Game 70: LAA vs. NYY — So maybe… and not so much…

Things were looking so good. And then they weren’t. Perhaps it was indicative of how the recent week has been. Or perhaps it’s the end of whatever bad luck lingers from the West Coast trip, brought to New York by the West Coast-based Angels as they finished up this mid-week series.

Luis Severino had a rare mixed bag for tonight’s start. He threw 99 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs (only 5 earned), and struck out just 5 batters. His 2nd pitch found its way into the left field seats to put the Angels on the board early in this game. And in the 3rd, with 2 outs and runners on the corners, consecutive singles scored 2 more runners.

Then Severino buckled down and threw a few more typical innings for him. Until the 6th inning, a lead-off double scored on a single. A single and error in the 7th put runners on the corners, but Severino’s night was done. But he was still responsible for both runners (except not really, because of the error).

Chasen Shreve took over for Severino and got a sacrifice fly who scored the first runner in just 3 pitches. Dellin Betances took over next, but had his own share of issues. The runner at 1st stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error before scoring on a single. Then after a walk, Betances got a nice strikeout, but then a double scored 2 more runs to push the Angels even more in the lead.

Domingo German came on for the final 2 innings. With 1 out in the 8th, he gave up a double, a wild pitch, and a walk. But then German’s pick-off error scored the lead runner moving the other runner all the way to 3rd where he scored on a sacrifice fly to cap off the Angels’ big run-scoring evening.

And despite all that, the Yankees actually started the game really well. In the bottom of the 1st, with 2 outs and 2 runners on base with walk, Starlin Castro’s single scored Judge to tie up the game. In the 2nd, with 1 out, Carter doubled and moved to 3rd on Torreyes’ single. A fielder’s choice (these are almost always failed double plays) on Brett Gardner’s hit scored Carter. Then with Hicks also on base with a single, Aaron Judge was set up for a monster 3-run home run, his 25th of the season, just straight up to Monument Park.

But with the Yankees unable to find their offensive footing beyond this early rally, and their pitchers suffering with a weird inability to be able to keep the Angels from retaking the lead and then taking over the game, it was just not going to be a better outcome tonight for the Yankees. That late-inning rally never did materialize tonight.

Final score: 10-5 Angels, Angels win series 2-1

The Yankees will face the Rangers for a weekend series starting tomorrow night. But this will also include many celebrations leading up to the Old Timers’ Game on Sunday. Again, it’s time to get back on the winning track, and maybe the presence of winning legends from championship teams will rub off and help the current team out a bit.

Go Yankees!

Game 66: NYY vs. OAK — A long stroll through Oaktown

I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for it to be next week already. The Yankees will be back in New York, next Sunday is Old Timers’ Day, and maybe the world will be right again. But right now, they have one more game in Oaktown (today’s nickname choice for Oakland, courtesy of Urban Dictionary), where the Athletics are looking to sweep the Yankees and the Yankees just want a win at the O.Co.

Masahiro Tanaka had another ironically long, messy outing — 82 pitches in just 4 innings, giving up 8 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, but also striking out an impressive 10 batters. (That means that of the 12 outs he had to make, 10 of them were by strikeouts, or a nice sign that Tanaka may be back in this case.)

On the 1st pitch in the bottom of the 1st, Tanaka gave up a solo home run (his 4th lead-off homer allowed this season). In the 2nd, he gave up another homer, a 1-out shot to the left field seats. Then despite loading up the bases, he got out of the inning with one of those pesky strikeouts.

But the hardest inning was the 4th. A lead-off home run put the A’s in the lead. And then a single ended up at 3rd on a 2-out single and scored on another single. Another single scored a final run for the A’s. That would be it for Tanaka, as well as for the Athletics’ run-scoring.

Reliever Domingo German threw 79 pitches through the final 4 innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 walks, but keeping those A’s from adding to their score.

Meanwhile, the Yankees had plenty of opportunity to do something, getting the starter to throw 105 pitches in just 5 innings, but they didn’t capitalize on that except for one inning. In the 2nd, Torreyes hit a 1-out single, moved to 3rd on Williams’ single, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. Williams then scored on Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly. And that would be it for the Yankees offense this afternoon.

Once the Oakland starter left the game, the Yankees were limited to 2 allowed hits and that was it for their offense.

Final score: 5-2 Athletics

About 75 miles east of the Oakland Coliseum is a tiny suburb of Stockton, California, known as Linden. A favorite son of Linden happens to now be one of the hottest rookies in MLB, and he happens to be the home run leader and in the running for his first All-Star Game and possible MVP and Triple Crown awards this season. Oh, and his name is Aaron Judge.

Apparently, Judge’s friends and family have been requesting tickets to games all weekend, but today saw the largest contingent of homegrown Judge fans, about 150 people, including the congregation of Judge’s home church. They even took a couple of buses to the game to make sure everyone got the chance to see their hometown hero.

Unfortunately, Judge’s only on-base moment was a walk in the 1st inning, but I doubt they minded so much. Plus, one lucky fan from his hometown even caught a foul ball out there in their right field seats. Judge even reconnected with his high school baseball and football coach before the game. But so much of this series for Judge was like coming home, even so much as all of “home” that came to him.

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 57: BOS vs. NYY — “El Gary” & Gardy rule the Bronx

Finishing a series on a win is always a good thing. Winning a series is always a good thing. Doing both of those in the Bronx against the Red Sox is a great thing. On another chilly day in the City, the Yankees faced off against their division and long-time rival Boston Red Sox to close out their mid-week series. And they did so with a rather large show of power.

This gave starter Michael Pineda a nice cushion to work from, which he did need from time to time. Pineda threw 110 pitches through his 7 innings, giving up just 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 unearned run, striking out 8 Boston batters along the way. In the 4th, the lead-off batter reached 1st on a throwing error, moved to 2nd on a single, ended up at 3rd on a double play, and then scored on a passed ball.

The Red Sox did threaten at times, putting runners in scoring position four times. But Adam Warren threw a flawless 8th inning, breezing through the Red Sox in just 18 pitches, and Giovanni Gallegos got the first 2 outs of the 9th, including one great sliding catch by Ronald Torreyes. It would be closer Dellin Betances to create a dramatic flourish to the 9th inning — a walk, a strikeout wild pitch that allowed the batter to reach safely, and a walk to load up the bases — only to have Betances get a great strikeout on a wicked slider to end the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees continued to give the Red Sox starter a really hard time. This same starter used to play with the Rays and the Tigers, so he’s faced the Yankees quite often. And consistently, the Yankees love hitting off him, as they did tonight — racking up 8 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs in just 5 innings (and a whopping 107 pitches).

In the 2nd, Sanchez led-off with a walk and moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single. Two outs later, Sanchez scored on Brett Gardner’s single. In the 3rd, with 1 out and runners on the corners, Gary Sanchez hit a big 3-run home run into the left field seats. And after Castro’s lead-off single in the 5th, Sanchez did it again and hit a big 2-run home run, this time to the right field seats.

As the Red Sox dipped into their bullpen, the Yankees continued their offensive march towards victory tonight. In the 6th, with 2 outs, Aaron Judge’s single became the hardest hit ball of the season, at 119.8 mph in exit velocity (though it should be noted that Judge has hit three 119+mph hits, and the rest of MLB has none). After moving to 2nd on Holliday’s walk, Judge then scored on Starlin Castro’s single.

And in the 8th, Brett Gardner led things off with his 13th home run of the season. Hicks and Judge singled, and Holliday was hit by a pitch to load the bases. All with no outs this inning. Castro hit into a fielder’s choice out at 2nd, which still scored Hicks to cap off the Yankees’ scoring tonight.

Final score: 9-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

And the Yankees announced the lineup for their 70th Annual Old Timers’ Day in just over two weeks. Yankees Hall-of Famers and alumni scheduled to appear include: Jesse Barfield, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, Rick Cerone, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Joe Girardi, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Sparkly Lyle, Kevin Maas, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick”
Michael, Gene Monahan, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada (making his OTD debut!), Willie Randolph, Tim Raines, Mickey Rivers, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, Mike Torrez, Roy White, and Bernie Williams.

The widows of five Yankee legend will also make an appearance: Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson; and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

Old Timer’s Day is coming up on Sunday, June 25. Gates will open at 10am that day. The “Old Timers” will play a short exhibition game before the regularly scheduled afternoon game the Yankees will play against the visiting Rangers at 2:05 pm. At the afternoon game the day before (Saturday, June 24), many of the above legends will be there to hang out with the fans, signing autographs and taking pictures. Basically, it’s going to be a weekend of legends. Have you got your tickets? I can’t wait!

Go Yankees!

Game 56: BOS vs. NYY — #CCStrong shuts out the competition

According to some weird trivia bits on my newsfeed, tonight’s game was the largest shutout win against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium since September 1965. And honestly, it’s really a whole lot to do with starter CC Sabathia, who dominated once again, and led the Yankees to his 5th straight win.

Like I said, Sabathia was dominant through his outing tonight in the middle game against the Red Sox, throwing 95 pitches through his 8 innings. He gave up 5 hits and no walks, striking out 5 Boston batters. But more importantly, Sabathia allowed no runs.

Yes, between the dominant pitching by Sabathia and the great defense, the Yankee kept the Red Sox scoreless. And Jonathan Holder continued that streak with a stellar 10-pitch 9th inning to breeze through the Red Sox lineup and close out the game.

In the 3rd, Didi Gregorius led-of with a solo home run to start off the Yankees’ run-scoring tonight. The Yankees loaded up the bases that inning, but left all 3 runner stranded. But this certainly wasn’t the sign of things to come this game. Castro led-off the 4th inning with a great stand-up triple and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s single, and Headley hit a 1-out single to join Sanchez on the bases. They both then scored when Chris Carter hit a really big 3-run home run deep into the left field seats.

Later, in the bottom of the 7th, Gardner reached 1st on a fielding error and then stole 2nd, his first stolen base since April 10. Gardner eventually scored all the way from 2nd on Matt Holliday’s 2-out single. He went all “superman” as he slid into home plate to easily beat the off-center throw.

In the 8th, with 1 out, Gregorius singled and Headley walked to get things started again. Chris Carter’s single scored Gregorius, moving Headley to 3rd. And Brett Gardner singled home Headley to cap off the Yankee runs tonight. The Yankees certainly racked up the hits (as well as the runs), with a grand total of 12 hits by Yankee batters.

Final score: 8-0 Yankees

A rather nice turn of events after last night. Though you can’t say the Yankees didn’t make it a close one despite the struggles at the start. These Yankees this season are something else to watch.

On another note: one of my favorite parts of seeing baseball live and in person is showing up early for batting practice. You get to watch the players take swings and the occasional fielding drill all leading up to the game. This year is especially fun for fans who crowd the outfield seats and bleachers in hopes of catching batting practice home run balls from the likes of a player like Aaron Judge. You never know when one of his big hits can come your way out there.

In fact, it’s not only fans that have to stay alert for an Aaron Judge hit. Judge has actually broken a television in a club in the outfield seating area at Yankee Stadium, hit 2 balls into a hotel near the stadium in Toronto, and smacked one into a vendor’s kiosk, bouncing it off the bar area, before tonight’s game.

So basically, when Judge is up, look out! Those little signs on the backs of the chairs are true, especially when a certain outfielder is in the batter’s box or in the batting cage:

Be Alert!
#truth {photo courtesy of author}

Go Yankees!

Game 54: NYY vs. TOR — Late inning power leads to Queen City split

I realize that a “Queen City split” sounds like something you’d find in bowling or poker. But that’s what we find as a result of this weekend’s series in Toronto. Each team taking half of the pie, with the Yankees headed home after a disappointing road trip to division rivals. What makes it worst is that it was actually a tight, really good game until late in the game.

The Yankees faced a pretty tough pitcher in the Jays’ starter, but they were able to get on the board in the 4th and keep the lead for a bit. Aaron Judge hit a 1-out single and then stole 2nd, ending up at 3rd on a throwing error. He then scored on Matt Holliday’s double. And in the 6th, Brett Gardner led off with a single, moved to 2nd on a walk, to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Holliday’s fielder’s choice out (another failed double play attempt).

Luis Severino got the start this afternoon under the dome, throwing 98 pitches through his 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and just 2 runs, striking out 7 Toronto batters. And Severino didn’t give up any runs at all until the 6th inning. With 2 outs, Severino gave up a single looking to keep the Jays’ scoreless and get out of the inning. But a well-placed strike became a 2-run home run to tie up the game.

Honestly, Severino threw a really good game, ending up fortunately with a no-decision. (I always hate it when a pitcher has a great day and still ends up with a loss.) But then the Blue Jays’ starter also had a great outing. But what made the difference was the Blue Jays’ bullpen — giving up a hit, but blasting through the Yankees’ roster in just 27 pitches in 3 innings, making the Yankees collect 5 strikeouts.

Tyler Clippard needed to do the same thing, and he was on his way to doing so. His lead-off batter, a former AL MVP, worked his way to a full count before smacking a solid shot over the right field wall to give the Blue Jays the lead. Clippard admitted the pitch wasn’t where he wanted it, leaving it too high in the zone for the batter. But then Clippard was able to get the next 3 outs fairly easily.

However, the Yankees’ offense was unable to cobble anything together except 3 strikeouts in the 9th for a comeback rally.

Final score: 3-2 Blue Jays, series split 2-2.

And have you voted yet for the All-Star Game starters? Vote your daily 5 times now, and maybe help the Yankee starters rise in the ranks. You can vote every day, up to 5 times daily, up to 35 total until June 29 at 11:59 pm EST. The Yankees could be represented by Judge or Castro or Sanchez, so this could be a great opportunity for them to shine in the Summer Classic.

The Yankees travel back to the Bronx, and after an off-day tomorrow, will host the Red Sox for a three-game mid-week series. Currently, the Red Sox are 2 games behind the Yankees in the standings, coming into this next series hoping to flip that around. But wouldn’t it be kind of nice to see them behind 5 games?

Go Yankees!

{Side note: We stand with London and Manchester today as they continue to recover and heal and stand strong, united in love which defeats fear and hate every day.}

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!