Game 45: TB vs. NYY — Lucky number 6

Sometimes, the fate of a game comes down a single swing of the bat, a missed catch, a matter of inches, a play, an out, a pinch-hitter, a missed pitch, or error. And sometimes, like today, it comes down to one really big inning.

The Yankees split up the pitching duties of today’s game between a few of their relievers. Chad Green got the nod to go first, thus starting today’s finale against the visiting Rays. After a scoreless 1st, and 2 outs in the 2nd, he gave up back-to-back solo home runs to put the Rays in the lead. After hitting the next batter, he handed things off to Nestor Cortes Jr.

After a quick strikeout, Cortes came back out for the 3rd. With 1 out and runners in scoring position, a 3-run home run insured a hefty Rays’ lead. Cortes continued on into the 7th inning and kept the Rays from doing further damage. Ottavino closed out the 7th for Cortes with a single strikeout, getting out of a jam. And Chance Adams gave a long-term push to close out the final third of the game with 3 scoreless innings and the eventual save.

The Yankees got on the board first in the 1st. LeMahieu led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Voit’s 1-out walk, and Kendrys Morales’ 2-out single. But after the Rays jumped ahead in the 2nd, the Yankees answered back with Urshela’s lead-off walk and Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run.

Down again to the Rays after the 3rd, they tied up the game again in the 4th. With 2 outs, LeMahieu reached base on a fielding error and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run deep into the right field seats. This was Hicks’ first home run of the season.

But it was the 6th inning that certainly made all the difference. Gardner led-off the inning with a single and stole 2nd. Frazier then walked, and 1 out later, Hicks’ walk loaded the bases. Luke Voit’s walk scored Gardner to break the tie. After a pitching change, a messy pitch and some quick defense got Frazier out at home but moved the runners up.

Then the Rays intentionally walked Sanchez to load the bases again. Kendrys Morales then worked yet another walk this inning to score Hicks. Gleyber Torres’ single scored Voit. However, the Rays challenged whether there was a play at 1st to get the out and end the inning, but the replay went the Yankees’ way, upholding the original call.

After another pitching change, pinch-hitter Thairo Estrada hit a bases-clearing double, scoring 3 more runs. Back at the top of the batting order, Brett Gardner closed out this big inning with a double to score Estrada.

DJ LeMahieu led-off the 7th with a solo home run for a completely unnecessary insurance run. As if the Yankees were going to somehow give up their big lead after that ridiculous rally.

Final score: 13-5 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees hit the road this week with 4 games in Baltimore against the Orioles, before spending next weekend with the Royals. They then travel back home for a week of games against the visiting Padres and Red Sox to bring baseball into June.

Go Yankees!

Game 43: TB vs. NYY — A Song of Rain Delay and Walk-offs

It was Game of Thrones night at Yankee Stadium, which meant fans got to take pictures in the Iron Throne or buy show sports themed merchandise and the media team tweeted out game updates using popular show memes. Or if you’re not a fan, it was a Friday night in the Bronx and there was a pretty good baseball game. Despite the fact that the game paused again for a brief (35 minute) rain delay in the 8th inning. Or maybe because of it.

CC Sabathia got the start for the Yankees tonight and threw a pretty strong game in this first game of the series against the visiting Rays. He threw 84 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, and struck out 4 Rays batters. His lone allowed run was a 1st pitch solo home run in the 4th inning.

The Yankees actually struck first with Cameron Maybin’s first Yankee home run, a 1-out solo home run in the 2nd that nearly hit the 3rd deck of the right field seats. But they had trouble adding to that early lead, especially after the Rays tied it up in the 4th.

Ottavino and Kahnle split the 7th inning, keeping the Rays from adding to their score, but then Chad Green came out for the 8th inning and had some trouble. With 1 out, a double scored on a 2-out double. Then a single and throwing error allowed another run for the visitors to get their insurance run in tonight’s game.

And then it started raining. A lot. So the Yankees needed to come back and rally. Urshela stepped into the box and 2 pitches later, it was just too much. The tarp came out, the game was paused, and many fingers were crossed. (I opted not to insert a few obvious Game of Thrones jokes that a good portion of my readers wouldn’t understand.)

When the game resumed just 35 minutes later, things kind of screeched to a stand still. The Rays and Yankees (via Holder) pitched through a quick 6 outs. And the Yankees finally found that rally in the bottom of the 9th. Luke Voit led-off with a 1st pitch solo home run to inch the Yankees closer. Sanchez then singled and was pinch-run by Thairo Estrada. One out later, Torres doubled and Frazier was intentionally walked to load up the bases.

Then a wild pitch moved all the runners up and scored Estrada to tie up the game. Maybin hit into a fielder’s choice out at home and then stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position. And leave it to Gio Urshela to be the one to single home Frazier for the walk-off win, which was his first walk-off MLB hit. (Also, it was orange Gatorade tonight.)

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

CC K-Score: 3013

Roster moves: After coming in to be the 26th man, the Yankees optioned outfielder Mike Tauchman back to AAA Scranton after the doubleheader on Wednesday.

Also, thanks to winning over the Rays, the Yankees are now in 1st place in the AL East. And that’s worth celebrating, given all the fickle fans who seemed to desert once again in the beginning or when all the major players got injured. But what do I know? “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” (Final GoT reference for the fans alone.)

Go Yankees!

Games 41 & 42: BAL vs. NYY — Much drier now, double the win

The weather has been quite uncooperative for the Yankees this week, raining out both games Monday and Tuesday. While they called yesterday’s game early enough, they really tried to make a go of it on Monday. But they couldn’t seem to dry out the field, despite the air blowers, rakes, and the odd pitchfork stuck in the mud in center field. Believe me, it was the right call to not play in the mess.

So, Monday’s game became the first game of today’s single-admission doubleheader. And Tuesday’s game is postponed until the Orioles come back to town in August. While making it a pretty packed day for the Yankees today, they still prevailed and held strong against their division foes.

Game 1 (The Make-up Game)
JA Happ got the start, throwing just 64 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs, and striking out 3 Baltimore batters to earn the eventual win. There was actually a bit of back-and-forth between the teams this afternoon to see who’d make it out on top.

The Orioles struck first with a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning. But the Yankees mirrored that with a 2-out solo home run by Gary Sanchez in the bottom of the 1st. Then in the 2nd, a 1-out single scored on a 2-out double. And Gleyber Torres tied the game up again with a lead-off solo home run in the bottom of the inning. But then 2 outs later, Cameron Maybin’s solo home run put the Yankees in the lead, his 1st home run as a Yankee. That is, until the 4th when the Orioles hit a lead-off solo home run to tie up the game again.

However, the Yankees came back in the bottom of that inning to ensure their victory. Torres led-off again with another solo home run. And with 1 out, Urshela hit a long ball into right field, but the fielder flubbed it and allowed Urshela to make it all the way to 3rd. Another out later, Mike Tauchman singled home Urshela.

Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman closed out the game with a scoreless streak, splitting the final 11 outs and keeping the Orioles from regaining the lead.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Game 2 (The Originally Scheduled Game)
After a brief break, the field was reset, and the next game was ready to go. Domingo German was on the mound to command his way through the evening, throwing 85 pitches in 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and just 1 run, and striking out 8 Baltimore batters.

The Orioles’ lone allowed run tonight was in the 5th. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on another single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. Britton and Chapman each took a scoreless inning to close out the game, with Aroldis Chapman earning his 10th and 11th save today in both games.

The Yankees’ offense kicked in once again tonight. In the 3rd, with 2 outs, LeMahieu singled and scored on Luke Voit’s double. Gleyber Torres powered home run #3 today with a lead-off solo home run in the 4th. And in the 7th, Estrada hit a 1-out double and scored on Voit’s 2-out single.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees (Since the 3rd game won’t be played until August, this series isn’t over yet. But the Yankees are clearly on top already.)

Next up: After an off-day tomorrow, the Yankees will host the Rays for the weekend before hitting the road again. They will travel first to visit the Orioles and then to the heartland with the Royals before returning home again.

Roster moves: Since the last game, the Yankees have made quite a few roster moves. So buckle up. On Monday, they activated Aaron Hicks from the injured list, and he played his first game of the season in the second game of today. They also placed pitcher Jonathan Loaisga on the 10-day IL, retroactive to May 10, due to shoulder strain. They optioned Mike Tauchman to AAA Scranton and recalled pitchers Nestor Cortes Jr. and Chance Adams from AAA Scranton.

Yesterday, the Yankees traded for infielder Kendrys Morales from the Athletics for cash or a Player To Be Named Later. Morales has spent time with the Angels, Mariners, Twins, Royals, and Blue Jays in his 13 seasons. The Yankees also moved Loaisiga to the 60-day IL, removing him from the roster to make room for Morales.

And today, they activated Morales to play in today’s game, optioning pitcher Joe Harvey to AAA Scranton and recalled Mike Tauchman to be the 26th man for the doubleheader.

But the biggest news is regarding Miguel Andujar. On Monday, the Yankees placed him on the 10-day IL with a labrum (shoulder) tear. After further review and tests, the decision was made to have surgery to repair the tear. This does effectively end his season pretty much before it began.

Once again, the Yankees have some great “back-up” that is proving themselves not really “back-up” but rather pretty good in their own right. Like Urshela, Tauchman, Maybin, Frazier, LeMahieu, and Estrada. Really, none of those names should be on the roster, and yet all of them are holding their own and helping the Yankees charge forward with a winning season.

Go Yankees!

Game 40: NYY vs. TB — #TanakaTime + power outage = Happy Mother’s Day

I know we’ve talked some about the (few) positives of Tropicana Field, including the rarity of delays due to weather. Unfortunately, a delay due to a local power outage is unavoidable. And a 43 minute delay while the system was redirected and restarted is just inconvenient. Especially in the 9th inning.

But it just seemed to energize the Yankees in this final game of the weekend series against the Rays. Masahiro Tanaka had a great start this afternoon, throwing just 73 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run, and stuck out 7 batters to earn the eventual win. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo shot in the 6th.

It was actually the lone allowed run for the home team all day. Zach Britton and Chad Green took the final 2 innings and kept the Rays from doing much of anything, adding 5 more strikeouts to what would become quite the strikeout day at the Trop (12 by the Yankees, 17 by the Rays’ pitchers).

And somehow, despite all those strikeouts, the Yankees managed to boost their own power. They were held off until the 5th. With 2 outs, Romine doubled and scored on Mike Tauchman’s double. Tauchman then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single.

In the 8th, Voit led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s 1-out single, and ended up at 3rd when Andujar hit into a force grounder at 2nd. A wild pitch then scored Voit and kicked off a pair of challenges. The Yankees challenged the records (to check the number of balls/strikes), then the Rays challenged whether the catcher tagged Voit out at home. Neither were overturned, and the play stood as called at the count on the board.

Then the 9th inning began with a bang. Of sorts. After a single foul ball, the lights went out. And 43 minutes later, Thairo Estrada kicked-off the inning with a solo home run. Then Romine and Tauchman singled and moved into scoring position on LeMahieu’s sacrifice bunt out. Voit was intentionally walked to load up the bases. And then Gio Urshela’s double scored both Romine and Tauchman, and Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Voit to cap off the Yankees’ power surge.

Final score: 7-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees return home to continue their home stand to host the Orioles and then after a day off the Rays next weekend. Then, they’ll hit the road again to visit the Orioles and Royals.

Scranton Shuttle: Before the game, for a fresh arm, the Yankees optioned relieved Nestor Cortes Jr and recalled reliever Chad Green, who pitched in today’s game.

And a huge Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and like-a-moms out there. Across baseball, players wore pink-tinged gear, and each team had an honorary bat girl, both to recognize breast cancer awareness and survivors. Plus, players honored the moms in their lives, like CC Sabathia, who wrote a full letter in celebration of his mom on his Twitter account. And Cameron Maybin wore a special pre-game shirt in honor of his mom who is currently fighting breast cancer.

Happy Mother’s Day to my own mother, who is my faithful baseball companion. But then she got it from the passionate baseball fans in her family like her mother and grandmothers (who actually were Indians and Pirates fans). Baseball is strong in my family, much like its women.

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 34: SEA vs. NYY — #CCStrong and big bats in opener

The Yankees started their 4-game series against the visiting Mariners tonight, with a potential battle of star pitchers set up for this first game. CC Sabathia continued his march toward retirement with another great outing, throwing 99 pitching through 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 batters.

Sabathia held them off until the 4th inning. With 1 out, a walk scored on a big 2-run home run. And then he gave up a 1-out solo home run in the 5th, and after his 5th strikeout of the game, he loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. But he got out of the jam with a great defensive grounder.

Holder came out for the 6th but then got himself into his own jam. Adam Ottavino helped get out of the inning and breezed into the 7th. Britton got the final out of the 7th before himself breezing through the 8th inning. Cessa closed out the game with a flawless, quick 9th, continuing the trend.

Meanwhile, the potential of the Mariners’ starter seemed to have been left in Seattle, as the Yankees pounced and didn’t let up for most of the first half of the game. DJ LeMahieu led off the 1st with a ground-rule double and then scored on Luke Voit’s 2-run home run.

A solo home run by Brett Gardner kicked off the big 2nd. Urshela made it to 1st on a fielding error and then scored as part of a 2-run home run hit by Thairo Estrada, his first MLB home run. Tauchman then hit a ground-rule double and scored on LeMahieu’s single.

And with 2 outs in the 3rd, Gardner tripled and then scored on Gio Urshela’s single to cap off the Yankees’ early dominating lead. It clearly ended up being more than enough for the Yankees to win tonight’s game in the end.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees

CC K-Count: 3007

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees optioned Stephen Tarpley back to AAA Scranton to make room for the activation of Clint Frazier from the IL. He sprained his ankle, including some partially torn ligaments, during a game last month. But with treatment and rehab (and the sheer will of being bored not playing ball), Frazier ended up being ready to return to tonight’s game.

Game 32: MIN vs. NYY — An un-Happ-y Star Wars Day

It’s Star Wars Day, and Yankee Stadium celebrated in style. Today’s giveaway was a bobblehead of CC Sabathia dressed as a Jedi knight. Sabathia dressed in full costume as the popular Jedi master Yoda to help hand out his figurines to waiting fans, joined around the stadium by other franchise characters dressed as storm troopers, rebel warriors, and even the stars like Darth Vader and Rey.

However, the Force was not with the Yankees this afternoon as they stumbled through this middle game of the series against the visiting Twins. JA Happ got roughed up a bit in today’s start, throwing 81 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and striking out 3 Minnesota batters.

In the 3rd, the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch and then scored on a 1-out 2-run home run to get the Twins on the board first. A lead-off double in the 5th moved to 3rd on a single and scored on a double play. And with 2 outs in the 6th, a solo home run added yet another run for the visitors.

Joe Harvey closed out of the 6th for Happ and came out for the 7th. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on a fielder’s choice and throwing error. With runners on the corners, the Yankees called in Stephen Tarpley. The first batter hit into force out at 2nd, an unsuccessful double play, thus scoring that runner from 3rd. Tarpley came back out for the 8th. He gave up a lead-off walk. A balk moved that runner to scoring position to score on a long single.

After another single, the Yankees called in recent call-up Jake Barrett to close out the inning with 2 quick outs. A 1st pitch solo homer in the 9th was the only flaw in Barrett’s Yankee debut.

The Yankees faced a former division rival pitcher as the Twins’ starter today, and it certainly felt like he had the upper hand for most of his 6 scoreless innings. Once they went to the bullpen in the 7th, the Yankees pounced. Brett Gardner led-off with a strong double, moved to 3rd on Maybin’s single, and then scored on a wild pitch. Maybin ended up at 2nd on that play and later moved to 3rd on a ground out. He then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single to chip away at the Twins’ lead.

Gary Sanchez led-off the 8th with a big solo home run, continuing his hot streak. But that was it for the Yankees’ offense. They just couldn’t seem to find another moment to wheedle away at the Twins’ big lead today.

Final score: 7-3 Twins

Tomorrow’s game, the final game of this weekend series, has been moved from 1:05 pm to 4:05 pm due to forecasted rain that will sweep through the area early tomorrow.

Injured List update: Unfortunately, James Paxton’s knee will require a trip to the Injured List. After an official diagnosis of knee inflammation, Paxton is shut down to focus on treatment. They recalled pitcher Jake Barrett, formerly with the Diamondbacks, who closed out today’s game.

And Miguel Andujar was officially activated off the IL for today’s game, starting at 3rd base today. To make room, the Yankees optioned infielder Mike Ford back to AAA Scranton.

And Luke Voit’s on-base streak has come to an end. Going 0-for-4 today, Voit’s streak ends at 42 consecutive games, tying him with Yankee greats like Teixeira (in 2010), Williams (2001), O’Neill (1996), and Mattingly (1993-94). It fell short of franchise records of 57 by Jeter (1998-99) and 53 by Rodriguez (2004). Someone else commented with measurable optimism that his next streak begins tomorrow. I’ll take that.

Go Yankees!