The off-season scramble begins

It’s been 10 days since the Royals won the World Series and officially threw all of baseball into the off-season. Congratulations again to Kansas City and the Royals organization on their amazing season and championship. Nearly 800,000 blue-clad Royals fans (in an area of over 2,000,000 residents) crowded part of downtown Kansas City a little over a week ago to cheer on their new hometown heroes for the Royals’ victory parade. When teams win big, it often creates new fans, but whether they retain those recently acquired will all depend on if they can continue their recent winning streak of the last two seasons. But with the free agent market just now starting to break out, next year’s Royals may be shades of 2005 (56 wins-106 losses, last place in AL) or it could be like 2015 (95 wins-85 losses, 1st place in AL).

That’s what makes the off-season trades and acquisitions so interesting — it shakes up every team, and a shake-up can be just as very good as it can be very bad. It’s always a gamble because while the numbers may work in your favor, the team chemistry may not work. Or unpredictable unknowns like injuries and personal issues can alter a potential superstar.

While the team’s GMs are in their annual meetings in South Florida (enjoying the perpetual heat that is Florida in November, I’m guessing), they are already busy making all sorts of deals. A GM’s job is never done. Today, the Yankees announced two such trades. Infielder Jose Pirela is headed to San Diego this Spring (via their Arizona Spring Training) in exchange for pitching prospect Ronald Herrera. And (this one will break a few hearts I know) catcher John Ryan Murphy is headed to Minnesota in exchange for switch-hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks. Both of these deals do make some business sense — the Yankees need an influx of new pitchers in their farm system, and they really have a plethora of really good catchers ready for the big leagues (behind starting catcher McCann, there’s still Romine and Sanchez). What this means for some of the free agents in the Yankees’ system (like OF Young and IF Drew) is still up for conversation and the rumors of dealing current Yankee favorites are of course always circulating.

Last week, Stephen Drew, Chris Young, and pitchers Chris Capuano, Andrew Bailey, and Sergio Santos elected free agency. The Yankees could of course sign them back to the team, but a free agent means they are officially on the market for a good deal and their Spring is still undetermined. The Yankees also released pitcher Chris Martin and activated outfielder Mason Williams and pitchers Domingo German, Jacob Lindgren, and Chase Whitley from the DL. And now with today’s moves, the Yankees are proving to the MLB market that they are back in business and ready to deal.

Also last week, for their participation and activism, former Yankees Jorge Posada and Paul O’Neill along with current Yankee Alex Rodriguez were honored at the Lou Gehrig Awards Benefit which raised money for research and care programs for those suffering from ALS. Another Yankee alumni David Cone was on hand to emcee the live auction of baseball memorabilia.

And just yesterday, the Yankees hosted their annual USO care package drive at Yankee Stadium. Girardi and Cone, along with hundreds of volunteers stuffed care packages for veterans serving abroad — small tokens of “home”, as it were. This is one of several events the Yankees do each year to give back to their community and one of several big ways to honor veterans. It’s two of my favorite things about the Yankees — their generosity (like HOPE Week) and their patriotism (like “God Bless America” at every home game without fail).

In that respect, may I just say that we not only honor and remember those who served and currently serve our country, but those across the globe dedicated to preserving and fighting for peace in this world. “Thank you” never quite feels like enough, but know that we cherish you (and your families) for your commitment and sacrifice this Veterans Day and remember the great dreams of Armistice Day today and every day.

Go Yankees!

Game 132: NYY vs. BOS — No lead is ever safe in the rivalry

So basic summary of this afternoon’s finale at Fenway — the Yankees got a really big early lead and the Red Sox spent the rest of the game chipping away at it bit by bit. 12 total pitchers (and thanks to the September call-ups no position players needed), 28 total hits, 10 total walks, and 21 total runs scored. The only inning neither team scored a run in was the 4th.

But the games between the Red Sox and Yankees are anything but “normal” games. Never have been, and that’s what keeps the rivalry alive. Well, that and the passionate/rabid fan bases.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in today’s rubber match against the Red Sox, and today he had two things going for him — decent pitching and plenty of run-support. Tanaka threw 92 pitches in 6.1 innings, giving up 6 hits, 1 walk, and 4 runs, striking out 5 Boston batters. In the 1st, the Red Sox struck first with a lead-off double that scored on a 2-out ground-rule double. Another lead-off double in the 5th scored on a sacrifice fly. And a lead-off solo home run in the 6th added to the Red Sox’s total. After giving up a 1-out walk in the 7th, the Yankees opted to start the open door of their bullpen.

Before that, the Yankees hit the Red Sox pitching hard. In the 2nd, with 1 out and Headley on base with a walk, Greg Bird hit a 2-run home run to put the Yankees in the lead. John Ryan Murphy’s solo shot into the Green Monster (and right into the hands of some Yankee fans in the 2nd row up there) began the offensive push the Yankees needed. The bases were then loaded with Gregorius’ single, Drew’s double, and Gardner’s walk. Chris Young then singled to score Didi and somehow Gardner got caught in between 2nd and 3rd which was already occupied by Young and Drew respectively, so he was tagged out because there was literally nowhere to go. Alex Rodriguez’s single scored both Drew and Young and forced the starter out of the game in the middle of the 2nd inning. Carlos Beltran promptly hit his own deep Green Monster home run, a 2-run shot to cement the Yankees 8-run 2nd inning and their strong lead in today’s game.

In the 3rd, Bird and Gregorius on base with walks and one out, Stephen Drew’s 3-run home run into the first row of the right field seats pushed the Yankees into double digits. And Didi Gregorius’ 2-out solo home run in the 5th gave the Yankees a decent cushion to fend off the slowly advancing Red Sox, giving them enough to keep and maintain that lead in the end.

Once Tanaka was out of the game and responsible for the runner on 1st in the 7th inning, Andrew Bailey was called on for relief. Bailey has been on the mend from shoulder surgery two years ago and made his return against his old team. It wasn’t really ideal as he promptly loaded the bases with two more walks. A sacrifice fly scored one run and a single scored the other before reliever Justin Wilson got the final out of the 7th in just 3 pitches.

The Yankees fought back in the 8th with Gardner’s lead-off double. And two outs later, he scored on Jose Pirela’s single. (Some of the newest and returning faces as part of the September call-up got some play time in today’s game — Pirela, Noel, Cotham, and Bailey.)

In the bottom of the 8th, the Red Sox took advantage of Bryan Mitchell’s recent struggles, after returning from the DL. Consecutive singles and a wild pitch put runners in scoring position with 1 out. Then two more consecutive singles scored 2 more Red Sox runs. After a walk to load the bases and still just that 1 out, the Yankees called on Dellin Betances to work his magic and stop the Red Sox rally attempt. 11 pitches later, a strikeout and a force ground out and the Yankees were out of a jam and headed into the final 6 outs of the game.

Caleb Cotham got his chance in the 9th but immediately struggled. Consecutive doubles scored the Red Sox’s final run of the evening, and forced Cotham out of the game. And even though there was no save opportunity, they weren’t about to risk losing this game. It was Andrew Miller time — ground out, ground out, walk, and strikeout on that 14th pitch. Game over.

Final score in Boston: 13-8 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

And after tomorrow’s off-day, the Yankee will face all division rivals in a 10-game home stand — Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays. Expect standings to change drastically after this next week. Should be the start of a very interesting September as we head into the final 30 games of the season. Yes, just 30 left of the regular season.

Go Yankees!

Game 131: NYY vs. BOS — Everyone gets a strike tonight at Fenway!

Let me just say right off the bat that the Red Sox pitcher tonight was very good. He threw into the 8th inning and got 13 strikeouts, which is easily his best outing of the season. And he still recorded the loss.

Of course, I should clarify that I don’t really know how fair that 28 total strikeouts (between both teams) on record for tonight’s game because it seems like there were a lot of strikes called in (how do I put this objectively and lightly?) very special positions. To be fair, both teams saw the frustrating side of the strange strike zone at the plate. But seeing as arguing balls and strikes gets anyone tossed from the game, it just wasn’t worth it. So a lot of people struck out tonight, including the Red Sox big veteran power-hitter, who earned the “Golden Sombrero” (four strikeouts in a single game).

So, it was Michael Pineda to start for the Yankees in this middle game of the series at Fenway. Pineda threw 92 pitches through 6 innings, giving up 4 hits, no walks, and a run, striking out 7 Boston batters. The lone Red Sox run came in the 3rd inning, with a 1-out double scoring on a 2-out single. Pineda would earn his 10th win tonight to keep him on the winning side of statistics.

Justin Wilson came on briefly in the 7th for a quick 8-pitch 2 outs before Dellin Betances came on for a 4-out outing through the 8th inning. Betances was struggled some, giving up 3 hits, but kept the Red Sox from doing anything with them. Andrew Miller’s 9th inning closed the door with 19 pitches and 3 strikeouts for his 29th save of the season.

On the other side of Fenway, the Yankees weren’t exactly hitting, getting only 5 total hits. But they were more efficient with their run-scoring. The Red Sox starter held them off until the 5th inning. Rodriguez led off with a single, and 2 (no surprise) strikeouts later, Gregorius reached on a fielding error, putting both runners in scoring position. Both then scored on Stephen Drew’s double to push the Yankees into the lead. Then Brett Gardner crushed a 2-out solo home run right by the Pesky Pole in the 8th for the insurance run the Yankees needed to breathe.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees.

The Revolving Door with a Limp: after further tests, the Yankees determined that Mark Teixeira’s bone bruise was worse that originally thought, and while there’s no fracture, it’s still bad enough to force Teixeira into rest and on crutches for at least 2 weeks. Due to the September call-up today, the Yankees had to make room for the new faces and made these moves — recalled pitcher Domingo German from Single-A Tampa and sent him to the 60-day DL on recovery from Tommy John surgery last April; designated prospects infielder Cole Figueroa and outfielder Tyler Austin for assignment. They then recalled Caleb Cotham, Rob Refsnyder, and Jose Pirela from AAA Scranton; selected the contracts of James Pazos, Rico Noel, Austin Romine, and Andrew Bailey from AAA Scranton; and activated Dustin Ackley from the 15-day DL.

I should clarify that the total currently sits at 40 on my list, but several aren’t actually listed as being part of the active roster just yet. So, I’m guessing there should be a few more transactions in the next few days to finalize the expanded roster.

The Yankees also announced today that they will be sending several of their prospects to the Arizona Fall League (or the AFL) — catcher Gary Sanchez (still technically on the 40-man roster); pitchers Chaz Hebert and Ty Webb; infielders Eric Jagielo and Tyler Wade; and outfielder Dustin Fowler. The Yankees prospects will join other prospects from the Brewers, Cardinals, Rangers, and Royals organizations to play this fall in Scottsdale and work on finding their way into the majors in the near future. The future is bright for the Baby Bombers. Can’t wait to see how they’ve progressed come Spring Training!

Go Yankees!

Game 85: OAK vs. NYY — Brett Gardner is an All-Star! And the Yankees won!

Basically, today was all good news day. Brett Gardner is an All-Star! His first ever selection, but may it be the start of many more to come. One of the starting outfielders (and one of the many Royals voted into the roster) Alex Gordon pulled a groin muscle in last night’s game (against the Rays in Kansas City) and will be out of the game for 8 weeks, thus missing the All-Star Game on Tuesday. In his place will start the next most-voted player Adam Jones (of Baltimore), but then with a spot open in the outfield to replace the starters halfway through the game, it was down to the two outfielders on the Final Fan Vote list — Cespedes (DET) and Gardner. The AL Manager chose Gardner.

About halfway through the game, Girardi was notified of the selection but kept it to himself. He then allowed Gardner to head out to left field to hear the Yankee Stadium announce to the 40,084 fans, members of the press, and all those watching/listening to game across the globe that their #VoteGardy campaign was oddly successful, though not in the prescribed way. Gardner is now headed to Cincinnati, following this weekend series at Fenway, with teammates Teixeira and Betances.

I think Gardner had the right idea all along — play the game, let his actions speak for themselves, and good things will happen. Something he continued to do today, even after the announcement that rocked Yankee Universe, because even though everyone could only talk of Gardner the All-Star after a certain point in the game, there was still a game to be played.

Today’s game was an afternoon matinee in the Bronx, the final game and rubber match against the visiting Athletics. But today was just destined to be a good day for the Yankees. And it was a great day for starter Masahiro Tanaka, who was absolutely outstanding from start to finish. Tanaka threw 114 pitches over his 7.2 innings, gave up just 2 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), and 1 walk, striking out 6 A’s batters. In the 2nd inning, the lead-off batter reached on catcher interference (McCann’s glove got in the way of his swing) and then scored on an RBI double. After a walk, the lead runner then advanced to 3rd on a double play before scoring on a RBI double. That would be the last hit Tanaka would allow for the rest of his outing.

Chasen Shreve came in to finish the 8th inning, and then threw the first 2 outs of the 9th. He gave up the only other hit the A’s would get all day, a 2-out single in 9th inning, before Girardi went back to the bullpen. Adam Warren threw a 3-pitch strikeout to end the game and give Tanaka the win, his 5th of the season.

Now, on the other side of the game, the Yankees started the game off with a bang — Brett Gardner (who else today?) got a 1-out 1st inning solo home run to kick of his day of amazingness. Then in the 3rd inning, Jacoby Ellsbury led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s single, and then scored on Mark Teixeira’s single. They followed up that in the 4th inning with Drew drawing a 1-out walk, moving to 3rd on Figueroa’s double (more on him in a moment), and then both Ellsbury and Figueroa scored on Ellsbury’s big single to push the Yankees ahead of the A’s again.

To add to the heightened excitement of the day, the Yankees came back and added more in the 8th inning. Young, on base with a 1-out walk, moved to 3rd on Figueroa’s ground-rule double. Then Jacoby Ellsbury’s potential hit became a messy throwing error, allowing both runners to score and Ellsbury to reach 1st safely.

Final score in the Bronx: 6-2 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1.

It’s Roster Moves Time! So before the game, Brendan Ryan was headed to AAA Scranton for his rehab assignment (still very mustachioed, by the way), joined by Jose Pirela who was optioned back to AAA Scranton. The Yankees designated Tyler Dugas for assignment and selected the contract of Cole Figueroa.

Figueroa was a great pick-up by the Yankees. I remember him from Spring Training (and his very large family all donning Figueroa jerseys from his time last year with the Single-A Tampa team), and he certainly made his MLB debut tonight in a big way — going 2-for-4 with 2 runs scored. Both of his hits were doubles, big doubles. Figueroa and Gardner were easily the best offensive contributors to the game today; Gardner going 3-for-5, with an RBI and run scored (now with a .303 batting average, by the way). Yes, Gardner and Figueroa collectively had 5 of the 8 total Yankee hits.

Not a bad way to make your Bronx debut in pinstripes for the young infielder (who started at 3rd today, as well). And not a bad way to once again prove your All-Star status for the veteran outfielder.

Again, today was a lot of good news in Yankee Universe!

Go Yankees!

{Media note: out of town again and relying on slow hotel internet, so I will try to upload when I find better internet or when I’m back with my own wifi. We never realize how much we take all these 21st century luxuries for granted until they start working like we’re still in the 20th century. We are so spoiled. Media links coming soon! Sorry!}

Game 84: OAK vs. NYY — Tex-strong, and #VoteGardy

Let’s face it. There’s a reason Mark Teixeira’s an All-Star, and had they not selected him (almost as an afterthought, actually), the entire Yankee Universe would be in an uproar. Being the AL RBI leader or basically in the running for the Home Run Derby (something he has no interest in participating) as one of the players with the most home runs this season already (22 after tonight’s game), Teixeira is also one of the best defensive 1st baseman in the league. But wearing the pinstripes and not being a big diva won’t get you a lot of fans outside New York.

New Yorkers know better, of course. And they can point to tonight’s game as proof positive to add to the many reasons 2015 is easily Mark Teixeira’s year.

So on with the game…

Oakland continues their East Coast trip to the Bronx, in tonight’s middle game of the mid-week series against the pinstriped boys. And try as they might tonight, it wasn’t going to be their night. Not if the Yankees had anything to say about it.

CC Sabathia was forced to push back his last start, which should have been part of their West Coast trip (in Anaheim), to drain some excess fluid build-up on his knee and receive some treatment. Sabathia missed a good portion of last year with knee issues, so he’s been careful to show caution and take care of it this season. The extra care paid off, as he earned the win tonight — 88 pitches over 5.1 innings, 7 hits, just 2 runs allowed, 2 walks, and a strikeout (and I’m back to what I said about Sabathia not being a “strikeout pitcher” anymore).

Those 2 runs came early in the game, the 2nd inning. The lead-off batter hit a ground-rule double due to fan interference (people, keep your hands, legs, arms, gloves, hats, and children inside the seating area at all times and don’t infer with the action on the field!), moved to 3rd on a single, and then got out at home on a fielder’s choice (good choice!) and a rundown. But then 2 runners were already on base and they both then scored on consecutive RBI singles to give the A’s a 2-0 early lead.  It didn’t last long, thankfully, because the Yankees showed up to play on the field and in the batter’s box.

Sabathia was backed up in the bullpen by Bryan Mitchell to finish out the 6th inning. And then it was Justin Wilson’s near-perfect 7-pitch 7th inning that was a thing of beauty. Dellin Betances (the Yankees other All-Star amazingness) got through the 8th tonight with 2 nasty strikeouts, his fastball averaging 97-99 mph tonight. All of that to set-up the returning of closer Andrew Miller, who unfortunately found himself a rough return — 30 pitches: a fly out, a single, a 2-run home run, a strikeout, an infielder’s fielding error, before a soft groundout ends the game. Miller exhaled, verifying with the umpires of the out first, and then celebrated his 18th save with his teammates. Not an easy comeback, but a save nonetheless.

Now in order for Sabathia and Miller to earn their win and save for this game, the Yankees have to score runs. So they did. Down 2-0 in the 2nd, the Yankees opened their scoring with a fielding error that allowed Young to reach 1st safely and then Didi Gregorius’ double scored Young; Gregorius would get tagged out going to 3rd, but Young’s run scored started the ball rolling, so to speak. Then in the bottom of the 4th, Mark Teixeira led-off with a solo home run to right field (#21 of the season). Then after Young walked and Murphy singled, Young moved to 3rd on a stolen base, followed by Murphy taking 2nd on a wild pitch. So a Jose Pirela sacrifice fly easily scored Young.

Mark Teixeira led-off the 6th inning with another solo home run to right field (and that would be #22). To cap off the scoring (and getting the insurance run the Yankees weren’t aware they needed), Stephen Drew added his own mark, a 2-out solo home run to right field. (All the Yankee home runs tonight were hit into the right field seats, in roughly the same section (Section 103 for Teixeira’s, 104 for Drew’s); so if you want a nice home run ball, this seems to be the place to watch the game.)

But as big as Teixeira’s impact was with his multi-homer game tonight, he was ridiculously consistent as a defender on the field. He got a great unassisted double play in the 1st, a big catch over the dugout fence in the 7th, and a nice diving stop in the 8th. (My favorite is the last one, by the way.)

Final score: 5-4 Yankees.

Andrew Miller and Jacoby Ellsbury were reinstated today before tonight’s game. The corresponding roster moves for them was to send down Nick Rumbelow and Ramon Flores; a pitcher and outfielder for a pitcher and outfielder, the most logical roster move I’ve seen in a long time.

Chase Headley wasn’t on the roster tonight due to a sore calf. An MRI showed some inflammation, and he said he’d be surprised to find himself on the roster for tomorrow’s series finale against Oakland. Inflammation could be a sign of bad things to come without proper rest and treatment, so we may not see Headley in the Boston games this weekend either, as they go into the All-Star break. Rest is usually the best medicine. But you never know.

The best storyline of the day though was the #VoteGardy not-a-campaign campaign. Now, as you know, Brett Gardner has been nominated as one of 5 finalists for the final fan vote to the All-Star Game (vote now, voting ends Friday, July 10 at 4 pm EST). And while Gardner has chosen not to campaign like many of the other candidates often choose to do, his teammates and other members of the Yankee organization have taken no such vow and are campaigning like crazy. Today, they all wore bald caps (because Gardner is voluntarily bald) and wrote variations of #VoteGardy on their “bald heads” to get in on the fun and remind fans to #VoteGardy. Everyone from Alex Rodriguez and Dellin Betances to Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, and Steve Donahue was donning the cap for Gardner.

This continues the Yankees’ campaign that began yesterday when they had players and coaches out in the Grand Concourse at Yankee Stadium to greet fans, encourage/help them to #VoteGardy on provided iPads, as well as sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans as they showed up before the game. Gardner may want his game to do the talking for him, but his teammates and the entirety of Yankee Universe is picking up the baton and just running with it in ridiculously creative and fun ways. Hope it works!

#VoteGardy

 

Go Yankees!

Game 72: PHI vs. NYY — The Return of SuperNova

After 14 months of injury, surgery, recovery, healing, rehab, more rehab, progress, rehab assignments, and prayer, Ivan Nova is back. And boy, is he back. Nova got a well-earned win today in his 2015 debut in the last game of the mid-week series against the Phillies. He threw 92 pitches (was going to be capped at 95-100 pitches anyway) in 6.2 innings, gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 1 batter, and kept the Phillies scoreless. It was rather nice to watch, as the Yankees’ defense pulled together behind him to give him a really nice debut.

Bryan Mitchell came on in relief in the 7th inning to get a strikeout before getting a nice 1-2-3 8th inning. Then Diego Moreno came in for the 9th. Moreno’s outing was a mixed bag. On the one hand, the Yankees didn’t need to keep that tight of a leash on him, giving him quite a bit of room for error. On the other hand, he wasn’t as sharp as they were hoping. A lead-off double scored on an RBI single, and then that runner moved to 3rd on a double before scoring on a groundout. Despite allowing 3 hits, 2 runs, and a walk, Moreno got out of the 9th with a big exhale and gave the Yankees the win for the series finale.

Now, about that run-support…

The Yankees started their offensive charge in the 2nd inning. The bases quickly loaded with Young’s single, Murphy’s walk, and Gregorius’ bunt single. And then Jose Pirela put the ball into play, the Phillies’ 3rd baseman threw the ball home to get the out there, but the ball bounced weird to the catcher and got away from him so that Young and Murphy could both score; Gregorius and Pirela ended up at 3rd and 2nd, respectively. Basically, this play was a pretty good example of how the Phillies have been most of the year and why it was very odd that they won the last two games.

In the 4th, Gregorius doubled (mainly due to the ball dropping on an infielder who couldn’t find it in the sun) and Pirela walked. Then Brett Gardner singled home Gregorius, and Chase Headley’s double scored Pirela. Mark Teixeira hit a 1-out single to score Gardner. And the Yankees kept growing their lead as the Phillies just made a lot of sloppy defensive choices. (Okay, I should give the starting pitcher credit here. He really did a pretty nice job, but he wasn’t really given much of a defense to work with and keep grounders in the infield.)

On into the 6th inning, the Phillies’ starter now out of the game, the Yankees were able to find more holes in the Phillies’ defense and in their bullpen. Headley led-off with the single and later scored on Chris Young’s 2-out single. In the 7th, (with another reliever on the mound), Gregorius on base with a walk, Jose Pirela’s deep double scored Gregorius before back-to-back walks to Gardner and Headley loaded the bases (still no outs). A nice single by Alex Rodriguez scored both Pirela and Gardner. A wild pitch to Teixeira moved Headley and Rodriguez into scoring position so that Headley scored on Teixeira’s single. Then that reliever finally got his 3 outs to get out of the inning.

Comparing Yankees vs. Phillies offense — Yankees got 15 hits, 10 runs, and 6 walks to the Phillies’ 6 hits, 2 runs, and 3 walks. But to give credit to the pitching staff — the Phillies got the Yankees to strikeout 7 times to the 3 strikeouts issued to the Phillies.

Final score from the Bronx: 10-2 Yankees, Phillies win the series 2-1.

And in roster moves (I could seriously write an entire blog on just roster moves this season): Nova was activated from the 60-day DL, placed back on the active 25-man roster. Brendan Ryan was placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Monday, with “right thoracic strain” (upper back pain). Reliever Jose De Paula was designated for assignment to make room for Nova back on the 40-man. And after the game, Diego Moreno and Branden Pinder were both optioned back to AAA Scranton.

Go Yankees!

Game 71: PHI vs. NYY — Sloppy pitching, part 2 for game 2

At a few points in this game, I was so looking forward to writing this blog. In fact, going into the 9th inning, I was still rather hopeful for something awesome to write about. I should know better.

And if I didn’t know better the one hour and 21 minute rain delay to stall the start of the game, the Yankees took on the Phillies in game 2 of their 3-game midweek series at the stadium. After the mess that was last night, the Yankees were looking for better pitching and better, well, everything tonight. But honestly, it felt like a lot of the same from last night.

CC Sabathia got his turn to start, and like his teammate yesterday, he really struggled his way through his outing — 94 pitches in just 4.2 innings, giving up 8 hits, 6 runs, 2 walks, and just 4 strikeouts. And these stats don’t really show the full picture, as he was fairly decent through the first couple of innings, even getting a lead-off single to score on a double in the 3rd was still keeping the Phillies from doing much damage. No, for Sabathia, the bad inning was the 4th inning. A 1-out double scored on a 2-run home run, and after another out and two consecutive singles, a big 3-run home run pushed the Phillies into the lead with surety. In the 5th, with 2 quick outs and a fielding error, Sabathia’s day was done and it was up to reliever Branden Pinder to get a 5-pitch strikeout to get out of the inning.

Not that the Phillies were somehow displaying feats of spectacular pitching themselves. Their starter only made it 4.1 innings in 83 pitches, but gave the Yankees 10 hits and 6 runs, striking out just 2. In the 1st, Brett Gardner led off with a double, moved to 3rd on a groundout, and then scored on Alex Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly. Garrett Jones led off the 2nd inning with a solo home run before Gardner repeated the action in the 3rd with his own lead-off solo home run. (Gardner is still showing off why he’s just amazing, proving what Yankee fans have known since 2008.)

Down 6-3 in the mid-5th, the Yankees took advantage of their nickname as Chase Headley (his 100th career homer, by the way) and Alex Rodriguez hit back-to-back home runs to start the 5th inning. Once Beltran was on with a 1-out double, the Phillies took their starter out of the game, and their reliever got 1 quick out before Chris Young doubled home Beltran to tie up the game.

The game would stay tied as relievers from both teams suddenly remembered how to play. The Phillies’ relievers kept things tight and rolling for them through the rest of the game. And for the Yankees, Chasen Shreve took the 6th, and Justin Wilson the 7th to keep the game tied waiting for some kind of offensive breakthrough. Wilson threw into the 8th before Dellin Betances came on to finish the last 2 outs of that inning and attempt to close out the 9th. But Betances wasn’t very Betances-like tonight. In the 9th, a lead-off double and hit-by-pitch both scored on a big double to push the Phillies into the lead again. A groundout and another hit-by-pitch put runners on the corners and had the Yankees calling for the bullpen.

It was Nick Rumbelow in for Betances to finish the 9th. But he quickly loaded the bases with a walk, and then all three runners scored on a big triple before Rumbelow got the next two batters to strikeout to end the inning. The Phillies’ closing pitcher got a nice 10=pitch 1-2-3 inning and sealed the win for the Phillies.

Again, like yesterday, it was the very high-scoring, high-totals in the game that would tip-off most people as to the sloppy pitching once again, especially from pitchers we’ve come to think rather highly of (Betances, for example). In total, the Phillies gave up 13 hits, 6 runs, and 2 walks to the Yankees, striking out just 7 batters; the Yankees gave up 11 hits, 11 runs, 4 walks, and 11 strikeouts. That 11 strikeouts by Yankee pitchers may be the lone right thing they did all night.

 

Final score: 11-6 Phillies.

Another day, another roster move: Bryan Mitchell and Jose Pirela were recalled from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Ramon Flores was optioned back to AAA Scranton. And Stephen Drew was placed on the paternity list. (Congrats to the Drew family on their newest addition!)

One more home game in June before the Yankees hit the road again… is anyone else tired of road games this year already?

Go Yankees!