Game 120: NYY vs. NYM — Kings of New York in the #SubwaySeries

Call it a sweep either way, but the Yankees are the winners of the Subway Series. Light up the Empire State Building, celebrate with a pint at the local bar, and rest up. Because now the Yankees head to Fenway to face the red-hot Red Sox yet again.

And a good portion of why tonight’s game was so successful was thanks to starter Luis Severino (who still needs a proper hashtag, Yankee Universe). He threw 106 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 1 unearned run, and struck out 9 Mets batters. That lone run came in the final inning for Severino, the 7th. With 1 out, a batter reached on a fielding error and then advanced all the way to 3rd on a messy wild pitch before scoring easily on a single.

So the Yankees turned to Chasen Shreve to close out the 7th and breeze his way through the 8th inning, adding 3 more strikeouts to the count.

The Yankees also gave Severino (and the rest of the pitching staff) a nice cushion with their offense that only sparked in 2 innings all night. In the 1st, Gardner led off and reached on a throwing error and Hicks worked a walk. Gary Sanchez then hit a 1-out 3-run home run to get the Yankees on the board early.

Then in the 4th, the Yankees loaded up the bases with singles by Austin, Torreyes, and Severino (yes, he pitches and hits!). Brett Gardner’s double scored 2 runs to keep the momentum going. With 1 out, the Yankees loaded up the bases again when Judge was hit by a pitch. That was the end of the Mets’ starter, but the first reliever gave up a single to Sanchez that scored 2 more runs for the Yankees.

And with that now hefty lead, the Yankees’ bullpen and defense spent the remainder of the game defending that. Any chances of adding to it were shut out by a surprisingly good showing by the Mets’ bullpen tonight.

So, into the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees needed just a quick 3 outs to get out with the game and earn that sweep. But Bryan Mitchell was having one of those days you don’t want to have in cases like this. He threw just 12 pitches, gave up a double, a single, and a walk to load up the bases before giving up a beautiful grand slam to a certain former Yankee. It put the Mets within striking distance, so the Yankees put a call into their bullpen for a life-preserver of sorts.

It would be Dellin Betances — 11 pitches, 3 outs, 8th save of the season. Game over, sweep won.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees, Yankees sweep Mets 4-0 (or 2-0 if you count the two 2-game series separately)

Injury news: Garrett Cooper was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to tendonitis in his left hamstring, after reporting some discomfort following yesterday’s game. In his place, the Yankees recalled Tyler Austin, who started tonight’s game at 1st base. Austin made his MLB debut with the Yankees a year ago this week, and is now back after battling injuries for most of this season — a broken ankle and strained hamstring.

And now, we’re off to Boston. Fingers crossed that we can narrow that 4 game lead in the AL East that the Red Sox currently hold over the Yankees. They’re also hoping to broaden their own lead in the Wild Card race.

Over halfway through August means that there’s only about 6 weeks left of the season, and the Yankees have made it clear that not making the postseason is a failed season. And with the loaded roster, it’s hard to believe the Yankees won’t make October baseball. It’s certainly still up in the air as to where they’ll land to play in the postseason. Only one team in the league is talking about being eliminated from contention right now, as most divisions are still very up in the air.

But isn’t that what makes this time of year kind of fun? The unknown is still very alive. Anything really is possible. And that’s just kind of wonderful.

Go Yankees!

{Personal note: Charlottesville, Sierra Leone, Barcelona, the USS Fitzgerald, and far too many places in this world… Cherish the moments you have and the people you are privileged to share them with; life is too short to cling to hate and anger and exist in placid passivity. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who have lost loved ones in these recent tragedies.}

Game 117: NYM vs. NYY — #SubwaySeries starts strong

Rivalry week continues as the Yankees and Mets play their now annual 4-game split between the Bronx and Queens. We began tonight in the Bronx with a strong showing by the Yankees.

Recently recalled Luis Cessa got the start tonight and threw a pretty good outing. He threw just 66 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and striking out 5 Mets’ batters. Those two runs came as solo home runs in the 3rd inning. And that would be it for the Mets tonight. However, Cessa had some physical issues that caused him to be pulled from the game early.

Fortunately, the bullpen was strong and ready to go. Chad Green closed out the 5th solidly and remained dominant through the 6th and 7th innings. David Robertson continued that momentum in the 8th, getting all 3 outs with stellar strikeouts. And Dellin Betances’ 9th inning closed out the game well and earned the save tonight.

The Yankees faced a bit of resistance from the Mets’ starter for much of his 6 innings. So they played a little small ball in the 4th. They loaded up the bases with a single and 2 walks and lead runner Hicks scored on Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly to get the Yankees on the board. And then Aaron Judge led-off the 6th with a big solo home run into the right field seats, his 36th of the season, to tie up the game.

Once the Yankees dipped into the Mets’ bullpen, they found another opening in the 8th. Aaron Hicks led-off with a solo home run to score the winning run. After 2 outs and 2 pitching changes, Gary Sanchez joined in on the fun with a solo home run of his own for that insurance run.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees

Roster moves/Scranton Shuttle: before the game, the Yankees optioned reliever Caleb Smith back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled tonight’s starter Luis Cessa.

Injury news: Luis Cessa felt a weird tightening in the 5th inning, coming up from a pitch with a new twinge in his back. He is scheduled to have a precautionary MRI tomorrow on his right rhomboid muscle (the upper back area). However, it doesn’t seem to be so serious, so after some rest and treatment, he could be ready for his next scheduled start on Saturday in Fenway.

Now, this wasn’t a bad way to start the “Subway Series”. The Yankees will wrap up the first half tomorrow night before the teams shift over for the final 2 games to CitiField in Queens, about 10 miles east of Yankee Stadium (or about an hour train ride or 30 minute Uber).

Before the game, journalist and 2017 Hall of Fame award winner Claire Smith was honored and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Smith was the first female MLB beat writer covering the Yankees from 1983 to 1987 for a Connecticut paper. She later worked for major papers like The New York Times and is currently a news editor for ESPN. She was recently the 2017 winner of the JG Taylor Spink Award, an award given at the Hall of Fame ceremony every year to celebrate “meritorious contributions to baseball writing”. She is the first woman and fourth African-American to win the award and has her own section in Cooperstown.

From one female writer to another, my sincerest congratulations!

Go Yankees!

Game 109: NYY vs. CLE — “Cleveland’s a Plum”, at least tonight

Okay, my apologies to the city of Cleveland yesterday seemed to work. Of course, it could very well be the fact that the Yankees just played way better than they have the last two games at Progressive Field.

Competing for that fifth rotation spot, assumed odd man out Jordan Montgomery certainly worked very hard at trying to prove he deserved to at least remain in consideration for that spot. Montgomery threw just 65 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 3 hits and just 1 run, striking out 7 Cleveland batters. That lone run was a 1-out solo home run in the 2nd inning.

But between Montgomery and the rest of the bullpen, the Yankees held the strong Indians’ lineup from doing much of anything else. David Robertson came on for 2 innings, the 6th and 7th, and kept that momentum strong. Dellin Betances had a flawless 8th inning, turning the game over to Aroldis Chapman, who earned his 14th save of the season.

Not that the Yankees’ offense was blowing the Indians’ pitching staff out of the water or anything. In the 1st inning, Gardner led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Judge’s 1-out single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ (just-inches-shy-of-a-home-run) RBI double to get the Yankees on the board early.

Once the Indians tied the game up in the next inning, the battle was on for who would break the tie, and as the Indians’ pitching is certainly one of their strongest elements, it was quite the feat. It wouldn’t be until the 8th inning, and it would be Chase Headley to break the stalemate. Headley hit a nice 1-out solo home run into the right field seats.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees

Injury news: Matt Holliday was out of tonight’s lineup due to a sore back. Apparently, he tweaked it last night during one of his at-bats, and it didn’t get better with rest and treatment. So, it looks like he might be headed back to the DL again. He has been struggling since he came off the DL last time (due to a virus), so maybe this could be a reset as well as a time to rest and recover.

Okay, since you all enjoyed my nickname exploration (and if you didn’t, sorry), I decided to do more research. I found sites that list many other nicknames for Cleveland, some I believe, some I question. Again, to recap, the most common I’ve heard (and this is primarily from family that lives or lived in the area) are the “Mistake on the Lake”, “Rock & Roll Capital of the World”, and “Believeland”.

One nickname was attached to the city around the early days of statehood for Ohio — “Forest City” — due to its heavily forested areas. More recently, the city has tried to market itself for urbanites seeking gentrified city living as the “North Coast“. But my absolute favorite (and one that absolutely no one I know ever heard of) is “Plum City” — supposedly on a 1970s marketing campaign to attract tourists a la the “Big Apple”.

Small note here: I’m not sure why the fruit thing works for New York, but it falls terribly flat when literally any other city tries to use a local fruit and apply it as their nickname or slogan. Here’s a few clearly failed attempts — Big Orange (LA), Big Peach (Atlanta), Big Strawberry (Garden Grove, CA), Big Tomato (Sacramento), Big Guava (Tampa), and the Big Pineapple (Honolulu). Stop with the fruit, people! (I’m looking at you Atlanta and your decidedly weird peach obsession…)

Alright, pop culture reference alert: even my family would probably prefer to be more like Jack Donaghy of 30 Rock and refer to the city as “The Cleve”. For reference, the direct quote is regarding what he believes is the vacation wishes of every red-blooded American: “We’d all like to flee to the Cleve and club-hop down at the Flats and have lunch with Little Richard…” (And if you have no idea who Jack, 30 Rock, or why that’s a funny scene, you are due for a good binge-watching session; it’s on Netflix.)

Well, that’s all from “The Cleve” tonight. Fingers crossed to split the series tonight or “Plum City” might feel a little more like a prune.

Go Yankees!

Game 106: DET vs. NYY — Super soggy in the Bronx leads to double delays

So, a game that was scheduled to start at 1:05 pm today ended up concluding about 8 hours later thanks to just continuous thunderstorms that swept through the area several times this afternoon and into the evening. Before the finale against the Tigers even started, the game was in rain delay. One hour and twenty-six minutes after the scheduled start, Masahiro Tanaka took the mound.

Overall, Tanaka actually had a pretty strong outing. He threw 100 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 runs (only 1 earned), and struck out 7 batters along the way. Tanaka had trouble in the 1st giving up consecutive singles to start the game. A double scored the first run before Tanaka zeroed in and got those 3 outs quickly. With 2 outs in the 4th, Tanaka gave up his lone allowed walk who then scored on a single and fielding error (the unearned run).

Tommy Kahnle got through the 7th inning in just 8 pitches, breezing his way through the Tigers’ roster. Tanaka’s fairly strong start and Kahnle’s speedy scoreless outing should have been enough that the Yankees’ offense could build something on it. But they didn’t do much on the 6 allowed hits from the Tigers’ starter.

And then it rained. Pretty hard, actually. So the game came to a screeching halt between the 7th and 8th innings. For 3 hours and 11 minutes. Rain delay #2. Tarp on the field, rain pouring down the dugout steps. It was so heavy at times that fans seated behind home plate could barely make out the Yankee Stadium sign over the left field seats.

So they waited it out. The groundscrew came out to test the field. Things seemed to look okay to finish the last 2 innings, so the game resumed at 8:30 pm. Yes, about 7 1/2 hours after the original scheduled start time. And for the handful of faithful fans, they got to see quite the treat as Dellin Betances came on and promptly threw a perfect 9-pitch, 3-strikeout inning, sending the game back to the Yankees’ offense.

Despite a lead-off walk, the Yankees had no such luck. So Betances tried again in the 9th, still keeping the Tigers from adding to their lead. And the Yankees tried again in the bottom of the 9th, facing a former teammate who just plowed right through them in just 8 pitches. The Yankees were shut out for just the second time this season.

Final score: 2-0 Tigers, Tigers win series 2-1.

Now, the Yankees are off to Cleveland for a 4-game weekend series. Actually, despite Cleveland leading in their division, they’re pretty much evenly matched with the Yankees. With these last 2 losses, the Yankees have dropped to a game behind Boston in the AL East.

Actually, looking at the standings right now, it’s still very much anyone’s game. At least in the American League. There’s quite a bit of a divide in the NL between the bottom teams and the top. But the AL is really tight in nearly every division, and especially for the Wild Card. With 56 game still left in the season, it’s really far too early to tell who’s going to be playing October baseball, and who’ll be watching it from their couch.

And doesn’t that make things a bit more interesting?

Go Yankees!

Game 98: CIN vs. NYY — The old “Jersey-Ohio Triple Play”

Back in the Bronx tonight, the Yankees hosted their first of two games against the visiting Reds for a short series. And they made sure it was a quick game (just 2 hours and 38 minutes) for the Yankees home debut of New Jersey native Todd Frazier against his former team. And they also made sure it was a quite memorable.

Jordan Montgomery got the start tonight and had a rather great outing tonight. He threw just 85 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up just 2 hits, a walk, and a run, striking out Cincinnati batters, and setting himself up for the win. That lone run was scored in the 6th when a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on another ground out.

Tommy Kahnle finished off the 7th inning in just 4 pitches, handing things over to Dellin Betances for the 8th. But Betances had some trouble with his strike zone tonight. With 2 outs, and after walking 2 batters, he gave up a double that scored the lead runner to double the Reds’ score. Adam Warren got out of the jam with a 7-pitch strike out. Aroldis Chapman breezed through the 9th with just 8 pitches, earning his 12th save of the season.

Meanwhile, the Yankees got on board in rather dramatic fashion thanks to New Jersey-born Todd Frazier. First, the Yankees loaded up the bases in the 2nd with consecutive singles to Holliday, Gregorius, and Headley. Things were looking up for the first at-bat as a Yankee for Frazier, but he hit a little grounder to the shortstop as Holliday came in to score the run. The Reds shortstop stepped on 2nd for out #1 and then fired it to 1st for a fairly standard double play (out #2 at 1st). But they caught Gregorius between 2nd and 3rd and got him in a rundown, between 3rd and the shortstop who started it all for out #3 of what became a triple play. Yes, that is a 6-6-3-3-5-6 for your scoring geeks. But I call it the “Jersey-Ohio Triple Play” (which is really-what?-Pennsylvania?).

Anyway, fortunately, the Yankees weren’t fazed by such a weird play and kept adding to their score bit-by-bit. In the 4th, Judge led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a ground out, was sent to 3rd on a balk, and then scored on Gregorius’ sacrifice fly. With 1 out and Wade on 1st in the 5th, Wade scored on Austin Romine’s double. Later in that inning, the Yankees loaded up the bases with 2 outs, but a ground out ended that threat. For an insurance run, Didi Gregorius hit a big 2-out solo home run in the 8th to keep the Yankees in the lead and seal their victory tonight.

 

Final score: 4-2 Yankees.

Fun triple play trivia: Tonight’s play was the 3rd one this season, the first time a run scored safely during a triple play since May 2006 in all of MLB, and the Reds’ first one in over 22 years (May 12, 1995). The article linked above listed the Yankees’ last triple play as against the Rays on September 27, 2011. But that could be slightly misleading. To clarify, 2011 was the last time before tonight that the Yankees batting into a triple play, but they’ve certainly had a their share as fielders. I’ve covered two in my time on this blog — one against the Rays in April 2014 and another against the Orioles in 2013 (this is the fun one!).

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!