Game 97: COL vs. NYY — The Yankees are hot, and so are their bats

I should begin by saying that while, yes, it is summer, it’s really ridiculously, unseasonably hot outside for most of the United States right now. At 1 pm in the Bronx (first pitch), it was 94° F and sunny and only got hotter as the game went on, as temperature generally peak around 3 pm.

To be fair to the visiting team, they’ve been dealing with higher than average temperatures in their home town too. Basically, this oppressive heat continues, so take care of yourselves, America. We’re in this together, sweating and hydrating and pushing through until this “heat dome” breaks and we can breathe again.

And yet, there’s still lives to be lived and baseball to be played. Masahiro Tanaka got the start in today’s game, the middle game of this weekend series against the Rockies, and pretty much sailed his way through his first 5 innings. He threw just 47 efficient pitches, giving up just 2 hits. But his 6th inning was a doozy. With 1 out, a single that scored on a RBI double. After giving up a walk, a 3-run home run planted the Rockies firmly on the board. Then a double scored on a long single. Before some good defense and a strikeout got Tanaka out of the inning.

Now, that would be really bad except for the fact that the Rockies are really not good. And that allowed the Yankees to grab an early large lead to cushion anything that might trip up Tanaka’s otherwise quality start. In the 1st, LeMahieu led-off with a single and scored on Aaron Judge’s double to kick off the Yankees’ offense today.

Didi Gregorius led-off the big 2nd inning with a double and promptly scored on Gleyber Torres’ single and a throwing error that finished with Torres sliding into 3rd base. (That messy Rockies’ defense.) Austin Romine’s single easily scored Torres, and after a strikeout (the first out of the inning), Romine stole 2nd. Then, walks to LeMahieu and Judge loaded the bases. Aaron Hicks singled and scored Romine, and Edwin Encarnacion’s double scored LeMahieu and Judge.

That was the end of the Rockies’ starter, but their bullpen didn’t have much luck against the Yankees either. In the 4th, Hicks walked, and after an out, Luke Voit was hit by an errant pitch right on the jaw. Understandably, he was a bit shaken up as he took 1st base, but he stayed in for rest of that inning. Didi Gregorius’ single scored Hicks, and Torres’ long single scored both Voit and Gregorius.

After the Rockies chipped away at the Yankees’ lead, the Yankees found another opportunity to widen that gap again. In the 7th, Gardner led-off with a walk, moved to 3rd on LeMahieu’s single, and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s fielder’s choice. After a strikeout and pitching change, Encarnacion singled home Tauchman to cap off the Yankees’ big afternoon.

The Yankees were able to close out the game with their strong bullpen once again. Kahnle breezed through a scoreless 7th, and Hale was solid once again through the final 2 innings to hand the Yankees another win.

Final score: 11-5 Yankees

It’s worth noting that the Yankees scored a whopping 11 runs, and not a single one of those runs were due to home runs. An odd statistic for the so-called “Bronx Bombers”. But it doesn’t really matter how you score runs, just that you score more than your opponent.

Luke Voit did come out of the game after scoring on Torres’ single in the 4th. He was definitely hurting, and getting hit in the face isn’t the best place to absorb a 91 mph fastball. (Honestly, it’s never fun or not going to hurt when you get hit by a speeding baseball, but there are fleshier areas that can absorb the impact better and simply bruise. The posterior is a prime example.) Voit was sent for tests and x-rays, but everything came up clean. He’s being observed as determined by concussion protocol due to the impact on his head. Stay safe out there, guys!

Also, before today’s game, the Yankees welcomed astronaut (and Yankees’ fan) Mike Massimino to honor the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. On the mound that day, exactly when they touched down in Tranquility Base, was Yankees pitcher Jack Aker. So today, Massimino threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Aker to symbolically bridge the gap between space and baseball, reminding us that together we can encompass the galaxy with our dreams.

Go Yankees!

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 90: TOR vs. NYY — Slow Saturday falls short

As the Southeastern US gets a battering by Hurricane Barry (stay safe!), it’s a beautiful sunny, warm day in the Bronx as the Yankees hosted their second game of this weekend series against the visiting Blue Jays. It was actually kind of a lazy Saturday afternoon for baseball, with somewhat strong pitching, but super strong defense.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees, throwing 89 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 5 hits and a walk, was responsible for the Blue Jays’ 2 runs, and struck out 5 batters. He actually held them off until that final inning. With 1 out, he gave up 2 singles to end his outing this afternoon.

Adam Ottavino took over for Happ and got a great strikeout. Both runners then stole their next base to put themselves into scoring position. The next batter singled both of them home for the only runs the Blue Jays would score today.

Cortes sailed his way through the 7th and into the 8th, with Britton closing out the 8th in just 4 pitches. Hale’s scoreless 9th kept the door open for a Yankees’ last-minute rally.

The Yankees still racked up 8 hits and 3 walks off Blue Jays’ pitchers. Their starter only lasted 2 innings due to an injury, but the rest of the bullpen stepped up to guard against the Yankees’ offense for most of the game. Their biggest opportunity came in the 5th when the Yankees loaded up the bases, but a final out to the center fielder ended that chance.

Aaron Hicks led-off the bottom of the 9th with a walk. Two outs later, DJ LeMahieu singled to put the tying run on base. Beyond just wanting to win today’s game, the Yankees were also facing the end of their streak of not being shutout. But then Aaron Judge singled Hicks home to get the Yankees on the board. An inside strikeout later, the game was a loss, but the no-shutout streak is still alive.

Final score: 2-1 Blue Jays

Roster moves: Before today’s game, the Yankees activated Luke Voit from the 10-day injured list. Voit had been dealing with lower abdominal strain, using the All-Star Break to work out at the minor league complex in Tampa. To make room, they optioned infielder Breyvic Valera back to AAA Scranton.

Finally, a Happy Birthday to DJ LeMahieu! The 31-year-old All-Star infielder is having quite the banner year, leading the Yankees in batting average (.330), hits (114), doubles (21), runs scored (65), and RBIs (64). Plus, he’s a stellar infielder, with outstanding defensive plays like today.

Go Yankees!

Game 83: NYY vs. NYM — Crosstown rivals snap streak

Blame the jet lag or time difference or going from a soccer stadium to Queens. Or really just the way things happen sometimes. But the Yankees’ big record-setting streak was bound to come to an end at some point. It just happened to be at the hands of their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets.

The Yankees are back in New York after their sweep of the Red Sox in the historic London series. But they’re across the East River to visit the Mets for this quick 2-game series. And tonight certainly showed the Yankees were a bit rusty after their international pond hop.

They got on the board first in the 2nd inning. Gregorius and Encarnacion each singled to get on base. Gleyber Torres’ single scored Gregorius before Gardner hit into a fielder’s choice to put runners in the corners. Thanks to the joys of a National League stadium, it was tonight’s starter James Paxton that hit the sacrifice bunt to score Encarnacion to double the Yankees’ early lead.

Those early runs helped boost James Paxton’s rather shaky start, which also helped him limit the damage the home team could do under his watch. He threw 103 pitches in just 6 innings, gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out just 3 Mets’ batters. That lone run was a lead-off solo home run in his final inning.

Kahnle’s 7th inning was near flawless, but the Yankees struggled their way through the 8th inning. Adam Ottavino was not having a good night. His first batter made it to 1st on a messy throwing error and then scored the tying run on an RBI double. After an out, he intentionally walked one batter and gave up a single to load up the bases.

That was it for Ottavino, but Zack Britton promptly gave up a double that scored 2 runs to give the home team the lead. The Yankees were unable to bounce back in the final inning, despite Gregorius’ lead-off single and stolen base to put him in scoring position. The team left him stranded out there.

And with no home runs hit, the Yankees’ start all over again with those consecutive games with a home run. Still record-holders. Until they break it again one day.

Final score: 4-2 Mets

Roster moves/injury update/Scranton Shuttle: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees announced that they were going to send Luke Voit to the 10-day injured list. The abdominal strain he suffered during the first game in London wasn’t healing fast enough, and the Yankees needed to make a move to help close out this week.

The Scranton Shuttle is in full swing with more moves. They recalled infielder Mike Ford to fill Voit’s vacant spot and reliever Nestor Cortes Jr for a fresh arm. And they optioned infielder Thairo Estrada (the 26th man for the London series) and reliever Chance Adams back to AAA Scranton.

Yankees Universe News: The “Voice of the New York Yankees” John Sterling is looking forward to his upcoming long vacation. Feeling a bit under the weather lately, Sterling will start his vacation on Thursday, celebrating his 81st birthday and missing the series at the Rays and then enjoying the All-Star Break.

This will be the first games he’s missed since he became the “Voice of the Yankees in 1989. That’s 30 straight years, over 4900 games called by the award-winning broadcaster, a familiar voice to so many Yankee fans. In the same vein as other old-time radio voices, Sterling made the “home run call” his signature, with highly creative calls — “An A-bomb from A-Rod”, “Gardner planted one in the seats”, and “Gary is scary”.

Finally, our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Angels’ pitcher Tyler Skaggs. Skaggs was found unresponsive in his hotel room yesterday afternoon before their game against the Rangers. He was declared dead at the scene, and no further details are forthcoming. The southern California native was just 27 years old.

The game was canceled last night, but the Rangers made sure to honor his memory during tonight’s game and will donate the proceeds of their nightly raffle tonight to the Angels’ foundation in his honor. The Angels will wear a patch with his #45 for the remainder of the season. Again, our hearts go out to his wife Carli and his family and friends as they mourn.

Go Yankees!

Game 82: NYY vs. BOS — London sweep to kick off second half

The Yankees technically split their season in half in London, ending their first 81 games with a win last night and starting their next 81 games with a win this afternoon. There’s rarely anything “normal” about rivalry games between the Yankees and Red Sox, but add in the weird stadium, 5 hours ahead in time zones, and 60,000 British fans, and there’s a whole new level of “not normal”.

London Stadium was originally built for the 2012 Summer Olympics to host the track and field competition before it was converted to be the home of the West Ham Football (Soccer) Club. The pitch (the field) was covered by imported turf from France, the padding to create the outfield space and boundaries of the diamond came from Canada, and the infield dirt was hauled in from Pennsylvania — a truly international experience.

For all the talk of the short outfield walls (just 385 feet to dead center field), the most complicated part for fielders were the way the sun came into the condensed oval, partially blocked by scaffolding to eliminate wind. This also, however, created very strange shadows and the glare of the sun off the dead white of the roofing. Both teams seemed to struggle both days with finding the ball when it was hit in the air. This certainly made the difference today when less of the balls were leaving the playing field and instead being popped up short.

The Yankees opted to go with an “opener” today, calling on reliever Stephen Tarpley to make his first MLB start. Between nerves and the unfamiliar setting, Tarpley struggled his way through that 1st inning. With 1 out, he gave up a single that scored on a 2-run home run. The next batter smacked a big solo home run, and one out later, the Red Sox got yet another solo home run to give them a nice early lead.

After a scoreless 1st for the Yankees (which seemed odd compared to the show yesterday) and the Red Sox coming in strong, the Yankees found their first opportunity to strike in the 2nd. They loaded up the bases with Encarnacion’s lead-off walk, Gregorius’ single, and Torres’ walk. Gio Urshela hit into a force out at 2nd that scored Encarnacion, and Brett Gardner’s single scored Gregorius to get the Yankees on the board, with half the Sox’s score.

Meanwhile, the game suddenly became fairly “normal”. The Red Sox’s starter was fairly dominant, throwing strong into the 6th inning and limiting the Yankees to their 2nd inning score. The Yankee relievers found a good momentum too. Cessa threw 4 strong scoreless innings before handing the ball to Adam Ottavino for a quick 11-pitch 6th, and Kahnle followed that will an 11-pitch 7th.

The Yankees finally found their next chance to advance in the 7th. LeMahieu led-off with a double, and after Judge’s walk, LeMahieu scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Gary Sanchez’s long single scored both Judge and Hicks to put the Yankees in the lead. With no outs, the Sox went to their bullpen. The new reliever promptly walked Encarnacion and gave up a 1-out single to Torres to load up the bases. And Gio Urshela singled home both Sanchez and Encarnacion.

But that’s not all. With another new reliever on the mound, Brett Gardner worked a walk to load the bases, and DJ LeMahieu smacked a ground-rule double into the right field seats to score Torres and Urshela. Judge was intentionally walked to load the bases yet again. Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly scored Gardner, and a fielding error on Gary Sanchez’s at-bat scored LeMahieu. The Yankees sent up 14 batters that frame alone and scored a season-high 9 runs.

Finally, Didi Gregorius led-off the 8th with a solo home run. This kept the Yankees’ streak alive with 31 consecutive games with a home run. Now, with an 8-run lead, the Yankees needed to just keep the status quo and sail to the end of the game. But no way were the Red Sox going to go quietly into the night.

Yankees’ reliever Chance Adams came in for the 8th, but he really had some trouble keeping those Red Sox’s bats quiet. With 1 out, he gave up consecutive singles. After another out, a wild pitch moved runners into scoring position which they did on another single. After yet another single, a double into the corner scored the lead runner. That would be it for Adams.

Zack Britton came in to try to stop the Sox’s advance, but he gave up a single that scored one more run. Still looking for that final out of the inning, he ended up walking the next batter and loading up the bases. The tying run coming to the plate, Britton dug deep and got a grounder to end the inning and get out of the jam, owing much of his success, like many of today’s pitchers, to the stellar defense today. (See the snazzy Gregorius-led defense here and here.) Despite a lead-off single, Chapman got 3 great strikeouts to close out the 9th and the game.

Final score: 12-8 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 2-0

London Trivia: Today’s game was much shorter than the marathon of last night’s nutsy show, and yet there was still 9 hours and 6 minutes of total game time. Together, both teams scored 50 runs, 9 of them home runs, and collected 65 total hits. And they will be thankful for tomorrow’s off-day as they collectively went through 30 pitchers in just 2 games.

Next up: The Yankees will need that off-day tomorrow after traveling home from the UK. On Tuesday, they begin a quick 2-game series in Queens at the Mets. Then, they’ll be back in the Tampa area to face the Rays for a 4-game weekend series before the All-Star Break. Following the break, the Yankees will begin their official second half of the 2019 season with a long homestand.

Roster moves: The Yankees played a little with the loophole in the roster for this travel series, optioning Nestor Cortes Jr and recalling Chance Adams, who came to London as part of the “taxi squad” just in case he was needed. And clearly, he was, though I doubt he’ll look back fondly at his outing. Even with the off-day tomorrow, with the depletion of the bullpen, I imagine there will be further moves once the Yankees are back stateside.

Injury update: The Yankees also sent reliever Ben Heller to AAA Scranton to begin his rehab assignment. Heller had surgery on his right elbow earlier this year. And Luke Voit was missing from today’s game roster though he was present and ready off the bench if needed. He said he felt much better after feeling some core tightness during yesterday’s game.

All-Star Roster Update: As you know, the Yankees have two starters on the All-Star Game roster this year. Gary Sanchez will be the starting catcher, and DJ LeMahieu will be the starting 2nd baseman for the AL team. Joining them in Cleveland this year is Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. This will be Chapman’s 6th All-Star Game, LeMahieu’s 3rd, and Sanchez’s 2nd.

Chapman himself noted, “To me, I thought we were going to have six or seven All-Stars from this team. It’s a little surprising.” Yes, it is. I think a lot of us in Yankee Universe were expecting that maybe those who fell short in the final vote last week might get a second chance as part of the reserves, like Voit, Urshela, Torres, and Judge.

While all 3 All-Stars this year will represent the Yankees well, it is hard not to wish the team currently sitting atop the AL in the standings isn’t better represented in this year’s Midsummer Classic. I guess, they will just have to show everyone what they missed in July by an outstanding performance in October. Besides, that’s the stat that really matters in the end.

Go Yankees!

Game 81: NYY vs. BOS — A dramatic British spin on America’s ultimate rivalry

I love London. It’s a vibrant, ecclectic city, with a perfect mix of the super historic and cutting edge all jumbled together to house its international population. Similar in many ways to New York, this European capital is certainly a perfect place to kick off the MLB’s push for a more international presence. Regular season games have been played in Asia and Latin America, host countries/regions that provide quite a few current MLB stars. An expansion of the game in a city that’s hosted games for other American professional sports seems like a natural progression for America’s pastime.

New York and Boston were rather logical choices to be the teams to play in the inaugural series in England. First, their rivalry is unmatched in sports, even in a country that boasts some of the wildest rivalries and extreme fanaticism for sports. Second, you really can’t avoid the Revolutionary War-era smack-talk between the British Empire and its former Colonial strongholds. (At least those of us who are also big history nerds.)

A quick history review: Boston was the closest city to where it all began, hosting the battles of Lexington and Concord and the site of the Boston Massacre to really kick of the War. And New York was occupied by the British for much of the War, while Washington set-up one of his most famous spy rings within the city that involved Benedict Arnold’s traitorship and uncovering Cornwallis’ plans at Yorktown that actually won the War.

Now, of course, nearly two and a half centuries later, the US-UK relationship is one of close allies. So, when American baseball comes to Great Britain, 120,000 tickets sell out their stadium. Fans all over braved the heat wave that’s sweeping Europe right now to sit through a four hour and forty-two minute game at London Stadium, the home of one of those Premier League clubs and former Olympic Stadium from summer 2012.

And for fans who’d never witnessed a rivalry game between the two legendary teams, the teams certainly delivered. We can definitely blame the fact that the field was quite different, with shorter distances in the outfield to the fence and a really big foul space that had all the outfielders covering much more ground than usual.

Based on the schedule, the Red Sox were chosen as the home team, though both teams wore their home white uniforms. (Who doesn’t want to see the Yankees in their famous pinstripes?) That meant that the Yankees were up to bat first, and they quickly became the answer to many trivia questions that start with “who is the first player in the inaugural European baseball game to…”

DJ LeMahieu led-off the game with a single (the 1st hit), and Sanchez worked a 1-out walk. Then a trio of doubles got the runs rolling — Luke Voit’s scored LeMahieu (the 1st RBI/run scored), Didi Gregorious‘ scored both Sanchez and Voit, and Edwin Encarnacion’s scored Gregorius. Then Aaron Hicks smacked a big 2-run home run (the 1st homer) to push the Yankees into a big early lead and end the Red Sox’s starter’s night too early. The new pitcher was able to close it out without further damage, with LeMahieu striking out to end the inning (1st strikeout).

But there’s no rivalry without some major drama, and the Red Sox certainly gave their best performance to match. Masahiro Tanaka got the start and seemed to mirror the struggles the Sox’s starter had, also unable to make it out of the 1st inning. He gave up a single that scored on a double and then a pair of walks to load up the bases. After an infield fly pop-up, he got a sacrifice fly that scored the lead runner. But a RBI single was followed by a big 3-run home run up the middle to suddenly tie up the game.

Tanaka trudged back to the dugout as Chad Green came out for relief. Green was assumed to start tomorrow’s game as the “opener”, but with his two-inning outing tonight, the Yankees are making other plans. Green got out of the first and kept the Red Sox scoreless into 3rd. Hale continued this momentum into the 4th before handing the ball to Nestor Cortes Jr for long-term relief in the middle innings.

In the mean time, the Yankees came back to find their opportunities to reclaim their early lead. With 2 outs in the 3rd, Torres singled and then scored as part of Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run into the right field seats. Then in the 4th, Voit led-off with a double, and Gregorius walked. Two outs later, Torres’ single loaded up the bases, and Gardner’s walk scored Voit. DJ LeMahieu then hit a bases-clearing double before scoring as part of Aaron Judge’s big 2-run home run.

Voit led-off the 5th with a double, but injured himself in the race to 2nd and was pinch-run by Urshela. Urshela took 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on Didi Gregorius’ single. After a strikeout out and pitching change, Hicks singled, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Torres’ walk loaded the bases, and LeMahieu (who else?) singled home Gregorius and Hicks to cap off the Yankees’ massive scoring today.

Back at the mound, Cortes was doing just fine for most of his outing, despite giving up a 1st pitch lead-off solo homer in the 6th. With 2 outs in the 7th, he gave up consecutive singles that scored on a 3-run home run. After giving up another single (rather than getting that 3rd out), the Yankees called in Tommy Kahnle, but he too had some trouble, unable to get an out. He gave up a walk, a wild pitch to move runners to scoring position, an RBI single, and a walk on a wild pitch that scored one more run.

It was Adam Ottavino’s turn. After an RBI double, he got the necessary out to close out that messy inning, but some allowed baserunners in the 8th had the Yankees calling for Britton. He loaded up the bases and still got out of the jam before Chapman needed just 8 pitches and a snazzy double play to close out the 9th inning and the game.

Cue the fireworks. Cue Frank Sinatra.

Final score: 17-13 Yankees

Injury update: Luke Voit did injure himself on that 5th inning double. He came out of the game after seeming to limp from 1st to 2nd and then back to the dugout. But the Yankees later revealed a tightness in his core muscles just below his navel. One of the broadcasters surmised it might be a cramp due to dehydration and the heat, and now I find myself hoping for this, which should heal overnight with hydration and rest. He’ll be evaluated tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

For the last two days, the American teams have enjoyed connecting with their English fans. On Thursday, the Yankees ran baseball clinics in a local park and gave away tons of free equipment to local clubs. On Friday, the teams worked out at the stadium, getting used to its weird dimensions and artificial turf, before many of them explored the city for sightseeing. In addition, a group of players met with athletes from the Invictus Games to host an adaptive baseball clinic. There was also a special welcome dinner for the teams at the historic Tower of London.

Before tonight’s game, both teams got a special visit from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (also known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle). The Yankees presented the Duchess (who is also an American) with a special team jersey emblazoned with “Archie” and “19” on it for their infant son born earlier this year. The Sussexes (as they are called) are patrons for the Invictus Games, an organization that allows wounded servicemen and women to compete athletically, and the Games were appointed the Official Charity Sponsor of this special series in London. The royal couple escorted some of those special athletes and their families to the mound before the game to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

On a final “note” (pun intended), the Kingdom Choir sang beautiful renditions of both national anthems before unfurled flags held by each country’s service men. If you are a royal watcher or anglophile, you might remember this outstanding choir from the Sussexes’ wedding last year. They’re truly amazing.

Go Yankees!

Game 80: TOR vs. NYY — Walk-off and glory by All-Star Finalists

Well, that was… eventful. Leave it to this year’s Yankees to close out their final home stand before the All-Star Break with quite the dramatic flair. The Blue Jays, for their part, certainly made it one worth fighting for all the way to the end.

James Paxton got a rocky start in this afternoon’s finale, throwing 91 pitches into the 5th inning. He gave up 8 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out 3 Toronto batters. At the top of the game, he gave up consecutive walks that then scored on a 3-run home run to the glee of the smattering of Blue Jay fans in the stadium. Then in the 2nd, a 1-out single scored on a 2-run home run to add more to the Jays’ early lead.

After settling into a good pattern for the next few innings, Paxton gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 5th. After a walk and out, he handed the ball over to Hale to close out the inning. Hale quickly picked the runner off 1st and got a grounder to do so. He continued that momentum through a scoreless 6th inning. Then, Ottavino and Tarpley each took an inning to run with that pattern.

In the mean time, the Yankees chipped away at the visitors’ lead. With 1 out in the 2nd, Didi Gregorius continued the Yankees’ homer magic with a solo home run, making it the 29th consecutive game with a home run. The Yankees loaded up the bases with a walk to Hicks, a single by Torres, and a 2-out walk to LeMahieu. Aaron Judge’s single scored both Hicks and Torres.

DJ LeMahieu came back in the 4th to hit a 1-out 2-run home run. In the 5th, Encarnacion hit a 1-out double, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ single, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly to finally tie up the game. With 2 outs in the 6th, the Yankees finally took the lead. Judge singled, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s single, and then scored the go-ahead run on Luke Voit’s single.

Things were finally looking up for the home team. Zack Britton came on to close out the game, but he immediately struggled his way through those pesky 3 outs. The lead-off batter singled, his pinch-runner took 2nd on a passed ball, and then scored on a single to tie the game up again.

So, the game went to the bottom of the 9th. With 1 out, Gregorius singled. Hicks worked a walk to moved Gregorius to scoring position. And then he did on Gleyber Torres’ walk-off single.

Final score: 8-7 Yankees, Yankees sweep the series 3-0

Next up: The Yankees travel across the pond for their much-anticipated series against the Red Sox in London. They have the next two days off for travel/jet lag and will start the mini-series agains their famed rivals on Saturday. They will come back to America with an off-day the first day of July before doing a quick 2-game series in Queens against the Mets. They will spend the final weekend before the All-Star Break in Tampa for a 4-game series there.

Injury update/roster moves: Despite some home for a simple injury, Giancarlo Stanton is headed back to the Injured List. An MRI revealed a strain (or partial tear) in the posterior cruciate ligament in the knee, the connective tissue between the leg bones close to the back of the knee, behind the patella (knee cap).

The Yankees have recalled Mike Tauchman to replace Stanton on the roster. In preparation for the big London series, the teams are allowed to carry a 26th man on their roster. They will select Thairo Estrada. However, Kyle Higashioka and Chance Adams will be held in standby in case they are needed due to injury.

Yankee Trivia: I was not aware of this until today, but this is a great fact. As of today, the Yankees have played 162 regular games straight without being shutout. They have scored in every game for an entire season. That is quite the feat, though it is short of the record held by the Yankees way back from 1931-1933. Those Yankees got runs in 308 straight games, and even won the World Series in the middle of that (1932), their fourth championship.

Finally, VOTE NOW for your favorite finalists in the Final Vote for the All-Star Game. You get one vote on MLB and one vote on Google, so choose wisely. For your consideration, there are six Yankees on the ballot in their respective positions — Luke Voit (1st base), DJ LeMahieu (2nd base), Gio Urshela (3rd base), Gleyber Torres (shortstop), Gary Sanchez (catcher), and Aaron Judge (outfield). This round of voting ends Thursday at 4 pm ET.

Go Yankees!