Game 156: KC vs. NYY — #CCStrong, Make-up batting practice, historic afternoon

Today’s afternoon game was a minor blip in the regular schedule, a make-up game from a rain-out back on May 25. The Yankees start their final week of the season, 2 3-game series in the Bronx — the Rays and Blue Jays. The visiting Royals flew in from Chicago after the weekend and will head home to Kansas City for their own final week at home.

CC Sabathia got the start today and really had a great afternoon against the Royals. He was absolutely stellar through the first 3 innings, not giving up a hit until the 4th. But even then he really didn’t allow much until his final blip on the mound. He threw 80 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and struck out 4 batters. In fact, until the 7th inning, Sabathia limited the Royals to that walk and 3 hits alone.

So, feeling strong, and with a low pitch count, Sabathia came out for the 7th, but then found some trouble in the heart of the Royals’ order with their veteran power-hitters. He gave up a lead-off single, a 2-run home run, and a solo home run. That would be it for his afternoon. All pitchers are on a short leash now, so if you can’t limit the damage, it’s time to depend on the next guy to see you through.

And today, once again, that worked out well. Chad Green came on to do what Chad Green does, but after allowing a walk to his first batter. Then he promptly set the Royals down in order, righting the ship, as it were. Robertson’s 8th inning was a flawless 3-strikeout moment, and Kahnle’s 9th closed things out for the Yankees, overall limiting the damage to that lone blip by Sabathia in the early 7th.

Meanwhile, the Yankees took advantage of the late summer warm weather and found their swings early and often. Gardner led-off the 1st with a single, moved to 3rd on Sanchez’s double, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ ground out to get the Yankees on the board early. In the 3rd, Gardner worked a 1-out walk, and then Aaron Judge followed him with a big 2-run home run, his 49th of the season. (More on this after the recap.)

In the 6th, Gregorius hit a 1-out single and then scored all the way from 1st on Matt Holliday’s double. Greg Bird smacked a big 2-run home run into the 2nd deck of the right field seats to keep the momentum going. After an out, the Royals opted to go to their bullpen and piece together the rest of the game. But they just don’t have the bullpen they did a few years ago.

In the 7th, with 2 outs, the Yankees just let loose. Aaron Judge hit a really big solo home run that bounced into the left field bleachers — his 50th home run of the season, breaking the rookie home run record (more below). Gary Sanchez immediately followed that up with his own solo home run into the left field seats, his 33rd of the season. (Remember, Sanchez had about a month out due to injury too!) Despite loading up the bases a bit later, the Yankees couldn’t add any more to their score.

Well, that inning. Because in the 8th, they came back and added just a few more. With a new reliever and 1 out, Torreyes got another hit today (he went 3-for-4 today), and because they missed the catch originally, Torreyes got all the way to 2nd, but the player fumbled the throw and that error allowed Torreyes to keep going all the way to 3rd. He then scored on Brett Gardner’s double. Judge worked a walk (pinch-run by Clint Frazier) and Sanchez singled to load up the bases. Didi Gregoirus singled home Gardner, and Matt Holliday’s sacrifice fly scored Frazier to cap off the Yankees’ monster afternoon.

The Yankees’ offense racked up 15 hits and 4 walks, while getting only 5 strikeouts. The latter part of the game was basically Yankees’ batting practice after a while.

Final score: 11-3 Yankees

Technically, the Yankees win that May series with today’s game, winning 3 of the 4 games against the Royals. Boston doesn’t play until later tonight, so where they land on the standings is still a giant question mark.

Postseason prep: tonight… go Blue Jays! (Seriously, they beat the Yankees this weekend, surely they can take out the Red Sox.)

Now, both of Aaron Judge’s home runs mattered and ended up in Judge’s memory case. In 1987, Mark McGwire hit 49 home runs in his rookie season. Coming into today’s game, Judge was sitting at 48. That first one in the 3rd inning meant that Judge tied McGwire for the record. But the one in the 7th was #50, a new record for a rookie player.

Also, Judge has now homered off every AL team (including the 4 he hit late last season). As of now, he’s hit off 4 of the 15 NL teams — Mets, Brewers, Pirates, and Dodgers. So, there’s 11 teams waiting for a Judge home run. By the way, active players who have hit off all 30 teams are former Yankee (and current Astro) Carlos Beltran and current Ranger Adrian Beltre (who also has hit a home run in the 40 stadiums of the modern era). Judge’s name is already being thrown around with names of some great players, but setting records at every turn will do that to you.

And it’s not like CC Sabathia is some slouch in the midst of these rookies building their greatness. The veteran pitcher is certainly making a case to include his name in future Hall of Fame talks. His win today tied him with Yankee great Whitey Ford, as left-handed pitchers with 236 wins. Only 2 more lefties have more wins — 240 by Frank Tanana (who played for a few teams including the Angels, Rangers, and Tigers 1973-1993) and 239 by David Wells (a name that might be familiar to Yankee fans from his brief stint during the dynasty days, but also flitted around the league with teams like the Blue Jays 1987-2007).

To be perfectly fair, Sabathia is only at 17 seasons this year, 4 less than either Tanana or Wells and just 3/4 game wins behind them. He could very well jump both early next season. That is if he plans on renewing his contract after his current one expires following this season. And in pure disclosure: Whitey Ford earned his 236 wins in just 16 seasons, however, it was during the time (1950, 1953-1967) when the Yankees and winning games was almost a foregone conclusion.

I kind of miss those days… but these days are pretty awesome too…

Go Yankees!

Game 105: NYY vs. NYM — Subway series opening drama

Yes, there is much to talk about with the last-minute extended trade deadline today, and it’s once again kind of sad for Yankee Universe for now but also kind of positive for Yankee Universe in the future. But more on that later.

Today marked the opening day for the annual “Subway Series”. This year the Yankees play 2 game at CitiField in Queens, and then the Mets come to the Bronx for 2 more games to complete the series. Tonight, for the opener, the Yankees sent up CC Sabathia who really had a bit of an okay start overall. He threw 103 pitches into the 6 inning, gave up 8 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, striking out just 5 Mets batters.

A lead-off solo home run in the 2nd got things started for the Mets. A 1-out single in the 5th gave them another run on a 2-out RBI double. And in the 6th with 2 runners on base with singles and 1 out, Sabathia gave up a big 3-run home run to push the Mets into the lead. After another out and a walk, the Yankees brought in Richard Bleier, who promptly loaded the bases with a single and a walk. Nick Goody got them out of the inning in 5 pitches.

In the mean time, the Yankees weren’t exactly letting the Mets have this game easily. In the 4th, Ellsbury led-off with a double and Teixeira joined him on the base paths with a walk. McCann’s fly out moved Ellsbury to 3rd which then allowed him to score on a wild pitch. And in the 5th, with 1 out, Refsnyder worked a walk, moved to 2nd on Sabathia’s sacrifice bunt, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s double. Gardner himself then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single.

While the Mets had a slim lead over the Yankees, the Yankees’ pitching staff sailed through the Mets’ roster. Recently re-acquired Tyler Clippard (more below) breezed through the 7th inning in just 12 pitches. And Adam Warren continued to show the Yankees why he was needed back in pinstripes (or away greys tonight) through the scoreless 8th and 9th innings.

The Yankees tied everything up in the 8th. Gardner, on base with a walk, 2 outs, a new pitcher, and McCann singled on base only to be pinch-run by the speedy Torreyes, who proceeded to immediately take 2nd on a wild pitch. The stage was set for Didi Gregorius’ single to score both quick runners to tie up the game and make the Mets uncomfortable and heightened the drama for the over 40,000 fans in Queens.

And into extra innings, this game went. In the 10th, Ellsbury led-off with a walk and Teixeira singled. Pinch-hitter (and recently recalled) Ben Gamel then laid out a perfect bunt and beat the throw to load the bases. Something was cooking in Queens and it wasn’t coming from Shake Shack near center field. Then with 1 out, Starlin Castro hit a big sacrifice fly that scored Ellsbury to break the tie. It was just enough for the Yankees.

They sent in Dellin Betances, the new closer by default, for the 10th inning. But there was more drama to come. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt; a hit-by-pitch landed runners in the corners; and a ground out put runners in scoring position. CitiField was split down the middle with the fans in orange hoping for a walk-off something and the fans in pinstripes hoping for an out. A nice strikeout it was, and Betances got his first save of the season.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees, in 10 innings.

Of course, one of the more interesting plays in the game happened at the very beginning. On the 2nd pitch of the game, Brett Gardner hit the ball right off the back wall of the park and safely had a triple. But due to his speediness and (according to Statcast) hitting 20.1 mph at one point, Gardner tried to stretch it into an inside-the-park home run. It was officially ruled as a triple with an out at home on the relay from right-center field. But we should have known this was going to be one of those games right then and there.

So trade updates… today, the Yankees said goodbye to Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova. And I don’t know which one Yankees fans are more upset about losing. The Yankees sent Beltran to the Rangers for 3 young pitchers — Dillon Tate (who went 4th overall in last year’s draft), Erik Swanson, and Nick Green. And the Yankees dealt Nova to the Pirates for 2 players to be named later.

Beltran has become a veteran presence on and off the field, in the clubhouse, and especially in the Latino arm of MLB. Plus, his recent spike in offensive contribution had people already talking about Cooperstown. Nova is considered a “homegrown Yankee”, having grown up in the farm system and making his debut with the team in 2010; this made 2016 his 7th season with the Yankees. Both join recent trades like Miller and Chapman in the growing list of now former Yankees that will be missed by the fans.

With all the empty spots on the active roster, the Yankees recalled outfielder Ben Gamel and reliever Nick Goody, and added recent trade acquisition Tyler Clippard to the active roster. Clippard was originally drafted by the Yankees in 2003 and made his debut with them in 2007 before he bounced around the league pitching for the Nationals, Athletics, Mets, and Diamondbacks. And now, full circle back to the Yankees.

It appears to many that the Yankees have “pulled the plug” on 2016 and are regrouping for the future. And to some extent, I agree with that. I think they realize that the nostalgic pull of the late 1990s dynasty is over (and as to when that actually ended is up for debate), and people are wanting a regrouping to focus on the next dynasty.

I think it can be compared to several times throughout Yankee history when the team needed to close the door on what were great stretches of great teams — Murders’ Row of the late 20’s and the 1950s with DiMaggio into Mantle, et al. greatness comes to mind. I think history is more likely to group the late-90s dynasty with those 2 eras rather than the almost fluke that was the late-70s “Bronx is Burning” team. Chalk it up to the known players or the multiple World Series wins or just a better overall team. Whatever makes you happiest, I guess.

Because for the first time in many current fans’ lives, the team isn’t dominating the AL East consistently. It’s playing… well, like a normal team. It’s nowhere near as bad as the Yankees that most of the bulk of their current fan base were born under (as I was) — most of the 1970s (save a couple of fluke years), the 1980s, and the early 1990s. We got spoiled. We got used to winning. We got used to being the “Evil Empire” and dominating all the little “rebel forces” trying to usurp our rightful throne.

So here’s the fun upshot in all this sudden cold rush of reality: the Yankees will always come back and dominate with another dynasty. It’s in their blood. It’s the DNA of the organization. It may not look like Gehrig or DiMaggio or Berra or Rivera. But it will happen again. And I’d actually bet the farm (so to speak) that it will happen again in our lifetime. Because that’s what the Yankees do. They win. They excel. They set the standard. And when they’re not doing it, they fight as hard as they can to right the ship so they’re on top once again.

Don’t give up on the boys just yet. It may be a long road, but they’re still fighting. And so should you.

Go Yankees!

Game 104: NYY vs. TB — A sweeping loss

Okay, before we dive into the major news of the day that even overshadowed the game, we need to talk about the game. Being as it is the series against the Rays, I should resign to using water metaphors and puns. “Swept out to sea”, “sunk again”, and “dive bombed” might be appropriate phases, and to make matters worse, one of the home runs today was hit into the Rays touch tank the Trop has out over center field. (By the way, it’s super cool if you’re ever at the Trop; but get in line early, like when the gates first open, or you won’t get in before the game.) But I won’t resort to pirated phrases… okay, a few might sink in there from time to time.

Michael Pineda got the start this afternoon in the closing game of this weekend series against the Rays. Pineda actually threw a pretty decent game for the first half of his 6 innings, keeping the Rays scoreless and with just 1 hit. But then he struggled in the 4th getting runners in scoring position with no outs before they both scored on consecutive ground outs to give the Rays a lead.

A 2-out solo home run in the 5th added another run for the Rays (that’s the one that ended up floating in the touch tank). And in the 6th, with 2 outs and runners again in scoring position, Pineda intentionally walked a batter, hoping to go after the next batter. But a pitch left just a little up in the strike zone became a 2-RBI single to pad the Rays’ lead.

After 93 pitches, 6 hits, 4 walks, 5 runs, and 8 strikeouts, Pineda’s day was done. Luis Severino came on to throw a near perfect 2 innings and kept the Rays from adding to their score or doing much in the way of base runners.

In the meantime, the Yankees did their best to reduce the Rays’ lead. In the 4th inning, they loaded up the bases with a couple of singles and a walk and just 1 out, but the next batter quickly ended that hope by grounding into a double play.

It wasn’t until the 6th inning, they finally broke through. Ellsbury led-off with a walk and then scored when Carlos Beltran hit a big 2-run home run. The Yankees were on the board and watching the Rays enjoy their lead. So in the 8th, Starlin Castro led-off with a single and ended up at 2nd on a messy throwing error, before scoring on Brian McCann’s single. But a double play and line out later, the Yankees rally and run-scoring was at an end.

Honestly, most of the game featured pretty similar stats — 23 total strikeouts between the two teams, 15 hits, and 9 walks. But what does it always come down to? Those runs scored numbers.

Final score: 5-3 Rays, Rays sweep series 3-0.

And for the big news of the day… the Warriors Three and the Dynamic Duo are officially done. At 8:30 this morning, Andrew Miller got the call that informed him that he had been traded to Cleveland (more below). Sorry, Miller fans, but he’s headed to the “Mistake on the Lake”. Now, here’s the upside for Miller — Cleveland is doing really good this year, like they’re the best team in the AL as of this posting. Their chances of the postseason are really high (95%), which means Miller (who will wear #24 with the Indians) will most likely be playing October baseball. (More than I can say for most of his now former teammates — the Yankees’ postseason chances are down to 5%.)

Okay, so here’s the trade details: Miller was traded to the Indians as part of a big swap. In exchange for the closer, the Yankees acquired 4 prospects, including 2 of the Indians top prospects — outfielder Clint Frazier (#1) and left-hander Justus Sheffield (#5), as well as right-handers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen. In addition, to fill the gap on the roster due to Miller’s trade, the Yankees traded for an old face to some fans — pitcher Tyler Clippard is back from the Diamondbacks in exchange for pitching prospect Vicente Campos.

After updating the Yankees’ farm system rankings and the league’s farm system rankings, the Yankees’ farm system is actually one of the best in the entire league. This is really good news. It means the future is looking bright again, even if the current season isn’t looking so good. Comparisons are being made to the farm system that produced the core of what became the dynasty of the 1990s and early 2000s. Again, this is good news.

Go Yankees!

Game 98: SF vs. NYY — (Future & new) Hall of Fame heroes

This afternoon’s rubber match between the Giants and Yankees faced off with MLB fans for attention with the Hall of Fame weekend culmination, inducting in its two newest members. Both served up some interesting viewing, and both ended happily for New York and nostalgic fans.

In the Bronx, Nathan “NastyNate” Eovaldi was at it again, starting today’s game and staying rather strong throughout. He threw a season-high 118 pitches just shy of 7 full innings, getting a warm cheer by the 34,000 fans as he walked back to the dugout. He gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, striking out 6 batters. Eovaldi kept the Giants scoreless until his final inning. He allowed a lead-off single before getting a couple of outs, and then a double put runners in scoring position. And that was it for Eovaldi.

Chasen Shreve came in to help shut things down, but after working up a full count, he walked the batter to load the bases. Time for a new reliever to stop the rally. And it was Chad Green in. But a single scored the first two runners (Eovaldi’s runners) to get the Giants on the scoreboard before getting the final out of the inning.

But the Yankees got on the board first in the 1st with Carlos Beltran’s 21st home run — a 2-out solo shot to the right field seats. Then the Yankees repeated that in the 2nd with Mark Teixeira’s 200th home run in pinstripes with a 2-out solo shot. (People want to blame his new bright white cleats.

And then in the 6th, Hicks led-off with a walk and Gardner’s single put them on the corners. Then as Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a double play, Aaron Hicks made his way home to add to the Yankees’ lead. And then they did it again — Beltran and McCann on the corners with singles. Starlin Castro’s single scored Beltran, and Didi Gregorius’ ground-rule double into Monument Park scored McCann. The Giants’ starter was done after just 87 pitches. And that reliever did what the starter couldn’t do — kept the Yankees from getting on the bases and scoring further runs.

The coolest play by the Yankees, however, was in the 8th inning. With 1 out and a runner on base with a single, the next batter hit into a non-standard double play — a grounder hit to Castro (at 2nd), thrown to Green (the pitcher), and then to Headley (at 3rd). Now, in standard scoring, that becomes a 4-1-5 double play. 415 also happens to be an area code for San Francisco (including where AT&T Park sits). But it was a great play, and some really smart thinking and action on behalf of Green to throw across the diamond to the diving Headley for the 2nd part of the out.

Final score: 5-2 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

Hall of Fame: Congratulations to the Cooperstown Class of 2016 — Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr. There is much covered all over MLB which dives into their history, their legacy, and their legend as they step into the new chapter of their baseball careers. Honestly, both Piazza and Griffey deserve this honor, and both players hold special moments and memories in my own memory of baseball history in the 1990s and early 2000s. So, it’s not hard to imagine why Cooperstown was packed this weekend for all the fun and festivities.

The next few years should be interesting as some of the key players who used to wear pinstripes come up for eligibility to the Hall of Fame. Who knows how the voters pick or select. Sometimes, they’ll surprise you, and sometimes, it’s super predictable. And Piazza and Griffey are predictable, yet deserved. But then this seems to be a similar story in the last few years. We’re just now getting to the height of the legends who peaked in the late 1990s and turn of the millennium. There’s going to be a lot of nostalgia over the next few Cooperstown election cycles. And I kind of don’t mind.

Go Yankees!

Game 96: SF vs. NYY — Errors make for easy runs, apparently

There were 45,304 fans who spent a rather muggy Friday night at the stadium to watch the series opener against the visiting Giants. Now, the Giants are basically one of the best teams in baseball, which makes sense as it’s an even-numbered year. (Reminder: the Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014.)

Masahiro Tanaka started the game and pretty much dominated the game for his 6 innings. He threw a rather efficient 83 pitches during his tenure, allowing just 4 hits, 2 walks, and no runs, striking out 4 Giants batters.

The Yankees struck first offensively tonight, which actually kind of shocked me, as they faced the Giants main ace and one of the stars of their last World Series Championship (he won the MVP in 2014). In the bottom of the 1st, Brett Gardner led-off with a single and then scored on Starlin Castro’s double. Castro ended up at 3rd due to a bad throwing error (the first of the Giants’ 4 errors tonight) as Gardner slid head-first into home. A couple of outs and a couple of walks later, the bases were loaded, and finally that ace pitcher pulled through and got Romine to fly out for the final out of the inning, escaping that jam.

Then in the 2nd, with 2 outs and Torreyes on base with a single, Castro singled and moved Torreyes to 3rd on a fielding error (sloppy play). Torreyes then easily scored on Carlos Beltran’s RBI single. And with that, the Yankees were up 2-0 in the 2nd inning. But while they continued to collect a handful of hits and walks, the Giants were able to band together and shut them down from scoring.

Now, the biggest defensive star tonight was easily Carlos Beltran. The veteran outfielder ranged for a running and leaping catch to save a double in 6th and had a nice catch and throw home with his rocket arm to gun down a runner trying to score at home for a double playin the 3rd. Now, the Giants wanted to make sure the out was really out at home. Which, of course, it was (even after a challenge and replay)

Still, Tanaka had a nice lead to protect and pass onto the Warriors Three tonight. Now, until tonight, the Yankees’ bullpen kept a scoreless streak 31 innings. That ended tonight. In the 7th, Dellin Betances walked his first batter and then struck out the next two. The next batter doubled, putting both runners in scoring position, so that a wild pitch easily scored the Giants’ first run of the night. Not to be outdone, Andrew Miller added his own contribution to the break of that streak. With 2 outs and runners on the corners, a pinch-hit double scored the lead runner and tied up the game. But Miller got out of it with a strikeout.

That tie didn’t last long. In the bottom of the 8th, Chase Headley led-off with a single and Teixeira walked. Austin Romine hit a little grounder that they tried to make into a double play. They got Teixeira out at 2nd and then (what else tonight?) a bad throwing error allowed Headley to sprint to home to put the Yankees back in the lead.

A pitching change ended the Yankees rally, but the damage was done. It was Aroldis Chapman for his 20th save and some nasty fireballs in the 9th inning. His last 8 fastballs were listed as: 104.3, 104.0, 104.9, 105.3, 104.9, 104.8, and 104.0 mph. Nasty stuff.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees.

The injury this game was on other team this time, as the catcher took a foul ball off his foot. For anyone interested, he’s fine; it’s “just a bruise”. But I have to say after a good portion of this season having to report about a Yankee injury, it was a bit of a relief to not report about a Yankee injury. Though a game without any injury report is better than a game with an injury (even if it is the “other guys”).

Also, as I’m back now, I want to give a big thanks and shout out to my guest blogger “pinstripes08” for filling in for me this month. Pinstripes08 will be back to do special features in the near future. So stay tuned!

Go Yankees!

Game 94: BAL vs. NYY — Night to shine & shutout

A short train ride from the glittering night lights of New York City, the Bronx had its own night-light shining over Yankee Stadium tonight. The full moon, aglow in deep orange, hung low in the sky over the ballpark. Perhaps as a reminder that 47 years ago today, man first walked on the moon. A milestone for the space program that was determined to reach a goal despite the odds. Tonight, fans at Yankee Stadium tonight saw their pinstriped team defy the odds against the AL East leader, taking charge of the mound and the field and never backing down. This was a night for New York to shine and Baltimore really never had a chance.

Yankee starting pitcher Michael Pineda threw 113 pitches over 6 full innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 walks, with 8 strikeouts. Faltering a bit in the fourth, Pineda loaded the bases on two hits and a walk, but managed to get out of the inning allowing no runs. Despite some threats by the Orioles batters, Pineda deftly commanded the mound and shut down any scoring opportunities for Baltimore.

Pineda was replaced by Dellin Betances in the seventh who faced three batters for a quick three outs in just 11 pitches. Nick Goody replaced Betances in the eighth, throwing just 10 pitches for another three up and three down. To close the game at the top of the ninth,  Chasen Shreve calmly shut down another three batters in a row with two strikeouts and a ground out to secure another Yankee win. The Yankees seem to be experimenting with a few different pitchers to close the last few innings. Clearly, it seems to be working.

The Yankee bats had a few shining moments tonight. Gardner started it all off in the first inning with a triple to center after the ball bounced off the fielder’s glove. With Gardner on 3rd, Beltran hit a RBI sacrifice fly to center that plated Gardner, and the Yankees were the first on the board. The hopeful crowd of 35,681 was roaring in support.

A couple of quiet innings followed, and then in the fourth inning, Teixeira, just back from a few days off to rest a sore foot, slammed a homer to right to score the Yankees second run. In the sixth, Ellsbury smacked a lead off single to left followed by a bunt to 3rd by Beltran and a walk by McCann. With bases loaded and no outs, Teixeira came to the plate and RBI walks, scoring Ellsbury.

The Yankees continued to dominate the game in the seventh inning when Torreyes (in for Headley tonight) smacked a triple on a line drive to right field. Gardner then hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score Torreyes, and the Yankees are up by 4 over the scoreless Orioles.

In the eighth, a pitching change proved beneficial to New York as Beltran hit a solo homer to right field and into the second deck and the waiting glove of a fan in a Beltran jersey. This dinger marks Beltran’s 412th career home run and 20th homer for this season. With three quick outs in the top of the ninth by Shreve, the Yankees shut out the Orioles and won their fourth game in a row.

Final score: 5-0, Yankees

Welcome Back, Tex: Despite his recent hitting slump, Teixeira is back in the lineup and breaking said slump apparently. Refsnyder, who took Tex’s spot at first in the last couple games, is to be applauded for his utility work in both the infield and the outfield, plus several good at-bats. Teixeira has emphasized he just wants to stay healthy til the end of the season, and he knows part of that is improving his at-bats, which showed in his time at the plate tonight.

Doing the lineup shuffle: Headley was not in the lineup tonight, being excused for personal reasons and replaced at third base by Ronald Torreyes. Headley’s absence had the team scrambling some to readjust the lineup. Hicks was put in Headley’s batting slot (#8) and Torreyes batted ninth. Hope to see Headley back in his corner on the field soon.

Welcome to the neighborhood: In 2017, Yankee Stadium will have a new neighbor when the Roberto Clemente Urban Youth Academy will be built in the Bronx. The facility will feature new baseball and softball fields, complete with all instructors, fees, and equipment for free to the kids of the local community. Harlem RBI, the MLB Players Association, and the State of New York, with support from Commissioner Rob Manfred and Yankees veteran Alex Rodriguez, are joining forces to create a safe and encouraging environment for young athletes. Rodriguez, in particular, got his start playing ball at a Boys and Girls Club in Miami and emphasized the importance of community programs that allows kids the chance to dream big and to develop positive life skills.

Go Yankees!

Game 93: BAL vs. NYY — The streak is on!

On another warm midsummer evening in the Bronx, trade rumors swirled in what could have been a distraction to players who long to stay in pinstripes but know that may not happen. But being a Yankee, even for a season, is being part of a team that pulls together and refuses to stay down. So with renewed vigor and a drive to win their way up in the standings, the Yankees treated the 31,192 fans tonight to an exciting and well-played game.

It just seemed like all the pieces fell in place tonight. Stellar pitching combined with strong defense and active bats added up to the kind of ball that leads to the playoffs. Tonight, Eovaldi, Swarzak, and Goody, yet another (surprising) Yankee pitching trio, showed their stuff.

Yankee fans gave a warm “welcome back” to Nathan Eovaldi as then starting pitcher in the second game of the series against Baltimore. After spending some time in the ‘pen, tonight Eovaldi confidently took command of the mound, and it seemed like “Nasty Nate” was back and in charge. He quickly dismissed the Orioles bats in the first 5 innings, allowing 2 hits but no runs. But the top of the sixth, Eovaldi began to falter quickly, loading the bases with a walk, a single, and a double that allowed the first run for Baltimore. A coaching visit to the mound and another walk, and it was time for Eovaldi to call it a night. Leaving the bases loaded, overall Eovaldi gave up just 4 hits and 1 run during his 5 1/3 inning tenure tonight. (Not a bad comeback, really.)

The pitching change in the sixth put the rather surprising choice of Anthony Swarzak on the mound with the bases loaded and just one out. Swarzak quickly got a couple of shallow pop ups to keep the bases loaded and the Yankees out of a jam, effectively halting Baltimore’s advance.

Betances was seen briefly warming up in the bullpen, but Swarzak continued his strong outing into the seventh with a quick 3 up and 3 down. And then he returned for the eighth with no one warming up in the Yankee bullpen. Swarzak kept consistent command on the mound, and because of the great backup from the pinstripe defense, the Yankees maintained their lead. The New York infield continued to amaze with their skill as Gregorius snagged a ball and, still sliding in the dirt, drilled it to first for the out. Actually, the entire infield — Refsnyder, Castro, Gregorius, Headley — pretty much dominated tonight on the infield and at the batter’s box.

And in the top of the ninth, one last pitching change allowed Nick Goody to quickly secure the win for New York. Facing 3 batters, he struck out the side in 13 pitches.

The offense and defense were equally strong tonight — getting runs on the board and preventing the Orioles from scoring. Basically, the Yankees were on their game against the AL East leaders Orioles tonight. In the first inning, (because as one reporter quipped, “maybe you can predict baseball”) Jacoby Ellsbury reached first as a result of a record ninth catcher interference, an MLB season record. The second inning saw a 2-out walk for Gregorius who then scored when Castro homered on a line drive right over the left field fence. The Yankees were on the board and leading by 2.

And the Yankees never lost their lead, adding runs to the board while stopping Baltimore from adding runs of their own. In bottom of the 5th, Refsndyer led-off with a walk and then scored on Ellsbury’s single. An odd tag play was successfully challenged and overturned in the O’s favor to help end that inning before the Yankees could tag on any more runs. At least then. Because in the bottom of the 6th, McCann led-off with a walk, and Gregorius’ single put them in the perfect place for Starlin Castro’s double to score both of them to double their score.

Bottom of the eighth, with 2 outs and Castro at first on a fielder’s choice, Chase Headley sent a home run soaring into the right center field stands, scoring Castro and ensuring Yankee victory. Goody’s precision pitching at the top of the ninth, the win streak continues! Once again, the Yankees just played like a well-oiled machine. Complete with hits worthy of the name “Bronx Bombers”. Seems like we are getting glimpses of a team that wants Girardi to change his number to 29.

Final score: 7-1, Yankees.

Tonight, for the seventh inning stretch, fans rose and removed their caps to honor a decorated veteran who served in both the Korean War and World War II.  The cheer was deafening as they honored this veteran, and all the vets in attendance reminded us of life outside of baseball. As the strains of “God Bless America” began and the crowd joined in singing, it gave me pause to remember how important it is for us to express to our military our gratitude for all they do to serve our country. And to remember that those who sacrifice so much for our freedom is one of the reasons we can enjoy a happy night at the ballpark with our family and friends.

Okay, trade rumors are heating up, and every sportswriter and media outlet has an opinion. And just trust me that they’re all very wrong. It seems that Beltran’s name is popping up more and more. Eovaldi, Nova, Pineda, and Chapman also seem to be a couple of other names being discussed. But the rumors continue to be rumors for now. So we’ll leave it to the actual decision-makers to do their work instead. Seriously, the Yankees have 11 more days of a packed schedule to think about contributing towards the postseason push. The chatter is just meant to be distracting and give the talking heads something to jabber on about. Because the on-field action every day isn’t enough?

Mark Teixeira is still off the roster with a sore foot after smacking it with a foul ball a few days ago. And that’s the bad news, of course. But Refsnyder is doing really well at first and at bat, so there’s some good news. On one particular play in the sixth, Rob Refsnyder nicely caught a foul ball on the run and immediately fired it home to hold runners. Really not bad for the back-up of the back-up of the back-up first baseman. And after all the troubles plaguing anyone who plays first this season for the Yankees, it’s nice to see Refsndyer seems to be the exception, especially as he’s actually doing pretty well there.

Go Yankees!