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!

Game 60: BAL vs. NYY — Judge-ment Day

The Yankees went into this afternoon’s game looking to end this homestand on an upwards swing before heading for their first West Coast trip of the season. And they certainly succeeded.

Chad Green was called up yesterday for the start in today’s finale against the Orioles, but he had a mixed bag. It started off pretty well, but he ended on a bit of a sour note. He threw 53 pitches into the 3rd inning, giving up 2 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, striking out just 3 batters. In the 3rd, the lead-off batter doubled and then scored on the next batter’s double. That would be it for Chasen Shreve, but he too struggled to find the footing (and that runner was Green’s responsibility.

Shreve promptly gave up a double that scored Green’s remaining runner, and then he gave up yet another double (the 4th consecutive one of the inning) to score Shreve’s first runner before getting those pesky 3 outs of the inning. Jonathan Holder was able to hold off the Orioles from adding to their score for the 4th and into the 5th inning, something Adam Warren picked up in the 5th and ran with into the 7th inning.

Recent call-up Domingo German came on for a long-term close finishing up the final third of the game, sailing through right up until that final inning. He just had to make a dramatic flourish right there in the end. But he was also able to hold off the Orioles.

Meanwhile, while the bullpen got quite the workout, the Yankees offense did what they love to do — hit big and hit a lot. In the 1st, the Yankees loaded up the bases with 2 singles, a walk, and an out. Starlin Castro’s single scored Gardner and Judge to kick things off for the Yankees’ runs today. Of course, Gary Sanchez promptly opened things wide open with a big 3-run home run.

Despite that big 1st inning, the O’s starter was able to tamp down on the Yankees’ offense. That is until the 4th inning. With 1 out, Hicks walked and ended up at 3rd on Judge’s double. They both scored on Matt Holliday’s single. And that would be it for the Orioles’ starter, who didn’t make it out of that 4th inning.

And the true weakness of the Orioles was certainly exposed this weekend, as the bullpen continued to get hammered by the Yankees’ offense. In the 6th, Aaron Judge hit the biggest home run of the season, 495 feet over the left field bleachers (into the wheelchair row behind the bleachers on the concourse out there). After Holliday reached on a fielding error, Starlin Castro got in on the fun and hit a nice 2-run home run.

In the 7th, with 1 out, Torreyes and Gardner both walked and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Then Judge hit a 2-run home run into the right field seats, his 2nd of the game and 21st of the season to cap off the game.

Final score: 14-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep Orioles 3-0

After Judge’s first home run in the 6th, it was basically all anyone could talk about. Judge had a really perfect day actually, going 4-for-4, with 4 runs scored, hitting in 3 RBIs. And of course, there were those 2 home runs. That 495 foot homer is the longest hit home run this season, and tied for 2nd longest in the “Statcast Era”, just 6 feet short of the longest homer hit by a certain Miami slugger.

But overall, not a bad way to hop a plane to California… on a 5-game big winning streak.

It’s that time of year again. The MLB draft begins tomorrow and will run through Wednesday. The Yankees have one draft pick per round this year — #16, #54, & #92. Then for rounds 4-40, they pick 17th in each round until the end. In addition to following the games against the Angels, I’ll be posting draft updates for the Yankees.

Recent Yankee draft picks have certainly found their way around the league, some still with the Yankees, others traded to other teams’ farm systems. But just because they’re not picked in the 1st round doesn’t mean they won’t do something amazing or make it in the majors. Gardner was selected in the 2005 3rd round, Refsnyder in the 2012 5th round, and Betances in the 2006 8th round. In fact, though Judge was selected in the 1st round, he was the 32nd pick. That’s right, 31 other players were selected in 2013 before the Yankees went with the current home run king and All-Star leader. (Though he wasn’t even the Yankees first pick!)

Go Yankees!

Game 59: BAL vs. NYY — They don’t call them the “Bronx Bombers” for nothing…

It only took until the end of the 1st inning when I knew this was going to be one of “those games”. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I prefer those close games, the edge-of-your-seat action when you don’t know if they can pull it off in the end, right up to the very last out when you find you can breathe again. Yeah, this was not one of those games.

Luis Severino had a truly great outing tonight, in this middle game of the weekend series with the visiting Orioles. Severino threw just 89 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up just 2 hits, 2 walks, and a single run, striking out 8 Baltimore batters along the way.

Severino was so strong that he breezed through his 12 outs (4 innings) straight, not allowing his first base runner until a lead-off walk in the 5th. The first hit of the night for Baltimore was also in the 5th, but Severino pitched his way out of the inning. Other than that, the only other hit he allowed was a 2-out solo home run in the 7th. And that would be the first run the Orioles scored tonight.

The two relievers each took an inning and gave up a single run each. Giovanni Gallegos came on for the 8th and gave up a 1-run solo shot. Tommy Layne gave up a lead-off walk who moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on a 2-out pinch-hit single before ending the inning (and game) with another ground out.

But no worries, like I said, it was one of those games. Because the Orioles couldn’t seem to find a pitcher to shut down the Yankees’ dominant offense (except for a ironically former Yankee reliever). In the 1st, with 2 outs, Aaron Judge hit his 19th home run of the season into the left field seats. Holliday singled and moved to 3rd on Castro’s double, and both scored on Gary Sanchez’s single. Then Didi Gregorius hit a 2-run home run to clear the bases. Headley worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Chris Carter’s single.

With 1 out in the 2nd, Judge and Holliday both earned walks and then scored as part of Starlin Castro’s big 3-run home run. That was the final straw for the O’s starter after just 45 pitches in the middle of the 2nd inning. The new reliever got the needed 2 outs to end that inning and was able to make it through the 3rd, but then ran into trouble of his own in the 4th. Hicks led-off with a walk and then made it to 3rd on Judge’s single. Matt Holliday’s 3-run home run cleared the bases before this reliever got the first out of the inning. After Sanchez’s double (and just 44 pitches), he too was shown the door.

In a repeat of events, the new reliever got the last 2 outs of the inning. But then found trouble in the 5th himself. With 1 out, Gardner singled, Hicks doubled, and Judge’s double scored both runners. After Holliday’s single, a double play ended the inning. But that would be it for that reliever too (with another 45 pitches).

The former Yankee breezed his way through the Yankees in the 6th and 7th innings in just 27 pitches, the first time in the game that the Yankees weren’t the dominant ones. But then the O’s decided to send in a new guy. (And this is where all the Baltimore “message board managers” went all: “Why?!?”) Because, of course, there were more runs the Yankees needed to score.

Torreyes led-off the inning with a hit-by-pitch and then scored as part of a 2-run home run by Gary Sanchez. Headley would later get a 1-out double to put another runner in scoring position, but the pitcher got the final 2 outs he needed to make sure the Yankees weren’t into utterly ridiculous territory as far as run-scoring goes. But the 18 total hits (and 5 walks) by Yankee hitters was already ridiculous enough.

Final score: 16-3 Yankees.

It is worth noting that Aaron Judge continues to set MLB records. He was a triple short of the cycle tonight, which would’ve been cool as no one has hit for the cycle yet in the new Yankee Stadium. (A cycle is when a single batter hits a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in a single game, though not necessarily in that order.) But the one record he set tonight had to do with his power — his home run in the 1st inning had an exit velocity of 121.1 mph. That means he hit that ball harder than anyone has ever hit a ball since they started that stat (beating the previous record of 120.3 mph in 2015). He currently hold the record for the top 4 hardest hit balls this season.

And it’s only June 10, people!

The Yankees opted to give Masahiro Tanaka an extra day’s rest, moving his start to Monday against the Angels in California. But the Yankees just announced who will start for Sunday’s finale against the Orioles. It will be Chad Green. And to replace him in the bullpen, the Yankees called up Domingo German and designated Tommy Layne for assignment. Layne has been crucial for the Yankee bullpen, I doubt Layne will go far. And we’ll see how this starter gamble plays out over the next two games. So stay tuned!

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 50: NYY vs. BAL — Overcoming struggles fall short in the Yards

I really wish I was superstitious. Then I could blame all that stupid bird magic nonsense on why the Yankees stumbled pretty hard in tonight’s finale against the Orioles in Baltimore. Yes, it could just be an off-night. Yes, it could just be a Wednesday. It could just be a long weekend, followed by a tough series. Or it could just be they just didn’t play well tonight. Take your pick. It doesn’t change the outcome. The beauty of hindsight justification is that it’s over and done with and all you can do is reflect, correct, and move on.

And I’m sure that’s what Masahiro Tanaka will want to do after his tough outing tonight. He threw 103 pitches into the 6th innings, giving up 9 hits, 2 walks, and 7 runs, striking out just 4 Baltimore batters along the way. Tanaka managed to isolate the major damage to his 2 middle innings, as if sandwiching the bad between the good could make it a tiny bit better or something.

In the 3rd, with 1 out and runners on the corners with singles, a double scored the first Orioles’ run of the night, leaving runners in scoring position. They did just that on a 2-out double. Though not before Tanaka got his 500th strikeout with MLB and the Yankees. (This doesn’t, of course, include any he had in Japan before signing with the Yankees in 2014.)

Another single scored the 4th run of the inning for the O’s, and just like that, they were out in front and strong. And with 2 outs and 2 runners on base in the 4th, Tanaka gave a perfectly placed strike to a power hitter to hit over the center field fence for a 3-run home run to really secure Baltimore’s lead.

With a runner at 2nd and 2 outs in the 6th, Tanaka handed over the ball to Tommy Layne, who needed just 4 pitches to get the batter to line out directly to Gardner in left field. Recently returned, Giovanni Gallegos came on for the 7th and saw his own moments of struggled. After 2 quick outs, he gave up a double that then scored as part of a big 2-run home run to widen the lead. And with 2 outs and a runner at 2nd, Gallegos turned things over to Jonathan Holder. Holder had his own issues, giving up consecutive singles to score a final run for the Orioles before getting out of the inning.

But the Yankees weren’t exactly quiet when it was their turn to contribute offensively, giving the O’s starter his fair share of troubles. But while the O’s found bigger holes at key moments to forge ahead, the Yankees could only cobble together a few crumbs. In the 4th, Judge hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Headley’s walk, and then scored on Ronald Torreyes’ fielder’s choice (a failed double play), thanks in part to a sloppy fielding error.

With 1 out in the 5th and Gardner on 1st, Aaron Hicks hit a nice double to get the speedy Gardner home. Matt Holliday’s single would then score Hicks. But even with the bases loaded a few batters later, the Yankees couldn’t capitalize on a blatant opportunity to slice into the Orioles’ big lead. And a new pitcher seemed to know how to shut down the Yankees.

Fortunately, once they got to another reliever, the Yankees found another small hole. In the 8th, Torreyes and Romine hit consecutive singles to put them on the corners. A ground out moved Romine up to scoring position, and Brett Gardner’s ground out scored Torreyes. But a strikeout ended that rally before it really began. And the 9th inning reliever kept the Yankees from touching home plate, keeping the score as is.

Final score: 10-4 Orioles, Orioles win series 2-1

It’s worth noting that the Yankees haven’t won a series at Camden Yards since September 2013, when weather threatened and Mariano Rivera came up with the win. And after three days mulling over Baltimore and all its stories and suppositions once again, I still haven’t figured out where the “charm” in “Charm City” is, but I really want to watch Hairspray again.

Scranton Shuttle alert! Shuffling the pitching deck means that the Yankees sent Bryan Mitchell to Scranton and recalled one of the reliever’s tonight — Giovanni Gallegos. And now, with Greg Bird joining the Tampa Yankees for tomorrow’s game, I expect a few more roster shuffles are forthcoming in the next few weeks.

And MLB released the results so far of the fan voting for the All-Star Game starters, and 8 of the Yankees are in the top of their respective categories. Starlin Castro leads all AL 2nd basemen, and Aaron Judge is 2nd in all AL outfielders. Judge is 2nd overall in total votes received, which the young outfield keeps finding “surreal”. In all honestly, Judge is looking at being an ASG starter and would be only the 3rd Yankee rookie to do so (joining DiMaggio in 1936 and Matsui in 2003).

Joining Judge and Castro at the top of the list are Holliday (3rd as DH), Sanchez (4th as catcher), Gregorius (4th as shortstop), Headley (5th at 3rd base), and Gardner and Ellsbury come in 11th and 12th among outfielders, respectively. The only Yankee on the ballot who didn’t make it to the top of the list in his category is Greg Bird (1st base), as he’s been on the DL with that foot injury.

So, you as fans can help make Judge’s dream of being an ASG starter (and maybe watch him in the Home Run Derby, yes, his name’s been thrown in the chattering mix now) by voting in the All-Star Game Ballot. Vote up to 5 times a day, up to 35 times until Thursday, June 29, at 11:59 pm EST. I’m out of votes, so it’s your turn!

Go Yankees!

Game 49: NYY vs. BAL — Strong start leads to victory

Okay, after yesterday’s loss, my time line was filled with stats that mirrored the fact that the Yankees have a terrible losing streak in Camden Yards, something I’ve found rather frustrating in the last five years of this blog. There was a blog I read years ago that talked about the “voodoo magic” of the evil “blackbirds” (referencing the Orioles mascot) due to their losing stats in Baltimore. And honestly, every time the Yankees play there, that does echo through my mind.

And the funny thing was that leading into tonight’s game, I read several statistics in my newsfeed that talked about how the Yankees are the only AL team with a winning record on the road, joining 7 NL teams with such a distinction. Maybe it was a sign, but I trust omens (even supposedly voodoo birds), especially in baseball. But as hindsight is 20/20, I can see how someone could think it was such a superstitious harbinger.

But I put my belief in tonight’s success on the outstanding performances by the players in this middle game against the Orioles. Like tonight’s starter Luis Severino, who threw 100 pitches into the 7th inning and didn’t allow a run until the 6th. Overall, he gave up 7 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out an impressive 8 batters. You just knew it was going to be a good night for the pitcher after his 9-pitch 1st inning.

In the 6th, Severino gave up a lead-off single who moved to 2nd on a 1-out walk and then to 3rd on a 2-out single. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, Severino needed to get out of the jam to remain scoreless, but a slow grounder to short became a single with a late throw to 1st and all the runners advancing, including the Orioles’ first run of the night to break Severino’s scoreless outing. Severino pulled it together in the end to get out of the jam with a great strikeout.

So, after 1 out in the 7th and 100 pitches, Severino’s night was done. Layne and Warren each took an out to complete the inning and keep the strong start continuing into the last bit of the game. But Bryan Mitchell’s 8th inning had issues from the start. A throwing error allowed the lead runner to end up all the way at 2nd, something that seemed to rattle the normally unflappable Mitchell. Two outs and a walk later, Mitchell gave up 2 singles that scored both runners.

As Mitchell wasn’t going to get it done tonight, the Yankees turned to the ever-reliable Tyler Clippard to close out the game, looking for a 4-out (non-save) close. Clippard needed just 2 pitches to end the 8th and just 7 to breeze his way through the 9th to shut out the Orioles, helping add to the Yankees strikeout total of 11 tonight.

But the starting pitching wasn’t the only thing that was strong tonight. The Yankees offense certainly showed off for the first half of the game, withe Orioles starter and first reliever getting really roughed up. In the 1st, Brett Gardner led-off the game with a big home run, and one out later, Matt Holliday copied with his own solo home run. (Both batters hitting their 10th homer of the season in just that inning.)

In the 2nd, Gregorius led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ single. Holliday led-off the 3rd inning with another solo home run, his 2nd of the night and 11th of the season. Then Judge hit a 1-out single and Hicks worked a 2-out walk. Judge scored on Chase Headley’s single, which spelled the end of the Orioles’ starter’s night.

The first reliever got out of the jam that inning, but got into his own trouble in the next. Gardner led-off with another home run, his 3rd game this season with multiple homers. (Comparatively, the rest of the team combined only have 4 games with multiple homers.) Sanchez and Castro singled to get on base and then scored on Aaron Judge’s just-shy-of-a-home-run doubledouble to cap off the Yankees offensive dominance tonight in just the 4th inning.

It was more than enough tonight.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

Injury updates: Greg Bird is scheduled to join the Tampa Yankees on Thursday at Steinbrenner Field against the Charlotte Stone Crabs (the Rays Single-A team, and yes, you read that right — “stone crabs”). As far as a timeline, there’s nothing set yet. They’ll want to see how he (and his ankle) handle the game again.

Bird will be joining fellow 1st baseman Tyler Austin in Tampa. Girardi mentioned in a recent interview that due to Austin’s missed Spring, he is looking at about 50 at-bats (roughly 7-8 full games) before he could be cleared to join the team and make his 2017 debut, if there’s room for him. There is a bit of chatter that they’ll start Austin this season in AAA Scranton to ease him into the big leagues, but with Bird still out and an unsure timeline, that may just be “chatter”.

And in better news, Jacoby Ellsbury is feeling much better, saying today was the first day he woke up without a headache. Concussions aren’t something you just bounce back from, nor are they something you take lightly. However, he is clearly recovering, and at this pace, he is aiming to be back by weekend series in Toronto.

There was a brief moment when the Yankees were concerned after Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch on the hand in the 9th inning, but the x-rays were negative. Looks like he’ll be nursing a bit of a bruise for a few days, but fortunately nothing more serious.

Despite all these injured players, the Yankees aren’t limping along. No, they’re excelling. Because that’s who they are this season. Some years, it’s a fall-back to blame “all the injuries”, but clearly, it’s just an excuse. These Yankees are in it to win it, and nothing’s going to trip them up. Not even some superstitious avian supposition.

But there’s always tomorrow in Baltimore…

Go Yankees!

Game 48: NYY vs. BAL — Less than charming afternoon

I’ve always heard the Baltimore uses “Charm City” as its primary nickname, and honestly, I’ve never really cared much to figure out why. But watching today’s game was exhausting, so I reluctantly turned to Google to answer a question I never really had. Apparently, in the 1970s, an ad executive was hired to transform Baltimore’s seedy reputation (satirically referenced in the Hairspray movie and musical) into something that might increase tourism and new residents. So, they came up with “Charm City”, as in “Come see Baltimore for all its charm“. There was even a campaign that gave out charms for a charm bracelet as people checked in to see the “sites of the city”.

Of course, they also tried a handful of other marketing campaigns through the years, but “Charm City” stuck enough, thanks in part to their public bus system being named the Charm City Circulator and now a popular local bakery made famous thanks to reality TV. How charming it really is depends on your perspective, I guess. But seeing as I’ve only seen the city as enemy territory (or breezed through it on an East Coast road trip years ago), I’ve yet to discover this mystical “charm”.

Jordan Montgomery got roughed up a bit in today’s start against the Orioles in Camden Yards. He threw 100 pitches into just the 5th inning, giving up 8 hits, a walk, and 3 runs (though only 1 was earned), and striking out 5 Baltimore batters.

The first batter of the game singled, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored on a 2-out single. After another single put runners on the corners, Montgomery got a well-placed strikeout to get out the jam in that 1st inning. Then in the 3rd, with 1 out, a batter reached 1st on a messy fielding error and moved to 2nd on a 2-out single. And a double scored both runners (neither were considered earned due to the timing of the error).

With 2 runners on base in the 5th and just 1 out, the Yankees turned to reliever Jonathan Holder to set things right. Something he did quite well with 2 amazing strikeouts. Holder breezed through the 6th inning, setting the Yankees back on the right course. Chasen Shreve’s 2-innings found a similar momentum, shutting the Orioles down for the remainder of the game. Collectively, the Yankees pitching staff worked an impressive 11 strikeouts.

But that certainly wasn’t enough to do much against the Orioles. They had opportunities this afternoon, but only managed to cobble together a few successful offensive plays. In the 2nd, Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch to lead-off the inning, moved to 2nd on a fly out, made it to 3rd on Gregorius’ single, and then scored on Aaron Hicks sacrifice fly to tie up the game at that point. And Aaron Judge led-off the 7th with a monster solo home run up the middle, his 17th of the season to put the Yankees just shy of the O’s lead.

But with the new relievers in the 8th and 9th innings, the Yankees failed to do more than make 6 outs fairly easy for the Orioles.

Final score: 3-2 Orioles.

Before the game today, local service men joined the starting Orioles on the field for a moment of silence and for a truly amazing rendition of the national anthem by SFC Randy Wight, who came back to sing “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch.

Being so close to our nation’s capital, the plethora of active servicemen and women serves as a reminder to us. In the Bronx, the Yankees honor their service at every home game. But today, the country stops to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We carry their legacy with us everyday and express our gratitude to them and their families for their willingness to serve and protect and defend our country.

You are not forgotten. Thank you.

Go Yankees!