Game 149: NYY vs. TOR — Even a butterfly couldn’t help in extras

For this weekend’s 3-game series, the Yankees traveled across the northern border to Toronto to meet the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Tonight’s game was long and grueling, tied for most of the innings as both teams battled for the win, even going into extra innings to battle it down to a walk-off.

Masahiro Tanaka took the mound for New York through 5 innings, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs, for a not so memorable start. Tanaka started well and quickly faced 3 batters for 3 outs.  In the 2nd, Tanaka gave up a home run to left field, and later, 2 singles and a double allowed 2 more runs in the 4th. And Tanaka gave up a double and a single that scored another run for Toronto in the 5th. Tanaka was replaced in the 6th by Tommy Kahnle who gave up a single, but no runs.

Adam Ottavino took over in the 7th. He gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. After a walk and fielder’s choice, runners were on the corners, but a balk moved the runners up and scored a run for the home team to tie up the game at that point. Zack Britton took strong command in the 8th for 3 quick outs, including a swinging strikeout and a rather close call with a butterfly. (Yes, a real live butterfly.)

Cessa came out for the 9th and 10th, and gave up a couple of singles, but allowed no runs, keeping the game tied. Tyler Lyons replaced Cessa for the 11th, facing 3 batters for 3 outs. But when Lyons remained on the mound in the 12th, things didn’t resolve in their favor. Lyons gave up a home run to the first batter of that inning, allowing a walk-off win for the Blue Jays.

Scoreless in the first 4 innings and behind by 3 runs in the 5th inning, New York bats finally came alive in a big way. Gardner doubled and then promptly scored on a double by Clint Frazier. A single to left by Austin Romine scored Frazier.

LeMahieu’s single on moved Romine to 2nd, and Torres hit into a fielder’s choice that left runners on the corners. Luke Voit then reached base on a fielder’s choice, scoring Romine to tie-up the game. And wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position so that Gio Urshela’s single allowed both Torres and Voit to score and jump the Yankees ahead.

After the Blue Jays evened up the score again by the 7th, the Yankees tried to break that tie through the rest of their game. And while they certainly had some great opportunities, they never were able to cross home pate again.

Final score: 6-5 Blue Jays, in 12 innings

Injury update: Good news for JA Happ. Sidelined with recurring bicep tendonitis, he is showing improvement since a cortisone shot. He is expected to return to the mound next week during the Yankees’ final home stand. And he could be joined by some other teammates working their way off the IL as well.

Roster moves: In the last week, the Yankees have activated pitchers Ben Heller and CC Sabathia from the IL, and both pitched pretty well this week too. They also put Mike Tauchman on the 10-day IL due to his calf strain. Stephen Tarpley began his rehab assignment with the AA Trenton Thunder on Tuesday before being activated back to the major league roster on Thursday. And they also designated reliever Adonis Rosa for assignment before outrighting him to AAA Scranton.

Finally, MLB is currently featuring the New York Yankees for their annual honoring of Hispanic Heritage Month. The story features several current and former players. Check out the video here.

Go Yankees!

Game 145: NYY vs. BOS — Yankees shutout Boston in game and in division

With tonight’s win, and the series win, the Red Sox are officially eliminated from the AL East division title. However, they are still in contention for the wild card, being 8 games behind the current wild card leaders (Rays, Athletics, and Indians). This day is one for many celebrations, including this shut-out win for the New York Yankees in the shadow of a defeated Green Monster.

Big Maple got the start for the Yankees tonight. James Paxton was dominant in the shut-out of the Red Sox, giving up 4 hits and 3 walks into the 7th inning. He also struck out 7 Boston batters for his 13th win of the season. Britton closed out the 7th, keeping the shut-out alive. Gearrin and Lyons each took a 1-hit, 1-strikeout inning to close out the game.

After 4 quiet scoreless innings for both teams, the Yankee batters came alive in the 5th when Austin Romine hit a home run to right field to give New York a 1-0 lead. At the top of the 7th, Gio Urshela sent his 19th season homer to left center field. Austin Romine followed with a line drive double to left and moved to 3rd on a wild pitch. A single by DJ LeMahieu then scored Romine.

After a Boston pitching change, Aaron Judge came to the plate in the 7th and served up a double line drive to center that moved LeMahieu to 3rd. Gleyber Torres’ sacrifice fly to left field allowed LeMahieu to score and the Yankees were ahead 4-0.

At the top of the 9th, Romine earned a walk and moved to 2nd on a walk from Judge. Torres followed with a single ground ball to left to load up the bases. So Luke Voit’s RBI single to left scored Romine for the 5th run in New York’s shut out victory.

Final score: 5-0, Yankees, Yankees take the series 3-1

Injury updates: While CC Sabathia is still hoping to return in some capacity this season, the news for Mike Tauchman is not so good since his injury in tonight’s game put him on the IL for 6-8 weeks. Diagnosed with a Grade 2 calf strain, Tauchman will likely be done for the season.

This allows the possibility to see more of Cameron Maybin, Clint Frazier, and/or Tyler Wade on the field. But Tauchman will be much missed from the roster. But in better news, Giancarlo Stanton could be ready to rejoin the team at home in New York next week.

Finally, before tonight’s game, former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz threw out the ceremonial first pitch and spoke to the adoring Boston crowd. This is the first public appearance by the future Hall of Famer after being shot at a club in the Dominican Republic just 2 months ago, a case still under investigation. (Full video clip here.)

Ortiz underwent several surgeries to save his life and keep the recovery progressing, both initially in the DR and later back in Boston, so his participation before tonight’s game was quite literally a miracle. While he will always be seen as a life-long opponent to the Yankees, his positive attitude, tough work ethic, and generous heart is rather appreciated by all of us across the baseball world. We are certainly glad he’s doing great, and we are glad he’s no longer in a Red Sox uniform!

Go Yankees!

Game 138: OAK vs. NYY — September call-ups as playoffs await

Happy September, Yankee fans! It’s that time of year when baseball fans everywhere dare to dream that their favorite team might just have that wild chance to make it to Fall Classic. Much like a movie where the underdog team from nowhere takes home the title, fans everywhere are hoping for a miracle and a chance to win it all.  Whereas most fans will be simply hoping, Yankees fans have a solid reason to be confident that their first place AL East team will be standing on that World Series field on October 22.

As the September call-ups begin today, MLB teams across the league are scrambling to put together a team of the best players who are at their peak of performance and health for that shot at the playoffs. We saw that kind of team today as over 40,000 fans packed Yankee Stadium  to watch the New York Yankees best the Oakland Athletics on that path to October baseball.

JA Happ had a remarkable scoreless outing on the mound for the Yankees through 6 full innings, throwing 98 pitches but allowing no runs. Happ was replaced by recent call-up Ryan Dull in the 7th, who struggled his way through his outing. After loading up the bases with 1 out, a double scored 2 runs, and a grounder scored a third.

Chance Adams took the mound in the 8th and gave up a 1-out solo homer to right field to keep pushing the visitors into a strong lead. Ottavino took command of the ball in the 9th and kept the A’s from gaining any further runs.

Kept scoreless in the first 7 innings, behind by 4 runs, and at the risk of being shut out for the first time since last season, the Yankees found their first real chance to do something in the bottom of the 8th inning. They loaded the bases with a walk to Tauchman, a single to LeMahieu, and a walk to Judge. A sacrifice fly by Gleyber Torres scored Mike Tauchman to get the Yankees on the board. Then after a pitching change and another out, Didi Gregorius’ single scored 2 more runs to edge the Yankees closer to the lead.

Down by just one run in the 9th, Brett Gardner hit a lead-off home run to deep right field to tie the game. Mike Ford quickly came in to pinch-hit for Frazier, and Ford promptly smacked a walk-off home run over the right center field fence into the Yankees’ bullpen to win the game for the Yankees.

This was Mike Ford’s 10th home run as a Yankee and his first walk-off home run, celebrated with a smile, a perfect bat flip, and the celebratory Gatorade shower thanks to fellow home run hitter Gardner.

Final score: 5-4 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

Roster moves/injury updates: Prior to today’s game, the Yankees moved David Hale, a right-handed reliever, to the 60-day IL for his continuing back strain. They also sent Edwin Encarnacion and Luis Severino to start their rehab assignments with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

As part of the September call-ups, Yankees called-up three relief pitchers including Chance Adams, Ryan Dull, and Tyler Lyons. With the spot open with the move by Hale, the Yankees selected the contract of Lyons and recalled Dulle, Adams, and Frazier. Both Dull and Adams played in today’s game, and these pitcher-heavy call-ups certainly signal that the Yankees seem to be looking for a particular skill set of pitches to fill spots in the bullpen.

Mike Mussina Day:  Before today’s game, the Yankees honored former pitcher Mike Mussina, or “Moose”, to celebrate his induction into the Hall Fame this summer with an official “Mike Mussina Hall of Fame Celebration“. The first 18,000 fans through the gates today received a Mike Mussina t-shirt, and fans were treated to pre-game festivities including the unveiling of his Cooperstown replica plaque to be displayed alongside other Hall of Famers like fellow teammate Mariano Rivera.

The Yankees also handed him a $35,000 donation to benefit of Montoursville Area Athletice Department (PA). Moose is active in his hometown community athletics programs, serving on the Little League Board of Directors, operating a training camp for local student athletes, and serving as head basketball coach at the high school. In fact, when he got the call regarding his Hall of Fame election, he was busy with a team practice. Mussina also had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch today to his son, Peyton.

Go Yankees!