Game 34: SEA vs. NYY — #CCStrong and big bats in opener

The Yankees started their 4-game series against the visiting Mariners tonight, with a potential battle of star pitchers set up for this first game. CC Sabathia continued his march toward retirement with another great outing, throwing 99 pitching through 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 5 batters.

Sabathia held them off until the 4th inning. With 1 out, a walk scored on a big 2-run home run. And then he gave up a 1-out solo home run in the 5th, and after his 5th strikeout of the game, he loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. But he got out of the jam with a great defensive grounder.

Holder came out for the 6th but then got himself into his own jam. Adam Ottavino helped get out of the inning and breezed into the 7th. Britton got the final out of the 7th before himself breezing through the 8th inning. Cessa closed out the game with a flawless, quick 9th, continuing the trend.

Meanwhile, the potential of the Mariners’ starter seemed to have been left in Seattle, as the Yankees pounced and didn’t let up for most of the first half of the game. DJ LeMahieu led off the 1st with a ground-rule double and then scored on Luke Voit’s 2-run home run.

A solo home run by Brett Gardner kicked off the big 2nd. Urshela made it to 1st on a fielding error and then scored as part of a 2-run home run hit by Thairo Estrada, his first MLB home run. Tauchman then hit a ground-rule double and scored on LeMahieu’s single.

And with 2 outs in the 3rd, Gardner tripled and then scored on Gio Urshela’s single to cap off the Yankees’ early dominating lead. It clearly ended up being more than enough for the Yankees to win tonight’s game in the end.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees

CC K-Count: 3007

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees optioned Stephen Tarpley back to AAA Scranton to make room for the activation of Clint Frazier from the IL. He sprained his ankle, including some partially torn ligaments, during a game last month. But with treatment and rehab (and the sheer will of being bored not playing ball), Frazier ended up being ready to return to tonight’s game.

Game 32: MIN vs. NYY — An un-Happ-y Star Wars Day

It’s Star Wars Day, and Yankee Stadium celebrated in style. Today’s giveaway was a bobblehead of CC Sabathia dressed as a Jedi knight. Sabathia dressed in full costume as the popular Jedi master Yoda to help hand out his figurines to waiting fans, joined around the stadium by other franchise characters dressed as storm troopers, rebel warriors, and even the stars like Darth Vader and Rey.

However, the Force was not with the Yankees this afternoon as they stumbled through this middle game of the series against the visiting Twins. JA Happ got roughed up a bit in today’s start, throwing 81 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 7 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, and striking out 3 Minnesota batters.

In the 3rd, the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch and then scored on a 1-out 2-run home run to get the Twins on the board first. A lead-off double in the 5th moved to 3rd on a single and scored on a double play. And with 2 outs in the 6th, a solo home run added yet another run for the visitors.

Joe Harvey closed out of the 6th for Happ and came out for the 7th. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on a fielder’s choice and throwing error. With runners on the corners, the Yankees called in Stephen Tarpley. The first batter hit into force out at 2nd, an unsuccessful double play, thus scoring that runner from 3rd. Tarpley came back out for the 8th. He gave up a lead-off walk. A balk moved that runner to scoring position to score on a long single.

After another single, the Yankees called in recent call-up Jake Barrett to close out the inning with 2 quick outs. A 1st pitch solo homer in the 9th was the only flaw in Barrett’s Yankee debut.

The Yankees faced a former division rival pitcher as the Twins’ starter today, and it certainly felt like he had the upper hand for most of his 6 scoreless innings. Once they went to the bullpen in the 7th, the Yankees pounced. Brett Gardner led-off with a strong double, moved to 3rd on Maybin’s single, and then scored on a wild pitch. Maybin ended up at 2nd on that play and later moved to 3rd on a ground out. He then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single to chip away at the Twins’ lead.

Gary Sanchez led-off the 8th with a big solo home run, continuing his hot streak. But that was it for the Yankees’ offense. They just couldn’t seem to find another moment to wheedle away at the Twins’ big lead today.

Final score: 7-3 Twins

Tomorrow’s game, the final game of this weekend series, has been moved from 1:05 pm to 4:05 pm due to forecasted rain that will sweep through the area early tomorrow.

Injured List update: Unfortunately, James Paxton’s knee will require a trip to the Injured List. After an official diagnosis of knee inflammation, Paxton is shut down to focus on treatment. They recalled pitcher Jake Barrett, formerly with the Diamondbacks, who closed out today’s game.

And Miguel Andujar was officially activated off the IL for today’s game, starting at 3rd base today. To make room, the Yankees optioned infielder Mike Ford back to AAA Scranton.

And Luke Voit’s on-base streak has come to an end. Going 0-for-4 today, Voit’s streak ends at 42 consecutive games, tying him with Yankee greats like Teixeira (in 2010), Williams (2001), O’Neill (1996), and Mattingly (1993-94). It fell short of franchise records of 57 by Jeter (1998-99) and 53 by Rodriguez (2004). Someone else commented with measurable optimism that his next streak begins tomorrow. I’ll take that.

Go Yankees!

Game 25: NYY vs. LAA — Denied a sweep

The Yankees were going for the sweep tonight in this final game of the 4-game series against the Angels. But despite a good lead built up, the Yankees were unable to hold onto it in the end as the tables tonight tipped in favor of the home team instead.

In the 3rd, Tyler Wade led-off with a single, then stole both 2nd and 3rd before scoring on DJ LeMahieu’s single to get the Yankees on the board first. Gio Urshela hit a solid 2-out solo home run in the 4th, his first as a Yankee.

And in the 5th, they loaded the bases with singles to Voit and Gardner and a walk to Sanchez. With 1 out and a new pitcher, a wild pitch scored Luke Voit, moving the other two into scoring position. And Gleyber Torres’ single scored Gardner to give the Yankees a healthy lead.

Masahiro Tanaka actually threw a great game for most of his outing, right up until the end of it. Overall, he threw 89 pitches into the 6th, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned), and just 2 strikeouts. In the 5th, Tanaka gave up a single and a 2-run home run. Twice. To tie up the game in a single inning.

In the 6th, he gave up a 1-out walk and a 2-out walk before he was replaced by Jonathan Holder. Holder’s passed ball moved runners into scoring position that allowed both runners to score on a single that gave the Angels the lead.

Stephen Tarpley came on for the 7th, an inning I’m sure the Yankees would rather forget. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and another walk and passed ball put runner on the corners. After the first out of the inning, the Yankees called in Joe Harvey.

A stolen base put runners in scoring position, and a single and fielding error scored both runners. Two walks loaded up the bases, before the Yankees’ defense snapped into action getting a force out at home. The bases still loaded, so that a big triple cleared the bases to give the Angels a distinctive lead. Kahnle returned the Yankee pitching back to the earlier model, with a quick, clean 10-pitch 8th inning.

The Yankees found one more opportunity to try to chip away at the Angels’ big lead in the 8th. Ford and Urshela worked walks, and LeMahieu’s short 1-out single loaded the bases. Opportunity for a late rally was in play. After another out, Brett Gardner worked a 4-pitch walk to score Ford. But a pitching change quickly ended the rally opportunity.

Final score: 11-5 Angels, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees travel a up the California coast to face the Giants this weekend. After a travel day, they’ll play the Diamondbacks for a quick 2-game series, before heading home to host the Twins and Mariners.

Roster moves: The Yankees continue to shift the roster around in effort to combat the growing injured list. They officially moved Clint Frazier to the 10-day Injured List and sent Jonathan Loaisiga back to AAA for a fresh arm in Joe Harvey. They also moved Luis Severino to the 60-day IL to remove him from the 40-man roster and make room for their newest trade — outfielder Cameron Maybin.

Maybin is a 12-year veteran outfielder, spending the early part of his career with the Marlins and Padres, but also 9 other teams as part of trades and signings. He also was a key part of the 2017 Astros’ World Series team. He was signed this off-season with the Giants, spending most of Spring Training with them before being released and signed by the Indians. They then traded Maybin to the Yankees for cash.

And for you numbers/trivia nerds, Maybin showed up at tonight’s game wearing jersey #38.

Go Yankees!

Game 24: NYY vs. LAA — Come from behind victory… once again

The Yankees are making it a pattern for the dramatic fall-behind moment only to come back and find victory over their West Coast opponent. In tonight’s third of four games this series in Anaheim, the Yankees were looking at California-native CC Sabathia to write the story (more later), but once again, it ended up being the relatively unknowns that made all the difference.

Sabathia came into tonight’s game with 2994 career strikeouts, and by all accounts, there was a high possibility that he might hit that rare feat of 3000 by the end of his outing. But call it pressure or just an off-night, things really didn’t go that way. Sabathia threw 86 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 6 hits and 5 runs (4 earned), and struck out just 3 Angels’ batters.

In the 1st, he gave up a 2-out solo home run to get the home team on the board first. But it was the 4th inning that caused so much trouble. After a lead-off home run to double their score, the Angels got a single that moved to 2nd on a bunt and fielding error, ended up at 3rd on a fielder’s choice out, and then scored as part of a big 3-run home run.

Jonathan Loaisiga came on for relief and tamped down on the Angels’ offense in his 3 innings, only allowing sporadic base runners but no further runs, an outing that would surprisingly earn the win. And it would be Aroldis Chapman to close out the game with a solid 17-pitch 9th inning to earn the save.

The Angels’ pitching used the “opener” model, where their “starter” would only pitch one inning, and the bulk of their pitching would be by a long-term reliever. And tonight, it seemed to work as it held off the Yankees for most of the game and allowed their offense to collect a rather solid lead.

The Yankees didn’t find a scoring opportunity until the 6th inning. Wade singled and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s double. Voit’s single moved LeMahieu to 3rd, and after 2 outs (and an unsuccessful challenge), LeMahieu jogged home to easily score on a passed ball to further chip away at the Angels’ lead.

Once the Angels got into their bullpen, it was the Yankees’ chance to advance. In the 7th, they loaded up the bases with a walk to Ford, single to Urshela, and walk to Tauchman. Tyler Wade then worked a walk to score Mike Ford. After another pitching chance, DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly scored Urshela, and Luke Voit’s fielder’s choice scored Tauchman to tie up the game before a bad double play ended the inning.

So it would come down to the 9th inning to break the tie. With 2 outs, Wade singled and stole 2nd to put himself in scoring position. DJ LeMahieu would again be the hero, whose single drove home Wade for the winning run.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees

CC K Count: 2997

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: Yesterday, the Yankees optioned Joe Harvey and recalled Jonathan Loaisiga for a fresh arm to pitch in tonight’s game. And before the game, the Yankees activated Gary Sanchez and recalled Stephen Tarpley, optioning Kyle Higashioka and Chad Green.

Green’s consistent issues seem out of place, so the Yankees are hoping a stint in AAA could help him get some of the kinks out of his delivery and back to the reliable Green he can be. Higashioka is only back in AAA because there’s only room for one back-up on the roster. He’s proven more than reliable when called upon, perhaps proof that time in AAA sharpens and hones players’ skills.

Injury update: Clint Frazier’s hopes to remain off the IL seem dashed after an MRI revealed his sprained ankle includes a small tear that demands he heal first. Apparently, Frazier was reminded of his injury setting foot out of bed and then when it swelled up a bit. Being forced to stay off it will definitely aid in healing it quicker than “playing through” the injury as he intended.

Go Yankees!

Game 14: CHW vs. NYY — Sun shines on CC’s Saturday return

If one could script a return to the rotation for a retiring pitcher’s final season, I’m pretty sure Hollywood would demand more dramatics, more pitches, and more strikeouts. But for the Yankees right now (and their veteran starter), this was a pretty great way to write the comeback story for CC Sabathia’s final season with the Yankees.

Sabathia threw just 62 pitches through his 5 scoreless innings, giving up just a single hit in the 3rd and striking out 3 White Sox batters along the way. The visiting White Sox didn’t really stand much of a chance against today’s Yankee pitchers, with Sabathia leading the way once again. Domingo German powered through the 6th and 7th before Britton and Chapman each breezed through 9-pitch innings to close out the game and completely blank the White Sox.

I will give credit where credit is due. The Yankees faced a former teammate in Chicago’s starter, and he held the Yankees off the scoreboard through 6 strong innings. After giving up a single to Torres in the 7th, the White Sox went to their bullpen. Bird made it safely to 1st on a fielder’s choice fielding error.

After another pitching change, Frazier’s single loaded up the bases. The Yankees called on Luke Voit to pinch hit, and his single scored Torres to break through the scoreless tie. Kyle Higashioka’s sacrifice fly scored Bird and moved Frazier to 3rd so that he could then score on Tyler Wade’s sacrifice bunt.  Aaron Judge’s lead-off solo home run in the 8th capped off the Yankees’ runs, but it was more than enough for a victory celebration in the Bronx.

Final score: 4-0 Yankees

CC K count: 2989

{Note: We’re adding this new segment after every CC Sabathia start for the rest of the season. The 3000 strikeout club is an elite group of pitchers, nearly all are in the Hall of Fame. The last name on the list, the one right above Sabathia right now, is Braves pitcher John Smoltz with 3084, but 11 more strikeouts gets Sabathia on the list forever. Only 1 other pitcher earned the honor as a Yankee, Phil Niekro, though a few others have been Yankees at some point in their careers.}

Roster moves: Before today’s game, the Yankees reinstated CC from the IL and sent Stephen Tarpley to AAA Scranton to make room for the veteran starter. I imagine we’ll see Tarpley again before long.

Injury news: There is an update on Dellin Betances. When the Yankees originally signed him in 2006, they were aware of an asymptomatic bone spur behind his right shoulder (his throwing arm). But the most recent diagnosis is that it’s no longer the case and the cause of his most recent discomfort and shut down the All-Star reliever for at least 3 weeks from baseball activities.

They are treating him with a cortisone injection to target the bone spur, a normal part of treatment. Surgery is only necessary if the spur causes significant damage to the area, but right now, that does not seem to be the case. This is good news for Betances and the Yankees because it means that his return is weeks away, just a few more than they initially hoped.

And they certainly need all the hope they can get with the growing list of players on the IL, hopefully and progressively dropping off the IL sooner rather than later. Stay healthy, guys!

Go Yankees!

Game 12: NYY vs. HOU — Swept away in Space City, but don’t get swept away

Consider it an interesting turnabout for the Yankees. They swept the Orioles; the Astros swept them. And the road trip finishes with 2 sweeps, but only 1 in the Yankees’ favor. And of course, social media exploded by giving up on the Yankees after only 12 games, as if they are now destined to lose the next 150. Talk about your fickle “fans”.

The honest truth is that the Yankees just didn’t play well tonight. (And no, it had nothing to do with the fact that the Astros opened the roof of their field for all 3 games. Silly superstitions.) James Paxton got the start for the Yankees tonight and struggled his way through 95 pitches into the 5th inning.

In the 1st, Paxton gave up a 1-out solo home run to get the home team on the board. Then a 2-out walk scored on a long triple. With 1 out in the 3rd, a single scored on a double. After another solo home run (by the same Astros’ star) and a single, the Yankees went to their bullpen, but they too found their own issues.

Tommy Kahnle promptly gave up a 2-run home run. After an out, 2 singles put runners on the corners. After another single scored the lead runner, the Yankees called on newly called-up Joe Harvey. Harvey was just stellar in his MLB debut, closing out the 5th with a strong strikeout and then sailing his way into the 7th inning with 2 more strikeouts. Tarpley closed out the 7th with just 3 pitches.

Things were looking better for the Yankees, miles away from the problems that have plagued their bullpen all series (and most of the season so far). Zack Britton came out for the 8th, in hopes of maintaining that momentum. It was not to be. A lead-off single ended up at 2nd due to a throwing error before scoring on another single. Britton later loaded up the bases with just 1 out, but the Yankees’ defense made it up for him with a snazzy double play to get out of trouble.

Meanwhile, the Yankees once again got on the board first with Brett Gardner’s big lead-off home run into the right field seats in the 1st. But then things got relatively quiet for the Yankees’ offense. In the 4th, Torres led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Bird’s single, and then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly.

With quite the deficit on the scoreboard, the Yankees found one last chance for a rally in the 8th in what proved to be the Astros’ lone weak inning. With a new reliever, Judge led-off with a walk and scored as part of Luke Voit’s big 2-run home run. Then Torres singled, and Bird worked a walk. After a pitching change, LeMahieu, who is definitely on quite the hitting streak, got another RBI with a great double to score Torres.

Clint Frazier’s deep sacrifice fly then scored Bird, but a pitching change and 2 outs later, the rally fizzled. The deficit proved to large to overcome as the Yankees just ran out of outs.

Final score: 8-6 Astros, Astros sweep 3-0

Next up: After an off-day/travel day tomorrow (Thursday), the Yankees return home to host a 9-game home stand. They host the White Sox this weekend. After an off-day on Monday, the Yankees host their first rivalry games — a 2-game mini-series against the Red Sox. They will finish the week with a 4-game weekend series against the visiting Royals before they head out for their first West Coast road trip of the season.

Roster moves/”Scranton Shuttle”: Before the game, the Yankees sent Jonathan Loaisiga back to AAA Scranton and recalled Joe Harvey. This was due mainly to get a fresh pitching arm. With so many injuries and Severino’s recent setback, I imagine we’ll see lots of these kinds of moves. I think we can officially say the “Scranton Shuttle” has returned for this season.

Again, I just want to reiterate that it’s a long season. I know it gets spoken so often it really could be a cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true. I don’t worry about the standings or the statistics until much later. Check back about the All-Star Break for a better idea of where things stand.

Look, there’s not a sports team or fan in the world that doesn’t want to win every game and isn’t upset when they lose. No one goes into this dreaming of losing 100+ games every season. And as Yankee fans, we’re used to winning more than we’re used to losing. But don’t just drop your team because you don’t like the outcome of a few games.

Think about all the Cubs or Red Sox fans that stood by their team through “curses” and major losing streaks, still showing up to every single game to hope “maybe this year”. Because that’s what it’s all about — the hope that you might be there to witness some crucial moment in time that leads to the championship, the one where they win it all. And we, of all fan bases, know that it’s not so much an “if” but “when” for the Yankees.

Go Yankees!

Game 9: NYY vs. BAL — Rather lucky in Charm City sweep

Again, after their disappointing home stand last week, the Yankees needed something to help set them on the right track. So a sweep of the Orioles this weekend seemed to do the trick.

Domingo German got the start for the Yankees and held the Orioles off for most of his outing. He pitched a no-hitter for most of the game, not giving up a single until the 6th, keeping the O’s scoreless into the 7th inning, where he gave up a single and a walk to be responsible for those runners when he handed the game off to Stephen Tarpley.

After a strikeout, Tarpley loaded the bases with a single. So a passed ball and wild pitch scored both of German’s runners. Tarpley then gave up another walk that put runners at the corners before a single scored one final run for the Orioles. Luis Cessa then came on to close out the game with 2 strong, scoreless innings.

But it was the Yankee offense that left everyone talking this weekend. In the 2nd, Gleyber Torres led-off with a solo home run, and 1-out later, Clint Frazier hit his own solo home run. Gardner led-off the 3rd with a double and then scored as part of Gary Sanchez’s 2-out 2-run home run.

After a pitching change in the 6th, with 1 out, Torres doubled, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Clint Frazier’s single (the first run not scored on a homer this weekend, by the way). With 2 outs in the 7th, Voit singled, and Gary Sanchez hit his 2nd homer of the game, a 2-run home run. Torres then worked a walk that forced another Oriole pitching change. DJ LeMahieu doubled home Torres, and Frazier’s single put runners in the corners. Gio Urshela’s single scored LeMahieu.

Gardner led-off the 8th with a walk and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s 2-out 2-run home run, his 3rd homer of the game. And the Yankees were back to home runs. (This was Sanchez’s first 3-homer game, by the way.) In the 9th, Wade walked and scored on Clint Frazier’s 2-run home run. Urshela was hit by a new reliever and then scored with Austin Romine’s 2-run home run.

Final score: 15-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep the Orioles 3-0

Next up: The Yankees travel to Houston for a 3-game series against the Astros to wrap up this first road trip. Then, after a travel day on Thursday, they head home for a long home stand against the White Sox, Red Sox, and Royals before heading out for their first West Coast road trip.

Go Yankees!