Game 69: LAA vs. NYY — Snapping the skid

Sometimes, all it takes to right the ship is a single moment or a single game. This was that game to snap the Yankees really out-of-character recent spiral, and reset the focus. Though it was certainly not without its questionable moments in this middle game against the visiting Angels.

The Yankees struck first in the 2nd. With 1 out, Sanchez singled and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ solid home run into the 2nd deck of the right field seats. It was a good sign of things to come for the Yankees, who would eventually rack up 12 total hits and 5 walks during the game.

Jordan Montgomery got the start and continued impressing with his 97 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, striking out 5 Angels’ batters. His only allowed runs were in the 4th inning. With 2 outs, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a balk, but then a batter hit a big 2-run homer to tie up the game at that point.

But the Yankees came back in the 5th to break the tie and push themselves back into the lead. With 2 outs, Matt Holliday smacked his 15th home run of the season, a solo shot into the right field seats. And Sanchez led-off the 6th with a single, and Headley worked a 1-out walk to end the Angels’ starter’s night.

A new pitcher gave up a double to Austin Romine that scored both Sanchez and Headley for a few insurance runs. Romine moved to 3rd on a flyout and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ single. Holliday led-off with a double and then scored on Starlin Castro’s single. Castro later scored on Chase Headley’s 2-out single.

Meanwhile, Chad Green came on to finish Montgomery’s 6th inning and pitched a fairly clean 7th. Dellin Betances breezed through the 8th inning in just 14 pitches, including 2 strong strikeouts.

But it would be Tyler Clippard that made things interesting. Despite looking forward to stopping his own skid this season, his 9th inning was troubling. He gave up a lead-off double that scored on a 2-run home run to halve the Yankees’ lead. But the Yankees weren’t about to lose this game and sent in their insurance plan — Aroldis Chapman for a 9-pitch outing, ratcheting up the heat to 103 mph for the final strikeout pitch.

Final score: 8-4 Yankees.

The Yankees now will be looking to surge forward in victory, closing out this midweek series against the Angels on a win before facing the weekend series against the Rangers. In an update to the standings: the Yankees are back on top in the AL East with this win (and the Red Sox’s loss) tonight. But just by half a game.

Actually, looking at the standings daily is amusing. Because it so fluctuates at this point in the season. At first, at the beginning of the season, it’s so extreme in the standings. And then by almost the half-way point in the season, it’s a matter of a series that can change who’s leading a division. And this pattern continues through most of the season, right up until the end.

Of course, there’s always that one team that runs away from their division (I’m looking at you NL East right now). And it’s not a matter that the one team is that good, but rather the rest of the division is just that bad in comparison. But sometimes, there’s a 1998 Yankees season where they run away with the division because they’re just that good (setting a league record of 114 wins during the regular season, and 11 more in the postseason, plus the World Series).

But right now, it’s still very much anyone’s game. You never know which team’s going to get hot, which team’s going to be bogged down with injuries, and which team’s going to just surprise everyone and do the unexpected. Because that’s baseball… you learn to expect the unexpected.

And it certainly makes life a whole lot more fun.

Go Yankees!

Game 67: NYY vs. OAK — Swept away on Father’s Day

On this Father’s Day 2017, I am reminded of my own father who loved this great game of baseball. He was what you would call a fan of the game. I remember sitting with him and my brothers in a dreary stadium by Lake Erie, and even when our team lost yet another one, my dad never thought of them as a “mistake on the lake”. No, he appreciated the strategy and called it a “thinking man’s game”.

Of course, he did have a favorite team, but he actually just loved the game no matter who was playing. He always told us that when he watched the players, he was reminded they all were once little leaguers with big dreams. Maybe he identified as such because he also once had big dreams of playing ball.

When my dad was growing up in the first part of the 20th century, baseball was the sport to play. Summer afternoons saw neighborhood kids gathered in a local park with tattered gloves and old bats to play a game just for the fun of it. At home or even in local stores, fans gathered around the radio, listening to games from Cleveland or Chicago or New York. This love of baseball resulted in friendships that lasted a lifetime.

My dad’s love of the game connected our family together. On Father’s Day, there is usually a ballgame playing somewhere, and while many of us now root for different teams, it is my dad’s love for the game that gave us this gift of connection over this shared interest in baseball.

And there was, of course, a baseball game today, as the Yankees closed out their road trip with this final game in Oakland against the Athletics. The Yankees were looking at winning one in the “Bright Side of the Bay” (which it clearly wasn’t for the Yankees this weekend). And Luis Cessa got the start this Father’s Day afternoon, throwing 73 pitches in his 4 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, striking out just 4 Oakland batters.

All of Oakland’s runs were scored in the 3rd inning, clearly Cessa’s weakest time today (he gave up 4 of his 5 hits in that inning alone). With 1 out, a single and double put runners in scoring position so that they could on another double to get the A’s on the board. Then another player hit a 2-out 2-run home run to double their score and push them into the lead.

Other than that lone inning, Cessa had a pretty good outing, despite setting himself up for the loss. He handed the game over to Chad Green, whose 5th and 6th innings continued that same pattern of keeping the A’s from doing much. Tyler Clippard’s 7th was nearly flawless, but it would be recently reinstated Aroldis Chapman sailed through his 8th inning with just 8 pitches. (Talk about a comeback!)

Now, the Yankees weren’t exactly shut out or sitting on their laurels through this game. In fact, they struck first when Matt Holliday fired a solo home run to lead off the 2nd inning. Gardner led-off the 3rd with a double and then scored on Aaron Judge’s 1-out single.

Didi Gregorius smacked a long ball to the right field seats, just to the left of the foul pole. The umpires called it a home run, but just to cover their bases, the umpires called for a review themselves to make sure the ball really was a home run. It was, and the Yankees were within a run of the Athletics after their big 3rd inning.

But the A’s starter did a pretty decent job of fending of any potential Yankee rallies into the 7th inning and the bullpen (surprisingly for this team) just breezed through the final 8 outs and shut the Yankees down in order.

Final score: 4-3 Athletics, Athletics sweep series 4-0 (Yankees’ West Coast road trip: 1-6)

Roster moves: The Yankees sent Kyle Higashioka back to AAA Scranton to make room for Aroldis Chapman, who is now back from his rehab assignment and off the disabled list.

The Yankees took a few moments to honor their dads and reflect on what this day means to them, as so many of them are now fathers themselves. Manager Joe Girardi shared his insights. Gary Sanchez was recently featured in a special article, talking about how the birth of his daughter Sarah changed him as a man and as a player. He sees becoming a father as a turning point in his life, a sentiment I believe most fathers would echo.

And so, on this day that honors so many fathers, I am remembering my dad with thankfulness for introducing me to this wonderful game of baseball. I wish I could be sitting with him today cheering on the team, eating peanuts, and keeping the box score. I will always remember how he had a way of using baseball to teach us life lessons when watching a game, that character counts, that integrity and honesty and loyalty are to be valued. By his example, I learned to support the whole team, not just individual players. To find the positive in even a negative situation. That there’s always another day and another game. To always hope. And above all, to never give up.

My dad remembered the one year his team did win the World Series when he was a boy (hint: it was 1948) and almost saw it happen again in his lifetime (about 10 years before he passed away). But even in his later years, he was ever the fan, even wearing a team cap when he watched a game on TV, hopeful that this might be “the year”.

Which brings me to this year. In 2017, there is a very real chance that could be “the year” for the Yankees. (Despite the current outcome of this road trip!) That elusive #28 is a real possibility. But no matter how the season ends, we’ll still remember that there’s always the hope for “the year” — as if we just know it’s an eventuality. And with the Yankees, we know from experience that it really is.

So, thanks, Dad.

Go Yankees!

Game 65: NYY vs. OAK — A bumpy ride in “Bump City”

Oakland was dubbed “Bump City” after author John Krich’s 1979 book Bump City: Winners and Losers in Oakland about the history of the city, known mainly for its pictures by Dorothea Lange from the collection of the Oakland Museum. But no one from Oakland really knows that and are not a huge fan of said nickname. But it fits my purposes, especially with the way this road trip is going.

Luis Severino had a pretty good outing except a single inning. And thanks to that, he threw 109 pitches in just 6 innings, overall giving up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 4 runs, striking out 6 Oakland batters.

In the 2nd, Severino faced all 9 batters in the Oakland lineup as he struggled his way through the inning. He gave up consecutive walks before getting a strikeout, and then a double scored the first A’s run. A ground out scored another run, but initially the runner was called safe at 1st. The Yankees challenged, and it was overturned for the 2nd out of the inning. And it was back to the game for a single to score yet another run. Another single moved runners to the corners, and another single scored the 4th run of the inning.

So, the Yankees had a bit of catching up to do. In the 3rd, with 2 outs and runners on the corners, Aaron Judge hit his 23rd home run of the season, a 3-run shot to the right field seats to put the Yankees a whole lot closer to the A’s lead.

And in the 5th, Torreyes hit a 1-out double and then scored on Mason Williams’ single to tie up the game. Williams ended up at 2nd on the throw, but Oakland challenged him being safe at 2nd. The call was upheld after a rather long review. Despite the Yankees loading up the bases with a couple of walks, they weren’t able capitalize on it then and break the tie.

Until Chris Carter led-off the 6th with a solo home run, that is, straight up the middle of the O.Co (Oakland Coliseum). And in the 7th, Judge hit a 1-out triple and then scored on Starlin Castro’s single for an insurance run.

So, with a 2-run lead, Chasen Shreve took over for Severino. Shreve had his own issues. With 1 out, he gave up a walk and a single to put runners on the corners, and a sacrifice fly scored the lead runner to put the Athletics within 1 run. Jonathan Holder had a worse time in the 8th, loading up the bases with a walk, a ground-rule double, and an intentional walk before a single scored both the tying and winning runs for the A’s. The final play was a double play, but was originally just a fielder’s choice until the Yankees continued their streak of challenge-and-overturn in their favor.

Final score: 7-6 Athletics

Injury news: (and boy, is it a doozy lately!)
The Yankees officially placed CC Sabathia on 10-day DL, retroactive to June 14, due to his strained left hamstring. Adam Warren is also now on the 10-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. On day-to-day are Aaron Hicks (with achilles tendon soreness) and Gary Sanchez (with groin tightness).

And in roster maneuvers:
The Yankees reassigned Aroldis Chapman to AA Trenton to continue his rehab assignment. He is hoping to be activated and rejoin the team in Oakland by Sunday’s game. (Fingers crossed!) The Yankees also optioned pitchers Ronald Herrera to AA Trenton and Gallegos to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, recalling relievers Domingo German and Luis Cessa from AAA Scranton. They also recalled Mason Williams and Kyle Higashioka from AAA Scranton to fill in for Hicks and Sanchez, respectively. (I hope they got a group rate on the Scranton to Oakland flight!)

Two more games in Oakland this weekend (and they’re not late-night games for us East Coasters!), and the Yankees are looking to right the ship again. For a bit there tonight, it looked like the Yankees would pull through and win it once again. But that West Coast drain kicked in and just flipped the story on them. Time to take control of that story and change the narrative.

Go Yankees!

Game 62: NYY vs. LAA — Angelic walk-off sours West Coast hopes

West Coast Week is hard on all of us East Coasters. But an extra innings night game, over 4 hours of play, and one with an unfavorable outcome, is rather less than thrilling. Add in a potential loss of a starter who’s been on a great run, due to an injury, and it’s basically not going to be a good night.

CC Sabathia was looking for his 5th straight win tonight, but fell a bit short. And not by his own fault. Actually, overall once again, he had a pretty good outing. In his 4 strong innings, he only gave up 3 hits, a walk, and an unearned run, striking out 4 Angels batters. But coming up off a pitch in the 4th and grabbing his leg was definitely not a good sign. (More after the recap)

In the 4th, with 2 outs, a batter reached on a missed catch error at 1st, ending up at 2nd on the play. He then scored on an RBI single, though due to the error, it was unearned for Sabathia, keeping his ERA in pretty good shape. The runner got caught stealing (“you don’t run on Gary!”) to end the inning for Sabathia, a good thing as he was clearly injured at that point.

After Sabathia left, the Yankees bullpen got quite the workout. Giovanni Gallegos got the first 2 innings (5th & 6th) and fairly sailed through them, as did Warren in the 7th. But Tyler Clippard gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 8th to tie up the game at that point.

To get to that point, the Yankee actually relied almost solely on one player for their scoring tonight — the unlikely hero of Chase Headley. In the 5th, Headley hit a 1-out ground-rule double and then hustled home to score on Brett Gardner’s single. And then in the 7th, Headley hit a 1-out solo home run up the middle.

When the starter came out of the game that inning with 2 men on base and 2 outs, the Yankees once again left them stranded (a common theme in this game, actually). And while they certainly had opportunities to do something (read: that common theme), the Yankees didn’t capitalize on them.

With the game now tied, Yankees reliever Holder started the bottom of the 9th inning, but struggled his way through 2 hits and 2 outs before the Yankees opted for Chasen Shreve who got out of the jam and then pitched his way into and out of another jam the 10th.

As they hit the 4-hour mark, the game turned into 11 innings. The Yankees weren’t adding to the score, and the Angels saw their only opening in the bottom of the 11th when Shreve gave up a lead-off walk. After an out, Shreve was responsible for that lone runner at 1st as Heller came on to close out the inning. That runner moved to 2nd on a ground out, watched as another baserunner joined him on a walk, and then promptly scored on a bloop single to score a walk-off win.

Final score: 3-2, in 11 innings, Angels

Injury news: Sabathia felt his leg “grab” on his 2nd to last pitch, and then said when he could push off (a necessary move for a pitcher, as you can imagine) for that final pitch, he knew something was terribly wrong. They will send him for testing, mainly an MRI, to get a timetable of recovery before deciding on a DL stint (and his replacement on the rotation), but with a hamstring injury, there’s always going to be a DL stint.

Aroldis Chapman was to begin his rehab with the Advanced-A Tampa Yankees (against the Bradenton Pirates affiliate) tonight, but severe weather forced a postponement. They are scheduled to play in Bradenton tomorrow night and the weather is looking much better. Chapman is nearing his return, still shooting for the end of the Oakland series, but I guess that depends on whether weather will cooperate with his rehab starts at this point.

Today was also the second day of the MLB Draft. The Yankees continued picking up pitchers (mostly right-handers), and mostly juniors and seniors in college.
Pitchers: Trevor Stephan, Arkansas junior, (round 3, 92nd overall); Glenn Otto, Rice junior (round 5, 152nd); (the lefty) Dalton Lehnen, Augustana College junior (round 6, 182nd); Dalton Higgins, Dallas Baptist junior (round 7, 212nd); Kyle Zurak, Radford University senior (round 8, 242nd); Austin Gardner, University of Texas Arlington (round 9, 272nd); and Chad Whitmer, Southern Illinois University Carbondale senior (round 10, 302nd). And an outfielder: Canaan Smith, Rockwall-Heath High School (round 4, 122nd overall).

One more day and 30 more picks. Basically, this is an offer by the Yankees to these young players. They can accept the offer for a chance to play ball with the Yankees organization and enter the realm of professional sports, or they can decline the offer and continue their studies or pursue a different avenue. Some will decline to hone their skills and try again next year for the draft, especially the younger players. I’ve heard stories of high school kids getting drafted (even at early rounds) but declining because they made a deal with their parents to get through at least 2 years of college first. They may come back at get drafted again or even attempt a tryout at an open call.

There is no typical draft story. One example is current Yankees rep at the draft Andy Pettitte. Technically, he was selected in the 22nd round for the 1990 draft right out of high school. But he chose to enroll in a local junior college and came to an agreement with the Yankees of what’s called a “draft-and-follow prospect”. He eventually signed with the Yankees a year later. But he and his wife later made their sons promise to go to college, despite being very good athletes (and still drafted) themselves. It certainly depends on the player, their circumstances, and their life choices.

Go Yankees!

Game 58: BAL vs. NYY — Home field advantage, home field dominance

It was Reggie Jackson bobblehead night in the Bronx, Mr. October himself having a bit of fun with it as he too bobbled his head in response to the recognition before the game. Also, it was basically a gorgeous Friday night for baseball, the weather quite a bit warmer and the sky streaked with colors of the coming sunset as the Yankees prepared to continue their home dominance in this new series against the visiting Orioles.

The rookie pitcher Jordan Montgomery got the start, and really had a fantastic outing. In his 7 innings, he threw 94 pitches, giving up just 5 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and struck out an impressive 8 Baltimore batters. After a near flawless 3 strikeout, 15-pitch 1st inning, Montgomery found his only real trouble of the game in the next inning. He gave up that lone walk to lead off the inning who promptly scored on a 2-run shot up the middle for the O’s only runs of the night. Then Montgomery dialed back in and fairly breezed through the rest of his outing.

Tyler Clippard then followed suit with a beautiful 10-pitch 8th inning, and birthday boy Jonathan Holder (Happy 24th!) closed out the game in the 9th to give the Yankees (and Montgomery) the win.

Technically, if the winning team is not the first ones to score, it is considered a comeback win. Which I think is ridiculous, as it should only be a “comeback” if there’s an incredible run difference and it’s late in the game. Like it truly matters. But it’s the way it is, so whatever.

So, despite being down 2-0 going into the bottom of the 2nd inning, the Yankee staged their “comeback”. Starlin Castro led-off with a solo home run. Sanchez then doubled, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Chase Headley’s long (and just about 2 feet shy of a homer) sacrifice fly to tie up the game. Aaron Hicks smacked a lead-off solo home run in the 6th inning (into the new “Judge’s Chambers”) to push the Yankees into the lead.

In the 7th, with a new pitcher, Chase Headley reached 1st on a fielding error, moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, ended up at 3rd on a ground out, and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2nd home run of the game (and 10th homer of the season), this one off the 2nd deck in right field. Judge then worked a walk and made a nice slide to come in and score on Matt Holliday’s (just inches shy of a homer so it bounced off the back wall) double.

Another new reliever didn’t seem to help the Orioles as the Yankees loaded up the bases in the 8th with 2 singles and a walk. Austin Romine’s single scored Sanchez and Gregorius, but Headley ended up getting thrown out going to 3rd (also the 1st out of the 8th inning). The defense buckled down and got the final 2 outs of the inning on fielder’s choice ground outs.

But the dent had been made. And the Yankees racked up 11 hits tonight.

Final score: 8-2 Yankees.

Injury updates: Aroldis Chapman is on his way to Florida to begin his rehab after his shoulder injury. He will work his way back into baseball activities with a goal to rejoin the team in the Oakland series next weekend in California.

And HOPE Week continues around the Yankee farm system. The Single-A Charleston RiverDogs had their own HOPE week at the end of May honoring great organizations around the Charleston area.

And AA Trenton Thunder are in the middle of their HOPE Week. They are out this week serving the greater Trenton area (which often extends from Philadelphia to Princeton). The AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will start their HOPE Week on Jun 19, and other affiliates are scheduled to join in the fun later this summer.

Basically, it’s good to see the Yankees all across Yankee Universe continue to give back in whatever community they’re planted. A good reminder for all their fans across the globe — you can make an impact wherever you are, but just reaching out to fill a need or taking the time to care about someone. You may not change the whole world in that moment, but you certainly can change someone’s world. And that’s really what matters.

Go Yankees!

Game 53: NYY vs. TOR — Strong start, stronger late-inning bombs

A lovely 64° and sunny in Toronto (not a sign of “The Big Smoke” in sight), with the roof open at Rogers Centre and a great view of the landmark CN Tower for the sellout crowd today. In other words, it was a beautiful day for some baseball.

Jordan Montgomery got the start today. The rookie throwing what had to be his strongest start of the season so far. He threw 103 pitches through the 6 innings, giving up just 3 hits and 3 walks, and striking out 5 Toronto batters, setting himself up for the win. But the important part of the whole outing was that there were no runs scored by the Blue Jays, thanks in part to the outstanding performance by the great Yankees defense.

That continued through the latter third of the game, as Warren, Clippard, and Betances each took an inning to shut the Blue Jays down and keep putting up those zeroes on the scoreboard.

Of course, this would all mean nothing unless the Yankees had some offense to counter it. And actually, the Blue Jays starter had a pretty good outing himself for the first 7 innings. The Yankees weren’t even able to score until the 3rd inning. Refsnyder made it safely to 1st on a fielding error, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Hicks then scored on Aaron Judge’s double to put the Yankees in the lead on a few unearned runs. And in the 7th, Castro led off with a double and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. Gregorius would later get caught in a rundown.

The Blue Jays starter had a pretty good day if the Yankees’ pitchers didn’t have a better one. Or if the Jays’ bullpen didn’t have a really off 8th inning. Brett Gardner led-off with a solo shot to right field. And 2 outs later, the Yankees decided to back-to-back-to-back — Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro, and Didi Gregorius.

It would be just the 4th time in Yankees history they hit 4 homers in a single inning — 1977 (in Toronto, the 8th), 2005 (against the Rays, the 8th), 2012 (against the Red Sox, the 2nd), and then today (in Toronto in the 8th). Though oddly none of them were 4 consecutive homers.

Final score: 7-0 Yankees.

Injury news: Jacoby Ellsbury has been shut down due to the return of his concussion symptoms. He had been taking swings in the batting cages and running a bit in the outfield for practice and to work his way back to the team. But with the recurrence of his symptoms, he’s officially shut down from all baseball activities.

Also… Greg Bird continues his rehab with the Tampa Yankees. And Aroldis Chapman threw a light session today and is feeling good. So he’s nursing that shoulder and easing his way back into baseball shape.

And despite taking a bad foul ball off his knee, Austin Romine stayed in the game. He clearly was in pain through the game, even as he jogged to 1st a couple of times. He should have a nasty bruise to nurse for the next few days, but Sanchez is scheduled to start with Severino’s start tomorrow.

Go Yankees!

Game 42: KC vs. NYY — It’s good to be home again.

Back home again, with a few cosmetic changes to the stadium. Jeter’s retired number joined the others on the big wall in left field. And out in the right field seats, they added a special section called “The Judges Chambers” after several avid fans have showed up in robes and powdered wigs last week. Tonight, fans got special robes and foam gavels to the lucky guests in that section.

The umpires seemed in a jovial mood before tonight’s game. They specifically called manager Joe Girardi out from the dugout while they gathered at the plate to exchange lineup cards. They specifically asked Girardi to clean up home plate they covered with dirt, as an amusing nod to this weekend’s dramatic ejection. Everyone seemed to find amusement with it. And it’s a nice way to close the chapter on the crazy weekend.

Tonight, the Yankees hosted the Royals for the first game of their 4-game series this week, behind Michael Pineda. Pineda did a pretty good job of keeping the Royals in line for his outing. He threw 98 pitches into the 7th innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, striking out 6 Royals’ batters. A lead-off solo home run kicked off the 3rd inning, and 1 out later, a batter singled and then scored on an RBI double.

Adam Warren came on in the 7th to get out of Pineda’s jam, including a close call for the final out of the inning. The batter hit a grounder up the middle and Castro fired to get the out at 1st, but when the umpire there called it safe, the runner made a run for home. But seeing as the Yankees rely on an observer with a near-perfect record, the Yankees opted for a challenge, which was quickly overturned and negated the run scored, keeping the Royals to those 2 runs.

Clippard breezed his way through the 8th inning in just 15 pitches, before Dellin Betances came on for the save in the 9th. Despite giving up a single, Betances closed out the game quickly and earned his 3rd save of the season.

Meanwhile, the Yankees faced the Royals’ starter, with mixed results. He certainly held them off for most of the game, but they also racked up his pitch count (102 pitches in just 6 innings). But they made good use of the limited options. Brett Gardner continues his power-surge with a 1-out solo home run in the 3rd inning.

Then in the 4th, with 1 out, Judge worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ bit 2-run home run to leap the Yankees ahead. And after the starter left the game, in the 7th, Chris Carter hit a 1-out solo home run to get that insurance run.

And, yes, if you were paying close attention, the Yankees scored every run tonight on home runs.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees

And today kicked off the 9th Annual HOPE Week. Helping Others Persevere and Excel is an initiative the Yankees began to recognize and honor local community organizations. Today, Dellin Betances, Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, and Didi Gregorius surprised siblings Victor and Nayyelyn Garcia at the world-famous Bronx Zoo.

11-year-old Victor was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia 2 years ago, needing a bone marrow transplant to save his life. He found one close to home — his sister Nayyelyn, now 7-years-old.  The Icla da Silva Foundation, the largest organizer of the US’s Be the Match Registry of bone marrow donors, helped the Garcia family with their entire ordeal — arranging for the flight from their home in the Dominican Republic to New York this last August for the surgery and paying for all travel and medical expenses.

Before tonight’s game, now doing well in remission 9 months post-surgery, Victor and his kid sister Nayyelyn threw out the first pitch. The Yankees also donated $10,000 to the Icla da Silva Foundation and encouraged people to sign up to be a bone marrow donor.

I know we’re just getting started with HOPE Week, but every day, every recipient is so special and so worth the celebrating. It reminds everyone to do something for someone else. Even something as simple as registering to be a donor to save someone’s life one day.

Go Yankees!

{Also, our thoughts and prayers are with those injured in the attack in Manchester, England tonight and with the families of those who never made it home.}