Game 117: TEX vs. NYY — Sundays are for #CCStrong

CC Sabathia was in prime condition in today’s finale against the Rangers. He threw 97 pitches in his 6 scoreless innings, gave up just 1 hit and 3 walks, and struck out 7 Texas batters along the way to earning his 7th win of this season.

Of course, he was backed up by the Yankees’ defense (also this) and offense today early and often. In the 1st, Giancarlo Stanton hit his 30th homer of the season, a 1-out solo home run to get things started for the Yankees. Later, in the 5th, with 1 out, Romine singled and moved to 3rd on Gardner’s double. They both scored on Aaron Hicks’ single.

Stanton continued this big inning with a single put runners on the corners. Miguel Andujar hit into a fielder’s choice at 2nd that still scored Hicks, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ solid 2-run home run into the right field seats. Voit led-off the 6th with a single, moved to 2nd on Walker’s single, advanced to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single.

Now, with a firm lead, the Yankees handed the game over to their new long-term reliever Sonny Gray who had a bit of trouble in the 7th. He gave up a lead-off single and double to move runners into scoring position. They did so on a ground out and a single. After a challenge and review by the Yankees, the tag at 1st on the single was upheld (though the replay might lead you to a different opinion.

It didn’t matter anyway. The game was the Yankees from start to finish, thanks to 2 strong scoreless innings to close out the game by Jonathan Holder, something both he and the Yankees needed.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees host the Mets for the make-up game of the rain out from last month to complete the first series they had after the All-Star Game. Then they face the Rays and the Blue Jays for 3 games a piece before heading on the road again.

One interesting trivia bit out of today’s game was that Giancarlo Stanton is the first Yankee in his first year with the team to hit 30 home runs since 2009 when Teixeira hit 39, a stat that he should easily beat with about 6 weeks left in the season. Especially at the rate he’s going — hitting 5 homers in his last 6 games and leading the team in homers, RBIs, and hits.

It’s funny really. After a career high of 59 homers last season with the Marlins, 30 at this point in the season sounds kind of low. But different team, different season, different schedule, and recent hamstring issues. And still he’s one of the leaders of the league. Baseball is a funny sport.

Go Yankees!

Game 113: NYY vs. CHW — Severino & Stanton sweep Sox (the White ones)

Talk about a reversal of fortune. Before this roadtrip, I was envisioning a rather “battle of the Sox” approach to this week’s blog posts. But after a disastrous stint against the red ones, it’s rather nice to be reset by the white ones. Though the “red ones” keep winning and thus are still quite a bit ahead of the Yankees in the standings.

Luis Severino had a shaky 1st inning to start off what ended up being a pretty decent outing in tonight’s closer against the White Sox. He threw 109 pitches in his 7 innings, gave up 7 hits and 3 runs, and struck out 8 Chicago batters.

In the 1st, he gave up a single, an RBI double, and an RBI single to get them on the board. And a lead-off solo home run in the 5th capped off the Sox’s runs tonight. Then, Chad Green and Jonathan Holder each took an inning to close out the game and keep the Sox from adding to their score.

After the home team got on the board first, the Yankees pounced in the 2nd inning. Torres led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Walker’s 1-out single, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single.  Walker then scored on Shane Robinson’s single to tie the game, and Gardner was hit by a pitch to load up the bases. It would fall to Giancarlo Stanton to be the difference-maker in this game, with a big grand slam just to the left of the right field foul pole.

Aaron Hicks added his mark with a lead-off solo home run in the 5th. And other than that, the Yankees just protected their hefty lead for the rest of the game to ensure their win and sweep in Chicago.

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

A few notes: Tonight’s grand slam was Stanton’s 6th career grand slam, his last one was in 2014. After the less-than-ideal start in the 1st, Severino found his momentum and got the next 13 of 14 batters out through his next 6 innings (except for that allowed homer in the 5th).

While tonight certainly end up in the positive category for the Yankees, the competition between the “Soxes” fell along the same lines as dictated by the standings. And because of the first game last Thursday, the Yankees overall were out-scored by their Sox opponents 34-31 (the Red Sox just drowned them 28-11). If the pattern continues, Yankee fans could potentially reflect “what’s on paper” and have a pretty strong home stand. But that’s relying on “what’s on paper” and not allowing for the unpredictability of baseball and life.

Next up: The Yankees head back home for a long home stand that will include the 20th reunion for the 1998 Championship team. They’ll face a 4-game series against the Rangers, a make-up game against the Mets, then 3 games each with the Rays and Blue Jays. The last series will overlap with the anniversary celebration.

Go Yankees!

Game 110: NYY vs. BOS — Swept away thanks to a blown save

Things were looking really good for the Yankees tonight in their final game at Fenway, hoping to stop the Red Sox from sweeping the series and pushing them further down the rankings of the AL East. The Yankees were playing well and things were clicking, but late night stumbles weren’t soft enough to allow for recovery

Masahiro Tanaka had a pretty decent outing, throwing 97 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out an impressive 9 batters. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo Green Monster home run in the 5th. Robertson took over to close out the 5th and throw a scoreless 6th. Britton and Betances followed suit with scoreless innings of their own.

After being held off by a familiar foe for much of the game, the Yankee batters came alive in the 7th inning. Gardner led-off with a single and Romine worked a walk to end Boston’s starter’s night. But the offense kept coming. Robinson’s walk loaded the bases, and Aaron Hicks hit into a force attempt that was bobbled for a fielding error to score both Gardner and Romine.

Giancarlo Stanton’s single scored Robinson, and a wild pitch moved the runners up before an out was finally recorded in the inning. A new reliever got Gleyber Torres to hit into a sacrifice fly that scored Hicks before another out ended the Yankees’ big inning. Unfortunately, the Yankees continued their pattern of getting runners in scoring position and leaving them stranded. And in a series where runs were crucial, every little bit was needed and just wasn’t happening.

Anyway, the Yankees were cruising along just fine after their big 7th inning. All they needed was just to close out the 9th inning. But Aroldis Chapman was having a rough time finding consistency with the strike zone. With 2 outs, he founded the bases loaded thanks to 3 walks. A single scored 2 runs and a throwing error allowed the tying run to score and the Fenway Faithful to come alive as midnight approached in “The Olde Towne”.

And into the 10th inning they went. The Yankees batters were quickly silenced in just 9 pitches, so Jonathan Holder came on the mound with hopes to push the game into the 11th. He quickly got 2 outs, but then gave up a single, a wild pitch to put the winning run in scoring position, and then intentionally walked a batter. It was basically inevitable at that point — a single then easily scored the pinch-runner to give the Red Sox the victory.

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox, in the 10th, Red Sox sweep the Yankees 4-0

Next up: the Yankees will head to Chicago’s Southside to face the White Sox for 3 games starting tomorrow. This could help right the Yankees a bit because the White Sox are not having a good season at all. Of course, this could continue as the Yankees head back home for a long home stand to face mostly losing teams (Rangers, Mets, Rays, and Blue Jays). Of those, only the Rays have a winning season, sitting just at .500 after losing to the White Sox this weekend.

Now, it’s worth noting that the Yankees are now 9.5 games behind the Red Sox thanks to this series. However, the Yankees are still the 3rd best team in all of MLB, well behind the Red Sox and barely behind the Astros, and nicely ahead of every other division leader. Before you panic, Yankee Universe, it’s worth noting that there is still 52 games left to play this season.

And to be perfectly fair, the Red Sox are a great this year, very similar to the recent 2007 (and somewhat the 2013) championship team. Remember: competition in a competitive game is a good thing. You want to be challenged and pushed to be better than expectations. That challenge exposes where you’re weak so that you can fix those areas and truly see what you’re made of. Potential is just hypothetical until challenge exposes its depth and breadth.

Go Yankees!

Game 107: NYY vs. BOS — 4th inning slaughter

When I started this blog six seasons ago, I made a commitment to being positive no matter what happened. I was coming off reading far too many blog posts that were highly negative or gossipy, and I wanted to something different. You know, focus on the fact that baseball is a great game and the Yankees have had winning seasons (meaning, they have finish with more wins than losses) since 1993, and 2018 is shaping up to continue that pattern.

However, sometimes, it’s very difficult to keep a positive tone when there are games like tonight’s opener at Fenway. And yet, here we go…

The Yankees actually opened the scoring. Hicks led-off the game by hitting into a fielding error and moved to 2nd on Stanton’s single. Didi Gregorius hit a nice 3-run home run to kick things off. Aaron Hicks later hit a 2-out solo home run in the 2nd to give the Yankees an early lead.

And CC Sabathia didn’t have that terrible of a start. After a decent 1st inning, he got into some trouble in the 2nd by loading the bases with 2 singles and a walk. With 2 outs, he ended up walking the next batter to score the Red Sox’s first run. But then got a lucky fly out to Gardner at the foot of the Green Monster to get out of the inning. A lead-off home run in the 3rd doubled their score. With 2 outs, he fielded and then threw terribly to 1st to put runners in scoring position, but another good fly out ended that threat.

But that would be the end of Sabathia’s night. And all the message board managers will forever question the decision to pull the veteran starter at that point, perhaps preferring to allow him to go just 1 more inning. Instead, the Yankees called on one of their most reliable relievers, who has recently been decidedly less reliable, Jonathan Holder.

Holder could not find an out for anything tonight — a walk, a double, a bad fielder’s choice that scored a run, a stolen base, a 3-run homer (by the same guy as before, by the way), a double, an RBI single, and an RBI double. 7 batters, 6 runs (and responsible for the runner at 2nd), and no outs.

Chad Green immediately got 2 outs, but then had his own struggles to find that elusive 3rd out of the inning. A double scored Holder’s remaining runner, a single put runners on the corners, and another single scored the lead runner. Luis Cessa got the final batter of the inning to hit into a simple grounder at 2nd.

Cessa actually kept the Red Sox fairly under control, getting 11 outs in the middle of the game into the 8th inning. But even his outing wasn’t exactly clean. A lead-off double in the 5th scored on an RBI double. Then in the 6th, a single scored on a double, and another home run (yes, by the same guy as before). In the 8th, with 1 out, he loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk before handing the ball over to reliever Britton, who promptly gave up a single to score one run. But a great double play got him out of the inning.

Now, the Yankees weren’t limited to their early runs. They certainly did their best to try to chip away at the Red Sox’s power tonight. Didi Gregorius led-off the 5th with a solo home run, his 2nd homer of the night, and Giancarlo Stanton hit a 1-out solo home run in the 7th. And in the 9th, with 2 outs, Gardner hit a great triple. Hicks walked and advanced to 2nd on defensive indifference. Then Stanton hit a nice sacrifice fly to score Gardner before a grounder ended the game and the Yankees minuscule hopes for a last-minute rally.

Yankee pitchers gave up 19 hits, 6 walks, and 15 runs, and comparatively, the Yankee batters struck out 13 times, despite getting 8 hits. In fact, had it not been for the Red Sox’s mega 4th inning, it would have been a close game and still far too many runs allowed for either team to be considered a “good game”. Good games are when it’s a close and low score for both teams. It means everyone did their job.

This was not a good game. Fortunately, it’s only one game. And in the immortal words of a certain Southern icon (and yes, I realize this is ironic for a game played in New England with a team literally called “The Yankees”), “tomorrow is another day.”

Final score: 15-7 Red Sox

Go Yankees!

Games 102 & 103: KC vs. NYY — Split doubleheader thanks to more rainy days

The Yankees’ game last night was rained out, making it the 9th time that the Yankees have been weather-delayed this season. Fortunately, there was time (and a clear skies kind of forecast) for the next day for the Yankees and Royals to play and split a make-up doubleheader.

Game 1
Luis Severino had yet another bad outing in the regularly scheduled game that became the first game today, earning his 4th loss in an otherwise stellar season. He threw 95 pitches into the 5th innings, gave up 8 hits, a walk, and 6 runs, and struck out 5 Royals’ batters.

In the 3rd, a 1-out double and walk both scored on a long double to get the Royals on the board first. A lead-off single in the 5th ended up at 3rd on a ground-rule double, and then they both scored on a single. The next batter hit a 2-run home run to further the Royals’ lead, and that was it for Severino’s night. Warren came on in relief and sailed his way through the next 8 outs.

The Yankees had no trouble getting on base, but instead finding trouble scoring runs for most of the game. They were held off until the 5th inning, with Hicks’ 2-out single and Giancarlo Stanton’s 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board. In the 6th, Torres singled, moved to 2nd on Bird’s single, and then scored on Neil Walker’s single. Austin Romine hit into a double play but Bird still scored a run.

But then later in that inning, they loaded up the bases and couldn’t get anyone home once again. In the 7th, Gregorius led-off with a single and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ double. Torres, however, got thrown out trying to stretch his double into a triple. The Yankees continued to put runners in scoring position, but couldn’t chip away any further at the Royals’ early lead.

The Yankees’ later relievers David Robertson and Chasen Shreve had less than ideal outings themselves, but it didn’t matter in the long run as the damage was already done. A 3-run home run in the 8th and a sacrifice fly in the 9th added more runs for the Royals this first game of the day.

Final score for game 1: 10-5 Royals

Game 2
The second game of the day was officially the make-up game. Friday’s game was preceded by a giveaway of a bobblehead featuring CC Sabathia, who happened to be scheduled to pitch and promptly did so in tonight’s game. Sabathia had a decent outing, throwing just 79 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out an impressive 8 Royals’ batters.

He gave up a 1-out solo homer in the 3rd, and then loaded up the bases in the 5th. With 2 outs, he gave up another walk to walk in the Royals’ second run of the game. But then Jonathan Holder got a stellar strike out to end the threat. His 6th inning was less heroic, giving up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt. Chad Green came in and gave up a single to score another run but held the Royals off from further damage.

New Yankee Zach Britton had his own issues in the 7th. After 2 quick outs, he had trouble finding that 3rd out, giving up a double, a single, a walk to load the bases, and another walk to score another Royals’ run. But then Betances and Chapman each had scoreless innings to keep the Royals from adding to their score like in the first game.

Of course, this would mean nothing if the Yankees continued to put runners on base but stranded them there. So, when they struck first in the 1st, things were looking up. Gardner led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Stanton’s single, then onto 3rd on a fly out, before scoring on Miguel Andujar’s single. Bird was hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases, and Neil Walker’s sacrifice fly scored Stanton. And Shane Robinson hit his first home run as a Yankee, a big 2-out solo shot in the 4th.

After the Royals tied up the game and then took the lead, the Yankees needed another good inning so they wouldn’t end up on the wrong end of today’s games. They got that in the 8th. Greg Bird hit the 2nd pitch of his lead-off at-bat into the Yankees’ bullpen for a solid home run to re-tie up the game. Then the Yankees loaded up the bases (again) with Walker’s double, Romine’s single, and Torres’ walk. It would be Aaron Hicks’ solid sacrifice fly to score Walker, the winning run.

Final score of game 2: 5-4 Yankees

Roster moves: after Aaron Judge was moved to the 10-day DL thanks to his fractured wrist, the Yankees recalled Tyler Wade, who can easily function as a reliable utility man in the infield and outfield. They also activated pitcher JA Happ as the 26th man for today’s doubleheader. Happ will be the starter for tomorrow’s game.

And in order to get down to that magical number of 25 for the roster, the Yankees used tonight’s big trade to do so. In a deal with the Cardinals, the Yankees got infielder Luke Voit and Future Considerations (or cash for their international signings) in exchange for relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. Shreve, a favorite in the clubhouse, was on a recent upswing after some pretty disappointing outings earlier this season. Trades area always hard, but sometimes, it’s the best for everyone to shake things up and get a fresh start with a new organization. Best of luck to them all.

Also, it’s Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, New York. The induction ceremony for the class of 2018 is tomorrow afternoon. While no Yankees are entering the Hall this year, it should be a memorable event, as always, featuring some well-known faces from the other side of the field during some key events in Yankee history. With some of the recent retirements of the stars of the most recent dynasty of Yankees (like the “Core Four”), the next Yankee in the Hall is just a year or two away.

Go Yankees!

Game 100: NYY vs. TB — Trade talks louder than muted finale loss

This afternoon’s finale in St. Petersburg was certainly a disappointing way to end their brief road trip and cap off their first 100 games this season. With all the conversation about the Yankees big splashy trade (more below), the daily grind sometimes gets swept under the rug. But it’s those daily moments that add up to whether the Yankees will spend October playing baseball or watching baseball from their living room.

Luis Cessa got the start today and actually had a pretty good outing overall. He threw just 74 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 3 Rays batters. In fact, he held them off until that 6th inning. He gave up a lead-off single that scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Rays on the board, and after an out, he handed the ball over to the bullpen.

Jonathan Holder is usually pretty reliable and he actually was except for a really beautiful 2-out solo home run straight up the middle. Cole and Betances, however, kept the Rays to those runs by 2 solid innings to close out the game.

Comparatively, the Yankees pretty much matched the Rays in their offense and pitching today, falling just short of the Rays’ power. The Rays again pieced together their bullpen for an overall show of force which, based on both games this series, might actually be something that works for them.

In the 2nd (with a new reliever, of course), Torres led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Bird’s single, took 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Neil Walker’s sacrifice fly. Not a bad way to make his return to the roster. Then, after the Rays got the lead, the Yankees didn’t find their opening until the 8th inning. Gardner worked a walk to lead-off the inning, ended up at 3rd on Gregorius’ 1-out single, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly.

Basically, the game boiled down to 2 homers vs. 2 sac flies. And power wins the day.

Final score: 3-2 Rays, Rays win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees are currently heading back home for another home stand. They will host the Royals for a 4-game weekend series, and enjoy an off-day before a brief micro-series against the Orioles. Then they head out on the road again.

Roster moves: The last 24 hours have been something for the Yankees roster. First, Gary Sanchez‘s injury is back with a force and will sideline him until at least late August. Fortunately, Romine and Higashioka are more than capable of filling the void, even within the batter’s box.

Before the game, the Yankees activated Gleyber Torres from the DL due to his hip strain, and he ended up scoring that first run of today’s game. They also recalled Luis Cessa to start today’s game. To make room for these two, the Yankees optioned Giovanny Gallegos and Tyler Wade back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

And now, the big news of the day. The Yankees were working on the deal when I posted yesterday, and as I’ve made it a habit not to talk about things until they are settled, the news is out now. The Yankees worked a trade with the Baltimore Orioles to continue to shore up their already pretty powerful bullpen. They picked up veteran closer Zach Britton in exchange for prospect pitchers Cody Carroll, Josh Rogers, and Dillon Tate.

In case you’re wondering, Britton has been with the Orioles for the last 8 seasons, moving from a starter to a closer and becoming quite the force, his best season (2016) earning the O’s 47 saves thanks to his 0.54 ERA. In other words, he’s a good pick for the Yankees already packed bullpen.

Go Yankees!

Game 93: NYY vs. CLE — Late offense came close, not close enough

The Yankees didn’t seem to find their footing in tonight’s game against the Indians for the first part of the game, both with their pitching and hitting. Domingo German had trouble out of the gate, once again, and still had some trouble staying consistent. He threw 91 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs, and still struck out 6 batters.

He gave up consecutive walks to lead off the 1st that moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. However, a ground out only allowed one run to scored before 2 strikeouts ended the threat. In the 2nd, with 1 out, a single scored on an RBI double, and after a walk, a long double scored 2 more runs. Then in the 5th, a lead-off single scored on a triple that ended German’s night.

He handed the ball over to Jonathan Holder, who promptly walked his first batter and then gave up a single to score German’s final base runner before getting out of his own jam. Then Holder sailed through the 6th inning. Shreve followed that up with 2 scoreless innings of his own, and though both were fraught with their own threats, he kept the game tight.

The Yankees were held off from their offense until the 5th inning. Bird led-off with a double, and Andujar worked a walk. Neil Walker’s double scored Bird, and a wild pitch scored Andujar and moved Walker to 3rd. One out and one single, Brett Gardner’s long sacrifice fly to score Walker.

Wade later led-off the 8th with a double and ended the Indians’ starter’s night. He moved to 3rd on a passed ball and then scored on Gardner’s ground out. With another new reliever, Judge was hit by a pitch.

And in a still questionable decision, the Indians pulled a “strike-em-out-throw-em-out” double play as Hicks struck out and Judge got tagged out stealing 2nd. Originally, Judge was ruled safe, but after an Indians’ challenge, the call was overturned. Why they’d risk a double play on a steal when Stanton was up next had everyone kind of “message board managing”.

It’s worth noting that Giancarlo Stanton hit a big solo home run to lead off the 9th inning to inch the Yankees closer to the Indians’ lead. However, 3 outs later, the Yankees ran out of outs.

Final score: 6-5 Indians

There’s been a lot of conversation, rightly so, about next week’s All-Star Game, and several new additions have been called up to replace selected players who are either inactive, injured, ineligible (starting Sunday), or choose to remove themselves from the roster. Like Aroldis Chapman. He’s been dealing with knee tendinitis since at least May, so he chose to attend but not play in the exhibition game on Tuesday. Chapman has been an All-Star previously (4 times with the Reds, 2012-2015), and will be considered as an All-Star for this year. But he’s got half of a regular season (and potential postseason) to go.

And as odd as this may seem, the benefit to this is that players selected for the game are often first-time All-Stars (like the one selected to fill Chapman’s spot). That means, they get to experience all the buzz, excitement, and special camaraderie for the first time next week. And that is kind of cool. Plus, it’s something that will forever be on their Wikipedia page, even if they just end up coaching Little League one day.

Go Yankees!