Game 95: NYY vs. CLE — Splitting the series with loss in half finale

The Yankees were hoping to close out this first half of the season on an upswing, so to speak. But they had to settle for a split series and a loss this afternoon in Cleveland going into the All-Star break.

The Yankee bats did what usually ensures them a win — get on the board first and give enough lead to allow the starter and bullpen to keep things together. Gardner led-off the 3rd with a single, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on Gregorius’ 1-out single, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ 2-out single. And Neil Walker hit a big 2-out solo home run in the 4th to double their score.

This was good news to today’s starter Masahiro Tanaka, who was fairly efficient with just 77 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and striking out 5 Cleveland batters. The game ended up tied in the bottom of the 4th, when that lone walk scored as part of a solid 2-run home run.

With a runner at 2nd and just 1 out in the 7th, the Yankees turned to the reliable Chad Green to keep things close and get out of the threat. He did. In that inning, at least. But in the 8th, things got messy. The Indians broke the tie when their lead-off batter hit a solo homer. The next batter singled, stole 2nd, and ended up at 3rd on the steal due to a bad throwing error. The next batter was hit by a pitch, a wicked shot to the back hand on an errant inside pitch. And after an out (finally), he intentionally loaded the bases.

A long sacrifice fly to right field tested the speed of the runner against Stanton’s arm and Higashioka’s reactions. It seems the runner slid just under the tag to give the Indians their insurance run. During the throw, the other runner moved to 3rd and would later score on a bad wild pitch. A quick 12-pitch 9th by the Indians’ closer ended the Yankees chances for a rally.

Final score 5-2 Indians, series split 2-2

Next up: after today, all of MLB enters the official “half-time”, the All-Star break. A select few will travel (or are traveling) to Washington, D.C. for all the festivities of the All-Star Game. As I write this the All-Star Futures Game is underway, with Yankees’ prospect pitcher Justus Sheffield set to pitch for Team USA. The Home Run Derby will be tomorrow (Monday) night as the cap to Work-Out Day. And then after the Red Carpet Parade, the big exhibition game will be Tuesday night, featuring Judge and Severino with Torres and Chapman (both resting due to injuries) cheering on from the AL dugout.

Following a couple of days off, baseball returns on Friday, with the Yankees hosting the Mets for a 3-game weekend series. They’ll take a quick trip down to Tampa Bay for a 3-game series before returning to the Bronx for 4-games against the Royals, a day-off, and 2-games against the Orioles to close out this month.

And if you’re a trivia nerd, here’s some numbers to sound smart in conversations about baseball. The Yankees finish this first half with 62 wins, 33 losses, 4.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East but tied for 2nd (with Houston) in all of MLB.

As a team, the Yankees are 1st in home runs (160), 2nd in walks (1st in the AL, with 363), 3rd in runs scored (491) and RBIs (474), 2nd in On-base percentage plus slugging (.796), 2nd in pitching ERA (3.46), and their pitchers rank 2nd in strikeouts given (945).

Individually, the team leaders include Luis Severino in ERA (2.31, also 5th in the AL) and wins (14, also 1st in MLB), Aroldis Chapman in saves (26, 4th in MLB), Miguel Andujar in batting average (.283), Giancarlo Stanton in hits (103), and Aaron Judge in home runs (25, also 3rd in MLB), runs scored (66), RBIs (60), and OPS (.937, also 6th in AL).

Basically, things are in a good place. Plus, they hope to have both Sanchez and Torres back right after the break, though their AAA back-ups (Higashioka and Wade) are doing quite a good job in their stead. And with that looming trade deadline at the end of the month, the Yankees aren’t just battling for a winning season, they’re contending for their 28th championship. And with teams like the Astros and Red Sox (really their biggest threats this season so far) who are battling with them in nearly every category, the Yankees have some work to do.

The second half is going to be something to watch. So stay tuned. There’s so much more baseball left to play.

Go Yankees!

Game 93: NYY vs. CLE — Late offense came close, not close enough

The Yankees didn’t seem to find their footing in tonight’s game against the Indians for the first part of the game, both with their pitching and hitting. Domingo German had trouble out of the gate, once again, and still had some trouble staying consistent. He threw 91 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs, and still struck out 6 batters.

He gave up consecutive walks to lead off the 1st that moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. However, a ground out only allowed one run to scored before 2 strikeouts ended the threat. In the 2nd, with 1 out, a single scored on an RBI double, and after a walk, a long double scored 2 more runs. Then in the 5th, a lead-off single scored on a triple that ended German’s night.

He handed the ball over to Jonathan Holder, who promptly walked his first batter and then gave up a single to score German’s final base runner before getting out of his own jam. Then Holder sailed through the 6th inning. Shreve followed that up with 2 scoreless innings of his own, and though both were fraught with their own threats, he kept the game tight.

The Yankees were held off from their offense until the 5th inning. Bird led-off with a double, and Andujar worked a walk. Neil Walker’s double scored Bird, and a wild pitch scored Andujar and moved Walker to 3rd. One out and one single, Brett Gardner’s long sacrifice fly to score Walker.

Wade later led-off the 8th with a double and ended the Indians’ starter’s night. He moved to 3rd on a passed ball and then scored on Gardner’s ground out. With another new reliever, Judge was hit by a pitch.

And in a still questionable decision, the Indians pulled a “strike-em-out-throw-em-out” double play as Hicks struck out and Judge got tagged out stealing 2nd. Originally, Judge was ruled safe, but after an Indians’ challenge, the call was overturned. Why they’d risk a double play on a steal when Stanton was up next had everyone kind of “message board managing”.

It’s worth noting that Giancarlo Stanton hit a big solo home run to lead off the 9th inning to inch the Yankees closer to the Indians’ lead. However, 3 outs later, the Yankees ran out of outs.

Final score: 6-5 Indians

There’s been a lot of conversation, rightly so, about next week’s All-Star Game, and several new additions have been called up to replace selected players who are either inactive, injured, ineligible (starting Sunday), or choose to remove themselves from the roster. Like Aroldis Chapman. He’s been dealing with knee tendinitis since at least May, so he chose to attend but not play in the exhibition game on Tuesday. Chapman has been an All-Star previously (4 times with the Reds, 2012-2015), and will be considered as an All-Star for this year. But he’s got half of a regular season (and potential postseason) to go.

And as odd as this may seem, the benefit to this is that players selected for the game are often first-time All-Stars (like the one selected to fill Chapman’s spot). That means, they get to experience all the buzz, excitement, and special camaraderie for the first time next week. And that is kind of cool. Plus, it’s something that will forever be on their Wikipedia page, even if they just end up coaching Little League one day.

Go Yankees!

Game 87: NYY vs. TOR — Gardner leads to victory in the 10th. Who’s in the All-Star Game? #ASGiancarlo

Another lovely summer day in Toronto allowed for a great day at the ball park, the roof open, the skies clear, and the fans cheering on their teams. And for this rubber match (the game to decide who wins the series), the Yankees and Blue Jays certainly gave the fans somehting to cheer about.

Domingo German got the start in the finale against the Jays, throwing 100 pitches in 6 innings, giving up just 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, and striking out 5 batters. In fact, his lone allowed run was a 6th inning lead-off solo shot. Warren gave a solid 2 innings in relief, and Green followed that up by breezing through the 9th inning in just 11 pitches.

Now, the Yankees actually got on the board first, in the 1st inning. With 1 out, Judge singled, moved to 3rd on Stanton’s double, and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s ground out. After that, the Yankees collected 5 more hits and 2 walks through the next 8 innings, but didn’t do anything to add to their runs.

So, with the game tied, into the 10th inning they went. The first batter up, Bird, was hit by a pitch, and because they needed some speed on the bases, the Yankees called on Tyler Wade as pinch-runner. Romine’s sacrifice bunt moved Wade to 2nd and into scoring position so that when Brett Gardner hit a nice single into left field, Wade raced home to break the tie.

Two outs later, the Yankees called on David Robertson to close out the game. 12 pitches and 3 outs later, the Yankees declared victory for the game and the series.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees, in 10 innings, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: the Yankees are on their way to Baltimore to face the Orioles for a 4-game series, starting with a doubleheader tomorrow. The first game is a make-up game of the rain-out from May 31. After their series at Camden Yards, the Yankees travel to face the Indians for a 4-game weekend series before the All-Star Break.

And speaking of the All-Star Game, MLB officially announced their fan selections for the starters, as well as its player-voted (and Commissioner’s Office selected) player reserves and pitching staff for the game next Tuesday (July 17). And there are 4 (possibly 5) Yankees on that list — Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Aroldis Chapman, and Gleyber Torres. Giancarlo Stanton is nominated for the Final Vote.

Judge received his 2nd selection as an outfield starter this year, joined by pitchers Chapman and Severino (all for very obvious reasons). Plus, Torres was selected as part of the reserves player. Now, despite the fact that he may be sidelined due to his recent hip injury, selection to be part of the All-Star Game is a badge of sorts players can wear with honor for the rest of their lives. (You can enjoy a rather extensive list of the players selected and their achievements this year so far.)

And that brings us to the Final Vote. You can vote unlimited times until this Wednesday (July 10) at 4pm (EST) for your favorite AL and NL player of the 10 nominated (5 in each league) — like Stanton, for example. Other nominees include outfielders Andrew Benintendi (Red Sox) and Andrelton Simmons (Angels), shortstops Eddie Rosario (Twins) and Jean Segura (Mariners) for the AL. In the NL are infielders Jesus Aguilar (Brewers), Brandon Belt (Giants), Matt Carpenter (Cardinals), Max Muncy (Dodgers), and Trea Turner (Nationals).

So vote often for your favorites! And use the social media hashtag: #ASGiancarlo.

Go Yankees!

Game 79: BOS vs. NYY — A little of #CCStrong, a lot of #BabyBombers

The Yankees kicked off their final home stand before the All-Star Game on a high note, battling the Red Sox tonight for their first game of this weekend series. Going into tonight’s game, the Boston rivals were a game ahead of the Yankees (thanks to a less-than-ideal road trip). But the Yankees were quick to even up things in the AL East.

CC Sabathia had another solid start in tonight’s game, throwing 97 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and striking out 5 Boston batters. But he kept the Red Sox scoreless through 4 innings. In the 5th, with 2 outs, he gave up consecutive doubles to score the Sox’ lone run tonight.

Chad Green kept Sabathia’s momentum going with a solid, scoreless 8th inning, and in the 9th, Chasen Shreve got a chance to redeem himself after some bad outings this month. There’s a lot to be said about momentum and confidence. Shreve needed just 14 pitches to breeze his way through the inning, including 2 sharp strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were ready to make a dent in the Red Sox’s game tonight. Big time. In the 2nd, Gleyber Torres led-off with his first MLB triple and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s single to get the Yankees on the board first. Then Stanton led-off the 4th with a walk, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ double, and scored on Torres’ sacrifice fly. Andujar promptly hit a long 2-run home run into the left field seats, only to be followed by Greg Bird’s solo home run to ensure the Yankees’ easy victory.

Later, in the 7th, with a new pitcher on the mound, Hicks hit a nice 1-out single and then scored as part of Aaron Judge’s big 2-run home run. Then with 2 outs in the 8th, Bird hit his 2nd homer of the night, a solo shot deep into the right field seats.

Final score: 8-1 Yankees

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle alert: the Yankees sent pitcher Luis Cessa back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. With some strong left-handed pitchers coming up in the Red Sox and Braves’ rotation and bullpen, the Yankees wanted a strong bat. So they recalled infielder Brandon Drury, who has had a great time in recovery and while with the Rail Riders.

Yesterday, during the off-day, CC Sabathia hosted a charity softball game at Yankee Stadium. Sabathia and his wife Amber run the PitcchIn Foundation that helps out the Sabathia’s local communities in New York and their hometown of Oakland, like backpack drives, ball field renovations, and scholarships. This year’s big fundraiser raised over $1 million and featured current and former Yankees (like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Alex Rodriguez) alongside other celebrities (like Jennifer Lopez, Leslie Jones, Terrell Owens, Michael Rapaport, and Christopher Jackson) in front of a few hundred fans. It was a fun night for all, with Team CC beating Team Giancarlo 2-1 at the end of the night, and a great cause to help so many.

Go Yankees!

Game 75: NYY vs. TB — Sunday swept in extras

Traditionally, a starting pitcher throws a lot of pitches (upwards of 100) and then a reliever or two come in to finish off the game. But somehow, today’s finale against the Rays ended up being a collection of relievers for both teams, a total of 14 pitchers stood on the mound today (7 per team).

For the Yankees, Domingo German kicked things off and had a rather upsetting 3 innings, giving up 9 hits and 6 runs. A lead-off triple in the 1st scored on a double, and then that runner scored on a 2-out double to give the Rays an early lead. And a lead-off solo home run in the 2nd added one more to the scoreboard. Then in the 3rd, another lead-off triple scored on a 1-out single. After another single gave the Rays another base runner, a 2-out double scored both runners.

The Yankees had quite a bit of work to do to catch up. Fortunately, they started early too. In the 2nd, Stanton led-off with a double and moved to 3rd on a ground out. After Hicks worked a walk, Miguel Andujar’s big 3-run home run into the left field seats got the Yankees on the board. Then in the 5th, Gardner worked a 1-out walk, and the Rays went to their next reliever. After another out, Didi Gregorius doubled to score Gardner, and Giancarlo Stanton followed that with his own double to score Gregorius.

So, down by just a run, the Yankees kept looking for their opportunity. It wasn’t until the 8th inning, with Giancarlo Stanton’s lead-off solo home run to tie up the game. Actually, Stanton had a great day overall, going 5-for-5, with a walk, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBIs, including this 8th inning run — his 19th homer of the season.

The game went into extra innings, and both teams continued sending in their plethora of strong relievers to face off against each other into the 12th inning. Chasen Shreve came on for the Yankees in the bottom of the 12th. He threw 1 pitch, a 92 mph fastball right down the middle of the plate, and the batter sent it the other direction, straight up center field for the walk-off home run.

Final score: 7-6 Rays, in 12 innings, Rays sweep series 3-0

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to Philadelphia for a 3-game series there starting tomorrow night, before heading back home for a 6-game home stand against the Red Sox (on Friday) and Braves (next Monday). Hopefully, they will have a much better series than this weekend.

Injury news: Gary Sanchez is probably headed to the Disabled List after today’s game. In the 10th inning, Sanchez hit into a double play but on his way to running out to 1st, he started staggering his way down the line, clutching his upper thigh area and clearly in pain. Romine came on for the bottom of the inning, but it looks like Sanchez might have strained a muscle. They will send him to get an MRI tomorrow to determine a timeline, so there’s nothing to update right now.

It’s worth noting there is another catcher on the 40-man roster — Kyle Higashioka. Most likely, they will move Romine to be the regular catcher and call up Higashioka for back-up. But there’s nothing predictable about baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 72: SEA vs. NYY — 1st inning Bombers help sweep

The Yankees tabbed their ace Luis Severino to start this afternoon’s finale against the Mariners (and the home stand). And Severino continued his Cy Young candidacy this year earning his 11th win and yet still throwing 107 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 8 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and striking out just 5 batters.

In the 2nd, a lead-off walk scored on a 2-run home run to get Seattle on the board. Later, in the 6th, with 2 runners on base with singles and 2 outs, another single scored the Mariners’ final run. That would be the end of Severino’s afternoon, and Robertson closed out that inning quickly before easing his way through the 7th. Robertson was followed with solid innings by Betances and Chapman, who earned his 22nd save of the season.

Meanwhile, the Yankees actually earned their win entirely in the 1st inning and spent the rest of the game fending off the Mariners. Clint Frazier led-off the bottom of the 1st with a single and then scored quickly on Aaron Judge’s 19th homer of the season, a 2-run shot into the right field seats. Two outs later, a bit of deja vu as Torres singled and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s 2-run home run.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 3-0

Injury update/roster moves: the Yankees placed reliever AJ Cole on the 10-day Disabled List due to a neck strain or possible pinched nerve. In his place, the Yankees shortened the rehab of Luis Cessa, scheduled to pitch today in Trenton, but he’s been strong since his return to baseball after his oblique strain injury back in April.

Next up: the Yankees are on their way south for a weekend series in Tampa Bay against the Rays before heading up to face the Phillies. Then, they’re back in the Bronx to host the Red Sox and Braves for the final home stand before the All-Star Break, coming on the heels of a long road trip.

And speaking of the All-Star Game, consider this your regular reminder to get your votes in today for your favorite players (*hint: Yankees*). You can vote up to 5 times every 24 hours, up to 35 total times, until July 5 at 11:59 pm EST. Fans can cast votes for players they want to see start the All-Star Game next month (July 17) in Washington, D.C.

Once voting closes, league coaching teams will announce their selections for bench players, pitchers, and relievers to fill out their rosters, plus 5 nominees for the final spot that fans will get a chance to vote again. During the All-Star Game, fans can also vote for their choice for the MVP of the game. This whole fan voting process is to further engage fans in the Midsummer Classic, and to allow “something to matter” now that home field advantage isn’t something that is earned at this game but rather a result of best record.

And if you’re wondering about that Home Run Derby, you might have heard that Judge isn’t interested in defending his title as reigning Home Run Derby Champion. And honestly, Judge is a bit behind the AL leaders anyway — Trout (Angels) has 23, Martinez (Red Sox) and Ramirez (Indians) are tied with 22, Davis (Athletics) has 20, and then Judge is tied with Betts (Red Sox) with 19 runs. If you’re wondering, Stanton is tied with 3 other players with 18 homers.

But if you think that’s a tight race, the NL leader Harper (Nationals) has 19 runs, but then 4 players at tied with 16, 4 players with 15, and 6 players with 14. In other words, there’s very little settled in this special event to be held July 16 as the culmination of All-Star warm-up day.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 70: SEA vs. NYY — Is it “out-pitching” or “out-hitting” the visitors?

Domingo German may have finally found his footing that made the Yankees originally give him the nod to cover for Montgomery consistently this season. German faced the visiting Mariners in their opener tonight, throwing 96 pitches in his 7 strong innings, giving up just 2 hits and 2 runs (only 1 earned), and striking out 9 Seattle batters.

In the 1st, the lead-off batter doubled, moved to 3rd on a missed catch error (enter: the unearned possibility), and then scored on a force line out at 2nd. And a 1-out solo home run in the 7th doubled the Mariners’ score.

AJ Cole followed German’s solid start with 2 strong innings of his own, keeping the Mariners from adding to their runs and adding 3 more strike outs to the Yankees’ total of 12 tonight. This was in stark comparison to the Mariners’ stats of giving up 11 hits (compared to just 2 to their batters). When one team out-hits the other can, it can also be said they were out-pitched. The Yankees did both.

Down by a run early, the Yankees came back with a 2-out solo home run by Giancarlo Stanton to tie up the game. Then in the 5th, there was a bit of a repeated effort. Bird led-off with a walk and then scored as part of Miguel Andujar’s 2-run home run. Frazier singled and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run, that also got wedged into the visitor’s bullpen bench (after it bounced off the back wall). All before an out was recorded that inning, and ensured the Yankees a strong lead in tonight’s game.

In the 7th, Andujar led-off with a single, and then after an out, the Mariners went to their bullpen. Hicks’ single moved Andujar to 3rd before Aaron Judge’s single scored him. And if that wasn’t enough, Gleyber Torres hit his 14th home run, a 1-out solo shot in the 8th inning.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

The All-Star Game released images of their uniforms the players will wear next month for warm-up day. AL players will wear predominantly blue jerseys featuring the Washington Monument, while NL players’ red jerseys will feature the dome of the Capitol. There’s also some interesting socks and matching caps. Plus, there are special caps for the players to wear at the All-Star Game while they wear their regular team uniforms.

And there’s another update for voting, and it hopefully will spur Yankees fans to kick it up a notch and vote! Gary Sanchez has been bumped from his leading spot by another player and demoted to 2nd place thanks to an extra 60,000 votes by Rays’ fans. Aaron Judge is still in the running for an outfield spot, but still at 3rd place. To be fair, 4th place is a very distant 4th place (about 500,000 votes).

However, the rest of the Yankees are a bit further down on their respective lists because of the popular fan-favorites at each position. Finishing out the outfield, Gardner is currently 7th and Hicks 13th (about 1.2 and 1.3 million votes behind the Boston leader). Behind other popular players in their positions, Stanton, Andujar, and Torres are all 2nd in their categories (by 650,000, 400,000, and 1 million votes, respectively). Oddly, the tightest category is shortstop — Gregorius coming in 4th at just 250,000 votes behind the leader, just 40,000 behind 2nd place.

Alright, Yankee Universe, time to do your stuff, and vote! Let’s ensure Judge, give Sanchez a boost and make those other categories tighter.

Go Yankees!