Game 140: TEX vs. NYY: Big Maple in command

After yesterday’s dreary shutout at Yankee Stadium, tonight’s team roared back with a near shutout of their own. A strong pitching outing from New York in the form of James Paxton and Jonathan Loaisiga, plus stellar defense and more record-breaking batting, showed the crowd why the Yankees are on a hopeful path to the Fall Classic this year.

James Paxton, “Big Maple”, took a firm command of the mound for the Yankees tonight. He faced the Rangers and easily breezed his way through the lineup for 7 scoreless phenomenal innings.

A pitching change in top of the 8th brought Jonathan Loaisiga to the mound allowing a walk, but the defense easily shut down the inning with a double play by the Wade-Gregorius-Voit combination to keep the Yankees firmly in the lead. Loaisiga was back in the 9th, and while allowing one home run, the New York defense shut down the inning with a final ground out maintaining the Yankee lead for a solid win for the pinstripes tonight.

The Yankee bats were alive and well throughout the game. In the 1st, Gary Sanchez sent a fly ball over the fence in center field for the first home run, scoring Didi Gregorius and the Yankees were on the board and in the lead 2-0.

In the 6th, LeMahieu and Aaron Judge singled on grounders and scored on Didi Gregorius’ homer to right center field. Gary Sanchez followed him with another homer also to right center. Encarnacion then singled and scored on a home run sent to right field by Brett Gardner to increase their lead over Texas.

The 7th inning saw Sanchez take his base after being hit by a pitch and promptly scored on a fly ball home run to left field from Edwin Encarnacion, placing the Yankees ahead by double-digit runs, and a shutout seemed probable. But then that homer in the 9th gave a run back to the Rangers that quashed the near shutout. It was quite the game. Another strong display of the the range of talent the Yankees have in abundance this year.

Final score: 10-1 Yankees

Injury update: CC Sabathia remains on the IL until at least Sept. 10. After his knee was drained and treated with a cortisone shot and lubricant, Sabathia is feeling better but has yet to test the knee. Apparently on a “wait and see” list, his day-to-day will be monitored in hopes to see Sabathia on the mound at least once more before his retires. Whether he gets to pitch again this season or not, Sabathia’s legacy is already well established.

While pitchers David Hale and Jake Barrett are definitely out for the season, others like Dellin Betances, Thairo Estrada, Aaron Hicks, Gio Urshela, Jordan Montgomery, Stephen Tarpley, Giancarlo Stanton, Jonathan Holder, and Luis Severino are expected to return in later this month. A few, like Montgomery, are already starting their rehab assignments to work their way back to the Bronx.

Go Yankees!

Game 71: TB vs. NYY — Completely #TanakaTime

The Yankees began their final home stand before the All-Star Break tonight (vote!), hosting the Rays for the first 3 games. Plus, they also kicked off the celebration of the much-anticipated annual community giving event known as HOPE Week (more after game recap).

Masahiro Tanaka got the start for tonight’s game and just commanded the entire game against the Rays. He threw a complete and scoreless game of 111 pitches, only giving up 2 hits and a walk, and struck out 10 Rays’ batters.

On a fun side note: I didn’t even realize it was the 9th inning when the game was suddenly over, and Tanaka was the one who threw the final out. It was only then that I was in awe of him throwing the complete game. I honestly thought there was still more baseball to play.

To be fair, the Rays’ pitchers were able to keep the Yankees from doing much on their end. But it was certainly enough to back Tanaka’s start. In the 3rd, with 1 out, Cameron Maybin singled and ended up at 2nd on a fielding error. He then scored as part of DJ LeMahieu’s big 2-out 2-run home run. Maybin added one more with a lead-off solo home run in the 5th.

Final score: 3-0 Yankees

Roster moves: After the big trade yesterday, the Yankees needed to make some moves to make room for the power hitter, who made his debut in pinstripes tonight (though he went 0-for-4). They transferred reliever Jake Barrett to the 60-day IL, activated Edwin Encarnacion, and optioned Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman to AAA Scranton.

Accordingly, it looks like Stanton and Judge will be back this week, and Encarnacion would help platoon Voit at 1st and at the DH. It also means the outfield is better refined now, eventually relying on the Stanton, Hicks, Judge, and Gardner combination there. Expect further moves to just escalate leading up to the July 31 trade deadline, especially in the hunt for another starter.

HOPE Week Day 1: A decade ago, the Yankees announced a new initiative to reach out to their community and honor local heroes doing all sorts of good. Called Helping Other Persevere and Excel, or HOPE Week, at the end of this week of celebrations, the Yankees will have helped 53 unique honorees from 7 different countries.

Today, they invited all the past HOPE Week honorees for a 10 year anniversary celebration at Yankee Stadium. Over 200 honorees and their families showed up to meet with Yankee players, staff, and alumni. And then they watched a great game to kick off this week’s festivities.

As part of the pre-game ceremonies, 2011 honoree Daniel’s Music Foundation performed the national anthem, and 2015 honoree Chris Singleton threw out the first pitch. Daniel’s Music Foundation was founded by the family of Daniel Trush, who used music therapy to help recover from a near-fatal brain aneurysm. The foundation still provides free music lessons for people with disabilities in New York and now has a state-of-the-art accessible music center in Harlem.

Four years ago today, Chris Singleton lost his mother Sharonda. Sharonda was one of 9 Bible study members who were shot and killed during the hate crime shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. At the time, Singleton was playing baseball at Charleston Southern University, and the Yankees chose to recognize and reach out to him for his community outreach in the midst of such personal loss. He was later drafted by the Cubs in 2017 but released earlier this year and officially retired as a ball player.

Singleton, now married with a young son, continues his work as an inspirational speaker and owns the clothing brand, Love Your Neighbor. His life motto continues to be “love is stronger than hate”. He was also recently hired by the Yankees to serve as the director of community outreach for their local minor league affiliate, the Charleston RiverDogs.

Go Yankees!

Game 53: SD vs. NYY — Memorial Day matinee with strong bats

The Yankees continue their strong season, piecing together wins however they can. I know I had some doubts about the idea of the “opener”, the 1-inning starter model first made popular a few years ago by the Rays. But since then, my initial skepticism has proven unfounded, with Chad Green leading the way for the Yankees in how this works.

For today’s opening game against the visiting Padres, Green breezed his way through the 1st inning with 3 strong strikeouts before handing the game over to David Hale for 4 innings of long-term relief. Hale’s lone problem inning was his first, the 2nd inning. After a strikeout, he gave up a single and walk. A double scored the lead runner. After a fielder’s choice out at home, another double scored the Padres’ second runner.

Then, Hale fell back into the pattern set by Green and remained strong through his remaining innings. Then the game was handed to a string of relievers — Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman — who closed out the game with a scoreless inning a piece.

Though the Padres struck first, the Yankees answered back quickly in the bottom of the 2nd. Clint Frazier hit a 1-out solo home run. After Urshela worked a walk, he scored on Brett Gardner’s 2-out 2-run home run to edge the Yankees into the lead. A lead they defended well for most of the game.

It wasn’t until the 8th inning, with a new reliever that they found another chance for insurance runs. With 1 out, Gary Sanchez hit a nice solo home run. Torres then doubled and scored on Cameron Maybin’s single and a fielding error. Another pitching change ended any further run insurance, but that was more than enough in the end.

Final score: 5-2 Yankees

Roster moves/injury updates: Yesterday, the Yankees utilized the Scranton Shuttle again for a fresh bullpen arm. They optioned Chance Adams back to AAA Scranton and recalled Joe Harvey. They also placed reliever Jake Barrett on the 10-day IL due to right elbow inflammation.

Finally, today we honor all those fallen in service to their country on this Memorial Day. As part of this day, the Yankees and Padres paused at 3:00 pm local time (in the top of the 7th inning) to participate in the National Moment of Remembrance. We honor the memories and legacies of all those who died in military service, including those in our own families.

Go Yankees!

Game 37: SEA vs. NYY — Happ’s 1-hitter victory

The Yankees are on their way south, a brief break in their long home stand this month, and they do so on a lovely high thanks to the great game tonight. In the final game of this 4-game series against the Mariners, the Yankees relied on strong pitching to carry them into victory on this chilly Thursday evening.

Most of that fell on starter JA Happ, who threw 94 pitches in his 5 scoreless innings, gave up just 1 hit and 3 walks, and struck out 7 Seattle batters. Ottavino, Kahnle, and Britton each breezed their way through a scoreless inning of their own.

Meanwhile, the Yankees found a single opportunity early on to grab the lead. In the 2nd, Frazier and Torres each singled, and 2 outs later, Cameron Maybin’s double scored Frazier. It was this lone run, this slim lead that the Yankees spent most of the game defending against a pretty good Mariners’ starter.

When the Mariners brought in a reliever in the 8th, the Yankees found their next chance to add to their minute lead. LeMahieu led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s single, and ended up at 3rd on Gardner’s fielder’s choice out at 2nd. Gardner stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position.

After a strikeout, they intentionally walked Torres to load the bases. Feeling fine after that nasty bruise yesterday, Gio Urshela smacked a long single into right field that scored both LeMahieu and Gardner.

With a nice lead now, the Yankees sent in Aroldis Chapman for 3 outs in the 9th. But after 2 quick outs, he gave up a solo shot into the right field seats to give the Mariners their lone run of the evening. And then he got that final out to earn the save tonight, his 8th of the season.

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

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to see the Rays just for the weekend. A brief road trip before they continue their home stand, hosting the Orioles and Rays next week. And then they hit the road again in a week-long road trip.

Scranton Shuttle: Before today’s game, the Yankees optioned pitcher Jake Barrett back to AAA Scranton and officially signed pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. To make room for him on the roster, they transferred Dellin Betances, still recovering from his shoulder injury, to the 60-day injured list.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 36: SEA vs. NYY — Wednesday night struggle and missing spark

The Yankees really struggled their way in every part of tonight’s game, the third in the four-game series against the visiting Mariners. The pitchers gave up 14 total hits, while the batters only got 5 overall. But it’s the run difference that really made the morale feel a bit low.

Jonathan Loaisiga got the start tonight, throwing 83 pitches in just 4 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and striking out just 3 Seattle batters. He got of to a shaky start right in the 1st with a single and a walk. A line drive put runners in the corners so that the lead runner could easily score on a sacrifice fly.

A lead-off solo home run in the 3rd added one more. With 2 outs in the 4th, consecutive doubles scored one run, and a single scored one more for the visitors. It wasn’t a bad start, but it was a clear struggle.

Luis Cessa came in for some long relief in the 5th for 3 innings, and things settled in a bit, only giving up a 1-out solo home run in the 5th. Cessa then kept the Mariners scoreless through the 7th inning.

Jake Barrett came out for the 8th, and the struggles came up again. With 1 out, a batter hit a long fly ball out to right, and it was called out right as Frazier caught it in what should have been a highlight worthy catch. But the Mariners spotted something off and challenged it. He caught it, but the ball bounced out of his glove, off the ground, and into his throwing hand. I think it seemed liked he caught it directly out of this glove, but it was a dropped ball and overturned on replay.

The next batter hit a 2-run home run to add to the Mariners’ growing lead. In the 9th, with 1 out, Barrett gave up 2 walks. A double then scored the first runner. After another out, a long single scored 2 final runs for the visitors.

The Yankee batters really struggled against the Mariners’ starter, who was running a no-hitter through most of his outing. After a lead-off walk in the 1st, he got 16 consecutive outs to carry him into the 6th inning with limited Yankee offense. It was Mike Tauchman that broke up the no-hitter bid with a strong double. He moved to 3rd on LeMahieu’s single and then scored on Luke Voit’s sacrifice fly.

The Yankees couldn’t find another moment the whole game.

Final score: 10-1 Mariners

Injury news: In the 7th inning, Gio Urshela took a foul ball off his left knee and came out of the game. X-rays negative, he was diagnosed with a contusion (a fancy word for bruise). This shouldn’t mean a trip to the IL, just a few games on the bench and some time in the trainer’s room getting iced and treatments as needed.

Roster moves/”Scranton Shuttle”: Before today’s game, the Yankees optioned Tyler Wade back to AAA Scranton and recalled tonight’s starter Jonathan Loaisiga. The Scranton Shuttle is alive and well once again.

Go Yankees!

Game 32: MIN vs. NYY — An un-Happ-y Star Wars Day

It’s Star Wars Day, and Yankee Stadium celebrated in style. Today’s giveaway was a bobblehead of CC Sabathia dressed as a Jedi knight. Sabathia dressed in full costume as the popular Jedi master Yoda to help hand out his figurines to waiting fans, joined around the stadium by other franchise characters dressed as storm troopers, rebel warriors, and even the stars like Darth Vader and Rey.

However, the Force was not with the Yankees this afternoon as they stumbled through this middle game of the series against the visiting Twins. JA Happ got roughed up a bit in today’s start, throwing 81 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and striking out 3 Minnesota batters.

In the 3rd, the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch and then scored on a 1-out 2-run home run to get the Twins on the board first. A lead-off double in the 5th moved to 3rd on a single and scored on a double play. And with 2 outs in the 6th, a solo home run added yet another run for the visitors.

Joe Harvey closed out of the 6th for Happ and came out for the 7th. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on a fielder’s choice and throwing error. With runners on the corners, the Yankees called in Stephen Tarpley. The first batter hit into force out at 2nd, an unsuccessful double play, thus scoring that runner from 3rd. Tarpley came back out for the 8th. He gave up a lead-off walk. A balk moved that runner to scoring position to score on a long single.

After another single, the Yankees called in recent call-up Jake Barrett to close out the inning with 2 quick outs. A 1st pitch solo homer in the 9th was the only flaw in Barrett’s Yankee debut.

The Yankees faced a former division rival pitcher as the Twins’ starter today, and it certainly felt like he had the upper hand for most of his 6 scoreless innings. Once they went to the bullpen in the 7th, the Yankees pounced. Brett Gardner led-off with a strong double, moved to 3rd on Maybin’s single, and then scored on a wild pitch. Maybin ended up at 2nd on that play and later moved to 3rd on a ground out. He then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single to chip away at the Twins’ lead.

Gary Sanchez led-off the 8th with a big solo home run, continuing his hot streak. But that was it for the Yankees’ offense. They just couldn’t seem to find another moment to wheedle away at the Twins’ big lead today.

Final score: 7-3 Twins

Tomorrow’s game, the final game of this weekend series, has been moved from 1:05 pm to 4:05 pm due to forecasted rain that will sweep through the area early tomorrow.

Injured List update: Unfortunately, James Paxton’s knee will require a trip to the Injured List. After an official diagnosis of knee inflammation, Paxton is shut down to focus on treatment. They recalled pitcher Jake Barrett, formerly with the Diamondbacks, who closed out today’s game.

And Miguel Andujar was officially activated off the IL for today’s game, starting at 3rd base today. To make room, the Yankees optioned infielder Mike Ford back to AAA Scranton.

And Luke Voit’s on-base streak has come to an end. Going 0-for-4 today, Voit’s streak ends at 42 consecutive games, tying him with Yankee greats like Teixeira (in 2010), Williams (2001), O’Neill (1996), and Mattingly (1993-94). It fell short of franchise records of 57 by Jeter (1998-99) and 53 by Rodriguez (2004). Someone else commented with measurable optimism that his next streak begins tomorrow. I’ll take that.

Go Yankees!