NLWC & ALWC: MIL vs. WAS & TB vs. OAK — 2019 Postseason Begins

It’s officially October Baseball. The regular season came to a close last Sunday, some teams headed into the postseason, some to their family vacations and couches for the duration of 2019. But either way, things are heating up if your team is one of the few who grace this month with its presence.

Tuesday: NL Wild Card (Brewers at Nationals)
The National League postseason began on Tuesday night as the Brewers challenged the Nationals for the final wild card spot. And at first, the Brewers looked to have a decided victory. They out-pitched the home team, with a strong showing, giving up a solo home run in the 3rd, sailing through most of the game in command.

The Nats’ ace had a bit of trouble keeping the Brewers’ bats under control. A lead-off walk in the 1st scored as part of a 2-run home run, getting the visitors on the board even before an out was recorded in the game. The Brewers tagged another run on with a lead-off solo shot up the middle in the 2nd. Things were looking great for the Brewers to advance to the NLDS.

Until that 8th inning. The Nationals figured out they weren’t going to let another October pass them by and took back the game. With 1 out, a challenged hit-by-pitch made it to base. After another out, the Nats gave up a single and a walk to load up the bases. Then a single and really sloppy fielding error cleared the bases, with the Nats scoring the go-ahead run. The Brewers’ defense snapped into action and got that runner trying to stretch into 3rd to end this messy inning, but the damage was done.

Final score: 4-3 Nationals, Nationals advance to NLDS to face the Dodgers

Wednesday: AL Wild Card (Rays at Athletics)
There was a lot of talk about which team might have the advantage in this game tonight. The A’s have had some pretty strong pitching, but the Rays are quite tenacious this season. It was going to be quite the toss-up, but the Rays really proved their mettle in the end, commanding the mound and the game.

The Rays’ pitchers walked away from tonight’s game with no earned runs, only one unearned run. In the 3rd, the lead-off batter hit into what looked like an easy grounder, but a throwing error allowed him to make it all the way to 3rd. A sacrifice fly then scored that runner for the A’s only run of the night.

Their pitching was uncharacteristically lacking in their starter tonight. He gave up a lead-off solo home run to the Rays right in the 1st. And then a single and 2-run homer in the 2nd. After another lead-off home run in the 3rd, they realized it wasn’t working and sent in their bullpen. They were markedly better, except a 2-out solo home run in the 5th to add just one more run for the visitors.

Final score: 5-1 Rays, Rays advance to the ALDS to play the Astros

Postseason Schedule: The Division Series starts tomorrow with the NLDS. The Braves will host the Cardinals, and the Dodgers host the Nationals to begin each of their series. The ALDS starts on Friday with the Astros hosting the Rays and the Yankees hosting the Twins. This series a “best of 5”, with the higher seed hosting for 2 games before the lower seed hosts 2, with an off-day between. A 5th game, if necessary, will be held back in the original stadium for a 2-2-1 possibility of the series.

The NLCS will begin next Friday, October 11, and the ALCS will start Saturday, October 12. That will be a “best of 7”, 2-3-2 hosting pattern.

My Division Series Predictions: I always hesitate to make my predictions known every year because it’s always with mixed results. Honestly, neither of my selected teams won their respective Wild Card games, but maybe I’ll have better luck in this next series.

  • NLDS A — Braves over Cardinals in 5 games
  • NLDS B — Dodgers over Nationals in 3 games
  • ALDS A — Astros over Rays in 4 games
  • ALDS B — Yankees over Twins in 5 games

It’s anybody’s guess how this season will turn out. It rarely goes as predicted. But such is life. At this point, truly anything is possible. Except for the fact that only one of these 8 teams will be crowned champions before the end of this month. Fingers crossed for your favorite team. I’ve got mine crossed for… well, you know…

Go Yankees!

Game 138: OAK vs. NYY — September call-ups as playoffs await

Happy September, Yankee fans! It’s that time of year when baseball fans everywhere dare to dream that their favorite team might just have that wild chance to make it to Fall Classic. Much like a movie where the underdog team from nowhere takes home the title, fans everywhere are hoping for a miracle and a chance to win it all.  Whereas most fans will be simply hoping, Yankees fans have a solid reason to be confident that their first place AL East team will be standing on that World Series field on October 22.

As the September call-ups begin today, MLB teams across the league are scrambling to put together a team of the best players who are at their peak of performance and health for that shot at the playoffs. We saw that kind of team today as over 40,000 fans packed Yankee Stadium  to watch the New York Yankees best the Oakland Athletics on that path to October baseball.

JA Happ had a remarkable scoreless outing on the mound for the Yankees through 6 full innings, throwing 98 pitches but allowing no runs. Happ was replaced by recent call-up Ryan Dull in the 7th, who struggled his way through his outing. After loading up the bases with 1 out, a double scored 2 runs, and a grounder scored a third.

Chance Adams took the mound in the 8th and gave up a 1-out solo homer to right field to keep pushing the visitors into a strong lead. Ottavino took command of the ball in the 9th and kept the A’s from gaining any further runs.

Kept scoreless in the first 7 innings, behind by 4 runs, and at the risk of being shut out for the first time since last season, the Yankees found their first real chance to do something in the bottom of the 8th inning. They loaded the bases with a walk to Tauchman, a single to LeMahieu, and a walk to Judge. A sacrifice fly by Gleyber Torres scored Mike Tauchman to get the Yankees on the board. Then after a pitching change and another out, Didi Gregorius’ single scored 2 more runs to edge the Yankees closer to the lead.

Down by just one run in the 9th, Brett Gardner hit a lead-off home run to deep right field to tie the game. Mike Ford quickly came in to pinch-hit for Frazier, and Ford promptly smacked a walk-off home run over the right center field fence into the Yankees’ bullpen to win the game for the Yankees.

This was Mike Ford’s 10th home run as a Yankee and his first walk-off home run, celebrated with a smile, a perfect bat flip, and the celebratory Gatorade shower thanks to fellow home run hitter Gardner.

Final score: 5-4 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

Roster moves/injury updates: Prior to today’s game, the Yankees moved David Hale, a right-handed reliever, to the 60-day IL for his continuing back strain. They also sent Edwin Encarnacion and Luis Severino to start their rehab assignments with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

As part of the September call-ups, Yankees called-up three relief pitchers including Chance Adams, Ryan Dull, and Tyler Lyons. With the spot open with the move by Hale, the Yankees selected the contract of Lyons and recalled Dulle, Adams, and Frazier. Both Dull and Adams played in today’s game, and these pitcher-heavy call-ups certainly signal that the Yankees seem to be looking for a particular skill set of pitches to fill spots in the bullpen.

Mike Mussina Day:  Before today’s game, the Yankees honored former pitcher Mike Mussina, or “Moose”, to celebrate his induction into the Hall Fame this summer with an official “Mike Mussina Hall of Fame Celebration“. The first 18,000 fans through the gates today received a Mike Mussina t-shirt, and fans were treated to pre-game festivities including the unveiling of his Cooperstown replica plaque to be displayed alongside other Hall of Famers like fellow teammate Mariano Rivera.

The Yankees also handed him a $35,000 donation to benefit of Montoursville Area Athletice Department (PA). Moose is active in his hometown community athletics programs, serving on the Little League Board of Directors, operating a training camp for local student athletes, and serving as head basketball coach at the high school. In fact, when he got the call regarding his Hall of Fame election, he was busy with a team practice. Mussina also had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch today to his son, Peyton.

Go Yankees!

 

 

Game 137: OAK vs. NYY — Bronx Bombers for the win

The Bronx Bombers gave the hometown New York crowd quite a show today. Despite facing a strong pitching team in this often frustrating extra inning match-up, New York never gave up and earned this well-deserved win.

Domingo German started the game and pitched a solid 5 innings, throwing 90 pitches for 5 strikeouts, allowing two runs. Loaisiga replaced German at the top of the 6th and managed to get out of the inning with no further runs allowed.

A pitching change at the top of the 7th brought Adam Ottavino to the helm, but he struggled with a couple wild pitches, beaning one batter. After 2 outs, he was replaced by Kahnle who faced one batter for the third out to close the inning. The 8th inning brought up Zack Britton who faced only two batters for two outs before leaving the game with a sudden injury to his leg. (More below.)

Green replaced Britton, who walked three batters and loaded the bases before securing the third out. In the top of the 9th, with the game tied up, Chapman faced 5 batters for two walks and finished with a solid swinging strike as the game headed into extra innings. Cory Gearrin came in to close out the game for 2 strong innings, facing 6 batters for 6 quick outs.

The Yankees faced some strong arms today from only 4 pitchers that tallied up 15 total strikeouts and only gave up 6 hits to the home team. And yet, even with several scoreless innings, the Bronx Bombers showed why their nickname suits them. All 4 runs today were homers sent to the outfield stands amid the cheering hometown crowd.

After a scoreless 1st, Gary Sanchez sent a home run to left field in the 2nd to put the Yankees on the board first, and then did it again with a lead-off solo home run over the fence to right center to tie the game at that point. Aaron Judge homered in the bottom of the 8th to again even up the game’s score and send it into eventual extra innings.

So, as the game went into the 11th inning, DJ LeMaheiu smashed a walk-off homer to right center to take the game for the Yankees. That’s four batters. Four homers. For the win.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

Injury update: As mentioned above, Zack Britton left the game in the 5th with a severe right calf cramp. Since the pain seemed to ease up, there are no scheduled tests but the Yankees will just wait and see how quickly Britton recovers from appears to be a kind of “charley horse” injury.

CC Sabathia, who left Friday’s game with intense pain and inflammation in his right knee, has been placed on the 10-day IL. Sabathia is confident he will return to the mound soon for his last season before retiring at the end of the season. To fill his spot on the roster, the Yankees recalled Jonathan Loaisiga, who came in to pitch in today’s game.

Go Yankees!

Game 136 — OAK vs. NYY: Pinstripes plagued by pitching problems

The Yankees returned to the Bronx today after a successful West Coast run, winning 5 of their last 6 games, scoring 35 runs, including 18 homers. Despite being hounded by injuries this season, the team has focused on staying the path to the playoffs and the World Series.

CC Sabathia started strongly today, pitching well for three full innings, despite giving up one home run in the 3rd. This was Sabathia’s third start since returning from the IL, yet unexpectedly left the game and was replaced at the top of the 4th by Luis Cessa. (More below.)

Cessa threw 37 pitches through two solid, scoreless innings. A pitching change in the 6th gave the ball to Tommy Kahnle, who just struggled and gave up 3 runs on 3 hits, a rarity for the reliever. Both Gearrin (7th) and Cortes (8th and 9th) also had difficulty with command of the mound, collectively giving up 4 more runs, including another home run, for the eventual disappointing loss for New York.

The Yankees were scoreless in the first two innings, finally getting on the board in the 3rd. Didi Gregorius grounded into a force out that scored DJ LeMahieu to tie the game at that point.

The 4th inning began well with singles by Voit and Gardner. Romine then reached 1st on a fielder’s choice. And after an overturned call, the bases were loaded. Mike Tauchman grounded into a double play, scoring just Voit, giving New York a brief lead. The last four innings were scoreless for the Yankees, who were never able to get on base again the rest of the game against the strong A’s bullpen.

Final score: 8-2 Oakland

Injury update: After just 3 innings today, CC Sabathia left the game due to some discomfort in his right knee. Though no tests are scheduled at this time as this is a lingering issue for the star pitcher. He’s hoping that resting the knee will solve the issue, and he can return to the mound soon as the race for pennant draws near.

Roster updates: Before the game, the Yankees placed Gio Urshela on the IL with a left groin strain and activated Luke Voit back to the roster, to score one of the Yankees’ two runs tonight. The Yankees also officially sent pitcher Jordan Montgomery to his rehab assignment at AAA Scranton as his recovery from Tommy John surgery is complete.

Looking ahead, it seems likely that outfielder Clint Frazier will get a call up for the September roster. According to Aaron Boone, they are impressed to see how Frazier has been working successfully on his defensive skill set at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Finally, our hearts continue to be with the family of Rays’ minor league pitcher Blake Bivens, who lost his wife, 10-month old son, and mother-in-law in an absolute tragedy earlier this week. Our prayers are with you and your family and friends.

Go Yankees!

Game 129: NYY vs. OAK — Swept away by the Bay

Well, that didn’t end well. But on the bright side, it’s only the second time this season the Yankees have been swept (the other time was back in April in Houston), and they’ve never been swept at home. And that remains solid.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in this final game in Oakland this week. He threw 109 pitches through 6 innings, gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out 5 batters in tonight’s loss. In fact, all of the damage by the home team happened in the first third of the game under Tanaka’s watch.

He loaded up the bases in the 1st with a double and 2 walks. A fielder’s choice allowed the first runner to score, and a wild pitch moved the runners to scoring position. They did so on a 2-RBI single. And a lead-off triple in the 3rd easily scored on a single. After another single and a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners, another fielder’s choice allowed one more run for the home team.

And that was it for the A’s. So after Tanaka finished his outing strong, he handed the game over to Luis Cessa. He followed Tanaka’s later example and kept the Athletics from adding to their lead. The Yankees were hoping for the chance to play catch-up.

They got some chances, but not enough in the end. Torres hit a 1-out double in the 5th and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s single to finally get the Yankees on the board. Then in the 7th, with 1 out, Gleyber Torres smacked a solid solo home run to double the Yankees’ score. A final chip into the lead came with Torres’ 2-out solo home run in the 9th, a last-minute unsuccessful attempt to shift things into the Yankees’ favor.

And yes, that means that Gleyber Torres scored all 3 of the Yankees’ runs tonight.

Final score: 5-3 Athletics, A’s sweep Yankees 3-0

Next up: The Yankees travel down the Coast a bit to visit the Dodgers for the weekend. Starting Monday, they begin their series in Seattle before heading back home for a home stand against the Athletics and Rangers. Then they’ll hit the road again for a long road trip against the Red Sox, Tigers, and Blue Jays.

And this weekend is also Players Weekend. Yankee uniforms get their chosen nicknames along their back. Players wear specially designed cleats, gloves, and accessories. And many of the game-used special items are later auctioned off to raise money for things like community projects. Also, look for strong social media presence as players are encouraged to use their social media to help promote the weekend by posting pictures right from the dugout as the game happens, a great way to engage with all their fans in real time.

Go Yankees!

Game 128: NYY vs. OAK — Tauchman’s RBIs fall short of Happ’s allowed homers

The Yankees are having trouble finding traction in the Bay area in this midweek series. The Athletics are certainly attempting to close that gap in the AL West between them and the Astros and/or solidify their Wild Card status, and unfortunately, they’re using this series with the Yankees to do so.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees and had some trouble tamping down the home team’s bats. He threw 80 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out just 4 batters. With 2 outs in the 2nd, he gave up a single that scored on a 2-run home run to put the A’s in the lead.

To lead off the 3rd, Happ gave up a walk and a 2-run home run to double the home team’s score. Then in the 5th, he loaded up the bases with a double, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk. So with that threat, the Yankees turned to Chad Green. Green quickly got consecutive pop-outs, but then a single scored one more run for the A’s before an easy grounder got him out of the jam.

Green continued on through the next two innings, giving up a lead-off solo home run in the 6th. But he was able to control the rest of his outing and hand the game over to Ottavino who breezed through the 9th in just 9 pitches.

The Yankees were first on the board again. In the top of the 2nd, Gregorius led-off with a double and scored on Mike Tauchman’s 1-out single. After the Athletics took a nice lead, the Yankees find meager opportunities to chip away at it.

In the 6th, with 1 out, they loaded up the bases with Urshela’s single, Gregorius’ walk, and Torres’ single. After the A’s went to the bullpen for a new pitcher, Tauchman hit a sacrifice fly deep in foul territory that scored a speedy Urshela. Mike Ford led-off the 7th with a strong solo home run. After 2 outs, Sanchez singled, moved to 3rd on Urshela’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double.

After that, the Yankees were kind of stifled by the A’s bullpen, falling just short tonight.

Final score: 6-4 Athletics

CC Sabathia is enjoying his final trip to his hometown area during the regular season. Originally from Vallejo, an area northeast of San Francisco and Oakland, Sabathia and his organization PitCChIn have partnered with the local Boys & Girls Club to help kids, much like a young Sabathia many year ago.

Relieved of the pressure of starting this series (on the basis of a scheduling fluke), Sabathia has been connecting with all his old haunts and encouraging kids (like him) that they can reach for their dreams. He visited a local elementary school, invited a large group of kids to the game, and received a donation from the Boys & Girls Club to help continue his foundation’s philanthropic work in the area and back in his now-home of New York.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 127: NYY vs. OAK — Not so bright side of the bay

The Yankees kicked off their West Cost trip with a 3-game series in Oakland. But while in the “Bright Side of the Bay“, they fell a bit short of the positive experience the nickname might imply for its visitors. Though I’m sure the green and yellow-donning fans were thrilled.

Domingo German got the start, throwing 99 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned) and struck out 7 Athletics’ batters along the way. In the 1st, he gave up a 1-out walk that scored on a 2-out 2-run home run. The next batter smacked a solo home run to add another run to the home team early.

With 2 outs in the 2nd, German gave up a single. A double then scored that runner, but the batter was thrown out trying to take 3rd in a great defensive play. After tamping down, German had some issues in the 6th at the end of his outing, giving up a single and double to put runners in scoring position. After an out, a single and fielding error allowed both runners to score to solidify the A’s eventual win.

That also ended German’s night. So, in came Jonathan Loaisiga for the rest of the game. He helped shut down the Athletics from further additions to their score. For the final bit of the game, he allowed a chance for the Yankees to catch up.

They didn’t.

Actually, the Yankees got on the board first. With 2 outs in the 1st, Gary Sanchez hit his 99th career home run, a big solo shot up the middle. And Aaron Judge led-off the 8th with a monster home run, lauching 467 feet. And that was it. They certainly had plenty of chances and base-runners in the game, but in a bit of a return of previous trends, they didn’t capitalize on many of those chances.

Final score: 6-2 Athletics

There’s a running article on the Yankees website that keeps fans updated on when every player on the current Injured List is scheduled to return to the team. The hardest part is seeing those who aren’t going to be back until next season. Here’s the good news: a huge chunk of players could potentially be back with the September call-ups. Players on that list include pitchers Betances, Heller, Holder, and Severino and position players like Encarnacion, Estrada, Hicks, and Stanton.

But the most solidly scheduled return is Luke Voit. Voit is recovering from a sports hernia. He will do his rehab this next week before rejoining the Yankees when they return to the Bronx next weekend (about August 30).

Go Yankees!

2018 Wild Cards: COL vs. CHC & OAK vs. NYY — October baseball, a little wild

If the Wild Card games are any indication of how the 2018 postseason is going to be, it’s going to be one wild ride this October. The National League Wild Card reflected how tight the NL has been and ended up going down to the wire before the postseason began. And the American League Wild Card showed off the Yankees.

NL Wild Card: Rockies vs. Cubs (Tuesday)
This game was one of those super dramatic, tight games that makes these one-off games worth the effort. Both teams sent in their ace pitchers, Freeland and Lester, who both pitched deep into the game. Both only gave up 4 hits and a walk. But the Rockies got one run early in the game.

In the 1st, a lead-off walk moved to 3rd on a ground-rule double and then scored on a sacrifice fly. But then the Cubs held off the Rockies for the rest of the regular game. The Rockies pretty much matched them in offense and defense, which resulted in this insane, edge-of-your-seat kind of game.

But then, in the bottom of the 8th, with 2 outs, a Cubs’ batter singled, stole 2nd, and then scored on a double to finally tie up the game. And the hometown crowd went wild. And the game eventually went into extra innings. 13 of them.

In the 13th, with 2 outs (again), the Rockies’ batter singled, moved to 3rd on a single, and then scored on a single to break the tie. The small contingent of Colorado fans were suddenly excited. Their wish came true when their pitcher breezed his way through 3 strikeouts in the bottom of the 13th to send the Cubs back to their clubhouse to watch the rest of the postseason from their couches.

Final score: 2-1 Rockies, in 13 innings

AL Wild Card: Athletics vs. Yankees (Wednesday)
The next night, the AL Wild Card teams were ready for their own dramatic one-off game. And while the Yankees certainly outshone the Athletics in the end, the A’s weren’t exactly sitting on their hands. They are a good team. The Yankees are just better.

The A’s decided to piece together their bullpen to see if that could stop the Yankees. Yeah, it didn’t. Andrew McCutchen led-off the 1st with a walk and then scored when Aaron Judge hit a nice 2-run home run into the left field seats. But then the A’s pitchers did a good job of keeping the Yankees to those early runs.

Then in the 6th, Judge led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. After a new reliever came into the game, a wild pitch moved Hicks to 3rd and Stanton worked a walk. Stanton then stole 2nd putting both runners in scoring position. Then they did so on Luke Voit’s big triple, just inches shy of a 3-run homer in right field.

A sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius then found Voit hustling home, barely touching home plate before being tagged. The A’s challenged the tag, but it was upheld. It wasn’t quite clear if he was tagged just before he touched the plate, but there was no proof he wasn’t either. So, the run stood. Not that it mattered. The Yankees kept rolling. And Giancarlo Stanton led-off the 8th inning with a monster solo home run into the corner of the left field seats.

Luis Severino was tapped for the start, which based on his second half showing, had many in Yankee Universe nervous. But they made it clear that if he fell apart like last year’s Wild Card game, there was a enough power in the bullpen to cover him. He didn’t really need it much because he was off to a stellar start, mostly breezing his way through the first 4 innings, including 7 sharp strikeouts.

Then in the 5th, he gave up 2 singles, his first allowed hits of the night, and instead of waiting to see if Severino could pull it together, they the Yankees went to the bullpen and called in Dellin Betances, who worked his way out of Severino’s trouble in the 5th and then sailed his way through the 6th. David Robertson followed this momentum with a clean 12-pitch 7th inning.

Zach Britton came in for the 8th and became the first Yankees pitcher to really struggle this game. He gave up a lead-off single. The next batter hit into what was originally called a double play, but the Athletics challenged and it was clear that the runner beat out the ball at 1st. So it ended up overturned as just 1 out. But then the next batter hit a 2-run home run to finally get the Athletics on the board. But then Britton tamped down and got himself out of the inning.

And Aroldis Chapman, postseason veteran, came out for the 9th and came out clean, even fielding the final out himself, helping seal the win for the Yankees to advance.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

This means that the Division Series are set. Thursday, the NLDS games start. The Brewers host the Rockies, and the Dodgers host the Braves. The ALDS starts Friday — the Astros host the Indians, and the Red Sox host the Yankees. The Divsion Series games run 2 games, travel day, 2 games, travel day, 1 game. The first team to 3 wins win the series and advance to the Championship Series that begin on Friday, October 12.

Postseason Predictions:

  • Wild Card
    • Predictions: Rockies over Cubs, Yankees over Athletics
    • Results: Rockies over Cubs, Yankees over Athletics
    • Success (in batting average): 1.000
  • Division Series:
    • NLDS 1: Brewers over Rockies in 4 games
    • NLDS 2: Dodgers over Braves in 4 games
    • ALDS 1: Astros over Indians in 3 games
    • ALDS 2: Yankees over Red Sox in 5 games

This means I am hoping for an NLCS between the Brewers and Dodgers, and an ALCS between the Astros and Yankees. And with my track record, chances are at least 1 or 2 of my predictions will be wrong. I’m ready for it. But fingers crossed that it won’t be the Yankees-Red Sox one.

Go Yankees!

2018 Postseason Preview

And with the finishing of the tie-breaker games in the National League, we now have a postseason set and ready to go.

In the National League, the Wild Card game on Tuesday will be the Cubs hosting the Rockies. The winner of that game will face the team with the highest number of game wins the Brewers for the NLDS. The other NLDS will be between the Braves and Dodgers, starting at Dodger Stadium.

Over in the American League, Yankee Universe will be watching expectantly as the Athletics play the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The winner of that game will face the game leaders of MLB, the Red Sox, for the ALDS. The other ALDS game will be the Indians and Astros in Houston.

The NLDS begins on Thursday, the ALDS on Friday. The pattern once again is 2 games (at the higher seed’s stadium), travel day, 2 games (at the lower seed’s stadium), travel day, 1 game (back at the higher seed). The first team to 3 wins takes the Division Series and advances to the Championship Series. That is a 7-game series, pattern of 2-3-2, first to 4 wins. The winners of those advance to the World Series.

And we’re at that time of year that I start making foolish predictions. I’ve learned my lesson, and I will only take this one step at a time.

So, for the Wild Card games:

  • NL Wild Card (on Tuesday) — Rockies over Cubs
  • AL Wild Card (on Wednesday) — Yankees over Athletics

This means that I think the Rockies will end up facing the Brewers in the NLDS and the Yankees will face the Red Sox in the ALDS. But then I’ve been wrong before. I’ll be wrong again. And I’ll be wrong this postseason.

Go Yankees!

Game 140: NYY vs. OAK — Sevy Not So Sharp

Okay, while they deny the excuse, it’s certainly something to consider. The Yankees opted to change up their signs between pitcher and catcher. Yes, professional athletes should be able to rise above something like mixed signs, but it can’t help basic levels of frustration or high emotions in the heat of the moment. All of which certainly exacerbate even a slight error. In other words, it doesn’t matter why. It just happened, and it stinks.

In this final game against the Athletics, Luis Severino got the start and just got roughed up from the start. He threw 59 pitches into just the 3rd inning, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 6 runs (5 earned), and struck out 3 Oakland batters. His first inning was just a mess and did enough damage that the Yankees couldn’t recover.

In that 1st inning, Severino allowed a lead-off double that moved to 3rd on the first passed ball and then scored on an RBI single to start the A’s night. After giving up another double, that runner moved to 3rd on the first wild pitch. Another double allowed that runner to score. Then a passed ball and a wild pitch moved that runner to 3rd and then score another run.

After a super quick 7-pitch 2nd inning, Severino came back for the 3rd and had some trouble again. He gave up a lead-off walk and a single before a ground out moved them into scoring position. After a strikeout, he gave up a single that scored both runners. That was it for Severino tonight.

He handed the ball over to Jonathan Holder. His first pitch became a quick line drive out to end the inning. But he had his own issues in the 4th inning. He gave up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a walk, ended up a 3rd on a fielder’s choice, and then scored on a grounder.

Luis Cessa then got his turn at some long-term relief for 3 innings. And for the most part, it was a decent outing. With 2 outs in the 6th, 2 doubles scored a final run for the A’s. Then, Tarpley and Kahnle split the 8th inning to close out this messy game for the Yankees.

The Yankees weren’t exactly playing the kind of game or getting the kind of hits they needed to do much of anything in tonight’s game. In fact, they were on their way to getting shut out of the game for the first 6 innings. In the 7th, Hicks led-off with a walk, and then scored as part of Gary Sanchez’s big 2-run home run. And that would be it for the Yankee offense that mattered.

Final score: 8-2 Athletics, the A’s win the series 2-1.

Next up: after an off-day/travel day tomorrow, the Yankees face the Mariners for the weekend before heading to face the Twins. Another off-day/travel day and the Yankees then begin their final home stand, a week of games to close out Bronx games this season. Then a final week on the road will close out this season and month against division rivals.

Well, this West Coast trip is not turning out how the Yankees wanted so far, but there is still two more sets of games to right the ship, as it were. Yes, that was a sea-faring metaphor in anticipation of the next opponent, the Mariners. I’m gearing up for the Yankees’ journey to Emerald City. Yes, The Wizard of Oz is set to make a few appearances too. Seattle is filled with great opportunities for metaphors.

Take a moment to vote for the Yankees’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, CC Sabathia, or whomever you deem is worth your vote. Sabathia will spend his off-day tomorrow working with the local arm of his PitCCh In Foundation to give backpacks filled with school supplies to Bay area school children. Sabathia and his wife Amber grew up in nearby Vallejo and still have family in the area that help facilitate their generosity to help local kids.

Injury update: despite some recent progress, Clint Frazier is still dealing with lingering and recurring concussion symptoms. This really comes down to Frazier probably missing the rest of this season. Honestly, this might be for the best. He really needs to fully recover. Head injuries are not something to be taken lightly, as a certain other sport is just starting to realize. We continue to wish him a full recovery in whatever time it takes that best works for his body and for his safety and health.

Go Yankees!