Games 41 & 42: BAL vs. NYY — Much drier now, double the win

The weather has been quite uncooperative for the Yankees this week, raining out both games Monday and Tuesday. While they called yesterday’s game early enough, they really tried to make a go of it on Monday. But they couldn’t seem to dry out the field, despite the air blowers, rakes, and the odd pitchfork stuck in the mud in center field. Believe me, it was the right call to not play in the mess.

So, Monday’s game became the first game of today’s single-admission doubleheader. And Tuesday’s game is postponed until the Orioles come back to town in August. While making it a pretty packed day for the Yankees today, they still prevailed and held strong against their division foes.

Game 1 (The Make-up Game)
JA Happ got the start, throwing just 64 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs, and striking out 3 Baltimore batters to earn the eventual win. There was actually a bit of back-and-forth between the teams this afternoon to see who’d make it out on top.

The Orioles struck first with a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning. But the Yankees mirrored that with a 2-out solo home run by Gary Sanchez in the bottom of the 1st. Then in the 2nd, a 1-out single scored on a 2-out double. And Gleyber Torres tied the game up again with a lead-off solo home run in the bottom of the inning. But then 2 outs later, Cameron Maybin’s solo home run put the Yankees in the lead, his 1st home run as a Yankee. That is, until the 4th when the Orioles hit a lead-off solo home run to tie up the game again.

However, the Yankees came back in the bottom of that inning to ensure their victory. Torres led-off again with another solo home run. And with 1 out, Urshela hit a long ball into right field, but the fielder flubbed it and allowed Urshela to make it all the way to 3rd. Another out later, Mike Tauchman singled home Urshela.

Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman closed out the game with a scoreless streak, splitting the final 11 outs and keeping the Orioles from regaining the lead.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Game 2 (The Originally Scheduled Game)
After a brief break, the field was reset, and the next game was ready to go. Domingo German was on the mound to command his way through the evening, throwing 85 pitches in 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and just 1 run, and striking out 8 Baltimore batters.

The Orioles’ lone allowed run tonight was in the 5th. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on another single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. Britton and Chapman each took a scoreless inning to close out the game, with Aroldis Chapman earning his 10th and 11th save today in both games.

The Yankees’ offense kicked in once again tonight. In the 3rd, with 2 outs, LeMahieu singled and scored on Luke Voit’s double. Gleyber Torres powered home run #3 today with a lead-off solo home run in the 4th. And in the 7th, Estrada hit a 1-out double and scored on Voit’s 2-out single.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees (Since the 3rd game won’t be played until August, this series isn’t over yet. But the Yankees are clearly on top already.)

Next up: After an off-day tomorrow, the Yankees will host the Rays for the weekend before hitting the road again. They will travel first to visit the Orioles and then to the heartland with the Royals before returning home again.

Roster moves: Since the last game, the Yankees have made quite a few roster moves. So buckle up. On Monday, they activated Aaron Hicks from the injured list, and he played his first game of the season in the second game of today. They also placed pitcher Jonathan Loaisga on the 10-day IL, retroactive to May 10, due to shoulder strain. They optioned Mike Tauchman to AAA Scranton and recalled pitchers Nestor Cortes Jr. and Chance Adams from AAA Scranton.

Yesterday, the Yankees traded for infielder Kendrys Morales from the Athletics for cash or a Player To Be Named Later. Morales has spent time with the Angels, Mariners, Twins, Royals, and Blue Jays in his 13 seasons. The Yankees also moved Loaisiga to the 60-day IL, removing him from the roster to make room for Morales.

And today, they activated Morales to play in today’s game, optioning pitcher Joe Harvey to AAA Scranton and recalled Mike Tauchman to be the 26th man for the doubleheader.

But the biggest news is regarding Miguel Andujar. On Monday, the Yankees placed him on the 10-day IL with a labrum (shoulder) tear. After further review and tests, the decision was made to have surgery to repair the tear. This does effectively end his season pretty much before it began.

Once again, the Yankees have some great “back-up” that is proving themselves not really “back-up” but rather pretty good in their own right. Like Urshela, Tauchman, Maybin, Frazier, LeMahieu, and Estrada. Really, none of those names should be on the roster, and yet all of them are holding their own and helping the Yankees charge forward with a winning season.

Go Yankees!

Game 32: MIN vs. NYY — An un-Happ-y Star Wars Day

It’s Star Wars Day, and Yankee Stadium celebrated in style. Today’s giveaway was a bobblehead of CC Sabathia dressed as a Jedi knight. Sabathia dressed in full costume as the popular Jedi master Yoda to help hand out his figurines to waiting fans, joined around the stadium by other franchise characters dressed as storm troopers, rebel warriors, and even the stars like Darth Vader and Rey.

However, the Force was not with the Yankees this afternoon as they stumbled through this middle game of the series against the visiting Twins. JA Happ got roughed up a bit in today’s start, throwing 81 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and striking out 3 Minnesota batters.

In the 3rd, the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch and then scored on a 1-out 2-run home run to get the Twins on the board first. A lead-off double in the 5th moved to 3rd on a single and scored on a double play. And with 2 outs in the 6th, a solo home run added yet another run for the visitors.

Joe Harvey closed out of the 6th for Happ and came out for the 7th. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on a fielder’s choice and throwing error. With runners on the corners, the Yankees called in Stephen Tarpley. The first batter hit into force out at 2nd, an unsuccessful double play, thus scoring that runner from 3rd. Tarpley came back out for the 8th. He gave up a lead-off walk. A balk moved that runner to scoring position to score on a long single.

After another single, the Yankees called in recent call-up Jake Barrett to close out the inning with 2 quick outs. A 1st pitch solo homer in the 9th was the only flaw in Barrett’s Yankee debut.

The Yankees faced a former division rival pitcher as the Twins’ starter today, and it certainly felt like he had the upper hand for most of his 6 scoreless innings. Once they went to the bullpen in the 7th, the Yankees pounced. Brett Gardner led-off with a strong double, moved to 3rd on Maybin’s single, and then scored on a wild pitch. Maybin ended up at 2nd on that play and later moved to 3rd on a ground out. He then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single to chip away at the Twins’ lead.

Gary Sanchez led-off the 8th with a big solo home run, continuing his hot streak. But that was it for the Yankees’ offense. They just couldn’t seem to find another moment to wheedle away at the Twins’ big lead today.

Final score: 7-3 Twins

Tomorrow’s game, the final game of this weekend series, has been moved from 1:05 pm to 4:05 pm due to forecasted rain that will sweep through the area early tomorrow.

Injured List update: Unfortunately, James Paxton’s knee will require a trip to the Injured List. After an official diagnosis of knee inflammation, Paxton is shut down to focus on treatment. They recalled pitcher Jake Barrett, formerly with the Diamondbacks, who closed out today’s game.

And Miguel Andujar was officially activated off the IL for today’s game, starting at 3rd base today. To make room, the Yankees optioned infielder Mike Ford back to AAA Scranton.

And Luke Voit’s on-base streak has come to an end. Going 0-for-4 today, Voit’s streak ends at 42 consecutive games, tying him with Yankee greats like Teixeira (in 2010), Williams (2001), O’Neill (1996), and Mattingly (1993-94). It fell short of franchise records of 57 by Jeter (1998-99) and 53 by Rodriguez (2004). Someone else commented with measurable optimism that his next streak begins tomorrow. I’ll take that.

Go Yankees!

Game 31: MIN vs. NYY — Strong bullpen and bats support early exit

The Yankees began their new home stand with this series against the visiting Twins. It was a mixed bag for the Yankees, with another possible addition to the IL but a strong win in the end.

James Paxton got the start tonight, throwing 64 pitches in just 3 innings. He gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and an unearned run and struck out just 1 Twins batter. After holding them off for the first two innings, in the 3rd, he loaded up the bases with a walk, an out, a fielding error, and a walk. A sacrifice fly scored the Twins’ first run, and a passed ball moved runners to scoring position. But a line drive ended the inning as Paxton exited the game entirely. (More later.)

Jonathan Holder came on to sail his way scorelessly through the 4th and 5th innings, before Ottavino and Kahnle followed up with scoreless 6th and 7th innings, respectively. Collectively, the three of them powered through 12 straight batters. It was awesome.

Zack Britton got into a spot of trouble in the 8th. With 2 outs, he gave up a walk that scored as part of a bit 2-run home run to add to the Twins’ score. However, Chapman closed out the game with a solid 9th inning and earned his 6th save.

With an early exit from their starter, the Yankees needed to match their strong bullpen with a strong offense. And they did. In the 1st, Brett Gardner hit a long ball into centerfield and thanks to a bad fielding error, he powered it all the way to 3rd base. Voit worked a walk, and then Gleyber Torres’ 1-out single easily scored Gardner. After another out, Urshela hit a solid single, but the left fielder was too quick and got Voit out trying to score a run.

In the 2nd, with 1 out, Maybin walked and Wade was hit by a pitch. Then with 2 outs, Luke Voit’s single scored Maybin, but then Voit was thrown out trying to go to 2nd on the throw. Voit just couldn’t catch a base running break early on tonight.

Mike Tauchman led-off the 4th by making it to 1st thanks to a missed catch error. Maybin singled, and Wade’s sacrifice bunt moved runners to scoring position. A wild pitch scored Tauchman, and Brett Gardner’s ground out scored Maybin.

Then Gary Sanchez hit a couple of solo home runs to march his way into the Yankee history books — a lead-off one in the 5th and a 2-out one in the 7th. This is his 10th multi-home run game of his career, which he did in just 231 games. For some perspective among previous catchers, Posada hit 16 (in 1574 total games), Berra hit 15 (in 1694), and Dickey hit 15 (in 1708).

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

Okay, James Paxton has been nursing a sore right knee for most of the season. He’s been getting treatments on off-days and just powering through, but during tonight’s game, it became too much to “just deal with”. So he trusted the bullpen (rightly so) and came out of the game. He will get an MRI tomorrow and hopefully avoid the injured list.

Injury updates: Miguel Andujar and Troy Tulowitzki played in Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons games earlier this week as part of their rehab assignments. But Tulowitzki had a setback with his hamstring injury, pulled from a game, and then shut down from further baseabll activities. Andujar was actually at the game tonight and will probably be activated from the IL for tomorrow’s game.

Go Yankees!

Game 29: NYY vs. ARI — A loss with a moment of #LegaCCy

The funny thing about tonight’s game was how little people seemed to care about the outcome because really Yankee Universe was just biting their nails in anticipation for a single event — CC Sabathia’s 3000th career strikeout. And, like much of the Yankees history, it happened in a rather dramatic fashion. Sabathia’s final season has been under that pressure with that milestone looming, and now that it’s over, he can really rest and relax, closing out his career by focusing on winning the season, one game at a time.

The Yankees really were held back by the Diamondbacks’ starting pitching and his 2 relievers. In fact, the only time the Yankees were able to break through was in the 4th inning. Gary Sanchez led-off with a double and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ ground-rule double. But that would be it for the visiting team tonight.

Because despite the Diamondbacks’ ace starter’s great night, the story was all about Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia threw 87 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out 5 batters. (Remember, going into the game, he only needed 3 strikeouts to reach that milestone.)

In the 2nd, he got the first strikeout. And then another one. And it looked like he was going to get another one, but the batter turned it into a big solo home run. And the next batter hit into a single (despite Voit’s great attempt to beat him back to the base). And then, Sabathia faced a former teammate and finally got that milestone (more below) and a whole bunch of cheering.

The other allowed run was in the 4th. A lead-off double scored on a 2-out single to double the Diamondbacks’ score and put them back in the lead. Holder closed out the 6th for Sabathia, who exited the game to a standing ovation from the packed stadium. Holder cleanly sailed through the inning and the next before handing things off to Zack Britton.

Britton had trouble in the 8th. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. That first out got Britton to recenter and close out the inning without further damage, allowing the home team their win with a slim margin.

Final score: 3-1 Diamondbacks

CC K-Count: 3002 (Even though he’s reached the milestone, it will be fun to track where he lands by the time he hangs up his cleats. So we’re keeping this bit up for the rest of the season whenever Sabathia pitches.)

LegaCCy: So, CC Sabathia has joined the ranks of the elite with more than 3000 strikeouts, the 17th pitcher to do so and the only active player on the list. It’s worth noting, as we have before, that there are only 2 players that aren’t in the Hall of Fame. (Here are a few memorable strikeout milestones for Sabathia’s career so far.)

In a cool twist on history, the player that handed Sabathia his 3000th strikeout was his former catcher, John Ryan Murphy. Murphy was traded to the Twins in 2016 in the deal for outfielder Aaron Hicks, but then ended up with the Diamondbacks for the last 3 seasons. Murphy was on hand to be crucial part of two other milestones in Yankees’ history. He caught Sabathia’s 2500th strikeout in 2015 and Mariano Rivera’s final game in 2013. And despite this, Sabathia was kind of upset that he had to strikeout his friend to earn that milestone.

In the stadium, however, amidst thousands of Yankee fans capturing the moment on their phones and holding up their homemade signs were Sabathia’s amazing family — his mother Margie, his wife Amber, and his four kids Carsten, Carter, Jaden, and Cyia. For his final season, his family is making a point of being at every game that he starts as a final farewell to the game they’ve grown up watching dad play. So it was great that they were there to watch this milestone happen live and in person.

Injury updates: There is some positive news here. The recent injuries to DJ LeMahieu (knee) and Gio Urshela (hand) are not as serious to warrant time on the IL, so both players are day-to-day and working out most days with the team in anticipation of rejoining the lineup at any point.

And tonight, Miguel Andujar and Troy Tulowitzki played in a rehab game with the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons. Andujar spent time at 3rd base, where he shined, though his batting was lackluster. Tulowitzki was the designated hitter, even hitting a home run in the 1st inning (for giraffes?) and helping the Tarpons win their game.

Go Yankees!

Game 4: DET vs. NYY — A bittersweet milestone

Well, the Yankees have won 500 games at the newest incarnation of Yankee Stadium. It only took a decade (as the new stadium opened in 2009), but that isn’t bad as they only play 81 games here every season. So, another great milestone for the organization to check off.

Domingo German got the start in tonight’s chilly opener against the visiting Tigers. He actually had a pretty good outing, throwing 79 pitches in 5 innings, giving up just 1 hit, 1 unearned run, and 5 walks, while striking out 7 Detroit batters (of the 15 outs he was responsible). In the 4th, he gave up a 1-out walk that moved to 2nd on a 2-out single. A wild pitch and throwing error ended up allowing that runner to score, but then he got a great strikeout to get out of the inning.

The rest of the Yankees’ pitching staff tonight was rather good too. Green, Britton, and Ottavino each kept the Tigers from adding to their score without giving up much on the base paths. And Chapman earned his first save of the season with a beautiful 7-pitch 9th inning.

The Yankees were able to give their pitchers enough run support tonight to shift things in their favor. Gary Sanchez led-off the 2nd with a solid solo home run over the center field wall. Then, with 2 outs in the 3rd, Luke Voit worked a walk and then booked it home to score on Greg Bird’s single, assisted by a sloppy fielding error.

Brett Gardner capped off the Yankees’ scoring with a lead-off solo home run into the Yankees’ bullpen in the 5th. With this small lead, the Yankees kept in control of the game, mostly thanks to the strong appearance by the bullpen.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees

Okay, now for the bad news. Before the game, the Yankees announced that they were moving Giancarlo Stanton to the 10-day Injured List with a grade 1 left biceps strain. He’s been shut down from baseball activities for at least 10 days and then reassess for the next step. Stanton joins the list of regular outfielders already on the IL — Ellsbury and Hicks.

Then tonight, Miguel Andujar was pulled from the game with right shoulder strain, only for a diagnosis to be a small tear in his labrum. This is not good news because one of the possible solutions would be season-ending surgery. And it’s just Game 4 of 162.

Roster moves: Placing Stanton and Andujar on the injured list now made room for 2 players. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees promoted Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade to help fill the vacancies. Both players were of course disappointed in not making the Opening Day roster, so to be called up so soon has to be exciting, despite the circumstances.

It’s always a bittersweet moment for roster moves. One guy gets promoted but only when one guy gets injured. Which is basically the overall feeling of finding out these injuries while recognizing these promotions and celebrating 500 home wins.

Go Yankees!

Game 3: BAL vs. NYY — Rain-clogged delay delayed run-support

Three hours and seventeen minutes. That’s how long fans milled around Yankee Stadium in anticipation of this afternoon’s series closer against the visiting Orioles. Finally, the rain let up, the tarp came off, and the game proceeded with the remaining loyal fans still lingering about the stadium to watch an almost four hour game.

By the way, seven hours at the ball park, rain or not, sounds like a great way to pass an afternoon to me, but maybe I’m just a bit biased. After the rain passed, it was actually a rather nice afternoon for baseball, though not the desired outcome once again.

JA Happ got the start today, throwing 75 pitches in his 4 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and striking out just 3 Baltimore batters. Things got sticky for him right in the 1st. With 1 out, he gave up a double, a single, and a big 3-run home run to get the O’s on the board early. A 1-out solo shot in the 3rd added one more for their lead.

He then handed the ball to Luis Cessa for some long-term relief through the middle of the game. But he still had his own issues. In the 5th, a 1-out single ended up at 3rd on an attempted steal and throwing error and then scored on another single. After two clean innings, Cessa came back out for the 8th and gave up a 1-out walk.

Stephen Tarpley got the chance to close out the inning for Cessa, but he also found some trouble, giving up a 2-out 2-run home run to keep adding to the Orioles’ lead. Tommy Kahnle found his own spot of trouble loading up the bases with 3 walks before getting himself out of his own jam with a great strikeout and keeping the Orioles scoreless in that inning.

The Yankees certainly made a valiant attempt to cut into the Orioles’ lead. But they were certainly stymied along the way, leaving 14 runners stranded on the base paths during the game. They didn’t find a clear shot at scoring until the 4th, and even then, it was basically handed to them.

They loaded up the bases with Andujar’s single and walks to Bird and LeMahieu. Then with a new pitcher, Brett Gardner worked an 11-pitch walk to walk in Andujar for the Yankees’ first run of the day. Aaron Judge then singled and scored both Bird and LeMahieu.

In the 7th, Gary Sanchez blasted a 2-out solo home run into the left field seats. And with 2 outs in the 9th, the Yankees tried a small attempt at another rally. Bird worked a walk, and Torres singled (despite an upheld challenge from the Orioles). DJ LeMahieu’s single scored Bird. But feeling rightfully threatened, the Orioles called for a final pitching change, and a strikeout later, the game was over. They ran out of outs.

Final score: 7-5 Orioles, Orioles win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees will host the Tigers for their first midweek series at home. Then they head down to Baltimore to play the Orioles again next weekend, returning the favor for their home opener. They’ll finish up this road trip against the Astros before heading home again.

And thus ends March baseball on a soggy, slow, sour note. But it’s a long season, Yankee Universe, and it’s just getting started. Bring on April.

Go Yankees!

Game 1: BAL vs. NYY — Opening Day victory

Baseball is back! In contrast to last year’s snow-covered and postponed, this afternoon was a bright, sunny, cool late March day in New York for the Yankees to host their Opening Day. Festivities included team introductions, a Broadway star singing the National Anthem, a giant flag waved by West Point Cadets, and new Hall of Fame Inductee Mariano Rivera to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

It was baseball season again, the Yankees won the game, and all is right with the world. At least for now.

Masahiro Tanaka got to start today’s game against the visiting Orioles, throwing 83 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 6 hits and 2 runs (1 earned) and struck out 5 Baltimore batters. In fact, he didn’t give up anything until the 4th. With 2 outs, a single made it to 2nd on a throwing error and then scored on an RBI single. And in the 6th, with 1 out, a single moved to 2nd on a ground out and scored on a double.

He handed the game over to Adam Ottavino, to make his Yankee debut and commanded his way through 4 outs and through the 7th inning in just 19 pitches, with 3 stellar strikeouts. Britton and Chapman closed out the game with a scoreless inning a piece.

But the Yankees got things started early with a great 1st inning. With 1 out, Judge and Stanton each singled, setting up Luke Voit to power a big 3-run home run straight up the middle. Then in the 3rd, they loaded up the bases with Judge’s single and walks to Stanton and Voit. Miguel Andujar hit into a basic double play, but Judge still managed to score a run to keep the Yankees lead intact.

They loaded up the bases again in the 5th with 3 consecutive walks to Gardner, Judge, and Stanton. Luke Voit was hit by a pitch, which walked in Gardner. Miguel Andujar’s long sacrifice fly (just feet from a grand slam, by the way) scored Judge. And finally, Greg Bird capped off the Yankees’ scoring with a solid lead-off home run into the Yankees’ bullpen in the 8th.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

The Yankees have an off-day tomorrow before the series against the Orioles continues with games on Saturday and Sunday. They will then host the Tigers before heading out on their first road trip to Baltimore and Houston.

For the entirety of the 2019 season, the Yankees will wear a black arm band on their jersey to honor the late Mel Stottlemyre, who passed away in January. After 11 seasons as a pitcher with the Yankees, Stottlemyre served as a pitching coach for the Mets, Astros, Yankees, and Mariners, though he always came back to the Bronx and was a frequent face around the clubhouse for years, finally losing his battle to cancer. He is greatly missed.

Roster moves: To help solidify that 40-man roster, the Yankees made a few things official for those keeping track. They placed Didi Gregorius (elbow surgery), Jacoby Ellsbury (hip surgery), Dellin Betances (shoulder impingement), Luis Severino (rotator cuff inflammation), Ben Heller (elbow surgery), and Aaron Hicks (back strain) on the 10-day injury list. This was all retroactive to March 25 (the last official day of Spring Training). Those are key names on the IL that will come off some time this year progressively and could certainly help the Yankees push to better the feats they hit last year (like setting a home run record and winning 100 games).

The Yankees also placed CC Sabathia on suspension, from last year’s discipline at the end of the year. Following this time served, he may be placed on the IL due to his off-season knee and heart surgery to continue his recovery.

It’s a long season. And there’s still 161 games left to play.

Go Yankees!