2017 All-Star Game: Millennial take-over

For a city so synonymous with aging Boomers and the height of a young Gen-X, it seems like it got a bit of a makeover, filled with Millennial who weren’t even born while iconic Miami-based shows like Miami Vice (1984-1990) were still on the air. Well, maybe a few during the run of Golden Girls (1985-1992), but that would be generally less than ideal comparison for a group of competitive 20-something young ball players. They would probably prefer shows like the more recent action spy show Burn Notice (2007-2013) which was sometimes referred to by fans as the 21st century version of Miami Vice (but without Don Johnson’s floppy hair and those hideous pastel suits on the lead heroes).

So it was the National League (and their reserves) against the American League (and their reserves) to face off for the 88th All-Star Game. And despite the ridiculous show of power 8 key players put on last night, tonight’s game was a pitcher’s game from the start to finish. Each team put up 9 pitchers who each threw about 15 pitches per inning and struck out a total of 22 batters overall.

But it wasn’t like the batters weren’t hitting, as they racked up 17 total hits (and 6 walks) over the game, but they just weren’t exactly given much chance to do much with those hits thanks to the defense. Again, it was an All-Star Game, and for the first time in a really long time, it felt like both teams were fairly evenly matched in every aspect of the game — pitching, batting, base-running, and defense. And tonight’s game proved that.

No one got close to scoring until the 5th inning with the AL up at bat. With 2 outs, Schoop (Orioles) doubled and then scored on Sano’s (Twins) single. A nice bit of redemption for the power-hitter after falling short to Judge last night, responsible for the first run scored of the night. The National League answered back in the 6th when their veteran catcher Molina (Cardinals) hit a long home run into the corner of the AL bullpen to tie up the game.

And the game ended up being played into extra innings thanks to all those aptly named all-star players. So when NL manager Joe Maddon sent in his lone Cubs pitcher and closer Davis, he unfortunately didn’t count on Cano (Mariners) liking the third pitch, sending it into the AL bullpen for the winning home run.

Only fittingly so, AL interim manager Brad Mills (filling in for a recovering Terry Francona, who made an “appearance” in the AL clubhouse) sent in his own closer Miller (Indians) who got out of the 10th inning and saved the game for the AL with a final strikeout.

Final score: 2-1 in 10 innings, American League over National League

Robinson Cano, of course, got the All-Star Game MVP award thanks to that 10th inning, game-winning homer. And after accepting the glass bat trophy, he was asked to choose between a red Chevy Colorado pickup truck and a special Transformers edition blue Chevy Corvette. Cano wisely chose the Corvette.

Okay, Yankee Universe, you’re wondering how our 5 All-Stars did. Aaron Judge started the game in right field and batted third in the lineup, but he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Judge later admitted he was a bit tired after last night’s Derby and nervous and excited about the game tonight. Gary Sanchez came on for the second half of the game as the back-up catcher and ended up batting 8th, and he went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Starlin Castro was present but unable to play due to his lingering wrist injury, so he spent time in the dugout cheering on his teammates and the American League.

In pitching, Dellin Betances showed the world what it felt like when he wanted to throw in some drama in the 3rd. He gave up a lead-off single, then struck out 2 batters, a wild pitch moved the runner to 2nd before he walked the batter, another wild pitch moved runners to scoring position, another walk loaded up the bases (and had everyone but Yankee Universe biting their nails), and a dribbling ground out ended the threat and the inning, getting Betances out of the jam… as usual.

Luis Severino would have pitched in the 11th inning had the NL tied up the game, and while he was disappointed not to see any play time in Miami, he really just wanted to see the AL win the game. Wish granted.

It is worth noting that the All-Star Game no longer counts for much of anything in the long-run more than bragging rights. As of this year, with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the league, the home field advantage goes to the team that has the best record between the AL and NL champions (which was always a much better idea). Full disclosure: the players of the winning ASG team do get a $20,000 bonus check; so I guess it’s a bit more personal than bragging rights.

Okay, the millennial invasion of Miami was never more apparent than at what became one of the most talked about moments in the game. Mariner’s designated hitter (and one of the oldest guys, on either roster) Nelson Cruz came up to bat in the 6th innings and walked over to the home plate umpire Joe West and asked for a picture with him as he pulled out his phone from his back pocket. NL (and Cardinals) catcher Yadier Molina (also one of the older players) took the picture for Cruz as West seemed both confused and amused at the concept. While not technically a selfie, it went around the internet quickly that Cruz wanted a selfie with West (who is just called his 5000th game last week and is often one of the least liked umpires in the business, which may explain Cruz calling him a “legend”).

In a touching tribute before the game tonight, the league honored Latin-American baseball legends and Hall of Famers in an on-field ceremony — Roberto Alomar, Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Pedro Martinez, Tony Perez, Ivan Rodriguez (who was part of the 2003 Marlins’ championship team), and the late Roberto Clemente (who was represented by his wife Vera). Then, they all threw out the ceremonial first pitch to current All-Star players of Latin-American birth. It was a great way to “pass the torch”, as it were.

We’re back after a couple of days rest in Fenway to restart the season with the rivalry series in Boston on Friday. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Go Yankees!

Home Run Derby 2017: All Rise for the Champ!

The conversation going into the Home Run Derby exhibition at Marlins Park tonight was all about Miami power-slugger and last year’s HR Derby champ Giancarlo Stanton facing off with the Yankees’ own Aaron Judge. Half the crowd was celebrating the rookie slugger from the other coast, and the other half was booing the threat on behalf of their hometown hero. It was bound to be a slugfest with those two, but that doesn’t include how many other power-hitters made the top 8.

Okay, to set-up the show, the 8 players in the Derby were placed in a bracket completely on their 2017 season stats so far with Stanton taking the 1st seed and Judge in 2nd (and Gary Sanchez in 8th). Once they are paired off for the first round, each player gets 4 minutes to hit as many balls as possible out of the park. If he hits two or more home runs 440+ feet, the player gets a 30-second bonus time at the end of the original 4 minutes. The winner of that round faces off with the winner of another pairing for the Final Four. The two winners of the semi-finals go onto the finals (same time limits) until a winner emerges.

Round 1:
The Twins’ Miguel Sano (#5 in Derby placement) edged out the Royals’ Mike Moustakas (#4) 11 to 10 homers. The Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton (#1) failed to reach the standard set by the Yankees’ own Gary Sanchez who earned some ire from the hometown crowd with his 17 homers, to Stanton’s 16. In that round, Sanchez’s longest home run was hit 483 feet, with his average ball traveling 443.5 feet.

The Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon’s 14 homers were edged out by the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger’s 15. And another hitter from the Marlins Justin Bour’s impressive 22 home runs fell short of Aaron Judge‘s 23. The second-to-last hit ball hit the roof and for some reason didn’t count. In this round, Judge’s longest hit home run was his 4th of the round, a 501 feet homer, averaging 432 feet.

So it would be Sanchez to face Sano and a potential rookie MVP face-off Bellinger vs. Judge in the semi-finals.

Round 2:
Gary Sanchez’s 10 home runs eventually falls to Miguel Sano’s 11. Sanchez still hit some big homers that round, one traveling 485 feet and all 10 averaging 442.8 feet. Cody Bellinger got off to a slow start and hit just 12 home runs in his 4 minutes, but Aaron Judge was just getting started when he hit #13 to win that round. Judge was just crushing home runs, with his longest homer traveling an unbelievable 513 feet and averaging 448 overall.

Final:
So it would be Miguel Sano to set the bar for Aaron Judge to beat. Sano is fairly slow in the box normally, so finding his pace, he was able to add 10 more to his overall total. But Judge’s momentum was just unstoppable tonight, and after hitting just over half his allotted time, Judge surpassed Sano’s total, getting 11 in this round to become the 2017 Home Run Champion. This round was a little less for Judge’s power, his longest only traveling 480 feet and his average was 430 feet overall.

All season, I’ve been clinging to a just comparison for watching Judge play baseball, and I just keep going back to my grandfather, who was really a true baseball fan. He loved watching the greats well before I was born. So I imagine he might make the comparison to watching Judge play akin to something like watching Mantle play.

You sometimes can’t tell when the young player you’re watching might one day be headed to Cooperstown and into baseball lore. But you can with Judge. I’ve been watching baseball all of my life, seeing some of the more recent inductees play ball. But I’ve honestly never seen anything like Judge before. And now, he just became the first rookie player to win the Home Run Derby.

Earlier today, the MLBPA (the players’ union) and Players’ Trust helped build a local playground as part of their commitment to give back during the All-Star Game. Then the players headed off to media day to answer all sorts of press questions before all the fun began for tonight’s Derby. The managers for the ASG tomorrow also released their starting roster today (Judge is batting 3rd for the AL team).

Also, before the Derby tonight, Christopher Jackson (who starred as George Washington in the hit Broadway show Hamilton) sang the national anthem. Jackson played in the celebrity softball game (and on the winning NL team 28-22) last night after the Futures’ Game.

So overall, what a great Monday in Miami! Tomorrow should be interesting with the Red Carpet Parade leading up to the main event — the All-Star Game — where loyal Yankees fans will be watching our boys (Judge, Sanchez, Castro, Betances, and Severino) with great anticipation.

Go Yankees!

{Oh, and a happy birthday to Yankees Life’s special guest blogger Pinstripes09 (last post: Mother’s Day)! Who I know was totally excited (and nervous) for the entire Derby but was the first one to cheer on Judge and Sanchez all night!}

Game 86: MIL vs. NYY — Fouled over finale before Break

That was not exactly how the Yankees wanted to enter the All-Star Break. Though truthfully, it wasn’t like they handed over the game all that easily. Add into the fact that the Yankees haven’t won a series since they swept the Orioles in early June, and it was a hard Sunday afternoon in the Bronx.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start today for the final game in this homestand against the Brewers, and once again, he got a bit roughed up. He threw 83 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, striking out 5 batters. In the 1st, with runners on the corners with singles and 1 out, a big 3-run home run got the Brewers on the board in a hurry. They added another run with a lead-off solo shot in the 2nd. And the first out of that inning was thanks to a nifty grounder catch by Ji-Man Choi at 1st — he literally did a split to catch the ball and make the out.

After that, Tanaka was able to hold them off for a bit until things got dicey in the 5th. With 1 out, he gave up 2 singles before he was pulled from the game. Chasen Shreve came on in relief and promptly gave up an RBI single. So it was Adam Warren’s turn on the mound.

Warren had a much better outing closing out the 5th and into the 6th, with 3 strikeouts out of his 4 total outs. Tyler Webb got the final out of the 6th in just 4 pitches before handing things over to Chad Green. Green breezed his way through 2 full innings, with just 33 pitches, striking out 4 batters in the process. Aroldis Chapman had a few miscues in the 9th, but still kept the Brewers from adding to their score.

So, with a decent outing from the bullpen (including 8 of 13 total strikeouts), it would be left to the Yankees’ offense to pick up the pace. But despite ample opportunities, the Yankees had minimal moments of true power today. In the 4th, with 2 outs, Ellsbury singled, stole 2nd, and scored on Chase Headley’s single. Then Clint Frazier hit his third home run of the year, a nice solid 2-run home run into the Yankees’ bullpen to give the Yankees a fighting chance.

So, the crowd waited. And for a moment in the 6th, there was hope. Sanchez singled and Ellsbury walked to lead-off the inning, and the Brewers brought in a new pitcher. And Chase Headley smacked a long ball deep into the right field corner. As all three Yankees rounded the bases, a small nattering began in the visitor’s dugout and among the umpires. The umpires took it upon themselves to review the call, and it was overturned as foul (apparently, the review said it “hooked foul” at the last minute). He ended up striking out on the at-bat.

And that would be it in the end.

Final score: 5-3 Brewers, Brewers win series 2-1

Five Yankees are now on their way to Miami for the All-Star Game (they got their bright blue American League warm-up jerseys before the game today), and two Yankees will play in tomorrow night’s Home Run Derby. And right now, two young Yankee prospects are playing in the All-Star Futures Game — Domingo Acevedo (a pitcher from AA Trenton) and Estevan Florial (an outfielder from Full-A Charleston). It’s All-Star Week, people, and we’re just getting started!

Go Yankees!

Game 84: MIL vs. NYY — A soggy disappointment

It took nearly 4 hours, plus a 51 minute rain delay in the middle of the game, for the Yankees to fall short thanks to their biggest weakness of late — their bullpen. They hosted the opening game of the weekend series against the surprisingly surging Brewers, in their final series before the All-Star break.

Jordan Montgomery got the start tonight, throwing a 74 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 7 hits, no walks, and 2 runs, striking out 4 batters. While the Brewers got a sprinkling of hits, they didn’t do much until the 4th inning against the rookie pitcher. A lead-off double scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run to get Milwaukee on the board.

Meanwhile, the Yankees began collecting their score against the Brewers’ starter. They got on the board first in the 2nd when Didi Gregorius singled and ended up all the way at 3rd due to a fielding error. He then scored on Clint Frazier’s sacrifice fly. A walk and another fielding error later, and runners were stranded in scoring position.

Then in the 4th, as the rain started pouring over the Bronx, Gregorius led-off the inning by reaching 1st safely thanks to yet another fielding error. He then scored as part of Ji-Man Choi’s big 1-out 2-run home run, hit into the 2nd deck of the right field seats. After Romine reached on a missed catch error (are you seeing a trend?), the starter threw a strike to the new batter (Wade) and the umpires called for the tarp. And we were in rain delay.

For 51 minutes. The Yankees were ahead, and most of the conversation was along the lines of wishing they were already in the bottom of the 5th so they could call the game and hand the Yankees a shortened victory.

But that was not to be. When everyone came back, a new pitcher was on the mound for the Brewers and Wade eventually struck out. After Gardner’s walk, another strike out left more runners stranded. Aaron Judge hit his 30th home run of the season to lead-off the 5th inning (more later). But that would be it for the Yankee offense.

The Brewers’ defense made 5 errors in 4 innings (a season high) and the Yankees just didn’t capitalize on that small detail much at all.

Back to the Yankees’ mound… Tyler Webb came on to close out the 5th inning for Montgomery, which he did thanks to some great defense by Tyler Wade. But then he gave up a walk and double to put runners in scoring position as he handed the ball over to Tyler Clippard. A wild pitch moved runners up, scoring the first runner, and a sacrifice fly scored the next runner and tied up the game. The Yankees lone fielding error allowed a runner to get on base, but Clippard got out of the inning without further damage.

Well, in that inning, that is. With 1 out in the 7th, Clippard walked consecutive batters, and then after another out, intentionally walked the next to load up the bases. So, at this point, we’re all looking for that last out to get out of the jam. Instead, it worked in the Brewers’ favor, in the exact opposite of the Yankees — a grand slam to double the Brewers’ score over the Yankees.

Chasen Shreve came on to stop the bleeding, but even he struggled to get a hold of the game, giving up a lead-off double that scored on an RBI single. But then, as turn about is fair play, he walked a batter and then let a ground out leave a couple of runners stranded. Luis Cessa had a better night, closing out the game’s final 2 innings, keeping the Brewers scoreless.

But overall, the Yankees’ pitchers gave up 14 total hits and struck out just 5, while their batters only got 4 hits and earned 12 strikeouts. And that is what made the difference.

Final score: 9-4 Brewers

Roster move: before the game today, the Yankees announced that they sent Mason Williams outright to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. And with the upcoming break, I’d expect a few more moves before they come back to face the Red Sox next Friday at Fenway.

On that big Aaron Judge home run: Judge beat Yankee great Joe DiMaggio’s rookie home run record for most homers by a Yankee in their rookie season. Technically, Judge is on track to hit 57-ish home runs this season, still short of the Babe Ruth/Roger Maris mark (60/61). But neither of them hit that many in their rookie season. And the record belongs to Mark Maguire in 1987 with 49. He also holds the record for most homers by a rookie before the All-Star break at 33. (Though right now, Judge may cut it close on that last one.)

Now, I’ve been told that people think both Judge and his NL competitor (and potential rookie rival on Monday night) will fade in the 2nd half of the season due to the “Home Run Derby” curse and perhaps just lack of faith. But I don’t put much stock in predictions and talking heads and odds-makers. Judge will do what Judge does — play baseball as best he can. His best just happens to be heads above most others (yes, this was an intentional height joke).

And as I’m sure you know, the Yankees are sending just 5 players to Miami next week. Didi Gregorius finished 3rd in Final Fan Voting yesterday, falling short of the Royals’ and Red Sox’s nominees, but only just barely. My newsfeed timeline yesterday was packed with Gregorius support from all over, but it just wasn’t enough. This time. Now, Gregorius also spent much of his off-day wandering around the City doing good deeds — giving tourist directions, helping with photos, giving people a free subway swipe, handing out umbrellas, making burritos, and more. Basically, he was being a Yankee ambassador to the City. A day well-spent in my mind.

Didi, you’ll always be an All-Star to Yankee Universe!

Go Yankees!

Game 81: TOR vs. NYY — Halfway to October, but first #SirDidi4Sure

Tonight’s game marks the Yankees technical halfway point in the season. They have now played 81 of their 162 games and are now 2.5 games behind the Red Sox for the AL East thanks to the recent skid of losses. Not exactly where they want to be, but there’s still a whole half of a season left to make up the difference.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start tonight as the Yankees take on the visiting Blue Jays for the beginning of their 3-game series of this homestand, this final stretch before the All-Star break (the official halfway point of the season). Tanaka threw 11 pitches in 7 strong innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and a run, striking out 8 Toronto batters. In fact, the Blue Jays didn’t get on the board until his final inning when a hit-by-pitch stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error before scoring on an RBI single.

Dellin Betances kept things going in the 8th, with his 20 pitches and 2 strikeouts. He then handed things over to Aroldis Chapman, but the closer struggled a bit through the 9th inning. A lead-off double scored on a 1-out double, and then that runner scored on a single. Then Chapman focused in and got the final 2 outs to close out the game. But he certainly made it look like work.

However, before all that, the Blue Jays showed why they’re holding up the bottom of the AL East. The Yankees got things started in the 1st inning by loading up the bases with 1 out. Chase Headley was hit by a pitch, which scored Judge, and Jacoby Ellsbury’s walk scored Sanchez. (Basically, the 2 most boring run scoring options available in baseball.) Then the Jays starter kept the Yankees from doing much, and his first 2 relievers followed suit.

The Yankees found their next opportunity in the 8th. Judge led-off with a single, Sanchez doubled, and Gregorius walked to load up the bases, with no outs. Headley’s double scored both Judge and Sanchez. And then after an out, a really strange play that could only be called a fielder’s choice thanks to a missed catch error. Torreyes hit a short dribbler in the infield which the pitcher fielded and threw home for the runner there, but the catcher lost it on the tag. So Gregorius was safe, and then while they were still trying to find the ball, Headley came in to score too.

It gave the Yankees the lead they’d need through the 9th inning struggles and still stay in command of the game and the win.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

Today, Aaron Judge made up his mind about the Home Run Derby. He’s in, but he’s not going alone. Gary Sanchez will be joining him on next Monday night in Miami. Don’t forget to vote in the final fan vote for Didi Gregorius to join Judge, Sanchez, Castro, Severino, and Betances at the All-Star Game next week.

The Yankees have also sweetened the deal for your final fan voters, offering ticket discounts for voters to select summer games. You can vote a maximum 35 times via text (text A3 to 89269), and an unlimited number of times online and via Twitter (one hashtag #SirDidi4Sure per tweet). Online voting ends July 6, 2017, at 3:59 pm EST. So vote often!

The Yankees are sending Greg Bird to get some exploratory surgery to figure out why his ankle still isn’t healing from his injury. He’s not been able to play in rehab games without pain in a long time, so clearly something is wrong. The Yankees have made it clear if there’s no clear-cut solution for Bird by the end of this month, they will be looking for options from the trade market to shore up their 1st base position. That trade deadline (of July 31) looms heavy on whatever the doctors decide with Bird.

Go Yankees!

Game 80: NYY vs. HOU — Still not shut out, strong ASG representation, #SirDidi4Sure

Well, it was quite the sell-out game for the 41,761 at Minute Maid Park this afternoon. There was still quite the contingency of Yankees’ fans amid the Astros’ orange, but the ones in orange certainly had a better outcome.

In this final game in Houston, with the series split, the Yankees were looking to narrowing the lead the Astros currently have on the AL. It didn’t happen. Luis Severino had a pretty rough start for him, throwing 87 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 9 hits, a walk, and 6 runs, and still struck out 7 batters along the way, even getting out of several tight jams.

In the 2nd, a former Yankee led-off with a double and then scored as part of a big 2-run home run to start the Astros’ big afternoon. Two outs later and a runner on 2nd with a double, another double scored that runner to solidify the Astros’ lead. In the 4th, Severino loaded up the bases, and with 2 outs, a double scored 2 more runs for the home team. After an out and a double, Severino’s afternoon was done.

It was on to Tyler Webb for relief, though Severino was responsible for that runner he left standing on 2nd. A walk and fielder’s choice put runners on the corners before a single scored one more run (that runner of Severino’s). Domingo German took over in the 7th and had a bit of trouble initially. His lead-off batter singled and then ended up at 3rd after a wild pitch and bad throwing error. Then with one out, a 2-run home run capped off the Astros’ big afternoon. His 8th inning was much smoother.

The Yankees managed to rack up the pitch count of the Astros’ starter, pushing him to 105 pitches in just 4 innings, but they certainly didn’t manage any runs. They got on base, but couldn’t do anything about it. The first three relievers had a bit better luck against the Yankees’ roster, and the Yankees were in danger of being shut out for their first game all season.

But no, they may not be able to come back enough for a win, but they sure weren’t going to be shut out of today’s game. Chase Headley led off the 9th inning with a double and then scored on Chris Carter’s shattered bat single. After pinch-hitter Refsnyder walked, that pitcher was given the hook and replaced with one who breezed through the final 2 batters for a double play and strikeout to end the game.

Final score: 8-1 Astros, Astros win series 2-1.

It’s official. Aaron Judge is an All-Star. Of course, we’ve known this for a while, but it’s nice that everyone else understands this fact too. But Judge isn’t the only Yankee headed to Miami in just 9 days. Joining the rookie All-Star will be Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, and Starlin Castro. And now, possibly Didi Gregorius.

While Judge was the only fan-elected starter (and with 4,488,702 votes, he led all other AL starters by far), the new system of filling out the rosters is a mix of player-elected ballots and MLB-selected players. Sanchez and Castro were chosen as reserve players in their positions by their fellow players, as were Betances and Severino to pitch during the Midsummer Classic.

Here’s how the votes happened to fill out the roster: we know that the fans voted for their selected starters. But instead of the managers choosing their respective teams to fill out the reserves and pitching staff, the league’s players were responsible for choosing the 16 reserves (8 pitchers and a backup for each position, plus a DH for the AL) Then the commissioner’s office at MLB HQ chose 4 more pitchers for each league and 3 more position players for the NL and 1 for the AL. This was to make sure each team has at least one representative.

The final spot is now up to the fans again in the Final Fan Vote. And in the AL, one nominee is Didi Gregorius. I’ve already started voting, as you can vote as often as you’d like online, using Twitter, or via text. So #SirDidi4Sure!

Congrats to all the All Stars, but especially to our strong showing that will represent us well in Miami in just over a week! Also, no, Judge has made no announcement if he will do the Home Run Derby the day before the All-Star Game. Maybe if we ask him nicely?

Go Yankees!

Game 77: CHW vs. NYY — Very late start and 2 big losses

Normally, games that take place in the Central Time zone start an hour behind normal game start times. Which is fine, even for evening games, for those of us still on Eastern Time. I always complain about evening games on the West Coast because they’re 3 hours behind. But by 10pm tonight (Eastern Time and the normal start time for evening West Coast games if you live in EST), the Yankees were still in the middle of a rain delay in Chicago due to a lingering squall line that seemed to want to soak the area and wouldn’t leave for at least another area.

I went ahead and looked at the schedule and found a potential reschedule date that would fit both teams, but the consensus seemed to be wanting to get the game over with. Well, maybe it wasn’t, but that’s what they did.

Anyway, so with a start time of 11pm (EST), that meant there was a rain delay of 2 hours and 50 minutes, which led to a 3 hour and 1 minute game. And if you’re doing math, that means the last out of the 9th inning happened at 2:01am (EST). Thank goodness it wasn’t one of those extra innings games. I’m guessing neither team will have an early call tomorrow before their games.

Anyway, the Yankees played their final game against the White Sox, with Luis Cessa getting the late start tonight. Cessa threw 89 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs (though only 2 were earned), and struck out just one Chicago batter. In the 2nd, with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd, a fielding error allowed the batter to make it safely to 1st and the runner to score the White Sox’s first run. A single then scored another run. And in the 4th, with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, a double doubled the White Sox’s score.

Shreve closed out the 5th for Cessa in just 6 pitches and began the momentum that would last the rest of the game and put the bullpen back in their dominant position we knew from most of the season. Herrera, Clippard, and Webb sailed their way through the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings, adding 5 strikeouts.

The Yankees actually got on the board first. Gardner led-off the game with a single, moved to 2nd on Judge’s walk, and then scored on a force attempt and fielding error. Ellsbury led-off the 4th with a walk, moved to 2nd on Romine’s 1-out single, and then scored on Ronald Torreyes’ 2-out single. Ellsbury led-off the 6th with a beautiful triple (thanks to his speediness around those bases) and then scored on Austin Romine’s ground out.

The Yankees were also faced with a tight bullpen (including 2 former Yankees) who kept them from adding to their score and handed the White Sox their second victory of the series. (Oddly, both teams only “earned” 2 runs each, which is fitting for a series they evenly split.)

Final score: 4-3 White Sox, White Sox and Yankees split the series 2-2.

Roster moves (hang on, there’s a lot): Tyler Austin was put on the 10-day disabled list due to his right hamstring bruise, and Greg Bird was transferred from the 10 to 60-day DL due to his right angle bruise (which unfortunately effectively ends his season). To make some room on the roster, the Yankees designated Mason Williams for assignment (though I expect him to remain with the organization) and optioned Miguel Andujar back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (more in a moment). The Yankees selected the contracts of Chris Carter (told you he’d be back) and Dustin Fowler and put them in the starting lineup tonight.

Now, when news broke of Andujar’s being sent back down after last night’s amazing debut, it pretty much broke the internet of Yankees Universe. I think people were hoping for a great rest of the season from the 22-year-old rookie. And with recent issues, I don’t imagine we’ll not see him again (and in the future on a more permanent basis). But the Yankees (specifically Girardi) wanted to see him playing 3rd base every day, and that’s not going to happen with Headley currently filling that spot.

Now, in even worse news for Yankee prospects, tonight was the MLB debut of Dustin Fowler. In the bottom of the 1st, he was playing right field, scheduled to lead-off the top of the 2nd, when he ran at full speed to run down a fly ball. He slammed into a low fence, the electrical box there, and a railing, nearly flipping over it into the crowd. He hobbled away, hopping a bit on his left leg before collapsing on the warning track. This was not a good sign.

The Yankees surrounded their teammate, and the medical staff called for a cart and stretcher. There was no way Fowler was leaving the field on his own two feet. Later, the medical team at the field diagnosed his injury as an “open rupture of the patellar tendon in the right knee”, and sent him into immediate surgery to repair it at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, performed by White Sox team doctor Charles A. Bush-Joseph.

On a side note, Fowler’s parents found out too late about his debut and couldn’t make it to Chicago (from their home in Georgia) in time and were going to meet him and the team in Houston for the weekend series. (But I bet they’re in Chicago now.)

Our prayers are with Fowler as he heals and recovers and aims to get back to baseball as soon as humanly possible.

And in a completely different thought line, while the Yankees were battling the White Sox about the 3rd inning, the fan voting for the All-Star Game closed. At the last count, Aaron Judge was in the lead among AL votes and for the outfielders, but other Yankees were still in the running as well. All the starters will be revealed on Sunday night (at 7pm on ESPN). After the coaches fill out the rest of their ASG roster, the final fan vote will begin to select among 5 nominated players per league.

Go Yankees!