseman for the out. But it seemed that the 1st baseman was pulled off by a slightly off throw, so the Yankees challenged the call. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, thought this would be overturned quickly because he clearly caught the ball off the base and never got back for the tag.

Unfortunately, MLB HQ upheld the call. And everyone, and I do mean everyone, disagreed with that call. Yankees’ Twitter-verse was not happy about that. And I don’t blame them. That human factor ekes into the smallest crevices sometimes and just messes up “foolproof” technology. Talk to any NFL fan about their replay experiences to commiserate. Today’s was about as bad.

To be fair, the Yankees (thanks to Special Assistant Brett Weber) have been extremely successful in their replay challenged, constantly rating among the highest in MLB. So, let’s just consider today a fluke. Hopefully.

Go Yankees!

Game 15: MIA vs. NYY — #SevySharp in rout

Detroit was rather a disappointing weekend in an unusual way. After their victory on Friday night, the freezing rain and continuous downpour forced Saturday afternoon’s game to be rescheduled to Sunday for a double-header. But then the weather continued to sour and flood the field at Comerica Park. So, the double-header was then rescheduled for their next overlapping free day — June 4. Saturday’s makeup game will be recognized as the first game, and Sunday’s makeup game (including honoring the 71st anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s rookie season) will be the night game.

Instead, the Yankees headed back home to face off against the visiting Marlins starting tonight for a quick 2-game micro-series. And no, a certain minority owner and new executive was not and will not be present for the series. Not that he’d want to see how his team did in tonight’s game. Those in the Steinbrenner box had no such problems tonight.

Luis Severino was dominant in his start tonight, throwing 86 pitches in his 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 1 hit and 1 walk, striking out 8 Miami batters. Severino ended up with his 3rd win already this season. But his next relievers got into a couple of jams and then proved they were capable of getting out them relatively unscathed.

In the 7th, Adam Warren gave up 2 singles and a walk to load up the bases before getting that third out to escape the inning. Chasen Shreve came on for the 8th and his first batter made it safely to base on a fielding error, before loading up the bases with a single and a walk with 1 out. A force out at 2nd allowed that lead runner to score an unearned run. Another walk loaded the bases again, but Shreve got a fly out to end the threat. And that would be the only run the Marlins would score tonight — an unearned run. Dellin Betances closed out the 9th inning, keeping the Marlins to that lone run.

Meanwhile, (and how do I say this nicely?) the Marlins pitching and defense left much to be desired tonight. In the 1st, the Yankees quickly loaded up the bases with Gardner’s lead-off single and 2 walks to Judge and Stanton. Gary Sanchez’s 1-out single kept the bases loaded but scored Gardner. Then Tyler Austin worked a 2-out walk to walk in Judge. Aaron Judge later hit a big 2-out solo home run in the 2nd to add to the score.

In the 3rd, Gregorius led-off with a walk and moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s single before they both scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. After Andujar walked, the Marlins decided their poor starter had enough and went to their bullpen. A quick double play made them think they made the right decision. But then the Yankees came back strong again in the 4th. With 2 outs, Stanton was hit by a pitch and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run to add more to the Yankees’ growing lead.

Tyler Austin led-off the 5th with a double and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s double. Torreyes’ single and Gardner’s walk loaded up the bases (with no outs), and Judge’s single scored Andujar. After finally getting 2 outs, Sanchez hit a long single to score the speedy Torreyes and Gardner. And in the 7th, Didi Gregorius hit his 2nd homer of the game, a 1-out solo shot into the Yankees’ bullpen to cap off the Yankees’ rout of the Marlins in Bronx Bomber fashion.

It is worth noting that of the 15 total hits and 8 walks, every Yankees starting player tonight made it on base, most more than once and most helping make that 12 run score possible.

Final score: 12-1 Yankees

That home run in the 2nd was Aaron Judge’s 60th career home run. He is the fastest player to ever reach 60 homers, which he did in 197 games. He supplants Mark McGwire who reached 60 homers in 202 games with the Athletics in 1987-1988. He has also hit safely in 17 games, a continuous streak that is worth watching early this season.

Roster moves (warming up the Scranton Shuttle): the Yankees optioned pitcher Luis Cessa back and sent outfielder Shane Robinson outright to AAA Scranton. Jace Peterson was designated for assignment and elected free agency at the end of the waiting period rather than being outrighted back to the minors, and the gamble was worth it because the Yankees re-signed him and added him to the roster prior to tonight’s game.

Injury updates: Greg Bird is recovering well from his ankle surgery, expecting to be back late May or early June. And Jacoby Ellsbury’s oblique injury is healed, and his hip soreness is healing thanks to treatments and cortisone injections. But plantar fasciitis (often in response to overuse of the foot or overstressing the arch) is plaguing him now. Let me just say, that makes basic things like running and walking rather difficult.

Brandon Drury is still dealing with his migraine issues with anti-inflammatories and specialists. Migraine sufferers learn to deal with a number of debilitating symptoms, and Drury’s blurry vision is probably his worst. He even admitted to stepping into the batter’s box in previous seasons with blurry vision due to his migraines, and if you’ve ever done even batting cages, you can imagine that trying to hit a ball traveling 90+ mph with blurry vision and a pounding headache doesn’t exactly help matters.

One more game against the Marlins before an off-day and then a 4-game series against the Blue Jays and a 4-game series against the Twins for this long 10-game (and 1 off-day) home stand. And tonight was a pretty good start.

Go Yankees!

Game 11: NYY vs. BOS — That was just ugly.

“Ugly.” That word got thrown around first tonight somewhere in the 2nd inning. You know that things aren’t really going to get better if you’re using that word so early in the game. And it certainly didn’t.

The Yankees and Red Sox kick off their rivalry this year in this “ugly” game. Oddly, both teams sent up their ace pitchers (who finished 2nd and 3rd for the AL Cy Young Award last year), and they both gave up 8 total hits over their outings. So, I guess we can say safely that the biggest difference tonight was all about the defense. Luis Severino threw 94 pitches in 5 innings, and gave up 5 runs along the way.

Things started off tolerably. In the 1st, Severino gave up a double, a walk, and an RBI single to get the Red Sox on the board. But then it kind of got “ugly”. In the 2nd, a lead-off single and a 1-out single scored on a big triple. That runner then scored on a single to add more to their lead. An obvious example of the defensive issues came in this inning with a bad throwing error to try to get the runner stealing 2nd. And in the 4th, a 1-out walk moved to 3rd on a big double and then scored on a sacrifice fly.

Despite those 8 hits, the Red Sox were able to leave most of those runners stranded on the bases. The only run the Yankees scored had to leave the park to count. So that fell to Aaron Judge in the 5th inning with a huge 2-out solo home run straight up the middle 444 feet.

Tommy Kahnle came in to the game in the 6th inning, but thanks to a bit of sloppy defense and some poorly placed pitches, his struggles were even more drastic. With 1 out, he loaded the bases with a double and 2 walks. Another double scored 2 runners, and a sacrifice fly scored another. After giving up another walk, the Yankees went back to their bullpen. Chasen Shreve ran into his own issues, hitting his first batter to load up the bases again. A fielding error allowed all runners to be safe and another run to score, and a walk moved up everyone for another scored run. And then it would be an 83 mph splitter down the middle that would end up in the Green Monster seats for a grand slam to cap off their night.

Shreve had a much better 7th inning, getting 3 solid strikeouts. That strong comeback was all the momentum Luis Cessa needed to breeze his way through the 8th in just 12 pitches. The Yankees were hitting tonight, just not enough and not terribly well. It’s also worth noting that of the 14 scored runs, only 8 of them were earned thanks to all those errors.

Final score: 14-1 Red Sox

Injury update: in some much-needed good new today, the Yankees sent Aaron Hicks to his rehab assignment, joining AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His outing went well, and Hicks felt like his old self. If things continue to go well, he could join the Yankees in Detroit for that series this weekend.

Roster moves: the Yankees signed minor leaguer Shane Robinson to a professional contract, putting him in tonight’s game, starting in center field and getting a solid hit tonight. To make room for him on the roster, they designated Jace Peterson for assignment.

In little bit of side news: the Yankees and Mets made a minor league trade of outfielders that also has legacy undertones. The Yankees sent Kendall Coleman to the Mets, and the Mets sent the Yankees L.J. Mazzilli. And if you’re wondering why that sounds familiar, it’s because he’s Lee Mazzilli’s son.

And if that name sounds familiar: Lee Mazzilli (the dad) played mostly for the Mets in his 14 year career and was part of the 1986 World Series team. He also played about half the 1982 season with the Yankees. He later was a coach with the Yankees in 2000-2003, served as the Orioles manager in 2004-2005, and then came back to the Yankees in 2006 before becoming a Special Advisor to the Yankees. His oldest daughter Lacey also is in Yankee Universe as part of the on-air talent for Yankees On Demand, which films special segments for the network and in-house production.

In other words, the Yankees just got themselves another Mazzilli. How L.J. develops is too early to say, but for now, it’s a fun trivia moment for long-time Yankee fans.

Go Yankees!

Game 10: BAL vs. NYY — 12th inning fumble

Let’s just say that I don’t think I’m the only person who’s glad this weekend series is over. Two extra innings games in a single series is exhausting. And only about a few people (the players and coaches, plus grounds crew and stadium staff) can actually say that justifiably. Today’s extra innings game was mercifully an afternoon start, but it still ran four hours and 48 minutes in total.

Neither starter had a stellar day. The Yankees took advantage of the Orioles’ starter’s off day right in the 1st inning. Gardner and Judge hit consecutive singles, and with 1 out, Neil Walker hit into a failed force attempt that scored Gardner. Austin worked a walk to load up the bases, and Miguel Andujar singled home both Judge and Walker. Austin Romine’s 2-out single then scored Tyler Austin, and Ronald Torreyes’ double scored Andujar. The Orioles had seen enough and pulled their starter right there in the 1st inning, and from there the Yankees struggled against their bullpen.

Meanwhile, the Yankees sent Jordan Montgomery to the mound to start this finale against the Orioles. Montgomery threw 86 pitches into the 5th, but still gave up 10 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, striking out just 4 batters. In other words, down 5 runs, the Orioles spent the rest of the game chipping away at that large lead. In the 2nd, a lead-off double scored on an RBI single to start the O’s scoring. Then in the 3rd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a single, advanced to 3rd on a double play, and then scored on another single.

In the 5th, with 1 out and a single on base, a big 2-run home run put the Orioles within a run. That was it for Montgomery’s outing today. Domingo German came on to close out that inning. And the Yankees answered back in the bottom of that inning with Walker’s lead-off single. He then moved to 2nd on a ground out and to 3rd on a 2-out single by Peterson (after a challenge overturned an original out call). Austin Romine singled Walker home.

But the Orioles answered that one in the 6th — a lead-off single stole 2nd, and then scored on a 2-out single — and in the 7th — a 1-out walk scored as part of a 2-run home run to put the O’s in the lead for the first time this afternoon.

Now, in order to push this into extra innings, the Yankees needed to tie this game up, so they found their opportunity in the 7th. Austin hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Andujar’s walk, ended up at 3rd on Peterson’s fielder’s choice, hung out for a pitching change, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single to tie up the game.

Betances, Chapman, Shreve, and Robertson breezed their way through the 8-11th innings. But then so did their counterparts. The Yankees offense certainly had their moments to hope and hold on, but there just wasn’t enough to cobble together anything to break the tie.

In the 12th, Adam Warren took the mound and the Orioles saw their own opportunity to advance. Warren gave up a 1-out walk and a 2-out single. Another single scored the Orioles’ go-ahead run. But the Yankees battled back in the bottom of the inning. Romine and Gregorius each worked walks, and Gardner’s sacrifice bunt loaded up the bases thanks to a fielding error. With no outs, Judge hit a comebacker to the pitcher who quickly got the double play at home and 3rd to cut down the lead runners. A strike out later, the game was over.

Final score: 8-7 Orioles, in 12 innings, Orioles win series 3-1

It’s worth noting that neither pitching staff came off as perfectly clean, both staffs giving up 16 hits each and still striking out 12 and 15 (Yankee and Orioles, respectively) batters. It just means things weren’t as neat as they probably should be in a regular game.

Next up: the Yankees head up to Fenway to face the Red Sox for a mid-week 3 game series, starting Tuesday. (Tomorrow is an off-day/travel day.) Currently, the Red Sox are on quite a winning streak of 8 games, after losing their opener. Yes, the Red Sox are 8-1 for the season so far.

But no worries, Yankee Universe, it’s been just 10 games. It’s barely April. There’s still 152 games left to play, or 94% of the season left to play. Talk to me in like July if you feel like panicking or calling for Boone/Stanton’s resignation.

Go Yankees!

Game 9: BAL vs. NYY — It may be chilly once again, but it’s always “Sonny” when the bats work.

Well, it seems like just a few hours ago we were talking baseball. Because it was literally just hours ago when last night’s game finally came to a close after 14 innings. But it didn’t seem like it shook the Yankees’ efforts all that much today. In fact, the windy chill of the air in the neighborhood of 42° at first pitch was much more of an issue than lack of sleep for both the Yankees and the Orioles in the third game of this 4-game weekend series.

Neither seemed to faze starter Sonny Gray, who gave the Yankees a strong 6 innings. Throwing 86 pitches, he gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out just 4 Baltimore batters. In the 3rd, a 2-out single joined the lead-off walk on the base paths, and both scored on a long double to get the O’s on the board. With 2 outs in the 4th, a single then scored on an RBI double to cap off the Orioles’ scoring today.

Adam Warren struggled a bit in the 7th, giving up 2 hits and only getting 1 out, but then David Robertson came in to work his “Houdini” magic, and blast through the next 5 outs, 4 of which were unbelievable strikeouts. Because it’s standard David Robertson. Luis Cessa came on to close out the 8th with a quick 3 outs in just 10 pitches.

Meanwhile, the Yankees offense didn’t seem to realize it was missing hours of sleep, racking up 11 total hits and 7 walks over this afternoon. Andujar led-off the 2nd with a single (his first of the season), moved to 2nd on a ground out, but then was thrown out at 3rd on a fielder’s choice Romine hit into. Romine would move to 3rd on Torreyes’ double before they both scored on Brett Gardner’s single. Down by a run, in the 5th with 1 out, Torreyes singled, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s walk, hustled to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Aaron Judge’s ground out to tie up the game.

But the Yankees weren’t going to let this game go. Gregorius led off the 6th with walk, ended up at 3rd on Austin’s single, and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s sacrifice fly. Tyler Austin later scored on Austin Romine’s single (thanks to a miscommunication of fielders). And in the 7th, Gardner led-off with a walk and then scored on Aaron Judge’s double. Judge moved to 3rd on a fly out before the Orioles intentionally walked Gregorius. Gregorius promptly stole 2nd, which they would need as both runners scored on Tyler Austin’s single.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

After all the injuries yesterday, we all knew roster moves were inevtiable. Today, the Yankees made their moves. They placed Brandon Drury on the 10-day disabled list with his severe migraines, something he apparently has struggled with for about six years. They also placed CC Sabathia on the 10-day disabled list with right hip strain due to his hip soreness during his shortened outing last night. He will probably only miss one start, but the Yankees aren’t taking any chances with their veteran starter.

But then in their place, the Yankees had to make further movies. They optioned Jonathan Holder to AAA Scranton after his 42-pitch outing last night. They selected the contract of infielder Jace Peterson (who actually made the start in the outfield today and did a really good job). They also recalled pitchers Domingo German and Luis Cessa (who pitched a flawless 9th today) to fill out their depleted bullpen.

And in other injury news: the Yankees announced that reliever Ben Heller underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday after being shelved from baseball activities initially due to a bone spur in his throwing elbow. Surgery soon became inevitable, so they transferred him to the 60-day DL this week. He will be looking at that 12-18 month recovery period, with an eye on sometime early in the 2019 season with a return to the mound.

There was a rather moving piece featuring today’s starter in the recent edition of Yankees Magazine (which also serves as the game day program at Yankee Stadium). It’s worth the read, especially for those of you in Yankee Universe less familiar with what kind of player and man Sonny Gray is. He’s clearly been a good addition to the rotation and the clubhouse, and hopefully, he will continue to make his mark with the Yankees for seasons to come.

Go Yankees!