Game 108: BOS vs. NYY — #BigMaple & #GrandGleyber

The Yankees just came off facing the Red Sox last weekend, but the tables have turned as the rivalry shifts from Fenway to the Bronx. And between the two, the offense on both side were limited to a single inning, oddly the 1st. And I fully blame some really great pitching tonight.

James Paxton (aka “Big Maple”) had a great outing, throwing 100 pitches in his 6 strong innings. He only gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs and struck out 6 Boston batters to earn the eventual win. With 2 outs in the 1st, he gave up a walk that scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board first. But then, he basically breezed his way through the next 16 outs.

Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman each took an inning to close out the final third of the game. Each reliever held strong and had efficient innings — taking just 15, 8, and 9 pitches, respectively.

The Yankees, down early, bounced back early. In the bottom of the 1st, they loaded up the bases quickly. LeMahieu singled, and Judge and Encarnacion each worked walks. After an out, Gleyber Torres took the first pitch he saw tonight and sent it into the left field seats for a grand slam, his 2nd grand slam and his 21st home run of the season.

Beyond that 1st inning, there was a handful of base runners, but there wasn’t any further scoring. Again, some great pitching on both sides kept the teams limited to the damage they each did in that opening segment.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees

Roster moves: Before the game, the Yankees activated Brett Gardner from the 10-day injured list, as his “barking knee” is back and ready to go sliding around the outfield as he catches those long fly balls. They also optioned Tyler Wade back to AAA Scranton and recalled reliever Stephen Tarpley for that “fresh arm”.

The Yankees also placed JA Happ on the paternity list as his third child is due imminently. A big congratulations to JA and his wife Morgan, and to their children on becoming a big brother and big sister!

Earlier today, the Yankees partnered with MLB, Goldman Sachs, and DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI) to play in the 4th Annual Wiffle Ball Tournament, a charity game played by GS employees, some current and former ball players, and a few hundred kids in the area helped by DREAM. Cameron Maybin, through his Maybin Mission, took the lead in helping coordinate the game, joined by his teammate Domingo German, former Yankees Mickey Rivers and Mark Teixeira, and former Met John Franco.

The annual charity event has grown over the years and helps DREAM as it serves over 2500 kids in the New York area. This year, over 1000 Goldman Sachs employees volunteered their time to participate in the fundraiser, and while they played, the kids from DREAM acted as umpires and scorekeepers.

Today marks 40 years since the death of the late Thurman Munson. The Yankees’ catcher died tragically at the age of just 32 trying to land his small plane at Akron-Canton Regional Airport. The Yankees immediately retired his #15 and put up a plaque in his honor, the first Yankee captain since Lou Gehrig. It’s still a treat to see so many jerseys blazoned with his jersey number to this day.

His wife Diana Munson is a long-time friend of the Yankees, a frequent face at Old Timers’ Day, and the honored guest to throw out tonight’s ceremonial first pitch. Catching the ball was Munson’s teammate and Yankees special adviser Willie Randolph. Yankees Magazine covered the anniversary, Munson’s legacy, and featured an in-depth interview with Diana in this month’s issue with some touching moments and memories for every long-term Yankee fan.

A life and promising career cut short by an accident, a legacy we still honor and remember, and a reminder to live each day to its fullest. Forever our Yankee, #15.

Go Yankees!

The off-season is over, at least for pitchers & catchers…

Tuesday, pitchers and catchers invited to Spring Training camp reported for duty at the Yankees minor league campus in Tampa. Yesterday, they spent Valentine’s Day working out for the first time together this season, doing throwing and catching drills and starting this season right with a sense of team unity. For the last few days, people have lingered on the sidewalk outside the complex, fans on the right, media on the left, and players have showed up to chat with the media and sign for the fans periodically leading up to this week. Now that things are in full swing, the location has shifted from the smaller facilities (on Himes Ave.) to those at Steinbrenner Field, with limited fan viewing available for the daily workouts (free for anyone with the time).

But for the media, it means official press conferences and pictures that aren’t shot through the chain link fence. Tuesday was new manager Aaron Boone’s first official conference addressing the media, and as expected, most of the questions included how he will approach managing differently. Of course, it’s going to be different because Boone is a different person than his predecessor Girardi or his predecessor (and Boone’s own manager when he was last in pinstripes) Torre. And right now, not a single pitch has been thrown or home run hit or out made, so discussion of play, potential, or even approach is really a little premature. It takes a while for players to gel with each other, and gelling with an almost entirely new different coaching staff could also take some time. Best case scenario: all the kinks get worked out in Spring Training because that’s what it’s for.

Last November, Aaron Judge underwent shoulder surgery to remove excess and loose cartilage in his left shoulder (non-throwing) and has been rehabbing this off-season. According to a press conference Wednesday, Judge has been a frequent face around the minor league complex this off-season and is considered “right on schedule”, despite potentially missing the first few Spring Training games. Fortunately, the goal isn’t February 23 (the first Spring game) but rather March 29 (the first season game).

Meanwhile, other teammates have focused on their own aspects of prepping for 2018. Gary Sanchez spent the off-season refining his defensive skills, something of much discussion last year. Dellin Betances dropped some weight in hopes of being able to have a better 2018 than some of the lag he experienced in 2017. CC Sabathia also focused on his health, adopting a vegan diet, and hoping to build strength to combat lingering knee issues. And new Yankee Giancarlo Stanton used his social media to show #NoOffSeason in anticipation of becoming a Yankee this year.

Pitchers and catchers continue their daily workouts this week, as more fielders show up ahead of their check-in day Sunday (February 18), with the first full squad workout day this coming Monday. Meeting the team this year are an interesting group of guest instructors — veteran guests: Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, and Willie Randolph; and new(ish) guests: Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Alfonso Soriano, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and Bernie Williams. I expect the Opening Day cheers to be intense as they see some of these fan favorites back in pinstripes and on the field during introductions.

Spring Training is just days away, and it’s already shaping up to be quite the adventure. One that I think we’re all hoping can translate into that elusive #28, the ultimate goal of every season, but one that is completely possible at this point in the year.

Go Yankees!

Note: I was setting up to work on this post yesterday when the news broke out of south Florida, just 270 miles (about 3.5-4 hours) southeast of Tampa. In light of the unfolding story, it didn’t feel right to preempt the news with baseball preparations and wishing people a “Happy Valentine’s Day”, when for far too many it will now never be a happy day. Instead, we remember those once again lost to mass shooting, our hearts and prayers with their families and friends. I hope I never have to delay a post for such an awful reason or write another of these postscripts. It is heartbreaking and disheartening. Parkland, we mourn with you and anticipate days when such terrible news is as rare as violent home plate collisions are now in baseball.

67 men, a broken foot, words, old guys, and hope… it’s always about hope

So, we’re up to 67 players in camp this week. Pitchers and catchers reported a week ago, and everyone showed up on Saturday. Their first full work out as a team then was Sunday, and things are off to a good start.

With one exception. Tyler Austin, who was hoping to make the Opening Day roster, at least a bench player, took a foul ball off his foot during live batting practice and fractured his foot. Currently in a boot and hobbling around camp, Austin will be out for at least 6 weeks. Realistically, Austin was up against primary contenders for 1st base Greg Bird (coming back off his own injury last year) and veteran Chris Carter (who the Yankees signed recently for veteran presence and platooning possibilities). While his start could be slow this year, Austin will probably see major league time, much like he did last year.

One of the recent signings, infielder Chris Carter, while initially viewed as a replacement power-hitting DH (for Rodriguez) platooning there with Matt Holliday (who can also play outfield), Carter can also platoon at 1st base, which is especially crucial now that Austin will be out for a while. Carter began his career with 3 seasons with the Athletics before spending the next 3 with the Astros, and last year, he played 160 games with the Brewers, hitting 41 home runs. To make room for Carter, the Yankees designated reliever Richard Bleier for assignment.

Contract negotiations are never easy. Several Yankees negotiated through their contracts as usual, avoiding arbitration. But Dellin Betances was the lone holdout this year. He (and his agent) held to one number, but the Yankees wanted to pay a bit less than that. As neither side was willing to compromise, a mediator was hired and met with both sides late last week. After each side argued their case, the mediator agreed with the Yankees, and Betances reported to camp. Unfortunately, there were a few harsh words expressed publicly, which promoted Betances to respond publicly. No one needs these distractions, so I hope this is done with now so that everyone can move on with the season.

Joe Girardi had the best outlook on the season, equating it to the mid-90s in style and feel during his first press conference of the season last week. With the recent departure of Teixeira, Rodriguez, McCann, and Beltran, the team overall is very young, with the average age of the 40-man roster currently at 26.65, about 3 years younger than the average 4 years ago. Sometimes, those three years make all the difference. But it’s a long season before we can tell how that shakes out.

Speaking of the “old guys”, Nick Swisher recently announced his retirement from playing professional baseball (in a way only he could) and was invited by the Yankees as a guest instructor to camp. Swisher showed up (complete with his old #33) yesterday to help counsel and coach the young team. Joining him at camp today will be Alex Rodriguez who will fit into this role he’s been sort of doing for the last couple of seasons anyway. Both former teammates will be joining Mark Teixeira in the broadcasting booth (though they’ll be in different booths) as all three now have contracts to work part of the season as color commentators in addition to their regular life roles as being “dad” (a role which all three are very much enjoying giving much more time to).

Spring Training begins Friday. Yes, three days until the crack of the bat, the smell of the dirt and sweat, the noisy vendors hocking beer and peanuts, the chatter dissecting Girardi and Cashman’s every choice, the smiles in anticipation and hope, the slumped shoulders in defeat, the grim line of determination, the hustle, the fervor, and the hope. It’s always about hope, isn’t it? Hope that maybe this year could be The Year. Hope that something that started decades ago as a dream could be that reality, echoed in the cheers of thousands of fans and deep in the hearts of all those who wear (and once wore) the pinstripes.

Go Yankees!

It’s almost Spring…

Well, now that the other major American sport has taken its bow, it’s time to focus on the real American pastime. And before you’re wondering, I write a blog about the New York Yankees, which team could I possibly back in the big game last night — the team that plays in Boston or the one that doesn’t?

Anyway, just a couple of days ago, the Yankees posted pictures of their staff loading up all their equipment, loading it onto the truck, and sending it on its way down to Tampa. Many on the current roster and invitees (including quite a few of the Baby Bombers on the top 100 prospects list) are showing up at the minor league complex for early workouts. Tickets to games are being purchased, renovations at the field are almost done, and the countdown in down to mere days. Yes, Yankee Universe, it’s almost Spring Training.

The Yankees have wrapped up the last few weeks of their off-season in many ways. Last month, Chance Adams, Starlin Castro, Clint Frazier, Chase Headley, Matt Holliday, James Kaprielian, CC Sabathia, Gary Sanchez, Justus Sheffield, and Gleyber Torres helped out with the Yankees first ever “Winter Warm-up“, an event designed to introduce new players to New York and its legacy and community with the help of some of the veterans. This included surprising a life-long fan with VIP tickets; touring the City and Yankee Stadium; holding a live-streamed town hall for fans; visiting a senior center, an elementary school, a senior community event, and cancer center; calling season ticket holders personally; and surprising Bronx residents joining them for lunch at a local restaurant.

At a special awards banquet in January, quite a few Yankees were recognized for their contributions in baseball this past season. Last year’s “Warriors Three” (or No-Runs DMC, as some rogue reporters seems to believe they should be dubbed), Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman were recognized by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America with the “Willie, Mickey, and the Duke Award” for their outstanding teamwork this year. What is especially significant is that this three-headed monster was split in July when Chapman went to the Cubs (and got a ring) and Miller went to the Indians (and almost got a ring, settling for the AL MVP instead). Betances took over the closing role to finish the season but is more than willing to slide back to set-up man after the Yankees resigned Chapman in December. The local writers’ group also honored other Yankees at that dinner. Chase Headley received the “Good Guy Award” and Mark Teixeira shared the Slocum Award for Long and Meritorious Service with Boston’s David Ortiz, in addition to a number of other awards given across baseball.

Overlapping Spring Training once again is the World Baseball Classic. As of this posting, only two Yankees have committed to play for the WBC. Didi Gregorius will play for the Dutch team, which is scheduled to start its games March 7 in Seoul against South Korea, Taipei, and Israel. Dellin Betances has committed to play for the Dominican Republic, which starts its games March 9 in Miami against Canada, the United States, and Columbia. There was talk that Sanchez might join Betances on the reigning championship team, but the closer to Spring Training, the less likely the chances. Masahiro Tanaka was offered a spot on the Japanese team, but opted for Spring Training to get back in the momentum of being a Yankee and come out stronger than last year.

In a single day last month, the baseball world lost two of its members in separate car accidents in the Dominican Republic. Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, 25, was a key part of the Royals’ 2014 World Series attempt and their 2015 World Series win, even earning Rookie of the Year in 2014. Former third baseman Andy Marte, 33, was originally signed by the Braves in 2005 before spending the bulk of his career with the Indians and most recently the 2014 season with the Diamondbacks and a team in South Korea. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with their families and friends as they mourn their loved ones.

I wish I could tell you the Yankees had some good news about the Hall of Fame results, but it was not to be this year. Instead, the BBWAA (the same guys who recognized Teixeira, Betances, and Headley) decided that just three former players would make it to Cooperstown this year — Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. The trio are the only three who made the cut-off at 75% of the earned votes. Most Yankee fans will probably only remember two names — Mike Mussina (holding on for another year at 51.8% of the vote) and Jorge Posada (who failed to get the minimum 5% voting needed to stay on the ballot next year at 3.8%).

Bagwell spent all 15 seasons (1991-2005) with the Astros, as their star first baseman. Raines is predominantly known as the left fielder of the Expos (1979-1990, 2001), but he also spent some of his 23 seasons with the White Sox, Athletics, Marlins, Orioles, and Yankees. Raines spent his time with the Yankees during the start of the most recent dynasty, 1996-1998, even earning a 1996 World Series ring for his postseason contributions. Rodriguez spent the majority of his 21 seasons with the Rangers (1991-2002, 2009), eventually spending time with the Marlins, Tigers, Astros, Nationals, and Yankees. Rodriguez may be the most familiar to current Yankee fans as he spent the latter half of the 2008 season in pinstripes as back-up catcher. As expected, neither of the former Yankees will be donning a Yankee insignia on their monument plaque in the Hall of Fame, which will be honored and unveiled on July 30.

Okay, so here’s important Spring dates to remember: February 14 — pitchers and catchers report to camp (8 days away); February 15 — pitcher and catchers work out day, Steinbrenner Field open to public if you want to watch the work outs (9 days); February 18 — full squad reporting day (12 days); February 19 — full squad work out day (13 days); February 24 — Spring Training home opener vs. Phillies (18 days); April 2 — Season Opener at the Rays (55 days); and April 10 — Home opener vs. the Rays (62 days).

Yes, it’s almost Spring…

Go Yankees!

ALCS 1: TOR vs. CLE — Pitchers leading the way in the AL

It was a lovely, crisp 58° in Cleveland at the time of the first pitch just to emphasize that we are really playing Fall Ball. And both the Indians and Blue Jays sent up what is easily their best respective starters.

Now, growing up, I was taught that the AL had the hitters and the NL had the pitchers. And for the most part that proved true, until the power-hitting (and partially drug-enhanced) home run derby of 1998 between two NL batters on the Cubs and Cardinals. But lately, the stereotypes have been proving true with a lot of NL pitchers coming close or even achieving that much-coveted perfect game.

So, it’s still a little weird for me when you get some really amazing pitching in an AL game, but I can’t say that it doesn’t make me appreciate it a bit more. Like I’ve come to expect it out of NL pitchers, so when I see it in the AL, I’m a little more enthralled by and anticipatory of the prospect.

Like I was tonight with the Blue Jays starter Estrada and Indians starter Kluber. Kluber threw 100 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 6 hits and 2 walks, and striking out 6 Blue Jays’ batters. But he kept the Blue Jays scoreless, which ended up being the key to this game. Estrada again threw a complete game, a full 8 innings, giving up 6 hits to the Indians’ batters, a walk, and 2 runs, striking out 6 along the way. This certainly saved the Blue Jays’ bullpen for upcoming games this series.

So, in the bottom of the 6th, the Indians broke through Estrada’s command on the mound when Kipnis worked a 1-out walk (Estrada’s lone allowed walk) and then scored as part of Lindor’s big 2-run home run. It would be the only runs scored in the game, making Lindor a big hometown hero there at Progressive Field.

In the 7th, Kluber got a huge standing ovation, rightly so, as he exited the game and turned things over to Miller (the Yankees’ former closer/reliever is one of the reasons that the Indians are very much in this postseason still). Miller just dominated his way through the 7th and 8th innings. Allen came on in the 9th to breeze through the Blue Jays line-up in just 11 pitches.

In total, the Indians combined for 12 strike outs, thanks in large part to Miller, who recorded all 5 of his outs with his own brand of nasty strikeouts. Though a Blue Jays fan could argue a couple of those were certainly handed to him (there was a particularly low strike zone tonight at the plate).

Final score: 2-0 Indians, Indians lead series 1-0.

There are some updates to the eSurance MLB awards, including some crucial moments by Yankee favorites. Gary Sanchez is still up for Best Rookie, but several other Yankee memories have been added.

Mark Teixeira’s “last hurrah” is now nominated for Best Offensive Play, where he helped the Yankees win a big game against Boston with a big walk-off grand slam. And Mark Teixeira’s “special sendoff” is nominated as Best Moment for the pre-game ceremony on the final game of the season to wish him well in his retirement.

And in Best Trending Topic, the Yankees’ “summer shakeup” is nominated in how they used the farm system to help with a roster overhaul which kept them in the postseason conversation.

Other categories you can vote on include: Best Major Leaguer, Best Hitter, Best Pitcher, Best Defensive Player, Best Social Media Personality, Best Defensive Play, Best Social Media Post, Best Performance, Best Fan Catch, Best Call Radio/TV, Best Player-Fan Interaction, Best Manager, and Best Executive. Postseason categories will be up after the World Series. So vote today and come back and vote often.

Go Yankees!

Game 162: BAL vs. NYY — Thank you, Tex!

Today was fan appreciation day at the stadium. This meant the Yankees spent their time thanking all their loyal fan base this season, even upgrading some of their upper level fans to Legends Suite seats (the cushy ones right behind home plate). And those same Yankee faithful were on hand to say goodbye to Mark Teixeira as he played his final game in pinstripes. (More below.)

Luis Cessa got the start for the final game against the Orioles and this final game of the season. Cessa did a pretty good job to start off, but things got a bit tricky for the tenacious team trying to secure themselves a Wild Card spot. Cessa threw just 77 pitches just shy of 6 full innings, gave up 5 hits, no walks, and 4 runs, striking out 6 Baltimore batters.

In the 3rd, the O’s lead-off batter hit a ground-rule double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a sacrifice fly to get the Orioles on the board. In the 4th, with 2 outs and a runner on 1st with a single, a big 2-run home run eased the Orioles further in the lead. Then with 2 outs and a runner on base with a single in the 6th, the Yankees went to their bullpen.

Tommy Layne came on, but promptly gave up a 2-run home run — one run charged to him, one to Cessa before closing out the 6th inning with a strike out. Blake Parker allowed 2 baserunners in the 7th, but began the shutdown of the O’s. Adam Warren breezed through the Baltimore batters in a 12-pitch 8th inning, and Richard Bleier took it up a notch with a 9-pitch 9th inning.

The Yankees weren’t exactly quiet against the Orioles’ pitching tonight, working 10 total hits, but they didn’t cobble much together as far as runs to dent the Orioles’ lead enough. Brian McCann hit his 20th home run of the season, his 9th consecutive year to hit at least 20 home runs. This is also a huge milestone for McCann as he is now the 4th catcher in MLB history to hit at least 20 homers in 10 different seasons, just behind Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza (each with 11), and tying Yogi Berra. (Worth noting: all three of these catchers are in the Hall of Fame.)

The Yankees got their second shot at runs in the 8th inning. With 1 out, Gary Sanchez singled. The Orioles finally went to their bullpen then (though to be fair, their starter today did a pretty good job of heading off the Yankee offense for most of the game). Sanchez moved to 2nd on McCann’s single and then raced for home on Didi Gregorius’ 2-out single. It’s rather fitting the final run of the season was scored by the player who certainly helped infuse enough into the roster to keep playoff hopes alive for the last 2 months of the season for the Yankees.

Final score: 5-2 Orioles, Orioles win series 2-1.

The Yankees finish the season with a final total of 84 wins and 78 losses, with an average of .514. To be perfectly fair, they are behind the Wild Card teams by just 2 games. Remember, even in Spring Training, all the “talking heads” were saying this year’s team wasn’t even going to be close. (More on the postseason below).

I think much of Yankee Universe watched this game with a touch of melacholy. And not because of the loss, for the most part. No, the Yankees said farewell to Mark Teixeira in a lovely pre-game ceremony. After a video of his career highlights, Teixeira took the field to doff his cap to the cheering fans. He was joined by his wife Leigh (escorted by Girardi) and their three children.

The executive director of non-profit community outreach Harlem RBI presented Teixeira with a special thank you card signed by hundreds of the program’s participants. Teixeira has helped raise more than $10 million for the program over his career and become a prominent figure in raising awareness and investing his time and energy in helping kids have access to community athletic programs.

The Yankees, via the Steinbrenners, presented Teixeira with a framed #25 jersey, honoring his final game. 2009 Championship teammates Gardner and Sabathia presented him with a special 1st base, signed by his 2016 teammates. Teixeira will certainly be missed on the field and in the clubhouse, but I don’t expect him to stay away from baseball for too long. Like so many of them, it’s rather difficult to just erase a part of you that’s been so prominent for the last 30+ years.

Yankee fans, however, were a little reluctant to say goodbye, but also incredibly appreciative of Teixeira during the game. On his first at-bat today in the 2nd, the fans gave up a big standing ovation, and when he was pulled from the game in the 7th, they likewise cheered for him for a final time. It was a little surreal to see Tyler Austin take his place rather symbolically then; though we’ll have to see come Spring Training how well Greg Bird is doing. It might be an interesting battle to win Teixeira’s now vacated position at 1st base.

Okay, we have a postseason. But I’m saving all that for tomorrow’s post. Just know the Yankees aren’t in it. Their off-season began at dinner time today. The AL Wild Card game is Tuesday, with the NL Wild Card on Wednesday to decide who’s playing all those lovely division series.

Go Yankees!

Game 158: BOS vs. NYY — A walk-off Grand Slam

Actually, for most of the game tonight, it was quite the pitchers’ duel. Bryan Mitchell got the start for the Yankees against the visiting Red Sox and ended up throwing a 2-hitter. Yes, the Yankees’ starter kept the AL East Division Champions (more later) to just 2 hits through the first 7 innings of this game. Well, he did give up 5 walks and just struck out 2 batters. But the lack of score is what made things rather interesting.

Not that the Yankees were hitting much off the Red Sox’s starter. In total, they got one hit and 2 walks off him in his 6 innings. The Yankees’ offense was also kept silent through the 7th and 8th innings under the Boston bullpen.

The Boston batters poked a hole in the pitchers’ duel in the 8th inning though. Adam Warren had a bit of trouble coming on in relief thanks in part to the lead-off batter reaching on a fielding error. A ground-rule double put runners in scoring position. Then with 1 out, Warren opted to intentionally walk a Boston favorite (and the fairly strong showing of Red Sox fans shared their displeasure). A double scored 2 runs to break the scoreless game before Warren again intentionally walked another power-hitter in the line-up. And that was it for Warren tonight.

Tommy Layne came on to close out the inning. A passed ball scored the runner from 3rd, who, though usually a slow runner, booked it home at the quickest he’d run all year. With another out recorded, Layne intentionally walked the next batter (the 3rd intentional walk of the inning) before getting that final out to get out of the inning.

In the 9th, the Yankees turned to Jonathan Holder for the first 2 outs and James Pazos to get the 3rd out before they turned things over to the Yankee offense for a last-minute rally. And boy, did they get one.

The Yankees certainly took advantage of the new reliever. Gardner led-off with a single and ended up at 2nd on defensive indifference. Ellsbury worked the first walk of the inning, and a wild pitch moved both outfielders into scoring position. Sanchez then worked a walk and was then pinch-run by Torreyes. Still with no outs this inning, Brian McCann earned the 3rd walk of the inning that walked in Gardner to get the Yankees on the board.

So the Red Sox, feeling the Yankees knocking on their lead, decided to pull their reliever who couldn’t seem to get an out tonight. The new reliever quickly got 2 outs, and Yankee fans were hoping against all hope as Mark Teixeira stepped into the batter’s box. A first pitch curveball on the outside edge of the strike zone. Then, the retiring veteran saw a pitch he liked — a 99 mph fastball — which he hit deep into the Yankees’ bullpen. That’s right, a walk-off grand slam home run!

Final score: 5-3 Yankees.

Okay, time for some Mark Teixeira and grand slam trivia… This was Teixeira’s 12th career grand slam, 205th career home run, and his 15th home run this season. Until tonight, Mark Teixeira held the record for most home run in his career without a walk-off home run, making tonight’s walk-off a major milestone for him.

Now, I did some research on walk-off grand slams, and apparently, they’re not as rare as you’d think. Between 1950 and 2015, they were more than 180 walk-off grand slams. Now, there are only 28 “super walk-off grand slams” or “ultimate walk-off grand slams”, where a team was losing by 3 runs and the grand slam’s 4 runs were the only thing needed. Unfortunately, the Yankees weren’t in that position thanks to McCann’s RBI walk.

This is the 4th Yankees walk-off grand slam with the team trailing, and it’s illustrious company — Alex Rodriguez (April 7, 2007), Jason Giambi (May 17, 2002), and Babe Ruth (September 24, 1925). Plus, Teixeira is the 1st Yankee to hit a walk-off grand slam against the Red Sox since Charlie Keller in 1942.

Now, that we’ve geeked out a bit on tonight’s Yankee good news. The Red Sox were also served their own good news tonight. Despite the loss, the Red Sox clinched the AL East division due to the Orioles beating the Blue Jays in their game. The Blue Jays were the last threat to the Red Sox lead, and thanks in part to the Yankees beating them in 3 games this weekend, the Red Sox eased into the lead and took the division title. Of course, the best comment of the night is wouldn’t it be weird to see both teams celebrating on the field — the Yankees for their grand slam win, the Red Sox for their division championship. But I’m glad they saved it for the visitor’s clubhouse.

Go Yankees!