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 45: OAK vs. NYY — #TanakaTime and it still falls short

So, can we blame Michelangelo? Not the Renaissance artist, but the Ninja Turtle. Masahiro Tanaka’s had a rough time this season after a near-flawless Spring, then he dresses up as a turtle yesterday for HOPE Week, and then he throws a near-flawless outing tonight in the opening game of the weekend series against the visiting Athletics.

Tanaka threw a beautiful 111 pitches into the 8th inning, giving up just 5 hits and no walks, and striking out 13 Oakland batters. That statistic alone is a huge feat, as the last Yankee to get 13 strikeouts with 5 or fewer hits was Mike Mussina (September 28, 2001) vs. the Orioles. But the biggest feature is no runs. His last allowed single was on base when he left the mound, thus making him responsible for that runner.

And unfortunately, Tyler Clippard had a rough time getting the final 2 outs of the 8th inning. A pick-off attempt went awry and that runner ended up all the way at 3rd. Defense came in handy on the first batter who hit into a fielder’s choice that had Headley charging the ball and getting the out at home.

But a walk put 2 runners on base to threaten again. A single scored the first run of the night, leaving runners at the corners. The next batter hit into another RBI single to double the A’s score. The Yankees challenged the play, believing the runner was actually out at 1st and thus the run didn’t score, but the call was upheld (but not confirmed). And Clippard was able to find that final out to get out without falling into the threat.

Reliever Jonathan Holder stumbled a bit out of the gate, giving up a single and a 2-run home run to kick off the 9th inning before buckling down and getting the needed 3 outs. But the damage was done.

And into the bottom of the 9th, the scoreless Yankees went, looking for a big comeback. Or at least to get on the board so they’re not shutout. With a new reliever, the Yankees made their move. Hicks worked a walk and ended up at 3rd on Castro’s 1-out single. Judge worked a walk to load up the bases, and with just 1 out, the Yankees were looking for something, anything to happen in this final inning. It would be Didi Gregorius to hit a long sacrifice fly to score Hicks and get the Yankees on the board. But it was also the 2nd out of the inning. But a pinch-hit pop out ended the game and the rally.

Final score: 4-1 Athletics

Injury update: Greg Bird has been tending to his bruised foot, getting some workouts in periodically. But now, he’s on his way to Tampa for further workouts before he will begin his rehab games soon after.

HOPE Week concludes with Day 5, and the Yankees honoring 14-year-old Tyler Cashman. Tyler started “Points for Pain” after his mother began suffering from chronic pain after a 2008 procedure. His idea was to organize local sports teams to partner with fans to donate money based on how many points the teams scored in a game. To date, he’s already raised over $25,000 for a pain foundation, and he’s inspired other kids to start their own programs to raise money.

So, Tyler and his family were hanging out at the Central Park Boathouse when Chris Carter, Aaron Hicks, Matt Holliday, Bryan Mitchell, Austin Romine, and Chasen Shreve showed up for a fun afternoon. They took row boats out on the lake, raced RC sailboats (even donning sailor’s hats), and had a picnic on the grass, tossing a football around a bit.

The Yankees also presented the US Pain Foundation with a $10,000 donation, and Tyler was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before tonight’s game.

And that’s it for the 2017 HOPE Week, a new legacy of some amazing kids making a difference in their world. I hope it inspired you to change a part of your world. Because you can make a difference. It is doesn’t have to be in a big way, but there’s always something you can do to change the lives of someone in some way. They say that you don’t have to do it all, but you can definitely do something. So, go and do something.

Go Yankees!

Game 43: KC vs. NYY — Consistency & perseverance, and also some home runs

Consistency is really the key to any major accomplishment or achievement. Anyone can be good at something for a moment or two, but it takes commitment and training and excellence to be consistently good at something. And when you’re consistent, you will games and championships. Of course, being human means that you’re going to have an off-night every now and then. (To the other extreme, it also means that there are things you will be consistently terrible at — like me with fishing or geometry proofs back in school or having patience with tourists who walk slowly 4-across on narrow city sidewalks and don’t understand why you’d possibly want to pass them at a quicker pace.)

But I digress… once again, it was like home run city at Yankee Stadium. Though with a different outcome. Jordan Montgomery got a chance to show off his young pitching arm through the most of his outing tonight against the visiting Royals. He only gave up 1 hit in his first 19 outs (6.1 innings). His 2nd hit was a solo home run in the 7th to get the Royals on the board. Another out later, Montgomery called it a night after 98 pitches, overall a good outing, with 6 total strikeouts and no walks allowed.

But the usually sharp bullpen, well, wasn’t so much tonight. Adam Warren came on to finish the 7th inning, but promptly gave up a single and then a 2-run home run before getting the 3rd out. Jonathan Holder is normally a sure thing and came out in the 8th only to give up a solo home run, a strikeout, and a hit-by-pitch. It was on to Chasen Shreve, and even he wasn’t helping with a 2-run home run to the first batter before getting the 2 outs to finally get out of the 8th inning.

Bryan Mitchell finally got things back on track with an 11-pitch, flawless 9th inning, but it was really too late to do much to dampen the Royals’ solid lead over the Yankees at that point. Especially as the Royals’ pitching staff kept things stifled for the Yankee hitters, allowing base runners at times but with minimal scoring, which held their offense jump ahead and stay ahead.

The Yankees had 12 base runners tonight, but only 2 runs scored — a 1-out solo home run by Aaron Hicks in the 4th and a 2-out solo home run in the 5th by Chris Carter. But they had opportunities, like the bases loaded in the 5th, but they never seemed to capitalize on any “small-ball” chances (scoring made on hits, walks, and sacrifice flies, usually).

Final score: 6-2 Royals.

Before the game tonight, the Yankees held a moment of silence for victims and families of last night’s tragic explosion in Manchester. The stadium then played “God Save the Queen” in their honor. Many Yankee fans abroad, especially those in the UK and its territories applauded the Yankees’ tribute and were touched by the gesture of global solidarity.

HOPE Week continues. For Day 2, the Yankees chose to recognize Amy Palmiero-Winters and her foundation, “Amy’s One Step Ahead Foundation”. Despite losing much of her left leg in a motorcycle accident years ago, Palmiero-Winters became a world-class distance runner, winning a national award for being the top amateur athlete. She also turned her experience into an inspirational message and foundation to help others with disabilities, giving them opportunities to show off their athleticism in unique ways.

Today, Joe Girardi, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Gary Sanchez, Ronald Torreyes, and Adam Warren showed up at the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame at the Armory in Washington Heights to meet some of the kids that benefit from Palmiero-Winter’s foundation. They even ran racing drills together and showed the Yankee volunteers a thing or two about true athleticism, you know, one athlete to another.

Palmiero-Winter and her daughter also threw out the ceremonial 1st pitches. Palmiero-Winter also received a 10,000 donation from the Yankees to the foundation to continue their great work in the community, specifically to help one of the kids in her foundation get a new prosthetic leg tomorrow (literally!). Amy’s perseverance is now helping others excel and is living proof of the message of HOPE Week.

Go Yankees!

Game 41: NYY vs. TB — Starters strong at the Trop, 28 strikeouts

With the Yankees on the road for 81 games of the season, you get a great look at different parts of this country, different cities all over. So when I do my daily recap, I try to pull in fun things from the host city so that while you may never set foot in the cities (though you should because traveling is amazing!), you can experience a taste of exotic cities like St. Louis, St. Paul, and St. Petersburg.

Anyway, one of the things I like to do is find out the city’s nickname. Sometimes they’re well-known (like the “Windy City”), sometimes they’re really repetitive (both Seattle and Cincinatti are known as the “Queen City”), sometimes they’re interesting (Kansas City is the “City of Fountains”), and sometimes they’re just weird. I came across this list for St. Petersburg (where the Rays play) and also for Tampa (because it’s the largest city in the area) — St. Petersburg: “Always in Season”, “The Burg”, “Sunshine City”, and just “St. Pete” (as all the locals call it); Tampa: “Cigar City”, the “Lightning Capital of the World”, “America’s Next Greatest City”, “City of Champions”, and (my personal favorite) “The Big Guava”.

So, as I write this blog from “The Big Guava”, I think over this weekend series that took place just across the bay in “Sunshine City”. (Sorry, but this has been a long weekend.) The Yankees fell out of 1st place and then earned it back upon today’s win (and Baltimore’s loss against Toronto) to be back in 1st by just a half-game.

CC Sabathia got the start in this afternoon’s finale against the Rays. Sabathia tends to do pretty well at Tropicana Field, so it was no surprise that he had a pretty strong outing today. He threw 95 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up just 4 hits, a walk, and 2 runs (only 1 earned), and striking out 6 Rays’ batters.

With 2 outs (both strikeouts) and 2 runners on base in the 1st inning, Gary Sanchez went for a pick-off attempt at 1st, but the throw was off and passed Carter to allow the lead runner to score from 2nd (the unearned run). And a 1-out solo home run in the 5th doubled the Rays’ score to bookend Sabathia’s outing.

The Yankees offense faced a really fantastic pitcher, the Rays’ ace and a player on my top 5 non-Yankees pitching list, who just dominated the Yankees’ lineup today. Honestly, throwing into just the 7th inning, he got the Yankees to swing into an impressive 12 strikeouts.

But the Yankees, being the team that they are this season, found their moments, and it paid off in the end. Easily the weakest inning of the Rays’ ace, the 2nd inning began with Ellsbury’s double. Didi Gregorious (who had a fantastic day, going 4-for-4 today) hit a 1-out single and scored Ellsbury. And it would be Brett Gardner to hit his 8th home run of the season, a 2-out, 2-run shot into the first row of the right field seats to give the Yankees the slim lead they wouldn’t surrender all game.

The Yankees bullpen had a strong showing today, especially with that slim lead they had to protect. Green, Clippard, and Betances finished off and split the final 4 innings of the game, keeping the Rays off the bases and away from home plate.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees, Rays win series 2-1.

The Yankees are now on their way back to the Bronx for their 7-game home stand, 4 games against the Royals and 3 against the Athletics. Plus, tomorrow kicks off HOPE Week, my favorite week of the year, where the Yankees honor local community organizations and outreaches, giving them a platform for their non-profit and a nice donation to continue their good work in the community.

Scranton Shuttle update: The Yankees called Bryan Mitchell back from AAA Scranton, sending Giovanni Gallegos back in exchange for a fresh arm in the bullpen. The bullpen continues to get a lot of work, but they are fairly strong and dominant this season. Something that clearly contributes to the fact that the Yankees are back on top of the AL East.

Go Yankees!

Game 24: TOR vs. NYY — “It’s not what you want”

Well, that was less than a great way to start the new week, the new month, and the new series. Maybe the Yankees had to be generous to the last place (in the AL East, 2nd to last in the AL and MLB) to boost their morale or something. And that is my so-called positive spin on the game. To use Girardi’s own press conference cliche: “It’s not what you want.”

Luis Severino certainly had a rough time tonight in the opening game of this series against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. Severino threw 105 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, striking out just 3 batters. So, we’ll call it an off-day for Severino.

In the 2nd, the lead-off batter singled and then scored as part of a 2-run home run to get the Blue Jays on the board and in the lead early. Severino kept them to that score for most of his outing until the 6th inning. A lead-off single moved to 3rd on a ground-rule double, and then both scored on a sacrifice fly in which Ellsbury hit the back wall far too hard. Then a 2-out solo home run added more to the increasing lead of the Blue Jays and called an end to Severino’s night.

Severino turned things over to recent call-up Luis Cessa (more later), but Cessa had his own struggles in the 7th inning. As if repeating the pattern, a lead-off single scored as part of a 2-run home run to finalize the Blue Jays’ score tonight. Cessa was able to keep the Blue Jays from adding anything else through the 8th and 9th innings.

The Yankees were able to tally up 7 hits off the Blue Jays great starter (who often gives them trouble), but they weren’t able to do much except for in a single inning, the 4th. With 1 out, Castro singled, moved to 2nd on Ellsbury’s single, and then scored on Aaron Judge’s single to finally get the Yankees on the board when the game was much closer. The Yankees just didn’t capitalize on any more opportunities in the game.

Oh, and Jacoby Ellsbury also got his first catcher’s interference of the year on his at-bat in the 6th inning. He had 12 last year alone, bringing his career total now to 27. This stat almost became something of a joke last season because how often do you have this call. It’s like an infield fly or a balk. It’s just not something you see every day, unless it’s 2016 and you’re Jacoby Ellsbury.

Final score: 7-1 Blue Jays

Before the game, the Yankees, in need of a fresh arm in the bullpen, moved some players around. They sent Bryan Mitchell to AAA Scranton in exchange for Luis Cessa, who made his 2017 debut in tonight’s game. Cessa’s outing tonight allows for the exhausted bullpen an extra day of rest.

Okay, everyone. It’s that time of year. It’s time to vote for the All-Star Game ballot. In July, your favorite players have a chance to be standing in Marlins Park in Miami for the 88th annual All-Star Game. Fans everywhere can cast their votes for starters up to 35 times, up to 5 times a day, until 11:59 pm EST on June 29, 2017. And one lucky voter will win an all-expenses paid VIP trip for 4 to the All-Star Game events.

I cast my five votes today… who gets your votes?

Go Yankees!

 

Game 23: BAL vs. NYY — A wild ride in the Bronx

Four hours and 37 minutes of baseball. Fortunately, it was nice weather in the City today. And it just had to be a weird day of baseball for the final game of the weekend series against the Orioles. The O’s were looking for a win to get back to the top of the AL East (a tie with the Yankees actually), and the Yankees were looking for a sweep of the weekend.

And boy, did each team work hard to obtain their goal. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out in the Yankees favor at the end of the 4 1/2 hours of play. Though both teams certainly had plenty of opportunities to do more than either of them actually did.

Jordan Montgomery got the start this afternoon, and had a fairly decent outing overall. He threw 92 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, while striking out an impressive 7 Baltimore batters. In the 3rd, a 1-out single stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a wild pitch strikeout, and then scored on a 2-out single. Then after loading the bases, a well-placed strikeout got Montgomery out of the inning.

In the 6th, Montgomery gave up consecutive walks and his afternoon was over, still responsible for those 2 runners. It would be Jonathan Holder that would be first out of the bullpen. Holder promptly gave up a single to load the bases. A force out at 2nd still scored a run, a double scored another, and a groundout scored one more for the Orioles. Holder’s struggle with this inning would come back to haunt the Yankees.

As Clippard, Betances, and Mitchell kept the O’s from adding onto their lead through the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, respectively, the Yankees were slow to make any offensive impact that mattered. I mean, they certainly got on base off the Baltimore starter — 8 hits and 5 walks in just 5 innings (ramping up the pitch count to 114 in just 5 innings). But they only managed to cross the plate twice under him.

A 2-out solo home run by Matt Holliday in the 1st got the Yankees on the board early. And in the 3rd, with 1 out and 2 runners on base with walks, Chase Headley’s single scored Castro to double the Yankees’ score. Again, the Yankees got plenty of base runners and opportunities, putting runners in scoring position quite often, but they just couldn’t capitalize on much of anything.

Until the 9th inning, that is. With 2 outs and 2 runners on base in scoring position (thanks in part to a questionable and strange balk call), the entire stadium was on its feet cheering on their boys, fingers crossed for something, anything really. Then Headley worked a walk to load the bases, which ended that pitcher’s day. A new reliever faced Didi Gregorius who hit a solid single to score both Castro and Judge to tie up the game.

And it was on into extra innings. Chapman worked his way through the 10th, with 2 nasty strikeouts and (more importantly) no runs allowed. Meanwhile, the 9th inning pitcher (Bryan Mitchell) played 1st base (despite having literally no experience there even in high school, where he played right field when he wasn’t pitching). But Mitchell did really good there, even making a fairly difficult catch in foul territory.

Then he was back on the mound for the 11th inning, and maybe the fielding break messed up his concentration because unlike his 9th inning, this one wasn’t so clean. Though to be fair, it really wasn’t all his fault. That was thanks to some pretty sloppy fielding. With 2 outs and a runner on 2nd (after a single and stolen base), Mitchell intentionally walked the next batter to go after the next guy. It didn’t help. That guy hit a single to score the winning run. The next guy’s single added completely unnecessary insurance runs #1 & #2.

And the Yankees’ offense just couldn’t cobble together anything, let alone a base runner to rally back for the 11th, despite the recurring theme of the game of actually getting into scoring position when it mattered (and then failing to do something about it).

Final score: 7-4 Orioles in 11, Yankees win series 2-1.

Again, this weekend has had its moments of great offense, but really, the numbers tell me a different story. Yes, there was lots of hits and runs scored, but that was partially due to some sloppy pitching. I mean, today alone there was 24 total hits and 14 total walks, and to contrast that, the pitchers worked up 26 total strikeouts.

Okay, it was a whole lot of fun watching Bryan Mitchell play 1st base. He certainly seemed to have fun doing so, despite probably being ridiculously nervous to do so. Maybe this will make him a better fielder. He was snapping into action to help with fielding a whole lot more in the 11th than he normally does, so maybe it would a good idea to make pitchers play some fielding to get them involved in more of the game. Just a random thought…

And I have news about recently DFA’d Pete Kozma. Kozma was claimed off waivers today by the Texas Rangers, so Kozma is now an ex-Yankee. But as they say, once a Yankee, always a Yankee. Best of luck to him, however!

Next up: May baseball, starting with the Blue Jays on their way down to the Bronx for a midweek series. The battle for the AL East continues this week.

Go Yankees!