Game 20: KC vs. NYY — #TanakaTime with some controversy & another injury

Well, this Saturday was certainly filled with some mixed results and emotions. The day began with the rain that lingered from last night, clearing up just before the game and would remain rather cloudy during this third game with the visiting Royals in the Bronx. Maybe that cloudiness should have been a sign for this game.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start today and had a really great outing. He threw 94 pitches in 7 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out an impressive 7 Kansas City batters. His lone allowed run was a lead-off solo homer in the 6th. He certainly earned today’s win.

Jonathan Holder closed out the game for Tanaka with 2 solid innings. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo home run in the 9th inning to double the Royals’ score. But he and Tanaka were strong enough to carry the game and limit the Royals’ impact.

The Yankees’ offense was certainly strong enough to support their pitchers today. Aaron Judge kicked things off with a 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning, and Clint Frazier led-off the 2nd with a solo home run to jump the Yankees in an early lead they would never surrender this afternoon.

After a tumultuous, yet scoreless 3rd inning for the Yankees, they came back in the 4th to dominate. Ford led-off with a walk and moved to 3rd on Romine’s double. Then, Mike Tauchman continued his power show with a big 3-run home run into the right field seats. And DJ LeMahieu promptly followed that with a solo home run on the 1st pitch of his at-bat for a great show back-to-back home runs.

In the 6th, Tauchman worked a walk and moved to 2nd on Judge’s 1-out single. Judge winced a little and held his side, coming out of the game and replaced by Tyler Wade. With 2 outs, Gleyber Torres hit a single to scored Tauchman, and Frazier’s single scored Wade to keep the runs coming.

And in the 7th, Urshela led-off with a double and scored on Austin Romine’s single to cap off the Yankees’ big afternoon. A rather great combination of Yankee offense and pitching today paid off in the end.

Final score: 9-2 Yankees

However… there were also some sour notes this afternoon. In addition to Judge’s injury (more below), there was that bad call that soured the 3rd inning for the Yankees. LeMahieu led-off with a walk, and Voit hit a 1-out single. Then Gleyber Torres smacked a big hit that aimed right for the 1st row of the left field stands. It appeared to bounce off the hands of a fan in that 1st row, but the immediate assumption was that it was going to be a home run anyway, so the call was a 3-run home run.

However… that fan seemed to lean too far over the fence, and the Royals’ manager rightfully asked for an umpire review to determine if there was fan interference. As we all watched slow-motion video and discussed the possibilities, the common thought was that it was fan interference, which is normally an automatic ground-rule double.

However… the umpire review declared it was an out due to fan interference, the implication being that the Royals’ left fielder would have made the out as he jumped to lead over and rob the home run away from Torres. And the world erupted. Well, the social media world did. And believe me, I was right there with them.

Now, the left fielder is a good player, but I just don’t think he was that good to be able to really disrupt the natural trajectory of the ball that was clearly heading out of the park. That fan interference was a bad move, but it wasn’t really interfering with the left fielder as much as it did with the ball leaving the park.

Of course, we weren’t alone in this thought. Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone was livid at the overturned call too, bounding over to the umpires in just a few large steps. Within seconds, Boone got his first ejection of the season, and the fans were 100% behind him. The players were too, as that just propelled them to get 7 more runs as Boone watched from the clubhouse.

Injury update: That 6th inning injury to Aaron Judge is a big blow to the team. Judge came up from the swing clutching his side, only to be diagnosed with an oblique injury. He was sent to New York Presbyterian in the City for further testing, including a potential rehab trajectory. This will make 13 players on the IL, as there’s no way Judge will avoid the IL at this point. There will be more we know tomorrow.

But for some good news, it looks like the Yankees will be getting Gary Sanchez back this next week. He is set to play a minor league game Monday, fly to Anaheim to meet the team on Tuesday, and then will play on Wednesday. Though, to be fair, Higashioka and Romine have certainly been doing a great job in his absence, proving how great the catching depth is on the Yankees.

Chag Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover) this week to those who observe.

Go Yankees!

Game 19: KC vs. NYY — #CCStrong in rainy Friday game

The countdown to 3000 continues for retiring pitcher CC Sabathia. Tonight’s game got him quite a bit closer to that milestone in his 247th career win. In this second game of the weekend series, he threw 86 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up 3 hits, 4 walks, and an unearned run, and striking out 5 Royals batters.

Sabathia’s lone problematic inning was the 3rd, starting with a lead-off walk. A single and throwing error moved runners into scoring position. The next batter hit into a double play when Frazier caught the fly ball in right field and then powered the ball in to get the runner out at home. A fielding error put runners on the corners so that a single scored the Royals’ first run. After another walk loaded up the bases, the Yankees defense snapped into action to get the force ground out at home.

Luis Cessa came on in relief in the 6th and had a bit of trouble, giving up consecutive doubles to scored the Royals’ second run, but then he got under control. Something he handed off to the final 3 pitchers. Ottavino, Kahnle, and Britton sailed their way through an inning a piece to close out the game and keep the Royals from adding to their score.

Meanwhile, the Yankees weren’t exactly all that quiet like they were yesterday, despite the fact that it rained through most of the second half of the game. In the 3rd, down by a run, with 1 out, Wade singled and then scored on Brett Gardner’s solid 2-run home run. And Mike Tauchman led-off the 5th with a solo home run.

They loaded up the bases in the 6th with Judge’s double, Voit’s walk, and Torres’ single. DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly scored Judge and moved Voit to 3rd. Luke Voit then scored on Frazier’s walk and a passed ball.

Higashioka led-off the 7th with a double and then scored on Tyler Wade’s bunt single and a throwing error. Wade, however, ended up being tagged out trying to make it to 2nd. The Yankees loaded up the bases again with walks to Gardner, Judge, and Voit, but 2 pop-up outs halted any further additions to their score.

But then, it’s not like they needed it.

And it was raining.

Final score: 6-2 Yankees

CC K Count: 2994

And in a weird twist of the jersey numbers, for the first time in MLB history, a player wearing #0 faced off against another player wearing #0. It’s not hard to imagine it’s taken this long to happen. It would require that one pitcher and one position player to each wear the number, and until Ottavino most of the players donning #0 were position players. Also, there aren’t really a lot of players that want to wear #0.

So in the 7th inning, Yankees pitcher Adam Ottavino faced off the Royals’ right fielder Terrence Gore to make some history that will make all the sports trivia geeks geek out. By the way, Ottavino won the battle in 5 pitches with a nice strikeout.

Go Yankees!

Game 18: KC vs. NYY — Slow Thursday evening slowed streak

No dance party in the Yankees’ clubhouse tonight. The Yankees couldn’t keep their rivalry momentum going with this new series, as the Royals came into town for a long weekend and somehow silenced the Yankees’ offense.

The Yankees’ lone run tonight was in the 1st inning. With 1 out, Judge singled, moved to 3rd on Voit’s single, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ sacrifice fly. For the rest of the game, they only got 2 more hits and a few walks without scoring another run. It was rather lethargic in light of the games earlier this week.

Despite the outcome, the Yankee pitching was actually pretty decent. Domingo German got the start, throwing 88 pitches through 6 innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 runs, and striking out 9 Kansas City batters. In the 1st, with 1 out, 2 doubles scored their first run. And lead-off solo homers in the 2nd and 4th gave the Royals the lead they’d need to sail in for the win.

Jonathan Holder came on in the 7th and had a rare sloppy night. With 1 out, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on another single and then scored on a ground-rule double. Zack Britton came on, but he gave up a sacrifice fly that scored one more run. Chad Green gave up a couple of hits in the 8th but managed to get out of the inning scoreless.

And Joe Harvey’s 9th started with a walk that stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a line drive, and then scored on another sacrifice fly. Collectively, Yankee pitchers got the Royals to strikeout 14 times, but it was the 11 hits that led to 6 runs that made all the difference (compared to the Yankees’ 4 hits and 1 run).

Final score: 6-1 Royals

Actually, the coolest play of the night was Aaron judge’s diving grabdiving grab for the ball in the 5th inning. The lead-off batter for the Royals smacked a solid hit into right field, that by any other means should have been a nice single. But Judge came in running for it, diving head first, and sliding along the grass to make the catch.

I’m almost sorry to say that’s one of the few memorable moments of the night, but baseball isn’t always dance-party-worthy. Sometimes, it’s just a game you file into the books, close the chapter, and start again the next day.

It’s worth remembering that highlight reels aren’t actually “highlights” if they’re the regular stuff. Not every moment is going to be something to capture forever. Think about how many mundane things you do at your job. But that one great sale, meeting, accomplishment, sliding catch, whatever — those are the things you talk about, post about, add to social media/your resume/your own highlight reel.

Go Yankees!

Game 104: KC vs. NYY — Oh, Happ-y Day!

The Yankees sold out their 20th home game this season, despite being against a non-division rival and one of the worst teams in MLB right now. But it was a lovely Sunday mid-summer afternoon, a perfect day for America’s pastime, for the finale game of this long weekend series between the Yankees and the visiting Royals.

JA Happ got his first start as a Yankee, becoming the first pitcher to pitch for both the Blue Jays and the Yankees in a single season since David Cone in 1995, and we all know how that trade worked out. Happ had a great outing in his Yankee debut, throwing 96 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up just 3 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and struck out just 2 Kansas City batters. His lone allowed run was a 2-out solo home run in the 6th.

But the Yankee offense gave Happ a good cushion for his start today too. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Gregorius worked a walk and ended up at 2nd on a pick-off error. He then scored as part of Aaron Hicks 2-run home run to put the Yankees in the lead early. Hicks later led-off the 4th with a double and scored on Miguel Andujar’s 2-out single.

Then in the 5th, Gardner and Stanton hit consecutive singles, ending the Royals’ starter’s afternoon. With a new reliever, a ground out moved them both to scoring position, and Hicks’ walk loaded the bases. Gleyber Torres hit into a strange play, hitting the ball to the 2nd baseman who looked like he tagged Hicks on the way to 2nd before throwing out Torres at 1st for a double play.

However, the Yankees challenged the tag on Hicks, and rightly so, the play was overturned from a double play to a standard grounder to 1st. So, with 2 outs, Gardner scored and runners (Stanton and Hicks) were in scoring position. Only Stanton would then score on Greg Bird’s single. Then in the 6th, Walker was hit by a pitch, ended up at 3rd on Romine’s double, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly.

With the Yankees’ solid lead, and Happ’s great start (only 1 allowed run), the Yankees bullpen needed to keep the Royals from advancing. But it wasn’t that easy. Chad Green gave up a lead-off solo homer in the 7th, and David Robertson did the same in the 8th. But Chapman’s clean 9th inning gave him his 28th save of the season.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees have that rare off-day tomorrow (Monday) before hosting a micro-series, 2 games against the Orioles. They then hit the road for a Sox road trip — 4 games at Fenway with the Red Sox and 3 games in Chicago at the White Sox. The Yankees then host a long 11-game home stand.

And it’s official. The Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 is part of the legends represented in Cooperstown after today’s induction ceremony. This year’s class featured Jack Morris and Alan Trammel, both of the Tigers and voted by the Modern Era Baseball Committee; plus regular inductees Chipper Jones (Braves), Jim Thome (Indians), Trevor Hoffman (Padres), and Vladimir Guerrero (Expos/Angels). Guerrero chose to wear the Angels’ cap in his plaque, becoming the first player to wear an Angels’ cap in the Hall.

Congrats to this year’s inductees! And for your information, notable former Yankees up for voting in the next few years include Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte (2019), Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi (2020), Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira (2022), and Carlos Beltran and Ichiro Suzuki (2023). I would think quite a few of those names will be voted into the Hall within these next few years.

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 101: KC vs. NYY — A fractured win & another big trade, there was also a game

Much of tonight’s game was bookended by a big trade announcement and a rather disappointing injury. It actually kind of overshadowed the fact that there was actually a pretty good game tonight as the Yankees returned to the Bronx to host the first of this 4-game weekend series against the Royals.

Despite this season having consistent bad outings at home, Sonny Gray flipped the switch and had a good one. He threw 75 pitches in 5 scoreless innings, gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 5 batters to earn the much-needed win. And the Yankee batters actually gave him quite the cushion to work the win.

In the 1st, with 1 out, Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch on the right wrist. But he initially stayed in the game (more below), ended up on 3rd on Gregorius’ doubles, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly. After Hicks walked, Gleyber Torres made it to 1st on a fielding error, which allowed Gregorius to score.

Then in the 4th, Walker hit a 1-out single and then scored on Austin Romine’s double. After another out, they opted to pinch-hit Judge with Miguel Andujar who benefited from a throwing error. Didi Gregorius promptly followed that up by hitting the 1st pitch of that at-bat into the right field seats for a 3-run home run.

To cap off their scoring tonight, the Yankees ended the Royals’ disappointing start with the 5th inning. Hicks singled, ended up at 3rd on Torres’ single, and then scored on Greg Bird’s sacrifice fly. The Royals’ starter came out after another single and a strikeout, and their relievers certainly had a better night of holding off the Yankees’ offense.

Comparatively, Adam Warren came on for the 6th and promptly gave up a ground-rule double and a 2-run home run to get the Royals on the board before fending them off for a quick 3 outs. Robertson’s 7th inning continued that momentum with his 3 strikeouts. And Zach Britton made his Yankees debut tonight and needed just 10 pitches to sail his way through the 8th inning.

And in the 9th, Chasen Shreve came on and had an eventful outing to close out the game. With 2 outs and 2 runners on 1st and 2nd, the next batter hit a single into center field to a waiting Hicks. Then Hicks fired that ball into Romine at home (at 98.7 mph) to get the lead runner trying to score a run and keep the game going. Instead, the tag was made and the game was over.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

Okay, trade news: The Yankees made yet another big trade. This time, they added to the rotation, as they’ve been trying to do for the last two seasons. The Yankees sent infielder Brandon Drury and outfielding prospect Billy McKinney to the Blue Jays in exchange for veteran starter JA Happ.

Also, before the game, the Yankees activated Zach Britton to help in the 8th inning. To make room, the Yankees optioned Luis Cessa back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

And injury news: In the 5th, Sonny Gray got hit with a comebacker on his hand which primarily hurt his thumb. He was sent to get precautionary x-rays, but they were negative and the Yankees expect him to make his start next week against the Orioles.

Now, Aaron judge sustained a hit by a pitch in the 1st. He, of course, stayed in the game initially and scored the Yankees’ first run of the night. But by the bottom of the 4th, that wrist wasn’t getting any better. First MRIs were “unclear”, so they sent him to the hospital where he ended up being diagnosed with a chip fracture of his right wrist (officially know as the ulnar styloid bone). It doesn’t require surgery, but he won’t be able to resume baseball activities for at least 3 weeks.

Yes, that Judge injury can seem like a big hit for the Yankees, but they do already have quite the depth in the outfield (starters like Gardner, Hicks, and Stanton), as well as depth in the farm system (like Frazier and Shane Robinson). Even without his bat, the Yankees are still stepping up to do their best. The Yankees are leading in home runs with 163, 21 more than 2nd place Angels and Athletics, and just 26 of those are Judge’s (only 16%). Get well soon!

Go Yankees!

Game 43: NYY vs. KC — An afternoon for a big win

Well, that makes 8 straight series wins for the Yankees, yet another strong show of offense against an opponent, and a close call when it comes to this crazy Spring weather. Yes, Kauffman Stadium had the tarp over the infield for most of the morning, and despite a predicted stormy afternoon, the rain stayed in the cloudy skies so the game could go on.

Plus, Sonny Gray was just amazing today. He threw 4 no-hitter innings and kept the Royals scoreless for most of the game. In fact, in his 8 innings, he threw 92 pitches, gave up just 4 hits and a walk, and struck out 5. The lone allowed run for the home team came in his final inning. A lead-off single moved to 2nd on a ground out and later scored on a 2-out single. AJ Cole closed out the game with a quick 13 pitches.

But Gray had quite a bit of leeway when it came to his strong start. The Yankees’ offense came alive in the 4th inning. Hicks led-off with a walk and then scored as part of Tyler Austin’s 2-run home run. Andujar tripled and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. All before the Royals got an out that inning. In the 5th, Stanton hit a 1-out double and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ triple. Hicks easily scored when Tyler Austin hit his 2nd 2-run home run of the afternoon.

The Royals went into their bullpen, but it didn’t stop the Yankees’ advance. In the 8th, Romine doubled, moved to 3rd on Torreyes’ single, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single. Judge’s walk loaded the bases, before a wild pitch would score Ronald Torreyes. And then to cap it off, the Yankees revved up the power in the 9th with solo home runs by Miguel Andujar and Austin Romine.

Final score: 10-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: the Yankees are on their way to Arlington (the Dallas area) for their final stop on this road trip against the Rangers for 3 games. They’ll head back to the Bronx next weekend to face the Angels and the Astros.

Didi Gregorius got the day off today in the middle of this “slump”. But honestly, it just reminds me of the old saying by the great Yogi Berra: “Slump? I ain’t in no slump… I just ain’t hitting.” But he had a super hot start to the season, something the Yankees really depended on in some stickier times. In the same way that you can’t always be “hot”, you certainly can’t always be “slumping”. It will even out eventually, and those Didi cheers will be back before you know it.

Go Yankees!