Games 89 & 90: NYY vs. BOS — Let’s split 2, #CCStrong, & finally shut out

The first game of today’s doubleheader was a make-up game from the rain out on April 25. But after last night’s marathon 16 innings, it was bound to be a long finish to this weekend’s rivalry series at Fenway.

Game 1:
For the afternoon game, the Yankees turned almost at the last-minute to veteran starter CC Sabathia who had a truly great outing this afternoon, coming off his recent stint on the DL. He threw 97 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up just 2 hits, 5 walks, and no runs, striking out 3 batters along the way. Plus, he set himself up for the win, his 8th of the season actually.

The Yankees needed the likes of veteran reliable starters like this vintage Sabathia to give the exhausted bullpen a chance to recoup some of its strength. And he did. Clippard and Green kept the scoreless streak alive through the 7th and 8th innings, and Chapman’s 9th was strong enough to earn him the save and continue the momentum of the game.

The Yankees’ hitters managed to hit quite a bit off the Red Sox’s pitchers in the first game today, a total of 12 hits. However, they only managed to break through the defense in two innings. In the 4th, with 1 out, the Yankees loaded the bases with a single, an error, and another single. Ji-Man Choi’s sacrifice fly scored Gregorious to get a run on the board, and then Ronald Torreyes’ single scored Frazier to double the score. Despite the bases being loaded with a hit-by-pitch, they ended up grounding out to end the rally. Didi Gregorius added an insurance run in the 5th, a 2-out solo home run into the right field seats.

Final score: 3-0 Yankees

Game 2:
About 4 hours later, it was time for the regularly scheduled game, the rare late Sunday night game. And the Yankees called on another veteran starter to try to extend the life of the bullpen. Masahiro Tanaka definitely helped with the bullpen, and his outing was actually pretty good overall. He threw 112 pitches into the 8th inning, gave up 8 hits, no walks, and 3 runs, striking out 9 Boston batters.

In the 3rd, a 1-out single scored as part of a 2-out 2-run home run to give the Red Sox the lead. And then in the 6th, a lead-off single ended up at 2nd on a throwing error, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on an RBI single. But that would be it for the Red Sox. Even as Chasen Shreve closed out the 8th with a 5-pitch strikeout to make it an even 10 for the Yankee pitchers this game.

All that was needed was for the Yankee batters to do something. And normally, off this particular starter, they can and do. But while they got 8 total hits, they didn’t do much else with that. They also racked up 10 strikeouts, but they were unable to find a hole in the defense large enough to walk home.

And thus, the Yankees became the final team this season to be shut out of a game. It took 90 games, but someone had to do it. Somehow, it’s only fitting that it’s the Red Sox.

Final score: 3-0 Red Sox

Final series outcome: Red Sox and Yankees split the series 2-2.

In roster moves: before the doubleheader, the Yankees transferred Michael Pineda from the 10-day to the 60-day disabled list due to the partial tear in his right UCL (elbow). The Yankees selected the contract of reliever Caleb Smith and recalled Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell (who was scheduled to be their 26th man) from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In their place, they optioned Jonathan Holder and Ben Heller back, due to their extensive work in last night’s game.

But I wouldn’t put down roots there just yet. Keep the “Scranton Shuttle” fired up and ready. They’ll be more roster moves before the Yankees start their series in Minnesota.

Also, our hearts go out to the family of legendary Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Bob Wolff. Wolff passed away Saturday at his home in New York at the age of 96. He is the voice that called the Don Larsen perfect game in 1956 and is still the current World Record holder for the longest broadcasting career, awarded in 2014. The passing of another iconic voice in the sports world is always a sad day, closing another chapter of the great past and legacy of this team.

Go Yankees!

Game 82: TOR vs. NYY — #Happy4th and #SirDidi4Sure

Happy Independence Day, America!

This day has a few moments of significance for “America’s team”. In 1983, pitcher Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter against Boston, the first since 1951. And in 1939, Lou Gehrig gave his memorable “Luckiest Man” speech in honor of his retirement and Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. Also, it’s the birthday of the late George Steinbrenner and long-time Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling.

And today, they hosted the Blue Jays for their second game (of three) in this first series this week in the Bronx. CC Sabathia, recently activated from his stint on the DL, had a great start to his outing — he threw 34 pitches to sail through his first 8 batters. And then he got into trouble with a walk and wild pitch that put his first allowed runner in scoring position to do so on an RBI single.

But then he loaded the bases with a single and walk. Sabathia was in a jam. It didn’t help that he couldn’t seem to pitch his way out of it — he walked in a run and then gave up a single that scored 2 more runs. That would be it for Sabathia’s return to the mound — throwing 63 total pitches in less than 3 full innings and setting himself up for the loss.

Also coming off the disabled list today, Adam Warren came on to close out the 3rd inning for Sabathia, needing 6 pitches to get that 3rd out of the inning. But that brought everything back to how Sabathia began the game this afternoon. Luis Cessa gave some long-term relief, easing his way into the 8th inning, giving up just 5 hits along the way but keeping the Jays from adding to their lead. Chasen Shreve closed out the 8th inning and handed over the game to Tyler Clippard for a solid 9th inning.

But it would not be enough that the bullpen had itself a strong inning if the Yankees’ offense didn’t kick it up a notch. And they really didn’t, only managing 4 total hits and 3 walks off the Blue Jays staff, despite driving up the pitch count on the starter. The only run the Yankees scored today came from a 4th inning lead-off solo home run from (who else?) Aaron Judge that actually dented the stadium.

Final score: 4-1 Blue Jays

Roster moves: Before the game, the Yankees activated CC Sabathia and Adam Warren from the 10-day disabled list, optioning Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After the game, the Yankees designated Chris Carter for assignment (again) and selected the contract of Ji-Man Choi (who we saw in Spring Training in March). There is a lot of talk about the Yankees being on the hunt for a more permanent 1st baseman, especially if things don’t look good for Bird, and with the trade deadline coming up, I imagine there might be a few more moves to see what can work for the Yankees in the long-run.

And in All-Star Game news: As of today, Didi Gregorius is currently 3rd in the final fan voting, so let’s make it happen, Yankee Universe. Vote via text (up to 35 times) or Twitter (using the hashtag #SirDidi4Sure) or online (unlimited times). So go vote for Gregorius before the voting ends Thursday, July 6 at 3:59 pm EST!

Go Yankees! And Happy 4th!

Game 80: NYY vs. HOU — Still not shut out, strong ASG representation, #SirDidi4Sure

Well, it was quite the sell-out game for the 41,761 at Minute Maid Park this afternoon. There was still quite the contingency of Yankees’ fans amid the Astros’ orange, but the ones in orange certainly had a better outcome.

In this final game in Houston, with the series split, the Yankees were looking to narrowing the lead the Astros currently have on the AL. It didn’t happen. Luis Severino had a pretty rough start for him, throwing 87 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 9 hits, a walk, and 6 runs, and still struck out 7 batters along the way, even getting out of several tight jams.

In the 2nd, a former Yankee led-off with a double and then scored as part of a big 2-run home run to start the Astros’ big afternoon. Two outs later and a runner on 2nd with a double, another double scored that runner to solidify the Astros’ lead. In the 4th, Severino loaded up the bases, and with 2 outs, a double scored 2 more runs for the home team. After an out and a double, Severino’s afternoon was done.

It was on to Tyler Webb for relief, though Severino was responsible for that runner he left standing on 2nd. A walk and fielder’s choice put runners on the corners before a single scored one more run (that runner of Severino’s). Domingo German took over in the 7th and had a bit of trouble initially. His lead-off batter singled and then ended up at 3rd after a wild pitch and bad throwing error. Then with one out, a 2-run home run capped off the Astros’ big afternoon. His 8th inning was much smoother.

The Yankees managed to rack up the pitch count of the Astros’ starter, pushing him to 105 pitches in just 4 innings, but they certainly didn’t manage any runs. They got on base, but couldn’t do anything about it. The first three relievers had a bit better luck against the Yankees’ roster, and the Yankees were in danger of being shut out for their first game all season.

But no, they may not be able to come back enough for a win, but they sure weren’t going to be shut out of today’s game. Chase Headley led off the 9th inning with a double and then scored on Chris Carter’s shattered bat single. After pinch-hitter Refsnyder walked, that pitcher was given the hook and replaced with one who breezed through the final 2 batters for a double play and strikeout to end the game.

Final score: 8-1 Astros, Astros win series 2-1.

It’s official. Aaron Judge is an All-Star. Of course, we’ve known this for a while, but it’s nice that everyone else understands this fact too. But Judge isn’t the only Yankee headed to Miami in just 9 days. Joining the rookie All-Star will be Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, and Starlin Castro. And now, possibly Didi Gregorius.

While Judge was the only fan-elected starter (and with 4,488,702 votes, he led all other AL starters by far), the new system of filling out the rosters is a mix of player-elected ballots and MLB-selected players. Sanchez and Castro were chosen as reserve players in their positions by their fellow players, as were Betances and Severino to pitch during the Midsummer Classic.

Here’s how the votes happened to fill out the roster: we know that the fans voted for their selected starters. But instead of the managers choosing their respective teams to fill out the reserves and pitching staff, the league’s players were responsible for choosing the 16 reserves (8 pitchers and a backup for each position, plus a DH for the AL) Then the commissioner’s office at MLB HQ chose 4 more pitchers for each league and 3 more position players for the NL and 1 for the AL. This was to make sure each team has at least one representative.

The final spot is now up to the fans again in the Final Fan Vote. And in the AL, one nominee is Didi Gregorius. I’ve already started voting, as you can vote as often as you’d like online, using Twitter, or via text. So #SirDidi4Sure!

Congrats to all the All Stars, but especially to our strong showing that will represent us well in Miami in just over a week! Also, no, Judge has made no announcement if he will do the Home Run Derby the day before the All-Star Game. Maybe if we ask him nicely?

Go Yankees!

Game 75: NYY vs. CHW — Last-second loss in Second City

The Yankees are now 37-1 when leading in the 9th inning, thanks to tonight’s game. And up until then things were looking rather hopeful in this second game (of four) of this series on the south side of Chicago.

Honestly, Luis Severino threw a beautiful game tonight — 105 pitches in 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, no walks, and a single run, and striking out a whopping 12 White Sox batters. Easily one of his more dominant starts. In the 3rd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a 1-out single and then scored on a 2-out double to get the first run on the board.

Meanwhile, the Yankees offense was a bit stymied by the White Sox’s starter, only getting 2 hits but 4 walks off him, so they weren’t exactly advancing much. In fact, they didn’t do much until the second reliever they faced in the 8th inning.

With 1 out, the Yankees called on pinch-hitter (and recent call-up) Tyler Wade (making his MLB debut). Wade ended up working a walk and moved to 2nd on Ellsbury’s single. After another out, Aaron Judge broke the stalemate with a single and scored Wade to tie up the game. Then it would be Gary Sanchez’s solid double to score both Ellsbury and Judge for a little cushion. But that would be all the Yankees would get all game.

Domingo German came on for the Yankees in the 8th, now that Severino was on the hook for the win. All he had to do was breeze through 3 outs. But that seemed to be a bit difficult as he threw just 10 pitches to 2 batters, 8 of which were balls to walk both batters. So, with no outs, the Yankees called on Tyler Clippard.

Clippard needed an opportunity to get back on track, and tonight seemed to be the night. Despite loading the bases with a walk, he got a great strikeout and a fly out to get the Yankees’ hopes up. Another walk scored the lead runner, putting the White Sox within 1 run of the Yankees’ lead before getting a much-needed strikeout to end the rally right there (and excite Girardi, which almost never happens during a regular game).

And had this been the 9th inning, this would have been a great game. But it wasn’t, so it wasn’t.

The Yankees turned to Dellin Betances, who seemed to follow the suit of the bullpen recently. With 1 out, Betances loaded up the bases with 2 walks and a hit-by-pitch. After a fly out put both teams on the edge of their seats, Betances gave a single that scored 2 runners — the tying run and the winning one. A walk-off single to hand the White Sox the win.

Final score: 4-3 White Sox

Roster moves: After yesterday’s game and tests, the Yankees placed Starlin Castro on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. So they selected the contract of Tyler Wade from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and called him up to make his debut with the Yankees tonight. They also optioned reliever Jonathan Holder to Scranton and recalled Tyler Webb for a fresh bullpen arm.

And in a brief follow-up from the draft earlier this month, the Yankees have signed 22 of their 40 draftees (numbers 1-17, 19-22, and 27), including their top 2 picks — Clarke Schmidt and Matt Sauer. Schmidt is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, but is looking forward to getting back into baseball, this time as part of the Yankees organization.

The future continues to look bright for the Yankees, even if the present is somewhat a bit disappointing at times. And that’s what carries us through the disappointing moments in life — hope. A belief that it certainly can’t stay bad. That the future is still filled with unlimited possibilities, the best option being another championship run, even a new dynasty. And with the Yankees, it’s never a matter of “if”, but “when”.

Go Yankees!

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 66: NYY vs. OAK — A long stroll through Oaktown

I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for it to be next week already. The Yankees will be back in New York, next Sunday is Old Timers’ Day, and maybe the world will be right again. But right now, they have one more game in Oaktown (today’s nickname choice for Oakland, courtesy of Urban Dictionary), where the Athletics are looking to sweep the Yankees and the Yankees just want a win at the O.Co.

Masahiro Tanaka had another ironically long, messy outing — 82 pitches in just 4 innings, giving up 8 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, but also striking out an impressive 10 batters. (That means that of the 12 outs he had to make, 10 of them were by strikeouts, or a nice sign that Tanaka may be back in this case.)

On the 1st pitch in the bottom of the 1st, Tanaka gave up a solo home run (his 4th lead-off homer allowed this season). In the 2nd, he gave up another homer, a 1-out shot to the left field seats. Then despite loading up the bases, he got out of the inning with one of those pesky strikeouts.

But the hardest inning was the 4th. A lead-off home run put the A’s in the lead. And then a single ended up at 3rd on a 2-out single and scored on another single. Another single scored a final run for the A’s. That would be it for Tanaka, as well as for the Athletics’ run-scoring.

Reliever Domingo German threw 79 pitches through the final 4 innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 walks, but keeping those A’s from adding to their score.

Meanwhile, the Yankees had plenty of opportunity to do something, getting the starter to throw 105 pitches in just 5 innings, but they didn’t capitalize on that except for one inning. In the 2nd, Torreyes hit a 1-out single, moved to 3rd on Williams’ single, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. Williams then scored on Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly. And that would be it for the Yankees offense this afternoon.

Once the Oakland starter left the game, the Yankees were limited to 2 allowed hits and that was it for their offense.

Final score: 5-2 Athletics

About 75 miles east of the Oakland Coliseum is a tiny suburb of Stockton, California, known as Linden. A favorite son of Linden happens to now be one of the hottest rookies in MLB, and he happens to be the home run leader and in the running for his first All-Star Game and possible MVP and Triple Crown awards this season. Oh, and his name is Aaron Judge.

Apparently, Judge’s friends and family have been requesting tickets to games all weekend, but today saw the largest contingent of homegrown Judge fans, about 150 people, including the congregation of Judge’s home church. They even took a couple of buses to the game to make sure everyone got the chance to see their hometown hero.

Unfortunately, Judge’s only on-base moment was a walk in the 1st inning, but I doubt they minded so much. Plus, one lucky fan from his hometown even caught a foul ball out there in their right field seats. Judge even reconnected with his high school baseball and football coach before the game. But so much of this series for Judge was like coming home, even so much as all of “home” that came to him.

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!