Game 69: NYY vs. CHW — A little rain couldn’t dampen the Yankee bats

Now, this was the kind of game the Yankees were looking for all weekend. And yet, there were some moments where that felt threatened. Blame the weather again, maybe. The rain delayed the game 32 minutes at the start and occasionally revisited the Chicago Southside during the third game of this long weekend series.

Chad Green was tapped as the opener in tonight’s game against the White Sox, throwing 33 pitches in his 2 scoreless innings. But all 6 of his outs were great strikeouts. Green set the pace for the Yankees, and all the rest of them had to do was follow his lead. Nestor Cortes Jr came on for long-term relief and follow Green’s suit, throwing strong and scoreless through the 7th inning, including 7 strikeouts.

But he came back out in the 8th, gave up consecutive singles, and handed the ball to Jonathan Holder. After 2 quick outs, Holder gave up a single that scored the lead runner to put the White Sox on the board. The next batter smacked a big 3-run home run up the middle. Chapman was able to close out the game with a clean 9th inning.

That could be bad news for the visitors, but the Yankee bats were also following Green’s lead tonight. They started in the 4th. Voit and Hicks each singled and then both scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. Gleyber Torres then hit a 1-out 2-run home run to double the score and leap the Yankees ahead first.

In the 6th, with 1 out, Sanchez worked a walk, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ single, and scored on Torres’ sacrifice fly. Cameron Maybin led-off the 7th with a 1st pitch solo home run. Brett Gardner then worked a walk, LeMahieu doubled, and Hicks walked to load up the bases. Gardner scored on Sanchez’s baby grounder.

After the White Sox came back and got on the board, the Yankees tried to take a few back in the 9th. Brett Gardner led-off with a walk and ended up at 3rd on LeMahieu’s single. After an out and a pitching change, LeMahieu moved into scoring position by stealing 2nd. But after another out, the White Sox intentionally walked Sanchez to load up the bases, only to walk Didi Gregorius to walk in the run by Gardner.

Final score: 8-4 Yankees

And in Yankee Universe news: The Yankees announced today that they traded prospect pitcher Juan Then (and cash considerations) to the Mariners for outfielder and power hitter Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion spent most of his career with the Blue Jays (9 1/2 of his 15 professional seasons), was a 3-time All-Star, and has already hit 21 home runs  this season (of his 401 career homers).

Fun trivia in this trade: The Yankees originally acquired Then as part of the trade that sent reliever Nick Rumbelow to Seattle in 2017. And the Mariners just released Rumbelow this week to allow him a form of free agency.

Now, what this means for the already overcrowded outfield is to be determined, especially as Judge and Stanton are due to come back shortly. Hicks, Gardner, Frazier, Maybin, and Tauchman are already considered outfielders. This means that some roster moves and some platooning of the positions (and the DH spot) are to come. Which could actually help with the prevention of injuries in the future. And anything that helps reduce the number on the IL is a good move in my book.

Go Yankees!

Game 63: NYY vs. CLE — Falling short of a CC milestone in CC’s first MLB stop

There was some sentimentality about how nice for retiring star pitcher CC Sabathia to hit another milestone, his 250th career win, against the team that helped him get his first. Sabathia’s MLB debut on April 8, 2001, was with the Indians (in this same stadium), but he threw a no-decision. His first win came 5 days later when the Indians played the Tigers in Detroit. Now, 248 wins later, that pesky #250 still lingers in potential.

Sabathia got the start in today’s game and got a bit roughed up by the Indians’ bats in this middle game of the weekend series. He threw just 69 pitches through 5 innings, gave up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out 5 Cleveland batters.

In fact, he didn’t give up much until the 4th inning. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on a double and then scored on a sacrifice fly. A questionable double scored another run, and the umpire review confirmed it wasn’t quite a home run. A snazzy, highlight reel worthy double play ended the inning for Sabathia.

After a rough, but scoreless 5th, the Yankees closed out the game with relievers. First, Jonathan Holder found his own problems in the 6th. A lead-off single scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run. Then a 2-out solo home run pushed the Indians further ahead.

Luis Cessa had a better turn with a clean 7th inning, but his 8th inning found the same stumbles. A lead-off walk moved to 3rd on a 1-out single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. The Indians’ bats just were working throughout the game.

But the Yankees’ had their moments. In the 1st, with 1 out, LeMahieu singled and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ big 2-out 2-run home run, Gregorius’ first home run of the season. But then, after the Yankees fell to the Indians’ lead, they struggled to find another opportunity.

In the 7th, with a new pitcher, Gregorius led-off with a single and ended up at 2nd on a throwing error. Gleyber Torres’ double scored Gregorius, and a ground out moved Torres to 3rd. After a pitching change and Frazier’s walk, Gio Urshela’s sacrifice fly scored Torres for just one more Yankee run today.

Final score: 8-4 Indians

CC K-Count: 3033

Again, this is quite the sentimental series for CC Sabathia and his family. This is where his career began, starting with being drafted by the Indians in 1998 (1st round, 20th overall pick), and debuting just 3 years later at the age of 20. It’s where he built his family, became a father, and found his favorite sub shop (which he visited before yesterday’s game).

But then he was traded to the Brewers in 2008 for their postseason run. Being a free agent in that off-season, the big 2007 Cy Young Award winner signed with the biggest team ever and helped take them to the World Series that year. And New York is where he’ll end his storied career. But it all started in Cleveland, not so much his “mistake on the lake”.

Go Yankees!

Game 60: NYY vs. TOR — Inconsistency strikes again

It’s sometimes hard to shake off the weird blanket of inconsistency. Like no matter what you do or try to do, it’s just going to turn everything a little sideways in the end. The Yankees have been kind of going through a bit of a funk for their last three games, including tonight’s middle game of this series in Toronto.

James Paxton was hoping for a better outing, much like the last time he started a game in Toronto (albeit for another team) when he threw a no-hitter and dominated the Blue Jays. Tonight would not be a repeat of this. Paxton threw 8 3 pitches into the 5th, giving up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs (3 earned), and struck out 4 Toronto batters.

In the 1st, he gave up a 1-out walk that scored on a 2-out 2-run home run to get the home team started early. A lead-off double in the 2nd scored on an RBI single Then in the 5th, a 1-out walk scored on a single and messy throwing error. After one more out, the Yankees turned to a series of relievers. Ottavino closed out the 5th for Paxton but got into a jam in the 6th that Kahnle added to and then got out of it.

Now, leading up to this, the Yankees tried their best to chip away the Blue Jays’ lead. With 2 outs in the 4th, Gary Sanchez hit a nice solo home run to start the advance. In the 5th, Frazier led-off with a walk but got tagged out when Gardner hit into a fielder’s choice. Gardner moved to 2nd on Urshela’s single and then raced home on Cameron Maybin’s single.

DJ LeMahieu’s single scored Urshela to tie up the game at that point. After Voit’s walk loaded up the bases, it was a single by Gary Sanchez that pushed the Yankees into the lead by scoring Maybin. Then with a new pitcher in the 6th, Frazier hit a single, Maybin hit a 2-out single, and they both scored as part of LeMahieu’s big 3-run home run to give the Yankees a hefty lead.

That didn’t last long as the inconsistency came back full force in the bottom of the 7th. Jonathan Holder had some trouble thanks to the defense when his first batter made it safely to 2nd on a terrible throwing error. After an out, he hit the next batter to put 2 runners on base. They both scored when the next batter doubled and made it to 3rd on a fielding error.

Zach Britton quickly closed out that inning but found his own issues in the 8th. The Yankees now had a 1-run lead to defend, but those “inconsistencies” mean nothing is safe. With 1 out in the 8th, he gave up a single and a walk that scored as part of a big 3-run home run to put the Blue Jays back on top. After another out, he handed the ball over to Luis Cessa, who promptly gave up back-to-back solo home runs to ensure the home team victory.

Final score: 11-7 Blue Jays

The 2019 MLB Draft is now complete. They had a busy first day of the Draft on Monday. For their first round draft pick, the Yankees selected 18 year old New Jersey native and shortstop Anthony Volpe. In the CBA part of the first round, the pick the Yankees got from the Sonny Gray trade to the Reds, they selected left-handed pitcher TJ Sikkema (University of Missouri). And in the second round, they selected second baseman Josh Smith (Louisiana State University).

On Tuesday, they focused mainly on picking up college pitchers, something they seemed to load up on overall, adding more on Wednesday. They picked 25 pitchers of the 41 players. Further, they selected 9 infielders, 2 catchers, and 5 outfielders. Also significant is that the Yankees selected 31 college players and just 10 high schools seniors. They really seem to be targeting a very specific kind of player, so it will be interesting to see who signs, who passes to continue their education, and who passes to pursue other dreams.

One notable selection was the son of former Yankee (and current Yankee broadcaster) Al Leiter, Jack Leiter in the 20th round. As a high school senior, Jack is officially committed to Vanderbilt and will probably keep that route for now. But it was a nice gesture for a legacy player, much like the Yankees did for Andy Pettitte’s son Josh in 2013, though he chose to finish his education and later retire from the sport to pursue other avenues with his young family.

Yankee picks (in order of selection): Anthony Volpe, TJ Sikkema, Josh Smith, Jacob Sanford, Jake Agnos, Ken Waldichuk, Hayden Wesneski, Nick Paciorek, Zach Greene, Spencer Henson, Mitch Spence, Oliver Dunn, Ryan Anderson, Nelson Alvarez, Kevin Milam, Edgar Barclay, Shaine McNeely, Pat DeMarco, Evan Voliva, Chad Bell, Jack Leiter, Zach Kohn, Gerrit van Zijll, Matt Minnick, Jake Pries, Luke Brown, Ryan Brown, Kyle MacDonald, Michael Giacone, Chase Illig, Zachary Maxwell, Chad Knight, Ethan Hoopingarner, Javier Reynoso, Joey Lancellotti, Nathaniel Espelin, Montana Semmel, Bryce Jarvis, Dontae Mitchell, Jake Garrell, and Alex Garbrick.

Best of luck on all your endeavors. Hope to see some of you in pinstripes in the very near future.

Go Yankees!

Game 52: NYY vs. KC — Fighting into extras, win streak snapped

The Yankees were on a win streak this last week, winning 7 straight games, including 6 road games. But the Royals certainly battled through this weekend to try to keep the visiting Yankees from sweeping the weekend series. The Yankees certainly pushed them to the edge this afternoon, even coming back from near defeat to push extra innings.

Domingo German got the start today and had a rare rough outing for the young starter. He threw 84 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 9 hits and 7 runs, and struck out 6 Royals’ batters. In the 2nd, with 1 out, German gave up 2 singles that scored as part of a big 2-out, 3-run home run to get the Royals on the board.

Then, the Royals added to their score with a 2-out solo home run in the 4th. With 1 out in the 5th, a double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored as part of another 2-run home run. Only to follow that with a solo home run to ease the Royals into a big lead over the Yankees.

The Yankees, meanwhile, slowly worked to chip away at the Royals’ lead today. In the 2nd, with 1 out, Torres singled, moved to 2nd on Morales’ walk, and scored on Clint Frazier’s single. Then, with 2 outs in the 6th, Hicks made it to 1st on a throwing error and then all the way to 3rd on Sanchez’s single. Gleyber Torres’ solid 3-run home run scored both Hicks and Sanchez.

Still short a few runs, the Yankees found their next opportunity in the 9th. While the Royals were looking for 3 outs, the Yankees needed 3 runs. Both got what they wanted, eventually. With 1 out, Frazier and Urshela each singled. After a strikeout, DJ LeMahieu hit a nice single to score Frazier. Then Voit worked a walk to load up the bases and was pinch-run by Estrada. Aaron Hicks hit a great single, long enough to score both Urshela and LeMahieu to tie up the game.

Now, Nestor Cortes Jr. came on in long-term relief of German with 4 clean innings through the 9th. Even when he got himself into a bases-loaded jam in the 9th, where the Royals were threatening a walk-off, Cortes found the right combination to get out of the inning unscathed.
And the game went on into an extra inning. The Royals came back in the bottom of the 10th to find that energy to overtake the Yankees. Jonathan Holder was just an out away from pushing the game into extra innings. With 1 out, he gave up a walk that stole 2nd and then scored on a 2-out single for the walk-off win for the home team.

Final score: 8-7 Royals, in 10 innings, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees travel back home for a week of games for their next home stand. The Padres are up first with a 3-game mid-week series before the Yankees host the Red Sox for the anticipated 4-game rivalry series next weekend. They they hit the road again to face the Blue Jays and Indians.

Injury updates: While Didi Gregorius is making a splash on his rehab assignment in Tampa, even hitting the Tarpons’ lone run in today’s game in Florida, another injured Yankee is making his way back as quick as his body will allow. Still nursing his oblique injury, Aaron Judge is making progress and will probably start swinging a bat and hitting off a tee during this next home stand.

It’s been a tough injury for the star outfielder as it’s limited basic baseball activities like throwing, catching, fielding, and swinging a bat. You know, things baseball players do every minute of every game. He and the long list of other injured Yankees are looking on from the sidelines, semi-jealously chomping at the bit to get in on the action that currently ranks the Yankees at the top of their division and on a really great streak.

And I don’t blame them.

Go Yankees!

Game 49: NYY vs. BAL — A walk to seal the sweep

There have been seasons where the Yankees just struggle in Baltimore, despite where either team are in the standings. Chalk it up to divisional rivalry of sorts, though the Orioles’ dominance wasn’t obvious in the Bronx. But 2019 certainly isn’t like any other season, and this series in particular is proving that point.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in the final game in Baltimore this series. He threw 95 pitches in 6 strong innings, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out 5 batters. In the 2nd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on a single and throwing error before scoring on a fielder’s choice. The Orioles were the first on the board.

The Yankees were unusually held off for most of the game until Clint Frazier’s 2-out solo home run in the 5th to tie up the game. In the 6th, with 2 outs, the bases loaded were loaded with LeMahieu’s 1-out walk, a 2-out double by Voit, and Morales’ walk. Gio Urshela then hit a long single to score LeMahieu and Voit.

After a pitching change helped close out the inning, the Yankees continued their advance in the 7th. With 1 out, Estrada worked a walk, stole 2nd, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. Another pitching change, another new inning, and Luke Voit hit a solid 1-out solo home run in the 8th.

Now, things were looking up for another easy win for the Yankees, but sometimes travel days (or these oddball matinees at the end of a series) spell all sorts of dramatics and quirks. After Jonathan Holder breezed through the 7th, he started the bottom of the 8th with quite a jam, walking consecutive batters and giving up a single to score the lead runner.

With 2 runners on base and no outs, the Yankees called in Tommy Kahnle to take hold of the situation. After 1 out, however, he gave up a 3-run home run to promptly tie up the game once again before closing out the inning.

So, the Yankees took the 9th inning to rally back, and thanks to some sloppy pitching (and a couple “Oriole killers”, it worked. After 2 quick outs, pinch-hitter Gleyber Torres worked a walk, pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez singled, and LeMahieu walked to load up the bases. In steps Aaron Hicks who then worked a walk, which scored Torres. A little anti-climactic for the go-ahead run, but you take what you get when it matters.

Britton breezed through the 9th in just 9 pitches, against his former team, earning just his 2nd save of the season.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees, Yankees sweep Orioles 4-0

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to Kansas City to face the Royals this weekend before they head back home for their next home stand. They will host the Padres and Red Sox before hitting the road again in June.

Injury update: After yesterday’s game, CC Sabathia was feeling it in his knee, a recurrent injury for him. With treatment and tests, it was clear that Sabathia needs some time to rest and recoup some of his strength, diagnosed officially with knee inflammation, and was eventually put on the 10-day IL.

The Yankees then recalled Nestor Cortes Jr from AAA Scranton, with plans to use the “opener” method, or the single inning pitcher to start a game followed by some long-term relievers. In other words, they’ll be relying a bit more on their bullpen, which certainly has its off-moments (like Holder’s 8th inning stint today) but has risen to the challenge more often than not.

As the Yankees close out this series in Baltimore, the most talked about highlights are the newly christened “Oriole killers”, especially Gleyber Torres. It’s actually history-making, as Torres has 12 big league home runs and 10 of them are against the Orioles. The first MLB player to have 10 of his first 12 homers be against the same team. Plus, he’s hit safely in every game he’s played against them (11 games) and has 13 RBIs and a .465 batting average against them. Yankee Universe knew how good the young infielder was, but the Orioles are just realizing how much they’re actually helping boost his records.

Go Yankees!

Game 39: NYY vs. TB — Saturday night sag

Last night’s game put the Yankees within a half-game from the Rays’ lead in the AL East. They were hoping to reverse places with a win tonight, but it wasn’t to be. The Yankees just weren’t piecing together the necessary pieces to make up the win.

CC Sabathia got the start in the middle game of this series against the Rays, working his way to a no-decision. He threw 76 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out just 2 Rays’ batters. His allowed runs were lead-off solo home runs in the 2nd and 3rd.

And the Yankees finally got on the board in the 5th inning. Torres led-off with a single and then beat out the tag to score on Clint Frazier’s double. And DJ LeMahieu hit a solo home run up the middle to tie up the game in the 6th.

But then normally reliable reliever Jonathan Holder had a really off-day with his 6th inning struggle. The lead-off player singled and, 2 outs later, stole 2nd and ended up on 3rd thanks to a throwing error. Holder then gave up a walk to put runners on the corners. Consecutive singles scored 2 more runs for the home team to return them to the lead.

While the Yankee batters suddenly found their offense dry up, the Rays kept going. Yankees’ reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. gave a scoreless 7th, but then things got sticky again in the 8th. He gave up a lead-off single and a 2-out single to load a few runners for a big 3-run home run to ensure the Rays the win.

Final score: 7-2 Rays

CC K-Count: 3009

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the United States, and across the league, players will be donning specialized gear, most notably pink-tinged gear in honor of breast cancer awareness. But some players also customize in a special or unique way.

This year, outfielder Clint Frazier designed his special cleats for the weekend to honor his mother. In addition to the pastel pink Nike swish and highlights on the white cleats, the high-top area features life-like pictures of his mother’s two cats, acknowledging her “fur babies” on this Mother’s Day.

That’s a first for me. But I’m sure his mom feels honored by the gesture.

Go Yankees!

Game 31: MIN vs. NYY — Strong bullpen and bats support early exit

The Yankees began their new home stand with this series against the visiting Twins. It was a mixed bag for the Yankees, with another possible addition to the IL but a strong win in the end.

James Paxton got the start tonight, throwing 64 pitches in just 3 innings. He gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and an unearned run and struck out just 1 Twins batter. After holding them off for the first two innings, in the 3rd, he loaded up the bases with a walk, an out, a fielding error, and a walk. A sacrifice fly scored the Twins’ first run, and a passed ball moved runners to scoring position. But a line drive ended the inning as Paxton exited the game entirely. (More later.)

Jonathan Holder came on to sail his way scorelessly through the 4th and 5th innings, before Ottavino and Kahnle followed up with scoreless 6th and 7th innings, respectively. Collectively, the three of them powered through 12 straight batters. It was awesome.

Zack Britton got into a spot of trouble in the 8th. With 2 outs, he gave up a walk that scored as part of a bit 2-run home run to add to the Twins’ score. However, Chapman closed out the game with a solid 9th inning and earned his 6th save.

With an early exit from their starter, the Yankees needed to match their strong bullpen with a strong offense. And they did. In the 1st, Brett Gardner hit a long ball into centerfield and thanks to a bad fielding error, he powered it all the way to 3rd base. Voit worked a walk, and then Gleyber Torres’ 1-out single easily scored Gardner. After another out, Urshela hit a solid single, but the left fielder was too quick and got Voit out trying to score a run.

In the 2nd, with 1 out, Maybin walked and Wade was hit by a pitch. Then with 2 outs, Luke Voit’s single scored Maybin, but then Voit was thrown out trying to go to 2nd on the throw. Voit just couldn’t catch a base running break early on tonight.

Mike Tauchman led-off the 4th by making it to 1st thanks to a missed catch error. Maybin singled, and Wade’s sacrifice bunt moved runners to scoring position. A wild pitch scored Tauchman, and Brett Gardner’s ground out scored Maybin.

Then Gary Sanchez hit a couple of solo home runs to march his way into the Yankee history books — a lead-off one in the 5th and a 2-out one in the 7th. This is his 10th multi-home run game of his career, which he did in just 231 games. For some perspective among previous catchers, Posada hit 16 (in 1574 total games), Berra hit 15 (in 1694), and Dickey hit 15 (in 1708).

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

Okay, James Paxton has been nursing a sore right knee for most of the season. He’s been getting treatments on off-days and just powering through, but during tonight’s game, it became too much to “just deal with”. So he trusted the bullpen (rightly so) and came out of the game. He will get an MRI tomorrow and hopefully avoid the injured list.

Injury updates: Miguel Andujar and Troy Tulowitzki played in Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons games earlier this week as part of their rehab assignments. But Tulowitzki had a setback with his hamstring injury, pulled from a game, and then shut down from further baseabll activities. Andujar was actually at the game tonight and will probably be activated from the IL for tomorrow’s game.

Go Yankees!