Game 46: NYY vs. TEX — Powered bat vs. bad pitching

I’ve said it before, and I know I’ll say it again. When you see a score that looks more like an NFL score, it’s pretty much a sign that the pitching staff had a terrible night. And tonight was such a night to close out the series in Texas, for both sides. And it wasn’t pretty. At one point, it was just going to be whichever team’s pitcher could just pitch better and not allow runs to score.

The Yankees got the ball rolling, so to speak, in the 1st inning. With 1 out, Judge made it to 1st on a throwing error and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run. Then they loaded up the bases with singles to Stanton, Hicks, and Andujar, and with 2 outs, Austin Romine worked a walk to score Stanton. Neil Walker later led off the 3rd with a big solo home run right into the grassy field beyond center field to give the Yankees a rather large early lead.

Unfortunately, their starter, CC Sabathia, had a pretty bad night. He threw 91 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 7 runs, and struck out just 1 Texas batters. But he didn’t allow a run until the 4th inning. He gave up a lead-off single that scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run. Then after walking 2 batters, another batter hit a big 3-run home run to suddenly give the Rangers the lead.

The Yankees came back in the top of the 5th to literally double their score. With 1 out, Walker singled and moved to 3rd on Andujar’s double. Romine’s single scored Walker to tie up the game. And then Gleyber Torres hit a big 3-run home run. That would be it for the Rangers’ starter, but the Yankees weren’t finished this inning. Gardner doubled and then scored on Aaron Judge’s monster 2-run home run deep into the left-center field seats to push the Yankees into double-digits.

Sabathia came out for the bottom of the 5th, and despite the now very large lead again, things still weren’t working. With 1 out, he gave up a single that scored on a triple. Another single scored that runner. Holder came on in relief of Sabathia and closed out the 5th inning without allowing the Rangers to chip away at the Yankees’ lead further.

Then Chasen Shreve came on for the 6th and had his own issues, giving up 2 singles and striking out a batter (in just 8 pitches). David Robertson tried to pull a Houdini, but I’m not sure he was able to pull him out of the bullpen tonight. He promptly loaded up the bases with a walk, and then walked another batter to score the lead runner. After a strikeout, a bases-clearing double pushed the Rangers into the lead.

Dellin Betances then came on to breeze his way through the 7th, but then had his own issues in the 8th. Despite striking out the lead batter, a wild pitch allowed him to reach 1st. Betances tried to pick off that runner, but a mess throw allowed him to steal 2nd. After an out, that runner then stole 3rd and easily scored on an RBI single for an insurance run.

The Rangers won the pitching battle as their final 4 relievers refused to allow a run to score in the final 4 innings. But like I said above, this wasn’t really a great night to watch “good pitching”, as the pitching staffs gave up 25 total hits. There were a lot of base runners, thus a lot of runs scored. And honestly, it was never going to be a good result, even if it did fall into the Yankees’ favor.

Final score: 12-10 Rangers, Rangers win series 2-1

Next up: after a travel day tomorrow (Thursday), the Yankees host the Angels for the weekend and then the Astros for the week.

Roster moves: earlier today, the Yankees selected the contract of pitcher Ryan Bollinger. Bollinger was originally drafted by the Phillies in 2009, but he bounced around the minor league system a bit, and even played in Germany and Australia before finally getting signed by the Yankees last December to a minor league contract. So today, the Yankees chose him from the AA Trenton roster to fill the open roster spot. He has yet to make his MLB debut, but could sometime this weekend.

Yesterday, Gary Sanchez came out of the game with some cramps in his calf again (like early last month). Because of that, and Romine’s recent hot streak, the Yankees opted to bench Sanchez for tonight’s game. Though he would be available off the bench, if necessary.

Go Yankees!

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 41: NYY vs. KC — Baseball is back in the Midwest after soggy East Coast week

Okay, let’s clear things up. The Yankees did play 6 innings of a game in D.C. on Tuesday night before getting thoroughly drenched by the storms that just doused the East Coast for much of this last week. They suspended that game to be continued on Wednesday before the next game. But Mother Nature wasn’t about to let that happen. The powers-that-be decided that clearly this short series wasn’t going to happen this week, and they rescheduled for mutual off-day June 18 to complete the first game and actually play the second in a “not-quite-a-doubleheader” for the two teams.

Then because of those storms, the Yankees got stranded at Dulles airport Wednesday. Due to a minor plane issue and those lingering storms, the Yankees didn’t leave D.C. until Thursday morning. So the team spent the night at the airport. Like literally at the airport, not the hotel (there was no nearby vacancies to accommodate the 40+ people who travel as part of the team). Some guys slept on the plane itself, some found dark corners in airport lounges, some made like Tom Hanks’ character in The Terminal.

No one seemed to complain of any neck or back issues when they finally got to Kansas City, but they had a whole day off to load up on sleep and some great BBQ (“Team Jack Stack” all the way, if you’re wondering) to recover before playing tonight’s game, the opener against the Royals. The Yankees hadn’t played baseball since Tuesday night, nor a full game since Sunday afternoon. So perhaps we can blame that or Dulles for tonight’s rust.

At least, that’s what I’d prefer to believe.

Anyway, it would fall to CC Sabathia to start tonight’s game. He threw 99 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 4 runs (only 2 earned), and struck out 5 Kansas City batters. The Royals kind of chipped away as they went along. In the 1st, a lead-off double stole 3rd and then scored on a fielder’s choice grounder to kick things off.

In the 3rd, a walk, a single, and a stolen base put runners in scoring position. Then, with 2 outs, they loaded the bases with another walk. The next batter hit a short grounder that was poorly fielded, so a run scored and kept the bases loaded. Another walk walked in another run. Neither of these runs counted towards Sabathia’s earned run count due to the fielding error. A 1-out solo home run in the 5th added one more run for the Royals.

Chasen Shreve came on in relief for Sabathia in the 6th and sailed through the roster in just 10 pitches. David Robertson got the 7th inning and got 2 quick outs, but then a walk scored on an RBI double to cap off the Royals’ runs. Holder’s 12-pitch scoreless 8th inning closed out the Yankee pitching staff tonight. But the damage was done.

And for some reason, the Yankees just weren’t manufacturing the same kind of run production tonight. They certainly got hits (8 total), about 1-2 per inning off the Royals’ starter, but they only scored runs in the 6th inning. Stanton led-off with a single, and Hicks hit a 1-out single off the Royals’ starter. A new reliever gave up a single to Neil Walker that scored Stanton and moved Hicks all the way to 3rd. Hicks then scored on Miguel Andujar’s sacrifice fly. A walk later, the Yankees’ rally was over. The Royals’ bullpen closed the door on the Yankees’ hopes for a comeback win.

Final score: 5-2 Royals

Over the no-games week these last few days, there was much discussion around Yankee Universe regarding the actual 20th anniversary of David Wells’ perfect game (20 years ago yesterday, Thursday). Due to being on the road now, the Yankees celebrated the memory earlier this month, but the actual anniversary date is always something to celebrate and honor.

Go Yankees!

Also, our hearts go out once again to victims of yet another school shooting, this time in Santa Fe, Texas, near Houston. You have our prayers, while we anticipate those in power to take some action to deal so that I never have to write this postscript again.

Game 39: OAK vs. NYY — Walker’s 11th inning walk-off

Both starters in this afternoon’s game gave up the 6 runs that would kick the game into the extra innings it would take to win the game and neither of them pitched beyond the 5th inning. That means it would be up to the bullpens and defense to determine who would come out on top.

The Yankees offense struck first on the backs of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks, who each hit a solo home run in the 2nd inning to get things started. Domingo German got start today in this middle game of the series against the visiting Athletics. He threw 75 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 6 hits and 3 walks (and those 6 runs), and struck out just a single batter along the way.

German held the A’s scoreless until the 4th inning, giving up a single and walk that scored as part of a 1-out 3-run home run to push the A’s into the lead. Then with 2 more allowed walks, a 2-out single scored both of those runners and Hicks made the good defensive call to get that batter out trying to grab 2nd in that same play to end their rally. And in the 5th, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on another single, advanced to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a sacrifice fly.

The Yankees tried to chip away at the Athletics’ lead in the bottom of the 5th as Gardner led-off with a walk and scored as part of Aaron Judge’s big 2-run home run to the left field seats. Gregorius then singled and stole 2nd, and Sanchez worked a 1-out walk. That was the end of the A’s starter’s night, and they went to their bullpen. But Neil Walker kept things going with a 2-out single to scored Gregorius, and after another pitching change, Miguel Andujar’s single scored Sanchez to officially tie up the game at that point.

The Yankees made every attempt to break that tie, even loading up the bases in the 6th, but they were left stranded. So it was up to their bullpen to maintain until they could find another breakthrough. Holder, Green, and Betances each took an inning and breezed through the A’s roster. Aroldis Chapman walked his first 3 batters and then got out of his own self-inflicted jam with a strikeout and double play, thanks to Brett Gardner’s amazing arm from left field and Sanchez’s reach at the plate for the tag there. (Replays overturned the original call of safe there, rightly so, and had my mother screaming, “See, you don’t run on Gardy either!”)

And then it was on to newly signed reliever AJ Cole to keep things under control from the mound, which he did for the 10th and 11th innings, despite some moments of fretting for the afternoon crowd in the Bronx. The A’s tried to match this as their 10th inning reliever came out for his 2nd inning, but instead, the Yankees found their opportunity.

With 1 out, Stanton walked, Sanchez hit into a fielder’s choice out at 2nd, and Hicks worked a walk. Then it was down to Neil Walker to make a difference. He hit kind of a bloop single to shallow center field and had Sanchez racing home for the walk-off win. The frenzied crowd came alive as Gardner poured the purple Gatorade over the willing Walker.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees, in 11 innings

The Yankees close out their home stand tomorrow with their afternoon game against the Athletics. And brace for the pink tomorrow, as it’s Mother’s Day in the US, and MLB always does a good job of tying in breast cancer awareness with the holiday (similar to what they do with prostate cancer and Father’s Day in June).

Also, with the Red Sox’s win against the Blue Jays today, the tie between the Yankees and Red Sox atop MLB standings continues.

Go Yankees!

Game 34: CLE vs. NYY — Torres’ walk-off glory in sweep

With Montgomery out with elbow strain, it fell to Domingo German for the start in this afternoon’s finale against the Indians in the Bronx. And German rose to the occasion and excelled. He threw 84 pitches in his 6 scoreless innings, gave up no hits and only 2 walks, while striking out 9 Cleveland batters.

German actually matched the Indians’ starter pretty well. He held the Yankees’ batters hitless until Aaron Hicks broke the streak to lead-off the 5th inning, though he certainly walked several batters and the defense allowed a runner on an error. But the Indians held off the Yankees from scoring any runs.

Dellin Betances took over and breezed his way through the 7th inning but then got into some trouble coming out in the 8th. He gave up 3 consecutive singles that scored the Indians’ first run of the night and broke the scoreless tie. Betances was running out of steam, so the Yankees turned to Jonathan Holder, who did what he could to keep things under control. After a bunt pop-up, Holder gave up a double that scored 1 run and then a passed ball moved the runners up and scored another run. Finally, a sacrifice fly scored their final run.

And suddenly, the Indians were up 4-0. So the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 8th. Walker led-off with a walk and Austin worked a 1-out walk to end the Indians’ starter’s night. And (like my uncle implied yesterday), the Yankees got to take advantage of the Indians’ weak bullpen. After another out, Brett Gardner singled and scored Walker for the Yankees’ first run. Aaron Judge followed him with a double to score Austin and Gardner.

Now, with the Indians’ lead reduced to a single run, the Yankees called on Chasen Shreve to breeze through the top of the 9th in just 18 pitches to get back to the Yankee offense in the bottom of the inning. Hicks led-off with a double and then scored the tying run when Neil Walker doubled. A new reliever got a ground out and then intentionally walked pinch-hitting Stanton. So with Walker and Stanton on base and just 1 out, it would be Gleyber Torres to smack a deep 3-run home run into the Yankees’ bullpen, just missing Monument Park, for a great walk-off victory.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 3-0

Next up: the Yankees have an off-day tomorrow. Then they will host the Red Sox for a 3-game mid-week series on Tuesday. This series is crucial as the Yankees are just a game behind the Red Sox in the AL East. They follow up that series with a weekend series against the Athletics to close out the home stand.

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!