Game 122: TOR vs. NYY — Abbreviated victory

I have mixed feelings about a shortened game, even more so by a game like this. In this opener against the Blue Jays, they were on a race against the oncoming storm. Yet another instance where the weather decided to stomp all over another game.

Lance Lynn got the start in today’s game, and while it wasn’t the strongest start, it certainly matched the Blue Jays’ starter. So they both pitched to a no-decision. Lynn threw 99 pitchers into the 5th, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out 5 batters.

Most of that damage came in the 1st inning. The lead-off batter walked and was out on a force out grounder at 2nd. A wild pitch moved the runner to 2nd, and a walk allowed another runner on base. A single scored the lead runner, and after a nice strikeout, another single scored another run. After a walk loaded the bases, another single scored 2 more runs before Lynn got out of the inning.

After holding strong through the next 3 innings, Lynn came out for the 5th. He gave up a double that promptly scored on an RBI single to cap off the Blue Jays’ runs tonight. And it would also be end of the Lynn’s night. Chad Green came on for a strong outing of his own, 2 solid innings in just 18 pitches to set himself up for the win. David Robertson’s 7th was a perfect scoreless one amid the drizzle.

Meanwhile, the Yankees paced out their offense through the game, taking opportunities when they came. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Hicks worked a walk and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ great triple. Then Gregorius scored on Miguel Andujar’s double. And in the 4th, with 1 out and Torres and Bird on base with a double and walk, Neil Walker smacked a big 3-run home run.

Hicks led-off the 5th with a walk, ended up at 3rd on Andujar’s 1-out single, and then scored on a fielder’s choice that Gleyber Torres hit into. And leave it to Giancarlo Stanton to lead-off the 7th inning with a solo home run as the skies rumbled along and the drizzle picked up. And after Hicks struck out, the rain was just too much to continue.

So they went into rain delay. For an hour and twenty-five minutes before they made the decision to just call the game. Which ended up being a good thing because there is going to be no letting up in the rain for most of the night. And they have an afternoon game tomorrow.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees, in 7(ish) innings

Today was the first day of this declared anniversary weekend, the 20th anniversary of the 1998 Championship Yankees. There’s a ton of fun events planned for the fans, including a display of a replica of the 1998 World Series trophy, alumni meeting fans, a special ceremony tomorrow before the game, fan favors like replica rings, and more surprises for the fans throughout the weekend.

Okay, so, I do have mixed feelings about an abbreviated game. I see the reasoning behind why they called it. There is no way they could reasonably resume play at any point tonight and get enough sleep before tomorrow’s game. And the game is not a tie, so there is a definite winner already, and it’s beyond the 5th inning, so it’s considered a complete game.

But it wasn’t exactly an easy win. The Blue Jays kept things close enough to strike back at any point. And if the Yankees were on the flip side of the score, I’d be upset they didn’t have a chance to come back and at least attempt a win. Yes, I might be a little more willing to accept the result if the Yankees were stomping on the Jays like 7-0 because when they dominate, such a result would feel more like mercy. Because a win is a win regardless of by how much.

However, that win matters a whole lot to the Yankees, but due to the Blue Jays’ losing season, a loss doesn’t make a difference. There’s no way they’re going to the postseason, but the Yankees need every win possible to ensure their October spot. It worked out for Yankee Universe in the end, but I don’t think I’m ever going to feel entirely comfortable with this kind of abbreviated game.

Go Yankees!

Game 116: TEX vs. NYY — A soggy Saturday save

It’s raining along much of coast of the northeast, including over Yankee Stadium this lovely Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t initially, but the skies progressively darkened, drizzled, and then drenched the near sold-out crowd in this third of 4 games against the visiting Rangers.

Lance Lynn threw 99 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out an impressive 8 Texas batters. His lone allowed run was in the 3rd. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on an RBI single. Lynn, once again, turned out a fine performance, clearly etching his place on the Yankee rotation.

The Yankees had enough oomph to give themselves the lead early on today. In the 1st, Giancarlo Stanton hit a solid 1-out solo home run to kick things off. After another out, Andujar singled and then scored easily on Greg Bird’s double. They kept their minuscule lead until the 6th when Bird led-off with another double and then scored on Walker’s 1-out single.

That should have been enough for the Yankee bullpen and defense to coast on to victory, but with the looming clouds, it couldn’t exactly be a drama-free day, despite Robertson’s beautiful 15-pitch clean, scoreless 6th inning.

Zach Britton was called on to continue his strong show from previous games. He took 5 pitches to get 2 quick outs, but then things unraveled. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before another allowed walk scored their lead runner. Britton was just not finding that 3rd out, so the Yankees turned to Dellin Betances.

Now, Betances has been really good lately. But when the runner at 3rd spooked him, Betances fidgeted just enough to balk, and it moved all the runners up again and scored that runner from 3rd, just before he struck that batter out. Betances later sailed his way through the 8th cleanly.

With the game now tied and the rain beginning to really unload, the Yankees were determined to find the opportunity. It would be in the bottom of that 7th inning. With 1 out and another new reliever, Stanton singled and then scored as part of Miguel Andujar’s big 2-run home run into the right field seats, his 17th homer of the season.

Aroldis Chapman now needed just 3 outs for his 30th save. However, due to the rain, that was coming down in sheets at this point, he had less control over his pitches, allowing a single, a strikeout, a single, and a pop-up, before hitting the next batter to load up the bases. Things were tense, but somehow, even with a full count, Chapman pulled through and got the batter to swing at that 98 mph 3rd strike.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Injury updates: Aaron Judge is taking it slow coming off the chip fracture in his right wrist. He’s hoping to start swinging a bat early next week and then progress from there. The original timeline has him potentially coming back before the end of this month, but injuries rarely check man’s expectations and schedules as they heal.

Giancarlo Stanton has been dealing with hamstring tightness since the series in Boston. It hasn’t entirely hampered his playing, relegating him to play DH and instead allowing young players like Robinson and utility players like Walker playing in the outfield. And they too are doing well with the challenge.

And Gary Sanchez has been working out in the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, recovering from a lingering groin injury. He’s been running and doing baseball activities, but he is expected to fly up to New York to rejoin the team and complete his rehab with them. That’s a great sign because it means that he’s progressing well enough to have the team keep him close for an overnight activation when they deem him ready.

Look, for all their recent injuries and frustrating losses, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball. It’s rather unfair that they’re in the same division as the absolute best team in baseball (Red Sox), but that team is having a real record-setting kind of year of their own. While the NL is quite close and competitive, the AL is splitting into the teams that are having obviously stellar seasons and those that are really struggling.

And nowhere is that highlighted more than just within the AL East, which hosts both the best team in MLB (Red Sox) and the worst (Orioles). The AL East has long been a really strong division, but this year, it’s really showing its extremes — still really competitive for the top 2-3 teams and just discouraging for the others.

Go Yankees!

Game 111: NYY vs. CHW — A shutout gem from Lynn to reset the Yankees

Perhaps it was a mix of things — Lynn’s sharp pitching, the sloppy defense by the White Sox, or sheer desperation of the Yankees to pull themselves out of this skid — but things worked in the Yankees’ favor tonight (finally) after having some recent issues where they just weren’t looking like the 2018 Yankees we’ve seen most of this season.

Still rather new to the Yankees, veteran starter Lance Lynn proved his trade was worth it with a really great outing in tonight’s opener in Chicago. Lynn threw 108 pitches into the 8th inning, giving up just 2 hits and a walk, and striking out 9 White Sox batters. After a single allowed in the 1st, he got 19 consecutive outs before giving up a single in the 8th. He and the Yankee defense refused to let the White Sox do much of anything tonight.

After a standing ovation from a healthy contingency of Yankee fans in the stands on the Chicago’s south side, Lynn would cede the game to AJ Cole. Cole held the White Sox to their scoreless game through his 5 outs to close out the game.

The Yankee bats, meanwhile, took a bit to wake up. But then they were back to form. In the 4th, with 1 out, Stanton doubled and moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ double. He scored on Aaron Hicks’ single, and Gregorius then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single.

Later in the 5th, with 1 out, Higashioka and Gardner each singled to put them on the corners. A wild pitch had Kyle Higashioka scoring the next run, and Didi Gregorius’ single saw the speedy Brett Gardner rushing all the way home from 2nd to just beat the tag at home.

And to cap off the night, Gleyber Torres hit a 1-out solo home run in the 8th, and after Andujar worked a 2-out walk, he would score as part of Neil Walker’s big 2-run home run to solidify the Yankees’ big night.

Final score: 7-0 Yankees

It looks like starter JA Happ will be able to return for his scheduled start on Thursday when the Yankees return to the Bronx to face the Rangers. Happ has been dealing with the effects of hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is initially highly contagious and consists mostly of a bad rash and feeling feverish and generally terrible for about 7-10 days. Not exactly ideal for the kind of exertion one needs to pitch in a professional baseball game.

And Aaron Judge is doing some basic baseball activities with the team during the pre-game warm-ups in Chicago. He is traveling with the team while resting his chip-fractured wrist. He has yet to swing a bat because it’s still a broken bone that causes some pain and discomfort.

Initially, he was given a rough estimate of 3 weeks when he got his diagnosis (July 26), which would be August 16. But I think most people agree that we’d rather he be at 100% than risk a recurrence or be only at half his potential. Fortunately, with a break, it’s easier to tell when it’s healed, in that there’s no more break. It’s why sprains and strains are harder to gauge — there’s not definitive sign for healing that’s consistent with every person. Injuries still stink either way.

Go Yankees!

Game 106: BAL vs. NYY — Torres’ power & rain delay not enough to reset a “Gray” start

Sonny Gray had a great 1st inning in today’s matinée against the Orioles, but with looming skies, the forecast wasn’t good for either the Yankees’ starter or the actual weather over the Bronx. Gray threw 57 pitches into only the 3rd inning, gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and struck out just 3 batters to continue his bad record of not doing well at home, despite a good record against the Orioles previously.

In the 2nd, Gray gave up a single, a walk, an RBI single, a single to load the bases, and a 2-RBI double before recording an out. Then he gave up another single that scored 2 more runs and another single before the Yankees’ defense finally snapped into action for a great double play — a line drive to right field and then getting the runner doubling off 2nd base.

With the O’s in a huge lead, Gray got the first 2 outs fairly easily. But then he gave up a solo home run that bounced off the net over Monument Park, and then put runners on the corners with a walk and single. And as the rain started in the Bronx, the Yankees called on new Yankee, veteran starter, and today’s spot-starter Lance Lynn to make his pinstripe debut. Lynn, unfortunately, gave up an RBI single (charged to Gray) but then found his momentum with his first Yankee strikeout.

But between innings, the rain became a deluge, and the tarp came out. After a 39 minute delay, including the cleaning and drying of the field, the game resumed. Lynn returned and threw 4 more strong innings for a total of 71 pitches. Green and Holder each threw a scoreless inning of their own in hopes that the Yankees could chip away at that rather hefty Orioles’ lead.

And they did. Gleyber Torres led-off the 2nd with a solo home run, but the other Yankees in that inning loaded up the bases only to leave them stranded there, something that is more of a pattern than I’m sure the Yankees are happy about. The Orioles’ starter actually held the Yankees off for most of the game.

It wasn’t until the 8th that they got another chance to change the narrative. They loaded up the bases with a single to Hicks and walks to Torres and Bird. It would be Miguel Andujar to single home Hicks, but a strikeout, a pitching change, and a double play stranded those loaded bases again.

Then with 2 outs in the 9th, Didi Gregorius gave the waiting fans hope with a solid single, and Hicks worked a walk. The Orioles were literally 1 out away from the win and decided to change pitchers again to get that. Instead, they gave up a 3-run home run to Gleyber Torres, his 2nd homer of the day, to inch the Yankees closer. Unfortunately, they ran out of outs on a pop fly the next batter.

Final score: 7-5 Orioles, they split the series 1-1

Next up: The Yankees travel a few hours up the Coast to Boston for a 4-game weekend series starting tomorrow. They’ll head over to see the White Sox for 3 games before heading home for a long home stand to face the Rangers, Mets (in a make-up game), Rays, and Blue Jays.

It’s August. We’re at the push for the end of the season now. Just 1 month before September call-ups, so it’s kind of at that point where every game needs to matter, especially those games against teams on the wrong end of the season (like the Orioles) that should be easy wins. Despite always being a tough series, the Red Sox this weekend will be even tougher as the Sox currently sit 5 games ahead of the Yankees and would love to keep it there (or make it more).

However, the White Sox, Rangers, and Mets are scraping the bottom of their respective divisions. And the Rays and Blue Jays are hovering around .500 in the AL East. All of these teams will be playing to move up from where they are if they even want a chance in October. So all of these games are a must-win for the Yankees or that October dream will be just that — a dream, rather than an assured reality.

Go Yankees!