NLDS & ALDS: ATL vs. STL, WAS vs. LAD & TB vs. HOU, MIN vs. NYY — 3 Game 5s & a 3-game sweep

There is nothing normal about the postseason most years, and this year continues to prove this once again. Three of the series went to a Game 5, and only one series was a sweep. And none of those is what you might expect.

NLDS A: The Cardinals and Braves duked it out through 5 games, and it wasn’t until the 5th that the Cardinals came on strong and just made the decision to win this series.

NLDS
Game 1: Actually, the Braves had this game right up until the final inning, when the Cards came out swinging. The Braves just could not catch up in the end. 7-6 Cardinals

Game 2:
The Braves decided they weren’t going to let the series head to St. Louis without a hometown win, using this game to prove why they came out on top of the NL East by blanking the visiting Cardinals. 3-0 Braves

Game 3: This was one of those super tight games, with the Cards eking a single run by the Braves until the 9th. The visitors scored 3 big runs in that inning and ended up taking the lead in the series. 3-1 Braves

Game 4: Another nail biter in the series, as the game was tied and went into the 10th inning before the Cardinals got a walk-off home run to tie up the series. 5-4, in 10 Cardinals

Game 5: Back in Atlanta, the Braves lost their home field advantage in that 1st inning, giving up 10 runs to the visitors, who ended up dominating this game. 13-1 Cardinals

Cardinals win the series in 5 games

NLDS B: Almost everyone “knew” who was going to win this series. Almost everyone “knew” they were going to sweep this series. Almost everyone was very wrong.

Game 1: However, after this first game, “they” were rather confident they “knew” how this was going to work as the Dodgers quickly shut out the Nationals. 6-0 Dodgers

Game 2: But then the Nationals came back and just edged out the home team. 4-2 Nationals

Game 3: In DC, the Dodgers came back just crushing the home team with a big 6th inning. 10-4 Dodgers

Game 4: And somehow, the Nats weren’t about to go away quietly, relying on some solid pitching to tie up the series again and force a Game 5. 6-1 Nationals

Game 5: Another nail-biter in the NL. The game was tied right into the 10th, right up until the Dodgers’ reliever gave up a huge grand slam. The deficit too big to overcome by the home team, costing them the rest of the postseason. 7-3, in 10 Nationals

Nationals win the series in 5 games

ALDS A: As with the other league’s version of this series, games between the league leader and the wild card winner aren’t anything normal or predictable. Especially as the Rays were on quite the tear this last month in their quest for a postseason. But in this series alone, it was all about the “home field advantage”.

Game 1: The Astros started the series strong, only giving up runs to the Rays in the 8th. 6-2 Astros

Game 2: The Astros’ starter the game was just amazing, streaming through the Rays’ lineup and collecting 15 strikeouts. Not that the Rays were slacking. The Astros just played better. 3-1 Astros

Game 3: Once the game was at the Trop, the Rays came out swinging and just didn’t stop. They certainly weren’t about to let the Astros just run away with this series. 10-3 Rays

Game 4: While this wasn’t as poweful in the end, the Rays still collected 13 total hits, giving them more opportunities to score and eventually tie up the series. 4-1 Rays

Game 5: Again, this series was all about home field advantage. Once they were back in Houston, the Astros took command again and showed their fans why they deserve to go to the ALCS once again. 6-1 Astros

Astros win series in 5 games

ALDS B: The one series nobody was really talking about. Outside Yankee Universe, that is. But this one was something to really watch, as the Yankees were about to show off a bit.

Game 1: The Yankees had some really big innings, including home runs by LeMahieu and Gardner. Though Paxton started, it was Kahnle who ended up with the win for his 5th & 6th inning stint to essentially save the game early on until the Yankees powered their way through with those big runs in the 6th. 10-4 Yankees

Game 2: It was Tanaka Time in the Bronx for this game. Aand once again, the Yankee bats came through to support their starter, including a big 3rd inning offense. And while most of their runs were off RBI singles, but i was Didi Gregorius’ grand slam to ensure the Yankees’ eventual win. 8-2 Yankees

Game 3: Home field advantage didn’t seem to matter to the Yankees this series, as they took their momentum on the road. They used an opener in Green, who showed his reliability with a strong start and set the pattern for the rest of the game, backed by a good offense with homers by Torres and Maybin. 5-1 Yankees

Yankees sweep series in 3 games.

An interesting article I found was the idea that no one gives an MVP award for the Division Series. This is one writer’s idea of who should get this hypothetical award. I agreed (or at least understood) his picks in most of these games. But what do you think?

Championship Series begins tomorrow night with NLCS and Saturday with the ALCS. It is a best-of-7 series, so the first team with 4 wins will move onto the World Series next week.

My predictions: So, this first round was a mixed bag. I completely blew the NLDS. First is my prediction, second is the outcome.

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

Now for the Championship Series: (Perhaps, I’ll be better this round.)

  • NLCS: Cardinals over Nationals in 6 games
  • ALCS: Yankees over Astros in 7 games

It’s clearly going to be one of those postseasons. And let’s be honest, it’s really just beginning. But isn’t that what makes October Baseball more intriguing — that you don’t know what’s going to happen?

Go Yankees!

Game 162: NYY vs. TEX — 102 wins, 305 HRs, AL East champs, and the Yanks head to postseason

And suddenly, the season is over. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were sitting in our seats in Steinbrenner Field in Tampa enjoying the first day of Spring Training. One of the perks of a Florida spring is watching Yankee veterans and rookies and minor leaguers play on the same field. The anticipation of a new fresh season is palpable as fans chatter about which players are returning or what new young hopeful has been invited for the spring. It is always amazing to watch the roster come seamlessly together for the a new season.

It has been quite the season, summer baseball filled with new records set and new faces earning their much deserved spot on the Yankee roster. Despite the unexpected record injuries that saw the rise of a new generation of Yankees, we all witnessed New York pull together as a team and keep moving forward to earn their well-deserved spot as the AL East Division Champions.

And so here we are now in late September in Texas to face the Rangers before a sell-out crowd on a warm day in Arlington. It may not have been the final score Yankee fans hoped for, but with Game 162 now in the record books, all Yankee eyes are now on the postseason and October baseball.

For this last game of the season today, 6 Yankee pitchers shared the mound and gave up 10 hits for 6 runs. In the 1st inning, Chad Green was chosen to start as the opener for the Yankees. Facing 5 batters in the 1st inning, Green gave up a walk to the lead-off batter followed by a single. A throwing error allowed the 2 runners to do a double steal and score a run. Green followed with 2 strikeouts and an outfield fly out to end the inning.

Masahiro Tanaka came to the mound for a long-term relief outing, starting in the 2nd. His first inning was smooth, facing 3 batters for 3 outs, including a stellar infield play caught with a backhanded catch by Gio Urshela on 3rd for the throw to DJ LeMahieu for the out. Tanaka’s 3rd inning was a bit messier, giving up a 1-out double and a single to put runners on the corners. A sloppy throwing error on a pick-off attempt by Tanaka allowed a run. A fly out to right moved a runner to 3rd, who then scored on a single to left field. With 2 outs, a pop up caught by Urshela at 3rd finally ended the inning.

Then, in the 4th, after fielding a grounder for the out at 1st base, Urshela left the game with a sore ankle and was replaced by Wade at 3rd. After a strikeout swinging, Tanaka gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases before coming on strong, retiring the side with a ground out, stranding 3 on base.

In the 5th, Tommy Kahnle replaced Tanaka and gave up a single to left, a hit by pitch, and a walk to load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice caught the runner at home for a stellar defensive play for the out, but left the bases loaded. Kahnle gave up a single that scored 2 runs, but a great double play ended the inning.

Adam Ottavino took the mound in the 6th, giving up a single and a walk. He gave up a grounder for a force out to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly scored a run, and a pop out ended the inning. Britton came out for the 8th, giving up a single, but a great defensive double play and a swinging strikeout closed the inning. Chapman got some work in for a quick 3-out 8th inning.

The Yankee lineup was scoreless for the first two innings. In the 3rd, Aaron Judge hit his 27th season homer 408 feet over the left field fence to tie the game and give the Yankees a record 305 season home runs. Perhaps Judge’s homer for the first run scored in this last game was only fitting for the season wrap up since the first run scored for the Yankees on opening day this year was also homer, a 3-run long ball by Luke Voit.

The Yankee lineup struggled to reach base and remained scoreless for the rest of the game. Coming down to the 9th inning for their final chance for the win or at least to add a couple home runs to best the Twins for the season home run record. But three outs later, regular season play for New York was over.

Final score: 6-1 Rangers, Rangers win the series 2-1

Injury updates: The Yankees are optimistic that Edwin Encarnacion might be available for post-season play, but he is not currently in the lineup. Gio Urshela twisted his ankle on a jumping throw during an infield out in today’s game. Doctors diagnosed Urshela with a mild sprain that should heal quickly and no further tests are planned at this time.

Yankee postseason rosters, more injury updates, and postseason predictions are forthcoming. The Wild Card games are this Tuesday and Wednesday (October 1-2), with the NLDS starting on Thursday (October 3) and the ALDS on Friday (October 4). It’s shaping up to be some very interesting October baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 155: TOR vs. NYY — Close call in weekend opener

For the second weekend in a row, New York faced the Toronto Blue Jays for a 3-game series, this time at home in the Bronx. Hopes were high for another win after last night’s game earned the Yankees their 100th win and clinched the AL East Division title.

JA Happ got the start for the Yankees, throwing 82 pitches, giving up 4 hits ans 2 runs. Happ allowed no runs for the first 3 innings, but in the 4th, Happ gave up a double and an RBI single, allowing for the 1st run for the visitors. In the 5th, Happ gave up a home run to center. Facing only one batter for a swinging strikeout in the 6th, Happ was replaced by Ottavino who struck out 2 batters to close the inning.

At the top of the 7th inning, Tommy Kahnle took the mound and gave up a walk and a home run that put Jays ahead. Then, in the 8th inning, the Yankees sent in 3 pitchers for 3 batters — Gearrin, Lyons, and Heller. Heller remained on the mound for the 9th, giving up a single, a double, and a walk to load the bases, but shut down the inning with a strikeout and escaping his own jam.

Yankee bats struggled to get in scoring position for most of the game. Scoreless and behind by a run in the 4th, Aaron Judge led off the inning with a home run over the left center field fence to tie up the game. Gardner led-off the 5th with a single and then scored on a 2-run home run by Tyler Wade that put New York ahead by a run.

In the 8th, the Yankees were behind, but they loaded up the bases with a double, a single, and a walk, giving the Yankees the opportunity to tie up or even jump ahead, but all three were left on base after a force out ended the inning. Still behind by a run in the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees failed to reach base for any further scoring opportunities.

Final score: 4-3 Blue Jays

Injury updates: Gleyber Torres slipped on a play in the 4th inning and left the game in the 7th will undergo cautionary tests on his sore hamstring. And it looks like Dellin Betances does not require surgery for his partially torn Achilles’ tendon. He will remain in a walking boot and travel with the team as they pursue their quest into the post-season, watching their efforts again from the sidelines.

Finally, our condolences go out to the friends and family of Howard “Hop” Cassidy. The former NFL player served as a scout, coach, and instructor with the Yankees for 30 years before passing away today at the age of 85. As a “treasured friend” of the late George Steinbrenner, Cassidy and his legacy still impacts the organization, as Hal Steinbrenner shared his thoughts: “Always humble and with a kind word, Hop will be missed by my family and the entire Yankees organization.”

Go Yankees!

 

 

Game 147 & 148: NYY vs. DET : Striped duel as the Pinstripes sweep the Tigers

After last night’s game was postponed due to rain, the Yankees met the Tigers today for a single-admission doubleheader in Detroit. Today’s duel gave New York their 97th win of the season, putting them in 1st place in the American League.

Game 1 (regularly scheduled game)
The Yankees sent JA Happ to the mound to start the game. Happ threw 99 pitches giving up 7 hits. After giving up a home run to right center field in the bottom of the 5th that allowed 2 runs, Chad Green took over and closed the inning with a pop out in foul territory near 1st base. Green secured 3 swift outs in the 6th, but in the 7th, gave up a triple that scored the runner on a ground out.

Ben Heller took to the mound in the 8th and struck out swinging the first batter, but gave up a homer to left followed by a walk and a single before retiring the inning on a fly ball out to center. Gearrin started the 9th inning and immediately gave up a double to right field, a call that was reviewed as a possible homer before being upheld as a double. Gearrin gave up a ground out and a walk before being replaced by Lyons who finished the 9th with a strike out swinging and a fly out to secure the Yankees a win.

The Yankees were first to score today when Judge reached base in the 1st inning on a fielding error and then scored on a Luke Voit 2-run home run to center field.  In the 3rd, Judge walked and scored again on another homer, this time hit by Edwin Encarnacion deep to left field, giving the Yankees a solid lead.

After a Detroit pitching change in the 7th, Aaron Judge walked, followed by a double that Voit sent down the right field line and moved Judge to 3rd. Gregorius was intentionally walked to load the bases. Judge then scored on a wild pitch, moving the other runners up. Cameron Maybin came to the plate and doubled to both score Voit and Gregorius to give the Yankees a good lead. Romine and Judge both singled in the 8th, and a single by Voit scored Romine. And Didi Gregorius tripled to score both Judge and Voit.

Final score: 10-4 Yankees

Game 2 (make-up of Sept. 11)
The second game of tonight’s two-game match-up in Detroit welcomed CC Sabathia back to the mound for New York, throwing 56 pitches into 4 strong innings against the Tigers. Sabathia set another milestone, surpassing Hall of Famer and former Braves’ ace John Smoltz on the strikeout list with his 3085th strikeout tonight in Detroit.

But in the 4th, Sabathia gave up a walk, a single, and a double that scored 2 runs. And with just 1 out, German came on in relief. He threw 50 pitches into the 8th, giving up just 2 hits in his scoreless outing. He gave up a single and hit a batter in the 8th, German was replaced by Tommy Kahnle who secured two outs on a double play by the infield to end the 8th inning. Kahnle was back in the 9th, but after a walk, a wild pitch, and a triple that scored a run, Aroldis Chapman was called in. Chapman allowed a single, but followed that up with a swinging strikeout and force out for another New York save and win.

First up for the Yankees in this second game of the day was LeMahieu, who singled and scored on an Aaron Judge’s home run for an early lead. In the 2nd, Mike Ford grounded a single to right and scored on a double line drive to right by DJ LeMahieu. With the Yankees in a slim lead in the 5th, a ground-rule double by Wade, followed by a single to center by Didi Gregorius that allowed Wade to score.

After 3 quiet innings that kept the Yankees in the lead, Voit sent a line drive single to left field and scored on a home run to left by Gio Urshela. Yankee pitching ended the game in the 9th despite a late charge by the Tigers.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees travel to Toronto to face another division rival this weekend before heading home for the final homestand of the season to host the Angels and Blue Jays. They will then close out their season visiting the Rays and Rangers on their way to the postseason.

Injury update: JA Happ left this afternoon’s game after throwing an impressive 99 pitches due to bicep tendonitis that has bothered him for his last few starts. Hopefully, this is just a cautionary move to check with the doctor before deciding when or if Happ is back on the mound.

Edwin Encarnacion also left today’s game, right after a walk due to a strain to his left oblique. He will head back to New York for further tests. And in the second game of this doubleheader, Gary Sanchez left the field in the 4th inning with tightness in his left groin possibly due to his stealing base in the 3rd. Sanchez was replaced by Higashioka. If Sanchez is sidelined for awhile, Romine and Higashioka will share playing time.

Finally, congratulations go to CC Sabathia for being nominated as the Yankee candidate for the 2019 Robert Clemente Award, given for sportsmanship, community involvement, and contribution to baseball. Sabathia is an easy nomination for this award between his career-long tenacity and teamwork on the field and passion for his community through his own foundation. The award winner, voted on by both fans and the media, will be announced during the World Series in October. (You can vote here for Sabathia.)

Go Yankees!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final score: 8-2 Oakland

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

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

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

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

Go Yankees!

Game 133: NYY vs. SEA — Yankees sink the Mariners

The Yankees headed to the northwest today to take on the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park in the Emerald City. But tonight, that yellow brick road was paved with pinstripes as the Bronx Bombers took the lead early in the game and never gave it up.

JA Happ took command of the mound tonight for five full innings, giving up a homerun but striking out 7 batters. In the top of the 6th, Cory Gearrin took the mound, but he struggle a bit. After facing 3 batters and being charged with a balk, he was replaced by Nestor Cortes Jr. Cortes pitched well though the 7th inning, never giving up the Yankees lead.

In the 8th, Tommy Kahnle faced 3 batters for 3 outs. Aroldis Chapman took control of the ball in the 9th with his 100+ pitches to 3 batters for 3 outs, for his 36th save and, overall, another solid win for New York.

Tonight’s roster played like teamwork in action. Infield and batters were on top of their game as they powered through. Yankee bats were first to score and never gave up the lead. After a scoreless first inning, in the top of the 2nd, Gleyber Torres slam a homer on a fly ball to center to get the Yankees on the board first. Tauchman then walked, Romine singled, and Mike Ford sent a home run to right to bring them all home.

Ford homered once again in the 4th on a fly ball to right field for his first multi-home run game in the majors. It is worth noting that Ford was added to the lineup and roster after Gregorios was removed from Sunday’s game due to his shoulder injury. Despite missing Sir Didi’s prowess, Ford’s addition to the lineup has more than proven his worth at the plate and in the field.

In the 7th, Brett Gardner hit a solid triple to left field, but the inning added no further runs. The Yankees held onto their lead the entire game for the win tonight.

Final Score: 5-4 Yankees

Roster moves: The Yankees have moved Triple-A RHP Deivi Garcia up to the bullpen with a high potential for a September call up. His impressive stats, work ethic, and consistency have not gone unnoticed by the Yankees, and Garcia is currently one of their top overall prospects.

Injury updates: Didi Gregorius is still nursing his sore right shoulder and is on a day-to-day basis. While the shoulder is improving, he is not in the lineup, but may still be available to play during the series in Seattle.

Cameron Maybin is also on a day-to-day basis with a sore left wrist. Giancarlo Stanton’s right PCL strain is progressing well and he is working agility drills with time in the batting cages. Stanton may be scheduled for rehab games this weekend.

Go Yankees!

Game 132: NYY vs. LAD — Rubber match redemption

After Saturday’s game, and that still unexplained game-changing call for time by the umpire, the Bronx Bombers roared back today as a team and claimed this game for New York. And despite so many still on the injury list, the Yankees showed up in force.

Domingo German started the game and pitched a full 6 innings, allowing only 1 run. Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle shared the 7th inning for 3 strikeouts. Zack Britton commanded the 8th and protected the Yankees lead. At the top of the 9th, Aroldis Chapman took command of the mound and finished the inning strong, striking out a Dodger favorite with his 100 mph four-seam fastball.

Yankee bats were awake and active today. At the top of the first, DJ LeMahieu homered deep to center field to get the Yankees on the board first. Didi Gregorius was drilled hard by a pitch to his right shoulder, but he took his base determined to stay in the game and moved to 2nd on a wild pitch.

The game was tied at the top of the 3rd, so Aaron Judge homered to center to regain the Yankees’ lead. Didi Gregorius’ shoulder was a concern and replaced by Mike Ford in the line up when Gregorius was later pulled from the game in the 4th. So, the bottom of that inning saw a shuffle in the Yankee infield — LeMahieu manning 1st, Ford on 2nd, and Torres as shortstop.

Mike Ford homered to right center field in the 6th to widen the Yankees lead. The 8th inning had DJ LeMahieu reach base on a grounder to center, followed by Mike Ford’s double that scored LeMahieu. In the 9th, Gardner singled and later scored on Gio Urshela’s pop out to give the Yankees their final score.

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

Next up: The Yankees head up the Coast to visit the Mariners for a 3-game mid-week series. After a travel day back to the East Coast on Thursday, the Yankees will host the Athletics and Rangers before hitting the road again, starting in Boston.

Injury update: Didi Gregorius had his shoulder x-rayed after being hit by pitch in tonight’s game. Results show maybe a bone bruise, but nothing to be overly concerned about. His shoulder is expected to be painful for a few days, and the treatment prescribed is mainly icing and rest. He’s, of course, anxious to return to the field as soon as possible.

Further news came out today that Luke Voit is expected to return within a week. Many other players on the Injured List are expected (hopefully) to return in September including Betances, Encarnacion, Estrada, Stanton, Hicks, and even possibly Bird.

Roster moves: Jordan Montgomery was sent to Tampa Tarpons for rehab assignment. This will be his first game since Tommy John surgery last June. Nagging post-surgery shoulder inflammation kept him out of action until now. The Yankees are hoping he will be game-ready and available as a reliever for September.

And finally, Yankees still waiting on an explanation for the umpire’s call for time out while sending Torres back to third during Saturday’s game. The unusual timing of the umpire’s call while play was still happening was a potential game changer. Just add it to the growing list of odd calls by umpires across the league this year.

Go Yankees!