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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Yankees!

Game 68: LAA vs. NYY — Skidding out of 1st place

Well, coming home didn’t help the Yankees’ West Coast skid, now on a 7-game losing streak. Maybe it’s because they technically brought the West Coast with them starting this mid-week series against the Angels. This also means that the Yankees have slipped out of 1st place in the AL East to the (ugh!) Red Sox.

And here’s how that happened tonight…

Michael Pineda actually had a pretty decent outing tonight, after a bit of a messy start. He threw 105 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 7 hits, a walk, and 3 runs (only 1 earned), and striking out 7 Angels’ batters. In the 1st, a lead-off double scored on an RBI single to get the Angels on the board (the only earned run allowed by Pineda). The lead-off batter in the 2nd reached on a fielding error, ending up at 2nd as a result, and then scored on a 1-out double. That batter then scored on a 2-out single to give the Angels an easy early (and mostly unearned) lead.

Meanwhile, the Yankees took advantage of the Angels starter, who only gave up 2 hits, but also 5 walks in his 5 innings. In the 4th, Castro led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s walk, to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Chase Headley’s sacrifice fly. Aaron Judge hit a 2-out solo home run, his 24th homer of the season, in the 5th. Then facing a new pitcher, Gary Sanchez hit a 1-out solo home run into the right field seats to tie up the game.

And things were looking good for the Yankees. Pineda finished his outing strong, handing the final out of the 6th to Chasen Shreve who used just 5 pitches to get that final strikeout. But Tyler Clippard just struggled out of the gate in the 7th inning, giving up a lead-off solo home run, a double, a fly out (yay!), and an RBI triple. And that was it for Clippard.

Jonathan Holder came on to stem the tide, but still had his own issues. An RBI single scored one more run, charged to Clippard. In the 8th, a lead-off ground-rule double moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, and then scored on a single. And to cap off the game for the Angels, a player hit a 2-out solo homer up the middle.

And the Yankees’ offense against the Angels’ bullpen? Holliday’s double in the 8th. And that’s it. The Angels’ bullpen was showing their strength tonight in the Bronx, and the Yankees, well, weren’t.

Final scores: 8-3 Angels

Prospect watch: Yankees’ #2 prospect Gleyber Torres was pulled from a game on Saturday due to some soreness in his left elbow after an awkward slide. After some tests, it was revealed that Torres hyper-extended his elbow on that slide, tearing his ulnar collateral ligament (or UCL), which requires the surgery named for famed pitcher Tommy John to repair it. Because Torres is not a pitcher, nor is the injury in his actual throwing arm, the return to baseball activities is less than standard for the injury and surgery option. Torres will miss the rest of this year, and there is no set date for the surgery as of yet. Speedy recovery, kid.

And just a quick heads up: 20 of the 40 players drafted last week in the MLB draft have signed with the Yankees, but a few more (including the top 2 picks) are expected to exercise their option and sign on as well. Players can opt out of the selection and choose a different path for this next year, putting themselves up for the draft next year or doing something else entirely. But over 50% signed to be Yankees? And in the middle of this losing streak? Yeah, I’ll take it as a sign for good things to come for the organization.

Now, if only that can make that happen on the field… like this week… like tomorrow…

Go Yankees!

Game 65: NYY vs. OAK — A bumpy ride in “Bump City”

Oakland was dubbed “Bump City” after author John Krich’s 1979 book Bump City: Winners and Losers in Oakland about the history of the city, known mainly for its pictures by Dorothea Lange from the collection of the Oakland Museum. But no one from Oakland really knows that and are not a huge fan of said nickname. But it fits my purposes, especially with the way this road trip is going.

Luis Severino had a pretty good outing except a single inning. And thanks to that, he threw 109 pitches in just 6 innings, overall giving up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 4 runs, striking out 6 Oakland batters.

In the 2nd, Severino faced all 9 batters in the Oakland lineup as he struggled his way through the inning. He gave up consecutive walks before getting a strikeout, and then a double scored the first A’s run. A ground out scored another run, but initially the runner was called safe at 1st. The Yankees challenged, and it was overturned for the 2nd out of the inning. And it was back to the game for a single to score yet another run. Another single moved runners to the corners, and another single scored the 4th run of the inning.

So, the Yankees had a bit of catching up to do. In the 3rd, with 2 outs and runners on the corners, Aaron Judge hit his 23rd home run of the season, a 3-run shot to the right field seats to put the Yankees a whole lot closer to the A’s lead.

And in the 5th, Torreyes hit a 1-out double and then scored on Mason Williams’ single to tie up the game. Williams ended up at 2nd on the throw, but Oakland challenged him being safe at 2nd. The call was upheld after a rather long review. Despite the Yankees loading up the bases with a couple of walks, they weren’t able capitalize on it then and break the tie.

Until Chris Carter led-off the 6th with a solo home run, that is, straight up the middle of the O.Co (Oakland Coliseum). And in the 7th, Judge hit a 1-out triple and then scored on Starlin Castro’s single for an insurance run.

So, with a 2-run lead, Chasen Shreve took over for Severino. Shreve had his own issues. With 1 out, he gave up a walk and a single to put runners on the corners, and a sacrifice fly scored the lead runner to put the Athletics within 1 run. Jonathan Holder had a worse time in the 8th, loading up the bases with a walk, a ground-rule double, and an intentional walk before a single scored both the tying and winning runs for the A’s. The final play was a double play, but was originally just a fielder’s choice until the Yankees continued their streak of challenge-and-overturn in their favor.

Final score: 7-6 Athletics

Injury news: (and boy, is it a doozy lately!)
The Yankees officially placed CC Sabathia on 10-day DL, retroactive to June 14, due to his strained left hamstring. Adam Warren is also now on the 10-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. On day-to-day are Aaron Hicks (with achilles tendon soreness) and Gary Sanchez (with groin tightness).

And in roster maneuvers:
The Yankees reassigned Aroldis Chapman to AA Trenton to continue his rehab assignment. He is hoping to be activated and rejoin the team in Oakland by Sunday’s game. (Fingers crossed!) The Yankees also optioned pitchers Ronald Herrera to AA Trenton and Gallegos to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, recalling relievers Domingo German and Luis Cessa from AAA Scranton. They also recalled Mason Williams and Kyle Higashioka from AAA Scranton to fill in for Hicks and Sanchez, respectively. (I hope they got a group rate on the Scranton to Oakland flight!)

Two more games in Oakland this weekend (and they’re not late-night games for us East Coasters!), and the Yankees are looking to right the ship again. For a bit there tonight, it looked like the Yankees would pull through and win it once again. But that West Coast drain kicked in and just flipped the story on them. Time to take control of that story and change the narrative.

Go Yankees!

Game 62: NYY vs. LAA — Angelic walk-off sours West Coast hopes

West Coast Week is hard on all of us East Coasters. But an extra innings night game, over 4 hours of play, and one with an unfavorable outcome, is rather less than thrilling. Add in a potential loss of a starter who’s been on a great run, due to an injury, and it’s basically not going to be a good night.

CC Sabathia was looking for his 5th straight win tonight, but fell a bit short. And not by his own fault. Actually, overall once again, he had a pretty good outing. In his 4 strong innings, he only gave up 3 hits, a walk, and an unearned run, striking out 4 Angels batters. But coming up off a pitch in the 4th and grabbing his leg was definitely not a good sign. (More after the recap)

In the 4th, with 2 outs, a batter reached on a missed catch error at 1st, ending up at 2nd on the play. He then scored on an RBI single, though due to the error, it was unearned for Sabathia, keeping his ERA in pretty good shape. The runner got caught stealing (“you don’t run on Gary!”) to end the inning for Sabathia, a good thing as he was clearly injured at that point.

After Sabathia left, the Yankees bullpen got quite the workout. Giovanni Gallegos got the first 2 innings (5th & 6th) and fairly sailed through them, as did Warren in the 7th. But Tyler Clippard gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 8th to tie up the game at that point.

To get to that point, the Yankee actually relied almost solely on one player for their scoring tonight — the unlikely hero of Chase Headley. In the 5th, Headley hit a 1-out ground-rule double and then hustled home to score on Brett Gardner’s single. And then in the 7th, Headley hit a 1-out solo home run up the middle.

When the starter came out of the game that inning with 2 men on base and 2 outs, the Yankees once again left them stranded (a common theme in this game, actually). And while they certainly had opportunities to do something (read: that common theme), the Yankees didn’t capitalize on them.

With the game now tied, Yankees reliever Holder started the bottom of the 9th inning, but struggled his way through 2 hits and 2 outs before the Yankees opted for Chasen Shreve who got out of the jam and then pitched his way into and out of another jam the 10th.

As they hit the 4-hour mark, the game turned into 11 innings. The Yankees weren’t adding to the score, and the Angels saw their only opening in the bottom of the 11th when Shreve gave up a lead-off walk. After an out, Shreve was responsible for that lone runner at 1st as Heller came on to close out the inning. That runner moved to 2nd on a ground out, watched as another baserunner joined him on a walk, and then promptly scored on a bloop single to score a walk-off win.

Final score: 3-2, in 11 innings, Angels

Injury news: Sabathia felt his leg “grab” on his 2nd to last pitch, and then said when he could push off (a necessary move for a pitcher, as you can imagine) for that final pitch, he knew something was terribly wrong. They will send him for testing, mainly an MRI, to get a timetable of recovery before deciding on a DL stint (and his replacement on the rotation), but with a hamstring injury, there’s always going to be a DL stint.

Aroldis Chapman was to begin his rehab with the Advanced-A Tampa Yankees (against the Bradenton Pirates affiliate) tonight, but severe weather forced a postponement. They are scheduled to play in Bradenton tomorrow night and the weather is looking much better. Chapman is nearing his return, still shooting for the end of the Oakland series, but I guess that depends on whether weather will cooperate with his rehab starts at this point.

Today was also the second day of the MLB Draft. The Yankees continued picking up pitchers (mostly right-handers), and mostly juniors and seniors in college.
Pitchers: Trevor Stephan, Arkansas junior, (round 3, 92nd overall); Glenn Otto, Rice junior (round 5, 152nd); (the lefty) Dalton Lehnen, Augustana College junior (round 6, 182nd); Dalton Higgins, Dallas Baptist junior (round 7, 212nd); Kyle Zurak, Radford University senior (round 8, 242nd); Austin Gardner, University of Texas Arlington (round 9, 272nd); and Chad Whitmer, Southern Illinois University Carbondale senior (round 10, 302nd). And an outfielder: Canaan Smith, Rockwall-Heath High School (round 4, 122nd overall).

One more day and 30 more picks. Basically, this is an offer by the Yankees to these young players. They can accept the offer for a chance to play ball with the Yankees organization and enter the realm of professional sports, or they can decline the offer and continue their studies or pursue a different avenue. Some will decline to hone their skills and try again next year for the draft, especially the younger players. I’ve heard stories of high school kids getting drafted (even at early rounds) but declining because they made a deal with their parents to get through at least 2 years of college first. They may come back at get drafted again or even attempt a tryout at an open call.

There is no typical draft story. One example is current Yankees rep at the draft Andy Pettitte. Technically, he was selected in the 22nd round for the 1990 draft right out of high school. But he chose to enroll in a local junior college and came to an agreement with the Yankees of what’s called a “draft-and-follow prospect”. He eventually signed with the Yankees a year later. But he and his wife later made their sons promise to go to college, despite being very good athletes (and still drafted) themselves. It certainly depends on the player, their circumstances, and their life choices.

Go Yankees!

Game 60: BAL vs. NYY — Judge-ment Day

The Yankees went into this afternoon’s game looking to end this homestand on an upwards swing before heading for their first West Coast trip of the season. And they certainly succeeded.

Chad Green was called up yesterday for the start in today’s finale against the Orioles, but he had a mixed bag. It started off pretty well, but he ended on a bit of a sour note. He threw 53 pitches into the 3rd inning, giving up 2 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, striking out just 3 batters. In the 3rd, the lead-off batter doubled and then scored on the next batter’s double. That would be it for Chasen Shreve, but he too struggled to find the footing (and that runner was Green’s responsibility.

Shreve promptly gave up a double that scored Green’s remaining runner, and then he gave up yet another double (the 4th consecutive one of the inning) to score Shreve’s first runner before getting those pesky 3 outs of the inning. Jonathan Holder was able to hold off the Orioles from adding to their score for the 4th and into the 5th inning, something Adam Warren picked up in the 5th and ran with into the 7th inning.

Recent call-up Domingo German came on for a long-term close finishing up the final third of the game, sailing through right up until that final inning. He just had to make a dramatic flourish right there in the end. But he was also able to hold off the Orioles.

Meanwhile, while the bullpen got quite the workout, the Yankees offense did what they love to do — hit big and hit a lot. In the 1st, the Yankees loaded up the bases with 2 singles, a walk, and an out. Starlin Castro’s single scored Gardner and Judge to kick things off for the Yankees’ runs today. Of course, Gary Sanchez promptly opened things wide open with a big 3-run home run.

Despite that big 1st inning, the O’s starter was able to tamp down on the Yankees’ offense. That is until the 4th inning. With 1 out, Hicks walked and ended up at 3rd on Judge’s double. They both scored on Matt Holliday’s single. And that would be it for the Orioles’ starter, who didn’t make it out of that 4th inning.

And the true weakness of the Orioles was certainly exposed this weekend, as the bullpen continued to get hammered by the Yankees’ offense. In the 6th, Aaron Judge hit the biggest home run of the season, 495 feet over the left field bleachers (into the wheelchair row behind the bleachers on the concourse out there). After Holliday reached on a fielding error, Starlin Castro got in on the fun and hit a nice 2-run home run.

In the 7th, with 1 out, Torreyes and Gardner both walked and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Then Judge hit a 2-run home run into the right field seats, his 2nd of the game and 21st of the season to cap off the game.

Final score: 14-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep Orioles 3-0

After Judge’s first home run in the 6th, it was basically all anyone could talk about. Judge had a really perfect day actually, going 4-for-4, with 4 runs scored, hitting in 3 RBIs. And of course, there were those 2 home runs. That 495 foot homer is the longest hit home run this season, and tied for 2nd longest in the “Statcast Era”, just 6 feet short of the longest homer hit by a certain Miami slugger.

But overall, not a bad way to hop a plane to California… on a 5-game big winning streak.

It’s that time of year again. The MLB draft begins tomorrow and will run through Wednesday. The Yankees have one draft pick per round this year — #16, #54, & #92. Then for rounds 4-40, they pick 17th in each round until the end. In addition to following the games against the Angels, I’ll be posting draft updates for the Yankees.

Recent Yankee draft picks have certainly found their way around the league, some still with the Yankees, others traded to other teams’ farm systems. But just because they’re not picked in the 1st round doesn’t mean they won’t do something amazing or make it in the majors. Gardner was selected in the 2005 3rd round, Refsnyder in the 2012 5th round, and Betances in the 2006 8th round. In fact, though Judge was selected in the 1st round, he was the 32nd pick. That’s right, 31 other players were selected in 2013 before the Yankees went with the current home run king and All-Star leader. (Though he wasn’t even the Yankees first pick!)

Go Yankees!

Game 52: NYY vs. TOR — The Big Smoke clouds the Yankees’ night

After last night’s rather dominant start from the Yankees, the Blue Jays decided that turnabout was fair play and copying the Yankees’ example to set themselves up for a win. And while imitation is usually the sincerest form of flattery, it’s really not in sports. Not that the game went anything like last night’s game.

Michael Pineda got the start in tonight’s game and got roughed up in his 5 innings. He threw 87 pitches, giving up 10 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, striking out just 1 batter. In the 1st, he gave up a 1-out solo home run, a 2-out walk and a 2-run home run to give the Blue Jays a nice early lead. A lead-off walk in the 3rd moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. And in the 4th, a lead-off single ended up at 3rd on a 2-out single and then scored on Pineda’s wild pitch.

Jonathan Holder came in for the 6th inning, having a pretty good outing save a single pitch that ended up becoming a solo home run to continue expanding the Blue Jays lead. In the 7th, Adam Warren had a bit of a struggle, due to some fielding mistakes. A missed catch error allowed the first batter to reach 1st. The Yankees challenged the out at 1st, but it was upheld as safe. That runner ended up at 3rd on a double and then scoring on a sacrifice fly. But Warren got out of trouble. Chasen Shreve’s 8th was a 16-pitch flawless outing.

The Yankees were quite stifled in their offense tonight, not even getting on the board until the 6th inning. The Blue Jays starter only gave up 2 hits and 2 walks going into the 6th inning. Then Sanchez singled, and Aaron Judge hit a 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board and end the Blue Jays’ starter’s night. Under a new reliever, Holliday worked a walk and then scored as part of Starlin Castro’s 2-run home run to double the Yankees’ score.

And in an effort to edge further into the Blue Jays’ lead, Judge worked a 2-out walk and then scored on Matt Holliday’s double to cap off the Yankees’ runs tonight, falling just short of the Blue Jays.

Final score: 7-5 Blue Jays

And Aaron Judge was honored again as the American League Rookie of the Month, this time for May, of course. Not really a surprise to anyone really. He hit his 18th home run tonight, currently batting .326, with an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.122 (which is insane). He is the first Yankee to win ROTM more than once, and the fourth Yankee to ever be awarded (also Cano, Matsui, and Sanchez) the honor. Add in Judge’s high standings in the All-Star Game voting, and Judge is having quite the year.

And it’s only June 2, people!

The weekend continues tomorrow in Toronto, “The Big Smoke”. Apparently, such a nickname was originally given to larger Australian cities by its native people due to its industrial production (or air pollution). It was then affectionately applied to London (for much of the same reason — the notorious London “fog”). And along the way, it was applied to Toronto and stuck. It’s certainly a better nickname than “Hogtown” or “The City That Works”.

Makes you kind of appreciate the “Big Apple”, “Gotham City”, and the “City That Never Sleeps”…

Go Yankees!

Game 48: NYY vs. BAL — Less than charming afternoon

I’ve always heard the Baltimore uses “Charm City” as its primary nickname, and honestly, I’ve never really cared much to figure out why. But watching today’s game was exhausting, so I reluctantly turned to Google to answer a question I never really had. Apparently, in the 1970s, an ad executive was hired to transform Baltimore’s seedy reputation (satirically referenced in the Hairspray movie and musical) into something that might increase tourism and new residents. So, they came up with “Charm City”, as in “Come see Baltimore for all its charm“. There was even a campaign that gave out charms for a charm bracelet as people checked in to see the “sites of the city”.

Of course, they also tried a handful of other marketing campaigns through the years, but “Charm City” stuck enough, thanks in part to their public bus system being named the Charm City Circulator and now a popular local bakery made famous thanks to reality TV. How charming it really is depends on your perspective, I guess. But seeing as I’ve only seen the city as enemy territory (or breezed through it on an East Coast road trip years ago), I’ve yet to discover this mystical “charm”.

Jordan Montgomery got roughed up a bit in today’s start against the Orioles in Camden Yards. He threw 100 pitches into just the 5th inning, giving up 8 hits, a walk, and 3 runs (though only 1 was earned), and striking out 5 Baltimore batters.

The first batter of the game singled, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored on a 2-out single. After another single put runners on the corners, Montgomery got a well-placed strikeout to get out the jam in that 1st inning. Then in the 3rd, with 1 out, a batter reached 1st on a messy fielding error and moved to 2nd on a 2-out single. And a double scored both runners (neither were considered earned due to the timing of the error).

With 2 runners on base in the 5th and just 1 out, the Yankees turned to reliever Jonathan Holder to set things right. Something he did quite well with 2 amazing strikeouts. Holder breezed through the 6th inning, setting the Yankees back on the right course. Chasen Shreve’s 2-innings found a similar momentum, shutting the Orioles down for the remainder of the game. Collectively, the Yankees pitching staff worked an impressive 11 strikeouts.

But that certainly wasn’t enough to do much against the Orioles. They had opportunities this afternoon, but only managed to cobble together a few successful offensive plays. In the 2nd, Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch to lead-off the inning, moved to 2nd on a fly out, made it to 3rd on Gregorius’ single, and then scored on Aaron Hicks sacrifice fly to tie up the game at that point. And Aaron Judge led-off the 7th with a monster solo home run up the middle, his 17th of the season to put the Yankees just shy of the O’s lead.

But with the new relievers in the 8th and 9th innings, the Yankees failed to do more than make 6 outs fairly easy for the Orioles.

Final score: 3-2 Orioles.

Before the game today, local service men joined the starting Orioles on the field for a moment of silence and for a truly amazing rendition of the national anthem by SFC Randy Wight, who came back to sing “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch.

Being so close to our nation’s capital, the plethora of active servicemen and women serves as a reminder to us. In the Bronx, the Yankees honor their service at every home game. But today, the country stops to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We carry their legacy with us everyday and express our gratitude to them and their families for their willingness to serve and protect and defend our country.

You are not forgotten. Thank you.

Go Yankees!