Game 80: TOR vs. NYY — Walk-off and glory by All-Star Finalists

Well, that was… eventful. Leave it to this year’s Yankees to close out their final home stand before the All-Star Break with quite the dramatic flair. The Blue Jays, for their part, certainly made it one worth fighting for all the way to the end.

James Paxton got a rocky start in this afternoon’s finale, throwing 91 pitches into the 5th inning. He gave up 8 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs, and struck out 3 Toronto batters. At the top of the game, he gave up consecutive walks that then scored on a 3-run home run to the glee of the smattering of Blue Jay fans in the stadium. Then in the 2nd, a 1-out single scored on a 2-run home run to add more to the Jays’ early lead.

After settling into a good pattern for the next few innings, Paxton gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 5th. After a walk and out, he handed the ball over to Hale to close out the inning. Hale quickly picked the runner off 1st and got a grounder to do so. He continued that momentum through a scoreless 6th inning. Then, Ottavino and Tarpley each took an inning to run with that pattern.

In the mean time, the Yankees chipped away at the visitors’ lead. With 1 out in the 2nd, Didi Gregorius continued the Yankees’ homer magic with a solo home run, making it the 29th consecutive game with a home run. The Yankees loaded up the bases with a walk to Hicks, a single by Torres, and a 2-out walk to LeMahieu. Aaron Judge’s single scored both Hicks and Torres.

DJ LeMahieu came back in the 4th to hit a 1-out 2-run home run. In the 5th, Encarnacion hit a 1-out double, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ single, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly to finally tie up the game. With 2 outs in the 6th, the Yankees finally took the lead. Judge singled, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s single, and then scored the go-ahead run on Luke Voit’s single.

Things were finally looking up for the home team. Zack Britton came on to close out the game, but he immediately struggled his way through those pesky 3 outs. The lead-off batter singled, his pinch-runner took 2nd on a passed ball, and then scored on a single to tie the game up again.

So, the game went to the bottom of the 9th. With 1 out, Gregorius singled. Hicks worked a walk to moved Gregorius to scoring position. And then he did on Gleyber Torres’ walk-off single.

Final score: 8-7 Yankees, Yankees sweep the series 3-0

Next up: The Yankees travel across the pond for their much-anticipated series against the Red Sox in London. They have the next two days off for travel/jet lag and will start the mini-series agains their famed rivals on Saturday. They will come back to America with an off-day the first day of July before doing a quick 2-game series in Queens against the Mets. They will spend the final weekend before the All-Star Break in Tampa for a 4-game series there.

Injury update/roster moves: Despite some home for a simple injury, Giancarlo Stanton is headed back to the Injured List. An MRI revealed a strain (or partial tear) in the posterior cruciate ligament in the knee, the connective tissue between the leg bones close to the back of the knee, behind the patella (knee cap).

The Yankees have recalled Mike Tauchman to replace Stanton on the roster. In preparation for the big London series, the teams are allowed to carry a 26th man on their roster. They will select Thairo Estrada. However, Kyle Higashioka and Chance Adams will be held in standby in case they are needed due to injury.

Yankee Trivia: I was not aware of this until today, but this is a great fact. As of today, the Yankees have played 162 regular games straight without being shutout. They have scored in every game for an entire season. That is quite the feat, though it is short of the record held by the Yankees way back from 1931-1933. Those Yankees got runs in 308 straight games, and even won the World Series in the middle of that (1932), their fourth championship.

Finally, VOTE NOW for your favorite finalists in the Final Vote for the All-Star Game. You get one vote on MLB and one vote on Google, so choose wisely. For your consideration, there are six Yankees on the ballot in their respective positions — Luke Voit (1st base), DJ LeMahieu (2nd base), Gio Urshela (3rd base), Gleyber Torres (shortstop), Gary Sanchez (catcher), and Aaron Judge (outfield). This round of voting ends Thursday at 4 pm ET.

Go Yankees!

Game 74: HOU vs. NYY — Rain-soaked and still triumphant

Dark skies threatened and dropped moments of rain on the Bronx most of yesterday. But things looked promising for the game, which actually started on time. The Yankees began their 4-game weekend series against the Astros tonight, and despite a rather messy and soggy 4th inning, they still pulled it out in the end.

The Yankees have had a lot of success with the new pitching model of the “opener”, especially on the back of Chad Green. Green did it again, with a strong 2 scoreless innings before handing the ball over to reliever Nestor Cortes Jr for 3 innings. His problem came after the game back from a rain delay.

But first, the Yankees took advantage of the thundering skies and jumped on a bit of weakness by the Astros’ pitching staff tonight in what turned into a very decisive 4th inning. Gary Sanchez led-off the inning with a solo home run. Stanton then doubled, and in the middle of Encarnacion’s at-bat, it started pouring.

The umpires briefly checked in with the grounds crew for a weather report as fans were scattering for the concourse and nearest overhang. Encarnacion ended up working a walk. As the rain continued to pelt down on the field, Gleyber Torres hit a big 3-run home run into the visitor’s bullpen.

Then after the inning’s first out, in the middle of Maybin’s at-bat, the umpires checked in again with the grounds crew, who came out to clean up the mound a bit from the muddy mess it was. After Maybin worked a walk, the Astros called in a new pitcher, and the grounds crew took the break to add more drying agent to the mound and at the plate.

The rain kind of lightened up as Maybin stole 2nd. After another out, DJ LeMahieu pelted a 2-run home run into Monument Park to keep the Yankees’ offense going. Voit then singled, and in the middle of Sanchez’s at-bat, the home plate umpire suddenly called the game as the rain just dumped on the Bronx. The tarp came on, and the game went into a 37 minute delay.

When the game resumed, Sanchez ended up grounding out to end the inning. So Cortes came out again for the 5th inning, after the long 4th inning and the rain delay. That might have been part of the problem because after 2 outs, he gave up 2 solo home runs to get the Astros on the board.

But the Yankees came back in the bottom of that inning to reclaim those runs. With 1 out, Encarnacion walked, Torres singled, and a wild pitch moved both into scoring position. After another out, Cameron Maybin hit a strong double to score both Encarnacion and Torres. Stanton led-off the 7th with a single and then scored as part of Edwin Encarnacion’s 2-run home run to cap off the Yankee’s big offense tonight.

Tommy Kahnle came out for the 6th inning and gave up a 1-out solo home run. Then the game was handed over to David Hale, who held the Astros off for the 7th, but he got into trouble in the final 2 innings that the Astros tried to rally to overcome the Yankees’ big lead. In the 8th, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on a 2-out single.

Hale gave up a 1-out solo home run to lead-off the 9th inning. He then gave up a walk. After an out, the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice, the Yankees unable to get a double play to end the inning. A double then scored the lead runner. After a single put runners in the corners, the Yankees called in Aroldis Chapman to close out the game. Seven pitches later, the game was over, and Chapman notched his 20th save of the season.

Final score: 10-6 Yankees

It’s worth noting that the Yankees have hit home runs in 23 straight games, making them tied for the 8th most in MLB baseball history. The Yankees’ record is 25 games way back in June 1941, during Joe DiMaggio’s famous hitting streak.

HOPE Week Day 4: Today, the Yankees honored a great nonprofit organization that provides furniture to local families in need. Kate Bialo started Furniture Sharehouse in 2007 to serve the Westchester community (a suburb of New York, just north of the City), and to date have helped more than 4000 families. The families are referred to the charity by social service agencies include survivors of house fires and natural disasters, working families bordering the poverty line, families escaping domestic violence, families transitioning from homeless shelters to permanent housing, and young adults aging out of foster care.

The Yankees showed up to the donation warehouse housed at Westchester County Airport to volunteer as “personal shoppers” for two surprised local families, the Collazos and Gullivers. Zack Britton, JA Happ, Jonathon Holder, Austin Romine, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, and bullpen coach Mike Harkey drove 2 trucks full of furniture as part of their donation to the charity and hosted a pizza party lunch for the families after helping them select new furniture for their homes.

The families and Furniture Sharehouse founder Kate Bialo were the Yankees’ guests at the game tonight, and Bialo threw out the ceremonial first pitch and accepted an additional donation of $10,000 to their operating costs (overhead, delivery, repairs, etc.) on behalf of the Yankees. The estimate is that they spend about $350 to help each family, so imagine how many more families they can help with the Yankees monetary and furniture donations. Somewhere, a family is will sleep in real beds and eat dinner around a real table tonight because of their generosity.

Go Yankees!

Game 40: NYY vs. TB — #TanakaTime + power outage = Happy Mother’s Day

I know we’ve talked some about the (few) positives of Tropicana Field, including the rarity of delays due to weather. Unfortunately, a delay due to a local power outage is unavoidable. And a 43 minute delay while the system was redirected and restarted is just inconvenient. Especially in the 9th inning.

But it just seemed to energize the Yankees in this final game of the weekend series against the Rays. Masahiro Tanaka had a great start this afternoon, throwing just 73 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run, and stuck out 7 batters to earn the eventual win. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo shot in the 6th.

It was actually the lone allowed run for the home team all day. Zach Britton and Chad Green took the final 2 innings and kept the Rays from doing much of anything, adding 5 more strikeouts to what would become quite the strikeout day at the Trop (12 by the Yankees, 17 by the Rays’ pitchers).

And somehow, despite all those strikeouts, the Yankees managed to boost their own power. They were held off until the 5th. With 2 outs, Romine doubled and scored on Mike Tauchman’s double. Tauchman then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single.

In the 8th, Voit led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s 1-out single, and ended up at 3rd when Andujar hit into a force grounder at 2nd. A wild pitch then scored Voit and kicked off a pair of challenges. The Yankees challenged the records (to check the number of balls/strikes), then the Rays challenged whether the catcher tagged Voit out at home. Neither were overturned, and the play stood as called at the count on the board.

Then the 9th inning began with a bang. Of sorts. After a single foul ball, the lights went out. And 43 minutes later, Thairo Estrada kicked-off the inning with a solo home run. Then Romine and Tauchman singled and moved into scoring position on LeMahieu’s sacrifice bunt out. Voit was intentionally walked to load up the bases. And then Gio Urshela’s double scored both Romine and Tauchman, and Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Voit to cap off the Yankees’ power surge.

Final score: 7-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees return home to continue their home stand to host the Orioles and then after a day off the Rays next weekend. Then, they’ll hit the road again to visit the Orioles and Royals.

Scranton Shuttle: Before the game, for a fresh arm, the Yankees optioned relieved Nestor Cortes Jr and recalled reliever Chad Green, who pitched in today’s game.

And a huge Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and like-a-moms out there. Across baseball, players wore pink-tinged gear, and each team had an honorary bat girl, both to recognize breast cancer awareness and survivors. Plus, players honored the moms in their lives, like CC Sabathia, who wrote a full letter in celebration of his mom on his Twitter account. And Cameron Maybin wore a special pre-game shirt in honor of his mom who is currently fighting breast cancer.

Happy Mother’s Day to my own mother, who is my faithful baseball companion. But then she got it from the passionate baseball fans in her family like her mother and grandmothers (who actually were Indians and Pirates fans). Baseball is strong in my family, much like its women.

Go Yankees!

Game 31: MIN vs. NYY — Strong bullpen and bats support early exit

The Yankees began their new home stand with this series against the visiting Twins. It was a mixed bag for the Yankees, with another possible addition to the IL but a strong win in the end.

James Paxton got the start tonight, throwing 64 pitches in just 3 innings. He gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and an unearned run and struck out just 1 Twins batter. After holding them off for the first two innings, in the 3rd, he loaded up the bases with a walk, an out, a fielding error, and a walk. A sacrifice fly scored the Twins’ first run, and a passed ball moved runners to scoring position. But a line drive ended the inning as Paxton exited the game entirely. (More later.)

Jonathan Holder came on to sail his way scorelessly through the 4th and 5th innings, before Ottavino and Kahnle followed up with scoreless 6th and 7th innings, respectively. Collectively, the three of them powered through 12 straight batters. It was awesome.

Zack Britton got into a spot of trouble in the 8th. With 2 outs, he gave up a walk that scored as part of a bit 2-run home run to add to the Twins’ score. However, Chapman closed out the game with a solid 9th inning and earned his 6th save.

With an early exit from their starter, the Yankees needed to match their strong bullpen with a strong offense. And they did. In the 1st, Brett Gardner hit a long ball into centerfield and thanks to a bad fielding error, he powered it all the way to 3rd base. Voit worked a walk, and then Gleyber Torres’ 1-out single easily scored Gardner. After another out, Urshela hit a solid single, but the left fielder was too quick and got Voit out trying to score a run.

In the 2nd, with 1 out, Maybin walked and Wade was hit by a pitch. Then with 2 outs, Luke Voit’s single scored Maybin, but then Voit was thrown out trying to go to 2nd on the throw. Voit just couldn’t catch a base running break early on tonight.

Mike Tauchman led-off the 4th by making it to 1st thanks to a missed catch error. Maybin singled, and Wade’s sacrifice bunt moved runners to scoring position. A wild pitch scored Tauchman, and Brett Gardner’s ground out scored Maybin.

Then Gary Sanchez hit a couple of solo home runs to march his way into the Yankee history books — a lead-off one in the 5th and a 2-out one in the 7th. This is his 10th multi-home run game of his career, which he did in just 231 games. For some perspective among previous catchers, Posada hit 16 (in 1574 total games), Berra hit 15 (in 1694), and Dickey hit 15 (in 1708).

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

Okay, James Paxton has been nursing a sore right knee for most of the season. He’s been getting treatments on off-days and just powering through, but during tonight’s game, it became too much to “just deal with”. So he trusted the bullpen (rightly so) and came out of the game. He will get an MRI tomorrow and hopefully avoid the injured list.

Injury updates: Miguel Andujar and Troy Tulowitzki played in Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons games earlier this week as part of their rehab assignments. But Tulowitzki had a setback with his hamstring injury, pulled from a game, and then shut down from further baseabll activities. Andujar was actually at the game tonight and will probably be activated from the IL for tomorrow’s game.

Go Yankees!

Game 29: NYY vs. ARI — A loss with a moment of #LegaCCy

The funny thing about tonight’s game was how little people seemed to care about the outcome because really Yankee Universe was just biting their nails in anticipation for a single event — CC Sabathia’s 3000th career strikeout. And, like much of the Yankees history, it happened in a rather dramatic fashion. Sabathia’s final season has been under that pressure with that milestone looming, and now that it’s over, he can really rest and relax, closing out his career by focusing on winning the season, one game at a time.

The Yankees really were held back by the Diamondbacks’ starting pitching and his 2 relievers. In fact, the only time the Yankees were able to break through was in the 4th inning. Gary Sanchez led-off with a double and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ ground-rule double. But that would be it for the visiting team tonight.

Because despite the Diamondbacks’ ace starter’s great night, the story was all about Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia threw 87 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out 5 batters. (Remember, going into the game, he only needed 3 strikeouts to reach that milestone.)

In the 2nd, he got the first strikeout. And then another one. And it looked like he was going to get another one, but the batter turned it into a big solo home run. And the next batter hit into a single (despite Voit’s great attempt to beat him back to the base). And then, Sabathia faced a former teammate and finally got that milestone (more below) and a whole bunch of cheering.

The other allowed run was in the 4th. A lead-off double scored on a 2-out single to double the Diamondbacks’ score and put them back in the lead. Holder closed out the 6th for Sabathia, who exited the game to a standing ovation from the packed stadium. Holder cleanly sailed through the inning and the next before handing things off to Zack Britton.

Britton had trouble in the 8th. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. That first out got Britton to recenter and close out the inning without further damage, allowing the home team their win with a slim margin.

Final score: 3-1 Diamondbacks

CC K-Count: 3002 (Even though he’s reached the milestone, it will be fun to track where he lands by the time he hangs up his cleats. So we’re keeping this bit up for the rest of the season whenever Sabathia pitches.)

LegaCCy: So, CC Sabathia has joined the ranks of the elite with more than 3000 strikeouts, the 17th pitcher to do so and the only active player on the list. It’s worth noting, as we have before, that there are only 2 players that aren’t in the Hall of Fame. (Here are a few memorable strikeout milestones for Sabathia’s career so far.)

In a cool twist on history, the player that handed Sabathia his 3000th strikeout was his former catcher, John Ryan Murphy. Murphy was traded to the Twins in 2016 in the deal for outfielder Aaron Hicks, but then ended up with the Diamondbacks for the last 3 seasons. Murphy was on hand to be crucial part of two other milestones in Yankees’ history. He caught Sabathia’s 2500th strikeout in 2015 and Mariano Rivera’s final game in 2013. And despite this, Sabathia was kind of upset that he had to strikeout his friend to earn that milestone.

In the stadium, however, amidst thousands of Yankee fans capturing the moment on their phones and holding up their homemade signs were Sabathia’s amazing family — his mother Margie, his wife Amber, and his four kids Carsten, Carter, Jaden, and Cyia. For his final season, his family is making a point of being at every game that he starts as a final farewell to the game they’ve grown up watching dad play. So it was great that they were there to watch this milestone happen live and in person.

Injury updates: There is some positive news here. The recent injuries to DJ LeMahieu (knee) and Gio Urshela (hand) are not as serious to warrant time on the IL, so both players are day-to-day and working out most days with the team in anticipation of rejoining the lineup at any point.

And tonight, Miguel Andujar and Troy Tulowitzki played in a rehab game with the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons. Andujar spent time at 3rd base, where he shined, though his batting was lackluster. Tulowitzki was the designated hitter, even hitting a home run in the 1st inning (for giraffes?) and helping the Tarpons win their game.

Go Yankees!

Game 26: NYY vs. SF — Voit & LeMahieu support #BigMaple

The Yankees began their weekend in San Francisco on an high note. Actually, the advantage came at the hand of the Giants star pitcher having a terrible off-night, a huge fall from the World Series MVP just 5 years ago, and in turn, the Yankees’ pitchers were a decent foil for the Giants’ offense.

“Big Maple” James Paxton had another great night, throwing 106 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out 8 batters. In fact, he only had troubles in his bookended innings. In the 1st, with 1 out, he put runners in scoring position with a single and double before a sacrifice fly scored the Giants’ first run.

Then in the 6th, a lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a fly out and then scored on a double. A 2-out single scored the next runner ended Paxton’s night and turned things over to the bullpen that went scoreless the rest of the game. Kahnle closed out the 6th in 7 pitches. Zack Britton got into some trouble in the 7th loading the bases with 2 outs, but Adam Ottavino got him out of it with a strikeout and then breezed his way through the 8th. And Chapman closed out the game in the 9th.

The Yankees were able to grab an early lead and defend it consistently the entire game. DJ LeMahieu led-off the game with a double, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ double. Urshela singled to move Torres to 3rd before Cameron Maybin’s single scored Torres.

In the 3rd, Voit singled, moved to 2nd on Torres’ sacrifice bunt, and scored on Gio Urshela’s single and a fielding error. Then LeMahieu led-off the 5th with a single and scored on Luke Voit’s double. With 1 out in the 6th, Romine singled, moved to 2nd on Tauchman’s single, and then scored on Thairo Estrada’s single. Finally, in the 9th, LeMahieu doubled and scored as part of Voit’s 2-run home run up the middle.

It was a big night for LeMahieu and Voit once again, each getting 3 hits (of the 15 total hits), scoring 5 of the 7 total runs for the Yankees. Until recently, most Yankee fans hadn’t heard of either of these players, and now they’re easily some of the biggest contributors to the Yankees’ current winning momentum.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees

CC Sabathia’s PitCChIn Foundation invited 52 kids from the local Boys & Girls Club to tonight’s game. It was through a local Boys & Girls Club in the Bay Area that Sabathia attended his first professional baseball game, making an impact on the future Hall of Famer. Catch up on the foundation’s impact via their Twitter account, including renovating ball fields, other local game invitations, sports camps and clinics, and the upcoming celebrity softball game.

Go Yankees!

Game 23: NYY vs. LAA — Voit’s power & Ford’s first dinger

The streak continues for the Yankees in this middle game of their series against the Angels. Though there was a few moments where it looked like the Angels might have a rally in them, even a grand slam couldn’t stop the Yankees from dominating tonight’s game.

Starter Domingo German held control into the 7th inning, with 99 pitches, 4 hits, a walk, and an unearned run, and 5 strikeouts against the home team. German held them off until the 5th. A lead-off double, moved to 3rd on a fielding error, and then scored on a fielder’s choice out at 2nd.

In the 7th, with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd, Chad Green came into the game for relief and quickly got out of the inning. But coming back out in the 8th almost cost the Yankees the game. He loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk before giving up a big grand slam up the middle to leap the Angels up on the scoreboard.

Luis Cessa came in and promptly gave up a double and a walk. Things looked bleak again for the Yankees, but then Cessa settled in, getting a strikeout and a great double play to end the Angels’ hopes of trying to overcome the Yankees. And Zack Britton sailed his way through a 7-pitch 9th inning to earn his 1st save of the season.

Again, the Yankees needed to dominate tonight in order to earn the win, and it would be Luke Voit to lead the way again with a 1st inning 1-out solo home run, extending his on-base streak to 35 games. They loaded up the bases in the 2nd with a single to Ford, a walk to Tauchman, and a 1-out single to Thairo Estrada, his first MLB hit. Tyler Wade hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Ford to score. In the 5th, Gardner hit a 1-out single and then scored on Mike Ford’s 2-out 2-run home run.

Voit led-off the 7th with a walk, moved to 3rd on Gardner’s double, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single. After a pitching change, pinch-hitter Urshela hit into a fielder’s choice out at home. Then a walk to Tauchman loaded the bases. Austin Romine’s simple grounder scored Torres, and despite loading up the bases again with Estrada’s walk, the Yankees couldn’t add any further runs that inning.

Voit added one more to the score, an insurance run of sorts, in the top of the 8th with another 1-out solo home run. And after the Angels tried to get a few of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, the Yankees were glad for every extra insurance run they had to ensure their win tonight.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees

Mike Ford hit his first major league home run with that 5th inning 2-run homer. The Yankees were able to retrieve that milestone ball from the lucky fan that caught it in the right field seats. Ford intends to give the ball to his parents, something I think is a great gesture.

He’ll hit lots of home runs, but that first one deserves a spot on his parents’ mantle, next to the baseball trophies he won in Little League, where they cheered him on and hoped he would one day achieve his dream. Remember, he grew up in New Jersey, a huge fan of the Yankees during their most recent dynasty years. The dream was always to wear pinstripes (or away greys).

You know, somewhere, there’s some kid sleeping with his glove under his pillow, dreaming of the night he’ll get to hit his first home run with the Yankees. And someday, we’re going to watch that kid do just that.

Go Yankees!