Game 155: BAL vs. NYY — Flailing bullpen denies Yankee sweep

In this final home game of the 2018 season, the Yankees were looking to close it out on an upswing. And for a good chunk of the afternoon, it looked like it was going to go that way in this final game against the visiting Orioles.

JA Happ had a good start, throwing 107 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and a run, and striking out an impressive 7 batters. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo home run in the 2nd. Happ then held off the Orioles for the rest of his time on the mound.

And the Yankee batters gave him in enough to work with. In the 1st, the starter came off the mound after 4 pitches due to a blister issues. His replacement triggered an offensive show by the home team, loading up the bases with 3 consecutive walks. Gleyber Torres’ sacrifice fly (no media clip, sorry) scored McCutchen, Miguel Andujar’s single scored Stanton, and Gary Sanchez’s 2-out single scored Voit.

But then the Yankees didn’t do much more for the rest of the game. So the Yankee defense and pitchers needed to defend their slim lead. AJ Cole came on in relief of Happ in the 6th and just fumbled out of the gate. He gave up a double, a 2-run home run, and a solo home run to put the Orioles into the lead.

So the Yankees turned to Tommy Kahnle. He gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a sacrifice fly to add one more run for the O’s. Luis Cessa came on in the 7th and calmed things down a bit. But after some defensive switches in the 8th, he gave up a 1-out single that scored on a 2-out double to cap off the Orioles’ scoring today.

The Yankee bats never did awaken again this afternoon, an odd exception to the Orioles’ poor show by their bullpen this weekend. But baseball isn’t predictable.

Final score: 6-3 Orioles, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees are headed down to Florida to start their final week of this season with 4 games against the Rays before heading to Boston for 3 games at Fenway to conclude the season. The Yankees need to keep ahead of the Athletics in the standings if they want to keep home field advantage for the Wild Card game.

As I write this, the A’s are losing to the Twins. They have a fairly easy schedule against the Mariners and Angels to close out their season next week. So it really could go down to the wire for home field advantage in the AL Wild Card just like the NL is still a giant question mark for the postseason. And honestly, it kind of makes this last week of baseball all the more fun. Every game counts for something. Every moment matters.

Injury news: Getting lost in the fracas during yesterday’s win, it looks like Didi Gregorius tore cartilage in his right wrist in that slide home to score the winning run in the 11th inning. He had an MRI, where they found the tear, and a cortisone shot for treatment. Right now, they’re waiting to see how he responds to the shot. But if he doesn’t, he could be out for the rest of the season. Fingers crossed for speedy healing to the Emoji King.

Go Yankees

Game 154: BAL vs. NYY — Welcome to Fall Ball!

It’s the first official day of Fall, and the Yankees are going to the Postseason. All is right with the world. With their win today and the Rays’ loss, the Yankees winnowed their magic number from 2 yesterday to 0 tonight. Though the Yankees certainly had to battle their way to that win.

Lance Lynn got the start in the middle game of this weekend series against the Orioles. Lynn threw 93 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs (1 earned), and struck out 4 Baltimore batters. He gave up 2 singles in the 3rd. A passed ball moved the lead runner to 3rd and a throwing error allowed him to score. But quick moves by the defense got the next runner out at home.

Then in the 5th, a double tried to score on a single, but again the defense worked to keep him from adding to the score. Another single put runners on the corners, and another single successfully scored that lead runner. After giving up a walk, another great defensive move got the force out at 3rd to end the inning and get out of the jam.

After that, the Yankees called on the bullpen to keep the Orioles from adding to their score. Green, Chapman, Betances, and Britton each got an inning and came out strong, keeping the O’s at bay.

The Yankees got a head start on the offense in the 2nd. Aaron Hicks led off with a solo home run. Andujar then singled but was thrown out trying to make it a double. And it would be Luke Voit to power the 1st pitch he saw into a big solo home run. But the Yankees weren’t able to capitalize on much more for most of the game.

So, with the game tied, it went into extra innings. Holder amped up the drama in the 10th by loading up the bases but, thanks to a few great defensive moves, got out of the inning unscathed. Tommy Kahnle’s 11th inning kept the ball rolling tossing it back to the offense to do something, anything.

And they did. Didi Gregorius led-off with a double. And after a strikeout, Aaron Hicks stepped into the box. At one point, he hit a foul ball off his ankle. He kind of limped around a bit, as they tried to decide what to do with him. But he got back in and then smacked a solid double into the corner of left field, which scored Gregorius for the walk-off win and postseason clinch.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees, in 11 innings

It should be noted that with the clinching of the postseason spot today, it makes the 54th postseason appearance in the Yankees MLB history, dating back to 1901. Their first postseason appearance was in 1921, their first win in 1923. Of course, they would win it all 27 times, now hoping to win #28 this year.

The biggest statistic the Yankees have been their amazing home run record. For being known as the “Bronx Bombers”, it is only this year that they crack the MLB record into the teams with the most single season home runs. They currently rank 5th with 253 home runs, tied with the 2016 Orioles. This makes them just behind the 1996 Orioles (257), the 2010 Blue Jays (257), the 2005 Rangers (260), and the 1997 Mariners (264). They are just 11 from the lead with 8 games left in the season. Sounds like a fun goal to me.

Go Yankees!

Game 153: BAL vs. NYY — The Magic Number is 2

The countdown has begun for the postseason, and while the Yankees only need 2 more wins to secure their postseason appearance, they’re pushing for securing home field advantage in the Wild Card game. That means winning more games than the other potential WC opponent, the Athletics, who currently sit at just 1.5 games behind the Yankees.

CC Sabathia got the start in tonight’s opener against the Orioles for the final series at Yankee Stadium this season. He actually had a great outing, throwing 97 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out 5 Baltimore batters to eventually earn his 8th win of the season.

He actually held off the O’s until the 5th inning. He gave up a lead-off single, a 1-out walk, and a single to load the bases. And a 2-out single scored both runners to get the Orioles on the board.

The Yankees gave Sabathia enough room to work by striking first in the 1st. Hicks led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Judge’s single, ended up at 3rd on a double play, and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run.

And in the 4th, Walker hit a 1-out double and scored on Gleyber Torres’ single. Torres then stole 2nd and made it to 3rd on a passed ball, before scoring on Austin Romine’s ground out. Gardner worked a walk, and then Aaron Hicks hit a 2-run home run to push the Yankees’ lead further ahead. That ended the Orioles’ starter’s night, and they spent the rest of the game piecing together their bullpen.

Hicks led-off the 7th with a single and moved to 2nd when a new reliever gave up a walk to Judge. He then scored on Andrew McCutchen’s single. The Orioles snapped into action when Gregorius hit into a fielder’s choice and got Judge out at home. That also moved both remaining runners into scoring position, which allowed the powerhouse Luke Voit to single and score both of them. Then, in the 8th, with 2 outs, Hicks worked a walk and then scored a solid insurance run on Aaron Judge’s double.

Jonathan Loaisiga came on in relief of Sabathia in the 7th to start the Yankees’ major issues with tonight’s game. He promptly gave up a lead-off solo home run to start the O’s rally tonight. He then gave up a single that stole 2nd on a strikeout and then ended up at 3rd on a throwing error. Zach Britton came on to try to stem the tied and gave up a single to score that runner from 3rd before getting out of the inning without further damage.

In the 8th, Tarpley came in for just a strikeout and handed the game to AJ Cole. Cole then gave up a walk and a 2-run home run to add more to the O’s score. After an out, he then allowed a single and passed the ball to David Robertson. On his first pitch, he gave up a 2-run home run before finding that 3rd out. Betances’ came on for an efficient 11-pitch 9th inning to earn his 4th save thanks to those insurance runs by the Yankees in the 7th and 8th innings.

Final score: 10-8 Yankees

Aaron Hicks became the 5th Yankee with 25+ home runs this season, joining Stanton (35), Gregorius (27), Judge (26), and Andujar (25). This ties a franchise record set back in 2009 with 5 players having 25+ homers (Teixeira, Rodriguez, Swisher, Matsui, and Cano). They came close in 2010 with 4 players (Teixeira, Rodriguez, Swisher, and Cano) and the previous record was 1938 (DiMaggio, Gehrig, Dickey, and Gordon).

Now, the MLB record was set in 2003 by the Red Sox. But the Yankees are within range of tying that as Gleyber Torres has 23 home run, and there’s still 9 games left in the season. It’s worth noting the kind of company this makes the Yankees in and the fact that 2 of the Yankees in the conversation are rookies.

And the “magic number” is 2. The Yankees need 2 more game wins to secure their postseason spot. I said in a post earlier this month that the AL is pretty set, but the NL is going to go down to the wire. And it’s never more true than sitting just 9 days out from the final game of the season.

The AL division leaders have mostly clinched their spots (Red Sox and Indians), with the Astros just 3.5 games ahead of the Athletics but have clinched a spot in the postseason. And unless the A’s jump ahead of the Astros in the next few games, it’s pretty much a lock that the Yankees and Athletics will be the Wild Card opponents, with the Rays 6.5 games back and the Mariners 8.5 games back.

But the NL is still up for grabs in nearly every division. The strongest division is the NL East, with the Braves 7.5 games ahead of the Phillies. But the Central and West are just 1.5 games apart — Cubs over Brewers, Dodgers over Rockies. Plus, the Cardinals and Diamondbacks are just a few games beyond them. This league is going to go down to the wire.

Go Yankees!

Game 152: BOS vs. NYY — “A long, tough, slug-it-out game”

Usually, the standard baseball game is about 3 hours long. That makes each third, or 3 innings, to be about an hour, making each inning 20 minutes. That’s a rough estimate, but as someone who watches a lot of baseball games, it makes things easier to gauge time.

So, when the first 2 innings took nearly 90 minutes, everyone was starting to feel like this could be one of those long games between the Red Sox and Yankees that infamous umpire Joe West once complained about. And it was, to some extent, clocking in at 4 hours and 2 minutes. But it was not the predicted 6 hour game, the first 2 innings were technically on track for.

And that’s why you can’t predict baseball.

Masahiro Tanaka had a rather rough start in the final game against the Red Sox this series. He threw 83 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 8 hits and 5 runs, and struck out 3 Boston batters. In the 1st, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a single to get the Red Sox on the board early.

Two consecutive singles led off the 2nd and then scored on a 2-out single. And a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd kept the ball rolling for the visiting team. After giving up a double and single to put runners in the corners, Tanaka’s night was over. David Robertson came on and gave up a double play that scored Tanaka’s lead runner.

The Yankees weren’t exactly quiet along the way. In the bottom of the 2nd, Sanchez worked a 1-out walk and then scored as part of Luke Voit’s big 2-run home run. Then in the 4th, with 2 outs, the Yankees loaded up the bases with consecutive walks to McCutchen, Judge, and Hicks. The Red Sox pulled their starter at that point, but it didn’t help. Giancarlo Stanton powered an exciting grand slam to put the Yankees in a slim lead.

But in the words of the Yankees after the game, the Red Sox really couldn’t be stopped tonight. After losing to the Yankees for the last 2 games, the team leading MLB wasn’t going to be swept and came back with a vengeance.

Chad Green came on for the Yankees in the 6th and kept them at bay, but then gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 7th to tie up the game. After giving up a single, he handed the ball over to Dellin Betances. With 1 out, he loaded up the bases with a double and intentional walk. The next batter hit a sacrifice fly and, thanks to a throwing error, allowed 2 runners to score.

Aroldis Chapman got his first outing in the 8th after coming off the DL. He gave up a single, a 1-out walk, and a 2-out 3-run home run to ensure the Red Sox’s victory. Holder closed out the 8th for Chapman, and Cole and Tarpley split the 9th to keep the visitors from adding to their growing lead.

Final score: 11-6 Red Sox, Yankees win series 2-1

However, the Red Sox sealed their AL East division title with the final out of the 9th inning. The Red Sox came pouring out of their respective dugout and bullpen to celebrate clinching the AL East right there at Yankee Stadium before moving to the messy “champagne celebration” (which usually involves more beer than champagne) in the visitors’ clubhouse.

Next up: the Yankees host the Orioles this weekend for their final series in Yankee Stadium this season. They will then travel to face the Rays for 4 games before ending their season against the Red Sox at Fenway next weekend. The Yankees need as many wins as possible to widen their lead (now only 1.5 games) and maintain home field advantage against the Athletics in the Wild Card game (which, let’s be honest, is pretty much assured for both teams).

But the Yankees should celebrate on their own. In addition to hitting a new collective home run record as a team (247), the Yankees now have 12 players who have hit 10+ home runs as Yankees in a single season. This was reached when Luke Voit hit that 2-run homer in the 2nd, his 11th of the season but 10th with the Yankees. Other Yankees that have hit 10+ Yankee homers this season: Stanton, Gregorius, Judge, Andujar, Hicks, Torres, Sanchez, Gardner, Bird, Romine, and Walker. That is quite the company of power-hitters, when most of them aren’t really known as “power-hitters”.

{Note: quote in post title taken from Boone’s post-game press conference.}

Go Yankees!

Game 151: BOS vs. NYY –Andujar & Voit back up #SevySharp

I got a little nostalgic today, as I tend to do when talking about this great rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees. I was remembering the days of Rodriguez vs. Varitek, Ortiz vs. Jeter, and Clemens vs. everyone. Even before then, many could tell stories of DiMaggio vs. Williams and Mantle vs. Yastrzemski.

And who could forget the “curse of the Bambino”? Apparently, for 86 years, Boston fans believed they were cursed because a Red Sox owner in 1920 sold the contract of the 24-year-old Babe Ruth to the Yankees to finance No, No, Nanette. (By the way, the “curse” lore has been debunked, but it still doesn’t stop the Fenway Faithful from being bitter over it, despite the fact that almost none of them were alive then.)

But with the recent retirement of Ortiz, Jeter, and Rodriguez, as I’ve mentioned before, the age of the superstars in this rivalry might be over. Even the superstars already on the roster (Stanton, Judge, and Sanchez) aren’t really the players making the difference in the game. It’s the “nobodys”, the players who aren’t the popular jerseys you’d see around the stadium. And that makes this more interesting.

In a battle of the “aces” in tonight’s middle game between the northeastern rivals, Luis Severino got the start for the Yankees and came out on top with a stellar outing. He threw 109 pitches in his 7 innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and struck out 6 Boston batters to earn his 18th win. He’s the first Yankee pitcher to have 18 wins since CC Sabathia in 2011 (he had 19 that year).

In fact, Severino kept the Red Sox scoreless through 4 innings, even throwing rather efficient innings, like just 6 pitches in the 2nd. It was in the 5th that he gave up a lead-off double that scored on an RBI single to give the Red Sox their lone run of the night.

He handed the ball over to Jonathan Holder for a scoreless 8th inning, and then Justus Sheffield got to pitch his MLB debut in the 9th. He had a bit of shaky go of it, even loading up the bases. But between the Yankees’ defense and Sheffield’s pitching, they got out of the inning and the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees usually have pretty good luck against the Red Sox’s ace, who used to play with the Rays, Blue Jays, and Tigers and the same pitcher who gave up Jeter’s 3000th hit. They continued that pattern tonight, starting with Miguel Andujar’s 1-out solo home run in the 2nd inning, his 25th home run of the season.

They then loaded up the bases with a walk to Sanchez, a single to Voit, and a 2-out walk to McCutchen. Aaron Judge stepped into the box, still looking for his first hit back from the DL. He made contact with the ball, but thanks to a fielding error, it wouldn’t count as a hit. Judge still made it all the way to 2nd as Sanchez and Voit scored.

Luke Voit added another run with his lead-off solo home run in the 4th. Then in the 6th, with 1 out and Sanchez on 1st with a walk, Voit again eked another home run, a 2-run homer that just made it to the 1st row of the right field seats (and gave a lucky fan a few minutes of TV fame). An umpire review checked to see if that fan interfered with the home run. He didn’t and the call stood, his 2nd home run of the night.

It was also the end of the Red Sox starter’s night. His first reliever didn’t have the best time either. Despite getting an initial out, he put runners on the corners with singles to McCutchen and Judge (finally his first hit off the DL). They both then scored on Aaron Hicks’ long triple. And the Red Sox changed pitchers again.

That seemed to work for them, for a time. But they got a new pitcher in the 8th inning, and the Yankees took advantage to widen their lead. Voit and Torres each singled and moved into scoring position on a ground out. Pinch-hitting Greg Bird hit into a ground out but allowed Voit to score. Hicks’ single then scored Torres to cap off the Yankees’ big night.

Final score: 10-1 Yankees

Roster moves: before the game tonight, the Yankees activated Aroldis Chapman from the DL after his lingering knee tendonitis. Had the game been closer, they might have called on the veteran closer, but instead, it allowed them some leeway to debut another important part of the Yankees organization, very nervous prospect Justus Sheffield.

And Miguel Andujar’s home run in the 2nd actually made him the fifth Yankee rookie to reach 25+ home runs in their rookie season. Judge did so last year, and the teammates join the likes of Bobby Murcer (1969), Joe Gordon (1938), and the great Joe DiMaggio (1936) for the honor of being in such a club. Not back for a player many people still are not sure could be the “Rookie of the Year”.

Go Yankees!

Game 150: BOS vs. NYY — Walker overrides 2 unearned runs

It wouldn’t be a Red Sox-Yankees game without some rivalry fun — counter cheering of which team “sucks”, enough merchandise representation of the visiting team to remind everyone who they’re playing, and some good-natured ribbing between fans. Plus, it always ends up being a dramatic game in some way.

JA Happ got the start in this opening game against the Red Sox, holding his own with 102 pitches through his 6 innings. He gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 1 unearned run, while striking out 6 Boston batters. In the 3rd, Happ gave up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a balk, advanced to 3rd on a passed ball (setting up the “unearned” part), and then scored on a sacrifice fly.

That got the Red Sox on their board, but Happ and the Yankees’ defense kept them to that run for most of the game. Chad Green continued the momentum with a flawless 10-pitch 7th inning, and Robertson’s 8th was an efficient 13 pitches.

In the meantime, the Yankees were held off from doing much by a former teammate for the first 6 innings. It was the 7th, with a new pitcher, that the Yankees found their opportunity. Hicks worked a lead-off walk and Sanchez got a 1-out walk to get runners on base and threaten the Red Sox’s narrow lead at that point.

So the Red Sox went to their bullpen again for a new reliever, but he faced Neil Walker who was ready to hit his 10th home run of the season, a big 3-run home run into the 2nd deck right field seats. to give the Yankees the lead and that insurance run they would end up needing.

The Yankees handed things off to Zach Britton for the 9th inning and the save, but things got dramatic. With 1 out, he gave up a walk. A missed catch error allowed runners to end up on the corners. A throwing error by Britton himself allowed that lead runner to then score, hence the Yankees’ 2nd unearned run of the night. A double play ended the Red Sox’s final push for a comeback rally and handed the Yankees the win.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees

Aaron Judge was back in tonight’s lineup, batting 2nd and playing right field. He went 0-for-4, but says that it felt like he “never left”. Part of the reason that Judge ended up in the game was that due to inclement weather (because it’s 2018) they had to push back the game from a 1:05 pm start time to 7:05 pm. That extra time allowed for Judge to take in an extra sim game this morning and prove he was ready to swing a bat in a real game. He just hasn’t made much contact yet.

A funny moment during the game was in the 8th inning. Giancarlo Stanton stepped into the batter’s box and hit a power line drive into the left field seats, but to the left of the foul pole. We all saw it go into the seats, so fans rushed the area for the ball. But literally no one could find it. They scoured the whole area, even expanding the search area after a bit, but it just disappeared. That ball must now be on vacation with my black fuzzy socks and the top of my cherry 7-up, both of which seemed to disappear before my eyes and have yet to reappear within the last 24 hours.

Go Yankees!

Game 149: TOR vs. NYY — Dropped victory in the 8th inning

The Yankees needed an easy win to move forward and enter this final two weeks on an upswing. And things were looking good for most of the game, with the Yankees on the board first and defending their early lead for this final game against the visiting Blue Jays this weekend.

In the bottom of the 1st inning, Andrew McCutchen led things off with a big solo home run.  Stanton then walked, moved to 3rd on Hicks’ single, and then scored on Didi Gregroius’ sacrifice fly. It wasn’t much, but it gave the Yankees enough of a lead to kick off the game.

Lance Lynn actually had a pretty good start. He threw 80 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up just 3 hits, a walk, and 1 run, and struck out 7 Toronto batters. In the 3rd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on a double to get the Jays on the board. But Lynn, and then Robertson for 2 innings, kept the Jays down to that lone run, defending their slim lead.

But then Dellin Betances struggled his way through the 8th inning. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on a 1-out single and then scored on a single to tie up the game. A double scored another run to put the Blue Jays in the lead before a fielder’s choice became a great defensive show, getting their insurance run out at home in a rundown.

Britton’s 13-pitch 9th inning reset the game with hopes for a last-minute rally that would ultimately fall short.

Final score: 3-2 Blue Jays, Blue Jays win the series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees have an off-day tomorrow before a series against the Red Sox and then one against the Orioles to wrap up the final home stand. The Yankees hit the road for the final time with 4 games at the Rays and the final 3 games in Boston to end the season. Where the postseason lands is still very much up for grabs, especially as

The Yankees plan to call up pitchers Justus Sheffield and Domingo German to help with their upcoming series against the Red Sox, starting Tuesday. They might have been called up for today’s game, but they both pitched in the RailRiders’ final game yesterday, losing to the Rays’ AAA team and their bid for their league’s championship.

Go Yankees!