Games 94 & 95: TB vs. NYY — A rain delay, an ejection, a doubleheader, and an anniversary

Thanks to the rain out yesterday, today’s scheduled got packed. And the Yankees still somehow managed to amp up the drama and make the final 2 games against the Rays all the more interesting. The afternoon game of the doubleheader was first delayed by lingering afternoon rain, pushing the start time back 1 hour and 26 minutes.

Game 1 (make-up game from July 17)
Domingo German got the start for the first game of today’s doubleheader and threw a pretty good game despite what became the major talking point — a terrible strike zone set by the home plate umpire. German threw 90 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out 5 Rays’ batters.

The allowed runs were consecutive solo home run to kick off the game. After that, German buckled in and really set a strong pattern to pass the game off to his relievers. Kahnle, Britton, and Hale threw a strong scoreless inning of their own, keeping the visitors to those early runs.

The Yankees answered back to the Rays’ early lead by tying up the game right in the turbulent 2nd inning. Didi Gregorius led-off the inning by getting all the way to 2nd on a fielding error. He then moved to 3rd on a ground out and scored on Gio Urshela’s 2-run home run.

Now, after a questionable strikeout and some bad calls on the at-bat of the two most chill guys on the team (Gardner and LeMahieu), Aaron Boone had to step in. Leading up to this, Sanchez questioned some calls, especially lower in the strike zone, for their inconsistency. The rookie home plate umpire didn’t seem to adjust, and the continuation of the questionable calls was starting to fluster everyone.

Boone did what managers need to do — take one for their guys. Several choice words later (like “savages”), Boone watched the rest of the game from the clubhouse, and the Yankees (and their fans) applauded his efforts and ended up winning the game. And I looked at the strike zone graphics following the game, it wasn’t good. Far too many called strikes were out side the box, and too many called balls were inside it. Boone and company were right to have issues with the calls.

In the 5th, Judge led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Hicks’ ground-rule double, and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s 1-out single. After another out, Luke Voit’s single scored Hicks, and Urshela’s double scored Sanchez. And Aaron Hicks’ 2-out solo home run in the 6th capped off the Yankees’ dominant afternoon.

Final score: 6-2 Yankees

Game 2 (regularly scheduled game)
After a brief clean-up and resetting the field, the second half of today’s doubleheader was ready to go. The Yankees opted to use an “opener”, the ever reliable Chad Green, who despite throwing 31 pitches in the 1st inning, kept the Rays from scoring.

Nestor Cortes Jr came on for the 2nd inning and kept things strong through most of his outing, into the 5th inning. But in the 3rd, a lead-off walk scored on a double. But he handed the ball over to Luis Cessa in the 5th, who carried things scoreless into the 8th. Ottavino closed out the final 4 outs with just 17 great pitches.

So, the Yankees were late to get on the board. Luke Voit hit a 1st pitch solo home run in the 5th inning to tie up the game. Then in the 6th, Austin Romine led-off with a double and moved to 3rd on a ground out. Walks to Judge and Encarnacion loaded up the bases, and a balk moved all the runners up and scored Romine.

Then Didi Gregorius’ single and a throwing error allowed both Judge and Encarnacion to score. After another out, the Yankees loaded up the bases again with Torres’ single and Urshela’s walk. The Rays made a pitching change, but he promptly walked Mike Tauchman to score Gregorius before finally getting out of the inning.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees continue their home stand with a weekend series against the visiting Rockies. The Yankees will spend next week on the road, first against the Twins and then in Boston for a long weekend, including a make-up game as part of a Saturday doubleheader.

Before the later game tonight, the Yankees celebrated the 20th anniversary of David Cone’s perfect game. It was a perfect day in many ways, honoring the perfect game of Don Larsen and caught by Yogi Berra. And then Cone spent most of the day just playing catch with his catcher Joe Girardi. So, in addition to the now standard commemorative bobblehead of David Cone, Cone also threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a strike of course.

And also coming up this weekend is Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown, New York. The ceremonies will include Yankee alum like Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera. There are many activities this weekend leading up to the main event of induction ceremony on Sunday afternoon. Rivera’s unanimous election to the Hall is really the biggest topic of the weekend, though for Yankee fans (and really any decent general baseball fans), it was inevitable. Our hero, our legend, our Hall of Famer.

Go Yankees!

Game 85: NYY vs. TB — A little extra this Independence Day

The Yankees started their final series before the All-Star break tonight, the first game of a 4-game weekend series in St. Petersburg against the Rays. Starting a bit later due to the travel, local Yankee fans might have missed the area’s fireworks, but there was plenty of metaphoric ones at the Trop to make this holiday rather interesting.

Actually, it was a fairly normal game for most of the early evening. JA Happ got the start tonight, throwing 92 pitches into the 6th, giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out 5 batters. In the 1st, a 1-out single scored on a 2-out double to get the Rays on the board first.

But Happ found his momentum and carried the rest of the game, handing it off to the bullpen to close it out. Ottavino closed out the 6th, and Kahnle and Britton each gave scoreless innings to keep things moving.

The Yankees didn’t let the Rays’ early minor lead last long. Ford led-off the 3rd with a single, moved to 2nd on a passed ball, and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s single to tie up the game. Then with 2 outs, a wild pitch moved Tauchman to 2nd before he scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Later in the game, in the 7th inning, Edwin Encarnacion hit a 1st pitch solo home run for an insurance run.

Things were going good, and the Yankees just needed 3 outs in the 9th to get the win. But Aroldis Chapman wasn’t having a very good night. He gave up a walk to lead off the inning. With 1 out, the next batter hit a double that scored the runner, despite a Yankees’ unsuccessful challenge. After another out, Chapman’s consecutive wild pitches allowed the tying run to score. He then loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk before finally getting out of the inning.

So, the game went into extra innings. That certainly went in the Yankees’ favor, with another chance to make a difference. Urshela and Judge worked a walk, and Gardner’s single loaded the bases. DJ LeMahieu singled home both Urshela and Judge to break the tie. After an out, it would be Gary Sanchez to smack a big 3-run home run to ensure the large Yankee lead.

Luis Cessa came out for the 10th, but to mixed results. With 1 out, he gave up a walk and a single. After another out, the next batter singled home the lead runner, and a walk loaded the bases. A change was needed, so the Yankees called in reliever David Hale for a 5 pitch at-bat that resulted in a solid force out at 2nd to end the game.

Final score: 8-4 Yankees, in 10 innings

All-Star Game Update: Until today, it seems that the maximum number of players from each team is 3 in this new All-Star Game format. Which meant that many players were left off the starting and replacement roster, despite the fact that they are really outstanding every day. This happens every year, of course, as someone who is truly significant may be watching the game from their couch rather than on the field.

This year, the Yankees felt this in particular. While LeMahieu, Sanchez, and Chapman are well-deserved All-Stars, there are quite a few other Yankees that deserve to be on that field in Cleveland on Tuesday. But today, there was one more addition to the All-Star roster. Every year, there are players who are unable to play due to an injury and are replaced by extra reserve players. So when those injury-substitute reserve players get injured, yet another reserve player is necessary.

Well, an infielder went on the IL, and a Yankee got the call. Gleyber Torres will be making his second trip to an All-Star Game. Torres has been particularly strong in recent weeks, further proving that he was rather deserving of the call.

Go Yankees!

Game 77: HOU vs. NYY — Record setting loss on Old Timers’ Day

The Yankees know how to snap their streak in a big way. After winning 8 straight games, and the Astros losing 7 straight, the tables flipped as the Astros got tired of losing and the Yankees had pitching issues.

JA Happ had another shaky start in this afternoon’s finale against the Astros. He threw 68 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 11 hits and 8 runs, and struck out just 2 batters. The lead-off batter of the game struck a big solo home run to start the Astros off early. In the 3rd, a 1-out double scored on a 2-out single to double their score.

Then in the 4th, Happ loaded the bases with consecutive singles to set up a big grand slam to keep the visitors’ small fan base in the stands rather happy. Happ came back out for the 5th and gave up a single and 2-run home run to keep the ball rolling for the Astros before the Yankees finally opted to end the mess.

Luis Cessa gave up a solo home run before settling in and getting 12 outs (or 4 innings) and keeping the Astros to their large lead. David Hale closed out the game with a scoreless 9th. But the Yankees needed their pitching to calm down to chip away at the visitors’ lead.

In the bottom of the 5th, with 2 outs, Hicks and Gardner each singled. DJ LeMahieu smacked a big 3-run home run to finally get the Yankees on the board. But their chances to score beyond that were few. After the starter left the game, the Yankees found one more in the 8th. With 1 out, LeMahieu tripled and then scored on Aaron Judge’s baby ground out.

Final score: 9-4 Astros, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees host the Blue Jays for 3 games starting tomorrow before taking two days to travel across the pond. In London, the Yankees and Red Sox will meet to play the first ever regular season baseball series on English soil. When they come back to the states next month, they hop the train to Queens for a 2-game miniseries against the Mets before heading down to Tampa Bay for a 4-game weekend series just before the All-Star Break.

With DJ LeMahieu’s 3-run home run in the 5th inning, the Yankees set a new record for 26 consecutive games with a home run. The MLB record is 27, something the Yankees could easily tie and then break with the Toronto series this coming week.

Older Timers’ Day: The Yankees hosted their 73rd Annual Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium, featuring fan favorites and Yankee alumni like Aaron Boone, David Cone, Johnny Damon, Bucky Dent, Reggie Jackson, Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, David Wells, and Bernie Williams.

But the man on everyone’s mind today was Old Timers’ Day rookie and this year’s Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera. Rivera soaked up the greatness and fun that is this day, even going back to the mound to pitch a bit and later playing center field. But the great achievement was his first ever hit in pinstripes — an inside-the-park home run, thanks in part to some really sluggish outfielders.

Go Yankees!

Game 73: TB vs. NYY — #CCStrong leads to #LegaCCy milestone & sweep

The Yankees played the rare midweek matinee to close out this series against the Rays and just dominated the visitors from start to finish. Plus, CC Sabathia finally earned his 250th career win in a pretty great outing for the retiring starter. This makes him just the 14th pitcher to have both 3000 strikeouts and 250 wins in all MLB history.

Sabathia threw 94 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 3 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out 7 Rays’ batters. The Rays’ lone run of the day came in the 5th. With 1 out, Sabathia gave up a pair of walks. After a pop-up out, he then gave up a double to score just the lead runner. Holder and Cessa closed out the final third of the game with 3 scoreless and quick innings.

The Yankee batters, on the other hand, were basically gifted with an easy offense day when the Rays’ pitching staff just crumbled. Their starter didn’t even make it out of the 1st inning, and they depleted the bullpen so that their final pitcher was a their regular 3rd baseman. And somehow, the Rays limited the Yankees to just 9 hits and 7 walks. Of course, the 12 runs were the biggest problem for the visitors.

In the 1st, LeMahieu led-off with a single and stole 2nd, and Voit worked a walk. Then Gary Sanchez kicked off the scoring with a nice 3-run home run. Encarnacion walked but was out when Hicks hit into a fielder’s choice. Torres and Maybin then each walked to load up the bases. That was the end of the Rays’ starter’s outing.

Gio Urshela was hit by a pitch, which walked home Hicks and kept the bases loaded. After another out, DJ LeMahieu was back up in the batter’s box and singled home both Torres and Maybin to cap off the giant 6-run lead so early.

So with that huge lead, the Yankees mostly focused on supporting their starter with strong defense. It wasn’t until the 7th that they got another jump on the Rays’ pitching. With 1 out, LeMahieu and Voit worked walks, and Gary Sanchez’s double scored LeMahieu.

After another pitching change, Edwin Encarnacion’s single scored Voit, and Hicks’ walk loaded up the bases. Gleyber Torres smacked a big grand slam to just push the Yankees up and over the top of today’s runs.

Final score: 12-1 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 3-0

Next up: The Yankees home stand continues with a 4-game weekend series against the Astros, followed by 3 games against the Blue Jays. After two travel days, the Yankees will face the Red Sox for the historic London series.

HOPE Week Day 3: Today, the Yankees honored Olmedo Renteria, a blind immigrant from Ecuador, who is better known as “The Great Olmendini“, New York’s own subway magician. No, he may not make the trains work well, but he certainly makes the ride more interesting.

Today, the Yankees invited The Great Olmendini to perform a special magic show for the kindergarten class from a local school at the Yankee Stadium’s kids play area. Yankee players Luis Cessa, Nestor Cortes Jr, Chad Green, David Hale, Tommy Kahnle, and James Paxton showed up to help Renteria and enjoy the show, including riding the subway and featuring a few great magic tricks in person.

As part of their celebration of Renteria, the Yankees invited the Society of American Magicians, a prestigious group founded by famed magician Harry Houdini in 1902 in New York. The Society gave Renteria an associate membership and received a special donation from the Yankees in Renteria’s name to their foundation. And Renteria later threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Go Yankees!

Game 68: NYY vs. CHW — The Friday night blues

The advantage to having a very long season, playing 162 regular games over half a year, is that one game (at least during the regular season) doesn’t define the entire season. Unlike some other American sports, the Yankees can close the chapter on a bad game and start fresh the next day with another game and another chance at playing a good game and maybe even winning that one.

CC Sabathia is still on the hunt for that 250th win of his career, and tonight’s game just wasn’t going be it. Sabathia got the start in the second of this four game series against the White Sox. He threw 77 pitches into the 5th inning, allowed 10 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned), and struck out just 3 Chicago batters.

In the 1st, the lead-off batter doubled thanks in part of fan interference. A 1-out single put runners on the corners, and they both scored on a big 3-run home run to push the White Sox into the lead. The next batter walked, moved to 2nd on another walk, and then scored on a single. Actually, the last play was originally called out on a tag, but after the White Sox’s successfully (and honestly, rightfully) challenged the call, the run scored.

With 1 out in the 2nd, the next batter ended up at 2nd on a messy fielding error and then scored on a double. Then in the 5th, a 1-out single moved to 3rd on a 2-out single. And with runners again threatening to widen the home team’s lead, the Yankees called an end to Sabathia’s night.

Luis Cessa came in to close out the 5th, but first gave up a single to score the lead runner. In the 6th, Cessa continued the struggles that Sabathia began. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a single and then scored on a fielder’s choice and throwing error (a messy attempt at a double play). After giving up a double, Cessa gave up a big 3-run home run to ensure the White Sox win.

After giving up another single, the Yankees were forced to go back to the bullpen. David Hale closed out the rest of the game, keeping the White Sox from furthering their rather large lead. Hale breezed his way through 7 outs with just 24 pitches.

On the other side of the field, the Yankees struggled their way to find an offense. While the White Sox got 16 total hits, the Yankees only eked out 6. Luke Voit got the first one of the game, a big 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning to actually get the Yankees on the board first.

But with the implosion of the Yankee pitching and defense tonight, the Yankees were pressed to find another chance to actually do something offensively as they watched the White Sox continue to grow their lead into double digits. It wasn’t until the 9th that some snazzy base running finally broke the stalemate for the Yankees.

Gleyber Torres led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on a ground out, got to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on a rather funny little fielding error on Mike Tauchman’s at-bat. And that would be it for the Yankees on the final scoreboard, bookending the game with a blast and a blip.

Final score: 10-2 White Sox

CC K-Count: 3036

On the bright side, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton began their rehab assignments with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders tonight. Judge is having a slow start to his rehab, going 0-for-4 at the plate as tonight’s designated hitter. But Stanton helped the offense with a big 3-run home run in the 3rd. Actually, they ended up being the only runs the RailRiders scored all night, losing to the Rays’ AAA affiliate 16-3.

In random trivia that I stumbled across researching for this post, apparently, tonight’s losses spanned the entire Yankees organization. All of the Yankee affiliates lost their Friday games to their respective opponents from rookie ball on up to the big boys in Chicago.

So, all across Yankee Universe, we now close tonight’s chapter, turn the page, wake up fresh tomorrow, and start all over again. Oh, and vote for your favorite All-Stars.

Go Yankees!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final score: 8-4 Indians

CC K-Count: 3033

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

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

Go Yankees!

Game 60: NYY vs. TOR — Inconsistency strikes again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final score: 11-7 Blue Jays

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

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

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

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

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

Go Yankees!