Game 87: NYY vs. TOR — Gardner leads to victory in the 10th. Who’s in the All-Star Game? #ASGiancarlo

Another lovely summer day in Toronto allowed for a great day at the ball park, the roof open, the skies clear, and the fans cheering on their teams. And for this rubber match (the game to decide who wins the series), the Yankees and Blue Jays certainly gave the fans somehting to cheer about.

Domingo German got the start in the finale against the Jays, throwing 100 pitches in 6 innings, giving up just 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, and striking out 5 batters. In fact, his lone allowed run was a 6th inning lead-off solo shot. Warren gave a solid 2 innings in relief, and Green followed that up by breezing through the 9th inning in just 11 pitches.

Now, the Yankees actually got on the board first, in the 1st inning. With 1 out, Judge singled, moved to 3rd on Stanton’s double, and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s ground out. After that, the Yankees collected 5 more hits and 2 walks through the next 8 innings, but didn’t do anything to add to their runs.

So, with the game tied, into the 10th inning they went. The first batter up, Bird, was hit by a pitch, and because they needed some speed on the bases, the Yankees called on Tyler Wade as pinch-runner. Romine’s sacrifice bunt moved Wade to 2nd and into scoring position so that when Brett Gardner hit a nice single into left field, Wade raced home to break the tie.

Two outs later, the Yankees called on David Robertson to close out the game. 12 pitches and 3 outs later, the Yankees declared victory for the game and the series.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees, in 10 innings, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: the Yankees are on their way to Baltimore to face the Orioles for a 4-game series, starting with a doubleheader tomorrow. The first game is a make-up game of the rain-out from May 31. After their series at Camden Yards, the Yankees travel to face the Indians for a 4-game weekend series before the All-Star Break.

And speaking of the All-Star Game, MLB officially announced their fan selections for the starters, as well as its player-voted (and Commissioner’s Office selected) player reserves and pitching staff for the game next Tuesday (July 17). And there are 4 (possibly 5) Yankees on that list — Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Aroldis Chapman, and Gleyber Torres. Giancarlo Stanton is nominated for the Final Vote.

Judge received his 2nd selection as an outfield starter this year, joined by pitchers Chapman and Severino (all for very obvious reasons). Plus, Torres was selected as part of the reserves player. Now, despite the fact that he may be sidelined due to his recent hip injury, selection to be part of the All-Star Game is a badge of sorts players can wear with honor for the rest of their lives. (You can enjoy a rather extensive list of the players selected and their achievements this year so far.)

And that brings us to the Final Vote. You can vote unlimited times until this Wednesday (July 10) at 4pm (EST) for your favorite AL and NL player of the 10 nominated (5 in each league) — like Stanton, for example. Other nominees include outfielders Andrew Benintendi (Red Sox) and Andrelton Simmons (Angels), shortstops Eddie Rosario (Twins) and Jean Segura (Mariners) for the AL. In the NL are infielders Jesus Aguilar (Brewers), Brandon Belt (Giants), Matt Carpenter (Cardinals), Max Muncy (Dodgers), and Trea Turner (Nationals).

So vote often for your favorites! And use the social media hashtag: #ASGiancarlo.

Go Yankees!

Game 86: NYY vs. TOR — Early power wins game, with ejections & injuries

In comparison to much of the country right now, the Queen City is having some nice (and fairly standard) summer weather for this Saturday afternoon and middle game of this weekend series. The roof of Rogers Centre open to the blue skies and the Yankees ready to bounce back after last night’s game set up a great game for their fans in the Toronto area.

Luis Severino got the start and actually had a lesser outing than previous ones, despite earning his 14th win and keeping the Blue Jays from doing too much damage. He threw 97 pitches in 5 innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out just 5 batters. In the 2nd, with 1 out and a runner on 1st with a single, a 2-run home run got the Blue Jays on the board. And a 1-out solo homer in the 4th added on another.

Jonathan Holder came on for the 6th, gave up a lead-off double that moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. But then Robertson and Betances held the Jays scoreless through the next 2 innings. Aroldis Chapman got one strikeout in the 9th and then came out of the game (more below), handing things over to Chasen Shreve, who despite giving up a solo home run, still got out of the inning rather quickly. Shreve appears to be bouncing back, at least somewhat, thanks to less-pressured situations.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offense started strong and stayed strong beginning with a 1st pitch home run right up the middle by Brett Gardner. Aaron Judge followed that up with a solo home run of his own. Stanton and Hicks each worked walks before the Jays’ starter finally got a couple of outs. Then Brandon Drury hit a long double that scored both Stanton and Hicks to double the Yankees’ early score.

Then in the 3rd, Gregorius led-off with a walk. After 2 outs (and the ejection of CC Sabathia, for chirping at the umpire over the questionable strike zone), Gregorius stole 2nd, and Bird worked a walk. As the Jays’ starter exited the game, he was almost ejected, but his manager instead took his fate (for the same reason as Sabathia actually). But the new reliever gave up a quick triple to Brett Gardner (the fastest triple in 2018, by the way) that scored Gregorius and Bird. A passed ball easily allowed Gardner to later score.

But then the Blue Jays’ pitching staff was able to piece together their relievers to keep the Yankees from adding to their impressive lead. Until the 9th inning. Andujar led-off with a ground-rule double and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single. That insurance run was eventually unnecessary, but it certainly put a cap on the Yankees’ offensive show today (9 total hits, 10 total walks).

Final score: 8-5 Yankees

Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees recalled Clint Frazier and designated reliever David Hale for assignment. After being sent to AAA in anticipation for Monday’s coming doubleheader, pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga developed inflammation in his right shoulder and is probably headed for the disabled list. That leaves Luis Cessa on tap for the second game of the doubleheader in Baltimore now.

Okay, so two potential injuries during the game: after 6 pitches in the 9th, Aroldis Chapman, who’s been battling tendinitis in his left knee, was feeling some intense pain there and Boone figured it wasn’t worth the risk as the Yankees were so far ahead. And Aaron Hicks left the game in the 5th due to some cramping in his left leg.

Stadiums with artificial turf are often the source of problems, even temporary ones, for many players. The only 2 remaining stadiums in MLB are Rogers Centre (Blue Jays) and Tropicana Field (Rays), unfortunately for all players in the AL East, as division rivals play each other more than any other team.

In general, real grass surfaces have a natural give, but artificial turf has either a stiffer base or one that is too spongy. Think of the difference of beaches like Daytona (where you can literally drive onto the sand) vs. Clearwater (more like quicksand, that sinks under every step). Neither of those really work well for anything more than sunbathing, even sand castles are difficult because it’s either too dense or too soft of a foundation. But a mix (like the Pacific Coast beaches) allows for running, volleyball, soccer games, and general beach athletics (and great sand castles!).

Go Yankees!

Game 85: NYY vs. TOR — Northern Exposure

Truthfully, I have mixed feelings about all the Yankees’ division rivals and their respective cities. In general, I really like the cities they represent and the people who live there, and I can respect their passion for the game and their home team, even if I’m not a fan of their chosen team. Attending Spring Training annually and actually going to those cities is often what mixes up those feelings.

For example, I love the city of Boston, and nearly every Boston fan I’ve met is really a good person that just roots for my chosen team’s greatest rivals. I also happen to think Fenway Park is legendary and historic and a symbol of the great legacy of the sport. (And the Green Monster is just as ugly in person as you’d think.)

But the Yankees play in Toronto this weekend. And let’s just say that it’s not Boston.

And Sonny Gray wasn’t exactly having a great night to start in the opener at Rogers Centre, throwing 62 pitches in just 2 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, and still striking out 4 batters. Most of that damage was done in that 2nd inning and it wasn’t good.

A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single to get the Blue Jays on the board. A wild pitch moved the runner to 2nd and then he scored on another single. After a strikeout and another allowed single, the next batter smacked a big 3-run home run to really push the Blue Jays ahead. A hit-by-pitch, stolen base, and strikeout later, and Gray’s night was over.

David Hale came on in the 3rd and pitched into the 8th inning strong. It wasn’t until the 8th inning that the Blue Jays were able to eke through again. A lead-off double later scored on a 2-out double to cap off their runs. And Chasen Shreve needed just 3 pitches to induce a ground out for the final out of the 8th.

Meanwhile, while the Yankees certainly dented the Blue Jays’ starter’s pitch count (pushing him to 101 pitches after the 1st out of the 5th inning), they only managed 4 hits and 3 walks off him. Aaron Hicks hit a 2-out solo home run, his 16th of the season, in the 3rd inning.

Then in the 5th, the Yankees finally found their opportunity (and pretty much their only one all night). They loaded up the bases with singles to Romine and Gardner and a fielding error on Judge’s sloppy hit. Then Hicks worked a 1-out walk to score Romine and keep those bases loaded. 101 pitches with bases loaded, so it was time for a reliever. Who got a well-placed strikeout and then a line drive out to end the threat.

The Blue Jays pieced together 5 relievers to finish off their game and keep the Yankees from being any kind of threat again for the rest of the night.

Final score: 6-2 Blue Jays

Roster moves/injury updates: Well, the Yankees moved Gleyber Torres to the 10-day disabled list with right hip strain. Muscle strains are always complicated, so they anticipate Torres will be out through the All-Star break.

In his stead, a normal call-up would be Ronald Torreyes, but Torreyes has been out for about a week at this point, dealing with a personal family issue. So, they recalled Tyler Wade, who was sent down in the middle of April due to the excess of excellent bench players.

And if you’re wondering, the Yankees sent Masahiro Tanaka to join AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for his rehab assignment after dealing with hamstring issues last month.

Well, the All-Star Game fan voting has closed, and the results will be announced Sunday night. Also, based on a player ballot and selections from the Commissioner’s Office, each team will fill out most of its 32 spots with reserve players and pitchers. Each team will allow for one more spot, nominate 5 potential All-Stars, and call on fans to vote once more. (There is a rather extensive explanation about how players are chosen and eligibility.)

Speaking of the All-Star Game, the Sunday before the game, representatives from across the farm systems will play in the annual Futures Game. This year, the Yankees will be represented by prospective pitcher Justus Sheffield. Sheffield will play for Team USA in a USA vs. the World kind of structure.

Go Yankees!

Game 58: NYY vs. TOR — Lucky 13 with a Sonny kind of start

The Yankees finished up their jaunt to Toronto with an extended pitchers’ duel, extra innings, and a chilly Wednesday evening. An open roof allowed the lovely June weather in Toronto to breeze into the stadium at 57° at first pitch, as fans bundled up in sweatshirts and jackets to settle in for a good game tonight.

Sonny Gray got the start for the Yankees tonight, and after a rough season so far, Gray needed a night like tonight to boost his morale. He threw 99 pitches in his 8 scoreless innings, pitching a no-hitter through 4 innings. He gave up 2 hits and 2 walks, striking out 8 Toronto batters.

Unfortunately, the Yankees’ batters were faced with a similar situation from the Blue Jays’ starter, who also threw a strong scoreless game, and his bullpen continued that strength and was matched by their Yankees’ counterparts — Chad Green (for the 9th and 10th innings), Dellin Betances (11th), David Robertson (12th), and Aroldis Chapman (13th).

In fact, despite some meager hits throughout the game and even getting runners into scoring position periodically, the Yankees had to hit it out of the park in order to score any runs tonight. And that wouldn’t happen until the 13th inning. With 1 out, Brett Gardner hit a long single to get on base. And then Aaron Judge hit a strong 2-run home run to finally break the tie.

A certain young Judge fan holding a special sign in the right field bleachers was overjoyed, finally getting his wish. The kid got a batting practice ball hit by Judge earlier tonight.

As if they needed the insurance, Giancarlo Stanton hit a fast 2-out solo home run into the left field seats. Then in the bottom of the inning, despite allowing a 1-out double, Chapman closed out the Blue Jays and handed the short series to the Yankees.

Final score: 3-0 Yankees, in 13, Yankees sweep series 2-0

Next up: The Yankees head back to New York, but will face off against the Mets at CitiField for a 3 game weekend series starting Friday. Then, they’ll head back to the Bronx to face the Nationals for 2 games and the Rays for 4 games next weekend.

MLB Draft: The amateur player draft completed today as the teams selected the young players for rounds 11-40. Today, the Yankees picked up 18 pitchers, 4 catchers, 6 infielders, and 2 outfielders — Tanner Myatt, Matt Pita, Isaiah Pasteur, Kyle Gray, Nick Ernst, Derek Craft, Barrett Loseke, Alex Guerrero, Alex Junior, Marcus Evey, Mitchell Robinson, Keegan Curtis, Justin Wilson, Blakely Brown, Sean Boyle, Jack Thoreson, Mickey Gasper, Max Burt, Jackson Bertsch, Tyler Johnson, Patrick Winkel, Sincere Smith, Charlie Ruegger, Matt McGarry, Austin Wells, Jack Anderson, Landon Marceaux, Dan Metzdorf, Brady Allen, and Reid Anderson.

The young potential prospects are now “on the clock”, so to speak, to make their own decision as to what works best for them. It’s worth noting that the Yankees selected just 8 high school seniors overall, focusing the remaining 32 on college players (2 sophomores, 16 juniors, and 14 seniors). The Yankees’ 1st round draft pick (Anthony Seigler) has already indicated that he will sign (as 1st round picks tend to do), but like I said yesterday, you got to do what’s right for you.

Who knows which of these prospects could be the next hot jersey on sale in your nearby Yankees’ fan shop?

Go Yankees!

Game 57: NYY vs. TOR — #CCStrong & Grand Slam Andujar

The Yankees are now “North of the Border” for a brief series in Toronto for another foray into the AL East rivalry. CC Sabathia got the start tonight, and once again, Sabathia just dominated. He threw 89 pitches in his 7th innings, gave up just 3 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs, and struck out 6 batters.

Actually, both of his allowed runs were 1-out solo homers in the 6th and 7th innings. That means, the only other allowed base runners were a lone single in the 1st and a walk in the 4th. David Robertson and Chasen Shreve each sailed through their separate innings and continued Sabathia’s strong start.

The Yankees were held off from the scoreboard for most of the game by the Blue Jays’ starter, despite collecting a hit in most of the innings leading up to the 7th. Their starter gave up a single to Sanchez in the 7th before handing the ball off to the bullpen. It might have been a mistake. The reliever hit the first batter and then gave up a walk to Hicks to load up the bases.

And then with no outs yet, it was up to Miguel Andujar to step into the batter’s box. He liked the first pitch he saw and smacked it into the 2nd deck of the left field seats, Andujar’s first career grand slam and 7th home run of the season, to put the Yankees in the lead with that 1 swing.

Then in the 8th, with a new Blue Jays’ reliever on the mound, Stanton led-off with a single, advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch, and got to 3rd on a ground out. After another out, they changed relievers again, and the new guy walked Gregorius, who promptly stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position. Aaron Hicks made that possible with a solid 3-run home run to ensure the Yankees’ victory.

Also, all the runs scored for both teams tonight were scored on home runs. It’s a weird, random fact, but I know people like those. I know I do.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

Injury update: the Yankees announced today that pitcher Jordan Montgomery is scheduled for Tommy John surgery on Thursday. The procedure will be performed by the Yankees’ team doctor Dr. Christopher Ahmad at New York-Presbyterian. Standard recovery time is 12-18 months, so Montgomery will be out of baseball activities for the rest of this year and most of next season.

That makes the search for a permanent starter inevitable. There is some room in the Yankees’ salary to sign someone significant without hitting the dreaded luxury tax. In other words, we should expect the Yankees to be making a deal for a 5th starter sometime soon.

MLB Draft Day 2: The Draft continued today with rounds 3-10 and the Yankees picked up 8 more potential prospects, every 30 selections (numbers 97-307 overall). They selected 2 outfielders and 6 pitchers — Ryder Green, Frank German, Brandon Lockridge, Rodney Hutchison, Daniel Bies, Connor Van Hoose, Mick Vorhof, and Josh Maciejewski.

Rounds 11-40 continue tomorrow, and the prospective players have some time to decided whether to sign or not with the organization. Many selected on a later round opt for their other commitments (usually attending or continuing college), which often allows them to re-enter the draft after getting some more playing time and refine their skills with their local and college teams.

You’ve got to do what’s right for you. You might not be drafted right out of high school in the 1st round (like Aaron Judge or Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez), but you may need to do a few years of college before being drafted in the 1st round (like Yankees’ Draft Rep Nick Swisher) or 3rd round (like Brett Gardner) or the 17th round (like David Robertson). Again, you do what works best for you.

Go Yankees!

Game 20: TOR vs. NYY — A strong series win, #SevySharp, & a big call-up

Today was a beautiful Spring day in the Bronx, a great day for Sunday afternoon baseball as the Yankees were looking at winning their first regular series (read: not those 2-game micro-series) this season. And the Blue Jays were hoping for a split to boost their big start this April. It could only fall one way, and the Yankees were just in command from the start.

That was mostly due to the outstanding outing by Luis Severino. He threw 112 pitches in his 7 innings, but gave up just 3 hits, 2 walks, and a run, and struck out 6 Blue Jay batters. In fact, that lone run didn’t happen until the 6th inning, a 1-out solo shot to get the Jays on the board. Robertson continued the dominance through the 8th, and Chapman got into a spot of trouble with a couple walks in the 9th, but he got out of it like he does, keeping the Blue Jays to that lone run.

Meanwhile, the Yankees gave Severino a bit of leeway that he wouldn’t need. Didi Gregorius hit a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning to start their offense. In the 2nd, Sanchez led-off with a walk and moved to 3rd on Andujar’s 1-out double. They both then scored on Austin Romine’s double. And after the Blue Jays got on the board, the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 6th. With 1 out, Sanchez doubled and moved to 3rd on Tyler Austin’s single.

After the Jays went to their bullpen for a reliever, Miguel Andujar’s double scored Sanchez. (By the way, Andujar went 4-for-4 with an RBI and run scored today, and is currently batting .308. So much for your average bench player.) And in the 7th, Hicks led-off with a single, stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error, and then scored on Gregorius’ sacrifice fly.

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

Next up: the Yankees host the Twins for a 4-game midweek series, starting Monday. This will end with that rare Thursday matinée, as the Yankees will be hopping a plane for Los Angeles to face the Angels. (Yes, West Coast Week starts early this year, so prepare now.)

Roster moves (Scranton Shuttle Alert!): before today’s game, the Yankees designated Jace Peterson for assignment and optioned Tyler Wade to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In the process, they signed reliever David Hale from AAA Scranton and recalled infield prospect Gleyber Torres from AAA Scranton.

There were two things that Yankee Universe talked about for this game today. First, the Yankees called up prospect Gleyber Torres for his first major league game. Despite playing mostly shortstop (and a little 3rd base) in Scranton, he actually started at 2nd base and batted 8th in the lineup. However, today, he went 0-for-4 at the plate, so he’s still waiting for that 1st big hit.

Torres is only 21 years old, and this prompted a brief conversation about how old the Yankees are this season. In today’s starting roster, there was no one over 30. In fact, catcher Austin Romine was the oldest starter at 29 years and 151 days. A huge shift from recent years where the Yankees were often the oldest team in the MLB, due to its plethora of veterans including Jeter, Rodriguez, Ichiro, Kuroda, Soriano, Teixeira, and Sabathia (who is currently the oldest active Yankee at age 37).

But the thing most people will talk about regarding this game is the replay in the 8th. So here’s what happened — with 1 out, Tyler Austin hit a short grounder to the short stop who fired it to the 1st baseman for the out. But it seemed that the 1st baseman was pulled off by a slightly off throw, so the Yankees challenged the call. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, thought this would be overturned quickly because he clearly caught the ball off the base and never got back for the tag.

Unfortunately, MLB HQ upheld the call. And everyone, and I do mean everyone, disagreed with that call. Yankees’ Twitter-verse was not happy about that. And I don’t blame them. That human factor ekes into the smallest crevices sometimes and just messes up “foolproof” technology. Talk to any NFL fan about their replay experiences to commiserate. Today’s was about as bad.

To be fair, the Yankees (thanks to Special Assistant Brett Weber) have been extremely successful in their replay challenged, constantly rating among the highest in MLB. So, let’s just consider today a fluke. Hopefully.

Go Yankees!

Game 19: TOR vs. NYY — Unnecessary but big inning #6

Sometimes, all it takes in one big inning to make all the difference. But to be totally fair, the Yankees could have completely skipped their big 6th inning and still would have won the game. The Blue Jays just weren’t doing much off the Yankee pitchers today.

Not that I’m complaining…

Jordan Montgomery got the start this afternoon in the third of 4 games this weekend against the visiting Blue Jays, and he had a pretty decent outing. He threw 91 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and a run, and struck out 5 Toronto batters. That lone run came in his weakest inning — the 5th. A lead-off walk moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on another single. But then Montgomery and the defense kicked it up a notch and got the necessary 3 outs to get out of the lone troublesome inning.

Montgomery actually set a pretty good pattern for his 2 relievers to follow. Chasen Shreve’s 7th inning was flawless, and recently recalled Jonathan Holder threw rather efficiently in the scoreless 8th and 9th innings.

Like I said, there was one big inning that actually didn’t matter for the Yankees’ offense. And that’s because of Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge in the 3rd. With 2 outs, Gardner worked a walk, and then on a 3-0 count, Judge hit a big 2-run home run into the 2nd deck of the left field seats to give the Yankees an early lead. So with that lone run by the Blue Jays in the 5th, the Yankees were sitting pretty.

But why not have a big 6th inning along the way? The Yankees sent 12 batters up in the inning because the Blue Jays’ starter his initial reliever were just not able to find those 3 outs. Gardner led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, watched Judge work a walk, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single. With Stanton’s walk (and still no outs), the bases were loaded. Aaron Hicks hit into a failed force attempt, where the pitcher fielded a short grounder poorly in an attempt to get the out at home. But a missed catch error scored Judge and kept the bases loaded.

After a strikeout (the first out of this half-inning), Miguel Andujar’s double cleared the bases, scoring 3 more runs. (So, have we talked about how amazing this guy is yet? I’m pretty sure he’s this year’s Torreyes.) That would be the end of the Jays’ starter, but his reliever had issues too, promptly giving up a walk to Romine and a short single to Torreyes loaded up the bases again. Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Andujar, and Aaron Judge’s single scored Romine to cap off the Yankees’ monster inning.

It’s worth noting the Yankees actually loaded up the bases again in the 7th, but a former teammate was able to pitch out of his jam and the Yankees left them loaded. Again, not that they needed more runs.

Final score: 9-1 Yankees

Roster/injuries: before today’s game, Adam Warren was sent to the 10-day disabled list with back strain. In his place, the Yankees called up Jonathan Holder, who was able to pitch and dominate in today’s game.

And before this afternoon’s game, the Yankees hosted a Little League Parade, something do every year before select games. Local teams come, dressed in their team jerseys and hats, and parade around the field on the warning track. And then they and their parents get to watch a great game.

Here are some pictures from today’s parade. And what a great game they got to see! (With some pretty great weather!)

Go Yankees!