Game 133: NYY vs. BAL — Not so charming shutout

So, tonight was not pretty to watch at all. The Yankees traveled to Baltimore on their travel day yesterday for the weekend series there. And tonight, the Orioles used whatever magic they have at Camden Yards to force the Yankees into their worst loss in Baltimore since Camden Yards was built (1992).

Chad Green got the start tonight and got into trouble right from the start. He loaded the bases in the 1st inning with 2 outs before getting out of the jam with a nice strikeout. But then his trouble continued into the 2nd inning. A 1-out double scored on a 2-out single, and then a 2-run home run to add to the Orioles’ score. After walking the next batter with his 54th pitch, Green didn’t take the mound again. He signaled for the trainer and came out of the game with right elbow soreness. That is never a good thing.

Nick Goody came on to replace him and promptly gave up consecutive home runs to put the Orioles way ahead. But then Goody found his way to keep the O’s off the scoreboard in the 3rd. Kirby Yates had a spot of trouble in the 4th, giving up a walk and a 2-run home run to start the inning. But then Yates kept the O’s off the bases through the 5th inning.

Jonathan Holder made his MLB debut in the 6th and sailed through the inning in just 16 pitches, with a nice strikeout.His dad and brother drove up from Mississippi to watch his debut, and they certainly had something to be proud of tonight. Severino and Parker kept that momentum going by keeping the Orioles scoreless through the 7th and 8th innings, respectively.

The Yankees just couldn’t break through the Orioles pitching much at all. They only got 2 hits and 4 walks off the starter in his 6 innings, but nothing they could combine together for any runs. Yes, the Yankees were very much shut out of the game tonight.

Final score: 8-0 Orioles.

September Call-ups: Welcome to September Baseball! Before the game, the Yankees recalled Rob Refsnyder, Nick Goody, Luis Severino, and Kirby Yates. They also selected recently signed outfielder Eric Young Jr. and pitcher Jonathan Holder, who contributed to tonight’s game. To make some room on the roster, the Yankees reinstated Nick Rumbelow from the 7-day DL, recalled him from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and then placed him on the 60-day DL due to his Tommy John surgery earlier this year.

Injury Update: At Wednesday’s game, Aaron Hicks came up limping with a sore hamstring. The doctors in Baltimore saw Hicks, and after some tests, Hicks was diagnosed with a grade 2 strain of his hamstring. Because the rosters are expanded, he won’t be placed on the DL and is expected back “soon”.

Green’s fate is still to be determined, but there are a handful of AAA pitchers that could be in consideration should Green’s injury be something more serious, including the recently returned Bryan Mitchell.

Go Yankees!

Game 114: NYY vs. BOS — Late-inning rally & a souvenir bat

In the series finale rubber match at Fenway, the Yankees were looking to do what they always want to do (but most especially at Fenway) — win. So it’s rather fortunate when not even the Green Monster or a late-inning rally can stop the Yankees from achieving their goal. There’s a nice story that came out late tonight that Alex Rodriguez, in his last game ever at Fenway, promised a kid behind home plate, a Yankee fan, that if the Yankees win, the kid would get to keep Rodriguez’s bat. Kid walked out of Fenway with the promised souvenir.

Michael Pineda got the start tonight and gave the Yankees what they needed the night after depleting their bullpen: length, albeit he certainly depended on the defense who were certainly there to hold him up. Pineda went a full 6 innings in just 89 pitches, giving up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, striking out 3 Boston batters.

A 2-out ground-rule double in the 1st inning scored on an RBI single to get the Red Sox on the board. But the Red Sox didn’t cobble together anything more until a blip in the 5th. A 1-out single scored on a 2-out double to double the Red Sox score to 2 runs. And that would be it for them tonight.

Recent recall Luis Cessa took over for Pineda for the 7th and 8th innings, and just took command of the game, setting the Red Sox down in 6 straight outs. It was so ridiculously impressive and the exact kind of “fresh arm” the Yankees needed. Dellin Betances got the nod for the 9th inning and kept things interesting. All 3 of his outs were strikeouts (of course), but he still gave up a double, a wild pitch and a walk just to keep fans on the edge of their seats while he earned his 3rd save of the season.

The Yankees barely dented into the Red Sox starter, only getting 3 hits off of him. Of course, one of those hits was a giant 1-out solo shot over the Green Monster by Austin Romine in the 3rd inning to get the Yankees on the board.

Things got remarkably better for the Yankees when they went to their bullpen. Sanchez led the 8th inning off with a single, and then after a strikeout, Hicks and Gardner also singled to load up the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury’s double scored both Sanchez and Hicks, and for some reason, the Red Sox opted to intentionally walk Chase Headley. I suppose it was to go after Alex Rodriguez next for his final at-bat at Fenway, as Rodriguez hasn’t exactly been on an upswing in his offense lately. He did get out, but it was a soft ground out that still scored Gardner and gave the Yankees the desired insurance run.

The Yankees were effectively shut down in the 9th by the Red Sox new reliever, but the Red Sox didn’t have enough of a rally in them to beat Betances. So the Yankees closed out this series on a high note on their way back to the Bronx for a very busy weekend (more below).

Final score: 4-2 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

Scranton Shuttle: Like I mentioned yesterday, the Yankees did indeed send for some “fresh arms” for tonight’s game. But they made some interesting selections. As you know from above, they recalled Luis Cessa, whose immediate impact was exactly what they were looking for. They also selected the contract of the young reliever Ben Heller, part of the Andrew Miller trade with Cleveland, who has yet to make his MLB debut.

In exchange, the Yankees optioned Nick Goody and Rob Refsnyder back to AAA Scranton. And that had a lot of people scratching their heads. The truth is that they need “fresh arms” more than they need a utility player right now, so that is the only logic one needs to follow for this move. It’s not a “farewell” to Refsnyder for the season, but rather more of a “we’ll catch up in a few”.

So, this weekend in the Bronx is packed with events, and if you’re in the New York area, you really need to be there. Tomorrow night is Alex Rodriguez’s final game as a Yankee. Pre-game ceremonies start at 6:50 pm. (For those not in New York, tomorrow’s game is one of the national broadcasts. And I’m sorry.) Then Saturday, the Yankees will have a special ceremony to commemorate the 1996 championship team, and it looks like everyone from that team is going to be there to celebrate. And on Sunday, the Yankees are going to dedicate a plaque to Mariano Rivera in Monument Park. Oh, and there’s also 3 games against the Rays this weekend.

Go Yankees!

Game 113: NYY vs. BOS — The “normal” of Fenway is anything but…

So the fact that the game was over 4 hours, injuries happened, bullpens were depleted, and the Fenway faithful booed Yankee players with gusto, definitely means it was a typical Yankees-Red Sox game.

Nathan Eovaldi started the game tonight and plowed through the 1st inning 3-up, 3-down before leaving the game with “elbow soreness”. He was promptly packed away and sent back to New York for testing. And once the Yankees opened the bullpen door, it revolved and never looked back. Chasen Shreve came out in the 2nd and kept the Red Sox scoreless. In the 3rd, Shreve loaded up the bases with a single, a 1-out double, and a hit-by-pitch.

So it was onto newly signed Blake Parker. A fielder’s choice gave up the Red Sox’s first run putting runners at the corners before Parker got out of the inning with a fly out. He came back out in the 4th to load up the bases himself with 1 out. A fielder’s choice again scored a run, and the Yankees went to Nick Goody for relief. Goody and Tommy Layne kept the Red Sox from adding to their score through the 5th inning.

Layne came back out in the 6th and put runners on the corners with a walk and a single. So it was Tyler Clippard to take control. A single scored a runner, keeping runners at the corners, and a fielder’s choice again score another run. A solid double had a runner going for home before a fantastic relay from center field got the runner out at home. Despite an intentional walk and a wild pitch that put runners in scoring position, Clippard got himself out of the inning.

Clippard gave up a hit in the 7th, but Adam Warren’s relief was the beginning of the end of the Red Sox offense. Warren sailed his way through the 7th and 8th innings in just 28 pitches before Dellin Betances’s 9th inning was just flawless.

The Yankees seemed rather stymied some against the Red Sox starter, but their ability to push up the pitch count on tons of foul balls got him out of the game in the 6th inning, but not before giving up a lead-off solo shot to Didi Gregorius in the 5th inning to get the Yankees on the board. Once the Red Sox were into their bullpen, the Yankees started in on a late offensive rally beginning in the 7th inning.

With Gregorius and Sanchez on base with singles, Austin Romine’s single scored Gregorius. In one of his last appearances at Fenway, Alex Rodriguez then pinch-hit for Hicks and flied out, but still moved Sanchez over to 3rd. The Red Sox went to their bullpen and got a strike out, but the Yankees weren’t done yet. Jacoby Ellsbury’s single scored Sanchez, and Chase Headley’s single scored Romine to tie up the game. Another pitching change, and the bases were loaded with Teixeira’s walk. So Starlin Castro’s beautiful double scored 2 more runs to give the Yankees a nice lead.

And they didn’t look back. Gary Sanchez led-off the 8th inning with an amazing solo home run straight up the middle of Fenway. This was Sanchez’s first MLB homer, and it was just glorious. Romine then walked, and the Red Sox once again changed pitchers. Refsnyder singled, and the wild pitches began. The first one moved Refsndyer and Romine to scoring position. Then with the bases loaded due to Ellsbury’s walk and an out, the second wild pitch scored Romine and moved runners up again. Then after another out, the final wild pitch scored Refsnyder to cap off the Yankees’ rally.

The Yankees’ offense got 15 hits tonight, and Gary Sanchez hit 4 of them. Sanchez had a truly amazing night tonight, going 4-for-5, with 2 runs scored (one of those his 8th inning home run). Currently, Sanchez’s average is one of the best on the roster, albeit it’s based on a small sample size. But clearly, this guy, who’s been itching to make an impact on the team since March, is making an impact on this team. And that’s making all the difference.

Final score: 9-4 Yankees.

Okay, since I mentioned them, there were quite a few injuries in this game. Eovaldi’s “elbow soreness” is worrisome. And hopefully, it’s just some overuse aching. But this could also be a sign of something worse, like the need for Tommy John surgery due to a torn ligament. And the Red Sox had their own share of injuries — a player exited early due to “right calf tightness” (probably a weird cramp or strain) and one of the fan favorites took a nasty foul ball off his shin (though x-rays came back negative).

Some roster moves: The Yankees activated pitcher Blake Parker (who pitched in tonight’s game), sent Bryan Mitchell to the Single-A Tampa Yankees to continue his rehab assignment, and optioned Luis Severino to AAA Scranton.

I also expect with the exhaustion of the bullpen tonight that we’ll get some announcements tomorrow about a fresh arm or two called on from Scranton. That and I’m sure the ideal situation would be to have Pineda be strong and in it for most of the final game tomorrow night.

But then there’s never anything “normal” about a rivalry game. And that’s the most normal thing about them.

Go Yankees!

Game 110: CLE vs. NYY — Steamy Saturday and former teams

Okay, this afternoon, the Indians finally played like I expected them to play — division leaders. And honestly, if not for a few lucky pitches, it would have been quite a struggle for them on this steamy Saturday afternoon in the Bronx. Somewhere, I can hear the crying sobs of my Cleveland relatives as they come to the realization that October baseball may be slipping from them once again.

Yes, it was not as pleasant a day today in New York for many reasons. The sky was overcast with peeking sunlight that kind of sat heavy and muggy around the bowl of Yankee Stadium as it so often does on such days in the summer. Fans dream that someday someone will invent a giant ceiling fan of sorts to get the air kind of circulating rather than just sitting there on the nearly 40,000 guests in the Bronx.

Digressions aside, there was also a game played this afternoon. CC Sabathia got the start. I find it funny that people still associate Sabathia with the Indians as if he just got traded or something and not signed with the Yankees say 8 years ago. By the end of this season, he will have been a Yankee longer than he ever was an Indian as he was traded to the Brewers mid-season in 2008 before signing with New York just before the 2009 championship season. Just needed to clear that up. (This isn’t like a LeBron thing, despite the similarities.)

Anyway, Sabathia kind of had a rough outing. When asked in his post-game press conference, Girardi summed it up, “He was in bad counts today and figured out how to get out of a lot of situations… eventually it caught up to him.” In his 100 pitches just shy of 6 innings, Sabathia gave up 6 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, striking out 5 batters. Sabathia kept things under control for the first part of the game, and the Indians only broke through in the 4th with a lead-off solo home run.

But then in the 5th, a batter hit by a pitch was caught going to 2nd by the sharp eye of catcher Gary Sanchez. Then a walked batter ended up at 2nd on a ground out before scoring on an RBI single. A 1-out solo home run in the 6th started spelling the end for Sabathia tonight, and with 2 runners on base and 2 outs on the board, the bullpen call went to Anthony Swarzak to get the strikeout to end the inning.

Swarzak had his own trouble with a 1-out solo shot in the 7th and was replaced by Chasen Shreve who promptly shut things down through the 7th and 2 outs in the 8th to be replaced by Nick Goody. Goody came back out in the 9th where a 1-out walk scored on an RBI single to give the Indians a hefty lead and end Goody’s night. Dellin Betances closed things out with 2 of his nasty strikeouts, but not before the Indians threatened with a single and 2 stolen bases putting runners in scoring position.

The Yankees’ offense was virtually silent in comparison to last night. Facing the Indians’ starter’s just 100 pitches, the Yankees only got 5 hits and a walk in his 8 innings, and struck out 8 times. The only time they scored runs all night was far too early in the game. In the 2nd inning, Castro hit a 1-out single and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. Hicks moved runners to the corners, and a wild pitch scored Sanchez for the Yankees second and final run of the game.

In the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees faced their recently traded former teammate, who basically threw what is a standard inning for him and got his first save for the Indians. Someone called me during the 9th inning to comment that the pitcher was wearing the wrong uniform, and they didn’t like to watch him pitch for any other team. I reminded the caller that it’s part of baseball, he wasn’t always a Yankee, and it wouldn’t have been my choice either.

Final score: 5-2 Cleveland.

Scranton Shuttle: Before the game, the Yankees recalled Chasen Shreve, who pitched in today’s game. They optioned Johnny Barbato back to AAA Scranton to free up the roster spot.

Go Yankees!

Game 105: NYY vs. NYM — Subway series opening drama

Yes, there is much to talk about with the last-minute extended trade deadline today, and it’s once again kind of sad for Yankee Universe for now but also kind of positive for Yankee Universe in the future. But more on that later.

Today marked the opening day for the annual “Subway Series”. This year the Yankees play 2 game at CitiField in Queens, and then the Mets come to the Bronx for 2 more games to complete the series. Tonight, for the opener, the Yankees sent up CC Sabathia who really had a bit of an okay start overall. He threw 103 pitches into the 6 inning, gave up 8 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, striking out just 5 Mets batters.

A lead-off solo home run in the 2nd got things started for the Mets. A 1-out single in the 5th gave them another run on a 2-out RBI double. And in the 6th with 2 runners on base with singles and 1 out, Sabathia gave up a big 3-run home run to push the Mets into the lead. After another out and a walk, the Yankees brought in Richard Bleier, who promptly loaded the bases with a single and a walk. Nick Goody got them out of the inning in 5 pitches.

In the mean time, the Yankees weren’t exactly letting the Mets have this game easily. In the 4th, Ellsbury led-off with a double and Teixeira joined him on the base paths with a walk. McCann’s fly out moved Ellsbury to 3rd which then allowed him to score on a wild pitch. And in the 5th, with 1 out, Refsnyder worked a walk, moved to 2nd on Sabathia’s sacrifice bunt, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s double. Gardner himself then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single.

While the Mets had a slim lead over the Yankees, the Yankees’ pitching staff sailed through the Mets’ roster. Recently re-acquired Tyler Clippard (more below) breezed through the 7th inning in just 12 pitches. And Adam Warren continued to show the Yankees why he was needed back in pinstripes (or away greys tonight) through the scoreless 8th and 9th innings.

The Yankees tied everything up in the 8th. Gardner, on base with a walk, 2 outs, a new pitcher, and McCann singled on base only to be pinch-run by the speedy Torreyes, who proceeded to immediately take 2nd on a wild pitch. The stage was set for Didi Gregorius’ single to score both quick runners to tie up the game and make the Mets uncomfortable and heightened the drama for the over 40,000 fans in Queens.

And into extra innings, this game went. In the 10th, Ellsbury led-off with a walk and Teixeira singled. Pinch-hitter (and recently recalled) Ben Gamel then laid out a perfect bunt and beat the throw to load the bases. Something was cooking in Queens and it wasn’t coming from Shake Shack near center field. Then with 1 out, Starlin Castro hit a big sacrifice fly that scored Ellsbury to break the tie. It was just enough for the Yankees.

They sent in Dellin Betances, the new closer by default, for the 10th inning. But there was more drama to come. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt; a hit-by-pitch landed runners in the corners; and a ground out put runners in scoring position. CitiField was split down the middle with the fans in orange hoping for a walk-off something and the fans in pinstripes hoping for an out. A nice strikeout it was, and Betances got his first save of the season.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees, in 10 innings.

Of course, one of the more interesting plays in the game happened at the very beginning. On the 2nd pitch of the game, Brett Gardner hit the ball right off the back wall of the park and safely had a triple. But due to his speediness and (according to Statcast) hitting 20.1 mph at one point, Gardner tried to stretch it into an inside-the-park home run. It was officially ruled as a triple with an out at home on the relay from right-center field. But we should have known this was going to be one of those games right then and there.

So trade updates… today, the Yankees said goodbye to Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova. And I don’t know which one Yankees fans are more upset about losing. The Yankees sent Beltran to the Rangers for 3 young pitchers — Dillon Tate (who went 4th overall in last year’s draft), Erik Swanson, and Nick Green. And the Yankees dealt Nova to the Pirates for 2 players to be named later.

Beltran has become a veteran presence on and off the field, in the clubhouse, and especially in the Latino arm of MLB. Plus, his recent spike in offensive contribution had people already talking about Cooperstown. Nova is considered a “homegrown Yankee”, having grown up in the farm system and making his debut with the team in 2010; this made 2016 his 7th season with the Yankees. Both join recent trades like Miller and Chapman in the growing list of now former Yankees that will be missed by the fans.

With all the empty spots on the active roster, the Yankees recalled outfielder Ben Gamel and reliever Nick Goody, and added recent trade acquisition Tyler Clippard to the active roster. Clippard was originally drafted by the Yankees in 2003 and made his debut with them in 2007 before he bounced around the league pitching for the Nationals, Athletics, Mets, and Diamondbacks. And now, full circle back to the Yankees.

It appears to many that the Yankees have “pulled the plug” on 2016 and are regrouping for the future. And to some extent, I agree with that. I think they realize that the nostalgic pull of the late 1990s dynasty is over (and as to when that actually ended is up for debate), and people are wanting a regrouping to focus on the next dynasty.

I think it can be compared to several times throughout Yankee history when the team needed to close the door on what were great stretches of great teams — Murders’ Row of the late 20’s and the 1950s with DiMaggio into Mantle, et al. greatness comes to mind. I think history is more likely to group the late-90s dynasty with those 2 eras rather than the almost fluke that was the late-70s “Bronx is Burning” team. Chalk it up to the known players or the multiple World Series wins or just a better overall team. Whatever makes you happiest, I guess.

Because for the first time in many current fans’ lives, the team isn’t dominating the AL East consistently. It’s playing… well, like a normal team. It’s nowhere near as bad as the Yankees that most of the bulk of their current fan base were born under (as I was) — most of the 1970s (save a couple of fluke years), the 1980s, and the early 1990s. We got spoiled. We got used to winning. We got used to being the “Evil Empire” and dominating all the little “rebel forces” trying to usurp our rightful throne.

So here’s the fun upshot in all this sudden cold rush of reality: the Yankees will always come back and dominate with another dynasty. It’s in their blood. It’s the DNA of the organization. It may not look like Gehrig or DiMaggio or Berra or Rivera. But it will happen again. And I’d actually bet the farm (so to speak) that it will happen again in our lifetime. Because that’s what the Yankees do. They win. They excel. They set the standard. And when they’re not doing it, they fight as hard as they can to right the ship so they’re on top once again.

Don’t give up on the boys just yet. It may be a long road, but they’re still fighting. And so should you.

Go Yankees!

Game 95: BAL vs. NYY — Streakless birthday for CC

As the large and loud crowd of fans poured off the trains and into the stadium today, you could sense the anticipation, almost expectation, of another win this hot summer afternoon in the Bronx. Over 42,000 ticket holders were hoping for a continued winning streak as the Yankees begin their rise in the standings. Under a clear and sunny sky, the teams were announced, and the National Anthem was proudly sung. With cheers and applause and many smiles, the crowd settled into their blue seats, with hot dogs and ice cream in hand, and welcomed the players to the field for the first pitch. Hopes were high. Unfortunately, winning streaks have their hiccups, and today was just that.

Yankee starter, CC Sabathia, celebrated his 36th birthday today on the mound in the series finale against Baltimore with hopes for a win as a nice birthday gift. But the first inning proved to be quite a struggle as Sabathia loaded the bases, followed by a ground ball that scored 2 for Baltimore.  The second and third innings were 3 up and 3 down as Sabathia seemed to regain control of his pitches into the fourth and fifth innings with no further runs scoring.

Top of the sixth, with two outs on the board, Sabathia allowed a runner to reach first on his throwing error, and then, facing the next batter, proceeded to get charged with a balk when he tripped, falling off the mound, and advanced a runner. Fortunately, Sabathia was uninjured and secured the final out of the sixth with no runs scored. At the top of the seventh, Sabathia gave up two hits, followed by a double to right field, scoring 2 more runs for the Orioles. With that, Sabathia’s night was done and a pitching change gave the ball to Chad Green. Over 6 2/3 innings, Sabathia threw 97 pitches, retired 15 of 17 batters, but gave up 7 hits and 4 runs. Green took a strong and calm command of the mound, giving up 2 hits but no runs and effectively shutting down the advancing Orioles.

With a couple walks and a hit, the Yankees did claim a few bases in the first inning, but failed to score. Bottom of the second, Did Gregorius doubled to left field. Rodriguez then flied out to advance Gregorius to 3rd base. And a line drive RBI single by Starlin Castro allowed Gregorius to score the first of what would be the only run of the day for the Yankees.

Actually, Castro was impressive this afternoon, both at bat and on the field. Top of the third inning, Castro refused to let a hit sail get past him, as he snagged it, spun around, and fired it to first for the out. It seemed to be a day for players toppling over on the field when in the top of the fifth, a hard line drive caught for the out by Castro knocked him down and almost toppled the second base umpire behind him. Back in the top of the sixth, fans were treated again to Castro’s impeccable fielding skill as he grabbed another hit on the run, throwing it to first to deny the runner a base. Torreyes joined in the defensive fun by showing his skill at the backhanded catch, drilling it to first for an out in the eighth.

Actually, the Yankee defense put on quite a nice show today for the fans, something they certainly needed to make up for the fact that, except for a single to center by Gardner in the eighth, the offense was left swinging away at the plate for most of the game.

Final score: 4-1 Orioles, Yankees take the series 3-1.

Support for Sabathia: Despite grumblings from the press and sports announcers, Girardi spoke very positively and was very supportive of Sabathia in spite of the final score. After the game, he repeated several times that he liked the way Sabathia was throwing today. Girardi was also very pleased with Green’s time on the mound that helped keep the bullpen quiet and ready for the next game.

Scranton Shuttle: Obviously, Chad Green made his way to the Bronx for today’s game, from AAA Scranton. In return, the Yankees sent back Nick Goody. Basically, if you’re a young reliever in the organization, be prepared for a call up for a day or two to be the clichéd “fresh arm”. It’s a good thing Scranton and the Bronx are relatively close geographically. Some teams have their AAA team on the opposite side of the country from their home team. It certainly makes it easier to grab a “fresh arm” from time to time.

Football, anyone?: Didi Gregorius is a man of many talents, including, apparently soccer. Or should we say “football”, as it’s properly known by the sport’s “true fans”. Yankee stadium may be known for the legendary baseball team we know and love, but the ballpark is also home to the NYCFC of Major League Soccer. Gregorius spent yesterday afternoon kicking the ball around with the team at their practice facility and impressed many with his talent. Despite Gregorius’ obvious skill at soccer/football, the Yankees are not likely to let him go at this point!

Also, earlier this week, Didi Gregorius was this year’s Yankee winner of the Heart & Hustle Award. Every year, the Players Alumni Association select a player from each team who best represents the sport and its values and tradition through their (wait for it) “Heart and Hustle” on the field. Of those 30 players selected, one will receive the top honors later this year. Past Yankee winners include Gardner (4 times), Jeter (2 times), and Rivera.

Update on Headley’s recent absence: Headley took time off to be with his family when his 4-year-old son suffered complications from a medical procedure and was rushed back into surgery. Fortunately, Colt is doing much better today. Headley was back at the stadium today as a pinch-hitter, but clearly, he was exactly where he needed to be yesterday. Character is so reflected in how we choose our priorities. Here’s hoping Colt heals quickly and completely.

And wishing a very happy birthday and great year to CC Sabathia today!

Go Yankees!

Game 94: BAL vs. NYY — Night to shine & shutout

A short train ride from the glittering night lights of New York City, the Bronx had its own night-light shining over Yankee Stadium tonight. The full moon, aglow in deep orange, hung low in the sky over the ballpark. Perhaps as a reminder that 47 years ago today, man first walked on the moon. A milestone for the space program that was determined to reach a goal despite the odds. Tonight, fans at Yankee Stadium tonight saw their pinstriped team defy the odds against the AL East leader, taking charge of the mound and the field and never backing down. This was a night for New York to shine and Baltimore really never had a chance.

Yankee starting pitcher Michael Pineda threw 113 pitches over 6 full innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 walks, with 8 strikeouts. Faltering a bit in the fourth, Pineda loaded the bases on two hits and a walk, but managed to get out of the inning allowing no runs. Despite some threats by the Orioles batters, Pineda deftly commanded the mound and shut down any scoring opportunities for Baltimore.

Pineda was replaced by Dellin Betances in the seventh who faced three batters for a quick three outs in just 11 pitches. Nick Goody replaced Betances in the eighth, throwing just 10 pitches for another three up and three down. To close the game at the top of the ninth,  Chasen Shreve calmly shut down another three batters in a row with two strikeouts and a ground out to secure another Yankee win. The Yankees seem to be experimenting with a few different pitchers to close the last few innings. Clearly, it seems to be working.

The Yankee bats had a few shining moments tonight. Gardner started it all off in the first inning with a triple to center after the ball bounced off the fielder’s glove. With Gardner on 3rd, Beltran hit a RBI sacrifice fly to center that plated Gardner, and the Yankees were the first on the board. The hopeful crowd of 35,681 was roaring in support.

A couple of quiet innings followed, and then in the fourth inning, Teixeira, just back from a few days off to rest a sore foot, slammed a homer to right to score the Yankees second run. In the sixth, Ellsbury smacked a lead off single to left followed by a bunt to 3rd by Beltran and a walk by McCann. With bases loaded and no outs, Teixeira came to the plate and RBI walks, scoring Ellsbury.

The Yankees continued to dominate the game in the seventh inning when Torreyes (in for Headley tonight) smacked a triple on a line drive to right field. Gardner then hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score Torreyes, and the Yankees are up by 4 over the scoreless Orioles.

In the eighth, a pitching change proved beneficial to New York as Beltran hit a solo homer to right field and into the second deck and the waiting glove of a fan in a Beltran jersey. This dinger marks Beltran’s 412th career home run and 20th homer for this season. With three quick outs in the top of the ninth by Shreve, the Yankees shut out the Orioles and won their fourth game in a row.

Final score: 5-0, Yankees

Welcome Back, Tex: Despite his recent hitting slump, Teixeira is back in the lineup and breaking said slump apparently. Refsnyder, who took Tex’s spot at first in the last couple games, is to be applauded for his utility work in both the infield and the outfield, plus several good at-bats. Teixeira has emphasized he just wants to stay healthy til the end of the season, and he knows part of that is improving his at-bats, which showed in his time at the plate tonight.

Doing the lineup shuffle: Headley was not in the lineup tonight, being excused for personal reasons and replaced at third base by Ronald Torreyes. Headley’s absence had the team scrambling some to readjust the lineup. Hicks was put in Headley’s batting slot (#8) and Torreyes batted ninth. Hope to see Headley back in his corner on the field soon.

Welcome to the neighborhood: In 2017, Yankee Stadium will have a new neighbor when the Roberto Clemente Urban Youth Academy will be built in the Bronx. The facility will feature new baseball and softball fields, complete with all instructors, fees, and equipment for free to the kids of the local community. Harlem RBI, the MLB Players Association, and the State of New York, with support from Commissioner Rob Manfred and Yankees veteran Alex Rodriguez, are joining forces to create a safe and encouraging environment for young athletes. Rodriguez, in particular, got his start playing ball at a Boys and Girls Club in Miami and emphasized the importance of community programs that allows kids the chance to dream big and to develop positive life skills.

Go Yankees!