Game 107: NYY vs. CLE — Not-so-Sonny Yankees’ soggy, sloppy debut

It was actually quite a soggy and stormy day in Cleveland right up until about an hour before game time. And then suddenly, the hometown fans in the “Mistake on the Lake” were ready to watch their ace pitcher throw a complete game in this first game of the 4-game weekend series in Cleveland.

Newly acquired starter Sonny Gray certainly had a rough debut tonight, thanks in part to some costly fielding errors, 3 in the sloppy 1st inning. Gray threw 98 pitches in 6 innings, giving up just 4 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs (only 2 earned), striking out 6 Cleveland batters.

That 1st inning was just not good for the Yankees in any way. The lead-off batter reached 1st on a bobbled fielding error to kick off the game. That runner moved to 2nd on a ground out and then to 3rd on another hit into a fielding error to put runners on the corners. A single then easily scored those 2 runners, and the play ended with the runner standing on 3rd thanks to a throwing error.

But then Gray (and the Yankees’ defense) got back into gear and played better baseball. So to bookend Gray’s outing, his 6th inning was a more legitimate show of small-ball for the Indians as Gray searched for that hard-fought 3rd out. With 2 outs, Gray gave up a walk and single that both scored on a solid double.

Chasen Shreve came on in relief of Gray for 2 innings, only giving up a single hit. It was unfortunate that it would be a 1-out solo shot in the 7th, but at that point, the Indians were already safely in the lead. So it didn’t make much of a difference.

Now, the Indians’ starter is really good. And tonight was no exception, going so far as to throw a complete game — 106 pitches in 9 innings, giving up just 3 hits, a walk, and a run, and striking out 11 Yankees’ batters along the way. It’s hard not to appreciate that kind of show, even if it clearly wasn’t in the Yankees’ favor. The only run he allowed was a 1-out solo home run by Gary Sanchez into the first row of the seats out over left-center field.

It just wasn’t going to happen for the Yankees tonight. Not with the sloppy start. And not against this pitcher in this mode.

Final score: 5-1 Indians

Tomorrow the new men in pinstripes continue. (Or “away greys”, I should say.) Jaime Garcia will make his Yankee debut, hopefully with a bit more success than Sonny Gray today. A bit more storms tomorrow afternoon in the area, but should be clear once again by game time.

And Clint Frazier had a bit of a homecoming of sorts today. This is the first time Frazier has been able to connect with his former teammates since the trade last year (part of the exchange that sent star reliever Andrew Miller to the Indians) that made his a major Yankee prospect late last season. Frazier greeted former teammates with his usual gusto, admitting he followed last year’s World Series closely and felt part of the reason the Indians went so far was making sure a great pitcher like Miller was on the team.

Okay, I guess that makes sense to me. Let’s blame Frazier for the reason the Indians got so far. But if they also beat the Yankees this year to get to or during the postseason again, the same rule applies… just saying… (Don’t open that can of worms with Yankee fans, “Red Thunder”!)

Go Yankees!

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!

It’s almost Spring…

Well, now that the other major American sport has taken its bow, it’s time to focus on the real American pastime. And before you’re wondering, I write a blog about the New York Yankees, which team could I possibly back in the big game last night — the team that plays in Boston or the one that doesn’t?

Anyway, just a couple of days ago, the Yankees posted pictures of their staff loading up all their equipment, loading it onto the truck, and sending it on its way down to Tampa. Many on the current roster and invitees (including quite a few of the Baby Bombers on the top 100 prospects list) are showing up at the minor league complex for early workouts. Tickets to games are being purchased, renovations at the field are almost done, and the countdown in down to mere days. Yes, Yankee Universe, it’s almost Spring Training.

The Yankees have wrapped up the last few weeks of their off-season in many ways. Last month, Chance Adams, Starlin Castro, Clint Frazier, Chase Headley, Matt Holliday, James Kaprielian, CC Sabathia, Gary Sanchez, Justus Sheffield, and Gleyber Torres helped out with the Yankees first ever “Winter Warm-up“, an event designed to introduce new players to New York and its legacy and community with the help of some of the veterans. This included surprising a life-long fan with VIP tickets; touring the City and Yankee Stadium; holding a live-streamed town hall for fans; visiting a senior center, an elementary school, a senior community event, and cancer center; calling season ticket holders personally; and surprising Bronx residents joining them for lunch at a local restaurant.

At a special awards banquet in January, quite a few Yankees were recognized for their contributions in baseball this past season. Last year’s “Warriors Three” (or No-Runs DMC, as some rogue reporters seems to believe they should be dubbed), Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman were recognized by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America with the “Willie, Mickey, and the Duke Award” for their outstanding teamwork this year. What is especially significant is that this three-headed monster was split in July when Chapman went to the Cubs (and got a ring) and Miller went to the Indians (and almost got a ring, settling for the AL MVP instead). Betances took over the closing role to finish the season but is more than willing to slide back to set-up man after the Yankees resigned Chapman in December. The local writers’ group also honored other Yankees at that dinner. Chase Headley received the “Good Guy Award” and Mark Teixeira shared the Slocum Award for Long and Meritorious Service with Boston’s David Ortiz, in addition to a number of other awards given across baseball.

Overlapping Spring Training once again is the World Baseball Classic. As of this posting, only two Yankees have committed to play for the WBC. Didi Gregorius will play for the Dutch team, which is scheduled to start its games March 7 in Seoul against South Korea, Taipei, and Israel. Dellin Betances has committed to play for the Dominican Republic, which starts its games March 9 in Miami against Canada, the United States, and Columbia. There was talk that Sanchez might join Betances on the reigning championship team, but the closer to Spring Training, the less likely the chances. Masahiro Tanaka was offered a spot on the Japanese team, but opted for Spring Training to get back in the momentum of being a Yankee and come out stronger than last year.

In a single day last month, the baseball world lost two of its members in separate car accidents in the Dominican Republic. Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, 25, was a key part of the Royals’ 2014 World Series attempt and their 2015 World Series win, even earning Rookie of the Year in 2014. Former third baseman Andy Marte, 33, was originally signed by the Braves in 2005 before spending the bulk of his career with the Indians and most recently the 2014 season with the Diamondbacks and a team in South Korea. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with their families and friends as they mourn their loved ones.

I wish I could tell you the Yankees had some good news about the Hall of Fame results, but it was not to be this year. Instead, the BBWAA (the same guys who recognized Teixeira, Betances, and Headley) decided that just three former players would make it to Cooperstown this year — Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. The trio are the only three who made the cut-off at 75% of the earned votes. Most Yankee fans will probably only remember two names — Mike Mussina (holding on for another year at 51.8% of the vote) and Jorge Posada (who failed to get the minimum 5% voting needed to stay on the ballot next year at 3.8%).

Bagwell spent all 15 seasons (1991-2005) with the Astros, as their star first baseman. Raines is predominantly known as the left fielder of the Expos (1979-1990, 2001), but he also spent some of his 23 seasons with the White Sox, Athletics, Marlins, Orioles, and Yankees. Raines spent his time with the Yankees during the start of the most recent dynasty, 1996-1998, even earning a 1996 World Series ring for his postseason contributions. Rodriguez spent the majority of his 21 seasons with the Rangers (1991-2002, 2009), eventually spending time with the Marlins, Tigers, Astros, Nationals, and Yankees. Rodriguez may be the most familiar to current Yankee fans as he spent the latter half of the 2008 season in pinstripes as back-up catcher. As expected, neither of the former Yankees will be donning a Yankee insignia on their monument plaque in the Hall of Fame, which will be honored and unveiled on July 30.

Okay, so here’s important Spring dates to remember: February 14 — pitchers and catchers report to camp (8 days away); February 15 — pitcher and catchers work out day, Steinbrenner Field open to public if you want to watch the work outs (9 days); February 18 — full squad reporting day (12 days); February 19 — full squad work out day (13 days); February 24 — Spring Training home opener vs. Phillies (18 days); April 2 — Season Opener at the Rays (55 days); and April 10 — Home opener vs. the Rays (62 days).

Yes, it’s almost Spring…

Go Yankees!

Game 104: NYY vs. TB — A sweeping loss

Okay, before we dive into the major news of the day that even overshadowed the game, we need to talk about the game. Being as it is the series against the Rays, I should resign to using water metaphors and puns. “Swept out to sea”, “sunk again”, and “dive bombed” might be appropriate phases, and to make matters worse, one of the home runs today was hit into the Rays touch tank the Trop has out over center field. (By the way, it’s super cool if you’re ever at the Trop; but get in line early, like when the gates first open, or you won’t get in before the game.) But I won’t resort to pirated phrases… okay, a few might sink in there from time to time.

Michael Pineda got the start this afternoon in the closing game of this weekend series against the Rays. Pineda actually threw a pretty decent game for the first half of his 6 innings, keeping the Rays scoreless and with just 1 hit. But then he struggled in the 4th getting runners in scoring position with no outs before they both scored on consecutive ground outs to give the Rays a lead.

A 2-out solo home run in the 5th added another run for the Rays (that’s the one that ended up floating in the touch tank). And in the 6th, with 2 outs and runners again in scoring position, Pineda intentionally walked a batter, hoping to go after the next batter. But a pitch left just a little up in the strike zone became a 2-RBI single to pad the Rays’ lead.

After 93 pitches, 6 hits, 4 walks, 5 runs, and 8 strikeouts, Pineda’s day was done. Luis Severino came on to throw a near perfect 2 innings and kept the Rays from adding to their score or doing much in the way of base runners.

In the meantime, the Yankees did their best to reduce the Rays’ lead. In the 4th inning, they loaded up the bases with a couple of singles and a walk and just 1 out, but the next batter quickly ended that hope by grounding into a double play.

It wasn’t until the 6th inning, they finally broke through. Ellsbury led-off with a walk and then scored when Carlos Beltran hit a big 2-run home run. The Yankees were on the board and watching the Rays enjoy their lead. So in the 8th, Starlin Castro led-off with a single and ended up at 2nd on a messy throwing error, before scoring on Brian McCann’s single. But a double play and line out later, the Yankees rally and run-scoring was at an end.

Honestly, most of the game featured pretty similar stats — 23 total strikeouts between the two teams, 15 hits, and 9 walks. But what does it always come down to? Those runs scored numbers.

Final score: 5-3 Rays, Rays sweep series 3-0.

And for the big news of the day… the Warriors Three and the Dynamic Duo are officially done. At 8:30 this morning, Andrew Miller got the call that informed him that he had been traded to Cleveland (more below). Sorry, Miller fans, but he’s headed to the “Mistake on the Lake”. Now, here’s the upside for Miller — Cleveland is doing really good this year, like they’re the best team in the AL as of this posting. Their chances of the postseason are really high (95%), which means Miller (who will wear #24 with the Indians) will most likely be playing October baseball. (More than I can say for most of his now former teammates — the Yankees’ postseason chances are down to 5%.)

Okay, so here’s the trade details: Miller was traded to the Indians as part of a big swap. In exchange for the closer, the Yankees acquired 4 prospects, including 2 of the Indians top prospects — outfielder Clint Frazier (#1) and left-hander Justus Sheffield (#5), as well as right-handers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen. In addition, to fill the gap on the roster due to Miller’s trade, the Yankees traded for an old face to some fans — pitcher Tyler Clippard is back from the Diamondbacks in exchange for pitching prospect Vicente Campos.

After updating the Yankees’ farm system rankings and the league’s farm system rankings, the Yankees’ farm system is actually one of the best in the entire league. This is really good news. It means the future is looking bright again, even if the current season isn’t looking so good. Comparisons are being made to the farm system that produced the core of what became the dynasty of the 1990s and early 2000s. Again, this is good news.

Go Yankees!

Game 100: NYY vs. HOU — 100 games, a win, & on the plus side

For the middle game of this Houston series, the Yankees sent up CC Sabathia to start the game, hoping that he could continue his climb towards evening out his own stats this season. (After this game, he’s sitting at 6-8.) Sabathia threw 103 pitches in just shy of 7 innings, giving up just 4 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 5 Houston batters. And the most interesting fact about Houston’s offense is that all their runs scored tonight were solo home runs. First, a 1-out solo shot in the 1st inning, and then a lead-off solo homer in the 7th inning.

Then with 2 outs and a single, the Yankees called in Anthony Swarzak to relieve Sabathia. Swarzak immediately struck out the final batter of the 7th inning. Swarzak now wears #41, giving recently re-signed Adam Warren his old number (#43) back before the game. He came back out in the 8th to strike out the lead-off batter before giving up the third and final solo homer to the Astros of the night. Another strike out and a walk, and it was time for a new pitcher. So in came Dellin Betances, who then walked 2 more batters to load up the bases, before getting out of his own jam. And the Yankees’ new (and once again) closer Andrew Miller made his way through the 9th inning to earn his 9th save.

Now, of course, a save means the Yankees must have some kind of offense. Which they did. Beginning in the 2nd inning, the Yankees started dented the Astros starter. McCann singled, and Teixeira doubled to put them in scoring positions. Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly scored McCann, and Castro’s single put runners in the corners. Chase Headley’s single then scored Teixeira. But even with the bases loaded on Gardner’s walk, the Yankees were left stranded at the end of the 2nd inning, but ahead of the Astros by a run.

Then in the 3rd, Beltran single, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then watched Teixeira work a 1-out walk. Gregorius hit into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners, so that Starlin Castro’s single scored Beltran. In the 5th, McCann was hit by a pitch and Teixeira singled, and then both moved to scoring position on a ground out. The Astros’ starter intentionally walked the hot-hitting Castro. Headley’s sacrifice fly scored McCann and moved runners to the corners. Then Aaron Hicks’ amazing triple scored both Teixeira and Castro and forced the Houston starter out of the game right there in the 5th inning.

And that made all the difference for the Astros in the end because not one Yankee crossed the plate again tonight from that point on. However, the Yankees still racked up a total of 13 hits off Astros’ pitchers.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees

The Yankees now have a winning record through 100 games for the 24th straight season. The Yankees have 52 wins and 48 losses. Now, they’re currently still in 4th place in the AL East because the AL East is just really good this season (again). But they’re only 6.5 games behind Baltimore (the leaders). Toronto is just 2 games behind Baltimore, and Boston is 2.5 games behind. In other words, the Yankees actually have a chance. Recent stats said the Yankees have a 1.3% chance at winning the AL East and a 7.7% chance at a Wild Card spot. And that is my positive spin for the day on hopes for October baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 99: NYY vs. HOU — Goodbye, new friend… Hello, old friends

Okay, the trade rumors proved true to an extent. One pitcher is on his way to the Cubs, and another is on his way to join the Yankees in Houston for their series there this week. Plus, the Yankees clearly got the better end of the deal picking up 3 prospects, including one rather promising 19 year old infielder. But that’s covered below after the game.

Because despite all the chatter being about the trade, it was still a game day, and the Yankees began their 3-game mid-week series in Houston facing the Astros, who are doing a pretty good job this year themselves. Plus, the Yankees faced off against their ace tonight, and like they did with the Giants, the Yankees proved they’re a better team than their current stats say they are.

Michael Pineda got the start tonight for the Yankees, and his command from start to finish was one of a mature starter who is now settled into his role on this team. He threw 103 pitches in his full 7 innings, giving up just 5 hits, 2 walks, and a single run, and striking out 8 Houston batters. That lone run was a lead-off solo home run right in the 1st inning, but the Astros couldn’t do much after that. In fact, they didn’t add any further runs to their score. This meant that Pineda, his relievers, and the defense spent the rest of the game defending and waiting for their offense to pick up.

Of course, it helped that Pineda’s relievers were the “Dynamic Duo” (formerly combined in with the “Warriors Three”, but that’s further explained below). Dellin Betances breezed his way through the 8th with 3 seemingly easy strikeouts, and Andrew Miller’s 9th inning and game-ending double play (after a messy attempt at one just a batter earlier) gave him his 8th save of the season.

And this save came into play because the Yankees did respond offensively against the Astros’ ace starter, albeit a few small contributions. But sometimes, the route to a win is via that “small ball”. In the 5th, with 2 outs, Didi Gregorius doubled and then scored on Chase Headley’s single. And with the game tied, the Yankees went into the 8th inning with a great opportunity in Headley’s lead-off single. He then came in to score the winning run on Austin Romine’s double. Two outs and Romine on 3rd, the starter was out of the game, and they brought in a fairly efficient reliever to close out the Yankees attempt at an insurance run. That reliever shut down the Yankees in order in the 8th.

But that 1-run difference was enough in the end. That, and the Yankee pitchers combining for 12 total strikeouts.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees.

Before the game, former Yankee and long-time Houston resident Andy Pettitte stopped by to visit his former team and help out by throwing batting practice. Pettitte, still enjoying retirement, loves visiting with his former team when they’re in town, chatting up the newer guys, checking in with the veterans, and giving some great advice to the rookies.

Roster moves: Okay, the Yankees sent their flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in exchange for 4 players, including Adam Warren. Seen as getting the better end of the deal for many reasons, the Yankees acquired outfielding prospects Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford and infielding prospect Gleyber Torres in addition to former Yankee reliever Adam Warren. (Warren was traded to the Cubs this offseason. Torres, however, is the one everyone is talking about as he’s considered one of the best prospects in the game (ranked #24).

And in case you were wondering, Torres and Crawford have been assigned to High-A Tampa, McKinney to AA Trenton, and Warren joins the Yankees in Houston.

For all you Chapman fans out there, know that Chapman is a free agent after this season. This means he could get his wish (“God willing,” as he said in an interview) and head back to New York for next season. Chapman reassured the press (and himself) that this was a good thing because the Cubs do stand a pretty good chance to be in the World Series this year. He’s right, of course, but he did express a bit of regret not being able to finish the season with his new “family” as he dubbed the Yankees. So, who knows?

Also, Luis Severino is back, being recalled to the Yankees after spending some time with their AAA Scranton team after his rehab stint back in May. The corresponding roster move hasn’t been announced yet, but I imagine before next game and all the pieces have been moved around the board, we’ll know something and things will be settled into place.

Go Yankees!

Game 97: SF vs. NYY — Extra inning let-down

Even if it’s summertime, a mid-afternoon game that goes into extra innings is bound to face a few natural issues — loss of sunlight, shadows creeping across the diamond, heat exhaustion, and the inexplicable progressive reduction of fans in the seats. Of course, today’s game was nearly four and a half hours long. And the nearly 47,000 fans had sat through a rather tight, rather uneventful (at times) game. But still, “it ain’t over…” and all that.

And then it was.

But first, Ivan Nova dominated this middle game with the visiting Giants from the pitcher’s mound, going 96 strong pitches through his full 7 innings. He gave up just 6 hits and 2 walks, allowing just 1 run, and struck out 7 Giants batters. His lone run allowed was a lead-off solo shot in the 5th inning. So between him and the defense, the Giants weren’t doing nothing.

Of course, the Yankees certainly had their own issues of a similar nature. Facing another great starter of recent World Series fame (though with a team that won in the odd years), the Yankees made him pitch a lot — 117 pitches in just 6 innings, got 6 hits and a walk, and struck out 9 times. Plus, they also scored a run, albeit an unearned run because the Giants defense just isn’t what it should be for how high they are in the standings. (Seriously now, how bad does that make the NL West that a sloppy defensive team is at the top of the standings? Research is needed clearly.)

Anyway, the Yankees got on the board first in the 4th inning. With 1 out, Didi Gregorius singled to get on base. Then Mark Teixeira singled, but thanks to a lovely fielding error by the outfielder, Gregorius made it all the way home to score the run. Of course, it helps that Gregorius is rather speedy in base-running.

{Video of Yankees’ defense showing off: Gardner, Headley, the teamwork of Gardner-Gregorius, and the infield collectively.}

Anyway, with the game all tied up for the 8th inning, the Yankees sent out Andrew Miller for a quick shutdown of the Giants — 10 pitches, 2 strikeouts, a standard Miller inning really. Aroldis Chapman found his somewhat normal position in the 9th, but then came out for the 10th to continue the set-down, adding 3 total strikeouts of his own over his 2 innings. Extra baseball continued when Dellin Betances made his appearance in the 11th, adding another strikeout to the total. (The Warriors Three out of order, but still incredibly effective.)

And on into the 12th inning, the game still tied. New reliever Anthony Swarzak sent in to keep the momentum going, except it didn’t. He gave up a lead-off double. And those in the stands in navy sat down as the scattering of orange wildly cheered. A 1-out single scored that runner to break the tie and give the Giants a slight edge. (The single was hit by the same guy who hit the homer earlier in the game, by the way.) A pop-out later, the Yankees called on Richard Bleier to finish the inning, which he did rather quickly.

So the Yankees turned their sights on offense in the bottom of the 12th. But the Giants’ closer today shut the Yankees down in order, in an efficient 12 pitches. Game over.

Final score: 2-1 Giants, in 12 innings.

The Yankee pitchers threw a rather impressive 13 total strikeouts today, but the Giants nearly matched them at 12. Actually, today’s game felt like a back-and-forth of equally matched teams. See, this is where standings and statistics don’t line up. You have one of the better teams in baseball (Giants) versus the 4th place AL East team (Yankees), and yet, they play like the old time days when the Giants were still in New York and they were intense rivals.

Trade rumors alert: Okay, I know I don’t do much as far as rumors go, but this one has been rather persistent. The rumor is that the Yankees have been looking to trade Aroldis Chapman and/or Andrew Miller. Chapman is set to be a free agent come this off-season, and Miller is seen as the “weaker” of the Three because he doesn’t hit 100mph on his fastball. (You can imagine my scoffing and arguments there if you’d like, and you’d be right.) But now, it’s looking like the rumors have settled on the fact that Chapman might be the lone trade. Again, still rumors, so whatever.

Tomorrow is Hall of Fame Induction Day at Cooperstown. The ceremony will be broadcast live on MLB Network beginning at 11 am. The Class of 2016 inductees are Mike Piazza (Mets) and Ken Griffey Jr. (Mariners), both well-deserved honors for a couple of great ball players.

Go Yankees!