Game 44: NYY vs. TEX — Yanks go big in Texas

The Yankees are back on track as they continue this road trip now in Texas against the Rangers. Masahiro Tanaka actually kind of had a rough night, and because the Yankees work as a team, he still wound up with the win. He threw just 76 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 3 Texas batters.

The first allowed run was a lead-off solo shot in the 2nd inning. Then in the 4th, with 1 out, Tanaka gave up 2 consecutive walks that scored as part of a bit 3-run home run, making all of Tanaka’s allowed runs come off home runs.

Chad Green followed up Tanaka’s outing with a scoreless 6th, but then gave up a lead-off solo shot in the 7th before breezing through the next 3 batters. Robertson and Holder kept the Rangers scoreless through the final 2 innings.

Meanwhile, the Yankees actually paced out their runs through the game. In the 2nd, Sanchez led-off with a single moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on Neil Walker’s 2-out double. Walker then scored when Gleyber Torres hit a big 2-run home run. Walker later hit a big 2-out solo home run in the 4th, which was actually his 1st homer of the season, despite having a pretty decent season with consistent offensive contributions. (Here’s Sterling’s call, and there’s mixed feelings again.)

After the Rangers tied up the game in the bottom of the 4th, Aaron Judge led off the 5th with a solo home run to give the Yankees back the lead. And in the 6th, Torres hit his 2nd home run of the game, a solo shot straight up the middle. Even after the Rangers went to their bullpen, the Yankees kept advancing. Gardner walked, moved to 3rd on Judge’s double, and scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly. Judge then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double.

The Rangers were able to hold off the Yankees for the 7th and 8th innings, but then found one more opportunity in the 9th. (Because a 3-run lead just wasn’t enough.) With 1 out, Sanchez doubled, and then Aaron Hicks smacked a 2-run home run to push the Yankees into double digits.

Final score: 10-5 Yankees

The Rangers’ starter tonight is the oldest active player in MLB, at the age of 45 (on Thursday) (yes, I can hear the groans from everyone no longer 20-something). He’s been in the major leagues since 1997, making this his 21st season. (For the record, he’s played with 11 different teams, including the Yankees back in 2011.)

But the conversation about Colon starting a game against the rather youthful-leaning Yankees (which is its own conversation) was an interesting topic, as they discovered that youngest Yankee (Torres) was just 3 months old when Colon made his MLB debut with the Indians in 1997, and tonight, Torres went and hit 2 amazing home runs off him. Despite tonight’s game, Colon has actually played pretty well for the Rangers this year so far, so let’s hear it 40-somethings! (As long as they don’t do well against the Yankees.)

Go Yankees!

 

Game 36: BOS vs. NYY — And the winning streak puts the Yankees on top of MLB

With tonight’s win, not only are the Yankees the sole leader of the AL East, but at 25-10, they have the best record in all of MLB. Of course, it helps that they are on a super hot streak, currently running 16-1 for their last 17 games. The actual club record was 21-1 back in 1953, one of the best years for the Yankee organization (with players like Berra, Ford, Rizzuto, and Mantle). Though current fans are making more recent comparisons — like to the 1998 team.

Masahrio Tanaka had an okay start in tonight’s game against the Red Sox, throwing 91 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 3 Boston batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out single scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board. A 1-out solo home run in the 5th added one more. And in the 6th, he gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a ground out.

But that would be it from Tanaka as the Yankees turned to Chad Green, who promptly gave up a sacrifice fly to score Tanaka’s runner from 3rd. Then in the 7th, with 2 outs, he gave up a walk that scored as part of another 2-run home run for the Red Sox. Then Shreve came on for the 8th inning and gave up a double and a walk and only getting one out, so the Yankees called on Jonathan Holder. After a well-placed strikeout, Holder intentionally loaded up the bases and still got out of the inning without a scratch.

Meanwhile, the Yankees started the offensive drive tonight in the 1st inning, when Gardner led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Judge’s single. After the Red Sox took the lead in the 2nd, the Yankees grabbed the lead in the 3rd. Gardner led-off with a double again, Judge worked a walk, and they both moved into scoring position on a ground out. Giancarlo Stanton’s double then scored both Gardner and Judge to give the lead back to the Yankees. After Sanchez’s single moved Stanton to 3rd, Stanton scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly.

Judge led-off the 5th with a single but ended up at 2nd on a throwing error. After Gregorius’ walk and Stanton’s hit-by-pitch, the Yankees were in a good place to do some big damage with the bases loaded and no outs. Gary Sanchez hit a nice sacrifice fly to center field that scored Judge, but then 2 outs later, that big moment had passed.

The Red Sox relievers then held off the Yankees for most of their time on the mound. And with their team ahead by a single run, they needed to depend on those relievers to maintain the status quo. And then the Yankees entered the bottom of the 8th and Neil Walker led-off with a strong double. After Torres worked a 1-out walk, the Red Sox brought in a new reliever to stem the home town offense.

But Brett Gardner promptly hit a big triple (though it would be a double for almost anyone else) and scored Walker and the speedy Torres, who also somehow avoided the tag at home. The sold-out stadium was post-season electric as the Yankees looked to continue their winning streak tonight. Aaron Judge then continued that momentum with a 2-run home run straight to Monument Park to solidify the Yankees win after Chapman worked a 9th inning save with 3 great strikeouts.

Final score: 9-6 Yankees

The Yankees will look to sweep the Red Sox tomorrow night to close out that series before hosting the Athletics. Fingers crossed for a better record than that great streak of 21-1 65 years ago.

Go Yankees!

Game 31: NYY vs. HOU — Late inning heroics

I think the Yankees can officially declare this road trip a huge success. I mean, the sweep in Anaheim was a big deal, but taking 3 of the 4 games from last year’s World Series Champions (and the team that beat them in the ALCS) really sealed that victory feeling as they fell home today.

The Yankees got ahead of the Astros once again and kept it that way for most of the game. They loaded up the bases in the 2nd with Sanchez’s walk, Walker’s hit-by-pitch, and Andujar’s short single. Ronald Torreyes hit into another short single to keep those bases loaded and score Sanchez. Then Gleyber Torres hit a long sacrifice fly that scored Walker and get the first out of the inning. Two outs later and runners were stranded on base. Then in the 3rd, Gregorius hit a 1-out double, watched Sanchez work a 2-out walk, and then scored on Neil Walker’s single.

This offensive jump-start gave their starter a bit of leeway too. Masahiro Tanaka got the start this afternoon and really had a pretty good outing over all for the first 6 innings of his outing. He was cruising along at just 73 pitches through those 6 scoreless innings and only giving up 3 hits and no walks, with 5 strike outs. But then he got into some trouble in the 7th. He gave up consecutive singles and then hit the next batter. (Or maybe he didn’t, as the Yankees’ challenge of that call was upheld and not confirmed, though honestly, it never even brushed the sleeve, but they don’t ask my perspective at MLB HQ.)

So it was on to Chad Green with the bases loaded and no outs in the 7th. He gave up 2 short singles that kept the bases loaded and scored the first 2 runners, and a messy passed ball scored one more moving the remaining runners to scoring position, the tying run at that point. He finally got an out with a stellar strikeout, and a ground out scored another run for the Astros to put them in a narrow lead. A lead-off solo home run in the 8th gave the Astros an insurance run. And an out later, the Yankees turned to Chasen Shreve for a quick 9-pitch 2 outs to close out the 8th and shut the door on any possible furthering of the Astros’ lead.

And then the Yankees had quite the 9th inning, starting (as all big innings do today) by loading up the bases on this new reliever. Walker walked, Andujar singled, and Hicks singled. The Astros called in another new reliever, but that didn’t stop the Yankees. Gleyber Torres singled and scored both Walker and Andujar (making his RBI count at 3 tonight) that also moved Hicks to 3rd. After an out that was too short to score Hicks, Aaron Judge hit into a little grounder that the Astros fielded poorly, only getting the force out at 2nd and failing to “turn two”. So Hicks was able to score the winning run.

And I say winning because Aroldis Chapman came on for the bottom of the 9th and got a pretty good save, striking out the Astros’ best hitter (and last year’s MVP, I might add).

Final score: 6-5 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Not a bad way to end a road trip.

Next up: The Yankees head home to face the Indians this weekend (their 2017 ALDS foes), and then after an off day on Monday, they will host the Red Sox and Athletics for 3 games each through next weekend to complete this 9-game home stand. Momentum is everything, and the Yankees will need it to get through this home stand as both their first 2 opponents are sitting at the top of their respective divisions.

I’m not much for standings this early in the seasons, but it’s worth noting that the Yankees are 5 games ahead of the Indians and just 1.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL. (And a game ahead of the Astros now, if you’re wondering where all the leaders land on the chart.) But I’ll warn everyone a simple thing — this means so much of nothing. We’ve watched just 31 games this season. That means there’s 131 games left to play (about 81% of the season left). A whole lot can change between now and the September call-up, and there’s always a dark horse that comes out of nowhere and surprises the world with this just outstanding performance later in the season.

So, hold on to something, we’ve got a long way to go.

Go Yankees!

Game 26: NYY vs. LAA — #TanakaTime & big early innings, win streak at 8

The Yankees continue their winning streak tonight, thanks in part to a really bad night by the Angels’ starter and part because Tanaka had a really good one. They always say that if you don’t have pitching, you don’t have anything. And boy, have we see that true on both sides of that equation. Fortunately, tonight it fell in the Yankees favor.

Masahiro Tanaka’s start was really good tonight. He threw just 88 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, and struck out 9 Angels’ batters. That lone run came as a lead-off solo shot in the 5th, the only run the Angels scored all night. Chasen Shreve kept that momentum going through the 7th, and newly signed AJ Cole took the final 2 innings. Despite quite a few allowed runners, Cole and his defense kept the Angels from chipping away at the Yankees’ large lead.

And it certainly was a large lead. Like I said, the Angels’ starter was just not having a good night from the start. After a strikeout to kick off the game, the Yankees pounced. Judge singled, Gregorius walked, and a force attempt and fielding error allowed Stanton to reach and Judge to score the Yankees’ first run. Gary Sanchez’s double scored Gregorius, and then Aaron Hicks’ ground out scored Stanton.

Then Neil Walker struck out but made it to 1st on a passed ball. In the process of the throw, Sanchez scored a run. But initially, it was ruled as the 3rd out of the inning. The Yankees weren’t having that, so they challenged and got the play overturned on replay review. Walker then scored on Miguel Andujar’s double. A ground out ended the first big inning of the night.

The Yankees came back in the 2nd inning to basically repeat the 1st. Gardner led-off with a walk and then scored on Aaron Judge’s double. A ground out moved Judge to 3rd. After another ground out, Sanchez walked, and then Aaron Hicks tripled home both Judge and Sanchez. And that was it for the Angels’ starter for the night. The Angels found their initial reliever less helpful, promptly giving up singles to Walker, Andujar, and Torres, which scored Hicks and then Walker for 2 more runs for the Yankees.

The Angels seemed to have better luck following that big 2nd inning, keeping the Yankees from adding even more runs to their lead. But they had one more chance in the 8th. With 2 outs, Sanchez doubled and Hicks walked. After the Angels changed to another reliever, the new pitcher gave up a single to Walker (who really was the key to the Yankees’ offense tonight) to score Sanchez for a final Yankees’ run.

Final score: 11-1 Yankees

Tomorrow, Sabathia hopes to close up this California trip with an “angelic” sweep. It would push the streak to 9 games. So fingers and toes crossed everyone. And we’re only just getting started with this year.

Go Yankees!

Game 21: MIN vs. NYY — #TanakaTime & some Bronx Bombers

The Yankees continue to dominate this home stand. Masahiro Tanaka got the start in the opening game of this week’s 4-game series against the visiting Twins. Tanaka had a stellar outing, throwing 91 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up just 3 hits, 2 walks, and a run, and striking out 5 batters. And once again, the lone run scored in Tanaka’s weakest inning. In the 5th, with 2 outs, a batter was hit by a pitch, moved to 2nd on a single, and then scored on another single.

Chad Green came on to finish Tanaka’s 7th inning. After 2 outs and a walk by Tanaka, Green walked the next batter before getting that 3rd out. David Hale got the final 2 innings of the evening, keeping the Twins to that lone allowed run.

Meanwhile, the Yankee pounced on the Twins’ pitchers early and often. In the 1st, Gardner led-off with a walk and stole 2nd. Two outs later, Stanton worked a walk, and then they both scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. Sanchez then scored on Aaron Hicks’ single to give the Yankees a big early lead. Miguel Andujar added another run to that lead with a lead-off solo home run in the 2nd inning.

The Twins’ starter got a bit roughed up in those first two innings, but got things under control until the 5th inning. With 2 outs, Giancarlo Stanton hit a solo home run deep into the left field bleachers. That would be it for the Twins’ starter (after 106 pitches). His reliever got out of that inning, and kept the Yankees away in the 6th. But after giving up a double to Judge in the 7th, he was replaced. Judge quickly scored on Stanton’s 1-out single, and after Hicks’ 2-out walk, Tyler Austin hit a long double to score both Stanton and Hicks.

But the Yankees weren’t done yet, and the 8th inning reliever was clearly having a bad day. Gleyber Torres led-off with his first major league hit, a single up the middle. The bases were quickly loaded with walks to Gardner and Judge. And Didi Gregorius smacked a huge grand slam to push the Yankees into double-digit scoring. After Stanton singled and then was forced out on Sanchez’s grounder, the Twins decided they had enough.

So they called on their center fielder to pitch. Yes, they had a position player pitch. (Are they saving their bullpen for the rest of the series?) He got his first batter (Hicks) to pop up and get a fairly easy out at 2nd (Sanchez). Tyler Austin saw the first pitch and smacked it into the visitor’s bullpen for a 2-run home run before a grounder ended the inning. (By the way, the position player pitcher only threw 5 pitches to get out of the inning, in contrast to the actual reliever who threw 29 to get a single out.)

Final score: 14-1 Yankees

This year is the 20th anniversary of the perfect game thrown by former Yankees’ starter David Wells. (The actual anniversary will be May 17.) In honor of this event, Wells threw out the 1st pitch (and it’s clearly been 20 years) and the stadium gave away commemorative David Wells bobbleheads. It’s worth noting that a certain young New Yorker was seated with the Bleacher Creatures to personally witness the game. Saving his $7 ticket stub, that young man eventually became a Yankees All-Star reliever — Dellin Betances.

Trivia bits: Jorge Posada was the catcher for David Wells perfect game, the opposing team were the Minnesota Twins, future Hall of Famer Paul Molitor was the Twins’ DH, Bernie Williams went 3-for-3 with 3 runs scored and a solo homer in the 4th (1 of 4 runs scored that day), Wells threw a total of 120 pitches (79 strikes and 41 balls) and got 11 strikeouts, and it was “Beanie Baby Day” at the stadium (because it was 1998).

Go Yankees!

Game 16: MIA vs. NYY — Nearly frozen out in the Bronx

After last night’s rout, the Yankees were looking for a quick end to this short series on an upswing. But it was not to be, and the Yankees return to being even in the standings (8-8 win-loss ratio) by the end of tonight’s game. Masahiro Tanaka was not having a good night in his start against the Marlins. In his 5 innings, he threw 83 pitches, but gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 7 runs (6 earned), striking out 5 Miami batters. He just had trouble finding outs in some of his innings, no thanks to the sloppy defense (only 2 errors, and that was clearly a scorer being generous).

In the 1st, he gave up a single, a walk, an RBI single, and a single to load up the bases before a throwing error kept the bases loaded and scored another run. The next batter hit into a double play (the first of 3 tonight: #2, #3), finally recording an out in the game. A single led-off the 2nd inning, and he ended up at 2nd on a missed catch error trying to get the out at 1st. A ground out moved that runner to 3rd, and a single then scored him. And a 2-out single in the 5th moved to 2nd on a walk before both runners would score as part of a big 3-run home run to just pack in the runs for the Marlins.

After Tanaka, the Yankees turned to recently recalled (see below) Luis Cessa, who set down the Marlins for the 6th and 7th innings. Looking to extend his outing, Cessa came out for the 8th but immediately started struggling. He gave up a single, a wild pitch, a walk, and an RBI single with no outs before he admitted his injury. The Yankees turned to Chad Green to get out of the jam of runners on the corners. Green gave up a sacrifice fly to score the lead runner, but then buckled down to get out of the 8th without further damage. Robertson came on to close out the game in the 9th, with a 14-pitch, 3-strikeout flawless inning.

Meanwhile, the Yankees batters were just stymied against the Marlins’ pitchers. While they certainly racked up the walks — 5 off the starter, 7 in total — they didn’t get an actual hit until Miguel Andujar’s double in the 5th inning. Beyond that, they only got 4 total hits all night. They loaded up the bases in the 6th, but ended up striking out of the inning. They just weren’t hitting or hitting well tonight at all.

In fact, the only reason they got on the board at all was Andujar’s 2-out solo home run (his 1st career MLB homer, by the way) into the left field seats in the 9th inning. Andujar had an absolutely stellar night himself, going 2-for-4, including his 1st career home run. None of that amazingness rubbed off on any of his teammates though, and that’s tough at the end of the day.

Final score: 9-1 Marlins, they split this series 1-1

Roster moves: before tonight’s game, the Yankees sent pitcher Tommy Kahnle to the DL with right shoulder tendonitis, retroactive to Monday. In his spot on the roster, the Yankees recalled Luis Cessa, but now he’s headed to the DL with that oblique strain injury in the 8th.

Next up: the Yankees have an off-day tomorrow, which is a shame in a way because it’s going to be a beautiful day in the City. (Enjoy your off-day, guys!) On Thursday, they begin their 4-game weekend series against the visiting Blue Jays. And except for Thursday, the rest of the weekend looks amazing for ball games. I don’t know about you, but I’m already over all this weird April weather and its effect on the games and schedule.

Go Yankees!

Game 12: NYY vs. BOS — Rivalry drama flares up in Fenway

Every year, the Yankees and Red Sox face off as division rivals multiple times. This year, both teams get 3 chances to host the other, facing off 19 times in total, as per the rules. Since 2013, MLB dictates that division rivals must face off 19 times over the season, 6-7 times against other teams in their league (AL or NL) and 20 times against teams in the other league (AL vs. NL). We’re on Game 2 vs. the Red Sox of 19 times this season, and the rivalry, for all intents and purposes, is so far from dead.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in tonight’s middle game of the series in Boston. He threw 83 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and striking out just 3 batters. However, Tanaka bookended his outing with his bad moments. Because leaving out the 1st and 5th innings, Tanaka was on fire, just plowing through the Red Sox line up.

In the 1st, after 2 quick outs, Tanaka gave up a solo home run to get the Red Sox on the board. A single, wild pitch, and walk seemed to indicate he was rattled, but he pulled it together and began the really good part of his outing, getting 10 straight outs really efficiently. But in the 5th, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a 1-out single and then scored on a double. After another out, he gave up a walk to load up the bases. But then a lingering pitch was served straight up the middle for a grand slam home run to boost the Red Sox’s score. (Which probably should’ve been the big story of the game, but this is no ordinary game.)

Fortunately, the Yankees’ relievers initially were much cleaner in their outings. Chad Green had a pretty solid 2 innings in the 6th and 7th, and David Robertson commanded his 8th inning, both keeping the Red Sox from adding to their score. Aroldis Chapman, however, struggled his way through the 9th, giving up a single that ended up at 3rd on a double. Two outs later, Chapman’s wild pitch allowed both runners to move up and thus one to score another run. But a nice strike out ended that inning.

And in any other game, 7 allowed runs might be a huge problem. But the Yankees weren’t about to allow another repeat of yesterday’s messy game, and instead created one of their own. In the 1st, the Yankees took advantage of the Red Sox’s starter having a bad night. Gardner led-off with a single and Judge worked a walk, and they both scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s big triple. 1 out later, Gary Sanchez hit a 2-run Green Monster home run to give the Yankees a very early lead.

In the 3rd, Sanchez led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Walker’s single, and then scored on Tyler Austin’s single. Tyler Wade bunted into a fielder’s choice for the out at 2nd, which ultimately reignited the rivalry. (More after the recap.) A quick double play ended further hope to add to their score. At least in that inning.  In the 4th, Gardner and Judge hit consecutive singles, and Gardner took 3rd on a long fly out. He then scored on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly. Judge scored on Gary Sanchez’s second Green Monster 2-run home run of the game.

And in the 6th, Gardner led-off with a walk, stole 2nd but ended up at 3rd on a throwing error, and then scored on Stanton’s single. Stanton then took 2nd and 3rd on 2 wild pitches before scoring on Gregorius’ sacrifice fly to cap off the Yankees’ scoring today.

Final score: 10-7 Yankees

Brawl in Fenway: okay, so that brief mention of a scuffle in the 3rd was the first sign of issues. Tyler Austin slid into 2nd with a bit too much gusto and ended up kind of spiking the short stop in the ankle (he’s fine, by the way, and stayed in the entire game without injury). Well, benches cleared, and the situation was handled quickly. The umpires had a bit of a rules check to make sure the slide wasn’t malicious in intent (which could result in an automatic double play). It wasn’t, so the game went on.

Things were just fine. Both teams playing hard and wanting to win. The Red Sox wanting to extend their win streak to 10 game, the Yankees needing to even out their own win-loss record. And then the 7th inning… With 1 out, the new reliever took 4 pitches and drilled Tyler Austin in the back. Austin spiked his bat in anger. He knew it was intentional. When the pitcher started yelling at him, Austin threw off his helmet and charged the mound. More empty benches.

It took some time to settle down all the tempers and sort things out. In the end, the reliever was ejected, joined by Austin as the two primary instigators in the incident (as usual). And for reasons I’m still not quite sure, 3rd base coach Phil Nevin and Tommy Kahnle joined Austin in the clubhouse for the rest of the game. Later, Kahnle said he didn’t like how an umpire shoved him out of the way and told him so, so the umpire ejected him for “disrespect”. Nevin’s ejection is much more of mystery, but I suppose it’s probably closer to Kahnle’s than Austin’s.

Now, following the game, the reliever said that it wasn’t intentional and the pitch “just got away from him”, but his teammate who got spiked in the 3rd said he was proud and felt “protected” by the reliever’s “actions” in the 7th. You can be the judge when you watch the clip, but the incident is far to close to the Dempster-Rodriguez hit-by-pitch incident in 2013 and drew a lot of comparisons online. (By the way, despite mirroring tonight’s standard line of “it got away from me”, now-retired pitcher Ryan Dempster later admitted in 2016 he totally intended to hit Alex Rodriguez that game.)

Like I said, you be the judge. Either way, the game is messy anyway, and there’s far too many injuries in a single season. It’s not cool to injure someone intentionally, either with spikes (as the Red Sox say Austin did) or with a pitch to the back (as the Yankees say Kelly did). The sides will fall along “party lines” as they always do, but now that this game is over, let’s close the page on today and start tomorrow fresh. They’re will be plenty more games (17 actually) to get the best revenge — winning more games than your opponent. Don’t stoop low to “even the score”, go high, be classy, and just be the better team and win.

Go Yankees!