Games 55 & 56: NYY vs. DET — Let’s split 2 and draft 2 catchers

If you recall back to April, the Yankees last visited Detroit for a 3-game series. They won the first game on Friday (April 13), the game on Saturday was rained out and postponed for a doubleheader on Sunday (April 15), and then both games were rained out on Sunday and pushed to today (June 4), as both team had a day-off between their own scheduled series. The Tigers were home after hosting the Blue Jays and then off to Boston, while the Yankees are flying between the rained out Baltimore and a short series in Toronto.

Game 1 — #SevySharp
Luis Severino is certainly putting up a great case to be considered for that Cy Young Award again this year. In the first game of today’s doubleheader, Severino was sharp as usual, throwing 112 pitches in his strong 8 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 runs (1 earned), and striking out 10 Detroit batters.

In the 1st, with 1 out, Severino gave up a single that scored on an RBI double. That would be the only earned run the Tigers got in that first game. Then in the 5th, with 2 outs, the next batter made it all the way to 2nd due to a throwing error before scoring on an RBI single.

The Tigers’ starter was really no match for Severino today. Gleyber Torres got the Yankees on the board in the 3rd with a 1-out solo home run. Greg Bird led off the 4th with his own solo home run. Then the Yankees found their momentum. Stanton and Gregorius each singled and then scored on singles by Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier. Then Austin Romine smacked a big 3-run home run to ensure the Yankees’ win. All before an out was recorded that inning.

After 2 outs and a walk to Judge, the Tigers went to their bullpen, who had a better time at keeping the Yankees’ batters from adding to their big lead. But then the Tigers’ batter were up against Severino, and after those 8 innings, the Yankees turned to their bullpen for the last inning. Reliever Jonathan Holder had a bit of issues in the 9th. The lead-off batter made it to 1st on a fielding error and then scored on a double. After a fly out, the runner moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a double. It was time to call in Aroldis Chapman for a 6-pitch strikeout for his 14th save.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees

Game 2 — Making up Jackie Robinson Day
Because this game was originally scheduled for April 15, or Jackie Robinson Day, the Yankees and Tigers made up the memorial as well as the game by all wearing #42 on their jerseys. Domingo German got the start and just was unable to really get a handle on the game as consistent as his counterpart in the first game. And still, he threw 95 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out 3 batters.

In the 2nd, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a passed ball and then later scored on sacrifice fly to get the Tigers on the board. A lead-off single in the 4th scored on an RBI double. That runner later scored on a 2-out double. Later in the 7th, with 2 outs, German gave up a double, and the Yankees went to their bullpen for Adam Warren to finish off the game. But he gave up a double that scored that final run for the Tigers. Then despite loading up the bases with 2 walks, Warren got out of that jam before giving a scoreless 8th inning.

The Tigers’ starter did better than his counterpart in the first game, but it still wasn’t the greatest outing. And yet, the Yankees just weren’t coming through, despite loading up those bases multiple times. In the 3rd, Clint Frazier hit a 1-out single and then scored easily on Brett Gardner’s triple. Later, Sanchez worked a 2-out walk and Stanton was hit by a pitch to load up the bases before the Tigers’ defense kicked in a got Gardner out at home on a baby grounder.

There was some talk in that inning about Stanton’s hit-by-a-pitch because the Tigers’ starter was the one who actually hit Stanton in the face in September 2014 when Stanton was with the Marlins and Fiers with the Brewers and the reason he wore a helmet with a face guard for years. The experience tonight shook Stanton up a bit and it caused some immediate tension, but then Stanton came back in the 6th with a huge lead-off solo home run.

The Yankees loaded up the bases again in that inning never got the chance to cross home again, and thus fell short in the 2nd game. Honestly, the Tigers’ bullpen outpitched the Yankees, with a total of 14 strikeouts.

Final score: 4-2 Tigers, meaning the Yankees win the original series 2-1 from April

Roster moves prior to today’s games: the Yankees sent Tommy Kahnle to AAA Scranton in order to reinstate Adam Warren from the DL and bring him into today’s doubleheader. Clint Frazier was also added as the 26th man just for the doubleheader, and he certainly helped the Yankees when called upon.

Next up: the Yankees head to Toronto for a short 2-game series there before heading back to NY. But they are scheduled for a 3-game weekend series at CitiField, so at least they get to sleep in their own beds.

And the annual amateur draft started tonight and will take place over the next 2 days. Each team selects one young player from a pool of high school and college students per round for 40 rounds, plus 2 auxiliary rounds following 1st and 2nd rounds as part of some off-season trades (but the Yankees didn’t get any picks for these special rounds).

The Yankees held pick #23 (the 1st round) and #61 (the 2nd round) overall. They selected 2 catchers — ambidextrous high school senior from Georgia Anthony Seigler and a sophomore from a Texas community college Josh Breaux. And the best part of that pick was having Yankees Draft Rep Nick Swisher say “Bro” at the official draft, something he says in his trademark speech patterns.

The Draft continues tomorrow with Rounds 3-10. It’s worth noting that some of the current Yankee stars were selected much further down in the Draft than you’d expect — Gardner (3rd), Betances (8th), Robertson (17th), Austin (13th), Bird (5th), and Montgomery (4th). So you never know where the next great Yankee is going to pop up.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 50: HOU vs. NYY — A few stumbles isn’t going to win these kinds of games

To be perfectly fair, the Yankees faced one of the Astros’ ace starters. He was brutal for the Yankees in the playoffs last year, and he was dominant when the Yankees faced him earlier this season (though fortunately, that ended in the Yankees’ favor due to some ironic dominant pitching of their own by today’s starter). And because of how the games landed, the Yankees weren’t able to send in their ace. And with the slight stagnancy the Yankees’ bats are hitting recently, it might not have mattered so much.

And despite that, the Yankees were able to hold off the Astros in comparison to what could be. Domingo German got the start, throwing 104 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs (3 earned), and still struck out 7 Houston batters. In the 2nd, with 1 out and 2 runners on base, a big 3-run home run got the Astros on the board early. And a throwing error in the 4th allowed the lead-off runner to make it to 1st safely. He advanced to 2nd on a single and then scored on another single.

AJ Cole closed out the 6th for German and had a pretty good outing overall for his 7 outs. Except for that pesky 1st pitch, lead-off solo home run in the 8th inning to add to the Astros’ lead. Tommy Kahnle came on strong in the 9th and needed just 11 pitches to close out the inning.

Meanwhile, that Astros’ starter just dominated the Yankees’ offense into the 7th inning, giving up just 5 hits. One of those was also a lead-off solo home run to Greg Bird, his first home run of the season due to his recent return from the disabled list. The Astros’ bullpen closed out the 7th and sailed their way through the final 2 innings and kept the Yankees to that lone allowed run.

Final score: 5-1 Astros

In honor of Memorial Day, the Yankees have donned uniforms and gear with camouflage accents, both today and yesterday. And at a certain point in the game, (3pm local time, or during the 6th inning), the Yankees participated in the National Moment of Remembrance, a moment of silence.

During the 7th inning at home games, they always take time to “honor America”, a staple in the Yankees’ home program since 9/11 to recognize and honor active, veteran, and fallen military and first responders. But today was a special moment across all of baseball and various parts of America, a special memorandum President Clinton signed in 2000. It is just the 2nd year that all of MLB has participated, but it quickly has become a favorite on this day.

And on that note, we wish everyone a safe and meaningful Memorial Day, as we remember those lost in service to their country and the families they left behind. Fallen, but not forgotten.

Go Yankees!

Game 48: LAA vs. NYY — Pitching falters in Saturday night loss

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, and it’s worth saying tonight: “If you don’t having pitching, you don’t have anything.” And tonight, in this middle game with the visiting Angels this weekend series, certainly proved that true.

Sonny Gray just had a terrible, rough start tonight. He threw 86 pitches into just the 4th inning, gave up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, and still struck out 7 batters. His lead-off batter in the 1st singled and then scored on an RBI double to get the Angels on the board early.

Now, following that up, the Yankees’ power continued from yesterday, rolling over as Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge hit consecutive monster solo home runs in the bottom of the 1st to put the Yankees on top. In the 2nd, Andujar singled and then scored on Austin Romine’s 2-run home run off the foul pole to double the Yankees’ scored and give them a nice lead.

That didn’t last long. In the 3rd, Gray continued his bad night, loading up the bases with a single, a double, and a walk. With 1 out, he then walked the next batter to score another Angels’ run. A sacrifice fly scored one more run, putting the Angels within a run of the Yankees’ lead. Then in the 4th, he gave up a lead-off walk. The next batter hit a single, advancing the lead runner to 3rd, but then got tagged out trying to make it to 2nd. After another out, their star power-hitter smacked a 2-run home run to give the Angels back the lead.

After hitting the next batter, Gray’s night was over. Jonathan Holder came on to close out the 4th inning for Gray. Holder then kept the Angels scoreless in the 5th inning. Tommy Kahnle came on for the 6th and continued the struggles Gray had in controlling the Angels’ offense tonight. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd when the next batter hit into force attempt and a missed catch error. The lead runner scored on an RBI double, and a walk loaded the bases. A single then scored 2 more runs, and a double play allowed yet another run.

Chasen Shreve came on to quickly get out of the 6th. But then he had his own issues in the 7th, though they seem relatively minor in comparison. With 1 out, he gave up a walk that then scored on a 2-run home run to cap off the Angels’ runs tonight. AJ Cole closed out the game in the final 2 innings, sailing through his scoreless outing in a solid 25 total pitches. The Yankee pitchers racked up 12 strikeouts despite a rather sloppy game overall.

Final score: 11-4 Angels

Roster moves: before tonight’s game, the Yankees activated Greg Bird from the Disabled List, after ankle surgery earlier this year. To make room for him, the Yankees turned to the guys on their bench and tried to figure out who would get the least starts now, but could benefit from getting high quality starts in AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They settled on Ronald Torreyes. And that set off an online firestorm. I don’t think most people even realized what a huge fan base Torreyes had until they optioned him to Scranton.

This, of course, prompted a lot of discussion looking forward to the trade deadline at the end of July that is fast approaching. Any player who is faltering or having a bad night is automatically assumed for the chopping block, but the truth is that the trade market is for those with long-term potential. The ones at the highest danger of being traded are those that are actually pretty good, not those who are having issues. The ones struggling have their own issues — and getting cut or demoted should be their primary concern.

But then sometimes, change in circumstances is the best thing for a player, especially a struggling one. A pitcher may need a confidence booster by pitching in a smaller market and finding his momentum that he somehow lost along the way. An infielder may need a different combination of defensive players that blend better to increase his defensive numbers. A batter may need the kind of support and mechanics found on a new team. It’s worked before. It will work again. And while it’s disappointing to lose friends and teammates and favorite players, the best for them and the best for the team is always worth the change.

Go Yankees!

Game 47: LAA vs. NYY — Torres continues campaign for Rookie of the Year

The Yankees are back home, and there is debate over whether home field advantage is actually a thing. I’m not sure I believe it has an overall effect on the final score, but I do believe there is an effect on home team morale and thus confidence. On the other hand, if the team is truly good, it doesn’t really matter at all where they play. They’re just going to play well regardless.

Luis Severino, however, wasn’t having a particular “SevySharp” kind of night, and still his outcome was pretty positive over the visiting Angels in tonight’s opener. He threw 99 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 4 walks, and a single run, and struck out 5 batters. That lone allowed run was a 2-out solo home run to the young star power-hitter on the Angels’ roster.

Chad Green came out for the 7th, gave up 2 hits, and still got out of the inning unscathed. Robertson threw 2 outs in the 8th, gave up a walk that advance to scoring position on a wild pitch, and was replaced by Chapman. Aroldis Chapman had a great 4-out save, sailing through the batters and keeping the Angels to that lone allowed run.

And as strong as the Yankees’ pitching staff was today, the Angels’ staff was actually pretty good themselves, many statistics quite comparable all game. The 2nd inning was by far the weirdest inning all night. Sanchez led-off the inning with a single but then got out when Didi Gregorius hit into a grounder. Originally, the call was a double play, but the Yankees saw Gregorius tag the bag at 1st before the ball made it to the 1st baseman and challenged it. So it was overturned as a single out at 2nd. Hicks worked a walk, and then another out later, Andujar’s walk loaded the bases.

And then it got messy. So Gleyber Torres singled, which easily scored Didi Gregorius as the 3rd baseman (who fielded Torres’ hit) threw the ball to 1st too slow. The ball was mishandled on both ends, so Hicks saw the opportunity to make an attempt for home too. But after contemplating which runner to get out, the Angels’ defense kicked into action and got Hicks trying to come home and end the inning. Leaving most of us watching in a bit of a “what just happened here” blur.

The game remained tied and the starters exited the game, handing it over to their respective bullpens. It would fall to the rookies again to find the lone opportunity to break the tie. In the 7th, Gleyber Torres hit a big 2-out solo home run, making this his 4th straight game to hit a home run, becoming the youngest player in the AL to do so. It was also his 9th home run of the season, and he’s only played in 28 games (of the 47).

Final score: 2-1 Yankees

During the game, the 2 best plays of the game were when Aaron Judge threw bullets from right field to cut down runners trying to advance on the Yankees. We’ve promoted “Don’t Run on Gary”, but maybe it should just be “Don’t Run on the Yankees”. Judge threw a 100.5 mph fireball straight to home plate so that Sanchez tagged the runner coming home in the 3rd inning. He also fired a powerful rocket to 2nd for a waiting Gregorius to tag out the runner trying to stretch a long single into a double. Yeah, “Don’t Run on Aaron” either.

Roster moves: Meanwhile, the Yankees moved some players around their organization, especially with talks of players like Bird coming off the DL shortly, probably this weekend. On the free day travel day yesterday, the Yankees opted recently signed pitcher Ryan Bollinger back to AA Trenton and outfielder Billy McKinney to AAA Scranton.

Today, they activated reliever Tommy Kahnle from the disabled list (after shoulder issues). They also parted ways with a few veterans in their farm system, releasing Adam Lind from AAA Scranton and trading catcher Erik Kratz to the Brewers for “future considerations” (which means either a player to be named later or cash).

Plus, they also re-signed catcher Wilkin Castillo to a minor league contract. Castillo was with the Yankees organization last season after they signed him before being released and choosing free agency in the off-season. He played for the Atlantic League (an independent baseball league) with the Long Island Ducks and is now assigned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

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 33: CLE vs. NYY — Sonny times defeat Cleveland defensive errors

The Yankees have won 14 of their last 15 games, something that actually has people talking all around the league, because it’s the first time they’ve done so since 1998. (And we all know what happened that year.) Plus, it was a perfect Saturday afternoon for a game, this middle game in the weekend series against the visiting Indians.

Sonny Gray had a much better outing than many of his earlier games this season, throwing 93 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 7 batters. His 2 allowed runs were a 2-out solo home run in the 5th and a ground-rule double that later scored on a ground out.

Chad Green really was the pitcher worth watching today, going 2 full scoreless and hitless innings and throw a dominant and efficient 24 pitches in the 7th and 8th innings, getting 4 of his 6 outs with strong strikeouts. David Robertson closed out the game with 2 more strikeouts in his 9th inning.

Meanwhile, like the Indians, the Yankees’ batters really didn’t get much offenive opportunities until the 5th. With 1 out, Walker and Andujar walked, and Torres singled to load the bases. Then Austin Romine worked a walk to score Walker. Ronald Torreyes hit into a play that ended up moving everyone up 2 bases thanks to 2 errors, so Andujar and Torres both scored, leaving Romine and Torreyes in scoring position. Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Romine.

A new pitcher in the 7th gave up a 1-out double to Romine, after quite the embattled at-bat. The Indians needed to switch some defenders due to an injury where the fielder trying to get Romine’s long-hit ball rammed into the back fence. Romine would go on to score on Gardner’s 2-out single.

Final score: 5-2 Yankees

Injury updates: as you know if you’ve been following this team this season, early last month seemed plagued with injuries. Fortunately, the team has been relatively healthy for a few weeks now, and those on the DL are working their way back as soon as possible. Brandon Drury found a specialist in New York that located an irritated nerve on his neck that has been causing his migraines for years. He is receiving regular treatments, and it’s paying off — his time with AAA Scranton (and now with AA Trenton) have been rather productive. The Yankees aren’t in rush with him as Andujar, Torres, and Torreyes have been outstanding for the Yankees as pinch-bench players in both their offense and defense.

Despite being out for 6-8 weeks with elbow strain, Jordan Montgomery was simply glad it wasn’t going to be the dreaded Tommy John surgery for him, which would mean 12-18 months recovery time. It’s something every pitcher dreads and sits in the back of their minds every time there’s an elbow pain of any kind. So a few weeks must sound like a decent option. It’s not great, but they can make it work on all ends. Especially as Domingo German will get his first MLB start tomorrow against the Indians in the finale of this series.

And speaking of pitchers, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren are back throwing after experiencing some shoulder and back issues (respectively), so the Yankees hope to have these reliable relievers back in the bullpen before the end of the month.

My uncle, the one who’s a huge “Tribe” fan (or a person who roots for Cleveland), texted me after the Yankees won today to tell me that the Yankees were “looking good” and that his team was suffering from “no-bullpen-itis”. I can understand that feeling, as both teams seem to suffer most of their injuries in the bullpen this season (as reflected in the above injury report). But to me, that says more about the difference in their farm systems to rely on those guys when injuries hit the major league level.

So kudos to the Yankees for having the smarts to build the organization deep. And this says far too much about the AL Central because even with these 2 losses, the Indians still lead the division and are the only team above .500. Meanwhile, the Yankees are now just a half-game behind the Red Sox in the AL East, something that clearly will change with the coming series next week.

Go Yankees!

Game 17: TOR vs. NYY — Secret to success: Just play better than the other team

The Yankees are back on the plus side after tonight’s game, their opening game against the Blue Jays in this 4-game weekend series to continue their homestand. And CC Sabathia is back on the mound (more below). He was rather strong through most of his outing, throwing 71 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 4 hits, a walk, and 2 unearned runs, and getting just 1 strikeout.

In the 3rd, Sabathia gave up consecutive singles that moved into scoring position on a ground out. After another ground out, a passed ball allowed the lead runner to score the Jays’ first run. A throwing error allowed the lead-off batter in the 4th to reach safely before he moved to 2nd on a hit-by-pitch and later scored on a 2-out single.

Chad Green came on to get out of a jam in the 5th and then pitched through the 6th flawlessly. He handed the game over to Betances for a dominant 15-pitch 7th inning. David Robertson, however, had some struggles in the 8th, loading up the bases with a single and 2 walks and no outs. A pinch-hitter hit a 1-out single to score one more run for the Jays before Robertson pulled it together and got another good strikeout and a fly out to left field to get out of the bases-loaded jam. Chapman then threw a perfect 12-pitch, 3-strike out 9th inning to close out the game and earn the save.

Meanwhile, the Yankees took their moments when they came up and used them well. In the 2nd, with 1 out and Hicks and Walker in scoring position, they each scored on Tyler Wade’s ground out and Ronald Torreyes’ single. Then in the 5th, with 2 outs and Torreyes and Judge on the corners, Didi Gregorius’ single scored Torreyes. Stanton’s single loaded up the bases, but the Yankees failed to utilize that moment and grounded out to end the inning. Aaron Judge’s solo home run in the 7th would be the key to winning the game.

Put simply: the Yankees just played a better game than the Blue Jays tonight.

Final score: 4-3 Yankees

Roster moves/injury updates: before the game today, the Yankees activated CC Sabathia from the 10-day DL to start tonight’s game and placed pitcher Luis Cessa on the 10-day DL, retroactive to April 18, due to his left oblique strain injury. And they announced that pitcher Tommy Kahnle has been diagnosed with tendonitis in his biceps and shoulder, which means no throwing for 10 days; Kahnle is estimated to be out about three weeks.

And in community news: the Yankees responded to a recent viral video. Cassidy, a 10-year-old girl from Scranton posted an online video (through her mom’s Facebook account) about her experiences being bullied at her school, feeling extremely alone, but ending her message with one of encouragement to anyone else in her position. In response, the Yankees made their own video, standing up for Cassidy and anyone else facing bullying. It made me proud once again to be a Yankee fan.

Don’t be afraid to speak up for anyone ever. Be part of the solution. Change your world one kindness and moment of strength and courage at a time.

Go Yankees!