Game 99: CIN vs. NYY — Matinee magic & #SeverinoNeedsAHashtag

Luis Severino currently leads the Yankees pitchers in strikeouts at 145 (after today’s game), making his 4th in the AL and 9th overall. In his 20 games, he’s thrown 127.2 innings (the most of Yankees) and kept his opponents to a .224 batting average (best of Yankee starters).

Anyway, for today’s rare midweek matinees, Severino got the start for this finale game in this short series against the visiting Reds. He threw 112 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up just 3 hits, 2 walks, and 2 unearned runs, and struck out an impressive 9 batters. In fact, Severino held off the Reds until his final inning. The lead-off batter reached on a fielding error and then scored on a double. A wild pitch moved that runner to 3rd and then scored a bit later on a ground out. This strong outing set Severino up for his 7th win of the season.

Meanwhile, the Yankees padded their lead to give Severino cushion he clearly didn’t need. With 2 outs in the 3rd, Torreyes singled, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s single, and then scored on Clint Frazier’s single to get the Yankees on the board early. In the 5th, with 2 outs again, the 3 of them did exactly the same thing — Torreyes’ single, Gardner’s single, and Frazier’s RBI single. It was “deja vu all over again”.

Then in the 6th, with 1 out, Gregorius reached based on a sloppy throwing error, ending up at 2nd, and then scored on Chase Headley’s single. {Media note: apologies as there doesn’t seem to be a related video available.} After Todd Frazier was hit-by-a pitch, Ellsbury reached on a force attempt and fielding error to load the bases, after the Yankees challenged the out at 2nd and rightly won the overturn. Ronald Torreyes grounded out, but moved all the runners up and scored Headley.

In the 7th, the Yankees proved they weren’t done yet. Clint Frazier led off by working a walk and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. Sanchez then scored on Matt Holliday’s single. That was enough for the Reds’ starter who had yet to record an out in the 7th. But the Yankees weren’t done yet. Didi Gregorius hit a nice 2-run home run into the right field seats. And then Todd Frazier earned his Yankee pinstripes with his first Yankee home run, a 1-out solo shot to the left field seats for the “ToddFather“, as he was thus dubbed.

Luis Cessa took over for Severino and had a bit of trouble. A strikeout on a wild pitch allowed a runner to reach base (no, I still don’t like this “loophole”). Cessa then gave up a walk and a 3-run home run to add to the Reds’ score. Fortunately, the Yankees had quite a bit of a cushion. Again, not for Severino apparently, but for the other Luis today. David Robertson breezed through the 9th inning in just 7 pitches, continuing to remind Yankee fans what they loved about him the first time around.

In total, the Yankee pitchers got the Reds to strike out 12 times, while only allowing 4 hits. The Reds’ pitching staff had the reverse numbers — 12 allowed hits and just 4 strikeouts.

Final score: 9-5 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-0.

Now, regarding today’s title, I spent some time trying to figure out what to dub Severino in honor of his increasing push to be the Yankees’ newest ace pitcher. I mean, currently, we have hashtags for the other starters — Sabathia’s #CCStrong, #TanakaTime, Pineda’s #BigMike, and Montgomery’s minor league moniker that evolved into #GumbyNation. We’ve used other adjectives for pitchers that used to be part of the team, but I can’t seem to find a consensus when Severino has a great game, which lately is more often than not.

I mean, Emoji King Didi Gregorius uses the baby emoji to signify Severino’s role as part of the Baby Bombers to find a breakout role in last season. But that doesn’t really translate to hashtag material.

So I’m turning to you, faithful readers. If you have any ideas, use the comments section below or message me. I’m curious to see what you can come up with. You have about 5 days before his next start to come up with something good!

Go Yankees!

Game 97: NYY vs. SEA — Losing streak broken

I find it interesting that it was a West Coast trip that the Yankees’ recent losing streak. So it’s only fitting that a West Coast trip could end it. And with the final West Coast game of the season, the Yankees needed a win to move forward with the rest of the season.

So they called on rookie Caleb Smith to start today’s final game in Seattle. After a pretty clean first third of the game, Smith a bit of a struggle towards the end of his outing. Overall, he threw 56 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, most of that was in the 4th inning actually. He loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. Two outs later, he gave up a 2-RBI single and then a 2-RBI double to push the Mariners into a nice lead. And Smith’s outing was over, handing things off to Chad Green who ended the rally with a nice strikeout.

Green went on to throw through the 5th and 6th innings, keeping the Mariners from adding to their score and setting the momentum for the rest of the bullpen — Dellin Betances’ clean 7th and David Robertson’s 10-pitch 8th. Aroldis Chapman made things a little interesting but still managed to keep things together for the 9th and the eventual save.

Meanwhile, the Yankees kicked off the game with a solo home run by Brett Gardner, his 17th of the season. And Didi Gregorius added one more run in the 2nd with a solid solo shot into the right field seats only to do it again in the 4th with another one, a great 2-homer game for Gregorius.

And in the 6th, with a new pitcher, the Yankees loaded up the bases with a couple walks and a single. Brett Gardner’s single scored Headley to tie up the game. With a new pitcher, the Yankees kept their momentum going as Clint Frazier’s double scored 2 more runs. Despite loading up the bases with Judge’s intentional walk, the Mariners finally remembered their defense and got 2 quick outs.

After that, neither team managed to do much more offensively, and with Chapman’s save, the Yankees were set up for a game win and a series win.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Roster moves: Well, the Yankees orchestrated a trade with the Blue Jays, where they sent infielder Rob Refsnyder in exchange for 1st baseman Ryan McBroom, a prospect from the AA affiliate. They also outrighted Ji-Man Choi to AAA Scranton and traded reliever Dillon McNamara (formerly with AA Trenton) to the Giants.

And with that, the Yankees are headed back to the East Coast to start a long 9-game home stand on Tuesday (facing the Reds, Rays, and Tigers). Hopefully, carrying this winning thing with them and setting the momentum to carry them into October baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 95: NYY vs. SEA — Quite a birthday bash, hosted by Judge

Well, the Yankees have won 12 of their last 13 games at Safeco Field in Seattle. So much for that so-called “home field advantage”.

CC Sabathia celebrated his 37th birthday today by starting tonight’s game against the Mariners. His biggest problem tonight was his pitch count, throwing 98 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and a run and struck out 5 batters. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Sabathia gave a walk that moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on another single. Yet another single loaded the bases before a grounder ended the initial threat. In other words, outside of that 1st inning, Sabathia only allowed a hit and 2 walks, which was great.

After allowing a walk in the 6th, Sabathia turned things over to Tommy Kahnle, who threw a solid 10 pitches to breeze his way through the 6th. Then David Robertson made his 2017 debut as a Yankee, throwing his first Yankee strikeout since September 26, 2014. Robertson threw 13 pitches and got 3 consecutive strikeouts for the 7th.

Dellin Betances made the 8th inning interesting (par for the course with Betances), giving up a couple of big hits but not allowing a run and still striking out 2 batters along the way. Adam Warren’s 11-pitch 9th inning was almost perfect. Somehow, the bullpen righting itself recently has set things in motion for the rest of the team. Whatever it takes to revert the Yankees back to their momentum of earlier this season.

Anyway, on the flip side of the field, the Yankees had a decent outing against the Mariners’ starter, racking up 9 hits in just 6 innings. And in the 3rd, Headley led-off with a double and then scored on Clint Frazier’s double to tie up the game. A fly out moved Frazier to 3rd, and after a walk, Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly scored Frazier to move the Yankees into the lead.

In the 5th, with 1 out, Gardner and Sanchez each singled and sat on the corners. And then it would be Aaron Judge to hit just a monster 3-run home run deep into the left field seats. That would be his 31st home run this season, but his first since July 7 (so 14 days, including the 4-day All-Star break and excluding the 47 BP-like ones he hit during the HR Derby).

But anyway, that was more than enough to keep the Yankees’ streak in Seattle solid.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees

So, this was CC Sabathia’s first ever win on his birthday, despite being his 6th birthday start — 2002 and 2006 with Cleveland; 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2017 with the Yankees. However, he also has a current 10 wins and 1 loss in his career at Safeco Field, though it’s 6-0 as a Yankee. Maybe then that stat about the Yankees being great in Seattle has a whole lot to do with Sabathia. It’s almost surprising the Mariners didn’t do more to try to buy Sabathia’s contract. But then all the better for Yankee Universe.

Happy Birthday, CC!

Go Yankees!

Game 93: NYY vs. MIN — Another series loss despite new additions

The Yankees haven’t won a series since the sweep on June 9-11. And now, as the Yankees board a plane for their second West Coast trip to start an early weekend, that fact is still true after dropping today’s game and the mid-week series to the Twins.

Jordan Montgomery got the nod to close out the series this afternoon, throwing 104 pitches in his 6 innings. He gave up 7 hits, a walk, and 6 runs, striking out just 3 Minnesota batters. Actually, outside of a single inning, Montgomery had a stellar outing. In just the 2nd inning, Montgomery threw 38 pitches, gave up 5 hits and a walk, and allowed all 6 of the Twins’ runs this game.

In that inning, with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, a single scored 2 runs. After a walk, another single scored another run, and a big 3-run home run doubled the Twins’ score and lead. It created a rather big mountain for the Yankees to scale during the game. Perhaps they left their hiking boots back in the Bronx.

The Yankees were able to get on base during the game, but they didn’t do anything to collect runs. In fact, they were held off from doing so until the 7th inning, the end of the Twins’ starter’s day. Clint Frazier led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Romine’s hit-by-pitch, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single. An error on that same play moved Gardner and Romine to scoring position, but a new pitcher shut down any hopes for a comeback rally that inning.

Well, the bullpen in both cases continued their pretty strong showing this series. The Yankees’ offense was unable to break through again for the final two innings, and the Yankees’ relievers also fended off the Twins’ bats from adding to their solid lead. Chad Green and new Yankee Tommy Kahnle each gave a scoreless inning, but the Yankees would fall short in the end thanks to that monster early lead.

Final score: 6-1 Twins, Twins win series 2-1

Big roster news: the Yankees and White Sox orchestrated a big trade. In preparation, the Yankees optioned Chasen Shreve back to AAA Scranton and designated Rob Refsnyder and Ji-Man Choi for assignment.

The Yankees sent prospect pitcher Ian Clarkin and prospect outfielders Blake Rutherford and Tito Polo along with Yankees’ bullpen staple Tyler Clippard (who was decidedly sad to go but understood the reasoning) to the southside of Chicago. In exchange, the White Sox sent reliever Tommy Kahnle (who pitched in today’s game), infielder Todd Frazier (also the 2015 HR Derby winner), and former Yankee closer David Robertson. (Yes, Yankee Universe, D-Rob and his “high socks” are back in the Bronx.) All three new Yankees arrived during the game, suited up, and a Kahnle and Frazier even got to play later in the game.

Now, how this will pan out will be interesting. Todd Frazier is usually a regular 3rd baseman, but he does have experience at 1st; so while Headley is still on the team and playing, I can’t see Girardi using Frazier for anything but 1st. Kahnle will naturally fall right into the bullpen, which shouldn’t be much of an issue, except whether he is a 1-inning guy or long-term may yet be determined.

The biggest question mark really is Robertson, who is a great closer and was great as one for the Yankees, though he fell into the 8th inning slot next due to the Yankees’ legend Mariano Rivera being the everyday closer. With the likes of Chapman and Betances still in play on the team, the most common thought will be having Robertson slide back into his 8th inning role and move Betances to sticky situations or closing out non-save games.

And if you’re wondering, Todd Frazier donned #29, Kahlne #48, and Robertson is back in his old #30. Clint Frazier willingly gave up his #30 for Robertson, asking instead for #77, a quirky nod to hero Mantle (#7) and good friend Judge (#99).

Go Yankees!

Game 86: MIL vs. NYY — Fouled over finale before Break

That was not exactly how the Yankees wanted to enter the All-Star Break. Though truthfully, it wasn’t like they handed over the game all that easily. Add into the fact that the Yankees haven’t won a series since they swept the Orioles in early June, and it was a hard Sunday afternoon in the Bronx.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start today for the final game in this homestand against the Brewers, and once again, he got a bit roughed up. He threw 83 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, striking out 5 batters. In the 1st, with runners on the corners with singles and 1 out, a big 3-run home run got the Brewers on the board in a hurry. They added another run with a lead-off solo shot in the 2nd. And the first out of that inning was thanks to a nifty grounder catch by Ji-Man Choi at 1st — he literally did a split to catch the ball and make the out.

After that, Tanaka was able to hold them off for a bit until things got dicey in the 5th. With 1 out, he gave up 2 singles before he was pulled from the game. Chasen Shreve came on in relief and promptly gave up an RBI single. So it was Adam Warren’s turn on the mound.

Warren had a much better outing closing out the 5th and into the 6th, with 3 strikeouts out of his 4 total outs. Tyler Webb got the final out of the 6th in just 4 pitches before handing things over to Chad Green. Green breezed his way through 2 full innings, with just 33 pitches, striking out 4 batters in the process. Aroldis Chapman had a few miscues in the 9th, but still kept the Brewers from adding to their score.

So, with a decent outing from the bullpen (including 8 of 13 total strikeouts), it would be left to the Yankees’ offense to pick up the pace. But despite ample opportunities, the Yankees had minimal moments of true power today. In the 4th, with 2 outs, Ellsbury singled, stole 2nd, and scored on Chase Headley’s single. Then Clint Frazier hit his third home run of the year, a nice solid 2-run home run into the Yankees’ bullpen to give the Yankees a fighting chance.

So, the crowd waited. And for a moment in the 6th, there was hope. Sanchez singled and Ellsbury walked to lead-off the inning, and the Brewers brought in a new pitcher. And Chase Headley smacked a long ball deep into the right field corner. As all three Yankees rounded the bases, a small nattering began in the visitor’s dugout and among the umpires. The umpires took it upon themselves to review the call, and it was overturned as foul (apparently, the review said it “hooked foul” at the last minute). He ended up striking out on the at-bat.

And that would be it in the end.

Final score: 5-3 Brewers, Brewers win series 2-1

Five Yankees are now on their way to Miami for the All-Star Game (they got their bright blue American League warm-up jerseys before the game today), and two Yankees will play in tomorrow night’s Home Run Derby. And right now, two young Yankee prospects are playing in the All-Star Futures Game — Domingo Acevedo (a pitcher from AA Trenton) and Estevan Florial (an outfielder from Full-A Charleston). It’s All-Star Week, people, and we’re just getting started!

Go Yankees!

Game 85: MIL vs. NYY — A new rookie walk-off champion leads offense

Last year, thanks mostly to the wonder that was/is Gary Sanchez, the world was talking about the “Baby Bombers”. The appellation was appropriate then, but it’s even more relevant this season. With the constant stream of young farm talent making their MLB debuts (or at least their Yankee debuts) this year, the chances for a new Baby Bomber to earn the designation continues to rise.

And today, another one earned the title. (And Didi Gregorius revealed a new emoji nickname! If you have Twitter and you’re not following him, click the follow button to get in on the fun.)

Anyway, one of the stars of last year’s Baby Bomber introduction and this year’s All-Star, Luis Severino got the start in the middle game of this weekend’s series against the Brewers. He threw 102 pitches in his 7 innings, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out an impressive 10 batters. Actually, Severino’s weakest spot was his 1st inning, though all 3 of those outs were strikeouts. He gave up a double, hit-by-pitch (though not really, despite what they said on the replay, it totally didn’t hit him), and then a 3-run home run to get the Brewers on the board early.

They would also be the only runs the Brewers scored all day. Dellin Betances threw an 11-pitch flawless 8th inning, adding 2 more strikeouts. And Aroldis Chapman just slammed through the 9th with 3 consecutive strikeouts, topping out at (just) 102 mph today. So with those 15 total strikeouts from the Yankees pitching staff (including two 2017 All-Stars), the Yankees seemed to be back on track.

Of course, the offense continued to be a bit stymied by the Brewers’ pitching. Only getting 2 hits and a walk off the starter in the first 6 innings, the first hit breaking up his no-hitter, a single by rookie Clint Frazier. But then in the 7th, the Yankees found their opportunity. With 1 out, Chase Headley hit a ground-rule double and moved to 3rd on Ellsbury’s single. A bad pick-off attempt and error scored Headley, and then Ellsbury scored when Clint Frazier hit a really solid triple. This is Frazier’s second triple in as many days, and the Brewer’s starter was done for the day.

Two outs later, and the Yankees were still a run shy of the Brewers. So with Betances and Chapman proving to be the force the Yankees hired them to be, it was up to the offense to see if they could pull of a last-chance rally. With a new reliever hoping to close out the game for the Brewers, the Yankees pounced on his bad outing. In 4 pitches, he walked Gregorius. After a strikeout, in another 4 pitches, he walked Ellsbury. And then “Red Thunder” Clint Frazier stepped up to the plate. The second pitch of the at-bat was a 97 mph perfect fastball that Frazier sent into the left field seats for a walk-off 3-run home run, his first homer in Yankee Stadium and his first career walk-off.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Roster moves: Scranton Shuttle Alert! Before today’s game the Yankees recalled Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder, optioning Luis Cessa and Jordan Montgomery back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Now, before you Montgomery fans (hello, Gumby Nation!) get all concerned, remember that his next start wouldn’t be until next Sunday (July 16) in Fenway. In the meantime, the Yankees’ bullpen has just been struggling lately. So, if they can play a little strategy to get through the weekend and maybe into next weekend after the All-Star Break, maybe they can right the ship in time for Montgomery to be recalled for his schedule start on that Sunday.

Today’s strong outing certainly helped! Fingers crossed for more of this. And more Baby Bombers!

Go Yankees!

Game 84: MIL vs. NYY — A soggy disappointment

It took nearly 4 hours, plus a 51 minute rain delay in the middle of the game, for the Yankees to fall short thanks to their biggest weakness of late — their bullpen. They hosted the opening game of the weekend series against the surprisingly surging Brewers, in their final series before the All-Star break.

Jordan Montgomery got the start tonight, throwing a 74 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 7 hits, no walks, and 2 runs, striking out 4 batters. While the Brewers got a sprinkling of hits, they didn’t do much until the 4th inning against the rookie pitcher. A lead-off double scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run to get Milwaukee on the board.

Meanwhile, the Yankees began collecting their score against the Brewers’ starter. They got on the board first in the 2nd when Didi Gregorius singled and ended up all the way at 3rd due to a fielding error. He then scored on Clint Frazier’s sacrifice fly. A walk and another fielding error later, and runners were stranded in scoring position.

Then in the 4th, as the rain started pouring over the Bronx, Gregorius led-off the inning by reaching 1st safely thanks to yet another fielding error. He then scored as part of Ji-Man Choi’s big 1-out 2-run home run, hit into the 2nd deck of the right field seats. After Romine reached on a missed catch error (are you seeing a trend?), the starter threw a strike to the new batter (Wade) and the umpires called for the tarp. And we were in rain delay.

For 51 minutes. The Yankees were ahead, and most of the conversation was along the lines of wishing they were already in the bottom of the 5th so they could call the game and hand the Yankees a shortened victory.

But that was not to be. When everyone came back, a new pitcher was on the mound for the Brewers and Wade eventually struck out. After Gardner’s walk, another strike out left more runners stranded. Aaron Judge hit his 30th home run of the season to lead-off the 5th inning (more later). But that would be it for the Yankee offense.

The Brewers’ defense made 5 errors in 4 innings (a season high) and the Yankees just didn’t capitalize on that small detail much at all.

Back to the Yankees’ mound… Tyler Webb came on to close out the 5th inning for Montgomery, which he did thanks to some great defense by Tyler Wade. But then he gave up a walk and double to put runners in scoring position as he handed the ball over to Tyler Clippard. A wild pitch moved runners up, scoring the first runner, and a sacrifice fly scored the next runner and tied up the game. The Yankees lone fielding error allowed a runner to get on base, but Clippard got out of the inning without further damage.

Well, in that inning, that is. With 1 out in the 7th, Clippard walked consecutive batters, and then after another out, intentionally walked the next to load up the bases. So, at this point, we’re all looking for that last out to get out of the jam. Instead, it worked in the Brewers’ favor, in the exact opposite of the Yankees — a grand slam to double the Brewers’ score over the Yankees.

Chasen Shreve came on to stop the bleeding, but even he struggled to get a hold of the game, giving up a lead-off double that scored on an RBI single. But then, as turn about is fair play, he walked a batter and then let a ground out leave a couple of runners stranded. Luis Cessa had a better night, closing out the game’s final 2 innings, keeping the Brewers scoreless.

But overall, the Yankees’ pitchers gave up 14 total hits and struck out just 5, while their batters only got 4 hits and earned 12 strikeouts. And that is what made the difference.

Final score: 9-4 Brewers

Roster move: before the game today, the Yankees announced that they sent Mason Williams outright to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. And with the upcoming break, I’d expect a few more moves before they come back to face the Red Sox next Friday at Fenway.

On that big Aaron Judge home run: Judge beat Yankee great Joe DiMaggio’s rookie home run record for most homers by a Yankee in their rookie season. Technically, Judge is on track to hit 57-ish home runs this season, still short of the Babe Ruth/Roger Maris mark (60/61). But neither of them hit that many in their rookie season. And the record belongs to Mark Maguire in 1987 with 49. He also holds the record for most homers by a rookie before the All-Star break at 33. (Though right now, Judge may cut it close on that last one.)

Now, I’ve been told that people think both Judge and his NL competitor (and potential rookie rival on Monday night) will fade in the 2nd half of the season due to the “Home Run Derby” curse and perhaps just lack of faith. But I don’t put much stock in predictions and talking heads and odds-makers. Judge will do what Judge does — play baseball as best he can. His best just happens to be heads above most others (yes, this was an intentional height joke).

And as I’m sure you know, the Yankees are sending just 5 players to Miami next week. Didi Gregorius finished 3rd in Final Fan Voting yesterday, falling short of the Royals’ and Red Sox’s nominees, but only just barely. My newsfeed timeline yesterday was packed with Gregorius support from all over, but it just wasn’t enough. This time. Now, Gregorius also spent much of his off-day wandering around the City doing good deeds — giving tourist directions, helping with photos, giving people a free subway swipe, handing out umbrellas, making burritos, and more. Basically, he was being a Yankee ambassador to the City. A day well-spent in my mind.

Didi, you’ll always be an All-Star to Yankee Universe!

Go Yankees!