Game 123: TOR vs. NYY — Remembering what was and hoping for what could be

What a beautiful day at the ball park for memories and a good ball game. Fans turned out in droves to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1998 World Series Championship team, complete with a full cadre of former Yankees (more below) before the Yankees took on the Blue Jays in the second game of this celebration weekend series.

Luis Severino got the start today and needed a strong start to reset himself after a recent rough patch. He threw 100 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out 8 batters. In fact, he held the Blue Jays scoreless through most of his outing. In the 6th, he gave up a double that ended up at 3rd on a fielding error and then scored on an RBI single.

Severino handled the ball over to Tommy Kahnle, who had a less than ideal outing. After getting one out, he gave up 2 singles that scored one run and then loaded up the bases with a walk and 2 outs. To end that threat the Yankees turned to Jonathan Holder, while Kahnle was responsible for all 3 base runners. Holder gave up a long single that scored all 3 base runners before getting the runner out trying to stretch it into a triple.

Britton and Betances had clean, scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th, respectively. And the Yankees needed it after that messy 6th. So, the Yankees sent out AJ Cole for the 9th inning, but he had a bit of trouble. With 2 outs and runners on the corners, a long double scored just 1 run before he found that 3rd out.

But unlike last night’s rain-shortened game, the Yankee offense started big and stayed big. In the 1st, Gardner led-off with a walk, stole 2nd base 2 outs later, and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run. Torres hit a 1st pitch single to kick off the 2nd and ended up all the way on 3rd thanks to a wild pitch and throwing error. He would later score on Austin Romine’s sacrifice fly.

In the 3rd, Stanton singles and Hicks walked, and then they both scored on a 1-out double by Miguel Andujar. Andujar then moved to 3rd on a throwing error off Torres’ hit and then scored on Greg Bird’s ground out. Giancarlo Stanton hit a nice 2-out solo home run in the 4th, and Andujar followed suit with a 1-out solo homer into the left field seats in the 5th.

Greg Bird led-off the 8th with a solo home run into the right field seats to snap his recent offensive skid. The Yankees then loaded up the bases with a couple singles and a hit by pitch and 1 out. A new Jays’ reliever gave up a walk to Aaron Hicks to walk in the Yankees’ next run. And Gregorius’ sacrifice fly scored Gardner to cap off the Yankees’ runs today.

On a day meant to honor a team that won 114 game in a single season, it’s only fitting the Yankees would win and win big.

Final score: 11-6 Yankees

During the 5th inning, a foul tip hit catcher Austin Romine in the face mask and stunned him a bit. Initially, he stayed in the game, but was replaced by Higashioka when the Yankees took the field in the 6th. Hits like that have been known to cause concussions, so the Yankees were smart to remove him for observation and a full check-up as a precaution. And while Higashioka can absolutely serve as strong back-up for tomorrow’s finale and even into the Miami series, be prepared for Sanchez’s return to be moved up some.

Now, the big focus of today was the celebrations in honor of the 1998 Yankees. Almost all of the favorites from that team showed up for the event, including Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Bernie Williams. Jeter and World Series MVP Brosius sent video messages due to their previous engagements and obligations to other teams (Jeter now owns the Marlins, and Brosius is a coach with the Mariners).

Joe Torre was also on hand to recall that iconic season, throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and spent time with two of his players from that season now serving as YES Network broadcasters Paul O’Neill and David Cone during the regular game. And one of the things Torre said in the broadcast stuck with me.

They were talking about how the 1998 season started out slow and how Torre held a team meeting early on to help the team focus on moving forward. Both former players O’Neill and Cone agreed that Torre never did the hype-man thing some coaches do where they scream and try to drive up that emotion, but rather focus on that he was just disappointed in how they were playing at that point. O’Neill even remarked it was like feeling like you were disappointing your father and how he always felt motivated to go out and be better after a Torre “pep talk”.

But Torre went on to say: “I always wanted to end it on a positive message. I always thought of baseball as 162 [games]. It’s a game of life. You live it every day. And if you start getting too pumped up, it’s not going to last. You can’t maintain that.” So, as we agree with Mr. Torre about this comparison of life and baseball, it’s good to remember old Aesop’s fable and remember that while it’s fun to be the hyper rabbit, it’s the consistency and persistence of the turtle that ends up successful at the mission.

Go Yankees!

Game 92: NYY vs. MIN — Even a plague of moths can’t stop a Yankee win tonight

On this day in Yankee history in 1999, David Cone became the 3rd Yankee pitcher and 16th MLB player to throw a perfect game. Cone threw just 88 pitches to the visiting Montreal Expos’ lineup, striking out 10 of them. There was a 33-minute rain delay in the middle of the 3rd inning, but it didn’t seem to affect Cone’s momentum in the slightest. The Yankees went on to win the game 6-0. Cone’s catcher that day was current manager Joe Girardi. And the manager of the Yankees then, Joe Torre, was also celebrating his birthday. So, happy anniversary on the game and happy birthday, Mr. Torre!

For tonight’s game against the Twins, the Yankees called on Luis Cessa to start, but Cessa had a bit of trouble tonight. He threw 76 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, striking out just 2 batters. Right in the 1st, he loaded up the bases with 2 walks and a hit-by-pitch and 2 outs, he walked another batter to get the Twins on the board early, but then got out of the jam with the first of his 2 strikeouts.

A 1-out solo home run in the 3rd doubled their score. And in the 4th, a 1-out double scored on a big triple. After 1 more out, the Yankees opted to go to their bullpen and call on Chasen Shreve. And once they opened that bullpen door, it was one of the best things they did for the team. Shreve closed out the 4th and got through the 5th scoreless, albeit a bit of a jam.

Warren’s beautiful 6th and 7th innings continued the momentum and set up the final two relievers — Betances who found some 8th inning drama but got out unscathed, and Chapman’s 16-pitch 9th inning for his 10th save of the season.

Now, that could be bad, but the Yankees were hitting quite a bit tonight — 13 total hits off the Twins’ pitching staff, 8 of those alone off the starter. The Yankees did all of their big damage in the middle of the game. In the 4th, Judge led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single, then to 3rd on a fielder’s choice, and scored on Chase Headley’s single to get the Yankees on the board. (Judge’s productive offense tonight clearly negates whatever silly “home run derby jinx” the online trolls seem bent on believing.)

Still down in the 5th, the Yankees decided to grab the lead and not let go. Torreyes led-off with a single and ended up on 3rd after Gardner’s ground-rule double. Then Gary Sanchez (another victim of those online “derby jinx” trolls) hit a big double that scored both Torreyes and Gardner. That ended the Twins’ starter’s night. Aaron Judge’s single scored Sanchez, and then he scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ solid 1-out 2-run home run to ensure the Yankees’ lead and eventual victory tonight.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees.

Also, about the 6th inning of tonight’s game, Target Field was seemingly invaded by thousands of moths. It was almost like a Biblical plague, but with floating white, non-biting things, almost like big, thick snow flakes in appearance, in the air. I thought they were paper or debris on the field and in the air at first, but was later corrected when I could see their buzzing wings in close-up shots. Fortunately, it was nowhere near as bad as the infamous “midges game” back in 2007.

Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees optioned Bryan Mitchell back to AAA Scranton, recalling tonight’s starter Luis Cessa.

Injury updates: Greg Bird and Michael Pineda had their scheduled surgeries today to repair their injuries. Bird released a post-op statement, stating his intention to get back in the game as soon as he possibly can. Here’s hoping for their quick return to full health.

Go Yankees!

Game 73: TEX vs. NYY — Falling just short on Old Timers’ Day

Well, it was clear which game today Nature preferred. One was played under warm, sunny skies, the other with the looming threat of nearby storms that never really materialized. And it certainly was a sign of how both games turned out.

After a really fun Old Timers’ Day (more after the recap), the Yankees closed out this homestand and the weekend series against the Rangers, though this homestand has been anything less than stellar. Michael Pineda got the start this afternoon, and just struggled right out of the gate, taking his time to settle in and find that groove that he normally sails through in most of his outings. Pineda lasted just 4 innings, throwing 71 pitches, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 7 runs, striking out just 4 batters.

In the 1st, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on an RBI single. A 2-run home run gave the Rangers a strong early lead. Then with 2 outs and 2 runners on base with a single and walk, a big home run scored 3 more runs for the Rangers. And to cap off their scoring, the Rangers sent one more homer into the stands, a 2-out solo home run in the 4th.

After Pineda, the bullpen certainly had a better job of keeping the Rangers in line. Webb’s 5th set things back on the right course, despite getting into a bit of trouble himself, though he came out of it without giving up more runs to the Rangers. Green’s 2 innings were nearly flawless. And closing out the final bit of the game was the tag team duo of Betances and Chapman, the latter wowing the lingering crowd with his 3 consecutive strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offense had a hard time breaking through the Rangers’ starter, only managing a few hits until the 5th inning (the starter’s final inning of the game). Williams led-off with a single. Then 2 outs later, Romine technically struck out on a wild pitch, but made it safely to base, moving Williams to 2nd. Aaron Judge broke the zeroes on the scoreboard as his single scored the Yankees’ first run of the afternoon — Williams. Then it was Gary Sanchez’s 3 run home run that got the Yankees back into this game and fighting.

Under a new reliever in the 7th, the Yankees struck again. Ronald Torreyes led-off with a solid home run into the 1st row of the left field seats. Two outs later, Judge and Sanchez both worked walks before the Rangers called on a new reliever. Didi Gregorius promptly singled home Judge, but Sanchez was thrown out trying to get to 3rd on the throw.

Despite their best efforts, especially getting runners in scoring position, the Yankees fell just short in their last-minute attempts at a rally.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees, Rangers win series 2-1.

Unfortunately, there is also an extensive injury list: Aaron Hicks came out of the game after the 4th inning (moving Williams from right to center field, 1st baseman Tyler Austin to right field, and adding Austin Romine in the game at 1st base). Hicks started feeling a tightness in his right oblique, and after an MRI during the game, Hicks said he’s headed for the Disabled List, which could see him out for 3-4 weeks.

Now, Starlin Castro was out of today’s game due to injury to right wrist (a lingering injury he sustained about six weeks ago). Other than rest, Castro has undergone a cortisone shot as part of his recovery. And Matt Holliday had allergic reaction to something he ate in Oakland last weekend and is still suffering from fatigue that can linger after a bad allergic reaction

So with Jacoby Ellsbury still working with AAA Scranton until he is cleared and recalled, local Ellsbury fans might be sooner now due to Hicks’ injury. Especially if the hot offense he’s been showing in Scranton can translate well here.

Okay, so it was basically one of the coolest (ironically) days at Yankee Stadium. Today, the Yankees hosted their 71st annual Old Timers’ Day. The Yankees spent time introducing each honored guest, mostly former players and a few former coaches. Plus, the wives of some legends who are no longer with us represented their famed spouses well. It was a delightful ceremony only capped off by a highly amusing and enjoyable exhibition game between former legends on the “Bombers” or the “Clippers”. The Clippers won 2-1, thanks to younger “Old Timers” like Tino Martinez, first-timer Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams and a bit of a boost from Reggie Jackson.

Other former teammates of Jackson from the 1977 team were entertaining (I’m looking at you, Sparky Lyle) , and pondered their 40 years since that iconic championship run, something they’ll be celebrating and remembering later this year. Plus, they honored Tim Raines, who briefly played with the Yankees (during their championship years, 1996-1998) and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this July, gifting him with 2 seats from the old stadium Raines actually played ball in years ago.

{Media links: highlights of the Old Timers’ Game — Mickey Rivers’ catch (he’s still got it!), starter Sparky Lyle’s amusing tumble trying to field a soft grounder, Tino Martinez’s single scoring Bernie Williams’ dramatic slide, Lee Mazzilli’s RBI double and his own score on an error.}

Basically, despite the actual game falling short and the looming potential storm that never quite came into existence, the fun of the morning wasn’t really lost. If anything, it gave loyal, long-term Yankee fans the chance to compare the stars of yesterday with the stars of tomorrow. And while everyone certainly seemed to have an opinion, the reality is that of the legends of yesterday are actually a mixed bag of success stories. Some of them you know (like the ones I mentioned), but others are in the “yeah, I sorta remember that guy” (but you really don’t). And some of both of those categories certainly had their mixed reactions in their own playing days.

You just never know who’s going to be a “somebody everyone knows” and “somebody I think I used to know” at one of these games in the (not-so-very-distant) future. Some of those great players today were on teams when the Yankees were just terrible, despite being really great players. Which unfortunately, often makes them rather forgettable sometimes. And then today there was still Don Larsen or Whitey Ford or Joe Torre — legends today who were part of what made the Yankees’ one of the most successful franchises, the dynasty moments in Yankee history. (All 3 got pretty extensive standing ovations, by the way.)

Go Yankees!

Game 7: TB vs. NYY — Home opener dominance

There’s absolutely nothing like Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. The stands are crowded with hopeful fans (another sell-out crowd this year), everything is fresh and new, vendors hawk new merchandise and delicious new food and drink options, the team introductions reverberate off the stadium, and the air is simply electric unlike any other game during the year.

In a reversal of fortunes from the Opening Day at the Trop last week, the Yankees basically decided to dominate the visiting Rays from start to finish today, thanks mostly to starter Michael Pineda. Pineda had what has to be one of the best starts of his entire career, even maintaining a no-hitter into the 7th inning. Yes, he was just getting those outs, rather efficiently, a straight 20 outs before one of the Rays’ power-hitters broke it with a nice 2-out double to left field in the 7th. All of Yankee Stadium (including many of the Rays’ players) gave Pineda a nice ovation for his efforts.

Now, the only other hit he gave up was a questionable 1-out solo home run in 8th. The ball hit off a fan’s glove just above the wall by the Yankees’ bullpen and bounced back into right field. Ellsbury and Judge believed it was either a home run or a fan-interference double, so they didn’t rush to the ball as the runner made a mad rush to 3rd as the 2nd base umpire called the ball still in play (perhaps believing it bounced off the side of the wall instead). An umpire review found that the ball would’ve hit the top of the wall and thus overturned the call to be a home run.

After another out, the Yankees decided 93 pitches and 11 strikeouts was enough for Pineda’s great outing, calling on Tyler Clippard for a 1-pitch out to end the 8th inning. Chasen Shreve breezed through the Rays in the 9th with a quick 12-pitch inning to cap off what is easily the best outing by a Yankees’ pitching staff this season so far.

To be perfectly fair, the Rays’ pitchers had a pretty decent day, but they were back by some pretty messy defense at really inopportune times (for the Rays, that is). The Yankees, however, used it to their advantage. In the 3rd, with 1 out, technically, Gardner struck out on a wild pitch but made it safely to 1st, thus negating the out. He then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s double to start the Yankees’ runs this afternoon. Aaron Judge doubled their lead in the 4th with a solid 2-out solo home run into the left field seats. And Chase Headley got in on the fun with a lead-off solo home run into the 1st row of the right field seats.

But it would be the 8th inning that would move this game from a close one to a near-blowout. Gardner led things off by reaching on a bumbled fielding error, stealing 2nd (now 4-for-4 in stolen bases this year), and then scoring on Matt Holliday’s 1-out double. That was it for the Rays’ starter (after 102 pitches, actually). But the Yankees kept pressing in as Chris Carter scored Holliday with a big triple. Then Starlin Castro decided to mimic the Rays a bit and bounced a 2-run home run ball off the same top of the wall by the Yankees’ bullpen. That induced yet another umpire review, taking much longer than it should to confirm and uphold the home run call.

Headley and Judge then singled, and Romine made it to 1st on another bad fielding error to load up the bases. Ronald Torreyes hit a short grounder to 3rd base for the force out there, but the Rays’ infield wasn’t able to turn a double play (something they really didn’t do well today at all) and Headley scored the final Yankees’ run of the day.

Final score: 8-1 Yankees.

Roster moves: okay, so despite a great outing today, the Yankees optioned Chasen Shreve to AAA Scranton to make room for the Yankees’ now-official 5th starter — Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery will start Wednesday’s game as the Yankees continue their series against the Rays. The rest of the starters will move back a scheduled day now. Don’t count Shreve out any time soon though, as he’s a reliable force in the bullpen and will undoubtedly be back in the Bronx before you know it.

Injury update: so Greg Bird was out of today’s lineup with residual effects from his recent bout with food poisoning. Bird’s ankle is feeling much better, but this weekend had Bird under-the-weather with stomach issues. I wouldn’t be surprised to find him back on the field on Wednesday. And Gary Sanchez has an official diagnosis after today’s testing — a Grade 1 strain on a muscle behind his right biceps. This means Sanchez will be out roughly 4 weeks.

Before today’s game, the Yankees honored Yankee alumni who helped Team USA win the World Baseball Classic. Last WBC’s manager Joe Torre and this year’s coaches Willie Randolph and Tino Martinez threw out simultaneous ceremonial first pitches (to Headley, Romine, and Carter, respectively). And I found it fitting that Team USA member Tyler Clippard also played in today’s game (sure it was just 1 pitch, but playing in Opening Day matters!). A great way to honor team that represented America with America’s team.

Go Yankees!

Game 116: TB vs. NYY — Nice to see you, Class of ’96, but here come the Baby Bombers!

In a big promoted move, the Yankees featured a big pre-game ceremony featuring the 20th anniversary of the 1996 World Championship team that started the big dynasty. The former players jogged (insert any “old man” joke you may have here) from the center field to their respective positions on the field. Of course, Joe Girardi had the furthest to go to his former position at catcher and seemed to be the least winded. (Chalk it up to having to keep up with all the new, young guys, I guess.) And then former manager Joe Torre rode out on a cart to many cheers and excitement of the crowd. They took a big commemorative photo, waved to the fans, and then watched the young players take on the visiting Rays.

It was fun to reminisce with the team: Brian Boehringer, Wade Boggs, Jose Cardenal, Chris Chambliss, David Cone, Mariano Duncan, Cecil Fielder, Andy Fox, Joe Girardi, Doc Gooden, Charlie Hayes, Matt Howard, Derek Jeter, Pat Kelly, Jimmy Key, Jim Leyritz, Graeme Lloyd, Tino Martinez, Jim Mecir, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Monahan, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Dave Pavlas, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Tim Raines, Willie Randolph, Mariano Rivera, Luis Sojo, Mel Stottlemyre, Darryl Strawberry, John Wetteland, Bernie Williams, and Joe Torre.

But the truth is that it was kind of like a chapter closing. Between this anniversary gathering and Alex Rodriguez’s final night last night, the Yankees are turning a new page. And it’s awesome. Clearly.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start for the Yankees today in the middle game of this weekend series against the Rays. Tanaka threw just 79 pitches through his 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 4 runs, and striking out 8 Rays batters. In the 4th, two singles put runners on the corners to be ready to score on a big 3-run home run to get the Rays on the board. And that same batter added a 2-out solo shot in the 6th inning to cap off the Rays’ scoring today.

Clippard breezed his way through the Rays’ roster in the 8th. And Swarzak’s single pitch put a runner on base in the 9th, but Layne shut them down in 9 pitches to close out the game for the Yankees.

The Yankees’ offense on the other hand had a bit of a help from their newest addition and the new youth movement that is the New York Yankees now. With 2 outs in the 2nd inning, recent call-up Tyler Austin stepped into the batter’s box for his first time as a major leaguer and promptly hit a solo home run to get the Yankees on the board. Right after him, Aaron Judge in his MLB debut hit a monster solo home run right up the middle. For the first time in MLB history, two rookies hit home runs in the same game for their first MLB at-bat.

In the 4th, down 3-2, the Yankees tied up the game with Starlin Castro’s solo home run up to center field. Then in the 5th, Judge singled to start the inning and ended up at 3rd on Ellsbury’s 1-out single. Then it was Aaron Hicks to hit a 3-run home run in the 2nd deck of the right field seats to push the Yankees ahead of the Rays again.The Yankees added just a bit more in the 7th. With 2 outs, Headley worked a walk and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run into the right field seats to ensure the Yankees’ victory.

All of the Yankee runs today were scored on home runs hit by players aged 26 and under. Broadcasters officially dubbed them the “Baby Bombers”, a term I think is indicative of the youth and strength of this new version of the Yankees.

Final score: 8-4 Yankees.

Roster moves & the Scranton Shuttle: today, before the game, the Yankees transferred pitcher Conor Mullee from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL due to his continued carpal tunnel syndrome-like symptoms; they activated infielder Chris Parmelee from the 15-day DL and outrighted him AAA Scranton; reliever Ben Heller was optioned back to AAA Scranton; and the Yankees selected the contracts of Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin, who clearly contributed to today’s game.

Had the Yankees been not in a Wild Card race (depending on the outcome of some of tonight’s game, they are looking at only being 3 games out of the Wild Card spot), the commemorative event might have had more significance. And while it was pretty cool to see everyone on the field again, it wasn’t exactly the focus of the day. No, that belongs to the rightly dubbed “Baby Bombers”. It was like a weird preview of Old Timers’ Day or something without getting to watch the old guys jog around the bases again.

I guess because I talk about the current Yankees every day, and have deep conversations about what could be, my focus is what is and what will be. It’s nice to remember what was, but if all you have is what you accomplished in the past, then you’ve lost the joy of the present and the hope for the future. And honestly, that’s what makes remembering worth it — knowing that things can get even better as you find the positive and potential in the what’s right in front of you.

Go Yankees!

{Watch the full pre-game ceremony here. And one of the best interviews today was with Joe Torre with the YES Network booth, featuring former players and YES Network broadcasters David Cone and Paul O’Neill; it was also during this interview that the Austin-Judge power duo debuted.}

Game 63: DET vs. NYY — A Grand Old Time, but a disappointing loss

In Motor City, they have a small reason to celebrate. Today’s win for the Tigers made it the first time since the Tigers have won a series at the new Yankee Stadium (built for the 2009 season). This, of course, means the Yankees have slipped back under par in the standings. This weekend hasn’t exactly been the strongest showing for the Yankees in some aspects, but they’ve been pretty good in minor areas that unfortunately collectively don’t add up to wins.

For example, Michael Pineda started this afternoon’s finale against the Tigers, throwing 114 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and solidly striking out 8 batters. In what amounted to a weird summary of the game, the 4th inning was a bit of an issue. Pineda quickly loaded the bases with singles from the strongest hitters on the Detroit roster. A sacrifice fly scored one and a single quickly loaded up the bases again. But then things started working for the Yankees as a great line out to Gregorius and nice strike out closed the door on what could’ve been a messy outing. In the 5th, with 1 out and runners on the corners, a ground out scored the runner from 3rd to double the Tigers’ lead at that point.

But that was all Pineda allowed in the scheme of things. Anthony Swarzak picked up the ball in the 7th inning. A single and a 2-run home run kicked things off roughly for him, but then between his strikeout and a couple of fly outs for the defense, that would be it for the Tigers. Goody and Green closed things out with an inning a piece without allowing any further Tigers’ runs.

So we turn to the quieted offense once again for a sign of something off. They Yankees even faced two former teammates now with the Tigers’ bullpen, but with a single exception, it didn’t seem to make much of an impact. It wasn’t until the 8th inning that the Yankees poked through the Tigers’ pitching. Ellsbury led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Beltran’s 1-out walk, and then scored on Chase Headley’s 2-out single.

Yankee pitchers managed to strike out 12 Detroit batters, yet gave up 9 total hits. Meanwhile, the Yankees offense managed 4 hits and 4 walks and struck out 9 times, and only managed a single run.

Final score: 4-1 Tigers, Tigers win series 2-1.

Roster moves: After the game, the Yankees optioned reliever Chad Green to AAA to make room for their other big move today. The Yankees signed 1st baseman Ike Davis. After all the recent blows their string of 1st basemen and their replacements have taken, the Yankees were looking for a strong, tested (albeit somewhat ideally temporary) veteran presence at 1st. Davis is mostly known for his time with the Mets (2010-2014), but after a short stint with the Pirates and the Athletics, Davis spent most of this year with the Rangers’ AAA team before being released and then signed by the Yankees today.

Also, today, the Yankees celebrated the 70th Annual Old Timers’ Day. On the roster for the game between the “Bombers” and the “Clippers” included Hall of Famers like Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, and Joe Torre and other Yankee greats like Don Larsen, Stick Michael, Lou Pinella, Willie Randolph, John Wetteland, and Bernie Williams. But the talk of the day was 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui celebrating his 42nd birthday today with a monster 2-run homer into the 2nd deck in right field off another great Yankee David Cone.

But the greatest presence this afternoon was the greatest absence. Yogi Berra was a fixture at this day nearly every year, and today’s OTD game was played in his honor, complete with special plaques on the bases and patches on the uniforms. Berra continues to be honored and celebrated this year, deservedly so.

{Media note: you can watch the entire Old Timers’ Day pre-game ceremony, including all the introductions of the former Yankee greats here. Or watch the shorter version and game highlights here.}

Go Yankees!

Also, I want to send my thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families of today’s terrible tragedy in Orlando. My heart goes out to the city in light of this and the other tragic loss of just a few days ago. May we learn how to bind together as a community to make smart, active decisions on how to prevent such terrible things from happening ever again and become a community that prove our differences are really our greatest strength as they become such an amazing unique pattern that is humanity at its strongest and most beautiful.

Game 37: NYY vs. ARI — Is it 2001?

I remember very vividly Game 6 of the 2001 World Series. The Yankees, coming off their stellar (very important) season, were up 3-2 over the Diamondbacks and looking for one more win to win their fourth consecutive World Championship. But standing in their way were the Diamondbacks, led by future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. Johnson pitched that night for Arizona against the usually reliable Andy Pettitte (who only made it through 2 innings that night). It was a blowout game. For the Diamondbacks. Final score of Game 6: 15-2 Arizona (including 22 hits by Diamondback batters). It was not a pretty game in the slightest. (Even Joe Torre talked about his memories from that night with perhaps a tinge of regret, but time, as it often does, softened the harsher memories and focused instead on the more important impactful moments from that season and life-altering year.)

And while tonight’s game was nowhere near that bad, or even crucial in the long run, it certainly brought back memories of that very specific game for me.

Tonight recent call-ups Chad Green and Conor Mullee made their debut with the Yankees. In fact, all 4 pitchers for the Yankees tonight weren’t on the roster a few weeks ago. And honestly, it’s kind of obvious. Green started tonight’s game and got knocked around quite a bit by the Diamondbacks’ roster.

In just over 4 innings, Green threw 79 pitches, gave up 8 hits, a walk, and 6 runs (just 4 earned), and struck out 5 batters. Once again, the strikeouts were the best thing for the pitching staff tonight. Not that it did much in the long run. In the 1st, with 2 outs, a solo home run got things started for Arizona. And a lead-off single, and subsequent stolen base in the 2nd, scored on a 2-out double.

The Yankees weren’t easy to run over just yet (unlike the 2001 game, by the way). In the 4th, Teixeira led off with a double and moved to 3rd on Beltran’s single before scoring on Chase Headley’s single. But despite a bases loaded situation 2 outs later, the Yankees fell back into that RISP (runners in scoring position) chasm and left all 3 stranded. Leading off the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury smacked a beautiful triple and then scored on a rather hilarious throwing error. It was described as a “Little League Home Run” online a few times, and it was honestly the best play of the night.

(By the way, with all of this talk about “making baseball fun again”, this play reminded me of the more questionable displays of so-called “fun” some other players seem to be advocating for. But if that play wasn’t fun, I don’t know what was. Anything that is reminiscent of the game these guys played as kids should be the definition of “fun” for this game, not some convoluted display of prominence.)

Okay, so the game was tied going into the 5th inning, and things were looking up for Green. But not for long. A missed catch error allowed one runner and a walk put a second on base so that the third batter hit a very large 3-run home run to push the D’backs into the lead. After an allowed double (and still no outs of the inning), Green’s night was done.

Nick Goody promptly got 2 outs, one a sacrifice fly that scored the lone runner, before giving a double and RBI single to increase Arizona’s lead even more. Conor Mullee made his major league debut tonight and had some struggles of his own to contend with — a walk, a strikeout, a stolen base, a walk, a force out, a hit-by-pitch to load the bases, and a walk that gave up another run before getting another force out to end the inning. I was informed that Mullee is the first Yankee pitcher with at least 3 walks and a hit-by-pitch in his debut since Betances’ debut in 2011.

It was time to hand over the ball to a more veteran pitcher, not that it would make that much of a difference. Phil Coke’s 7th and 8th innings were plagued with their own troubles. A fielding error, a hit-by-pitch, and a single loaded the bases before a ball ground into a double play scored the lead runner and a strikeout ended the D’backs attempt at running away with tonight’s game (well, even more than they did).

In the 8th, with 1 out, a batter doubles, but trying to stretch it into a triple gets tagged out between the bases (thanks to veteran teamwork there). A single, an RBI double, a walk, and a 2-RBI triple pushed the D’backs into double-digits.

Look, the best thing about the pitching staff consisted of 2 statistics — only 1 allowed walk and 8 total strikeouts, which nearly matched what the Arizona pitching staff came up with (1 walk and 10 strikeouts). But I’m guessing the 15 allowed hits and 12 runs (though only 8 were earned) and 2 errors were a giant part of the final score tonight.

Final score: 12-2 Diamondbacks

Before the game tonight, the Diamondbacks paid tribute to the late Joe Garagiola with a special pre-game ceremony, including a nice video tribute (this is the shortened link) to the former player, broadcaster, and long-time lover of baseball. (Link for full ceremony.) Garagiola’s children, his best friend Yogi Berra’s granddaughter (and MLB reporter), and friend and baseball executive Joe Torre were all on-hand for the celebration and honoring of a legend. Torre, Berra, and a former Diamondbacks co-broadcaster with Garagiola caught the ceremonial first pitches by 3 students from a local school where Garagiola spent his time giving back to his community. (Link for Lindsay Berra’s special report on her Grampa’s best friend and tonight’s tribute.)

Go Yankees!