Game 44: TB vs. NYY — 11th inning let-down

Masahiro Tanaka had a great outing this afternoon in the second game of this weekend series against the visiting Rays. He threw 88 pitches through 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and striking out 6 batters. He took a nasty grounder off his shin in the 5th, managed to finish the inning, but then came out of the game. Later x-rays came back negative, but he’ll have a nasty bruise on his shin.

The Yankees struck first in the 3rd inning. With 1 out, they loaded up the bases with singles by Brett Gardner and LeMahieu and a walk to Voit. After another strikeout, a messy wild pitch moved up the runners, and Gardner raced home to score the Yankees’ lone run this afternoon.

In the 7th, Tommy Kahnle came on in relief for Tanaka. He promptly gave up a lead-off solo home run to tie up the game but held off the Rays from doing further damage. Britton and Chapman each followed suit, breezing through with a scoreless inning of their own.

And so the game went on into extra innings. Holder continued the pattern through the 10th with a quick 11-pitch scoreless inning. But Luis Cessa had some trouble in the 11th. With 1 out, a solo home run put the Rays in the lead. And the Yankees couldn’t put together the rally for the bottom of the inning, thus falling to the visitors today.

Final score: 2-1 Rays, in 11 innings

Injury updates: James Paxton threw a bullpen session before Friday’s game and will throw again on Sunday. He still felt some pain due to his knee injury (from May 4), but it’s improved and hoping to diminish as he continues his rehab.

Didi Gregorius will start his extended Spring Training on Monday. After his Tommy John surgery last October, the shortstop will spend time working on simulated games and exercises similar real Spring Training, but compacted down from the standard 7 weeks. This is a really good sign that Gregorius could be back on the team well before the All-Star Break.

And Giancarlo Stanton took live at-bats this week. It looks like his biceps and shoulder strain injuries from early April are healed, and he will begin his rehab assignment with the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons on Monday.

(A quick note to Tampa-based Yankees fans: most of the rehabbing players seem to spend their recovery time with this team. So you could see your favorite stars for cheaper than Spring Training prices and way closer seats throughout these next few weeks and months, and you don’t have to travel to the Bronx to see them in action.)

Go Yankees!

Game 36: SEA vs. NYY — Wednesday night struggle and missing spark

The Yankees really struggled their way in every part of tonight’s game, the third in the four-game series against the visiting Mariners. The pitchers gave up 14 total hits, while the batters only got 5 overall. But it’s the run difference that really made the morale feel a bit low.

Jonathan Loaisiga got the start tonight, throwing 83 pitches in just 4 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and striking out just 3 Seattle batters. He got of to a shaky start right in the 1st with a single and a walk. A line drive put runners in the corners so that the lead runner could easily score on a sacrifice fly.

A lead-off solo home run in the 3rd added one more. With 2 outs in the 4th, consecutive doubles scored one run, and a single scored one more for the visitors. It wasn’t a bad start, but it was a clear struggle.

Luis Cessa came in for some long relief in the 5th for 3 innings, and things settled in a bit, only giving up a 1-out solo home run in the 5th. Cessa then kept the Mariners scoreless through the 7th inning.

Jake Barrett came out for the 8th, and the struggles came up again. With 1 out, a batter hit a long fly ball out to right, and it was called out right as Frazier caught it in what should have been a highlight worthy catch. But the Mariners spotted something off and challenged it. He caught it, but the ball bounced out of his glove, off the ground, and into his throwing hand. I think it seemed liked he caught it directly out of this glove, but it was a dropped ball and overturned on replay.

The next batter hit a 2-run home run to add to the Mariners’ growing lead. In the 9th, with 1 out, Barrett gave up 2 walks. A double then scored the first runner. After another out, a long single scored 2 final runs for the visitors.

The Yankee batters really struggled against the Mariners’ starter, who was running a no-hitter through most of his outing. After a lead-off walk in the 1st, he got 16 consecutive outs to carry him into the 6th inning with limited Yankee offense. It was Mike Tauchman that broke up the no-hitter bid with a strong double. He moved to 3rd on LeMahieu’s single and then scored on Luke Voit’s sacrifice fly.

The Yankees couldn’t find another moment the whole game.

Final score: 10-1 Mariners

Injury news: In the 7th inning, Gio Urshela took a foul ball off his left knee and came out of the game. X-rays negative, he was diagnosed with a contusion (a fancy word for bruise). This shouldn’t mean a trip to the IL, just a few games on the bench and some time in the trainer’s room getting iced and treatments as needed.

Roster moves/”Scranton Shuttle”: Before today’s game, the Yankees optioned Tyler Wade back to AAA Scranton and recalled tonight’s starter Jonathan Loaisiga. The Scranton Shuttle is alive and well once again.

Go Yankees!

Game 27: NYY vs. SF — A Grand Slam by the Bay

JA Happ had a great outing in this middle game of the weekend series in San Francisco. He threw 95 pitches in 7 scoreless innings, giving up just 5 hits and striking out just 2 batters. He set the pace for the Yankees to dominate most of this afternoon’s game. And he was supported by some great moments of the Yankee offense.

Maybin worked a walk to lead-off the 3rd inning, moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt out, and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single. In the 5th, Maybin and Estrada singled. Being a NL game, Happ got a few at-bats tonight, including hitting a bunt fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners. LeMahieu’s walk loaded up the bases.

Luke Voit was hit by a pitch, which walked in Estrada. Then with just 1 out and the bases loaded, Gary Sanchez stepped up and smacked his first career grand slam deep into the left field seats under today’s sunny skies. Fortunately, that ended up being the extra cushion the Yankees needed by the end of the game.

Luis Cessa came on in relief of Happ with a great 8th inning but started to falter in the 9th. He gave up consecutive singles to kick off the inning. A fielder’s choice put runners in the corners that would score on a solid 3-run home run. After another out, Cessa gave up a solo home run.

Unable to find that 3rd out, the Yankees called in Aroldis Chapman to close out the game for a quick 4-pitch save to shut down the Giants’ attempt at a last-minute rally.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees

It’s worth noting that in addition to being Gary Sanchez’s first career grand slam, it was also the longest grand slam ever hit in the Statcast era (an MLB tracking system since 2015), coming in at 467 feet. It was also his 7th home run of the season so far, even going on the IL for a bit.

Plus, the Yankees have now won 10 of their last 12 games, including 5 of the 6 games on this road trip. Again, I keep going back to how many amazing players are on the IL, and yet the Yankees really pull together and win more often than not.

Go Yankees!

Game 23: NYY vs. LAA — Voit’s power & Ford’s first dinger

The streak continues for the Yankees in this middle game of their series against the Angels. Though there was a few moments where it looked like the Angels might have a rally in them, even a grand slam couldn’t stop the Yankees from dominating tonight’s game.

Starter Domingo German held control into the 7th inning, with 99 pitches, 4 hits, a walk, and an unearned run, and 5 strikeouts against the home team. German held them off until the 5th. A lead-off double, moved to 3rd on a fielding error, and then scored on a fielder’s choice out at 2nd.

In the 7th, with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd, Chad Green came into the game for relief and quickly got out of the inning. But coming back out in the 8th almost cost the Yankees the game. He loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk before giving up a big grand slam up the middle to leap the Angels up on the scoreboard.

Luis Cessa came in and promptly gave up a double and a walk. Things looked bleak again for the Yankees, but then Cessa settled in, getting a strikeout and a great double play to end the Angels’ hopes of trying to overcome the Yankees. And Zack Britton sailed his way through a 7-pitch 9th inning to earn his 1st save of the season.

Again, the Yankees needed to dominate tonight in order to earn the win, and it would be Luke Voit to lead the way again with a 1st inning 1-out solo home run, extending his on-base streak to 35 games. They loaded up the bases in the 2nd with a single to Ford, a walk to Tauchman, and a 1-out single to Thairo Estrada, his first MLB hit. Tyler Wade hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Ford to score. In the 5th, Gardner hit a 1-out single and then scored on Mike Ford’s 2-out 2-run home run.

Voit led-off the 7th with a walk, moved to 3rd on Gardner’s double, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single. After a pitching change, pinch-hitter Urshela hit into a fielder’s choice out at home. Then a walk to Tauchman loaded the bases. Austin Romine’s simple grounder scored Torres, and despite loading up the bases again with Estrada’s walk, the Yankees couldn’t add any further runs that inning.

Voit added one more to the score, an insurance run of sorts, in the top of the 8th with another 1-out solo home run. And after the Angels tried to get a few of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, the Yankees were glad for every extra insurance run they had to ensure their win tonight.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees

Mike Ford hit his first major league home run with that 5th inning 2-run homer. The Yankees were able to retrieve that milestone ball from the lucky fan that caught it in the right field seats. Ford intends to give the ball to his parents, something I think is a great gesture.

He’ll hit lots of home runs, but that first one deserves a spot on his parents’ mantle, next to the baseball trophies he won in Little League, where they cheered him on and hoped he would one day achieve his dream. Remember, he grew up in New Jersey, a huge fan of the Yankees during their most recent dynasty years. The dream was always to wear pinstripes (or away greys).

You know, somewhere, there’s some kid sleeping with his glove under his pillow, dreaming of the night he’ll get to hit his first home run with the Yankees. And someday, we’re going to watch that kid do just that.

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 15: CHW vs. NYY — Grand slammed out of series win

Once again, the Yankees were edged out of a win in a single moment, today’s being a really spectacular one for the visiting White Sox. And unfortunately for the Yankees, this also means they lost 3 consecutive home series, something they haven’t done since 1982 by the way. (They finished 79-83 that year, a losing season and still nowhere near last place.)

The Yankees certainly started off pretty well. Judge worked a 1-out walk in the 1st and then scored on Luke Voit’s 2-out double. And in the 3rd, Tauchman walked, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and scored on Aaron Judge’s single. Once again, the Yankees led the game first with the backing of a strong pitching staff.

Masahiro Tanaka actually started out really sharp, leading most of us to home for a good return to “Tanaka Time”, breezing his way through 3 solid innings. But then it was the 4th inning, and things kind of fell apart. With 1 out, he loaded the bases with a double and 2 walks before a monster grand slam got the White Sox on the board in a big way. After loading the bases in the 5th, the Yankees opted to end Tanaka’s outing after 81 pitches (nearly half in the last 2 innings).

Luis Cessa came on to stem the White Sox’s momentum, getting a quick sacrifice fly to score just one more run for them before closing things out for the inning and pitching into the 6th. Kahnle came in for the final 2 outs of that inning, shutting the Sox down in just 9 pitches. Ottavino, Harvey, and Green finished out the final third of the game with a clean inning a piece.

Collectively, the Yankee pitchers amassed 14 strikeouts, and they still couldn’t seem to overcome that grand slam. The Yankee batters have been really struggling this series against the White Sox relievers, and today was no exception.

Final score: 5-2 White Sox, White Sox win series 2-1

Next up: After an off-day tomorrow (maybe to do taxes), the Yankees will host the Red Sox for 2 games, with the first day being an observance of Jackie Robinson Day. The Royals come to town on Thursday for a 4-game weekend series before the Yankees hit the road again to start their first West Coast trip of the season.

And in fun trivia news: On this day in 1955, the Yankees first African-America player, Elston Howard, made his MLB debut. The Yankees lost to the Red Sox in Boston that day, but Howard, normally a catcher, came into the game in the 6th as a replacement in left field. He also got an RBI single in his first at-bat in the 8th, scoring Mickey Mantle. Not a bad way to make your mark on Yankees history.

Go Yankees!

Game 9: NYY vs. BAL — Rather lucky in Charm City sweep

Again, after their disappointing home stand last week, the Yankees needed something to help set them on the right track. So a sweep of the Orioles this weekend seemed to do the trick.

Domingo German got the start for the Yankees and held the Orioles off for most of his outing. He pitched a no-hitter for most of the game, not giving up a single until the 6th, keeping the O’s scoreless into the 7th inning, where he gave up a single and a walk to be responsible for those runners when he handed the game off to Stephen Tarpley.

After a strikeout, Tarpley loaded the bases with a single. So a passed ball and wild pitch scored both of German’s runners. Tarpley then gave up another walk that put runners at the corners before a single scored one final run for the Orioles. Luis Cessa then came on to close out the game with 2 strong, scoreless innings.

But it was the Yankee offense that left everyone talking this weekend. In the 2nd, Gleyber Torres led-off with a solo home run, and 1-out later, Clint Frazier hit his own solo home run. Gardner led-off the 3rd with a double and then scored as part of Gary Sanchez’s 2-out 2-run home run.

After a pitching change in the 6th, with 1 out, Torres doubled, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Clint Frazier’s single (the first run not scored on a homer this weekend, by the way). With 2 outs in the 7th, Voit singled, and Gary Sanchez hit his 2nd homer of the game, a 2-run home run. Torres then worked a walk that forced another Oriole pitching change. DJ LeMahieu doubled home Torres, and Frazier’s single put runners in the corners. Gio Urshela’s single scored LeMahieu.

Gardner led-off the 8th with a walk and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s 2-out 2-run home run, his 3rd homer of the game. And the Yankees were back to home runs. (This was Sanchez’s first 3-homer game, by the way.) In the 9th, Wade walked and scored on Clint Frazier’s 2-run home run. Urshela was hit by a new reliever and then scored with Austin Romine’s 2-run home run.

Final score: 15-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep the Orioles 3-0

Next up: The Yankees travel to Houston for a 3-game series against the Astros to wrap up this first road trip. Then, after a travel day on Thursday, they head home for a long home stand against the White Sox, Red Sox, and Royals before heading out for their first West Coast road trip.

Go Yankees!