Game 117: TEX vs. NYY — Sundays are for #CCStrong

CC Sabathia was in prime condition in today’s finale against the Rangers. He threw 97 pitches in his 6 scoreless innings, gave up just 1 hit and 3 walks, and struck out 7 Texas batters along the way to earning his 7th win of this season.

Of course, he was backed up by the Yankees’ defense (also this) and offense today early and often. In the 1st, Giancarlo Stanton hit his 30th homer of the season, a 1-out solo home run to get things started for the Yankees. Later, in the 5th, with 1 out, Romine singled and moved to 3rd on Gardner’s double. They both scored on Aaron Hicks’ single.

Stanton continued this big inning with a single put runners on the corners. Miguel Andujar hit into a fielder’s choice at 2nd that still scored Hicks, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ solid 2-run home run into the right field seats. Voit led-off the 6th with a single, moved to 2nd on Walker’s single, advanced to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single.

Now, with a firm lead, the Yankees handed the game over to their new long-term reliever Sonny Gray who had a bit of trouble in the 7th. He gave up a lead-off single and double to move runners into scoring position. They did so on a ground out and a single. After a challenge and review by the Yankees, the tag at 1st on the single was upheld (though the replay might lead you to a different opinion.

It didn’t matter anyway. The game was the Yankees from start to finish, thanks to 2 strong scoreless innings to close out the game by Jonathan Holder, something both he and the Yankees needed.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees host the Mets for the make-up game of the rain out from last month to complete the first series they had after the All-Star Game. Then they face the Rays and the Blue Jays for 3 games a piece before heading on the road again.

One interesting trivia bit out of today’s game was that Giancarlo Stanton is the first Yankee in his first year with the team to hit 30 home runs since 2009 when Teixeira hit 39, a stat that he should easily beat with about 6 weeks left in the season. Especially at the rate he’s going — hitting 5 homers in his last 6 games and leading the team in homers, RBIs, and hits.

It’s funny really. After a career high of 59 homers last season with the Marlins, 30 at this point in the season sounds kind of low. But different team, different season, different schedule, and recent hamstring issues. And still he’s one of the leaders of the league. Baseball is a funny sport.

Go Yankees!

Game 116: TEX vs. NYY — A soggy Saturday save

It’s raining along much of coast of the northeast, including over Yankee Stadium this lovely Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t initially, but the skies progressively darkened, drizzled, and then drenched the near sold-out crowd in this third of 4 games against the visiting Rangers.

Lance Lynn threw 99 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, and struck out an impressive 8 Texas batters. His lone allowed run was in the 3rd. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on an RBI single. Lynn, once again, turned out a fine performance, clearly etching his place on the Yankee rotation.

The Yankees had enough oomph to give themselves the lead early on today. In the 1st, Giancarlo Stanton hit a solid 1-out solo home run to kick things off. After another out, Andujar singled and then scored easily on Greg Bird’s double. They kept their minuscule lead until the 6th when Bird led-off with another double and then scored on Walker’s 1-out single.

That should have been enough for the Yankee bullpen and defense to coast on to victory, but with the looming clouds, it couldn’t exactly be a drama-free day, despite Robertson’s beautiful 15-pitch clean, scoreless 6th inning.

Zach Britton was called on to continue his strong show from previous games. He took 5 pitches to get 2 quick outs, but then things unraveled. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before another allowed walk scored their lead runner. Britton was just not finding that 3rd out, so the Yankees turned to Dellin Betances.

Now, Betances has been really good lately. But when the runner at 3rd spooked him, Betances fidgeted just enough to balk, and it moved all the runners up again and scored that runner from 3rd, just before he struck that batter out. Betances later sailed his way through the 8th cleanly.

With the game now tied and the rain beginning to really unload, the Yankees were determined to find the opportunity. It would be in the bottom of that 7th inning. With 1 out and another new reliever, Stanton singled and then scored as part of Miguel Andujar’s big 2-run home run into the right field seats, his 17th homer of the season.

Aroldis Chapman now needed just 3 outs for his 30th save. However, due to the rain, that was coming down in sheets at this point, he had less control over his pitches, allowing a single, a strikeout, a single, and a pop-up, before hitting the next batter to load up the bases. Things were tense, but somehow, even with a full count, Chapman pulled through and got the batter to swing at that 98 mph 3rd strike.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Injury updates: Aaron Judge is taking it slow coming off the chip fracture in his right wrist. He’s hoping to start swinging a bat early next week and then progress from there. The original timeline has him potentially coming back before the end of this month, but injuries rarely check man’s expectations and schedules as they heal.

Giancarlo Stanton has been dealing with hamstring tightness since the series in Boston. It hasn’t entirely hampered his playing, relegating him to play DH and instead allowing young players like Robinson and utility players like Walker playing in the outfield. And they too are doing well with the challenge.

And Gary Sanchez has been working out in the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, recovering from a lingering groin injury. He’s been running and doing baseball activities, but he is expected to fly up to New York to rejoin the team and complete his rehab with them. That’s a great sign because it means that he’s progressing well enough to have the team keep him close for an overnight activation when they deem him ready.

Look, for all their recent injuries and frustrating losses, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball. It’s rather unfair that they’re in the same division as the absolute best team in baseball (Red Sox), but that team is having a real record-setting kind of year of their own. While the NL is quite close and competitive, the AL is splitting into the teams that are having obviously stellar seasons and those that are really struggling.

And nowhere is that highlighted more than just within the AL East, which hosts both the best team in MLB (Red Sox) and the worst (Orioles). The AL East has long been a really strong division, but this year, it’s really showing its extremes — still really competitive for the top 2-3 teams and just discouraging for the others.

Go Yankees!

Game 115: TEX vs. NYY — Less than ideal pitching halt late power surge

Masahiro Tanaka’s streak was broken in tonight’s game by a strange power surge by the Rangers. Before Tanaka’s outing tonight, he was floating on a 14-game win streak of games he started since April 17, some were ultimate “no-decisions” as they were won later in the game, but he still had 9 W’s in his statistics.

Tanaka threw 96 pitches through 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out just 2 batters. Actually, he held off the Rangers for the first third of the game. Things began to crumble in the 4th with a lead-off single that scored on a 2-run home run and a 1-out solo homer to give the Rangers the lead. And in the 5th, with 1 out and runners on the corners, a long double scored both runners to pad their lead.

AJ Cole didn’t have a great outing either. With 2 outs in the 6th, a walk and a double both scored on a single and throwing error. Another single scored that runner. And a 1-out solo shot in the 7th added another run for the Rangers.

Chad Green’s 8th also faced troubles. With 1 out and runners on the corners again, a double scored both runs to cap off the Rangers’ night. Zach Britton easily had the best outing from the Yankees’ pitching staff tonight, throwing a scoreless 9th, the first scoreless inning for the Rangers since the 3rd inning.

The Yankees spent half the game being held off by the Rangers’ starter. It wasn’t until the 5th that Brett Gardner broke through with a nice 1-out solo home run into the Yankees’ bullpen to finally get the Yankees on the board. In the 6th, Stanton worked a 1-out walk, and Gregorius hit a 2-out single. Miguel Andujar hit a ground-rule double to score Stanton, and Luke Voit got his first Yankee RBI with a single that scored Gregorius and Andujar.

A new pitcher got the Rangers out of the inning, but then gave up a lead-off home run to Austin Romine. And in the 8th (with another new pitcher), Gregorius and Andujar singled and later moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. They both scored on Romine’s single to inch the Yankees closer. But a new reliever closed out the rally and the final reliever closed out the game with 2 strikeouts and a pop-up, and the Yankees ran out of outs to stage another one.

Final score: 12-7 Rangers

And in amusing news (because we really need it after tonight’s game): a eagle-eyed Yankee fan caught last night’s winning pitcher JA Happ taking the subway home after the game. Fellow New Yorkers were certainly appreciative of the little things that matter to daily train riders — his bag was down and out of the way of people, he kept to himself (no man-spreading), and he blended into the crowd seamlessly. The picture the fan caught was probably Happ looking up at the map to affirm how many more stops until the one he takes.

So, welcome to New York, JA! It looks like you’re right at home both on the field and on the subway.

And to be fair, lots of Yankee players do take the train to work if they live in the City. Many of those with families live outside the City and thus drive into work like nearly everyone else does every day. And as someone who takes the subway a lot whenever I’m in the City, I’m a little confused as to why this is news. But after thinking about it I figured out two things I think help players feel comfortable taking public transportation in the City.

First, in this day and age, when baseball stars are less about personalities and more about their performance (as we talked about in previous posts), your average person is more concerned if they’re going to make it to work on time than whether the guy next to them is a celebrity pro-athlete.

And second, there are a lot of celebrities who live in the City and it’s basically a live set, so seeing celebrities (or people who sort of look like someone who could be famous) is a frequent occasion, and again, people are more concerned about their own daily lives than bugging someone who might be famous on the train.

So, perhaps, it’s big news outside of the City for people who don’t always take the train. Who don’t know what a commonality this is for New Yorkers (to both use the subway and see celebs frequently). Or non-Yankee or baseball fans who won’t know or care who last night’s starting pitcher was. I think there’s more news to be had about the MTA’s archaic signal system and the occassional rodent carrying pizza around the tracks.

Go Yankees!

Game 114: TEX vs. NYY — Bombers return to the Bronx

In this first game of the home stand and this weekend series against the Rangers, the Yankees found their swing by scoring all their runs tonight courtesy of the home run. JA Happ is back after his stint on the DL to start tonight’s game and do a pretty good job of it.

He threw 94 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and struck out 9 Texas batters. A 2-out solo homer in the 4th got the Rangers on the board. And in the 5th, a walk and single scored on a solid double to edge them closer to the Yankees’ lead.

The Yankees offense kicked off again in the 1st, putting them in an early lead they never surrendered thanks to that signature home run ball. Gregorius worked a 2-out walk and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 20th home run, a big 2-run shot into the right field seats.

In the 4th, with 1 out and a walk to Bird, Miguel Andujar hit a 2-run home run to double their score, and Neil Walker followed him up with a solo home run for a great back-to-back show for the home town crowd. Giancarlo Stanton’s 1-out solo home run in the 5th, and Walker’s 1-out solo home run (yes, his 2nd of the night) in the 6th capped off the Yankees’ night.

Happ handed the lead over to the bullpen for Robertson, Betances, and Chapman to close out the game with an inning a piece. All three doing their job well, especially Betances’ 8-pitch 8th. Yankee pitchers combined for a solid 13 strikeouts against Rangers batters.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees

Roster moves: In anticipation of tonight’s game, the Yankees sent prospect pitcher Chance Adams back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for JA Happ as they activated him off the DL following his stint with hand, foot, and mouth disease.

After a rather popular special event last year, MLB is hosting league-wide Player’s Weekend once again this year. Scheduled for the last weekend of this month, August 24-26), players will don personalized gear and have specially chosen nicknames on their jerseys.

Teams generally have very strict rules about what colors and designs players can wear on an ordinary day, diverging only for special events like the All-Star Game, exhibition games, and those games in honor of Mothers and Fathers Days (though only pink and blue accents allowed for those). And if a team does have a name on its jersey, it’s only the last name (and sometimes a first initial or suffix to clarify in the case of more popular names).

In addition to all these fun things, there’s a patch on every sleeve where players write who inspired them to honor those special people in their lives. Fans can purchase special jerseys and hats and later game-worn jerseys to help support the charitable cause of the weekend — to support the “evolution” of baseball players, from Little League and Youth Baseball all the way up to Major League Baseball.

Play ball… and Go Yankees!

Game 46: NYY vs. TEX — Powered bat vs. bad pitching

I’ve said it before, and I know I’ll say it again. When you see a score that looks more like an NFL score, it’s pretty much a sign that the pitching staff had a terrible night. And tonight was such a night to close out the series in Texas, for both sides. And it wasn’t pretty. At one point, it was just going to be whichever team’s pitcher could just pitch better and not allow runs to score.

The Yankees got the ball rolling, so to speak, in the 1st inning. With 1 out, Judge made it to 1st on a throwing error and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run. Then they loaded up the bases with singles to Stanton, Hicks, and Andujar, and with 2 outs, Austin Romine worked a walk to score Stanton. Neil Walker later led off the 3rd with a big solo home run right into the grassy field beyond center field to give the Yankees a rather large early lead.

Unfortunately, their starter, CC Sabathia, had a pretty bad night. He threw 91 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 7 runs, and struck out just 1 Texas batters. But he didn’t allow a run until the 4th inning. He gave up a lead-off single that scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run. Then after walking 2 batters, another batter hit a big 3-run home run to suddenly give the Rangers the lead.

The Yankees came back in the top of the 5th to literally double their score. With 1 out, Walker singled and moved to 3rd on Andujar’s double. Romine’s single scored Walker to tie up the game. And then Gleyber Torres hit a big 3-run home run. That would be it for the Rangers’ starter, but the Yankees weren’t finished this inning. Gardner doubled and then scored on Aaron Judge’s monster 2-run home run deep into the left-center field seats to push the Yankees into double-digits.

Sabathia came out for the bottom of the 5th, and despite the now very large lead again, things still weren’t working. With 1 out, he gave up a single that scored on a triple. Another single scored that runner. Holder came on in relief of Sabathia and closed out the 5th inning without allowing the Rangers to chip away at the Yankees’ lead further.

Then Chasen Shreve came on for the 6th and had his own issues, giving up 2 singles and striking out a batter (in just 8 pitches). David Robertson tried to pull a Houdini, but I’m not sure he was able to pull him out of the bullpen tonight. He promptly loaded up the bases with a walk, and then walked another batter to score the lead runner. After a strikeout, a bases-clearing double pushed the Rangers into the lead.

Dellin Betances then came on to breeze his way through the 7th, but then had his own issues in the 8th. Despite striking out the lead batter, a wild pitch allowed him to reach 1st. Betances tried to pick off that runner, but a mess throw allowed him to steal 2nd. After an out, that runner then stole 3rd and easily scored on an RBI single for an insurance run.

The Rangers won the pitching battle as their final 4 relievers refused to allow a run to score in the final 4 innings. But like I said above, this wasn’t really a great night to watch “good pitching”, as the pitching staffs gave up 25 total hits. There were a lot of base runners, thus a lot of runs scored. And honestly, it was never going to be a good result, even if it did fall into the Yankees’ favor.

Final score: 12-10 Rangers, Rangers win series 2-1

Next up: after a travel day tomorrow (Thursday), the Yankees host the Angels for the weekend and then the Astros for the week.

Roster moves: earlier today, the Yankees selected the contract of pitcher Ryan Bollinger. Bollinger was originally drafted by the Phillies in 2009, but he bounced around the minor league system a bit, and even played in Germany and Australia before finally getting signed by the Yankees last December to a minor league contract. So today, the Yankees chose him from the AA Trenton roster to fill the open roster spot. He has yet to make his MLB debut, but could sometime this weekend.

Yesterday, Gary Sanchez came out of the game with some cramps in his calf again (like early last month). Because of that, and Romine’s recent hot streak, the Yankees opted to bench Sanchez for tonight’s game. Though he would be available off the bench, if necessary.

Go Yankees!

Game 45: NYY vs. TEX — A strong Texas starter vs. a messy Yankees starter

Sometimes, the deficit is too large to overcome. Or there just are not enough outs for the offense to kick in. Or the opposing starter is just really good. Or the Yankees’ starter had a messy start. Or all of the above.

Domingo German got the start for the Yankees, and coming off his last, strong showing, this was less than ideal. He threw 85 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs, while still striking out 6 Texas batters. In the 1st with 1 out, German gave up a single and a walk that scored as part of a bit 3-run home run to get the Rangers on the board early and big.

In the 2nd, he hit the lead-off batter that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then advanced to 3rd on a ground out. German then threw another wild pitch to strike out the next batter, but due to the wild pitch, the batter to made it to 1st safely while the other runner raced home to score another run. Yet another wild pitch moved the runners up, and a walk loaded the bases. A grounder scored one more run before German finally got out of this messy inning.

German found his pace and struck out the side in the 3rd, but then came back to give up a lead-off home run in the 4th. Two outs and a single later, the Yankees had enough and went to their bullpen. AJ Cole came on in relief to throw 5 scoreless outs and keep the Rangers from adding to their lead. Shreve finished off the 6th inning and kept that momentum, before handing the game over toe Gallegos for the next 2 scoreless innings.

Deep in the hole already in the first 2 innings, the Yankees faced a pretty good veteran starter, who threw a solid 7 innings, only giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and just 2 runs during his tenure. Those 2 runs were a 2-out solo home run by Gleyber Torres in the 3rd and a 7th inning 1-out solo shot by Miguel Andujar.

But once the Rangers went to their bullpen, anything was possible, and the Yankees made every effort to chip away at the Rangers’ lead in the final 2 innings. With 1 out in the 8th, Stanton singled, and then Austin Romine hit a nice 2-run home run to put the Yankees within striking distance. After Gregorius singled, the rest of the roster left him hanging out there. And a solid 9th inning showing by their closer sealed the deal.

Final score: 6-4 Rangers

So, Aaron Boone was ejected 5 times as a player, but earned his first one as a manager tonight in the 6th inning. Apparently, Boone had been having issues all night, “chirping” from the dugout until the home plate umpire whipped around in the middle of Sanchez’s at-bat and tossed the Yankees’ rookie manager. To be fair, a lot of conversation online has been about the questionable strike zones recently, especially with larger players like Judge and Stanton. I’m not sure I agree he needed to be ejected (sometimes they do, believe me), but we all know you can’t argue balls and strikes. No matter how terrible the calls really are.

Some roster moves: on Monday, the Yankees moved some of the guys from the DL to their rehab assignments at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in preparation for their eventual return to the big leagues — Greg Bird, Billy McKinney, and Tommy Kahnle. Now, this made

Scranton Shuttle: in the same shuffle that sent a bunch of players to Scranton on the rehab, the Yankees recalled reliever Giovanny Gallegos to fill out the spot that Clint Frazier left the previous day (Sunday). And despite a strong 2 innings tonight, Gallegos is heading back to Scranton for a player that yet to be announced. Someone’s coming to Texas on that return trip, but I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

Meanwhile, with the prospect of Greg Bird coming back soon, people are wondering what will happen to Tyler Austin, who has certainly been a huge part of the Yankees’ winning streak this last month. However, Boone later said in an interview that he doesn’t expect Austin to be going anywhere anytime soon, noting the same things we’ve all been seeing in him. You don’t want to lose a good player that could easily step into the game in an emergency. Though, that certainly sounds like quite a few players on the current roster.

Go Yankees!

Game 44: NYY vs. TEX — Yanks go big in Texas

The Yankees are back on track as they continue this road trip now in Texas against the Rangers. Masahiro Tanaka actually kind of had a rough night, and because the Yankees work as a team, he still wound up with the win. He threw just 76 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out just 3 Texas batters.

The first allowed run was a lead-off solo shot in the 2nd inning. Then in the 4th, with 1 out, Tanaka gave up 2 consecutive walks that scored as part of a bit 3-run home run, making all of Tanaka’s allowed runs come off home runs.

Chad Green followed up Tanaka’s outing with a scoreless 6th, but then gave up a lead-off solo shot in the 7th before breezing through the next 3 batters. Robertson and Holder kept the Rangers scoreless through the final 2 innings.

Meanwhile, the Yankees actually paced out their runs through the game. In the 2nd, Sanchez led-off with a single moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on Neil Walker’s 2-out double. Walker then scored when Gleyber Torres hit a big 2-run home run. Walker later hit a big 2-out solo home run in the 4th, which was actually his 1st homer of the season, despite having a pretty decent season with consistent offensive contributions. (Here’s Sterling’s call, and there’s mixed feelings again.)

After the Rangers tied up the game in the bottom of the 4th, Aaron Judge led off the 5th with a solo home run to give the Yankees back the lead. And in the 6th, Torres hit his 2nd home run of the game, a solo shot straight up the middle. Even after the Rangers went to their bullpen, the Yankees kept advancing. Gardner walked, moved to 3rd on Judge’s double, and scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly. Judge then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double.

The Rangers were able to hold off the Yankees for the 7th and 8th innings, but then found one more opportunity in the 9th. (Because a 3-run lead just wasn’t enough.) With 1 out, Sanchez doubled, and then Aaron Hicks smacked a 2-run home run to push the Yankees into double digits.

Final score: 10-5 Yankees

The Rangers’ starter tonight is the oldest active player in MLB, at the age of 45 (on Thursday) (yes, I can hear the groans from everyone no longer 20-something). He’s been in the major leagues since 1997, making this his 21st season. (For the record, he’s played with 11 different teams, including the Yankees back in 2011.)

But the conversation about Colon starting a game against the rather youthful-leaning Yankees (which is its own conversation) was an interesting topic, as they discovered that youngest Yankee (Torres) was just 3 months old when Colon made his MLB debut with the Indians in 1997, and tonight, Torres went and hit 2 amazing home runs off him. Despite tonight’s game, Colon has actually played pretty well for the Rangers this year so far, so let’s hear it 40-somethings! (As long as they don’t do well against the Yankees.)

Go Yankees!