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 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 35: SEA vs. NYY — A little rain delay for the Yankees’ last-minute walk-off rally

The Yankees continue to find a way to make each moment count as they march on through May and in this 4-game series with the Mariners. In the second game tonight, the Yankees found that way in rather dramatic fashion with a walk-off and a challenge to find a last-minute victory, despite a one hour and 12 minute rain delay in the latter half of the game.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start tonight, throwing 95 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 4 Seattle batters. In the 2nd, he gave up a walk and a double, but a fielder’s choice got the lead runner out at home. But a sacrifice fly scored the other runner. And a 1-out solo home run in the 6th added one more for the visitors.

Tanaka came out for the 7th, but the rain that held off most of the night just started pouring down. Enough to stop the game after an error and an out. Enough to call for a one hour and twelve minute delay. When the game returned, it would be Holder to close out the 7th for Tanaka with just 5 pitches to induce a double play, continuing his strong showing this season.

Tommy Kahnle came out for the 8th but found the Mariners ready to pounce again. With 1 out, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a fielding error and scored on a 2-out single. A double then scored one more run for the Mariners, continuing their lead. Joe Harvey closed out the 9th, with some drama, pushing the defense to be on their toes a bit, but eventually finishing strong.

The Yankees got a late start to the scoreboard. Already down, Gio Urshela led-off the 3rd with a double, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s grounder to get them on the board. But they spent most of the game (besides dodging rain) keeping the Mariners’ from gaining too big a lead.

In the 8th, Gardner and LeMahieu each worked a walk. Voit hit into a force out at 2nd to put runners on the corners. And a wild pitch allowed Gardner to score the Yankees’ second run. So in a last-ditch opportunity, the Yankees looked to the 9th inning for a rally. And found one.

With 1 out, Torres singled and then scored as part of Gio Urshela’s game-tying 2-run home run, hit neatly into Monument Park beyond center field. After Maybin singled, the Mariners changed relievers in hopes of pushing the game to extra innings, but Maybin promptly stole 2nd. After a strikeout, DJ LeMahieu singled and Maybin came around to score. It was a walk-off.

But wait, not without a challenge, just in case. The Mariners’ challenged the call to see whether their catcher actually tagged Maybin sliding home in time for the out. It was fairly quick to see the original call was correct, and the game won in a great come-from-behind and rally to victory by the home team.

A very much worth the wait through the delay for the victory celebration tonight.

Final score: 5-4 Yankees

Go Yankees!

Game 30: NYY vs. ARI — Shortly swept in The Valley of the Sun

I would make joke about Icarus or even the Great Pyramids about the city nicknamed the “Valley of the Sun”, but the weather in Phoenix hasn’t been that warm to merit the former and the latter is a bit too dark even though the Yankees ended up on a sour note on their plane ride home. Especially as the Yankees are still on a high from last night’s Sabathia milestone. And after such a great start to the road trip, it’s hard to call it a total loss.

It just wasn’t a good game, though the Yankees never stopped fighting. Starter Masahiro Tanaka had some trouble getting the Diamondbacks under control, limiting his outing to just 4 innings and 74 pitches, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and still striking out 6 batters. In the 2nd, a lead-off single moved to 3rd on a double and then scored on a single. A strikeout later, a wild pitch scored their second run. And a lead-off solo home run in the 4th added the necessary insurance run for the home team.

Tanaka handed the game over to Cessa who breezed his way through the 5th and 6th, setting a strong, scoreless pattern for Kahnle and Ottavino to close out the game. It was strong enough to allow for the Yankees’ offense to find some holes in the Diamondbacks’ pitching and defense.

Luke Voit led-off the 6th with a solo home run, making this his 41st consecutive game to get on base, tying Jeter’s total in 2000 and approaching several other Yankees (42 like Williams and Teixeira and record-holder Rodriguez’s 53). In the 8th, Voit led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s single, ended up at 3rd on a double play, and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s single. Voit was the sole run scorer of today’s game for the Yankees.

It’s worth noting that Aaron Boone earned his second ejection of the season in today’s game when the umpires refused to grant and then review a hit by pitch on Tyler Wade. The Yankees didn’t have a challenge to use, but the umpires quickly dismissed the entire idea. So Boone had some quiet words, questioning the call, but the umpire just turned his back and tossed him. So Boone had some not-so-quiet words before exiting the game. You decide.

Final score: 3-2 Diamondbacks, Diamondbacks sweep 2-0

Up next: The Yankees take tomorrow off to settle back home before hosting another home stand against the Twins and Mariners. Then, they take a brief trip down to visit the Rays for the weekend before heading back home to complete the home stand to host the Orioles and the Rays.

It’s a weird bit of this season’s schedule. And hopefully, they’ll head home with the earlier momentum of this road trip to face a long string of AL competitors.

Go Yankees!

Game 25: NYY vs. LAA — Denied a sweep

The Yankees were going for the sweep tonight in this final game of the 4-game series against the Angels. But despite a good lead built up, the Yankees were unable to hold onto it in the end as the tables tonight tipped in favor of the home team instead.

In the 3rd, Tyler Wade led-off with a single, then stole both 2nd and 3rd before scoring on DJ LeMahieu’s single to get the Yankees on the board first. Gio Urshela hit a solid 2-out solo home run in the 4th, his first as a Yankee.

And in the 5th, they loaded the bases with singles to Voit and Gardner and a walk to Sanchez. With 1 out and a new pitcher, a wild pitch scored Luke Voit, moving the other two into scoring position. And Gleyber Torres’ single scored Gardner to give the Yankees a healthy lead.

Masahiro Tanaka actually threw a great game for most of his outing, right up until the end of it. Overall, he threw 89 pitches into the 6th, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned), and just 2 strikeouts. In the 5th, Tanaka gave up a single and a 2-run home run. Twice. To tie up the game in a single inning.

In the 6th, he gave up a 1-out walk and a 2-out walk before he was replaced by Jonathan Holder. Holder’s passed ball moved runners into scoring position that allowed both runners to score on a single that gave the Angels the lead.

Stephen Tarpley came on for the 7th, an inning I’m sure the Yankees would rather forget. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and another walk and passed ball put runner on the corners. After the first out of the inning, the Yankees called in Joe Harvey.

A stolen base put runners in scoring position, and a single and fielding error scored both runners. Two walks loaded up the bases, before the Yankees’ defense snapped into action getting a force out at home. The bases still loaded, so that a big triple cleared the bases to give the Angels a distinctive lead. Kahnle returned the Yankee pitching back to the earlier model, with a quick, clean 10-pitch 8th inning.

The Yankees found one more opportunity to try to chip away at the Angels’ big lead in the 8th. Ford and Urshela worked walks, and LeMahieu’s short 1-out single loaded the bases. Opportunity for a late rally was in play. After another out, Brett Gardner worked a 4-pitch walk to score Ford. But a pitching change quickly ended the rally opportunity.

Final score: 11-5 Angels, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees travel a up the California coast to face the Giants this weekend. After a travel day, they’ll play the Diamondbacks for a quick 2-game series, before heading home to host the Twins and Mariners.

Roster moves: The Yankees continue to shift the roster around in effort to combat the growing injured list. They officially moved Clint Frazier to the 10-day Injured List and sent Jonathan Loaisiga back to AAA for a fresh arm in Joe Harvey. They also moved Luis Severino to the 60-day IL to remove him from the 40-man roster and make room for their newest trade — outfielder Cameron Maybin.

Maybin is a 12-year veteran outfielder, spending the early part of his career with the Marlins and Padres, but also 9 other teams as part of trades and signings. He also was a key part of the 2017 Astros’ World Series team. He was signed this off-season with the Giants, spending most of Spring Training with them before being released and signed by the Indians. They then traded Maybin to the Yankees for cash.

And for you numbers/trivia nerds, Maybin showed up at tonight’s game wearing jersey #38.

Go Yankees!

Game 20: KC vs. NYY — #TanakaTime with some controversy & another injury

Well, this Saturday was certainly filled with some mixed results and emotions. The day began with the rain that lingered from last night, clearing up just before the game and would remain rather cloudy during this third game with the visiting Royals in the Bronx. Maybe that cloudiness should have been a sign for this game.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start today and had a really great outing. He threw 94 pitches in 7 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out an impressive 7 Kansas City batters. His lone allowed run was a lead-off solo homer in the 6th. He certainly earned today’s win.

Jonathan Holder closed out the game for Tanaka with 2 solid innings. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo home run in the 9th inning to double the Royals’ score. But he and Tanaka were strong enough to carry the game and limit the Royals’ impact.

The Yankees’ offense was certainly strong enough to support their pitchers today. Aaron Judge kicked things off with a 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning, and Clint Frazier led-off the 2nd with a solo home run to jump the Yankees in an early lead they would never surrender this afternoon.

After a tumultuous, yet scoreless 3rd inning for the Yankees, they came back in the 4th to dominate. Ford led-off with a walk and moved to 3rd on Romine’s double. Then, Mike Tauchman continued his power show with a big 3-run home run into the right field seats. And DJ LeMahieu promptly followed that with a solo home run on the 1st pitch of his at-bat for a great show back-to-back home runs.

In the 6th, Tauchman worked a walk and moved to 2nd on Judge’s 1-out single. Judge winced a little and held his side, coming out of the game and replaced by Tyler Wade. With 2 outs, Gleyber Torres hit a single to scored Tauchman, and Frazier’s single scored Wade to keep the runs coming.

And in the 7th, Urshela led-off with a double and scored on Austin Romine’s single to cap off the Yankees’ big afternoon. A rather great combination of Yankee offense and pitching today paid off in the end.

Final score: 9-2 Yankees

However… there were also some sour notes this afternoon. In addition to Judge’s injury (more below), there was that bad call that soured the 3rd inning for the Yankees. LeMahieu led-off with a walk, and Voit hit a 1-out single. Then Gleyber Torres smacked a big hit that aimed right for the 1st row of the left field stands. It appeared to bounce off the hands of a fan in that 1st row, but the immediate assumption was that it was going to be a home run anyway, so the call was a 3-run home run.

However… that fan seemed to lean too far over the fence, and the Royals’ manager rightfully asked for an umpire review to determine if there was fan interference. As we all watched slow-motion video and discussed the possibilities, the common thought was that it was fan interference, which is normally an automatic ground-rule double.

However… the umpire review declared it was an out due to fan interference, the implication being that the Royals’ left fielder would have made the out as he jumped to lead over and rob the home run away from Torres. And the world erupted. Well, the social media world did. And believe me, I was right there with them.

Now, the left fielder is a good player, but I just don’t think he was that good to be able to really disrupt the natural trajectory of the ball that was clearly heading out of the park. That fan interference was a bad move, but it wasn’t really interfering with the left fielder as much as it did with the ball leaving the park.

Of course, we weren’t alone in this thought. Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone was livid at the overturned call too, bounding over to the umpires in just a few large steps. Within seconds, Boone got his first ejection of the season, and the fans were 100% behind him. The players were too, as that just propelled them to get 7 more runs as Boone watched from the clubhouse.

Injury update: That 6th inning injury to Aaron Judge is a big blow to the team. Judge came up from the swing clutching his side, only to be diagnosed with an oblique injury. He was sent to New York Presbyterian in the City for further testing, including a potential rehab trajectory. This will make 13 players on the IL, as there’s no way Judge will avoid the IL at this point. There will be more we know tomorrow.

But for some good news, it looks like the Yankees will be getting Gary Sanchez back this next week. He is set to play a minor league game Monday, fly to Anaheim to meet the team on Tuesday, and then will play on Wednesday. Though, to be fair, Higashioka and Romine have certainly been doing a great job in his absence, proving how great the catching depth is on the Yankees.

Chag Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover) this week to those who observe.

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!