NLDS 2: SF vs. CHC — Half postponed, half normal

First, it’s raining buckets in D.C. tonight, so the powers-that-be postponed the Dodgers-Nationals game until tomorrow at 1pm EST. Both teams will then hop on a cross-country plane to play Game 3 in L.A. on Monday.

But it was just a chilly Chicago evening for the Giants-Cubs game to proceed. Honestly, unlike last night, neither starter got much time out of the game, and all the runs were scored very early in the game. Both bullpens had a much better time of keeping the opposing team from doing much of anything, sometimes breezing though an inning in single digit pitches.

In the 1st, the Cubs got on board fist when Fowler scored on Zobrist’s 2-out double. The Giants starter loaded the bases with no outs in the 2nd to give the Cubs an easy advance on Hendricks’ 2-run single and an RBI single by Bryant. They added one more run in the 4th — a 1-out solo shot by Wood. The Giants batters finally broke through in the 3rd with consecutive doubles that scored the first Giants’ run. Belt’s sacrifice fly scored the other Giants’ run of the night.

In comparison to last night’s nail-biter and last-minute run, tonight’s game was rather standard. And now, the game shifts to San Francisco to see if the Giants can win one (or three) this series or be eliminated from further October baseball. But the Giants play well at home in the postseason, and they have a few of their star pitchers coming up on the rotation. This could get really interesting really fast.

Final score: 5-2 Cubs, Cubs lead series 2-0.

Okay, Yankee Universe news: earlier this week, pitchers Anthony Swarzak elected free agency; outfielder Eric Young Jr. was outrighted to AAA Scranton; and the Angels claimed pitchers Kirby Yates and Blake Parker off waivers. And in preparation for next season, the Yankees worked out a deal to bring Larry Rothschild back as the pitching coach for 2017.

And you might remember the funny story about the couple who got engaged and for a few moments thought they lost the ring, but it actually dropped in the cuff of her jeans after the whole section helped them search and then cheered for the newly engaged couple. Well, to follow-up with Andrew and Heather, they made a brief appearance on Ellen (a syndicated daytime talk show hosted by comedian Ellen Degeneres) and were gifted with tickets to a Yankees game for 2017, a personal message from Betances and Gregorius, and $10,000 from Ellen’s team to help with their wedding planning. Congratulations again to Andrew and Heather!

Go Yankees!

Game 147: NYY vs. BOS — The future is really good, but clearly not yet

Honestly, the Yankees and Red Sox actually did a pretty good job going head-to-head for the first half of the game, thanks to an oddly paired match of starting pitchers. A longtime Red Sox veteran nearly matched rookie Luis Cessa to start for their respective teams. Cessa threw 64 pitches through 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, no walks, and 3 runs, and struck out just 1 batter.

The Red Sox and Yankee made things interesting right from the top of the game. In the 1st, the lead-off batter singled but then got thrown out trying to stretch it to a double. Cessa hit the next batter with a pitch, who then advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on a single. Oddly, that batter also got thrown out trying to go to 2nd on that play. The first one made sense, as he was a speedy base runner, but the second guy is definitely not a runner in any sense of the word.

The next batter singled and then took off for 2nd. Initially, he was called out, but Boston challenged and the replay showed he was safe. He then scored on another single to give the Red Sox a nice lead. They added to this with a 1-out solo home run in the 4th inning.

The Yankees didn’t dent into the Boston starter until the 5th inning. Mark Teixeira led-off with a single and moved to 2nd on Mason Williams’ single. Two outs later, Gary Sanchez doubled and scored both Teixeira and Williams to get the Yankees on the board.

The Yankees went to their bullpen in the 6th inning, opting for James Pazos, who in 2 pitches gave up a double. It was Jonathan Holder’s turn on the mound, and he loaded up the bases with a single and a walk. A sacrifice fly scored a run before Holder got a nice strikeout. A ground-rule double scored one more run, and it was onto the next reliever.

During the next at-bat, Chasen Shreve threw a ball into the dirt, though it was not ruled as a passed ball or wild pitch as he and Sanchez worked together to get the guy trying to steal home. A rather beautiful out to end the inning. But when the Red Sox came up to bat again, Shreve’s first batter in the 7th (the same guy who he faced at the end of the last inning) hit a solo home run into the right field seats.

So it was onto Kirby Yates who loaded the bases with a single, a double, and an intentional walk. The next batter ground into a double play, but the guy from 3rd still scored a run. Ben Heller closed out the 8th, breezing through the Red Sox in 14 pitches.

The Yankees were stalled a bit offensively in the mean time, thanks in part to the good bullpen the Red Sox continue to show once again. But they managed to eke a bit through in the 9th inning. With 1 out, Teixeira worked a walk. Billy Butler came in to pinch-hit and hit a 2-run home run to the last row of the Green Monster. When the pitcher hit Gardner with a pitch, he was pulled for the Red Sox regular closer who then breezed through the next 2 Yankee batters in 9 pitches and 2 strikeouts.

Final score: 7-4 Red Sox.

Okay, I have to give a brief shout out to Mason Williams who was basically in the game to make some pretty amazing outfield plays. Like a running grab in the 5th, and nearly a run-saving leaping catch at the right field wall in the 8th. Williams has always been a rather reliable outfielder when he’s made the routine detours through the replacement roster for the past few years, so it’s nice to see him back once again.

In minor league news: the RailRiders won their International League championship. Next up they will travel to Memphis the winners of the Pacific Coast League on September 20. Many of the players on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team have made the Scranton Shuttle trip quite often this year, and many currently on the Yankee roster have contributed to the RailRiders success this year. They are, by the way, the best team in their league, with a record of 91 wins and 52 losses (a .636 average) during the regular season. Spring Training veteran Jake Cave was awarded the MVP award for his outstanding contributions offensively.

Go Yankees!

Game 139: TB vs. NYY — Walk-off wonder

A long weekend began a day early with the Rays coming into town, and the Yankee looking to gain some ground on that Wild Card race just out of their reach, for now. And tonight’s game was a bit of a back-and-forth event with some rather impressive show of power. Honestly, on both sides.

CC Sabathia got the start, and while definitely not his worst outing, he still got roughed up a bit in his abbreviated start. Sabathia threw 87 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 7 hits, no walks, and 3 runs, striking out just 4 Tampa Bay batters. All of those allowed runs were solo home runs, by the way — a 1-out solo shot in the 1st, a lead-off homer in the 2nd, and a lead-off one in the 3rd (by the same guy who started the Rays’ runs in the 1st inning).

In the mean time, the Yankees certainly let into the Rays’ starter. In the 1st, Gardner and Ellsbury started things off with singled and ended up in scoring position on Sanchez’s ground out. Didi Gregorius’ single scored Gardner, moving Ellsbury to 3rd where he was able to score on a really messy pick-off error to give the Yankees the lead. The pick-off hit Gregorius on the back and rolled away; Gregorius was a little bruised up, but stayed in the game.

After the Rays tied things up in the 2nd, Brian McCann led-off the 2nd with a monster solo shot to the right field suite level (that’s the level above the 2nd deck) to give the Yankees back their edge. McCann came back in the 4th with a beautiful 1-out solo home run to regain the Yankee lead.

Jonathan Holder came on to get out of Sabathia’s jam in the 5th and was sailing along just fine until a 2-out solo home run in the 6th tied up the game again. But Holder got through that inning without further damage. Shreve started the 7th inning for an out before handing things off to Blake Parker who pitched through the 7th and 8th innings, keeping the Rays from retaking the lead. Yates threw a quick 8 pitches to start the 9th inning before Tommy Layne’s 5-pitch strikeout closed things out and handed the game back to the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th.

McCann led-off the inning, but he wasn’t going to make it a 3-homer night, instead flying out on the 2nd pitch. Headley too got out on the 2nd pitch of the at-bat. The Rays went to their bullpen again to face the red-hot Tyler Austin. Both guys put up their best. The reliever throwing 6 pitches to get up to a full count. Austin waiting on what he called “the pitch to hit”. And there it was — a 92 mph fast ball. Swing, hit, going deep, gone. Tyler Austin — walk-off home run.

Final score: 5-4 Yankees.

Walk-off home runs are some of the best ways to end games. And it’s their 5th win in a row. This certainly helps the Yankees in the Wild Card race putting them within just a few games.

And tonight’s game wasn’t without some weird quirky events. Like when Holder’s belt broke in the 6th and needed to be replaced right there on the mound. A reporter tweeted an interesting observation of the moment:

Another weird event was the reversal of a balk call. So, here’s what happened: Holder (again) was communicating with his catcher McCann in the 5th inning, but they couldn’t get on the same page. And in the middle of their signaling each other, the home plate umpire called a “balk”, which would have walked in the runner from 3rd. That’s not a good call for the Yankees.

But McCann jumped up and tried to explain to the umpire that it wasn’t a balk, but how Holder prepares and pitches and communicates to . Holder is still relatively new to the league, so his style isn’t as known by the powers that be. Upon request from Girardi, the umpires huddled, and everyone thought there’s no way they were going to reverse the call. Those calls are never reversed. But then this one was.

Okay. Call it favor. Call it justice. Call it whatever you want. But it worked for the Yankees.

Go Yankees!

Game 133: NYY vs. BAL — Not so charming shutout

So, tonight was not pretty to watch at all. The Yankees traveled to Baltimore on their travel day yesterday for the weekend series there. And tonight, the Orioles used whatever magic they have at Camden Yards to force the Yankees into their worst loss in Baltimore since Camden Yards was built (1992).

Chad Green got the start tonight and got into trouble right from the start. He loaded the bases in the 1st inning with 2 outs before getting out of the jam with a nice strikeout. But then his trouble continued into the 2nd inning. A 1-out double scored on a 2-out single, and then a 2-run home run to add to the Orioles’ score. After walking the next batter with his 54th pitch, Green didn’t take the mound again. He signaled for the trainer and came out of the game with right elbow soreness. That is never a good thing.

Nick Goody came on to replace him and promptly gave up consecutive home runs to put the Orioles way ahead. But then Goody found his way to keep the O’s off the scoreboard in the 3rd. Kirby Yates had a spot of trouble in the 4th, giving up a walk and a 2-run home run to start the inning. But then Yates kept the O’s off the bases through the 5th inning.

Jonathan Holder made his MLB debut in the 6th and sailed through the inning in just 16 pitches, with a nice strikeout.His dad and brother drove up from Mississippi to watch his debut, and they certainly had something to be proud of tonight. Severino and Parker kept that momentum going by keeping the Orioles scoreless through the 7th and 8th innings, respectively.

The Yankees just couldn’t break through the Orioles pitching much at all. They only got 2 hits and 4 walks off the starter in his 6 innings, but nothing they could combine together for any runs. Yes, the Yankees were very much shut out of the game tonight.

Final score: 8-0 Orioles.

September Call-ups: Welcome to September Baseball! Before the game, the Yankees recalled Rob Refsnyder, Nick Goody, Luis Severino, and Kirby Yates. They also selected recently signed outfielder Eric Young Jr. and pitcher Jonathan Holder, who contributed to tonight’s game. To make some room on the roster, the Yankees reinstated Nick Rumbelow from the 7-day DL, recalled him from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and then placed him on the 60-day DL due to his Tommy John surgery earlier this year.

Injury Update: At Wednesday’s game, Aaron Hicks came up limping with a sore hamstring. The doctors in Baltimore saw Hicks, and after some tests, Hicks was diagnosed with a grade 2 strain of his hamstring. Because the rosters are expanded, he won’t be placed on the DL and is expected back “soon”.

Green’s fate is still to be determined, but there are a handful of AAA pitchers that could be in consideration should Green’s injury be something more serious, including the recently returned Bryan Mitchell.

Go Yankees!

Game 131: NYY vs. KC — Tanaka Time, a rain delay, & an extra inning

Like so many of the country recently, the Midwest certain faced the threat of drenching rain for most of the day. The looming storm system delayed through most of the day and then bee-lined for Kauffman Stadium, east of the city to show up about halfway into the game. So one of those fair-weather fans, basically.

Which is a shame because the Yankees, behind starter Masahiro Tanaka, were rather dominant in the game tonight. At least, pre-rain delay. Tanaka threw just 71 pitches through 5 innings, gave up 4 hits, no walks, and 2 runs, striking out 4 Royals batters. In the 3rd, a 2-out single scored easily on a really nice triple. And a 1-out solo shot in the 4th doubled the Royals’ score under Tanaka.

Meanwhile, the Yankees certainly pushed the Royals’ starter out early, in the middle of the 4th inning. They came on strong early. McCann led-off with 2nd with a single and then scored on Aaron Judge’s big 1-out, 2-run home run. Gardner later worked a 2-out walk and then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s double. Then with the bases loaded in the 4th with consecutive singles, Chase Headley’s sacrifice fly scored one run, but back-to-back strike outs to end the inning. With 2 runners on base in the 4th and just 1 out, the Royals relieved their exhausted starter for their bullpen, which seemed to keep the Yankees from adding to their lead for a bit.

And then it rained. Now, technically, if there is a delay that they can’t overcome or come back from, it’s only considered a full game if there have been a full 5 innings played, which I think is what they were doing as both teams pushed their way through that 5th inning as the radar looked “not promising” when the skies opened and the rain came down in literal sheets.

After 59 minutes, the heavy rain had moved on to plague a different part of the area, though it certainly lingered with a bit of drizzle for much of the rest of the night. And the game continued on, however, Tanaka, unfortunately having sat for 59 minutes, was done for the night.

So it was on to Adam Warren, who couldn’t seem to get a handle on pitching tonight, giving up a single and RBI double to start the bottom of the 6th inning. Tommy Layne did a bit better by getting a ground out before hitting a batter. The Royals crowd seemed to think the right response was booing. One reporter commented on this reaction with a well-placed sarcastic observation: “Because, obviously, Layne intentionally hit Morales with an 0-2 pitch. Yes, every fan base does this.”

Tyler Clippard to the rescue, getting the next batter to ground into an around-the-horn double play (3rd baseman to 2nd for the first out to 1st for the second).  Clippard shut the Royals down through the 7th inning as well and so came out for the 8th, but he walked his first batter.

And it was onto Dellin Betances. The runner promptly stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error by (gasp) Gary Sanchez. That runner then scored on a sacrifice fly to tie up the game, much to the glee of the what was left of the 22,000 Royals fans. But then Betances sailed through the 9th, matching the Royals’ 9th inning pitcher with 3-up, 3-down. So it was onto extra innings.

In the 10th, Brian McCann led-off with a single and was pinch-run by Hicks. Headley’s single moved Hicks to 2nd. Two strikeouts and a wild pitch later, they were in scoring position. Then Gardner worked a walk to load up the bases. All Yankee fans held their collective breaths. Jacoby Ellsbury singled and scored Hicks, the winning run, keeping the bases loaded. But a pop-up ended the hopes for an insurance run.

So it was the Royals’ turn to try to regain the lead. Ben Heller came on for the save and hit the first batter who then stole 2nd. A single put runners on the corners for a second before the speedy runner at 1st stole 2nd too. A strike out later, Heller opted to intentionally walk the next batter and load up the bases, partly to give his relief a chance to warm up.

So it was Chasen Shreve now to sew things up. He threw a grand total of 5 pitches, all strikes, for a strikeout and a fly out to end the game and earn his first career save. Shreve later said, “I want to be that guy. It’s been a frustrating year for me. I’m just trying to finish strong. If I can help the team win, that’s what I’m here to do.”

Final score 5-4 Yankees, in 10 innings.

A few other players worth noting tonight were the Yankee veterans: at the plate, Jacoby Ellsbury went 4-for-6 with 2 RBIs tonight, and Brian McCann 3-for-5, with a run scored; and in the field, Chase Headley and Brett Gardner showed off their defensive instincts. Basically, it was the 30-somethings reminding the Baby Bombers that they’re still pretty good too. (And believe me, we 30-somethings are pretty awesome.)

Roster updates: Before the game, obviously, the Yankees recalled Chasen Shreve from AAA Scranton. To make room for him, the Yankees optioned Kirby Yates to the Pulaski Yankees. Now, this is actually good news because their season is over, so it means they’re probably sending him down just to pull him back in 2 days for the September call-up.

And as part of the Ivan Nova trade, the Yankees were to be given “players to be named later”. They acquired outfielder Tito Polo and pitcher Stephen Tarpley today as said players.

One more game in Kansas City, well, later tonight actually. And then it’s September call-ups time. There’s always a few surprises, so be prepared. This season has been anything but normal. But baseball, like life, is anything but predictable. And really, who wants predictable? Be adventurous!

Go Yankees!

Game 130: NYY vs. KC — Late inning opportunities fall short

Okay, that was not exactly how Yankee Universe pictured this game going in our minds. But you cannot say the Yankees didn’t try their hardest to make something work, even when it seems like circumstances (and the like) were all against them.

Michael Pineda got the start in the opening game of this series in Kansas City, and he did what Pineda tends to do really well — have a few lows but really just shut everyone else down. And that’s what he did. He threw 103 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 7 hits, no walks, and 5 runs, and struck out 8 Royals batters. Now, if you leave off his weakest innings (the 1st and the 2 batters in the 7th), his stats are near flawless — 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks. In fact, between those bookends, Pineda just breezed through the Royals line up with power.

But there was that 1st inning. The lead-off batter singled, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, stole 3rd, and then scored on a 1-out single. That runner then stole 2nd and scored on a 2-out single. Two singles and a run scored later, Gary Sanchez behind the plate had enough of these running Royals and threw out the runner going for 2nd. It reminded them that nobody steals on Sanchez.

In what has to be the messy 7th, the Royals sent up 10 batters against the Yankee pitchers. After Pineda gave up consecutive singles, he was relieved by Tommy Layne. Layne threw 2 pitches before the Yankees got a force out at 2nd, failing to get the second part of that double play, leaving runners at the corners). Blake Parker came on and had a rather poor outing, promptly giving up a 3-run home run to push the Royals’ lead further ahead. A single then scored on a 2-out single, and after walking the next batter, it was onto Kirby Yates. Yates gave up an RBI single, but got out of the inning next with a strike out.

Actually, Yates would make all 4 of his outs on into the 8th inning with strike outs. Yates and Pineda combined their totals for 12 total strike outs on the Royals’ batters.

The Yankees were mostly quiet against the Royals’ starter, only getting 4 hits and a walk off him. Tyler Austin actually recorded the first hit off him in the 3rd, a 2-out single, but they left him stranded. Then in the 4th, with 2 outs, Didi Gregorius doubled and then scored on Starlin Castro’s big double to finally get the Yankees on the board.

Down 8-1 in the 8th, the Yankees were faced with what could be their final opportunity to do something. So they did something. Ellsbury led-off the inning by getting on base due to catcher’s interference — his 11th of the season. (Random trivia: if you take everyone else in the league who’s gotten that call and combined their total, it’s 6.) And perhaps because they wanted to forget he got on base, Ellsbury took 2nd on defensive indifference. Hicks worked a walk, and Sanchez got plunked to load the bases.

And then things got interesting. Two strikes to Gregorius seemed awfully low, and suddenly, the home plate umpire tossed Joe Girardi who’d been chirping about the strike zone differences all night. After Girardi came over to give him a piece of his mind to the almost sheer pleasure of the umpire, Girardi watch the Yankees mount a bit of a rally in his honor.

Gregorius doubled and scored Ellsbury and Hicks, and the Royals went back to their bullpen as there were no outs on the board for the 8th inning yet. Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Sanchez, effectively halving the Royals’ lead. On McCann’s ground out, Gregorius moved to 3rd and then scored on Chase Headley’s single. Gardener worked a walk, and the Royals changed pitchers again to end the rally and the inning.

The Yankees got another opportunity in the 9th, with 2 outs and Sanchez and Gregorius on the corners with singles, but a strikeout ended the game and the opportunity.

Final score: 8-5 Royals.

Girardi later commented on his ejection (his 2nd of the season, 31st of his career) as being due to his frustration that there seemed to be 2 strike zones tonight, and he was tired of his team getting the short end of the stick. Social media reminded everyone that the home plate umpire was also the one who ejected Girardi at Fenway when Rodriguez was intentionally hit and Girardi felt the pitcher got away with it. By the way, the pitcher didn’t in the end and got suspended 5 games, and just this year, now an occasional broadcaster, he admitted to it after sticking to his “I was just throwing inside” story while he was still playing.

This should come as no surprise to anyone really. Gary Sanchez was selected and honored as the Player of the Week, as he did last week. In just this last week, Sanchez batter .522, 7 runs scored, 5 homers, and 9 RBIs in just 6 games. No single player has won consecutive POTW awards since 1998. Despite several really outstanding catchers in Yankees history, the last one to win this award was Thurman Munson on July 25, 1976. Does anyone else feel like they need to rename the month of August “Sanchez” in his honor?

Go Yankees!

Game 128: BAL vs. NYY — It’s deja vu all over again!

It’s like deja vu all over again or something. Basically, after taking the visiting Orioles to task in a major way last night, the Yankees decided it was worth the repeat this lovely Saturday afternoon in the Bronx.

Chad Green got the start, not really having the cleanest outing overall. He threw 87 pitches just shy of 5 full innings (forfeiting being the pitcher “on record”), giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, striking out just 4 Baltimore batters. With 1 out and a runner on base with a walk, Green gave up a 2-run home run in the top of the 3rd. And in the 5th, with 1 out, Green gave up back-to-back solo homers. After the next batter hit a long line drive to left field, where Gardner just caught it at the wall, Green’s afternoon was over.

Tommy Layne finished up the 5th for Green and added 2 more outs in the 6th, becoming the pitcher “on record” (meaning he could actually earn the win if the Yankees were to win the game, which *spoiler alert* they did). Adam Warren finished the 6th and sailed through the 7th before Tyler Clippard’s great 8th inning. Kirby Yates came on for the 9th and struggled a bit, giving up a lead-off double that then scored on an RBI single before getting the requisite 3 outs to close out the game.

Actually, all the Yankee pitchers tonight gave up at least 1 hit to add up to the 12 total hits by Orioles’ batters. Not exactly the cleanest afternoon for the pitching staff overall, but it certainly helped that the Orioles’ pitching staff was even worse once again.

In the 1st inning, Ellsbury and Sanchez worked walks to get on base before Mark Teixeira’s double scored Ellsbury to kick off the Yankees’ second day of monster runs scored. In the 3rd, with 2 outs, Teixeira and Gregorius each singled to get on base. Starlin Castro’s single scored Teixeira, moving Gregorius to 3rd. And then things got interesting. They pulled off a double steal — while Castro swiped 2nd, Didi Gregorius stole home plate. Actually, the original call was “out”, but upon review, it was clear that Gregorius successfully stole home. Brian McCann (back in the line-up) hit a double and scored Castro.

But they weren’t done yet. In the 4th, Gary Sanchez hit a 2-out solo home run, his 11th of the season. In the 5th, facing a new pitcher, Gregorius on base after being hit on the arm by an errant pitch, Castro’s big 2-run home run added to the Yankees total. Then McCann worked a walk only to score as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run. All this before an out was recorded that inning.

Gregorius walked and Castro singled to start things in the 6th. McCann singled home Gregorius, and Hicks singled home Castro. Torreyes’ hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, and without any outs yet, the Orioles went to their bullpen. Brett Gardner’s single scored McCann, keeping the bases loaded. But then the pitcher remembered how to pitch and got 3 quick outs.

And in the 8th inning, with 1 out, pinch-hitter (for Sanchez) Austin Romine singled. Actually, it was kind of funny because he thought it was a foul ball at first and hesitated at the plate before realizing it was fair and finally took off for 1st base. A little kind-hearted ribbing, but then Romine advanced to 2nd on a ground out before scoring on Didi Gregorius’ single to cap off the Yankees scoring for the afternoon.

Final score: 13-5 Yankees

In the last two games, the Yankees have outscored the Orioles 27-9. But they also set another random record.

But the other thing everyone is talking about with the Yankees is Gary Sanchez, who is already being talked about as one of the possibilities for the Rookie of the Year. Especially as his 11 home runs are putting him in some rather illustrious company. First, he is the first player in MLB history to reach 11 home runs in just 23 games, the fastest ever. Other stats like his 21 RBIs tie him with Hideki Matsui for the 2nd most in Yankees history; Joe DiMaggio holds the record at 25. Also, his 32 hits in his first 23 games also have him in 2nd in Yankees history behind DiMaggio, who had 42 way back in 1936. That’s why everyone’s talking about Gary Sanchez.

Go Yankees!

Game 127: BAL vs. NYY — 2nd Inning Wonder

Sometimes games are won because of a particular play or player just doing something amazing and it all seals the deal for the win for the team. Sometimes it’s a particular inning of dominance. Tonight it was mostly the latter, but boy, the Yankees in general just kind of dominated tonight.

Luis Cessa got the start for the first game of the weekend series against the Orioles. The O’s are one of the top teams in the AL East and for the Wild Card, so the Yankees are going into this weekend looking for some wins to take the Orioles down a few notches and bolster the Yankees chances for October baseball. Cessa certainly helped with that case, throwing 99 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 batters. Actually, both instances of runs scored were home runs given up to the same batter — a 2-out solo shot in the 1st inning, and a 2-run homer in the 6th to bookend Cessa’s outing. To be fair, it was this batter’s 30th and 31st homers of the season.

Blake Parker sailed his way through the 7th, and Ben Heller made his MLB debut in the 8th and also put in a great outing, breezing through the Orioles in 16 pitches. Kirby Yates gave up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on an RBI single before closing out the 9th.

Now, let’s talk about the Yankees offense that basically was a water leak that turned into a gusher and just drowned those pesky birds from Baltimore. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Gary Sanchez singled and then scored as part of Mark Teixeira’s 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the scoreboard.

And then it was the 2nd inning. With 1 out, the Yankees loaded the bases with Headley’s single, Judge’s walk, and Torreyes reaching on a fielding error. Then they scored just a few runs. Brett Gardner’s single scored Headley and Judge, Jacoby Ellsbury’s single scored Torreyes, and Sanchez’s double scored both those runners. That was it for the starter — just 1 inning and 1 out in the 2nd inning. It was certainly not his night. Teixeira racked up another RBI with his single scoring Sanchez. Then a couple of singles loaded up the bases again, but an infield pop-up and a strikeout ended the rally that was the 6-run inning.

But the Yankees weren’t done there. In the 4th, again with 2 outs (and a huge case of deja vu) and Castro on base with a single, Chase Headley added to the Yankees’ monster lead with a 2-run home run. And then they repeated that pattern in the 5th inning — 2 outs, Ellsbury’s single, and it was Gary Sanchez to hit his 10th homer of the season to add 2 more runs to the scoreboard.

In the 7th, the Yankees changed things up. Judge led-off with a double and then scored on Ronald Torreyes’ double. Torreyes actually wound up at 3rd on a bad throwing error before scoring on Brett Gardner’s single to cap off the Yankees’ runs tonight.

Final score: 14-4 Yankees

I do want to point out that the Yankees racked up 18 total hits off Baltimore’s pitching staff tonight. I can’t say that says much for the Orioles’ pitching staff. I could give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s an “off-night”, but I really don’t want to. Not when we’re dealing with a wild card race and one with Baltimore, I might add. So, sorry, not sorry. It feels good to win and win big tonight. It certainly starts the weekend off right.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Brian McCann and his family tonight due to the death of his grandmother. Rightly so, McCann was out of the game tonight and will probably miss the rest of this weekend to spend time with his family.

Go Yankees!

Game 124: NYY vs. SEA — 4 homers & still over-powered

Every single run scored tonight was off a home run. The pitching statistics for both sides were rather similar. And it was a bit of back-and-forth.

Michael Pineda started tonight’s opening game against the Mariners and actually kept in control of the game for most of it with a couple of minor exceptions. He threw just 83 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 7 hits and 2 walks, charged with 5 runs, and struck out 6 Seattle batters.

In the 4th, a double and single put runners on the corners, and then the Yankees’ defense kicked in. The next batter hit the ball up the 3rd base line where Headley threw it down to get the runner out at home. But then Sanchez dropped the ball, so the runner thought he could make it back to 3rd only to be met by a waiting Gregorius to help cover and tag him out. The remaining runners were safe at 1st and 2nd. Which was highly inconvenient as the next batter hit a big 3-run home run straight up the middle to give the Mariners the lead.

In the 6th, a single and a 1-out walk called the end of Pineda’s evening and made him responsible for those runners. Tommy Layne quickly got the 2nd out, but Anthony Swarzak had a tougher time getting that 3rd out, instead allowing another 3-run home run to give the Mariners the lead that would sail them to victory. (Had to do the nautical pun somewhere!) Kirby Yates had better luck in his 4 outs, but still managed to add an insurance run to the Mariners’ score with a 1-out solo shot in the 8th inning.

But it wasn’t like the Yankees’ batters were resting on their laurels tonight. Gary Sanchez started things off tonight with a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning. Then Starlin Castro added to that with a lead-off solo homer in the 2nd.

Down 3-2 in the 6th, the Yankees came back with those same 2 power-hitters. Ellsbury got on base with a 1-out single and then scored as part of Sanchez’s 2nd home run of the game to give the Yankees the lead. Then Castro added to that with a solo shot up the middle.

Still, it wasn’t enough when the Mariners came back to grab the lead in the bottom of that inning and then add to it in the 8th.

Final score: 7-5 Seattle.

Okay, I have to continue to talk about Gary Sanchez. Because he’s being Gary Sanchez and leading the “Baby Bombers” with absolutely amazing talent. Not only is he just racking up the hits and home runs, as he did in tonight’s game (going 3-for-4, with 2 runs scored and 3 RBIs), but he’s also really good on the defense. He’s thrown out 5 of the 7 runners trying to steal a base, including one tonight to end the 7th inning. He even takes foul balls off his hand and stays in the game. (Note there: put your hand away or you’ll break it like Cervelli did a few years ago.) Sanchez is something to watch and anticipate for the rest of the season.

And not to be outdone, some of the veterans also showed off their awesome defensive skills tonight. Like Ellsbury jumping that back wall to grab an out. Or Headley’s instinct that got that nifty play at home in the 4th to save a run we discussed above. And that instinct actually started at the top of the game with a great double play in the 1st.

Because it is about the whole team after all…

Go Yankees!

Game 120: TOR vs. NYY — Disappointing defense & oddities of record-keeping

The Yankees were looking to grab the series finale from the visiting Blue Jays in today’s rubber match. The Blue Jays reminded the Yankees why they’ve been leading the AL East, and why the Yankees, well, haven’t.

And while CC Sabathia certainly didn’t have the cleanest outing, it was still a pretty good one. Girardi agreed with that assessment in his post-game interview, noting that it’s rather unfair how ERA is tabulated because to charge Sabathia for all the runs is to discount all the defense failed to do to back him up. It’s a team effort, which means that the team should get credit for the successes or failures, especially when it’s not just a strikeout or something that actually is simply between the pitcher and his catcher.

Anyway, Sabathia got the start and threw 98 pitches through his 6 innings. He gave up 9 hits and a walk, was credited with all 7 of Toronto’s runs, all while still striking out 12 batters. (Yes, you read that right — 12!) In the 2nd, the Blue Jays scored first. With 1 out and 2 runners on base with a single and that lone walk, a double scored the first run, and then another double scored 2 more runs to give the Jays an early 3-0 lead.

Sabathia was cruising through the rest of his outing until the 5th. He gave up a lead-off single. The next batter hit a slow grounder to 3rd, which Headley was too slow to get to and throw to 1st, so both runners were safe at 1st and 2nd. The next batter hit again to Headley, who stepped on the bag for the first out and attempted to get a double play at 1st, but threw far above Austin’s head. The runners ended up in scoring position on the error. Another single scored the lead runner, before a 2-out 3-run home run jumped the Blue Jays far ahead of the Yankees.

After Sabathia’s clean 6th inning, he was done for the afternoon. The Yankees sent in recently recalled Kirby Yates who kept the Blue Jays scoreless in the 7th. Tommy Layne’s 8th inning was a nearly perfect 14 pitches, and Anthony Swarzak redeemed himself some after yesterday’s mess with a 16 pitch scoreless 9th inning.

The Yankees weren’t exactly quiet offensively, but they couldn’t make the offense cobble together more than a handful of runs scattered through the game in comparison. And oddly only in the even-numbered innings. Gary Sanchez led-off the 2nd inning with a big solo home run straight up the middle of the field to the netting above Monument Park.

Starlin Castro then followed suit with a solo shot into the left field corner seats to lead off the 4th inning. Chase Headley’s 6th inning 1-out home run into the left field bleachers closed the gap some. And in the 8th, with 1 out and Headley on base with a single, the Blue Jays finally pulled their starter. An out and a single later, Aaron Judge’s single scored the final Yankees’ run of the afternoon.

Final score: 7-4 Blue Jays, Blue Jays win series 2-1.

The Blue Jays’ closer got his 27th save of the season today. That number got me thinking and researching something. Even with the changes made to the roster, and the loss of both Miller and Chapman, the Yankees have actually had more recorded saves than the Blue Jays (36 to Toronto’s 34), but the Blue Jays have had more save opportunities (47 to the Yankees’ 45). This means that the Blue Jays have actually blown more saves than the Yankees overall.

Another fun fact: the Yankees pitchers currently lead the AL in strikeouts (1,059), coming in 3rd in the league (behind the Dodgers and Nationals). Thanks in part to the kind of outings like Sabathia threw tonight. No, I’m still no over 12!

Scranton Shuttle: The Yankees optioned Chasen Shreve back to AAA Scranton before the game today and recalled reliever Kirby Yates, who contributed much to today’s game.

Baby Bomber Gary Sanchez joins some rather illustrious company with his recent show of power. His homer in the 4th inning was his 5th in his last 4 games, which made him the 3rd Yankee ever to hit 5 home runs in their first 15 games. (The other two were Steve Whitaker in 1966 and Shelley Duncan in 2007.)

Go Yankees!