Game 120: NYY vs. NYM — Kings of New York in the #SubwaySeries

Call it a sweep either way, but the Yankees are the winners of the Subway Series. Light up the Empire State Building, celebrate with a pint at the local bar, and rest up. Because now the Yankees head to Fenway to face the red-hot Red Sox yet again.

And a good portion of why tonight’s game was so successful was thanks to starter Luis Severino (who still needs a proper hashtag, Yankee Universe). He threw 106 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 1 unearned run, and struck out 9 Mets batters. That lone run came in the final inning for Severino, the 7th. With 1 out, a batter reached on a fielding error and then advanced all the way to 3rd on a messy wild pitch before scoring easily on a single.

So the Yankees turned to Chasen Shreve to close out the 7th and breeze his way through the 8th inning, adding 3 more strikeouts to the count.

The Yankees also gave Severino (and the rest of the pitching staff) a nice cushion with their offense that only sparked in 2 innings all night. In the 1st, Gardner led off and reached on a throwing error and Hicks worked a walk. Gary Sanchez then hit a 1-out 3-run home run to get the Yankees on the board early.

Then in the 4th, the Yankees loaded up the bases with singles by Austin, Torreyes, and Severino (yes, he pitches and hits!). Brett Gardner’s double scored 2 runs to keep the momentum going. With 1 out, the Yankees loaded up the bases again when Judge was hit by a pitch. That was the end of the Mets’ starter, but the first reliever gave up a single to Sanchez that scored 2 more runs for the Yankees.

And with that now hefty lead, the Yankees’ bullpen and defense spent the remainder of the game defending that. Any chances of adding to it were shut out by a surprisingly good showing by the Mets’ bullpen tonight.

So, into the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees needed just a quick 3 outs to get out with the game and earn that sweep. But Bryan Mitchell was having one of those days you don’t want to have in cases like this. He threw just 12 pitches, gave up a double, a single, and a walk to load up the bases before giving up a beautiful grand slam to a certain former Yankee. It put the Mets within striking distance, so the Yankees put a call into their bullpen for a life-preserver of sorts.

It would be Dellin Betances — 11 pitches, 3 outs, 8th save of the season. Game over, sweep won.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees, Yankees sweep Mets 4-0 (or 2-0 if you count the two 2-game series separately)

Injury news: Garrett Cooper was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to tendonitis in his left hamstring, after reporting some discomfort following yesterday’s game. In his place, the Yankees recalled Tyler Austin, who started tonight’s game at 1st base. Austin made his MLB debut with the Yankees a year ago this week, and is now back after battling injuries for most of this season — a broken ankle and strained hamstring.

And now, we’re off to Boston. Fingers crossed that we can narrow that 4 game lead in the AL East that the Red Sox currently hold over the Yankees. They’re also hoping to broaden their own lead in the Wild Card race.

Over halfway through August means that there’s only about 6 weeks left of the season, and the Yankees have made it clear that not making the postseason is a failed season. And with the loaded roster, it’s hard to believe the Yankees won’t make October baseball. It’s certainly still up in the air as to where they’ll land to play in the postseason. Only one team in the league is talking about being eliminated from contention right now, as most divisions are still very up in the air.

But isn’t that what makes this time of year kind of fun? The unknown is still very alive. Anything really is possible. And that’s just kind of wonderful.

Go Yankees!

{Personal note: Charlottesville, Sierra Leone, Barcelona, the USS Fitzgerald, and far too many places in this world… Cherish the moments you have and the people you are privileged to share them with; life is too short to cling to hate and anger and exist in placid passivity. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who have lost loved ones in these recent tragedies.}

Game 115: BOS vs. NYY — Not so stellar start, but valiant effort at the end

Luis Severino still needs a hashtag, but fortunately for you, he certainly didn’t need one this afternoon as he had a less than stellar outing, one that he won’t be adding to the highlight reel. In this middle game of the weekend series against the visiting Red Sox, Severino got roughed up by the younger power-hitters of Boston’s roster.

He threw 90 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 10 runs (though only 8 were earned), striking out just 4 batters. After 2 stellar innings, Severino started losing momentum. In the 3rd, with 1 out, Severino gave up 2 walks and a fielding error loaded up the bases. A single scored the Red Sox’s first 2 runs, and a big 3-run home run gave the Red Sox a nice lead. After 2 consecutive singles, the Yankees defense buckled down and got a line out into a double play, getting the lead runner to double off 2nd.

Then in the 5th, Severino allowed runners in scoring position with consecutive hits and no outs, and then gave up another 3-run home run (to the same player, by the way). After the first out was recorded for the inning, the Red Sox got runners in the corners with a double and a throwing error. And that would be it for Severino’s afternoon.

It was on to the bullpen, and first up was Giovanni Gallegos. He promptly gave up a 2-run double (both runs charged to Severino), but then zeroed in and got the 2 outs needed to get out of the inning and then breezed through the next 2 innings, accumulating 4 strikeouts along the way and keeping the Red Sox from adding to their double digit score.

Bryan Mitchell was up next for the Yankees’ bullpen, pitching a flawless 8th and getting into a sticky situation in the 9th. But he got out of it, thanks once again to the Yankees defense.

So, the Yankees’ offense had quite a bit of work to do. They actually got on the board first. Gardner led-off the 1st with a single and then scored as part of a 2-out 2-run home run by Gary Sanchez. Once the Red Sox took the lead, the Yankees started playing catch-up. In the 4th, the Yankees loaded up the bases with no outs, so Jacoby Ellsbury’s ground out moved all the runners up and scored lead runner Gregorius.

But then the Red Sox kept the Yankees from gaining any ground for most of the game. It wasn’t until the final inning that the Yankees attempted a monster catch-up rally. Chase Headley led-off the 9th with a solo home run, and Ellsbury followed that up with a solo home run of his own. But the rally quickly ended after 3 consecutive runs, leaving the Yankees high and dry.

Final score: 10-5, Red Sox

Injury news (can we get less of this please?): Jordan Montgomery was hit by a foul ball in the head, while he was playing catch in the outfield during batting practice today. He was a bit dazed and came off the field under his own power, but he was examined by the medical staff and pronounced fine. He is still scheduled to pitch tomorrow’s finale in the Bronx against the Red Sox, in hopes that the Yankees can come up on the plus side of this series.

Masahiro Tanaka is headed to the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. The Yankees have called up Giovanni Gallegos to fill his roster spot, putting him in the long-term relief spot in the bullpen. To fill in Tanaka’s rotation spot, they are looking at today’s other reliever Mitchell or more likely (the other Luis) Cessa.

Go Yankees!

Game 111: NYY vs. TOR — Falling short North of the Border

The Yankees are north of the border for their mid-week series against the Blue Jays. And with the season beginning to wind down, the Yankees are looking for every game to put them in line for the postseason. Unfortunately, the last place in the AL East Blue Jays aren’t willing to go down easily.

CC Sabathia go the start and, thanks to a single batter who seemed to have his number, he threw a less-than-stellar outing. He threw 57 pitches in just 3 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, striking out just 3 batters. In the 1st, Sabathia gave up a lead-off double, who moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt and then scored as part of a big 2-run home run to get Toronto on the board early. And a lead-off single in the 3rd scored as part of another 2-run home run (by the same player in the 1st inning) to double the Blue Jays’ score.

From there, the Yankees called on Bryan Mitchell for long-term relief, and he promptly threw a beautiful scoreless 4 innings. Mitchell kept the Blue Jays to their early lead in anticipation of the Yankees’ offense to catch-up and take-over. David Robertson’s 8th inning continued that momentum, again lying in wait for the Yankees’ fabled offense.

Fabled would be the right word tonight, as it seemed quite a bit stilted against the Toronto’s pitching staff. They had just two minor opportunities to play some small ball. In the 2nd, Headley led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single, ended up at 3rd on a double play, and then scored on Garrett Cooper’s single.

Then in the 8th, consecutive Yankees (Sanchez and Headley) were hit by pitches and Todd Frazier worked a 1-out walk to load up the bases. It would be Cooper again for the RBI, this time a sacrifice fly {NOTE: no media link, sorry} to double the Yankees’ score and halve the Blue Jays’ lead.

But the Yankees didn’t have a last-minute rally in them, so dropped this first game in Toronto.

Final score: 4-2 Blue Jays

The Advanced-A Tampa Yankees are hosting their version of HOPE Week this week, starting today and running through Saturday. On the schedule are many amazing Tampa area organizations: the Lighthouse Center for Creative Learning, a school for children with autism; A Kid’s Place of Tampa Bay, a foster or transitional home for displaced children; Trinity Cafe, a proper restaurant that specifically serves the area’s homeless and hungry; the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation; and Tampa Yankees’ players, staff, and fans will participate in the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s “Cut for a Cure”, a fundraiser where kids (who also are cancer survivors) shave participants’ heads.

And in sad news, former ball player and manager Don Baylor passed away yesterday after a long struggle with multiple myeloma, a nasty blood cancer. He was just 68 years old. Baylor had a 19-year professional career with the Orioles, Athletics, Angels, Red Sox, Twins, and Yankees (1983-1985), an All-Star who also won an MVP Award and a World Series. He went on to manage the Rockies and Cubs, winning 1995 NL Manager of the Year, before retiring from baseball entirely 15 years ago around the time of his diagnosis. He was close to many in the game, even being a groomsman in Yankee teammate Dave Winfield’s 1988 wedding. Our hearts go out to his family, including his wife Rebecca. He will be missed.

Go Yankees!

Game 92: NYY vs. MIN — Even a plague of moths can’t stop a Yankee win tonight

On this day in Yankee history in 1999, David Cone became the 3rd Yankee pitcher and 16th MLB player to throw a perfect game. Cone threw just 88 pitches to the visiting Montreal Expos’ lineup, striking out 10 of them. There was a 33-minute rain delay in the middle of the 3rd inning, but it didn’t seem to affect Cone’s momentum in the slightest. The Yankees went on to win the game 6-0. Cone’s catcher that day was current manager Joe Girardi. And the manager of the Yankees then, Joe Torre, was also celebrating his birthday. So, happy anniversary on the game and happy birthday, Mr. Torre!

For tonight’s game against the Twins, the Yankees called on Luis Cessa to start, but Cessa had a bit of trouble tonight. He threw 76 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, striking out just 2 batters. Right in the 1st, he loaded up the bases with 2 walks and a hit-by-pitch and 2 outs, he walked another batter to get the Twins on the board early, but then got out of the jam with the first of his 2 strikeouts.

A 1-out solo home run in the 3rd doubled their score. And in the 4th, a 1-out double scored on a big triple. After 1 more out, the Yankees opted to go to their bullpen and call on Chasen Shreve. And once they opened that bullpen door, it was one of the best things they did for the team. Shreve closed out the 4th and got through the 5th scoreless, albeit a bit of a jam.

Warren’s beautiful 6th and 7th innings continued the momentum and set up the final two relievers — Betances who found some 8th inning drama but got out unscathed, and Chapman’s 16-pitch 9th inning for his 10th save of the season.

Now, that could be bad, but the Yankees were hitting quite a bit tonight — 13 total hits off the Twins’ pitching staff, 8 of those alone off the starter. The Yankees did all of their big damage in the middle of the game. In the 4th, Judge led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single, then to 3rd on a fielder’s choice, and scored on Chase Headley’s single to get the Yankees on the board. (Judge’s productive offense tonight clearly negates whatever silly “home run derby jinx” the online trolls seem bent on believing.)

Still down in the 5th, the Yankees decided to grab the lead and not let go. Torreyes led-off with a single and ended up on 3rd after Gardner’s ground-rule double. Then Gary Sanchez (another victim of those online “derby jinx” trolls) hit a big double that scored both Torreyes and Gardner. That ended the Twins’ starter’s night. Aaron Judge’s single scored Sanchez, and then he scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ solid 1-out 2-run home run to ensure the Yankees’ lead and eventual victory tonight.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees.

Also, about the 6th inning of tonight’s game, Target Field was seemingly invaded by thousands of moths. It was almost like a Biblical plague, but with floating white, non-biting things, almost like big, thick snow flakes in appearance, in the air. I thought they were paper or debris on the field and in the air at first, but was later corrected when I could see their buzzing wings in close-up shots. Fortunately, it was nowhere near as bad as the infamous “midges game” back in 2007.

Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees optioned Bryan Mitchell back to AAA Scranton, recalling tonight’s starter Luis Cessa.

Injury updates: Greg Bird and Michael Pineda had their scheduled surgeries today to repair their injuries. Bird released a post-op statement, stating his intention to get back in the game as soon as he possibly can. Here’s hoping for their quick return to full health.

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!

Games 89 & 90: NYY vs. BOS — Let’s split 2, #CCStrong, & finally shut out

The first game of today’s doubleheader was a make-up game from the rain out on April 25. But after last night’s marathon 16 innings, it was bound to be a long finish to this weekend’s rivalry series at Fenway.

Game 1:
For the afternoon game, the Yankees turned almost at the last-minute to veteran starter CC Sabathia who had a truly great outing this afternoon, coming off his recent stint on the DL. He threw 97 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up just 2 hits, 5 walks, and no runs, striking out 3 batters along the way. Plus, he set himself up for the win, his 8th of the season actually.

The Yankees needed the likes of veteran reliable starters like this vintage Sabathia to give the exhausted bullpen a chance to recoup some of its strength. And he did. Clippard and Green kept the scoreless streak alive through the 7th and 8th innings, and Chapman’s 9th was strong enough to earn him the save and continue the momentum of the game.

The Yankees’ hitters managed to hit quite a bit off the Red Sox’s pitchers in the first game today, a total of 12 hits. However, they only managed to break through the defense in two innings. In the 4th, with 1 out, the Yankees loaded the bases with a single, an error, and another single. Ji-Man Choi’s sacrifice fly scored Gregorious to get a run on the board, and then Ronald Torreyes’ single scored Frazier to double the score. Despite the bases being loaded with a hit-by-pitch, they ended up grounding out to end the rally. Didi Gregorius added an insurance run in the 5th, a 2-out solo home run into the right field seats.

Final score: 3-0 Yankees

Game 2:
About 4 hours later, it was time for the regularly scheduled game, the rare late Sunday night game. And the Yankees called on another veteran starter to try to extend the life of the bullpen. Masahiro Tanaka definitely helped with the bullpen, and his outing was actually pretty good overall. He threw 112 pitches into the 8th inning, gave up 8 hits, no walks, and 3 runs, striking out 9 Boston batters.

In the 3rd, a 1-out single scored as part of a 2-out 2-run home run to give the Red Sox the lead. And then in the 6th, a lead-off single ended up at 2nd on a throwing error, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on an RBI single. But that would be it for the Red Sox. Even as Chasen Shreve closed out the 8th with a 5-pitch strikeout to make it an even 10 for the Yankee pitchers this game.

All that was needed was for the Yankee batters to do something. And normally, off this particular starter, they can and do. But while they got 8 total hits, they didn’t do much else with that. They also racked up 10 strikeouts, but they were unable to find a hole in the defense large enough to walk home.

And thus, the Yankees became the final team this season to be shut out of a game. It took 90 games, but someone had to do it. Somehow, it’s only fitting that it’s the Red Sox.

Final score: 3-0 Red Sox

Final series outcome: Red Sox and Yankees split the series 2-2.

In roster moves: before the doubleheader, the Yankees transferred Michael Pineda from the 10-day to the 60-day disabled list due to the partial tear in his right UCL (elbow). The Yankees selected the contract of reliever Caleb Smith and recalled Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell (who was scheduled to be their 26th man) from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In their place, they optioned Jonathan Holder and Ben Heller back, due to their extensive work in last night’s game.

But I wouldn’t put down roots there just yet. Keep the “Scranton Shuttle” fired up and ready. They’ll be more roster moves before the Yankees start their series in Minnesota.

Also, our hearts go out to the family of legendary Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Bob Wolff. Wolff passed away Saturday at his home in New York at the age of 96. He is the voice that called the Don Larsen perfect game in 1956 and is still the current World Record holder for the longest broadcasting career, awarded in 2014. The passing of another iconic voice in the sports world is always a sad day, closing another chapter of the great past and legacy of this team.

Go Yankees!

Game 82: TOR vs. NYY — #Happy4th and #SirDidi4Sure

Happy Independence Day, America!

This day has a few moments of significance for “America’s team”. In 1983, pitcher Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter against Boston, the first since 1951. And in 1939, Lou Gehrig gave his memorable “Luckiest Man” speech in honor of his retirement and Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. Also, it’s the birthday of the late George Steinbrenner and long-time Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling.

And today, they hosted the Blue Jays for their second game (of three) in this first series this week in the Bronx. CC Sabathia, recently activated from his stint on the DL, had a great start to his outing — he threw 34 pitches to sail through his first 8 batters. And then he got into trouble with a walk and wild pitch that put his first allowed runner in scoring position to do so on an RBI single.

But then he loaded the bases with a single and walk. Sabathia was in a jam. It didn’t help that he couldn’t seem to pitch his way out of it — he walked in a run and then gave up a single that scored 2 more runs. That would be it for Sabathia’s return to the mound — throwing 63 total pitches in less than 3 full innings and setting himself up for the loss.

Also coming off the disabled list today, Adam Warren came on to close out the 3rd inning for Sabathia, needing 6 pitches to get that 3rd out of the inning. But that brought everything back to how Sabathia began the game this afternoon. Luis Cessa gave some long-term relief, easing his way into the 8th inning, giving up just 5 hits along the way but keeping the Jays from adding to their lead. Chasen Shreve closed out the 8th inning and handed over the game to Tyler Clippard for a solid 9th inning.

But it would not be enough that the bullpen had itself a strong inning if the Yankees’ offense didn’t kick it up a notch. And they really didn’t, only managing 4 total hits and 3 walks off the Blue Jays staff, despite driving up the pitch count on the starter. The only run the Yankees scored today came from a 4th inning lead-off solo home run from (who else?) Aaron Judge that actually dented the stadium.

Final score: 4-1 Blue Jays

Roster moves: Before the game, the Yankees activated CC Sabathia and Adam Warren from the 10-day disabled list, optioning Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After the game, the Yankees designated Chris Carter for assignment (again) and selected the contract of Ji-Man Choi (who we saw in Spring Training in March). There is a lot of talk about the Yankees being on the hunt for a more permanent 1st baseman, especially if things don’t look good for Bird, and with the trade deadline coming up, I imagine there might be a few more moves to see what can work for the Yankees in the long-run.

And in All-Star Game news: As of today, Didi Gregorius is currently 3rd in the final fan voting, so let’s make it happen, Yankee Universe. Vote via text (up to 35 times) or Twitter (using the hashtag #SirDidi4Sure) or online (unlimited times). So go vote for Gregorius before the voting ends Thursday, July 6 at 3:59 pm EST!

Go Yankees! And Happy 4th!