Game 116: BOS vs. NYY — Blown save & extra inning disappointment

It’s funny, actually. Going into the later innings, despite the game being tied, all the “people that know” were giving the Yankees a 60-70% chance of winning the game. And then everything went so terribly wrong.

Jordan Montgomery certainly showed no ill effects from his foul ball connection yesterday, having a pretty good outing in tonight’s finale against the visiting Red Sox. He threw 84 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and a single run, and struck out 4 Boston batters. Montgomery held the Red Sox off until the 5th inning, when a 1-out walk moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on an RBI single.

Robertson came in to close out the 6th for Montgomery and sailed his way through the 7th, keeping the Red Sox to that lone run. Betances followed that up with a flawless 12-pitch 8th inning.

Like I said before, the Yankees had tied up the game, right in the bottom of the 5th. Headley hit a 1-out single and then easily scored on Austin Romine’s powerful triple. Up against the Red Sox’s ace pitcher, the Yankees always have a bit of trouble (as does every other team, if we’re being honest) trying to do much of anything. The Yankees racked up his pitch count, but he countered by getting the Yankee batters to strike out 12 times in just 7 innings.

So when the Red Sox’s ace starter finally left the game in the 7th, the Yankees saw their opportunity to make up for lost time. With 1 out in the 8th, the Yankees loaded up the bases with 2 walks and a single. Todd Frazier’s long sacrifice fly scored lead-runner Hicks to break the tie (and those winning odds skyrocketed, by the way). But with a new reliever on the mound, the next batter struck out in just 3 pitches.

And it was on to Aroldis Chapman for just 3 outs to hand the Yankees the win. He struck out the first batter in just 3 pitches (and 101+ mph fastballs that just stunned the veteran powerhitter). But the next batter, a young rookie on the roster, promptly sent a fastball into the visitor’s bullpen out in left-center field to tie up the game.

And the Yankees tried to make something happen in the bottom of the 9th to walk-off a win — a lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt and then to 3rd on a ground out, but the Yankees left him stranded there. Chapman continued into the 10th inning, getting a lead-off strikeout, but then hitting a batter and walking the next.

Tommy Kahnle walked the next batter to load up the bases, and then gave up a single so the Red Sox could score the winning run before Kahnle pitched through the next 2 batters with the bases loaded. Once again, all the Yankees needed was to catch up and retake the lead in the bottom of the inning. But oddly, the Red Sox closer (who normally struggles against the Yankees this season) was on point and breezed through the necessary 3 outs to advance the Red Sox’s lead in the AL East.

Final score: 3-2 Red Sox, in 10 innings, Red Sox win series 2-1.

Scranton Shuttle: the Yankees optioned reliever Giovanni Gallegos back to AAA Scranton and recalled reliever Caleb Smith for a fresh arm in the bullpen.

Yes, the Yankees are now 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. We are solidly in the Wild Card race, leading the Angels by 1 1/2 games. But we are winding down the series and there are just 46 games left in the Yankees’ season. Even so, there’s still time for many things to happen, especially as the Yankees will face the Red Sox again next month.

And in more fun news: today marked the anniversary of Aaron Judge’s debut as a Yankee. Yes, exactly one year ago today, #99 began his legacy in the Bronx. A legacy that certainly kind of faltered a bit by the end of last season, but then became something to talk about beginning in Spring Training of this year. He’s had similar struggles as last season in this post All-Star break, but there’s no reason to think he’s stuck there permanently.

Because it’s Judge — the kid who won the Home Run Derby and hit home run balls well over 500 feet, who hasn’t faltered in the outfield at all and is known for his quick and strong arm, who still (despite his struggles this year) is still very much in contention for rookie of the year (and deserves it in my opinion), and who really could be the first retired #99 in Monument Park and Cooperstown in like 25 years.

Go Yankees!

Game 103: TB vs. NYY — Big show by “Toe” ends in “no go”… a timely trade and Cooperstown Class of ’17

And that is my last time I attempt a New York Post style headline…

Anyway, the Yankees were looking for a sweep of the Rays with this final game of their 4-game weekend series. But despite some great offense by a single player, the pitching early on had some serious issues, so Ronald Torreyes’ shining afternoon wasn’t enough to pick up the Yankees over the Rays.

Jordan Montgomery got the start today and just had a really difficult time getting through his afternoon. He threw 71 pitches into just the 3rd inning, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and still struck out 5 Rays batters. In the 1st, a 1-out walk moved to 2nd on a 2-out single and then scored on another single to get the Rays on the board early. Montgomery loaded up the bases in the 3rd with 2 outs and then cleared the bases through the process of a 2-RBI single and an RBI single.

Luis Cessa was called in to get out of the jam, and despite an initial wild pitch that moved runners to scoring position, Cessa got that necessary strikeout to escape the 3rd inning unscathed. Cessa ended up pitching into the 7th inning, throwing a rather clean game up until that 7th inning where he gave up a walk and single before handing things over to Chasen Shreve.

Shreve loaded up the bases but got 2 outs in the 7th before passing the baton to Chad Green who got out of the jam with a great strikeout (though the Rays batter certainly didn’t like the call). Green went on to finish off the game, getting into his own bit of trouble only in the 8th inning. A lead-off single stole 2nd and then scored on a 2-out double. Green added 6 strikeouts of his own through his pretty good outing to the total for the Yankees’ pitchers tonight at 16.

The Yankees’ offense rested on a single utility/bench player. Ronald Torreyes is really good when he needs to be. In the 2nd, Headley worked a 1-out walk and ended up at 2nd on a wild pitch. Then it was Torreyes to hit a great 2-run home run into the left field seats to briefly give the Yankees the lead. Behind again in the 4th, Todd Frazier worked a 2-out walk and then scored on Torreyes’ solid double to put the Yankees within a run of the Rays’ lead.

Unfortunately, the Rays had a random day where their bullpen actually did its job, so the Yankees were stunted a bit in the latter half of the game, despite some hope with 2 base runners in the bottom of the 9th that just didn’t pan out in the end.

Final score: 5-3 Rays, Yankees win series 3-1.

Injury news: Austin Romine seemed to have a target on his body today for the ball. He was hit twice by the ball. In the 2nd, an bad foul ball bounced up into his throat, which stunned the catcher for a bit, but he stayed in the game like the trooper he is. But then in the 6th, while at bat, he was hit by a pitch on the side of his hand. He stayed in the game initially, but as his hand continued to swell, he was pulled from the game and sent for the requisite x-rays. X-rays came back negative, but I imagine lots of ice and rest (for both hand and throat) are in order for the next few days.

Scranton Shuttle: Before today’s game, the Yankees optioned Caleb Smith back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled Chasen Shreve, who ended up in today’s game.

Over night, the Yankees finalized a trade to add to their lagging starting rotation. They acquired left-handed veteran starter Jaime Garcia from the Twins for minor league pitchers Zack Littell (previously with AA Trenton) and Dietrich Enns (previously with AAA Scranton) and cash considerations.

Garcia was with the Cardinals for much of his 9-year career, even helping them win the 2011 World Series. He started this year with the Braves before moving briefly to the Twins, only to be used as trade-bait for the Yankees. They now expect him to make his Yankee debut on Thursday in Cleveland when the Yankees start their 4-game weekend series there.

And just a couple hundred miles northwest of Yankee Stadium, crowds gathered to celebrate the newest inductees to the baseball Hall of Fame. Former players Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez and executive John Schuerholz and MLB Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig were honored and officially became part of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Congratulations to the newest legends of the game we all love!

Go Yankees!

Game 98: CIN vs. NYY — The old “Jersey-Ohio Triple Play”

Back in the Bronx tonight, the Yankees hosted their first of two games against the visiting Reds for a short series. And they made sure it was a quick game (just 2 hours and 38 minutes) for the Yankees home debut of New Jersey native Todd Frazier against his former team. And they also made sure it was a quite memorable.

Jordan Montgomery got the start tonight and had a rather great outing tonight. He threw just 85 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up just 2 hits, a walk, and a run, striking out Cincinnati batters, and setting himself up for the win. That lone run was scored in the 6th when a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on another ground out.

Tommy Kahnle finished off the 7th inning in just 4 pitches, handing things over to Dellin Betances for the 8th. But Betances had some trouble with his strike zone tonight. With 2 outs, and after walking 2 batters, he gave up a double that scored the lead runner to double the Reds’ score. Adam Warren got out of the jam with a 7-pitch strike out. Aroldis Chapman breezed through the 9th with just 8 pitches, earning his 12th save of the season.

Meanwhile, the Yankees got on board in rather dramatic fashion thanks to New Jersey-born Todd Frazier. First, the Yankees loaded up the bases in the 2nd with consecutive singles to Holliday, Gregorius, and Headley. Things were looking up for the first at-bat as a Yankee for Frazier, but he hit a little grounder to the shortstop as Holliday came in to score the run. The Reds shortstop stepped on 2nd for out #1 and then fired it to 1st for a fairly standard double play (out #2 at 1st). But they caught Gregorius between 2nd and 3rd and got him in a rundown, between 3rd and the shortstop who started it all for out #3 of what became a triple play. Yes, that is a 6-6-3-3-5-6 for your scoring geeks. But I call it the “Jersey-Ohio Triple Play” (which is really-what?-Pennsylvania?).

Anyway, fortunately, the Yankees weren’t fazed by such a weird play and kept adding to their score bit-by-bit. In the 4th, Judge led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a ground out, was sent to 3rd on a balk, and then scored on Gregorius’ sacrifice fly. With 1 out and Wade on 1st in the 5th, Wade scored on Austin Romine’s double. Later in that inning, the Yankees loaded up the bases with 2 outs, but a ground out ended that threat. For an insurance run, Didi Gregorius hit a big 2-out solo home run in the 8th to keep the Yankees in the lead and seal their victory tonight.

 

Final score: 4-2 Yankees.

Fun triple play trivia: Tonight’s play was the 3rd one this season, the first time a run scored safely during a triple play since May 2006 in all of MLB, and the Reds’ first one in over 22 years (May 12, 1995). The article linked above listed the Yankees’ last triple play as against the Rays on September 27, 2011. But that could be slightly misleading. To clarify, 2011 was the last time before tonight that the Yankees batting into a triple play, but they’ve certainly had a their share as fielders. I’ve covered two in my time on this blog — one against the Rays in April 2014 and another against the Orioles in 2013 (this is the fun one!).

Go Yankees!

Game 91: NYY vs. MIN — A case of the Mondays

I did the math. We’re looking at a team that’s on track for 85 wins this season, quite a few less than the last time I did that math on my mirror. But looking at the standings and how the Yankees are playing right now, none of that really surprises me in the slightest.

Bryan Mitchell got the start tonight in the opening game against the Twins. He threw 90 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs (only 1 earned), striking out just 2 batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out walk scored on an RBI double to get the Twins on the board.

And after loading up the bases in the 3rd, the Yankees’ defense jumped into action getting the first 2 outs in a solid double play, first by a line drive to Judge in right field and then firing it home to get the runner trying to score there. But then a missed catch error by Mitchell led to the next batter scoring.

The Yankees’ offense caught up in the middle of the game, in the 5th. With 2 outs, Garrett Cooper doubled and then scored on Austin Romine’s double. And in the 7th, Headley hit a 1-out double and then scored on Cooper’s double to tie up the game.

So, the Yankees looked at rookie Caleb Smith (the 12th Yankees making his debut this season) to give some long-term relief and ultimately close out the game. He was fine until the 8th inning. He gave up consecutive singles to lead-off the inning. A pinch-hit single scored the winning run, and a double scored the insurance run. But then Smith got things under control, intentionally walking one batter and loading up the bases before getting his 5th strikeout of his outing.

The Yankees’ offense got a few chances to do something, like in the 8th inning, but they didn’t do anything except leave base runners stranded (yeah, that old song!).

Final score: 4-2 Twins

Injury updates: tomorrow, both Greg Bird and Michael Pineda will undergo surgery to repair their respective injuries. Bird chose surgery to deal with his lingering ankle issue, now diagnosed as an excess bone growth on his right ankle. His surgery will occur in New York and about 6 weeks of rehab is scheduled to follow. This means Bird could potentially resume baseball activities in early September.

Pineda opted for Tommy John surgery to repair his partially torn UCL in his right elbow. After his initial diagnosis and recommendation, he sought a second opinion with the Reds’ medical director in Cincinnati. That physician will perform the surgery tomorrow, and then Pineda is looking about about 15-ish months before he’s back on the mound.

With the looming trade deadline (July 31), these two surgeries, and the current slump of the team, I expect the Yankees might be in the market for a few new faces in pinstripes. No one saw the likes of Ichiro Suzuki or Chase Headley in such instances, but both veteran players were (and are) key to the team’s upswing for the rest of the season they jumped into.

In other words, new faces do work, even at the loss of some familiar ones, because the ultimate goal is #28. Every single season until it happens. And then it’s on to #29… #30… #31…

Go Yankees!

Game 88: NYY vs. BOS — Dramatic rivalry in 16 innings

Well, the rivalry is nothing if not a show for the dramatic. Five hours and fifty minutes, 16 very long innings, a protested game, weird base running, 16 total pitchers, and 36,936 fans. So, it’s also apparently the longest game between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway since June 4, 1966 (which also went 16 innings). Fortunately for the Yankees, today’s (or rather tonight’s) game turned out much better.

Honestly, most of the regular part of today’s game was a pitching duel between Luis Severino and the Red Sox’s ace pitcher (who also started the All-Star Game just 4 days ago). They both kept things close, with their stats nearly parallel (except the Red Sox’s start had 13 whopping strikeouts, his true specialty on display). Severino threw 114 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and a run, striking out just 6 Boston batters. That lone allowed run came in the 3rd inning. With 1 out, Severino gave up 2 walks and a single to load up the bases. A sacrifice fly easily scored the lead runner.

But that would be it for the Red Sox all afternoon and into the night. Clippard and Betances closed out the rest of the regular 9 innings, breezing through the Red Sox lineup.

It looked like the Yankees were going to be shut out of tonight’s game right until that 9th inning. Lead-off hitter Matt Holliday planted the 3rd pitch of the at-bat into the Green Monster seats, a big solo home run to tie up the game. So, the game went into extra innings. Lots of extra innings.

In the 10th, Shreve got into a bit of trouble giving up 2 singles, but then Warren got him out of it with 3 great outs to get out of the jam. Then it would be reliever Jonathan Holder who would shoulder most of the extra innings load with 3 truly fantastic innings. His 41 pitches sailed through the Red Sox batters. And Chapman’s 14th was quite a bit better than his blown save last night. And once again, the Yankees threw their weight behind another reliable reliever in Ben Heller who took the final 2 innings and held the Red Sox to that lone run, adding 3 great strikeouts, earning the win.

The Yankees’ bullpen rose to the occasion and became the ‘pen they’ve been earlier this year, the one that helped the team reach 1st in the division (a spot they no longer occupy). So, it’s only fitting the current 1st place holder also had a pretty good bullpen and held off the Yankees bats for most of the game. It wasn’t until the top of the 16th the Yankees found their opportunity.

Ellsbury led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Headley’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single to break the tie. Austin Romine’s single scored Headley, and Torreyes’ sacrifice bunt moved the runners up to scoring position before Gardner was intentionally walked. Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly scored Gregorius to ensure the extra insurance run for the Yankees’ eventual victory.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees, in 16 innings.

I know I wasn’t the only one that was glad this was an East Coast-based game (that started at 4pm EST), and not a West Coast night game (that started at 10pm EST). Been there, done that. Those aren’t fun nights, even when the Yankees do end up winning.

There was a bit of a weird play in the top of the 11th inning. So, Holliday worked a walk, and the Red Sox changed relievers. The new pitcher got Ellsbury to hit into a ground out of sorts. The fielder tagged 2nd as he threw back to the 1st baseman hoping for a double play. However, it wasn’t a good throw and bounced off Ellsbury’s leg as he tagged 1st base. To complicate things, Holliday decided to head back to 1st base for some weird reason, causing a bit of a clog-up and confusion as the 1st baseman tried to catch the errant throw (as it rolled past them all into foul territory beyond 1st) and figure out why Holliday came back to 1st. Holliday jumped up and ran to 2nd thinking he was safe there.

After nearly 10 minutes of replay, review, and manager arguments, it was ruled that Holliday was out at 2nd and Ellsbury safe at 1st, no interference (despite what the silly Red Sox-leaning broadcasters seemed bent on arguing) or anything beyond bad base-running by Holliday. And the Red Sox decided to play the rest of the game under protest. Seeing as nothing came of Ellsbury still being safe on base, I doubt the protest will amount to much. In fact, in the decades such an option was available, only one game has picked up and resumed after review (the infamous “Pine Tar Game” in 1983).

But here’s what I’m thinking: I think Holliday didn’t see the infielder tag 2nd, assumed it was a line drive, and headed back to 1st thinking he’d be doubled off the base. Or something to that extent. In other words, the call was right, and Holliday misread the scenario. It caused some confusion, but nothing came out of it. So in the end, does it matter? No, because they still had to play 5 more innings beyond this to figure out the winner of the game.

With a double-header scheduled for tomorrow, I imagine there’s going to be quite a few roster moves tomorrow. Especially as the only bullpen pitcher not used was Chad Green. I would think a lot of “fresh arms” will be pulled up from Scranton in lieu of the doubleheader, and I suppose the 26th player (allowed for doubleheader days) would be an extra bench player. But I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again. So we’ll see how it all plays out, and pray for a couple of easy regular games.

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!

Game 74: NYY vs. CHW — Not always a guaranteed win at Guaranteed Rate Field

I’ve been calling the White Sox home field, on the south side of Chicago, US Cellular Field pretty much since they changed the name in 2003, including since last August, when they apparently changed their name to “Guaranteed Rate Field“. Despite “the Cell” having naming rights until 2023, the mortgage company bought a 13-year naming deal that overrode the old one, and it went into effect late August 2016.

I should make the caveat that I haven’t been to Chicago since the name change, and I don’t live in the Chicago area where apparently it was such a big deal that they started a hashtag on social media: #BetterSoxStadiumNames. And believe me that is a hashtag, I can get behind, as I have issues with a Spring Training stadium the Yankees visit every year named after a local used car lot — the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

I do get teams selling the naming rights to make up for a sluggish ad budget, but I suppose I’m a little old school and prefer my stadiums (and fields) named after the teams or a person (like, I don’t know, Yankee Stadium and Steinbrenner Field). Though I suppose the Yankees make up for the lack of naming rights because they make more money than almost any other team in the MLB from other ad buys, being one of the largest markets and a team people actually want to watch play regularly.

Anyway, all that to say that I’m with the majority of Chicagoans, who now have to suffer Guaranteed Rate Field through the next 13 years (or however long until the next company buys out the naming rights). Except I only have to endure such a sentiment for a short series each year and then I’ll forget it until a brief thought will flit through my head during Spring Training when the Yankees will play the Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Anyway, there was a game at this newly dubbed stadium, and the rookie pitcher threw a great outing. Jordan Montgomery threw 100 pitches through his 7 innings, giving up just 5 hits, a walk, and a run (a lead-off solo home run in the 2nd), and striking out 8 White Sox batters. He set the Yankees up for a strong start to this 4-game series in Chicago they desperately need after the disappointing home stand.

The Yankees didn’t break through the White Sox starter in any real way until the 4th inning. Judge led-off with a walk and moved to 3rd when Sanchez hit into a force attempt fielding error. Tyler Austin’s sacrifice fly scored Judge to tie up the game. After Ellsbury singled, Chase Headley’s single scored Sanchez, and Romine’s walk loaded up the bases. Then Ronald Torreyes hit into a weird play — he hit a long ball out to center field for a sacrifice fly to score Ellsbury, but then the White Sox played a little defense to get Headley out in a bit of a rundown to become a sacrifice double play.

In the 6th, Tyler Austin hit his 1st home run of the season, a 1-out solo shot to the White Sox bullpen in left field. Ellsbury reached safely on a fielding error moving to 3rd on Headley’s double. That ended the White Sox’s starter night. Ellsbury then scored on Austin Romine’s sacrifice fly, and a passed ball moved Headley to 3rd before he then scored on a bad missed catch error on Torreyes’ at-bat.

This gave the Yankees a healthy lead to take them all the way through the game. And they’d need it because their bullpen made things interesting. Jonathan Holder came on in the 8th for a couple of outs, a walk, and a single. With runners in the corners, Dellin Betances came on to loaded up the bases with a walk and then get out of the jam with a great strikeout to end the White Sox rally.

But that certainly wasn’t it for the White Sox who took advantage of Chasen Shreve’s bad night in the 9th inning. In just 12 pitches, Shreve got an out, 2 singles, and a 3-run home run to put the White Sox within viable striking distance of the Yankees. At this point, this became a save opportunity, so they brought in Aroldis Chapman. Chapman continued the struggle, giving up a single that scored on an RBI double to put the Sox within a run of the Yankees lead. Fortunately, a ground out held the runner at 2nd and put the Yankees in need of a lone out, which would be a fly out to left field to preserve the Yankees’ lead and get another save.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees

Starlin Castro was pulled from tonight’s game due to a hamstring injury he got running out a ground ball in the 3rd inning. This after he missed Sunday’s game due to a sore wrist and now this. It’s got to be frustrating. Nothing definite yet about a DL stint or possible replacement or anything else.

So many roster moves before the game: Aaron Hicks was officially sent to the disabled list with his oblique strain, and the Yankees activated Jacoby Ellsbury from the DL after his concussion finally healed. And for some relief in the outfield and in the bullpen, they sent Mason Williams and Tyler Webb back to AAA Scranton and recalled Rob Refsnyder and Ronald Herrera.

And Aaron Judge still leads the American League in All-Star Game fan votes. He has been asked to do the Home Run Derby during the festivities, but he’s not made his decision on that front yet, despite his batting practice home runs making a splash all over social media for hitting televisions, almost hitting vendors and stadium crew, and delighting young fans all over the country by shooting these balls in far off places they shouldn’t really be traveling around the stadium (very Mantle-esque, if you ask me). (Also, please say “yes!” to the HRD!)

But other Yankees are hoping for a last-minute surge in fan voting to get to the game next month in Miami. (You can vote until Thursday, June 29 at 11:59 pm EST.) At least one representative from each team will be at the game in Miami, and the Yankees almost always get a representative in the AL bullpen (selected by the AL coaching staff leading up to the game).

Go Yankees!