Game 118: NYM vs. NYY — Crosstown rivals surge in damp make-up game

Let’s be honest here. A few days ago, they came out with which team had the hardest schedule and which team had the easiest one. The Yankees were said to have the 5th easiest schedule because they’re mostly facing teams sitting on the bottom half of the standings, including tonight’s opponent. But you can’t really predict when a team will oddly surge or sputter. So there’s just no guarantee.

Tonight’s game was a good example of this. The Mets are having a really terrible year. Mets fans everywhere are complaining, and rightly so, about how poorly their team is performing and the fact that they’re competing with the Marlins for worst team in the NL East. (The Marlins are 4.5 games behind the Mets right now, if you’re wondering.) But baseball isn’t predictable or easy. And oh, by the way, it sort of rained some during the game, but the game played on.

Luis Severino is just not having a good time lately, and his struggles continued tonight. He threw 98 pitches in just 4 innings, gave up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and struck out 6 Mets batters. Things started right from the first batter of the game, giving up a lead-off solo home run.

Then a double moved to 3rd on a grounder before scoring on a 2-out RBI single. In the 4th, he gave up a single and 2-run home run to double the Mets’ score. Green came on for the 5th and kept the Mets from adding to their score with a fairly clean 14-pitch inning.

AJ Cole came on for the 6th and promptly gave up a lead-off homer. Then in the 7th, with 1 out, he gave up back-to-back solo home runs. Then after a walk, the Yankees called in recent call-up George Kontos, who despite allowing a single got out of the inning without giving up more and then cleanly going through the 8th inning.

Zach Britton had a messy 9th inning to cap off this less-than ideal night for the Yankees. With 1 out, a hit-by-pitch and single threatened. The next batter hit into a ground out and potential double play, but Torres bobbled the transfer so the run scored.

Initially, the runner going to 2nd was called out, but the Mets challenged the call as if Torres didn’t properly have the ball from Gregorius before touching 2nd before the ball was bobbled. But replay worked, the call was upheld — 1 out at 2nd, runner safe at 1st, the other runner scored. Britton then gave up 2 more singles to load up the bases before the next batter hit into an easy force out at 2nd.

Now, the Yankees weren’t exactly silent, but neither were they having a great offensive day. Part of that is because the Mets sent up their strongest starter, who held the Yankees to a minimal offense into the 7th inning, while striking out an impressive 12 Yankee batters.

In the 3rd, Romine led-off with a single and Gardner walked. Giancarlo Stanton hit into a force ground out at 2nd to eliminate Gardner, but Romine still scored. A throwing error (when the infielder tried to turn two he overthrew it at 1st) helped advance Stanton to 2nd and Romine score safely. Aaron Hicks’ single later scored Stanton to tie up the game at that point.

Gardner hit a 1-out double in the 5th and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ 2-out single to chip away at the Mets’ lead. But the Mets’ starter held the Yankees off for most of his outing. The next opportunity the Yankees got was in the 8th under a new pitcher. With 2 outs, Hicks worked a walk and then scored as part of Miguel Andujar’s big 2-run home run into the left field seats.

Final score: 8-5 Mets. Picking up from the series last month that this game was the make-up from, the loss on this game means the Mets won this series 2-1.

Next up: The Yankees host division rivals, the Rays and Blue Jays, for the next 6 games through the rest of the week before hitting the road. They’ll be down in Miami for 2 games and back to Baltimore for 4 games. The Rays are the only team of those four that have a winning season so far, but they’re only 2 games above .500 and 14 games behind the Yankees.

Injury news/roster moves: After pitching a strong game yesterday, CC Sabathia felt it in his surgically repaired knee and is now on the 10-day DL with knee inflammation. This means he will miss his next start, something that has always been on the table as they watch the veteran starter’s previous injuries closely.

Now, the Yankees needed to make some moves to compensate for this temporary move. First, they moved Jordan Montgomery from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL, a move they’ve been needing to make since Montgomery will be out recovering from his Tommy John surgery far into next season.

They also optioned infielder Luke Voit to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. So, with 2 open spots on the 25-man roster, they selected the contracts of pitcher George Kontos (who pitched in tonight’s game) and infielder Ronald Torreyes from AAA. Yes, that’s right, the “Toe-Night Show” is back!

And for all you trivia nerds: On this day in 2016, two very particular Yankee prospects made their MLB debut — Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. In their very first at-bats, they hit back-to-back home runs and had everyone talking about the greatness of Yankee future. Of course, Austin is now with the Twins, as part of the trade where the Yankees acquire starter Lynn, and Judge is out on the DL with that nasty chip fracture in his wrist. But what a great memory for those who still believe in the greatness of Yankee future.

I still believe… seriously, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball. Don’t forget that. Like the only team that’s better than them is the Red Sox in all of MLB. The Yankees are 74 wins (and 44 losses), while most division leaders have 60-something wins. Any other year, this would be a blowout for the Yankees, but the Red Sox are just having a ridiculous year.

Go Yankees!

Game 97: NYM vs. NYY — Just enough not to be so “Gray” today

Sonny Gray needed a Saturday matinée game like today to help get him back on track. And while it’s certainly not a perfect outing, by any means, the Yankees certainly stepped up to give him enough leeway to find his footing. Gray threw 94 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs (just 2 earned), and still struck out 6 Mets batters in this middle game of the weekend series.

A lead-off solo home run in the 2nd started the runs for the Mets. But Gray held them off until the 6th inning, giving up 2 1-out walks before handing the ball over to David Robertson. Robertson, however, was not having as clean of a day. A 2-out single scored the first of Gray’s runners before a sloppy pick-off error scored the other one. Robertson got the final batter to strikeout.

Holder and Betances each sailed their way through an inning, keeping the Mets to those 3 runs scored. So, logically, the Yankees called on Aroldis Chapman to close out the 9th inning, but he was certainly having his own issues — a walk, a single, a walk to load the bases, a walk to walk in the first runner, and a hit-by-pitch to walk in the next. Chapman could just not find the strike zone, so they turned to Chasen Shreve to earn his first save with a double play (that still scored a run) and a ground out to end it all.

Of course, in order to get to that point, the Yankees had to shore up enough of an offense to make a difference in light of some less-than-ideal pitching. Stanton led-off with the 4th and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ long triple. Gregorius scored on Miguel Andujar’s double (thanks to a bit of fan-interference), and Andujar scored on Greg Bird’s double. Then just to make thing interesting in this inning, Bird scored on Austin Romine’s 2-out single.

Now with a solid lead, they added to it in the 6th when Andujar hit a lead-off double and scored on Bird’s single to end the Mets’ starter’s afternoon. The new pitcher held the Yankees off for the rest of that inning, but then Aaron Judge led-off the 7th with his 26th home run of the season, a solo shot into the visitor’s dugout.

Then in the 8th, Andujar (clearly having an amazing afternoon) led-off with a single, ended up at 3rd on Drury’s single and a throwing error, and then scored on Romine’s ground out to score the insurance run the Yankees would need.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees

And we have some more roster moves. After yesterday’s game, the Yankees decided that Domingo German needed some time back in AAA to work on his mechanics and find that momentum he lost somewhere after his initial call-up earlier this year. Luis Cessa will move into his rotation spot for the duration.

With an extra spot in the bullpen, the Yankees called up pitching prospect Domingo Acevedo from AA Trenton. He actually got the call-up late last night. While he was chilling in his hotel room watching Netflix, his Trenton coaches (and a teammate to help translate) knocked on his door, and he initially thought he was in trouble. But they gave him the news and his first thought was that he needed to call his mom. She, in turn, was worried something was wrong (remember, it was late at night), but then cried with her son over the phone as he packed his bags to head to New York.

And on the injury front, it looks like the Yankees might see Gleyber Torres sometime soon. The officially sent him to begin his rehab games with the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons (formerly the Tampa Yankees). If all goes as planned, he could join the team on Wednesday while the Yankees are in town to face the Rays, just across Tampa Bay.

Go Yankees!

Game 96: NYM vs. NYY — Starting the second half with a stumble

And we’re back with baseball for the official second half of the season. The Yankees are hosting a short home stand, a weekend series against their crosstown rivals, the Mets. And it wasn’t exactly the kind of game they imagined to kick off this half.

Domingo German got the start and just stumbled out of the gate. He threw 71 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 3 Mets’ batters. In the 1st, he gave up a lead-off walk that scored on a 1-out double. After another out, consecutive doubles scored 2 more runs to get things started for the Mets. A lead-off solo home run in the 3rd added one more.

Adam Warren came on to close out the 4th, but then stumbled himself in the 5th. He gave up a lead-off walk who moved to 2nd on a 1-out walk and then scored on an RBI single. Another walk loaded up the bases, and a single scored yet another run while keeping the bases loaded. The next batter hit into a little grounder that the defense kicked in and got the out at home.

Chasen Shreve came in and got a great strikeout to get out of the jam in the 5th. Despite giving up a couple hits in the 6th, Shreve got out of that inning cleanly, setting a pattern for the next few relievers. Green and Holder each took an inning and kept the Mets from adding to their lead. But, in the 9th, AJ Cole gave up a lead-off single, who moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a sacrifice fly to cap off the Mets’ scoring tonight.

To be fair, the Yankee batters were facing a historically good Mets’ pitcher, who kept them to a single run in his 5 innings. In the 3rd, Gardner led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Judge’s single, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly to get the Yankees on the board.

Once the Mets dipped into their bullpen, the Yankees found a better chance to make some advances. With a reliever on the mound in the 6th, Sanchez and Bird hit consecutive singles and then both scored on Neil Walker’s 1-out double. And with a new reliever in the 8th, Gardner made it to 1st on a fielding error, ended up at 3rd on Judge’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. Stanton hit into a simple ground out that scored Judge.

Despite some opportunities and base runners, the Yankees ran out of chances and ended up falling short.

Final score: 7-5 Mets

Scranton Shuttle Alert! On Monday, the Yankees optioned Clint Frazier to AAA. Yesterday, they activated Gary Sanchez from the 10-day Disabled List, fully recovered from his groin strain at the end of last month. With the return of their primary catcher, they had no need for 2 back-up catchers, thus sending Kyle Higashioka back to Scranton. Brandon Drury was recalled to fill that empty roster spot.

In a game yesterday with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Frazier went running for a ball and made a dive in the outfield in the 1st. It shook him up a bit and he was pulled from the game before his 2nd at-bat. After seeing a doctor, he’s back on the DL under concussion protocol. The worst part about concussions is that once you get one, you tend to be prone to them. Head injuries should never be taken lightly, so I’m glad they’re being careful with him. But it’s got to be tough when you just want to play and do what you’ve been dreaming of doing for your entire life.

Go Yankees!

Game 61: NYY vs. NYM — Pitchers’ duel ends in a rare shutout

The last team in all of MLB to be shutout this year was the Yankees. It certainly didn’t look like it was going to happen against the Mets, who going into tonight’s game were on a losing streak of 8 games. But baseball is not predictable. And this was the Yankees’ first shutout of the season.

With Luis Severino on the mound to start the game, the Yankees were looking to sweep the Mets in tonight’s finale. And Severino had a pretty good outing — 93 pitches in 5 innings, 5 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs, and 7 solid strikeouts. His allowed runs came in that 5th inning, when a 2-out singled on a 2-run home run to get the Mets on the board.

Shreve, Warren, and Holder each took an inning to close out the game and keep the Mets to those 2 lone runs. And they succeeded, just killing time and waiting for the Yankees’ batters to kick it into gear.

However, the Mets’ pitchers were strong enough to hold off the Yankees’ batters making the game predominantly a pitchers’ duel. The Yankees only got 3 hits and a walk off Mets’ pitchers all night.

The closest the Yankees got to runs was in the 8th inning. With 1 out, Miguel Andujar singled (the 3rd Yankee hit of the night). Then pinch-hitter Aaron Judge hit a short grounder to the shortstop who threw it to the 2nd baseman at 2nd for the force play there, before throwing the ball to 1st for a routine double play. Except it didn’t happen that way. At all.

First, the call was the out at 2nd on the force but the throw was seriously off and ended up nearly in the dugout, meaning that Judge was safe. However, the Yankees wanted to challenge the call. And it was a good thing as the 2nd baseman never touched the base for the out and was overturned. That meant both Andujar and Judge were safe on 2 really poor defensive errors.

But 2 outs later, the Yankees were out of luck and just ran out of outs and innings.

Final score: 2-0 Mets, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees have a long home stand. Sort of. First, the Nationals come up for 2 games, starting Tuesday, and then the Rays have a 4-game weekend series in the Bronx. And before a 3-game series to complete the home stand, the Yankees will travel down to D.C. for a game and a half on Monday. This is the rain-out and suspended games from last month (May 15-16).

And here’s your reminder to vote for your favorite players in the annual fan ballot for the All-Star Game. You can vote 5-times every 24-hours up to 35 entries until July 5 at 11:59 pm (EST).

Go Yankees!

Game 60: NYY vs. NYM — 8th inning #AllRise go-ahead victory swing

The Subway Series continued tonight, with first pitch just minutes after New Yorkers were celebrating another New York sports victory tonight just 12 miles away. Congratulations to the newest Triple Crown winner Justify and his extensive equine entourage.

Domingo German got the start tonight against the Mets, having a pretty good overall outing. He threw 96 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs and striking out 9 batters. Actually, German’s roughest inning was the 1st. With 1 out, he gave up a solo home run, a triple, and a 2-run home run to get the Mets on the board early. But after that, he pulled things together and found a momentum that the bullpen continued for the final third of the game.

Robertson, Betances, and Chapman each claimed a great scoreless inning and kept things to that lone inning of runs for the Mets. However, it’s worth noting that Yankee pitchers racked up a total of 15 strikeouts off Mets’ batters tonight. This certainly helped them stay in command of the game.

So with the Mets’ early lead, the Yankees needed to find spots to chip away at that lead. It wasn’t until the 3rd inning that the Yankee got on the board with Gleyber Torres’ 1-out solo home run. Then in the 6th, with 1 out, Sanchez worked a walk to get on base. Miguel Andujar hit a solid 2-run home run to tie up the game in that one swing.

And like last night, it would be the 8th inning that held the go-ahead run. So tonight, it would be a big 1st pitch lead-off solo home run by Aaron Judge to finally give the Yankees the lead. Yes, once again, all the runs in tonight’s game (for both teams) were scored on home runs.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

Roster moves/injury update: Despite some initial hopes, it looks like Masahiro Tanaka will actually be out at least a month with low-grade hamstring strains in his legs. The Yankees placed him on the 10-day Disabled List. Instead of finding another starter, they will juggle some in-house pitchers, perhaps recalling Hale or pulling up a newer prospect.

But my guess is that they might split a start with 3-4 innings a piece for some long-term relievers like Warren or Holder. At least until Cessa (who will begin his rehab Monday in Tampa) is back on the roster shortly. Tanaka isn’t going to be out long — a month is about 4-5 starts — so an ironically short-term solution is possible.

Though signing a permanent solution for Montgomery’s vacancy certainly looks like the best route as soon as they can reach a deal with someone. Fingers crossed.

And if you’re wondering who filled Tanaka’s roster spot, it would be Ronald Torreyes. The clubhouse has been missing the infielder/bench player, so his smiling face in the dugout was rather satisfying. And who knows, maybe the “Toe-Night Show” is ready to make its return in this middle of the season part of the year.

Go Yankees!

Game 59: NYY vs. NYM — New York baseball, as iconic as the City itself

The Subway Series is always special. I’ve been reading memories periodically today, reminiscing about much of the great moments between the two teams of the City. New York vs. New York is nearly as old as baseball itself, the city once filled with random teams like the Knickerbockers, Atlantics, and Bushwicks to the foundational team of the Highlanders, Gothams, and Bridegrooms (which would become the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers, respectively).

Once the game was organized and the precursor to MLB formed, the teams remaining in New York were the New York Giants, New York Yankees, and Brooklyn Dodgers. While the Giants and Dodgers faced off frequently, they only met the Yankees during the World Series if the two were the best in their leagues. Which happened a lot (12 times, 1921-1956). After the Dodger and Giants moved to the West Coast in 1957, the need for baseball was filled in New York by the newly formed Mets (in 1962). But the current New York teams didn’t meet in the Series until the legendary one in 2000.

And if you’re a bit of a trivia nerd, in their total history, the Yankees have won 40 AL Pennants, the Giants 23, the Dodgers 22, and the Mets 5. The Dodgers and Yankees have met up for 11 World Series (the Dodgers won 3 times); the Giants met the Yankees 7 times (the Giants won twice); the Yankees won their only Series against the Mets in 2000.

Not that the Mets are having a 2000 kind of year. So while the Yankees are battling to stay atop the AL East, the Mets are struggling to stay afloat in their division. And tonight’s game just reflected both teams’ seasons so far, despite the Mets sending in their best starter.

So for tonight’s opener in Queens, Masahiro Tanaka got the start for the Yankees, threw 75 pitches in his solid 5 innings, gave up just 1 hit, 1 walk, and 1 run, and struck out an impressive 8 batters. The Mets’ lone allowed run tonight was a lead-off solo homer in the 1st inning.

Now, the Yankees were held at bay for most of the game, thanks to the Mets’ ace. In fact, they were limited to a walk and a single through 5 innings. In the 6th, with 1 out, Tanaka actually made it to 1st safely on a fielding error. He moved to 2nd on Torres’ single and then to 3rd on Gardner’s walk. So with the bases loaded, Aaron Judge hit a long sacrifice fly and Tanaka sped home to tie up the game.

However, on the run home, Tanaka felt a tightness in both his hamstrings and was pulled from the game. (More below) Holder sailed his way through the 6th inning in 12 pitches. Chad Green gave up 2 singles and still got of the 7th unscathed before Betances’ speedy 9-pitch 8th and Chapman’s scoreless 9th closed out the game.

The Yankees’ batters found another opportunity in the 8th inning, the final inning of the Mets’ ace starter. With 2 outs, Torres singled and then scored with Brett Gardner’s big 2-run home run. Giancarlo Stanton’s 1-out solo home run off the left field wall (above the home run line) in the 9th inning capped off their runs tonight.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees

Injury update: Tanaka’s injury tonight was diagnosed as pulled hamstrings in his legs. This isn’t entirely unexpected, in a way. AL pitchers never have to bat or run bases except in NL-hosted games. So they aren’t used to using those muscles in the same way, so an injury from the activity isn’t ideal but not unexpected.

Now, fortunately, Tanaka’s next start isn’t scheduled until next Thursday against the Rays (in the Bronx). However, with Jordan Montgomery out for the rest of the year due to his Tommy John surgery yesterday, the Yankees will be looking for a new starter for the season. The trade deadline is July 31 (about 7 weeks away), but I expect a deal before then thanks to this recent issue.

Go Yankees!

 

Spring Game 15: NYM vs. NYY — Looming clouds didn’t stop the powerful Yankees

In stark contrast to nearly every other game so far this Spring, the sky was overcast and moody, a heavy feeling in the air with the incoming storm in the area that only cancelled one game (the Twins-Red Sox game in Fort Myers, about 90 minutes south of Tampa). But that certainly didn’t stop the New York teams from meeting at Steinbrenner Field this afternoon before a packed house of over 10,000 fans.

Luis Cessa got the start today and had a bit of a shaky time, ending in the loading the bases with 2 walks and a single in just the 2nd inning. So the Yankees turned to “Houdini”, aka David Robertson, who breezed his way through 2 strong strikeouts to keep the Mets scoreless. Aroldis Chapman had a strong 3rd inning, getting 2 solid strikeouts of his own. Dellin Betances came on for the 4th and allowed a lead-off single and then stole both 2nd and 3rd before scoring on the ground out.

Then going into the 5th inning, the Yankees took the field. And there was no pitcher. The in-between innings clock expired. And no pitcher. Aaron Boone walked over to the dugout from his spot and sent someone into the clubhouse. Apparently, Adam Warren (the next reliever on the list) was just beginning his warm-ups, and Betances was supposed to pitch into the 5th inning. So, Betances is half-way out of uniform when he’s told to suit up and get back on the field. Betances comes back out and pitches to one more batter, giving up a single. By then Warren was good to go, so Betances found his way back to the clubhouse again (after being rather razzed by his teammates on the way).

Warren actually closed out the 5th pretty well thanks to Romine’s stellar pick-off skills, getting 2 batters trying to advance. All three of Warren’s outs in the 6th were strikeouts, but in between, he got into a spot of trouble. He gave up a double that scored on a single up the middle. On that play, 2nd baseman (and top contender for that job) Tyler Wade dove for the ball just behind 2nd but fell on his glove wrong, twisting his wrist wrong. After a few moments and a visit from the medical team, Wade was escorted off the field, flexing his hurt wrist. It’s painful, but fine. He ended up just icing it and hopes to play in Monday’s game.

Reliever Chad Green came on for the 7th. He gave up a 1-out walk that ended up being a fielder’s choice out on a grounder. A wild pitch moved that runner to scoring position who scored on a single. Green then took the first 2 outs of the 8th, before handing the ball to side-arm James Reeves. Reeves kept the Mets scoreless into the 9th inning, but gave up a walk and a ground-rule double to put runners in scoring position. So they called on Jordan Foley, who threw one pitch to get the batter to pop out to 3rd to end the game.

After a lesser hitting game yesterday, the Yankees certainly made up for it today. They kicked off things in the 1st inning. Gardner and Judge each singled, but ended up in scoring position on a slow throw from the outfield. Then Stanton stepped up, but was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Brandon Drury hit a short single to keep those bases loaded and scored Gardner. Tyler Austin hit into a fielder’s choice at 2nd and made it safely to 1st as Judge scored another run. A double play ended that exciting 1st inning.

The 3rd inning looked briefly like a weird replay of the 1st. Gardner singled, and Judge doubled to land them both in scoring position (again). After an out, a ground out still scored the speedy Gardner. With 2 outs in the 5th, Judge worked a walk and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton hit a monster 2-run home run up the middle, his first homer of the year. In the 6th, with 2 outs, Peterson walked and ended up at 3rd on Torreyes’ double. After a pitching change, Kyle Holder doubled to score both runners to keep adding to the Yankees’ lead.

And in the 8th, Diaz led off with a single and moved to 3rd on Peterson’s single. Avelino’s fielder’s choice scored Diaz. Holder singled to load the bases, and Estevan Florial’s single scored Avelino, thanks in part to a fielding error, keeping the bases loaded. Shane Robinson’s sacrifice fly capped off the Yankees’ scoring this afternoon.

Final score: 10-3 Yankees

One to Watch: This was actually a fairly easy choice today. In the 6th, when Wade injured his wrist, Kyle Holder quickly jumped at the chance to make sure that Wade’s efficiency at 2nd didn’t leave a hole. In fact, Holder showed off his stellar defense for the rest of the game, rising to every occasion. Plus, he hit very well, going 2-for-2, with 1 run scored and 2 RBIs.

More camp cuts: Before today’s game, the Yankees optioned pitcher Domingo Acevedo AA Trenton and reassigned pitcher Brian Keller to minor league camp.

Before the game today, Brett Gardner was honored for his continued work with the Taylor Hooten Foundation, an organization that promotes athletics without performance-enhancing drugs. Gardner has been a charter member of its MLB players advisory board and is part of its 2018 campaign and PSA titled “It’s All Me”.

And on a funny note: before Giancarlo Stanton got his 1st homer of the year today, he fouled off a couple of hits. One flew straight back towards the press box and smacked into the window. And yes, it cracked. Previous years have seen cracked windows on the suites and executive offices on either side of and above the press box, forcing the Yankees to invest in shatter-proof windows. Perhaps it’s time for an upgrade for the press too. Gardner actually said it best though: “The press box? I can hit the press box. He needs to hit them in the other direction.” (And he did.)

Go Yankees!