ALCS 1: NYY vs. HOU — A game of ‘almosts’

In the scope of things, it looks like the Astros and Yankees are actually pretty well-matched. Which means that the ALCS is going to be an interesting series. Except that for most of the game, it really wasn’t. It was actually kind of boring, much like a regular season game.

Look, tonight’s starters were both amazing. The Astros’ ace starter was about as sharp as we’ve seen him before, throwing 109 pitches in his 7 scoreless innings, giving up 4 hits and a walk, and striking out 10 Yankees’ batters. And that was the biggest reason why the Yankees’ offense was virtually silenced — those strikeouts.

Masahiro Tanaka was as “Tanaka Time” as he’s been all season, throwing just 89 pitches in his 6 strong innings. He gave up 4 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and struck out just 3 Houston batters. Actually, Tanaka didn’t even give up a hit until the 4th inning — a 1-out single. That player (who is also up for MVP this year and could likely win over Judge, by the way) then stole 2nd, sliding under Castro’s leg just before the tag. He then scored on an RBI single. Another run scored on a 2-out single later in the inning. By the way, other than the 4th inning, Tanaka only allowed 1 hit and 1 walk during his tenure.

But that would be it for runs for the Astros. Chad Green held the Astros back, throwing 2 scoreless innings to keep them from adding to their score. I want to add that the biggest defender for the Yankees was tonight’s center fielder Aaron Hicks, who at one point was basically making all the defending outs.

The Yankees had a few opportunities, like in the 5th, for some offensive advancement, but they couldn’t seem to put anything much together as actual run-scoring including a called out at the plate. The reality is that if the Yankees could get into the bullpen earlier, they could score some runs. Which is why it isn’t surprising that they found their actual run-scoring when a reliever was on the mound. It was Greg Bird to hit a big 2-out solo home run to get the Yankees on the board in the 9th. But the Yankees ran out of outs.

Final score: 2-1 Astros, Astros lead ALCS 1-0

“Wow, this is a game of ‘almosts‘. Isn’t it?” Pretty much. The Yankees almost scored a run in the 5th on a long single, but then got tagged out in the last minute. The Yankees almost got out of the game scoreless, but then Bird hit that homer. The Yankees almost gave a Tanaka a no-hitter, but then the potential MVP broke his momentum. The Yankees almost kept the Astros off the board entirely, but then came the 4th inning. A lot of almost.

The Yankees will face off against the Astros for Game 2 tomorrow afternoon, followed by the Cubs and Dodgers in LA tomorrow night to kick off the NLCS. Hang on tight, people, we’ve really only just began…

Go Yankees!

ALDS 2: BOS vs. HOU & NYY vs. CLE, NLDS 1: CHC vs. WAS & ARI vs. LAD — Home field advantage… and the Cubs

Big day in the world of baseball with four consecutive games. Well, there was quite a bit of overlap for a couple of games thanks to a bad call and far too many extra innings. And because there’s some games out West, one game lasted well into the next morning, making today far longer than this East Coast girl is used to.

Game 1: ALDS 2 — Red Sox at Astros
It took exactly 4 hours for the Astros to dominate the Red Sox and send the series to Fenway in their favor. The Astros called on their ace starter to pitch into the 6th inning, and he really stepped up to the plate (so to speak), fending off the Red Sox batters for most of the game, only giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and a run and striking out 7 batters. His allowed run was in the 2nd when a lead-off double stole 3rd and later scored on a 1-out single. The Astros’ bullpen kept that momentum going until the 9th inning, when a 1-out single moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on a 2-out single.

The Red Sox’s pitching was pretty much on line with their offense. For example, their starter only went 2 full innings (and 3 batters in the 3rd) and their bullpen followed that example. In the 1st, with 2 outs and a man on base with a single, a 2-run homer got the Astros on base early. A lead-off homer in the 3rd added to the score. A double followed that only to score on the next player’s single. Despite loading the bases, the Red Sox finally got some outs in the inning to get out of the jam.

To finalize the game, the Astros roughed up the Red Sox again in the 6th. With runners on the corners and 1 out, a fly ball and throwing error allowed the runners to advance and thus score an extra run. After intentionally walking the next batter, the Red Sox gave up a double to score 2 more and a single to score the last one. The reality is that the Red Sox are rather out-matched by the Astros, and this series shows it very well. However, anything can happen in Fenway… just ask the Yankees.

Final score: 8-2 Astros, Astros lead ALDS 2-0

Game 2: ALDS 2 — Yankees at Indians
The problem with tonight’s game is that it was actually a really good game for the Yankees, but then things happened that shouldn’t have happened, decisions will be permanently and suitably questioned, and the game spiraled out of control. As evidenced by the 5 hour and 8 minute game time and 13 innings played. CC Sabathia threw a great game, just 77 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs (only 2 earned), and struck out 5 Cleveland batters.

In the 1st, Sabathia loaded up the bases with a fielding error, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch. A single scored 2 runners before the next batter lined into a double play as the runner at 2nd double off base. That runner also badly sprained his ankle. And a lead-off batter in the 2nd moved to 2nd on a questionable throwing error, ended up at 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, and then scored on an RBI single.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were actually hitting off the Indians’ ace starter, knocking him out after 76 pitches in the 3rd inning after racking up 7 hits, a walk, and 6 runs. In the 1st, Judge worked a 1-out walk and then scored as part of Gary Sanchez’s 2-run home run straight up the middle. In the 3rd, Sanchez hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored on Starlin Castro’s single. Bird then singled, so that would make Aaron Hicks’ big hit a 3-run home run. That ended the Indians’ starter’s night and really set the Yankees with a big lead. Gregorius later worked a lead-off walk in the 5th and then scored as part of Greg Bird’s big 2-run home run.

Okay, so the 6th inning… known forever now as the inning that changed everything. Sabathia was still pitching and gave up a lead-off walk and got an out. That was it for Sabathia, so the Yankees called in Chad Green. This is decision to question #1. Why remove Sabathia when he’s having a great outing and has such a low pitch count? Okay, so Green gets out #2, but then gives up a double to put runners in scoring position.

Then things get weirder. The next batter is “hit-by-a-pitch”, or rather his bat was. He was awarded 1st base (to load up the bases), which was a surprise even to the batter. Gary Sanchez stood up to alert Girardi that it wasn’t a HBP and should be challenged on a replay. By he was practically ignored (questionable decision #2), so the bases were loaded. The next batter promptly hit a home run, a grand slam to put the Indians within a run of the Yankees’ lead. Well, the entire sold-out crowd at Progressive Field certainly loved it. Most of Yankee Universe took to social media (including myself) to express their displeasure.

It was on to David Robertson for the next 5 outs, closing out the 6th and through the 7th and into the 8th. In the 8th, he gave up a lead-off solo home run to tie up the game right there. After another out, the Yankees flipped the game to Tommy Kahnle for the final 2 outs of the inning before turning to Aroldis Chapman in the 9th.

It is worth noting that the Cleveland fans treated every out after that run tying home run as if it was the last one of the game. Chapman actually pitched through the 9th and then the 10th as the game went into extra innings. The Yankees’ batters were able to get runners on base, but they weren’t able to finish the job and score a run. Dellin Betances came on in the 11th and pitched 2 scoreless innings, and for some reason (questionable decision #3), came out for the 13th inning. A lead-off walk stole 2nd and then promptly scored on a single to score the walk-off run for the home team.

Final score: 9-8 Indians, Indians lead ALDS 2-0

Game 3: NLDS 1 — Cubs at Nationals
About the time the Yankees began their spiral into the “questionable decisions” territory, the Cubs-Nationals game began in the nation’s capital. It was a quick 3 hour and 2 minute game that began with a ceremonial first pitch by Representative Steve Scalise, who was seriously injured earlier this year when a gun man opened fire on a Congressional baseball practice. Scalise threw a great first pitch and set the tone for the game to come.

Both teams sent in some stellar pitchers, who were pretty much locked in a pitching duel for a the first half of the game. Honestly, I didn’t realize how evenly matched the Cubs and Nationals were until this game. Both starters went a full 7 innings, gave up minimal hits, and kept the score low. Their 2 respective relievers followed suit in their single innings.

But it would the Cubs to buck today’s trend of home field advantage and come out on top thanks to their gift of small ball tonight. In the 6th, the lead-off batter reached on a fielding error, moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, and then scored on an RBI single and throwing error that moved that batter to 2nd. Then he scored on another RBI single to give the Cubs a solid lead. With new pitching in the 8th, the lead-off batter for the Cubs doubled, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a 2-out double for that insurance run they’d never need tonight.

They finished their game just a few minutes after the previous one did in extra innings. It wasn’t as talked about post-game, but the pitcher’s duel was something in the postseason, a season so far dominated by home runs and sloppy pitching. It was nice to see starting pitchers duke it out old-school.

Final score: 3-0 Cubs, Cubs lead NLDS 1-0

Game 4: NLDS 1 — Diamondbacks at Dodgers
This game started about 10:30 pm Eastern Time, roughly 11 minutes after Cleveland scored its walk-off run three time zones away. And in regular postseason fashion, it would last 3 hours and 37 minutes because the Dodgers came to play ball, thanks mostly to their ace starter who threw into the 7th inning (100 pitches) and struck out 7 Arizona batters along the way. Over on the other hand, the Diamondbacks’ starter only threw 1 inning, but racked up a whopping 48 pitches.

Here’s how: the Dodgers hit a lead-off single and worked a walk which both scored as part of a big 3-run home run to kick things off in Los Angeles. The next batter singled and then scored on a double before the pitcher finally got an out. He would get all 3 outs as strikeouts, but the damage was done awfully early. The Diamondbacks answered back in the 3rd with a 2-out solo shot, a mere blip on the scoreboard at that point. And their pitchers weren’t doing the greatest job of fending off the power-hitting Dodgers. In the 4th, with 1 out and 2 runners on base, consecutive singles scored 2 more runs for the home team.

The Diamondbacks chipped away at the Dodgers’ lead the only way they could — with home runs. With 2 outs in the 6th, they launched one into the left field seats to double their score. And in the 7th, with 1 out, they hit back-to-back left field solo home runs. That was it for the Dodgers’ ace, but not for the rest of the game. As the Dodgers got those 2 runs back in the 8th. A lead-off single later scored on a 1-out triple, and then that runner scored on an easy single.

Finally, playing a little small ball, the D-backs made the 9th inning a little interesting. A 1-out single moved to 2nd on defensive indifference and later scored on a fielder’s choice and throwing error of sorts.

Final score: 9-5 Dodgers, Dodgers lead NLDS 1-0

The ALDS teams head to the East Coast to continue their series on Sunday, with the Astros and Indians hoping for an easy 3rd game. The NLDS plays their second game tomorrow. But clearly, there’s nothing easy about the postseason. What’s that old phrase? Or it might be called “football”? Yeah, something like that…

Go Yankees!

AL Wild Card: MIN vs. NYY — Rough start, solid finish thanks to big bats

The last time the Yankees won a postseason game was the 2012 ALDS, game 5, against the Orioles, Raul Ibanez was dubbed “King of New York” for his postseason heroics, and Derek Jeter would break his ankle diving for a ball in the 12th inning in the next game, game 1 of the ALCS against the Tigers. In other words, things were very different five years ago.

Tonight, the Yankees moved onto the ALDS after defeating the Twins in the winner-take-all Wild Card Game. It took nearly four hours in front of a sold-out crowd in the Bronx, and it took all of the energy and emotions to electrify the fans during the game.

We are all human and thus have off-nights. But for Luis Severino, tonight was one of the worst possible times to experience an off-night. And Girardi continued his recent short-leash for the pitching staff. Severino threw just 29 pitches in the 1st inning, giving up 4 hits, a walk, and 3 runs. He didn’t make it out of that 1st inning.

Severino gave up a lead-off home run, a 1-out walk, a 2-run home run, a single, and a double before Girardi had enough. With runners firmly in scoring position and just 1 out, Severino’s outing was over. So Chad Green was called in early to do Chad Green things. He quickly got out of the 1st inning with 2 solid strikeouts to strand the Twins runners. He breezed his way through the 2nd inning, but found some trouble in the 3rd inning loading up the bases with a single and 2 walks (and just 1 out).

While Green was responsible for all the runners as he passed the torch to David Robertson. The first batter hit into a fielder’s choice (a late double play) that scored the lead runner, but then Robertson got the first of his 5 strikeouts (of his 10 total outs) in his outing tonight. And Robertson’s outing was easily the best thing from the mound today, throwing 52 pitches over 3.1 pitches. It was stellar and ended up being the perfect recipient for the eventual win.

Tommy Kahnle was called on to close out the 6th for Robertson and then breeze his way through the 7th and 8th innings in just 29 pitches. Aroldis Chapman’s 9th inning was pretty good too, hitting 103 mph pitches as if they were nothing, and getting all 3 outs as strikeouts. The final out came as a beautiful swing, the whole stadium on its feet, the place alive with energy and hope.

Now, beyond the great job of the bullpen, which had to start so very early tonight, the Yankees’ offense actually worked tonight too. The Twins’ starter had his own rough night, only lasting 2 innings and throwing a whopping 64 pitches over that short time span. In the 1st, Gardner led-off with a walk, and Judge singled to put runners in the corners. With 1 out, it would fall to Didi Gregorius to his a big 3-run home run to tie up the game at that point, so very early on in the night.

Brett Gardner added a run in the 2nd with a 2-out solo home run that bounced off the front row barrier of the 2nd deck of the right field seats. With the starter out, the Yankees faced the Twins bullpen, which clearly isn’t nearly as good as the Yankees’, so the Yankees kept adding to their score.

In the 3rd, Sanchez led-off with a double and then scored on Greg Bird’s 2-out single. And Gardner hit a 1-out single in the 4th and then scored on Aaron Judge’s first postseason homer, a 2-run home run bouncing off the top of the left-field wall for a couple more insurance runs.

The Twins bullpen was able to focus in and keep the Yankees from adding more to their score. Until the 7th inning, that is. Judge led-off with a walk and then ended up at 3rd on Sanchez’s single and a throwing error. Gregorius was intentionally walked to load up the bases, and the Twins got their first out of the inning. A new reliever got a strikeout, and another new reliever promptly walked Aaron Hicks to walk in Judge to add just one more run to the score.

Look, both teams started off really messy and shaky, but both teams pulled it together to show how matched they really were. And it ended Yankees-side up.

Final score: 8-4 Yankees

So, now the Yankees advance to the ALDS against Indians in Cleveland on Thursday, for the best-of-5 game series. Just a reminder, the format goes 2 games in Cleveland, 2 games in the Bronx, and 1 game back in Cleveland, if necessary. The first team to win 3 games advances to the ALCS. But first, tomorrow night, we shift to the National League to watch their Wild Card game between the Rockies and Diamondbacks.

Before tonight’s game, the Yankees held a moment of silence for the victims of the Las Vegas tragedy. They asked reliever and Las Vegas native Chasen Shreve to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in their honor.

Go Yankees!

Game 161: TOR vs. NYY — A bittersweet #CCStrong victory

We knew it would be close this season, and this one was pretty close to the wire. With the Yankees’ win today, they were one step closer to possibly taking the division from their Boston rivals. But they too won their game, and as the magic number was 1, the division win goes to the other guys this year. (More after the recap.)

CC Sabathia got the start today for this middle game of the final weekend series of the season, replacing Garcia in the rotation so that the incredible season of Sabathia could get yet another shot. Sabathia has had a truly stellar year, and he ends his 2017 regular season on another win, his 14th actually. He threw 75 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 4 hits and no runs, striking out 6 Toronto batters along the way.

Chad Green got the final out of the 6th inning for Sabathia and pitches through the 7th inning, keeping the Blue Jays scoreless, as Green tends to do all season long. Tommy Kahnle, however, had a less-than-stellar outing of his own, entering the game in the 8th inning. He gave up single and a walk, and with no outs, all the pitchers are on short leashes lately.

So, the Yankees turned to David Robertson, but even he had a few issues today. With 1 out, Robertson loaded up the bases with a walk. But then a sacrifice fly scored the Blue Jays’ lone run before Robertson got his 2nd strikeout to get out of the inning. Aroldis Chapman, of course, came on for the 9th inning and sailed through the Blue Jays’ lineup for his 22nd save.

The Blue Jays had a better outing today over the Yankees compared to recent games, as far as pitching goes at least. Even still, the Jays’ starter only pitched through 4 innings, still holding off most of the Yankees’ offense until his final inning. Aaron Judge led-off the 4th inning with his 52nd home run of the season, a monster homer that cleared the bleachers in left field, landing on the concourse in front of the retired numbers wall out there. Then with 1 out, Gregorius singled, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Starlin Castro’s single. Another out later, Frazier’s single put runners on the corners, but a line drive ended Yankee hopes to add to their lead.

The Blue Jays then called on their bullpen to patch together their remaining 4 innings, and they did a pretty good job of fending off the Yankee offense, despite giving up another hit and 3 walks. The Yankees just couldn’t piece anything else together for themselves. But it was enough.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees

Postseason prep: So, the Yankees finished their game and immediately turned the attention to Boston where the Red Sox are hosting the Astros for their final series. But the Red Sox got an early lead, thanks to the Astros’ starter having a pretty bad day. So upon their final out, the Red Sox officially solidified their division title and sealed the Yankees as the first Wild Card contender.

With only one game left to play (bring on the tears), here’s how the postseason picture looks. The AL Division Champions are the Red Sox, the Indians, and the Astros. The AL Wild Cards are the Yankees and the Twins. Over in the NL, the Division Champions are the Nationals, the Cubs, and the Dodgers. Their Wild Card race is coming down to the wire. The Diamondbacks are definitely the first Wild Card, but the other one is still up for grabs between the Rockies and the Brewers. Currently, the Brewers are a game behind the Rockies in the standings, and are right now winning their game. The Rockies play later tonight, and a win will seal their fate as the second Wild Card.

Okay, here’s how the postseason works: the one-off Wild Card games will be played on Tuesday, October 3 (Twins at Yankees) and Wednesday, October 4 (TBD at Diamondbacks). And the Division Series (a best of 5 games series) begins on Thursday (October 5) for the AL and Friday (October 6) for the NL. The winners of the Wild Card games will play the best teams of each league (the Indians and Dodgers, respectively), and the remaining two teams per league will play each other. It’s a best of 5 games series, so the first one to 3 games goes on to the next round — the Championship Series (best of 7 games series), which begins October 13-14. The World Series begins Tuesday, October 24, with a potential Game 7 on Wednesday, November 1.

It’s going to be an interesting October once again.

Go Yankees!

Game 151: MIN vs NYY — Rain delays but #CCStrong continues

An initial rain delay stalled the game for over an hour before the Yankees could face the Twins for their middle game of this series. It certainly didn’t help kick things off right away, and for what ended up feeling like a long game (though only about 3.5 hours), an extra hour before the first pitch made tonight feel a little long. The only pay-off? A Yankee win.

And some pretty good pitching by CC Sabathia again. Sabathia threw just 77 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and striking out 5 Minnesota batters. This, of course, set him up for the eventual win. Though he certainly got off to a rough start. In the 1st, 3 consecutive singles quickly loaded up the bases, but a double play scored one run and started a momentum for Sabathia which carried through most of his efficient remaining innings, save a lead-off solo home run in the 3rd.

The Yankees then handed off the ball to the stellar bullpen beginning with the standout that is Chad Green. David Robertson, however, showed off his nasty stuff in his 12-pitch 8th inning. And Aroldis Chapman’s 9th easily set him up for his 20th save of the season.

Meanwhile, the Twins’ pitchers just didn’t have a very good hold on things, despite their attempt to piece together relievers through the innings. They ended up sending in 7 relievers after their starter exited the game in the 4th inning after 90 pitches.

In the 2nd, Castro led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Bird’s 2-out walk, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s double. Ellsbury led-off the 4th with a double and then after Bird’s 1-out walk, Ellsbury scored on Gardner’s single to tie up the score again. After the starter left the game, the reliever promptly threw a wild pitch that moved both runners into scoring position. And then Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly scored Bird.

With a new pitcher and 1 out in the 5th inning, Headley was hit by a pitch and Castro singled. Both runners moved up on a ground out, and Frazier’s walk loaded the bases. Then with another new pitcher on, a fielding error allowed Bird to reach base safely and score Headley. But even with loaded bases, a pop out ended the hope to expand their lead further.

Judge and Sanchez led-off the 6th with singles to put runners on the corners. Then with 2 outs, Starlin Castro singled and scored Judge, and a wild pitch moved runners up to scoring position. The Twins opted to intentionally walk Ellsbury (again) to load up the bases, which worked in their favor as a ground out ended yet another Yankee offensive threat.

But that would be it for the Yankees. And tonight, that would, once again, be enough.

Final score: 5-2 Yankees

Postseason prep: Just another FYI on the AL East standings… the Red Sox won another extra innings game tonight. They took the Orioles into the 11th inning totally scoreless, until the Red Sox finally found their opportunity and scored on a wild pitch in the top of the 11th. And the O’s couldn’t find their chance in the bottom of the inning. So the standings stand still at 3 games between the Red Sox and Yankees.

And in a little follow-up story, remember the “thumbs-down guy” from the game last week? The guy who stood up and gave a big “thumbs-down”, which Todd Frazier picked up and the entire team eventually turned into a weird positive symbol. Well, it turns out he’s actually a Mets season ticket holder, who took advantage of the cheap tickets for the relocated game to get good seats behind home plate. And on a whim, the man stood up and gave a thumbs-down. He seems to be enjoying his status as an internet sensation, but is also totally chill about it.

Go Yankees!

Game 145: NYY vs. TB — Tight win against the “Queens Rays”

We say farewell to Citi Field today, the Rays’ displaced home this week thanks to the invasion of Hurricane Irma this past weekend. While the entire state is in the midst of clean-up, restoring power, searching for open gas stations, and getting their lives back to a semblance of normal, baseball continues with the lingering thoughts of the fans “back home”.

During the games, and all over the City this past week really, it was interesting to see that the primary thought on most people’s minds were those in the path of the hurricane, including Florida, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the entire Caribbean. (Also, if you haven’t donated and still want to get involved, MLB has a fundraising site you donate to that will help hurricane victims of both Harvey and Irma to get back on their feet.)

Today, the Yankees and Rays played their last game in Citi Field for this quirky misplaced series this afternoon. Jaime Garcia got the start and threw a decent, albeit abbreviated game. He threw 78 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out 4 Rays batters. His lone allowed run was a lead-off solo home run in the 3rd. But the Yankees’ defense certainly backed him (and the rest of the pitchers) today.

Chad Green was brought on in the 5th to close out that inning for Garcia, and breezed his way through 4 outs, including 3 strong strikeouts, setting himself up for the eventual win. Kahnle’s 7th inning was a mixed bag, as he gave up 2 hits, but then got out of the inning without adding to the score.

But Dellin Betances’s shaky 8th inning was a bit too close of shave. The Yankees weren’t about to allow much of a leash on their pitchers. Betances got a fly out, gave up a single, and then struck out a batter. So after 18 pitches, that was it for him, much to his dismay as he wanted that 3rd out. Aroldis Chapman came on and had his own issues — giving up a walk and an RBI single (charged to Betances) before getting that 3rd out, a strikeout. Chapman then walked the lead-off batter in the 9th, but then breezed his way through the next 3 outs, all 3 strikeouts, and earned the save.

The Yankees’ offense did it once again in a single inning. This time in the 2nd, they hit into the Rays’ ace starter pretty hard. Castro and Ellsbury hit consecutive singles to lead off the inning and put runners in the corners. Todd Frazier’s single easily scored Castro. Then Romine’s 1-out walk loaded up the bases, so that Brett Gardner’s single scored both Ellsbury and Frazier to give the Yankees an early lead. One they spent the rest of the game defending.

It was almost not enough, but they clung to that 1-run lead all the way through to the end.

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

Yes, that does make it their 4th consecutive series won, which is great news for their push for the postseason. And there are a lot of numbers and charts and graphs to negotiate through to assess the postseason before the regular season has ended. Yes, there are already teams that have been eliminated entirely, and there are those who are clinging to a single-digit chance of postseason dreams. But the Yankees are basically a shoo-in for October baseball, at least as the first Wild Card spot.

But that’s not really good enough. Not for a team like the Yankees this year. And especially not with the Red Sox being just a few games ahead of them with more than 2 weeks left of the season. This is the time of year when we’re watching the scoreboard and rooting for all the teams that could help boost the Yankee standings (read: any one playing against the Red Sox, which isn’t unusual for Yankee fans, but especially needed at this point in the season — so tonight, it’s “Go, Oakland!”)

Next up, the Yankees moved back to the Bronx to host a 4-game weekend series against the Orioles starting tomorrow. Then the Twins come to town in what could be a preview of the Wild Card game (if the Yankees don’t win the AL East), then it’s up to Toronto next weekend before closing out the season back home against the Royals (a make-up game from May), the Rays, and Blue Jays. Finger crossed, Yankee universe, this could be a rather interesting final 17 games.

Also, the reason no team is named the “Queens” anything is because it sounds like a British sports organization, as you can see from my blog title today. Though I’m still a little torn as to why certain other area teams are dubbed “New York {Sports Team}” when they play in New Jersey, as I would be if the Rays were called the Tampa Rays when they play in St. Petersburg. I know it’s about the area (with the other teams), but that’s the same reason as to why the Rays are the “Tampa Bay Rays”, so they don’t offend the city that holds their stadium’s contract hostage.

Go (Bronx Bombers/New York) Yankees! (See why that works…)

Game 142: NYY vs. TEX — Baby Bombers show off in Texas finale

I wish I could say that this afternoon’s game was a great game. At first glance, it might look great because the outcome was in the Yankees’ favor. But a second look, and one has to wonder how either team was lucky enough to keep the game under 4 hours with the pitching being a bit less than stellar.

With today’s finale in Texas, the Yankees were looking to continue their march towards that postseason with some kind of power, looking to their offense to carry them into October. Usually, the pitching is there to give them some back up, but today, there was a rather mixed bag in that case.

Jordan Montgomery got the start today and once again had some struggles through his abbreviated outing. He threw 79 pitches into the 4th inning, giving up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out just 3 Texas batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out solo home run got the Rangers on the board, but with 2 outs and 2 runners in scoring position, Montgomery relied on his defense to get the final out of the inning and out of the jam. In the 4th, he gave up consecutive walks before a 1-out double would score another run.

The Yankees called on Chad Green to do what Chad Green does, and give the Yankees some long-term relief so early in the game. He gave up a sacrifice fly that scored Montgomery’s lingering runner before Green got a well-placed strikeout. Even Green had a spot of trouble in the 5th inning when his lead-off batter doubled and then promptly scored on an RBI single. But then Green zeroed in and breezed his way through his next 5 outs (and in doing so, set himself up for the win).

Tommy Kahnle closed out Green’s 6th inning and basically breezed his way through the 7th before handing the ball over to Dellin Betances. Betances found his own sticky spot in the 8th inning, despite getting 3 strikeouts for his 3 outs this inning. With just 1 out, Betances gave up consecutive walks that both scored on a double. Caleb Smith got 2 quick outs in the 9th and then gave up a walk that scored on a double before getting that 3rd out to close out the game.

And all those statistics would not spell good news for the Yankees if the Rangers had a better pitching staff. But really, they are just not good, or at least they weren’t so good tonight. The Rangers’ starter only throwing into the 4th inning. In the 1st inning, Gary Sanchez kicked things off with a solo home run into the left field seats, his 29th of the season.

Gardner singled to lead off the 3rd, moved to 2nd when Sanchez was hit by a pitch, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. This broke the early tie, but the Yankees weren’t done yet. Castro reached safely on a fielder’s choice, and due to the slowness of the Rangers’ defense, all runners were safe on all 3 bases. Aaron Judge’s long sacrifice fly scored Sanchez.

In the 4th, Ellsbury was hit by a pitch (yes, this happened a lot tonight) and Romine singled, and that would be it for the Rangers’ starter. Not that they could depend on the bullpen to halt the Yankees’ charge. Brett Gardner smacked a nice triple that scored both runners. A fairly routine single by Chase Headley scored Gardner. After Sanchez’s double, Didi Gregorius’ single scored Headley. (All of this before an out was scored this inning.) Then on a double play, Sanchez still scored to keep the momentum alive. Only to be followed up by Aaron Judge’s 40th home run of the season.

And the Rangers finally went to their bullpen to get out of this inning. But that reliever found his troubles in the next inning loading up the bases with consecutive doubles and a fielding error. Didi Gregorius singled and scored the 2 lead runners before being thrown out trying for 2nd base.

To show off a bit, Aaron Judge hit a 1-out solo home run in the 6th, and Gary Sanchez followed that with a solo home run to lead off the 8th. (More on this after the recap.) And in the 9th inning, the Yankees proved they weren’t done yet. Ellsbury led-off with a walk, and Romine singled. Tyler Wade singled home Ellsbury, and pinch-hitter Erik Kratz had his first Yankee hit, a double, that scored both Romine and Wade to cap off the Yankee runs scored today.

Now, back to what I started with is a bit of why I have a hard time calling this a great game. A “great game” is one where the pitching, hitting, defense, base running, and bullpen are all really good, even more so if both teams do so. But statistics show a different story. In total, pitchers gave up 28 hits, 10 walks, and 23 runs (5 of them homers). And here’s the biggest difference in pitching staffs — the Yankees got the Rangers’ batters swinging at 13 strikeouts, while the Rangers entire staff only got the Yankees to strikeout twice. Again, it’s hard to call this a “good game”, let alone a great one. But it’s nice to win it anyway they can.

Final score: 16-7 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Now, those “Baby Bombers” Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Both young stars hit two home runs each in today’s game, showing off the Yankee offense in the best possible way. For Aaron Judge, he hit is 40th and 41st home runs of the season, officially becoming the 2nd rookie in MLB history to hit over 40 home runs in a single season. And he’s got 20 games to at least tie up the record holder (Mark McGwire) at 49. Judge is also in some very vaunted company as the 5th Yankee to hit at least 40 home runs age 25 and under — Mantle, DiMaggio, Gehrig, and Ruth.

Now, Gary Sanchez isn’t exactly a footnote here. He has hit 50 home runs in his first 162 games (over the last 2 seasons). This season alone, Sanchez leads all catchers in the league with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs after today, and this is despite missing an entire month of baseball earlier this year. And speaking of catchers, Sanchez’s 30 home runs this season tied other legendary Yankee catchers in most home runs in a season — Posada in 2003 and Berra in 1952 and 1956.

And remember, folks, there’s still 20 games left in this season. Both Sanchez and Judge have about 20 more games to just surge ahead and show off some more. And don’t think they won’t try. We are watching the next Berra-Mantle anchored dynasty, like my grandfather used to talk about. My grandkids will hear my stories of the Sanchez-Judge era of greatness. And just maybe they’ll get their own dynasty of legends in the making.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: having a bit of trouble with the links, so I included the recap, but it only covers Judge and Sanchez’s home runs. Will link the rest as soon as I can.}