NLDS & ALDS: ATL vs. STL, WAS vs. LAD & TB vs. HOU, MIN vs. NYY — 3 Game 5s & a 3-game sweep

There is nothing normal about the postseason most years, and this year continues to prove this once again. Three of the series went to a Game 5, and only one series was a sweep. And none of those is what you might expect.

NLDS A: The Cardinals and Braves duked it out through 5 games, and it wasn’t until the 5th that the Cardinals came on strong and just made the decision to win this series.

NLDS
Game 1: Actually, the Braves had this game right up until the final inning, when the Cards came out swinging. The Braves just could not catch up in the end. 7-6 Cardinals

Game 2:
The Braves decided they weren’t going to let the series head to St. Louis without a hometown win, using this game to prove why they came out on top of the NL East by blanking the visiting Cardinals. 3-0 Braves

Game 3: This was one of those super tight games, with the Cards eking a single run by the Braves until the 9th. The visitors scored 3 big runs in that inning and ended up taking the lead in the series. 3-1 Braves

Game 4: Another nail biter in the series, as the game was tied and went into the 10th inning before the Cardinals got a walk-off home run to tie up the series. 5-4, in 10 Cardinals

Game 5: Back in Atlanta, the Braves lost their home field advantage in that 1st inning, giving up 10 runs to the visitors, who ended up dominating this game. 13-1 Cardinals

Cardinals win the series in 5 games

NLDS B: Almost everyone “knew” who was going to win this series. Almost everyone “knew” they were going to sweep this series. Almost everyone was very wrong.

Game 1: However, after this first game, “they” were rather confident they “knew” how this was going to work as the Dodgers quickly shut out the Nationals. 6-0 Dodgers

Game 2: But then the Nationals came back and just edged out the home team. 4-2 Nationals

Game 3: In DC, the Dodgers came back just crushing the home team with a big 6th inning. 10-4 Dodgers

Game 4: And somehow, the Nats weren’t about to go away quietly, relying on some solid pitching to tie up the series again and force a Game 5. 6-1 Nationals

Game 5: Another nail-biter in the NL. The game was tied right into the 10th, right up until the Dodgers’ reliever gave up a huge grand slam. The deficit too big to overcome by the home team, costing them the rest of the postseason. 7-3, in 10 Nationals

Nationals win the series in 5 games

ALDS A: As with the other league’s version of this series, games between the league leader and the wild card winner aren’t anything normal or predictable. Especially as the Rays were on quite the tear this last month in their quest for a postseason. But in this series alone, it was all about the “home field advantage”.

Game 1: The Astros started the series strong, only giving up runs to the Rays in the 8th. 6-2 Astros

Game 2: The Astros’ starter the game was just amazing, streaming through the Rays’ lineup and collecting 15 strikeouts. Not that the Rays were slacking. The Astros just played better. 3-1 Astros

Game 3: Once the game was at the Trop, the Rays came out swinging and just didn’t stop. They certainly weren’t about to let the Astros just run away with this series. 10-3 Rays

Game 4: While this wasn’t as poweful in the end, the Rays still collected 13 total hits, giving them more opportunities to score and eventually tie up the series. 4-1 Rays

Game 5: Again, this series was all about home field advantage. Once they were back in Houston, the Astros took command again and showed their fans why they deserve to go to the ALCS once again. 6-1 Astros

Astros win series in 5 games

ALDS B: The one series nobody was really talking about. Outside Yankee Universe, that is. But this one was something to really watch, as the Yankees were about to show off a bit.

Game 1: The Yankees had some really big innings, including home runs by LeMahieu and Gardner. Though Paxton started, it was Kahnle who ended up with the win for his 5th & 6th inning stint to essentially save the game early on until the Yankees powered their way through with those big runs in the 6th. 10-4 Yankees

Game 2: It was Tanaka Time in the Bronx for this game. Aand once again, the Yankee bats came through to support their starter, including a big 3rd inning offense. And while most of their runs were off RBI singles, but i was Didi Gregorius’ grand slam to ensure the Yankees’ eventual win. 8-2 Yankees

Game 3: Home field advantage didn’t seem to matter to the Yankees this series, as they took their momentum on the road. They used an opener in Green, who showed his reliability with a strong start and set the pattern for the rest of the game, backed by a good offense with homers by Torres and Maybin. 5-1 Yankees

Yankees sweep series in 3 games.

An interesting article I found was the idea that no one gives an MVP award for the Division Series. This is one writer’s idea of who should get this hypothetical award. I agreed (or at least understood) his picks in most of these games. But what do you think?

Championship Series begins tomorrow night with NLCS and Saturday with the ALCS. It is a best-of-7 series, so the first team with 4 wins will move onto the World Series next week.

My predictions: So, this first round was a mixed bag. I completely blew the NLDS. First is my prediction, second is the outcome.

  • NLDS A: Braves over Cardinals in 5 games — Cardinals in 5
  • NLDS B: Dodgers over Nationals in 3 games — Nationals in 5
  • ALDS A: Astros over Rays in 4 games — Astros in 5
  • ALDS B: Yankees over Twins in 5 games — Yankees in 3

Now for the Championship Series: (Perhaps, I’ll be better this round.)

  • NLCS: Cardinals over Nationals in 6 games
  • ALCS: Yankees over Astros in 7 games

It’s clearly going to be one of those postseasons. And let’s be honest, it’s really just beginning. But isn’t that what makes October Baseball more intriguing — that you don’t know what’s going to happen?

Go Yankees!

Game 162: NYY vs. TEX — 102 wins, 305 HRs, AL East champs, and the Yanks head to postseason

And suddenly, the season is over. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were sitting in our seats in Steinbrenner Field in Tampa enjoying the first day of Spring Training. One of the perks of a Florida spring is watching Yankee veterans and rookies and minor leaguers play on the same field. The anticipation of a new fresh season is palpable as fans chatter about which players are returning or what new young hopeful has been invited for the spring. It is always amazing to watch the roster come seamlessly together for the a new season.

It has been quite the season, summer baseball filled with new records set and new faces earning their much deserved spot on the Yankee roster. Despite the unexpected record injuries that saw the rise of a new generation of Yankees, we all witnessed New York pull together as a team and keep moving forward to earn their well-deserved spot as the AL East Division Champions.

And so here we are now in late September in Texas to face the Rangers before a sell-out crowd on a warm day in Arlington. It may not have been the final score Yankee fans hoped for, but with Game 162 now in the record books, all Yankee eyes are now on the postseason and October baseball.

For this last game of the season today, 6 Yankee pitchers shared the mound and gave up 10 hits for 6 runs. In the 1st inning, Chad Green was chosen to start as the opener for the Yankees. Facing 5 batters in the 1st inning, Green gave up a walk to the lead-off batter followed by a single. A throwing error allowed the 2 runners to do a double steal and score a run. Green followed with 2 strikeouts and an outfield fly out to end the inning.

Masahiro Tanaka came to the mound for a long-term relief outing, starting in the 2nd. His first inning was smooth, facing 3 batters for 3 outs, including a stellar infield play caught with a backhanded catch by Gio Urshela on 3rd for the throw to DJ LeMahieu for the out. Tanaka’s 3rd inning was a bit messier, giving up a 1-out double and a single to put runners on the corners. A sloppy throwing error on a pick-off attempt by Tanaka allowed a run. A fly out to right moved a runner to 3rd, who then scored on a single to left field. With 2 outs, a pop up caught by Urshela at 3rd finally ended the inning.

Then, in the 4th, after fielding a grounder for the out at 1st base, Urshela left the game with a sore ankle and was replaced by Wade at 3rd. After a strikeout swinging, Tanaka gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases before coming on strong, retiring the side with a ground out, stranding 3 on base.

In the 5th, Tommy Kahnle replaced Tanaka and gave up a single to left, a hit by pitch, and a walk to load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice caught the runner at home for a stellar defensive play for the out, but left the bases loaded. Kahnle gave up a single that scored 2 runs, but a great double play ended the inning.

Adam Ottavino took the mound in the 6th, giving up a single and a walk. He gave up a grounder for a force out to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly scored a run, and a pop out ended the inning. Britton came out for the 8th, giving up a single, but a great defensive double play and a swinging strikeout closed the inning. Chapman got some work in for a quick 3-out 8th inning.

The Yankee lineup was scoreless for the first two innings. In the 3rd, Aaron Judge hit his 27th season homer 408 feet over the left field fence to tie the game and give the Yankees a record 305 season home runs. Perhaps Judge’s homer for the first run scored in this last game was only fitting for the season wrap up since the first run scored for the Yankees on opening day this year was also homer, a 3-run long ball by Luke Voit.

The Yankee lineup struggled to reach base and remained scoreless for the rest of the game. Coming down to the 9th inning for their final chance for the win or at least to add a couple home runs to best the Twins for the season home run record. But three outs later, regular season play for New York was over.

Final score: 6-1 Rangers, Rangers win the series 2-1

Injury updates: The Yankees are optimistic that Edwin Encarnacion might be available for post-season play, but he is not currently in the lineup. Gio Urshela twisted his ankle on a jumping throw during an infield out in today’s game. Doctors diagnosed Urshela with a mild sprain that should heal quickly and no further tests are planned at this time.

Yankee postseason rosters, more injury updates, and postseason predictions are forthcoming. The Wild Card games are this Tuesday and Wednesday (October 1-2), with the NLDS starting on Thursday (October 3) and the ALDS on Friday (October 4). It’s shaping up to be some very interesting October baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 154: LAA vs. NYY: 100th win for the AL East Championship

Yankee Stadium fans were in for a treat tonight as they witnessed an outstanding game. Facing the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees earned their well-deserved 100th win that clinched the 2019 AL East Division Championship, their first division title since 2012. Despite being plagued this year by a record-breaking number of players on the IL that had many doubting a shot at a title, the Yankees continued to show their depth of talent and solid ability to play as a team, no matter who was in the lineup or on the mound. The Yankees came ready to play as a team and it showed.

Masahiro Tanaka took a solid command of the mound to start the game against the Los Angeles Angels. It was “Tanaka Time” for a full 7 innings that gave the starter his 11th win of the season. Facing 24 batters, Tanaka threw 86 pitches and gave up just one run, a solo home run to right field in the 4th. Gearrin replaced Tanaka in the 8th for an easy 3 outs. And in the 9th, Aroldis Chapman took over the mound to close the inning for the Yankees 100th season win to clinch the AL East, their first since 2012.

After a scoreless 1st, the Yankees started off the 2nd inning with a walk from lead-off batter Maybin, who was then caught on fielder’s choice by Gardner. Romine then singled, and DJ LeMahieu came to the plate and sent a 3-run homer, his 25th this year, over the right-center field fence, scoring both Gardner and Romine.  In the 4th, Brett Gardner homered to right field for another run.

Gregorius led-off the 6th with a single and then stole 2nd. Following a walk by Urshela, Maybin hit into a ground out that moved Urshela and Gregorius into scoring position. Gardner then hit a solid double that scored both Urshela and Gregorius. And in the 8th, with the Yankees solidly ahead, Cameron Maybin hit a solo home run. After a walk by Gardner, Clint Frazier then sent a 2-run home run ball over the left field fence. All ending up in a solid 100th win tonight for the Yankees.

Final score: 9-1 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

News updates: Yankee pitcher Domingo German is on restricted leave due to an investigation by MLB into alleged domestic abuse incident. No formal charges have been filed, but until the investigation is completed, the Yankees selected the contract of right-hander Michael King from AA Trenton to take German’s place on the roster.

A big congratulations to all the Yankees on their 100th season win and their new title as AL East Division Champions, such a well-deserved honor.

Go Yankees!

Game 149: NYY vs. TOR — Even a butterfly couldn’t help in extras

For this weekend’s 3-game series, the Yankees traveled across the northern border to Toronto to meet the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Tonight’s game was long and grueling, tied for most of the innings as both teams battled for the win, even going into extra innings to battle it down to a walk-off.

Masahiro Tanaka took the mound for New York through 5 innings, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs, for a not so memorable start. Tanaka started well and quickly faced 3 batters for 3 outs.  In the 2nd, Tanaka gave up a home run to left field, and later, 2 singles and a double allowed 2 more runs in the 4th. And Tanaka gave up a double and a single that scored another run for Toronto in the 5th. Tanaka was replaced in the 6th by Tommy Kahnle who gave up a single, but no runs.

Adam Ottavino took over in the 7th. He gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. After a walk and fielder’s choice, runners were on the corners, but a balk moved the runners up and scored a run for the home team to tie up the game at that point. Zack Britton took strong command in the 8th for 3 quick outs, including a swinging strikeout and a rather close call with a butterfly. (Yes, a real live butterfly.)

Cessa came out for the 9th and 10th, and gave up a couple of singles, but allowed no runs, keeping the game tied. Tyler Lyons replaced Cessa for the 11th, facing 3 batters for 3 outs. But when Lyons remained on the mound in the 12th, things didn’t resolve in their favor. Lyons gave up a home run to the first batter of that inning, allowing a walk-off win for the Blue Jays.

Scoreless in the first 4 innings and behind by 3 runs in the 5th inning, New York bats finally came alive in a big way. Gardner doubled and then promptly scored on a double by Clint Frazier. A single to left by Austin Romine scored Frazier.

LeMahieu’s single on moved Romine to 2nd, and Torres hit into a fielder’s choice that left runners on the corners. Luke Voit then reached base on a fielder’s choice, scoring Romine to tie-up the game. And wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position so that Gio Urshela’s single allowed both Torres and Voit to score and jump the Yankees ahead.

After the Blue Jays evened up the score again by the 7th, the Yankees tried to break that tie through the rest of their game. And while they certainly had some great opportunities, they never were able to cross home pate again.

Final score: 6-5 Blue Jays, in 12 innings

Injury update: Good news for JA Happ. Sidelined with recurring bicep tendonitis, he is showing improvement since a cortisone shot. He is expected to return to the mound next week during the Yankees’ final home stand. And he could be joined by some other teammates working their way off the IL as well.

Roster moves: In the last week, the Yankees have activated pitchers Ben Heller and CC Sabathia from the IL, and both pitched pretty well this week too. They also put Mike Tauchman on the 10-day IL due to his calf strain. Stephen Tarpley began his rehab assignment with the AA Trenton Thunder on Tuesday before being activated back to the major league roster on Thursday. And they also designated reliever Adonis Rosa for assignment before outrighting him to AAA Scranton.

Finally, MLB is currently featuring the New York Yankees for their annual honoring of Hispanic Heritage Month. The story features several current and former players. Check out the video here.

Go Yankees!

Game 144: NYY vs. BOS — Tanaka troubles but offense prevails

It  was another cool evening game in Boston before a near-capacity crowd that witnessed once again why New York still earns the Bronx Bombers moniker. Seemed like the Yankees got the perfect pitches needed to rack up the score and even break the home run record for the league. Pitching did not start out strong, but the relievers combined with those Yankee bats and defense held stronger for the win in the shadow of the Green Monster.

Masahiro Tanaka took the mound to start the game and threw 80 pitches over four full innings, allowing 8 hits, 4 runs, including one home run. The first 2 innings, Tanaka kept Boston scoreless, but with the Yankees ahead in the bottom of the 3rd, he seemed to begin to struggle a bit and allowed a single line drive to left field, followed by a fly ball home run to left that gave the Red Sox 2 runs. Tanaka allowed 2 more runs in the 4th on a single and 2 doubles that threatened New York’s lead, but no outs.

With that, Tanaka was done for the night. In addition to closing out the 4th for Tanaka,  Chad Green took over the mound for 3 perfect innings, facing 6 batters for 6 straight outs. In the 7th, Green struck out three more batters in a row for a stellar outing for the evening. Ottavino took over in the 8th and promptly gave up a home run to left, but he got out of the inning with 3 straight outs. And for the 9th inning, Loaisiga was given the ball, so 3 outs later, the game was over.

The first run for the Yankees came in the 2nd inning. With Sanchez on base with a single to left field, Gleyber Torres knocked a solid 2-run homer out of the park over the Green Monster to give the Yankees the early lead. In the 3rd inning, Tauchman hit a ground-rule double to left and moved to 3rd on a single from LeMahieu. A single by Aaron Judge moved LeMahieu to 3rd and scored Tauchman, and a ground out by Sanchez scored LeMahieu.

At the top of the 4th, Torres singled to left and then scored on a home run to right field by Mike Tauchman. In the top of the 5th, lead-off batter Aaron Judge hit his 21st homer of the season to left field, up and over the Green Monster and breaking the league record for most home runs in a season. A record, by the way, set last year also by the Yankees.

Then Gregorius reached on a fielding error and later scored when Gleyber Torres grounded into a force out. The next 3 innings were relatively quiet, but at the top of the 9th, Gregorius walked, and a fielding error put Sanchez on base. A throwing error then moved the runners into scoring position. So Edwin Encarnacion singled to left to score Gregorius and move Sanchez to 3rd. Despite a pitching change as Boston tried to jam up the offense, Torres doubled home Sanchez, and the Yankees tallied up a double-digit run count, besting the Red Sox in their own territory again.

Final score: 10-5 Yankees

Roster moves: The Yankees activated Thairo Estrada and Gio Urshela. Plus, both Kyle Higashioka and Breyvic Valera have been recalled from the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The September call-ups continue.

Go Yankees!

Game 139: TEX vs. NYY: Dreary day in the Bronx

A grey and rainy game day in New York greeted the 40,000 fans to the Bronx. Waiting out a long rain delay, fans were hopeful for another Yankee win. But the dreary day never got any brighter for the team and ended with the first Yankee shut-out in 220 games, the second longest major league scoring streak in history. Until today, the Yankees have scored at least 1 run in every game since July 1, 2018.

After a nearly 3 hour rain delay, Masahiro Tanaka finally took the mound for 6 full innings against the visiting Rangers for this Labor Day opener. Tanaka threw 103 pitches, giving up a total of 7 hits and 2 runs. In the 1st, Tanaka gave up 2 singles and a sacrifice fly to allow for that first run. And in the 5th, Tanaka allowed a home run to right center field.

Cortes took over in the 7th, and in the 8th, Cortes gave up a couple of base runners, including an RBI single, followed by a 2-run home run to left to widen the Rangers’ lead. Lyons replaced Cortes for the 9th and up another home run to right center field on his first pitch, but then he secured 3 outs quickly to close the inning.

Now, the Yankee bats had their own set of struggles with the Rangers’ pitchers. The soggy stadium crowd that had patiently waited out the rain delay was treated to several displays of strong batting for several opportunities to score but were disappointed as the Yankees remained scoreless this afternoon.

For example, in the 1st, after Torres worked a walk, Sanchez hit a solid double to move Torres to 3rd, but both were left in scoring position at the end of the inning. And finally, in the bottom of the 9th with two outs, Ford hit a line drive single to right in hopes to actually score a run today, but the final out of the game left Ford stranded, and this dreary rainy day game was over.

Final score: 7-0 Rangers

Injury updates: With all eyes on the playoffs, the players on the IL are being closely monitored. No update on when CC Sabathia will return to the mound. His knee was drained and treated but will remain on the IL with that right knee inflammation.

Jonathan Holder, on the IL for three weeks due to right shoulder inflammation, has begun a throwing program, the first since his injury. Stephen Tarpley is closer to returning with noted progress as he recovers from his left shoulder impingement. And good news for Luis Severino, who threw 33 pitches on Sunday in a rehab game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, plus an additional 12 bullpen pitches.

And finally, our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of former Yankee minor leaguer, Chace Numata, who died tragically earlier today after a skateboarding accident in Erie, PA. Numata was most recently with Detroit’s AA team. According to the Tigers’ press release, the young catcher was considered a leader on and off the field, encouraging other players, and always making everyone feel welcome wherever he went. His grieving family thanks everyone for their prayers and support during this difficult time.

Go Yankees!

Game 134: NYY vs. SEA — #TanakaTime topples T-Mobile Park

The Yankees continue their West Coast trip with an upswing, dominating the Mariners in this middle game of their mid-week series in Seattle. Of course, it helps that Masahiro Tanaka was on fire tonight and came pretty close to a no-hitter.

Over 7 scoreless innings, Tanaka threw 106 pitches, gave up 7 strikeouts and 1 ball, and only allowed 3 hits. Luis Cessa took over in the 8th and faced 6 batters for 6 outs to close the game with another victory for the Yankees.

From the 1st inning, the Yankee bats showed their consistency and strength. LeMahieu hit a sharp line drive to left and then scored on a monster 2-run home run to center by Aaron Judge to get the Yankees on the board. The 3rd inning was all about the 3’s — Torres singled and moved to 3rd on Sanchez’s single to center, before Brett Gardner fired a 3-run home run to right, adding those 3 runs to the scoreboard for a solid lead.

In the 5th, Urshela doubles, moved to 3rd on Tauchman’s grounder, and then scored on Austin Romine’s grounder. And at the top of the 9th, Sanchez reached 2nd on a throwing error, and Gardner worked a walk. Urshela’s fielder’s choice got Sanchez out at 3rd, so when Tauchman was hit by pitch, the bases were loaded. Austin Romine earned a walk to bring home Gardner for another run.

Final score: 7-0 Yankees

Aaron Judge’s home run in the 1st, all 462 feet of it, was his 100th career home run. Judge became the 3rd fastest player to hit 100 career homers, in just 371 games. He fell short of former Phillies’ star Ryan Howard (with 325 games) and teammate Gary Sanchez (with 355 games).

Injury update: Aaron Hicks is due for an exam on his strained flexor muscles. After a positive assessment, hopes are that he can begin throwing soon. And Giancarlo Stanton traveled with the team to Seattle to get some workouts in, continuing his road back to pinstripes. He’s been throwing some, hitting off the tee, and running in the outfield, and today he hit some on-field batting practice before the game. Close, but not yet for these two outfielders.

Go Yankees!