Game 64: TB vs. NYY — 5th inning solutions

The Yankees began their long weekend series against the Rays tonight. And Domingo German finally rediscovered his momentum, thanks in part to a few precise hits from Yankee batters, and earned his first career win. German threw 91 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out an impressive 10 Rays’ batters.

It didn’t start out so well for German. His first pitch of the game became a solo home run to get the Rays on the board early. But then he followed that up with 3 straight strikeouts to end the inning.

Actually, he would get 7 straight outs into the 3rd inning, and then he gave up a walk and a single. After another out, a batter singled and scored the lead runner. But the second runner tried to score too and was thrown out by Stanton’s strong arm from left field directly to Sanchez for the tag. Then in the 6th, a lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on a single.

The Yankees answered back in the 5th inning. With 1 out, Aaron Hicks loved the first pitch he saw and fired it deep for a solid home run. Judge singled, and Sanchez worked a 2-out walk. They would both then score on Gleyber Torres’ big 3-run home run, his 13th career (and this season) homer, his 5th 3-run homer. That put the Yankees on top to stay.

After German’s 6 innings, the Yankees looked to their bullpen to close out the game. Green, Betances, and Chapman each took an inning and kept the Rays from adding to their score and tying up the game.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

Roster moves: the Yankees signed pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga from AA Trenton to fill Tanaka’s spot on the rotation. There has been a lot of talk about Loaisiga, who is a top prospect (#12 overall) in the Yankees’ organization. He will make his MLB debut tomorrow night against the Rays. To make room on the roster, the Yankees optioned Tyler Austin to AAA Scranton.

It’s worth remembering that it’s Austin’s name on the All-Star Game ballot because Bird was out for a good portion of the early season due to his ankle surgery. However, Bird is doing well once again at 1st, reverting Austin into a bench player. But he’ll play every day in Scranton.

HOPE Week Day 4: Today, the Yankees partnered with a great organization called “Wish of a Lifetime“. The non-profit, founded by a former US Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom, provides opportunities for senior citizens to cross off something amazing on their Bucket List. During his international skiing career, Bloom, always close with his own grandparents, witnessed how other nations treated their elders and wanted to figure out a way to build a culture of respect back in the U.S.

Using the similar model of  “Make A Wish”, “Wish of a Lifetime” is a welcome memory-creator for the most senior of our society. So, for today’s event, Bloom chose 87-year-old Sal Reale, who is a Korean War veteran, New York firefighter for 20 years, and life-long Yankees fan. Reale retired to the Tampa Bay area in 1977 and has wanted to revisit his old firehouse for over 40 years.

Reale, his son, and grandson were treated to a special welcome at FDNY Ladder 136 and then surprised by Tyler Austin, Greg Bird, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Chasen Shreve, and Adam Warren. They all had lunch, tried on fire gear, and listened to Reale’s stories about seeing Gehrig and DiMaggio play. The Yankees later took Reale and his family on a pregame Stadium tour which included the pregame press conference with manager Aaron Boone.

The Yankees also donated $10,000 to Wish of a Lifetime to continue their great work of making wishes come true for our amazing American seniors.

Go Yankees!

Games 55 & 56: NYY vs. DET — Let’s split 2 and draft 2 catchers

If you recall back to April, the Yankees last visited Detroit for a 3-game series. They won the first game on Friday (April 13), the game on Saturday was rained out and postponed for a doubleheader on Sunday (April 15), and then both games were rained out on Sunday and pushed to today (June 4), as both team had a day-off between their own scheduled series. The Tigers were home after hosting the Blue Jays and then off to Boston, while the Yankees are flying between the rained out Baltimore and a short series in Toronto.

Game 1 — #SevySharp
Luis Severino is certainly putting up a great case to be considered for that Cy Young Award again this year. In the first game of today’s doubleheader, Severino was sharp as usual, throwing 112 pitches in his strong 8 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 runs (1 earned), and striking out 10 Detroit batters.

In the 1st, with 1 out, Severino gave up a single that scored on an RBI double. That would be the only earned run the Tigers got in that first game. Then in the 5th, with 2 outs, the next batter made it all the way to 2nd due to a throwing error before scoring on an RBI single.

The Tigers’ starter was really no match for Severino today. Gleyber Torres got the Yankees on the board in the 3rd with a 1-out solo home run. Greg Bird led off the 4th with his own solo home run. Then the Yankees found their momentum. Stanton and Gregorius each singled and then scored on singles by Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier. Then Austin Romine smacked a big 3-run home run to ensure the Yankees’ win. All before an out was recorded that inning.

After 2 outs and a walk to Judge, the Tigers went to their bullpen, who had a better time at keeping the Yankees’ batters from adding to their big lead. But then the Tigers’ batter were up against Severino, and after those 8 innings, the Yankees turned to their bullpen for the last inning. Reliever Jonathan Holder had a bit of issues in the 9th. The lead-off batter made it to 1st on a fielding error and then scored on a double. After a fly out, the runner moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a double. It was time to call in Aroldis Chapman for a 6-pitch strikeout for his 14th save.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees

Game 2 — Making up Jackie Robinson Day
Because this game was originally scheduled for April 15, or Jackie Robinson Day, the Yankees and Tigers made up the memorial as well as the game by all wearing #42 on their jerseys. Domingo German got the start and just was unable to really get a handle on the game as consistent as his counterpart in the first game. And still, he threw 95 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out 3 batters.

In the 2nd, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a passed ball and then later scored on sacrifice fly to get the Tigers on the board. A lead-off single in the 4th scored on an RBI double. That runner later scored on a 2-out double. Later in the 7th, with 2 outs, German gave up a double, and the Yankees went to their bullpen for Adam Warren to finish off the game. But he gave up a double that scored that final run for the Tigers. Then despite loading up the bases with 2 walks, Warren got out of that jam before giving a scoreless 8th inning.

The Tigers’ starter did better than his counterpart in the first game, but it still wasn’t the greatest outing. And yet, the Yankees just weren’t coming through, despite loading up those bases multiple times. In the 3rd, Clint Frazier hit a 1-out single and then scored easily on Brett Gardner’s triple. Later, Sanchez worked a 2-out walk and Stanton was hit by a pitch to load up the bases before the Tigers’ defense kicked in a got Gardner out at home on a baby grounder.

There was some talk in that inning about Stanton’s hit-by-a-pitch because the Tigers’ starter was the one who actually hit Stanton in the face in September 2014 when Stanton was with the Marlins and Fiers with the Brewers and the reason he wore a helmet with a face guard for years. The experience tonight shook Stanton up a bit and it caused some immediate tension, but then Stanton came back in the 6th with a huge lead-off solo home run.

The Yankees loaded up the bases again in that inning never got the chance to cross home again, and thus fell short in the 2nd game. Honestly, the Tigers’ bullpen outpitched the Yankees, with a total of 14 strikeouts.

Final score: 4-2 Tigers, meaning the Yankees win the original series 2-1 from April

Roster moves prior to today’s games: the Yankees sent Tommy Kahnle to AAA Scranton in order to reinstate Adam Warren from the DL and bring him into today’s doubleheader. Clint Frazier was also added as the 26th man just for the doubleheader, and he certainly helped the Yankees when called upon.

Next up: the Yankees head to Toronto for a short 2-game series there before heading back to NY. But they are scheduled for a 3-game weekend series at CitiField, so at least they get to sleep in their own beds.

And the annual amateur draft started tonight and will take place over the next 2 days. Each team selects one young player from a pool of high school and college students per round for 40 rounds, plus 2 auxiliary rounds following 1st and 2nd rounds as part of some off-season trades (but the Yankees didn’t get any picks for these special rounds).

The Yankees held pick #23 (the 1st round) and #61 (the 2nd round) overall. They selected 2 catchers — ambidextrous high school senior from Georgia Anthony Seigler and a sophomore from a Texas community college Josh Breaux. And the best part of that pick was having Yankees Draft Rep Nick Swisher say “Bro” at the official draft, something he says in his trademark speech patterns.

The Draft continues tomorrow with Rounds 3-10. It’s worth noting that some of the current Yankee stars were selected much further down in the Draft than you’d expect — Gardner (3rd), Betances (8th), Robertson (17th), Austin (13th), Bird (5th), and Montgomery (4th). So you never know where the next great Yankee is going to pop up.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 51: HOU vs. NYY — Gardy Party brings win in 10th, despite 5 errors

No one can say tonight’s game was anything close to cleanly played. Not with 5 errors on the scoreboard. The defense certainly needs some work, some basic throwing and catching and fielding routine grounders.

And yet, despite that mess, the Yankees kept the game tight enough to find a win in extra innings. CC Sabathia started this middle game of the mid-week series against the visiting Astros, threw 99 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs (3 earned, thanks to a few of those errors), and struck out 4 Houston batters.

A lead-off solo homer in the 2nd got the Astros on the board. In the 4th, with 1 out, Sabathia gave up a walk and single that both scored on a big double. And in the sloppy 5th, the lead-off batter made it safely on a messy throwing error, advanced all the way to 3rd on a single that was further complicated by another throwing error, and then scored on a single. A sacrifice fly scored on more run for the Astros.

Then Jonathan Holder came on in relief of Sabathia for 2 innings, and set a pattern the rest of the bullpen would keep for the rest of the game, keeping the Astros from adding to their score and lead. Robertson and Betances continued that momentum through their innings in the 8th and 9th, respectively.

And because this was that kind of game, the Astros’ pitching staff pretty much matched the Yankees’ in many ways. The Astros’ starter gave up 8 hits, a walk, and 3 runs in his time on the mound (6 innings). And most of their bullpen helped keep the Yankees from any potential hope, despite the close game and all their defensive errors.

I once heard someone say that the way Brett Gardner goes, so goes the Yankees. So we should have known something was up when Gardner led off the 1st inning with a big 2nd pitch solo home run. In the 2nd, with 2 outs, Miguel Andujar doubled, moved to 3rd on a passed ball, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single. Then the Yankees loaded up the bases with Gardner’s single and Judge’s walk, but left them stranded. Aaron Judge later kept the game tight with a 1st pitch solo home run to the right field seats to lead-off the 5th inning.

Again, a rather tight game ensued, which is really what surprised me with all the sloppy fielding. So into the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees found their next opportunity. Andujar led-off by working a walk, and then 1 out later, Brett Gardner hit 2-run home run just over the right field wall to tie up the game. And the remaining fans of the sold-out game went crazy. (This is the reason you stay until the last out, people!) Judge followed that with a solid double and moved to 3rd on Stanton’s 2-out single, but Sanchez’s big swinging strikeout sent them into the 10th inning.

Aroldis Chapman came on for the top of the 10th and held the Astros scoreless. With 2 outs, he gave up a walk that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. But then on another wild pitch, catcher Gary Sanchez played the ball off the back wall and fired it down to a waiting Andujar at 3rd to tag out the runner there.

So the Yankees got their 2nd chance (or rather 10th, I guess) to find the winning run in the bottom of the inning. But with 2 fairly quick outs, things were looking grim. And then Miguel Andujar hit a solid double into the left field corner. It would be down to Gleyber Torres. He worked through the at-bat and somehow found a solid enough single to score the speedy Andujar with time to spare for a great walk-off win.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees, in 10 innings

If tonight is any indication, you can understand why the young rookie Gleyber Torres was named the AL Player of the Week. Last week, Torres hit 5 home runs and 9 RBIs and maintained an average of .368 in those 6 games. And he’s certainly making a case for being considered such on a regular basis.

And the annual amateur draft is coming up June 4-6. It’s where we first heard first-round names like Thurman Munson (1968), Derek Jeter (1992), and Aaron Judge (2013). Who knows who the Yankees will choose this year. And every year, the Yankees send representatives to make the announcements of their choices. This year, the Yankees will be represented by former Yankees outfielder and current special assistant to the GM Nick Swisher and Yankees Manager of International Operations Victor Roldan.

Go Yankees!

Game 48: LAA vs. NYY — Pitching falters in Saturday night loss

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, and it’s worth saying tonight: “If you don’t having pitching, you don’t have anything.” And tonight, in this middle game with the visiting Angels this weekend series, certainly proved that true.

Sonny Gray just had a terrible, rough start tonight. He threw 86 pitches into just the 4th inning, gave up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, and still struck out 7 batters. His lead-off batter in the 1st singled and then scored on an RBI double to get the Angels on the board early.

Now, following that up, the Yankees’ power continued from yesterday, rolling over as Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge hit consecutive monster solo home runs in the bottom of the 1st to put the Yankees on top. In the 2nd, Andujar singled and then scored on Austin Romine’s 2-run home run off the foul pole to double the Yankees’ scored and give them a nice lead.

That didn’t last long. In the 3rd, Gray continued his bad night, loading up the bases with a single, a double, and a walk. With 1 out, he then walked the next batter to score another Angels’ run. A sacrifice fly scored one more run, putting the Angels within a run of the Yankees’ lead. Then in the 4th, he gave up a lead-off walk. The next batter hit a single, advancing the lead runner to 3rd, but then got tagged out trying to make it to 2nd. After another out, their star power-hitter smacked a 2-run home run to give the Angels back the lead.

After hitting the next batter, Gray’s night was over. Jonathan Holder came on to close out the 4th inning for Gray. Holder then kept the Angels scoreless in the 5th inning. Tommy Kahnle came on for the 6th and continued the struggles Gray had in controlling the Angels’ offense tonight. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd when the next batter hit into force attempt and a missed catch error. The lead runner scored on an RBI double, and a walk loaded the bases. A single then scored 2 more runs, and a double play allowed yet another run.

Chasen Shreve came on to quickly get out of the 6th. But then he had his own issues in the 7th, though they seem relatively minor in comparison. With 1 out, he gave up a walk that then scored on a 2-run home run to cap off the Angels’ runs tonight. AJ Cole closed out the game in the final 2 innings, sailing through his scoreless outing in a solid 25 total pitches. The Yankee pitchers racked up 12 strikeouts despite a rather sloppy game overall.

Final score: 11-4 Angels

Roster moves: before tonight’s game, the Yankees activated Greg Bird from the Disabled List, after ankle surgery earlier this year. To make room for him, the Yankees turned to the guys on their bench and tried to figure out who would get the least starts now, but could benefit from getting high quality starts in AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They settled on Ronald Torreyes. And that set off an online firestorm. I don’t think most people even realized what a huge fan base Torreyes had until they optioned him to Scranton.

This, of course, prompted a lot of discussion looking forward to the trade deadline at the end of July that is fast approaching. Any player who is faltering or having a bad night is automatically assumed for the chopping block, but the truth is that the trade market is for those with long-term potential. The ones at the highest danger of being traded are those that are actually pretty good, not those who are having issues. The ones struggling have their own issues — and getting cut or demoted should be their primary concern.

But then sometimes, change in circumstances is the best thing for a player, especially a struggling one. A pitcher may need a confidence booster by pitching in a smaller market and finding his momentum that he somehow lost along the way. An infielder may need a different combination of defensive players that blend better to increase his defensive numbers. A batter may need the kind of support and mechanics found on a new team. It’s worked before. It will work again. And while it’s disappointing to lose friends and teammates and favorite players, the best for them and the best for the team is always worth the change.

Go Yankees!

Game 37: BOS vs. NYY — Late rally oddly falls short after bad start & rain delay

And they’re back to a tie in the AL East on this rain-soaked evening in the Bronx to close out their mid-week series against the Red Sox. CC Sabathia struggled his way through his outing, throwing 80 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 9 hits, no walks, and 4 runs, and striking out 5 batters.

In the 1st, Sabathia gave up a lead-off ground-rule double who moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on another ground out (that some people immediately questioned as to why the defense opted not to get the out at home instead). Then in the 3rd, a single and double put runners in scoring position. A single score the first runner and a fielder’s choice scored the other.

It started raining earlier, but it was manageable for most of the game until the end of the 4th. As it started really raining pretty hard, fans streaming to the concourses for cover, Sabathia took the mound for the 5th inning and gave up a lead-off solo home run before the Yankees’ grounds crew pulled out the tarp and called a rain delay. For 55 minutes, they waited for the storm to pass to resume baseball activities.

It was too long of a wait to stay warm, so the Yankees opted to call on Jonathan Holder for relief of Sabathia. And it certainly helped. Holder breezed through the 5th and 6th innings in just 17 pitches. Dellin Betances’ 7th inning followed that momentum.

The Yankees’ pitching staff was just waiting for the Yankees’ offense to kick it up and do something. The Red Sox starting pitcher held them to a single hit and 3 walks under his 5 scoreless innings and his first reliever followed suit. But then the next guy struggled in the 7th to get control of the Yankees’ late-inning heroics they’ve become rather known for this month.

With 1 out, they loaded up the bases with singles to Andujar and Torres and a walk to Walker. So the Red Sox called in another pitcher to handle this situation. He promptly walked Brett Gardner in 4 pitches to walk in the Yankees’ first run of the evening. Aaron Judge hit a short single to keep those bases loaded and score Torres. Didi Gregorius hit into a short grounder to get the out at 2nd and still score Walker, moving Gardner to 3rd. Then a wild pitch allowed the speedy Gardner (who didn’t even slide) to score the tying run.

Betances came on for a second inning, the 8th, and despite the pattern he set in the 7th, he gave up a perfect 2nd pitch that became a lead-off home run to break the tie and put the Red Sox back in the lead. The Yankees got a single and walk in the bottom of the 8th, but couldn’t get them to tie up the game. Chasen Shreve threw a solid 9th inning, but the Yankees faced a similar bottom of the 9th and no late-inning heroics came through.

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: the Yankees host the Athletics for the series this weekend, their last series before hitting the road again.

Go Yankees!

Game 36: BOS vs. NYY — And the winning streak puts the Yankees on top of MLB

With tonight’s win, not only are the Yankees the sole leader of the AL East, but at 25-10, they have the best record in all of MLB. Of course, it helps that they are on a super hot streak, currently running 16-1 for their last 17 games. The actual club record was 21-1 back in 1953, one of the best years for the Yankee organization (with players like Berra, Ford, Rizzuto, and Mantle). Though current fans are making more recent comparisons — like to the 1998 team.

Masahrio Tanaka had an okay start in tonight’s game against the Red Sox, throwing 91 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 3 Boston batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out single scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board. A 1-out solo home run in the 5th added one more. And in the 6th, he gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a ground out.

But that would be it from Tanaka as the Yankees turned to Chad Green, who promptly gave up a sacrifice fly to score Tanaka’s runner from 3rd. Then in the 7th, with 2 outs, he gave up a walk that scored as part of another 2-run home run for the Red Sox. Then Shreve came on for the 8th inning and gave up a double and a walk and only getting one out, so the Yankees called on Jonathan Holder. After a well-placed strikeout, Holder intentionally loaded up the bases and still got out of the inning without a scratch.

Meanwhile, the Yankees started the offensive drive tonight in the 1st inning, when Gardner led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Judge’s single. After the Red Sox took the lead in the 2nd, the Yankees grabbed the lead in the 3rd. Gardner led-off with a double again, Judge worked a walk, and they both moved into scoring position on a ground out. Giancarlo Stanton’s double then scored both Gardner and Judge to give the lead back to the Yankees. After Sanchez’s single moved Stanton to 3rd, Stanton scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly.

Judge led-off the 5th with a single but ended up at 2nd on a throwing error. After Gregorius’ walk and Stanton’s hit-by-pitch, the Yankees were in a good place to do some big damage with the bases loaded and no outs. Gary Sanchez hit a nice sacrifice fly to center field that scored Judge, but then 2 outs later, that big moment had passed.

The Red Sox relievers then held off the Yankees for most of their time on the mound. And with their team ahead by a single run, they needed to depend on those relievers to maintain the status quo. And then the Yankees entered the bottom of the 8th and Neil Walker led-off with a strong double. After Torres worked a 1-out walk, the Red Sox brought in a new reliever to stem the home town offense.

But Brett Gardner promptly hit a big triple (though it would be a double for almost anyone else) and scored Walker and the speedy Torres, who also somehow avoided the tag at home. The sold-out stadium was post-season electric as the Yankees looked to continue their winning streak tonight. Aaron Judge then continued that momentum with a 2-run home run straight to Monument Park to solidify the Yankees win after Chapman worked a 9th inning save with 3 great strikeouts.

Final score: 9-6 Yankees

The Yankees will look to sweep the Red Sox tomorrow night to close out that series before hosting the Athletics. Fingers crossed for a better record than that great streak of 21-1 65 years ago.

Go Yankees!

Game 34: CLE vs. NYY — Torres’ walk-off glory in sweep

With Montgomery out with elbow strain, it fell to Domingo German for the start in this afternoon’s finale against the Indians in the Bronx. And German rose to the occasion and excelled. He threw 84 pitches in his 6 scoreless innings, gave up no hits and only 2 walks, while striking out 9 Cleveland batters.

German actually matched the Indians’ starter pretty well. He held the Yankees’ batters hitless until Aaron Hicks broke the streak to lead-off the 5th inning, though he certainly walked several batters and the defense allowed a runner on an error. But the Indians held off the Yankees from scoring any runs.

Dellin Betances took over and breezed his way through the 7th inning but then got into some trouble coming out in the 8th. He gave up 3 consecutive singles that scored the Indians’ first run of the night and broke the scoreless tie. Betances was running out of steam, so the Yankees turned to Jonathan Holder, who did what he could to keep things under control. After a bunt pop-up, Holder gave up a double that scored 1 run and then a passed ball moved the runners up and scored another run. Finally, a sacrifice fly scored their final run.

And suddenly, the Indians were up 4-0. So the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 8th. Walker led-off with a walk and Austin worked a 1-out walk to end the Indians’ starter’s night. And (like my uncle implied yesterday), the Yankees got to take advantage of the Indians’ weak bullpen. After another out, Brett Gardner singled and scored Walker for the Yankees’ first run. Aaron Judge followed him with a double to score Austin and Gardner.

Now, with the Indians’ lead reduced to a single run, the Yankees called on Chasen Shreve to breeze through the top of the 9th in just 18 pitches to get back to the Yankee offense in the bottom of the inning. Hicks led-off with a double and then scored the tying run when Neil Walker doubled. A new reliever got a ground out and then intentionally walked pinch-hitting Stanton. So with Walker and Stanton on base and just 1 out, it would be Gleyber Torres to smack a deep 3-run home run into the Yankees’ bullpen, just missing Monument Park, for a great walk-off victory.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 3-0

Next up: the Yankees have an off-day tomorrow. Then they will host the Red Sox for a 3-game mid-week series on Tuesday. This series is crucial as the Yankees are just a game behind the Red Sox in the AL East. They follow up that series with a weekend series against the Athletics to close out the home stand.

Go Yankees!