Game 45: TB vs. NYY — Lucky number 6

Sometimes, the fate of a game comes down a single swing of the bat, a missed catch, a matter of inches, a play, an out, a pinch-hitter, a missed pitch, or error. And sometimes, like today, it comes down to one really big inning.

The Yankees split up the pitching duties of today’s game between a few of their relievers. Chad Green got the nod to go first, thus starting today’s finale against the visiting Rays. After a scoreless 1st, and 2 outs in the 2nd, he gave up back-to-back solo home runs to put the Rays in the lead. After hitting the next batter, he handed things off to Nestor Cortes Jr.

After a quick strikeout, Cortes came back out for the 3rd. With 1 out and runners in scoring position, a 3-run home run insured a hefty Rays’ lead. Cortes continued on into the 7th inning and kept the Rays from doing further damage. Ottavino closed out the 7th for Cortes with a single strikeout, getting out of a jam. And Chance Adams gave a long-term push to close out the final third of the game with 3 scoreless innings and the eventual save.

The Yankees got on the board first in the 1st. LeMahieu led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Voit’s 1-out walk, and Kendrys Morales’ 2-out single. But after the Rays jumped ahead in the 2nd, the Yankees answered back with Urshela’s lead-off walk and Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run.

Down again to the Rays after the 3rd, they tied up the game again in the 4th. With 2 outs, LeMahieu reached base on a fielding error and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run deep into the right field seats. This was Hicks’ first home run of the season.

But it was the 6th inning that certainly made all the difference. Gardner led-off the inning with a single and stole 2nd. Frazier then walked, and 1 out later, Hicks’ walk loaded the bases. Luke Voit’s walk scored Gardner to break the tie. After a pitching change, a messy pitch and some quick defense got Frazier out at home but moved the runners up.

Then the Rays intentionally walked Sanchez to load the bases again. Kendrys Morales then worked yet another walk this inning to score Hicks. Gleyber Torres’ single scored Voit. However, the Rays challenged whether there was a play at 1st to get the out and end the inning, but the replay went the Yankees’ way, upholding the original call.

After another pitching change, pinch-hitter Thairo Estrada hit a bases-clearing double, scoring 3 more runs. Back at the top of the batting order, Brett Gardner closed out this big inning with a double to score Estrada.

DJ LeMahieu led-off the 7th with a solo home run for a completely unnecessary insurance run. As if the Yankees were going to somehow give up their big lead after that ridiculous rally.

Final score: 13-5 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees hit the road this week with 4 games in Baltimore against the Orioles, before spending next weekend with the Royals. They then travel back home for a week of games against the visiting Padres and Red Sox to bring baseball into June.

Go Yankees!

Game 43: TB vs. NYY — A Song of Rain Delay and Walk-offs

It was Game of Thrones night at Yankee Stadium, which meant fans got to take pictures in the Iron Throne or buy show sports themed merchandise and the media team tweeted out game updates using popular show memes. Or if you’re not a fan, it was a Friday night in the Bronx and there was a pretty good baseball game. Despite the fact that the game paused again for a brief (35 minute) rain delay in the 8th inning. Or maybe because of it.

CC Sabathia got the start for the Yankees tonight and threw a pretty strong game in this first game of the series against the visiting Rays. He threw 84 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, and struck out 4 Rays batters. His lone allowed run was a 1st pitch solo home run in the 4th inning.

The Yankees actually struck first with Cameron Maybin’s first Yankee home run, a 1-out solo home run in the 2nd that nearly hit the 3rd deck of the right field seats. But they had trouble adding to that early lead, especially after the Rays tied it up in the 4th.

Ottavino and Kahnle split the 7th inning, keeping the Rays from adding to their score, but then Chad Green came out for the 8th inning and had some trouble. With 1 out, a double scored on a 2-out double. Then a single and throwing error allowed another run for the visitors to get their insurance run in tonight’s game.

And then it started raining. A lot. So the Yankees needed to come back and rally. Urshela stepped into the box and 2 pitches later, it was just too much. The tarp came out, the game was paused, and many fingers were crossed. (I opted not to insert a few obvious Game of Thrones jokes that a good portion of my readers wouldn’t understand.)

When the game resumed just 35 minutes later, things kind of screeched to a stand still. The Rays and Yankees (via Holder) pitched through a quick 6 outs. And the Yankees finally found that rally in the bottom of the 9th. Luke Voit led-off with a 1st pitch solo home run to inch the Yankees closer. Sanchez then singled and was pinch-run by Thairo Estrada. One out later, Torres doubled and Frazier was intentionally walked to load up the bases.

Then a wild pitch moved all the runners up and scored Estrada to tie up the game. Maybin hit into a fielder’s choice out at home and then stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position. And leave it to Gio Urshela to be the one to single home Frazier for the walk-off win, which was his first walk-off MLB hit. (Also, it was orange Gatorade tonight.)

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

CC K-Score: 3013

Roster moves: After coming in to be the 26th man, the Yankees optioned outfielder Mike Tauchman back to AAA Scranton after the doubleheader on Wednesday.

Also, thanks to winning over the Rays, the Yankees are now in 1st place in the AL East. And that’s worth celebrating, given all the fickle fans who seemed to desert once again in the beginning or when all the major players got injured. But what do I know? “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” (Final GoT reference for the fans alone.)

Go Yankees!

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 26: NYY vs. SF — Voit & LeMahieu support #BigMaple

The Yankees began their weekend in San Francisco on an high note. Actually, the advantage came at the hand of the Giants star pitcher having a terrible off-night, a huge fall from the World Series MVP just 5 years ago, and in turn, the Yankees’ pitchers were a decent foil for the Giants’ offense.

“Big Maple” James Paxton had another great night, throwing 106 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 8 batters. In fact, he only had troubles in his bookended innings. In the 1st, with 1 out, he put runners in scoring position with a single and double before a sacrifice fly scored the Giants’ first run.

Then in the 6th, a lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a fly out and then scored on a double. A 2-out single scored the next runner ended Paxton’s night and turned things over to the bullpen that went scoreless the rest of the game. Kahnle closed out the 6th in 7 pitches. Zack Britton got into some trouble in the 7th loading the bases with 2 outs, but Adam Ottavino got him out of it with a strikeout and then breezed his way through the 8th. And Chapman closed out the game in the 9th.

The Yankees were able to grab an early lead and defend it consistently the entire game. DJ LeMahieu led-off the game with a double, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ double. Urshela singled to move Torres to 3rd before Cameron Maybin’s single scored Torres.

In the 3rd, Voit singled, moved to 2nd on Torres’ sacrifice bunt, and scored on Gio Urshela’s single and a fielding error. Then LeMahieu led-off the 5th with a single and scored on Luke Voit’s double. With 1 out in the 6th, Romine singled, moved to 2nd on Tauchman’s single, and then scored on Thairo Estrada’s single. Finally, in the 9th, LeMahieu doubled and scored as part of Voit’s 2-run home run up the middle.

It was a big night for LeMahieu and Voit once again, each getting 3 hits (of the 15 total hits), scoring 5 of the 7 total runs for the Yankees. Until recently, most Yankee fans hadn’t heard of either of these players, and now they’re easily some of the biggest contributors to the Yankees’ current winning momentum.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees

CC Sabathia’s PitCChIn Foundation invited 52 kids from the local Boys & Girls Club to tonight’s game. It was through a local Boys & Girls Club in the Bay Area that Sabathia attended his first professional baseball game, making an impact on the future Hall of Famer. Catch up on the foundation’s impact via their Twitter account, including renovating ball fields, other local game invitations, sports camps and clinics, and the upcoming celebrity softball game.

Go Yankees!

Game 23: NYY vs. LAA — Voit’s power & Ford’s first dinger

The streak continues for the Yankees in this middle game of their series against the Angels. Though there was a few moments where it looked like the Angels might have a rally in them, even a grand slam couldn’t stop the Yankees from dominating tonight’s game.

Starter Domingo German held control into the 7th inning, with 99 pitches, 4 hits, a walk, and an unearned run, and 5 strikeouts against the home team. German held them off until the 5th. A lead-off double, moved to 3rd on a fielding error, and then scored on a fielder’s choice out at 2nd.

In the 7th, with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd, Chad Green came into the game for relief and quickly got out of the inning. But coming back out in the 8th almost cost the Yankees the game. He loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk before giving up a big grand slam up the middle to leap the Angels up on the scoreboard.

Luis Cessa came in and promptly gave up a double and a walk. Things looked bleak again for the Yankees, but then Cessa settled in, getting a strikeout and a great double play to end the Angels’ hopes of trying to overcome the Yankees. And Zack Britton sailed his way through a 7-pitch 9th inning to earn his 1st save of the season.

Again, the Yankees needed to dominate tonight in order to earn the win, and it would be Luke Voit to lead the way again with a 1st inning 1-out solo home run, extending his on-base streak to 35 games. They loaded up the bases in the 2nd with a single to Ford, a walk to Tauchman, and a 1-out single to Thairo Estrada, his first MLB hit. Tyler Wade hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Ford to score. In the 5th, Gardner hit a 1-out single and then scored on Mike Ford’s 2-out 2-run home run.

Voit led-off the 7th with a walk, moved to 3rd on Gardner’s double, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single. After a pitching change, pinch-hitter Urshela hit into a fielder’s choice out at home. Then a walk to Tauchman loaded the bases. Austin Romine’s simple grounder scored Torres, and despite loading up the bases again with Estrada’s walk, the Yankees couldn’t add any further runs that inning.

Voit added one more to the score, an insurance run of sorts, in the top of the 8th with another 1-out solo home run. And after the Angels tried to get a few of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, the Yankees were glad for every extra insurance run they had to ensure their win tonight.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees

Mike Ford hit his first major league home run with that 5th inning 2-run homer. The Yankees were able to retrieve that milestone ball from the lucky fan that caught it in the right field seats. Ford intends to give the ball to his parents, something I think is a great gesture.

He’ll hit lots of home runs, but that first one deserves a spot on his parents’ mantle, next to the baseball trophies he won in Little League, where they cheered him on and hoped he would one day achieve his dream. Remember, he grew up in New Jersey, a huge fan of the Yankees during their most recent dynasty years. The dream was always to wear pinstripes (or away greys).

You know, somewhere, there’s some kid sleeping with his glove under his pillow, dreaming of the night he’ll get to hit his first home run with the Yankees. And someday, we’re going to watch that kid do just that.

Go Yankees!

Game 21: KC vs. NYY — A bit of redemption on Easter

The final game between the Yankees and visiting Royals made this Sunday afternoon game on a holiday worth watching. Actually, it was a Yankee dominant game, looking like a fairly easy win, until the Royals came in to bury the Yankees in a single inning. Only for the home team to rise again with a great walk-off victory. (That’s enough Easter puns. I promise.)

James Paxton had a great outing today, throwing 104 pitches in 6 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and a walk, and striking out 12 Kansas City batters. He really should have been the main story if not for the weird late-inning twists in today’s game Kahnle followed up, breezing through a great 7th inning. Things were looking good for the Yankees.

Plus, they had racked up enough run support to feel a little too safe. In the 1st, DJ LeMahieu led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then raced home on a passed ball to barely beat out the tag. With 2 outs in the 2nd, Ford doubled (his first MLB hit, by the way) and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. And in the 5th, Voit and Gardner each singled and then scored on Clint Frazier’s big 3-run home run to give the Yankees their nice lead.

But then it was the 8th inning that everything went a bit pear-shaped for the Yankees. Chad Green came on in relief and just could not find an out, instead loading up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. So it was up to Adam Ottavino to try to get out of that jam, but he too had issues finding an out. He promptly gave up a 2-RBI double, a 3-run home run to tie up the game, and a solo homer to suddenly give the Royals the lead. And then he got the 3 outs he needed.

Now, that wasn’t sitting well with the Yankees. They weren’t about to give up their series win that easily. Tauchman led off the bottom of the 8th with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single to tie up the game again. And just like that, the Yankees were back in it.

Chapman sailed his way through the 9th, but the Yankees didn’t find the opportunity to do so in the bottom of the inning. So it was into extra innings for a special Easter game. Britton came in a matched his predecessor’s breezy streak. And this time, the Yankees found their moment in the bottom 10th.

Tauchman and Urshela worked consecutive walks, and after a pitching change, Estrada hit a sacrifice bunt and moved both runners into scoring position. It would be the hero of the day, Austin Romine, to sneak a great single up the middle all the way to the back fence to score Tauchman for the walk-off win today.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees, in 10 innings, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees are headed to the West Coast to face the Angels, Giants, and Diamondbacks for this road trip. This will take them into May before they’re back in the Bronx again.

Injury news/roster moves: Before today’s game, the Yankees moved Aaron Judge to the 10-day injured list with his oblique injury. But the reality is that he will probably be out for about a month. Frequent MLB contributor (and famous Yankee granddaughter) Lindsay Berra wrote an article two years ago about oblique injures in baseball and the commonality of the injury in athletes and why the average return to play is about 27 days.

With Judge’s spot on the roster vacant, the Yankees decided to call up Thairo Estrada again. Despite Estrada being an infielder, the logical move would be to have a utility player like Tyler Wade to substitute in the outfield as needed. And again, despite 13 men on the IL, the Yankees are charging into this road trip on a win streak again.

And a Happy Easter to all who celebrate, however you celebrate.

Go Yankees!

Game 8: NYY vs. BAL — A double Judgement Day with some late Red Thunder

Unlike in previous seasons, the Yankees seem to find their swing at Camden Yards. Usually, there’s something about the Baltimore home field that reeks of home field advantage, and for a time during these last two games, that seemed to still linger. But the Yankees somehow pulled it together in the end and found their momentum to swing things in their favor.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees in the middle game of this opening weekend series, throwing into the 5th inning and mostly keeping the Orioles from doing much tonight. With 2 outs in the 1st, a solo home run got them on the board. But then Happ worked his way through the next 3 innings without another big threat. In the 5th, he gave up a single and a 1-out walk before handing the ball over to Holder for relief.

After an infield fly pop-up out, a single scored Happ’s lead runner, but Holder kept the Orioles from adding any further to their score through the next 4 outs. But then he found trouble in the 7th. The first batter was hit by a pitch then moved to 3rd on a single. So it was on to Adam Ottavino.

A pinch-hitter hit into an unsuccessful fielder’s choice that scored one run. After an out (the first of the inning), a base runner stole 3rd which he used to his advantage when he scored on a sacrifice fly. With no more base runners, Ottavino needed just 1 more out to close out the inning without further damage. After allowing a lead-off walk, he got 2 outs in the 8th before it was Green’s turn.

Green had a bit of a sloppy way to find that final out of the 8th. His first batter was hit by a pitch, and the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice fielding error to load up the bases. The call was originally ruled out at 2nd, but Torres just tagged the base and not the runner. So when the runner came off the bag, Torres was still holding the ball in his glove away from the runner and not on the runner. The Orioles rightly challenged the call, which was overturned quickly, and play proceeded.

A ground ball later, and Green was out of the jam. Chapman earned his second save with an 18-pitch scoreless 9th inning.

The Yankees actually got on the board first with a solid 1-out solo home run up the middle by Aaron Judge. Then with 1 out in the 3rd, Gardner doubled, and Judge again smacked a big homer, a 2-run home run again up the middle. That’s home runs #1 and #2 of 2019 for Judge, by the way.

But after the Orioles tied up the game (twice) and then took the lead, the Yankees started running out of time to shift things back to their favor. They even got several opportunities once again, but they couldn’t seem find a way to score. Then in the 8th, with 2 outs and a new reliever, Torres walked and moved to 3rd on LeMahieu’s single. But it was Clint “Red Thunder” Frazier for the win, with a 3-run home run, putting the Yankees back in the lead.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees optioned Thairo Estrada back to AAA Scranton and signed infielder Gio Urshela to a major league contract. To make room for him on the roster, they moved Didi Gregorius to the 60-day injured list. Urshela, as you might remember, was a stand-out in Spring Training both defensively and at the bat. Add in his veteran experience, he is the logical choice for long-term coverage while the Yankees tread lightly with the injured Andujar.

Go Yankees!