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 40: NYY vs. TB — #TanakaTime + power outage = Happy Mother’s Day

I know we’ve talked some about the (few) positives of Tropicana Field, including the rarity of delays due to weather. Unfortunately, a delay due to a local power outage is unavoidable. And a 43 minute delay while the system was redirected and restarted is just inconvenient. Especially in the 9th inning.

But it just seemed to energize the Yankees in this final game of the weekend series against the Rays. Masahiro Tanaka had a great start this afternoon, throwing just 73 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run, and stuck out 7 batters to earn the eventual win. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo shot in the 6th.

It was actually the lone allowed run for the home team all day. Zach Britton and Chad Green took the final 2 innings and kept the Rays from doing much of anything, adding 5 more strikeouts to what would become quite the strikeout day at the Trop (12 by the Yankees, 17 by the Rays’ pitchers).

And somehow, despite all those strikeouts, the Yankees managed to boost their own power. They were held off until the 5th. With 2 outs, Romine doubled and scored on Mike Tauchman’s double. Tauchman then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single.

In the 8th, Voit led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s 1-out single, and ended up at 3rd when Andujar hit into a force grounder at 2nd. A wild pitch then scored Voit and kicked off a pair of challenges. The Yankees challenged the records (to check the number of balls/strikes), then the Rays challenged whether the catcher tagged Voit out at home. Neither were overturned, and the play stood as called at the count on the board.

Then the 9th inning began with a bang. Of sorts. After a single foul ball, the lights went out. And 43 minutes later, Thairo Estrada kicked-off the inning with a solo home run. Then Romine and Tauchman singled and moved into scoring position on LeMahieu’s sacrifice bunt out. Voit was intentionally walked to load up the bases. And then Gio Urshela’s double scored both Romine and Tauchman, and Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Voit to cap off the Yankees’ power surge.

Final score: 7-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees return home to continue their home stand to host the Orioles and then after a day off the Rays next weekend. Then, they’ll hit the road again to visit the Orioles and Royals.

Scranton Shuttle: Before the game, for a fresh arm, the Yankees optioned relieved Nestor Cortes Jr and recalled reliever Chad Green, who pitched in today’s game.

And a huge Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and like-a-moms out there. Across baseball, players wore pink-tinged gear, and each team had an honorary bat girl, both to recognize breast cancer awareness and survivors. Plus, players honored the moms in their lives, like CC Sabathia, who wrote a full letter in celebration of his mom on his Twitter account. And Cameron Maybin wore a special pre-game shirt in honor of his mom who is currently fighting breast cancer.

Happy Mother’s Day to my own mother, who is my faithful baseball companion. But then she got it from the passionate baseball fans in her family like her mother and grandmothers (who actually were Indians and Pirates fans). Baseball is strong in my family, much like its women.

Go Yankees!

Game 39: NYY vs. TB — Saturday night sag

Last night’s game put the Yankees within a half-game from the Rays’ lead in the AL East. They were hoping to reverse places with a win tonight, but it wasn’t to be. The Yankees just weren’t piecing together the necessary pieces to make up the win.

CC Sabathia got the start in the middle game of this series against the Rays, working his way to a no-decision. He threw 76 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out just 2 Rays’ batters. His allowed runs were lead-off solo home runs in the 2nd and 3rd.

And the Yankees finally got on the board in the 5th inning. Torres led-off with a single and then beat out the tag to score on Clint Frazier’s double. And DJ LeMahieu hit a solo home run up the middle to tie up the game in the 6th.

But then normally reliable reliever Jonathan Holder had a really off-day with his 6th inning struggle. The lead-off player singled and, 2 outs later, stole 2nd and ended up on 3rd thanks to a throwing error. Holder then gave up a walk to put runners on the corners. Consecutive singles scored 2 more runs for the home team to return them to the lead.

While the Yankee batters suddenly found their offense dry up, the Rays kept going. Yankees’ reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. gave a scoreless 7th, but then things got sticky again in the 8th. He gave up a lead-off single and a 2-out single to load a few runners for a big 3-run home run to ensure the Rays the win.

Final score: 7-2 Rays

CC K-Count: 3009

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the United States, and across the league, players will be donning specialized gear, most notably pink-tinged gear in honor of breast cancer awareness. But some players also customize in a special or unique way.

This year, outfielder Clint Frazier designed his special cleats for the weekend to honor his mother. In addition to the pastel pink Nike swish and highlights on the white cleats, the high-top area features life-like pictures of his mother’s two cats, acknowledging her “fur babies” on this Mother’s Day.

That’s a first for me. But I’m sure his mom feels honored by the gesture.

Go Yankees!

Game 37: SEA vs. NYY — Happ’s 1-hitter victory

The Yankees are on their way south, a brief break in their long home stand this month, and they do so on a lovely high thanks to the great game tonight. In the final game of this 4-game series against the Mariners, the Yankees relied on strong pitching to carry them into victory on this chilly Thursday evening.

Most of that fell on starter JA Happ, who threw 94 pitches in his 5 scoreless innings, gave up just 1 hit and 3 walks, and struck out 7 Seattle batters. Ottavino, Kahnle, and Britton each breezed their way through a scoreless inning of their own.

Meanwhile, the Yankees found a single opportunity early on to grab the lead. In the 2nd, Frazier and Torres each singled, and 2 outs later, Cameron Maybin’s double scored Frazier. It was this lone run, this slim lead that the Yankees spent most of the game defending against a pretty good Mariners’ starter.

When the Mariners brought in a reliever in the 8th, the Yankees found their next chance to add to their minute lead. LeMahieu led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s single, and ended up at 3rd on Gardner’s fielder’s choice out at 2nd. Gardner stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position.

After a strikeout, they intentionally walked Torres to load the bases. Feeling fine after that nasty bruise yesterday, Gio Urshela smacked a long single into right field that scored both LeMahieu and Gardner.

With a nice lead now, the Yankees sent in Aroldis Chapman for 3 outs in the 9th. But after 2 quick outs, he gave up a solo shot into the right field seats to give the Mariners their lone run of the evening. And then he got that final out to earn the save tonight, his 8th of the season.

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

Next up: The Yankees are on their way to see the Rays just for the weekend. A brief road trip before they continue their home stand, hosting the Orioles and Rays next week. And then they hit the road again in a week-long road trip.

Scranton Shuttle: Before today’s game, the Yankees optioned pitcher Jake Barrett back to AAA Scranton and officially signed pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. To make room for him on the roster, they transferred Dellin Betances, still recovering from his shoulder injury, to the 60-day injured list.

Go Yankees!

 

Spring Games 15 & 16: NYY vs. DET & PIT vs. NYY — A draw and a win on a sunny Sunday

Another split squad series, another sunny and hot afternoon, another set of mixed results. At least today’s results leaned positive for the Yankees.

Game 1: Yankees at Detroit
Some of the Yankees traveled about 40 minutes east to visit the Tigers again in Lakeland and honestly battled their way through the afternoon in an oddly evenly-matched game. Nestor Cortes got the started and pitched his way into the 3rd inning, only giving up a lead-off solo home run in the 2nd.

Then the Yankees and Tigers kept the game close for most of the game, thanks to the great defense and pitching on both sides. The Yankees didn’t find their breakthrough until the 7th. Voit led-off with a walk and was pinch-run by Brandon Wagner. Miguel Andujar then hit a big double, and Wagner made an effort to score the Yankees’ first run. But a great relay got him out at home, with Andujar making it to 3rd on the throw. He was then pinch-run by Cabrera, who finally scored a Yankees’ run on Ryan Lavarnway’s single.

Another out later, the Yankees loaded up the bases with 2 walks. But a pitching change and a pop-up ended their attempt to break the tie. But Brandon Wagner broke it in the 8th with a 2-out solo home run, and the Yankees had their lead for the first time all afternoon in Lakeland.

It didn’t last long. In the bottom of the 8th, Danny Farquhar came out for the Yankees to try to protect the lead. A lead-off single was quickly caught stealing 2nd for his first out, and after another out, he loaded up the bases with 3 consecutive walks. David Hale came on in relief and promptly walked in the tying and final run.

Final score: 2-2 tie

Game 2: Pirates at Yankees
Meanwhile, back home in Tampa, the Yankees battled the visiting Pirates for the afternoon. JA Happ got the start at Steinbrenner Field, pitching 4 innings and struggling a bit in the middle. In the 2nd, with 1 out and runners on the corners with singles, a sacrifice fly scored the Pirates’ first run. And back-to-back solo home runs in the 3rd gave the Pirates a solid lead.

The Yankees finally found their offense in the 4th. They loaded up the bases with walks to 3 power-hitters — Judge, Stanton, and Bird. Gleyber Torres was then walked to scored Judge for the Yankees’ first run of the day in Tampa. With a new pitcher, Troy Tulowitzki ground into a double play, but it still scored Stanton and moved Bird to 3rd. Clint Frazier’s single then scored Bird to tie up the game in a single inning. Then in the 5th, Gio Urshela led-off with a solo home run to put the Yankees in the lead.

Adam Ottavino’s 5th inning was just filthy stuff, catching the eye of both fellow Yankees and their opponents. It was very much a “blink and you miss it” kind of inning, with the new Yankees just getting 3 straight strikeouts. Chapman followed that up with a solid 6th inning of his own, and things were looking up for the Yankees as they tried to gain some further momentum.

But Dellin Betances had a bit of a struggle in his 7th inning. He gave up a lead-off triple, due in part to some sun-influenced defensive issues. A single then scored that runner to tie the game up again. After a solid strikeout, he walked 2 batters to load up the batters. Jonathan Holder came in to try to save the inning, giving up a sacrifice fly that put the Pirates back on top.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees weren’t going to let this game go just yet. Jackson led-off with a single and then scored on Zack Zehner’s monster 2-run home run over the left field concourse to get the lead back to the home team. Tommy Kahnle’s final 4 outs closed out the game and protected the Yankees’ lead.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees

One to watch: I’m going to give today’s honor to Gio Urshela, who’s really been rising in recognition this Spring. And today, in addition to being the Yankees’ starting 3rd baseman, he also hit that great home run in the 5th to put the Yankees in their first lead of the afternoon. He was traded to the Yankees late last year after stints with the Indians and Blue Jays, playing in the big leagues with both previous teams. He’s not really been on anyone’s radar, but he could potentially be some great back-up for the infield should problems arise this season.

Next up: after an off-day tomorrow (Monday), the Yankees will take on the Orioles at home Tuesday night. There’s 15 scheduled games left, just a little more than halfway through the Spring, or about 2 weeks.

In Yankee Universe news: Babe Ruth’s last living daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens, died Saturday at the age of 102. Ruth adopted Julia when he married her mother in 1929, but she remained an avid fan of Ruth’s original team, the Red Sox, being a frequent fan in the stands up until a few years ago. Our thoughts and condolences are with her son, two grandchildren, and four great grandchildren at this time.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: Neither game today was broadcast, so there was minimal video highlights to share. Apologies, fans!}