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 64: NYY vs. OAK — Another extra innings disappointment

Boy, this California trip is going like my last one did — not how I expected and more than slightly disappointing. Plus, it’s hard to adjust to the 3-hour time difference, and it ends up running longer than into the night than I can deal with. Yeah, the similarities are there, and we’re coming to the point where I can’t wait to get back home to New York.

Jordan Montgomery had a touch-and-go kind of start tonight in the series opener against the Athletics. He threw 83 pitched into the 6th inning, gave up 7 hits, a walk, 4 runs, and struck out just 5 Oakland batters. A 2-out solo home run in the 1st started things off for the A’s. Then in the 2nd with 2 outs, Montgomery gave up a walk and a ground-rule double to put runners in scoring position. A double then scored both runners. A 1-out solo home run in the 6th capped things off for Montgomery as he handed over the game to the bullpen.

Meanwhile, the Yankees did what they could to catch up to the lead the A’s kept taking all night. In fact, it seemed to be a pattern for them to load up the bases and then only get a run at most. As tough as the game was on Yankee pitchers, it seemed the Athletics had the same issues tonight.

Despite loading up the bases and putting runners into scoring position multiple times, the Yankees didn’t get on board until the 6th inning after (you guessed it!) loading up the bases. With 1 out and the bases loaded, Chase Headley’s single scored both Castro and Sanchez, and Chris Carter’s single scored Gregorius to tie up the game (get used to that phrase tonight). After the A’s retook the lead in the bottom of the 6th, the Yankees tied up the game in the top of the 7th. With 2 outs and a new reliever, Castro singled, stole 2nd, and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. Tied game.

The bullpen didn’t help the early struggles of Montgomery. Chad Green closed out the 6th but got into trouble in the 7th. A single led-off the inning, moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, and then scored on an RBI single. The A’s back in the lead again. But the Yankees faced a new reliever in the 8th and Chris Carter tied up the game again with a 1-out solo home run into the left field seats.

Tyler Clippard came on for the 8th and gave up a single and walk and just 1 out, so the Yankees went to Dellin Betances, who promptly loaded the bases with a walk. The next batter hit into a fielder’s choice (another failed double play, unfortunately), so the lead runner scored to put the A’s back in the lead. And in the 9th, Castro hit a 1-out double and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s single to tie up the game again. Sanchez stole 2nd and Headley was intentionally walked, and then Torreyes came in the game to pinch-run for an injured Sanchez. (more later)

And so into the 10th inning the game went. The Yankees leapt ahead to lead for the first time tonight. With 1 out, Gardner and Refsnyder singled, and Judge walked to (yep!) load the bases. Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly scored Gardner to give anyone still up on the East Coast watching the game a bit of hope. All they had to do was get 3 outs and the game would be filed in the win column.

Giovanni Gallegos was called on to do just that in the bottom of the 10th. But after 2 outs, Gallegos got into trouble because he loaded up the bases with a single, a double, and intentional walk. But then a single scored the tying and winning run for a walk-off win for the Athletics.

Bummer.

Final score: 8-7 Athletics, in 10 innings

Injury news: So, Gary Sanchez had a great offensive night, going 3-for-3, with 2 walks, 2 RBIs, and a run scored. But then on that stole base in the 9th, Sanchez felt a tightness in his abductor muscles around the groin. It could be something or nothing, which will depend on test results and how he feels tomorrow. Fortunately, Romine is a very strong back-up catcher, so if he needs a few days rest, it’s covered.

In less positive news, Greg Bird suffered a big set-back in rehab assignment. It doesn’t seem to be related to his initial ankle injury, but he’s been shut down for now with no timetable as of yet.

And in much better news: former 2015 HOPE Week honoree Chris Singleton was recently selected by the Cubs in the 19th round of the MLB draft (585th overall). Singleton, whose mother was one of 9 parishioners who were killed when a white supremacist gunned down a Bible study at a Charleston church in 2014. Singleton ended up playing baseball at Charleston Southern University and gained some notoriety as a great center fielder, making friends with Yankees outfielder (and Charleston native) Brett Gardner. And now, he has an option to go pro in the sport he loved, and filled with memories of his number one fan — his mother.

To close: two days ago, at an Alexandria (VA) sandlot, members of Congress and their aides were practicing for an upcoming charity match when a man opened fire and shot Representative Scott Scalise (Majority Whip and Republican of Louisiana), former aide and current lobbyist Matt Mika, Congressional aide Zach Barth, and two Capitol Police officers (Crystal Griner and David Bailey) before the officers on site fatally shot the shooter.

And in a great show of unity, the 108th charity game went on as planned tonight at Nationals Park. They sold a record number of tickets (nearly 25,000) and over $1 million was raised. After prayer at 2nd base (Scalise’s position) and a moment of silence, the game commenced, with Joe Torre giving the honor of the ceremonial first pitch to Officer Bailey (crutches and all). The Democrats won the game 11-2, but in the end, they opted to give the trophy to the Republicans to put in Scalise’s hospital room as he continues to recover from his wounds. Scalise has had 3 surgeries so far, dealing with the most damage and remains in serious condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with him as he recovers.

There is something healing and uniting about baseball. It was the game that helped New York (and the country) heal after the 9/11 attacks. It was the game that supported Boston after the Marathon Bombing. And it will be the game after this tragic event that reminds us of the shared love for “America’s Game” can unite us all even in these highly divided times. In the end, we’re all just Americans with a shared love of a kids’ game we played in backyards, sandlots, or little leagues around the country.

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 59: BAL vs. NYY — They don’t call them the “Bronx Bombers” for nothing…

It only took until the end of the 1st inning when I knew this was going to be one of “those games”. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I prefer those close games, the edge-of-your-seat action when you don’t know if they can pull it off in the end, right up to the very last out when you find you can breathe again. Yeah, this was not one of those games.

Luis Severino had a truly great outing tonight, in this middle game of the weekend series with the visiting Orioles. Severino threw just 89 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up just 2 hits, 2 walks, and a single run, striking out 8 Baltimore batters along the way.

Severino was so strong that he breezed through his 12 outs (4 innings) straight, not allowing his first base runner until a lead-off walk in the 5th. The first hit of the night for Baltimore was also in the 5th, but Severino pitched his way out of the inning. Other than that, the only other hit he allowed was a 2-out solo home run in the 7th. And that would be the first run the Orioles scored tonight.

The two relievers each took an inning and gave up a single run each. Giovanni Gallegos came on for the 8th and gave up a 1-run solo shot. Tommy Layne gave up a lead-off walk who moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on a 2-out pinch-hit single before ending the inning (and game) with another ground out.

But no worries, like I said, it was one of those games. Because the Orioles couldn’t seem to find a pitcher to shut down the Yankees’ dominant offense (except for a ironically former Yankee reliever). In the 1st, with 2 outs, Aaron Judge hit his 19th home run of the season into the left field seats. Holliday singled and moved to 3rd on Castro’s double, and both scored on Gary Sanchez’s single. Then Didi Gregorius hit a 2-run home run to clear the bases. Headley worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Chris Carter’s single.

With 1 out in the 2nd, Judge and Holliday both earned walks and then scored as part of Starlin Castro’s big 3-run home run. That was the final straw for the O’s starter after just 45 pitches in the middle of the 2nd inning. The new reliever got the needed 2 outs to end that inning and was able to make it through the 3rd, but then ran into trouble of his own in the 4th. Hicks led-off with a walk and then made it to 3rd on Judge’s single. Matt Holliday’s 3-run home run cleared the bases before this reliever got the first out of the inning. After Sanchez’s double (and just 44 pitches), he too was shown the door.

In a repeat of events, the new reliever got the last 2 outs of the inning. But then found trouble in the 5th himself. With 1 out, Gardner singled, Hicks doubled, and Judge’s double scored both runners. After Holliday’s single, a double play ended the inning. But that would be it for that reliever too (with another 45 pitches).

The former Yankee breezed his way through the Yankees in the 6th and 7th innings in just 27 pitches, the first time in the game that the Yankees weren’t the dominant ones. But then the O’s decided to send in a new guy. (And this is where all the Baltimore “message board managers” went all: “Why?!?”) Because, of course, there were more runs the Yankees needed to score.

Torreyes led-off the inning with a hit-by-pitch and then scored as part of a 2-run home run by Gary Sanchez. Headley would later get a 1-out double to put another runner in scoring position, but the pitcher got the final 2 outs he needed to make sure the Yankees weren’t into utterly ridiculous territory as far as run-scoring goes. But the 18 total hits (and 5 walks) by Yankee hitters was already ridiculous enough.

Final score: 16-3 Yankees.

It is worth noting that Aaron Judge continues to set MLB records. He was a triple short of the cycle tonight, which would’ve been cool as no one has hit for the cycle yet in the new Yankee Stadium. (A cycle is when a single batter hits a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in a single game, though not necessarily in that order.) But the one record he set tonight had to do with his power — his home run in the 1st inning had an exit velocity of 121.1 mph. That means he hit that ball harder than anyone has ever hit a ball since they started that stat (beating the previous record of 120.3 mph in 2015). He currently hold the record for the top 4 hardest hit balls this season.

And it’s only June 10, people!

The Yankees opted to give Masahiro Tanaka an extra day’s rest, moving his start to Monday against the Angels in California. But the Yankees just announced who will start for Sunday’s finale against the Orioles. It will be Chad Green. And to replace him in the bullpen, the Yankees called up Domingo German and designated Tommy Layne for assignment. Layne has been crucial for the Yankee bullpen, I doubt Layne will go far. And we’ll see how this starter gamble plays out over the next two games. So stay tuned!

Go Yankees!

Game 57: BOS vs. NYY — “El Gary” & Gardy rule the Bronx

Finishing a series on a win is always a good thing. Winning a series is always a good thing. Doing both of those in the Bronx against the Red Sox is a great thing. On another chilly day in the City, the Yankees faced off against their division and long-time rival Boston Red Sox to close out their mid-week series. And they did so with a rather large show of power.

This gave starter Michael Pineda a nice cushion to work from, which he did need from time to time. Pineda threw 110 pitches through his 7 innings, giving up just 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 unearned run, striking out 8 Boston batters along the way. In the 4th, the lead-off batter reached 1st on a throwing error, moved to 2nd on a single, ended up at 3rd on a double play, and then scored on a passed ball.

The Red Sox did threaten at times, putting runners in scoring position four times. But Adam Warren threw a flawless 8th inning, breezing through the Red Sox in just 18 pitches, and Giovanni Gallegos got the first 2 outs of the 9th, including one great sliding catch by Ronald Torreyes. It would be closer Dellin Betances to create a dramatic flourish to the 9th inning — a walk, a strikeout wild pitch that allowed the batter to reach safely, and a walk to load up the bases — only to have Betances get a great strikeout on a wicked slider to end the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees continued to give the Red Sox starter a really hard time. This same starter used to play with the Rays and the Tigers, so he’s faced the Yankees quite often. And consistently, the Yankees love hitting off him, as they did tonight — racking up 8 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs in just 5 innings (and a whopping 107 pitches).

In the 2nd, Sanchez led-off with a walk and moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single. Two outs later, Sanchez scored on Brett Gardner’s single. In the 3rd, with 1 out and runners on the corners, Gary Sanchez hit a big 3-run home run into the left field seats. And after Castro’s lead-off single in the 5th, Sanchez did it again and hit a big 2-run home run, this time to the right field seats.

As the Red Sox dipped into their bullpen, the Yankees continued their offensive march towards victory tonight. In the 6th, with 2 outs, Aaron Judge’s single became the hardest hit ball of the season, at 119.8 mph in exit velocity (though it should be noted that Judge has hit three 119+mph hits, and the rest of MLB has none). After moving to 2nd on Holliday’s walk, Judge then scored on Starlin Castro’s single.

And in the 8th, Brett Gardner led things off with his 13th home run of the season. Hicks and Judge singled, and Holliday was hit by a pitch to load the bases. All with no outs this inning. Castro hit into a fielder’s choice out at 2nd, which still scored Hicks to cap off the Yankees’ scoring tonight.

Final score: 9-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

And the Yankees announced the lineup for their 70th Annual Old Timers’ Day in just over two weeks. Yankees Hall-of Famers and alumni scheduled to appear include: Jesse Barfield, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, Rick Cerone, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Joe Girardi, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Sparkly Lyle, Kevin Maas, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick”
Michael, Gene Monahan, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada (making his OTD debut!), Willie Randolph, Tim Raines, Mickey Rivers, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, Mike Torrez, Roy White, and Bernie Williams.

The widows of five Yankee legend will also make an appearance: Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson; and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

Old Timer’s Day is coming up on Sunday, June 25. Gates will open at 10am that day. The “Old Timers” will play a short exhibition game before the regularly scheduled afternoon game the Yankees will play against the visiting Rangers at 2:05 pm. At the afternoon game the day before (Saturday, June 24), many of the above legends will be there to hang out with the fans, signing autographs and taking pictures. Basically, it’s going to be a weekend of legends. Have you got your tickets? I can’t wait!

Go Yankees!

Game 50: NYY vs. BAL — Overcoming struggles fall short in the Yards

I really wish I was superstitious. Then I could blame all that stupid bird magic nonsense on why the Yankees stumbled pretty hard in tonight’s finale against the Orioles in Baltimore. Yes, it could just be an off-night. Yes, it could just be a Wednesday. It could just be a long weekend, followed by a tough series. Or it could just be they just didn’t play well tonight. Take your pick. It doesn’t change the outcome. The beauty of hindsight justification is that it’s over and done with and all you can do is reflect, correct, and move on.

And I’m sure that’s what Masahiro Tanaka will want to do after his tough outing tonight. He threw 103 pitches into the 6th innings, giving up 9 hits, 2 walks, and 7 runs, striking out just 4 Baltimore batters along the way. Tanaka managed to isolate the major damage to his 2 middle innings, as if sandwiching the bad between the good could make it a tiny bit better or something.

In the 3rd, with 1 out and runners on the corners with singles, a double scored the first Orioles’ run of the night, leaving runners in scoring position. They did just that on a 2-out double. Though not before Tanaka got his 500th strikeout with MLB and the Yankees. (This doesn’t, of course, include any he had in Japan before signing with the Yankees in 2014.)

Another single scored the 4th run of the inning for the O’s, and just like that, they were out in front and strong. And with 2 outs and 2 runners on base in the 4th, Tanaka gave a perfectly placed strike to a power hitter to hit over the center field fence for a 3-run home run to really secure Baltimore’s lead.

With a runner at 2nd and 2 outs in the 6th, Tanaka handed over the ball to Tommy Layne, who needed just 4 pitches to get the batter to line out directly to Gardner in left field. Recently returned, Giovanni Gallegos came on for the 7th and saw his own moments of struggled. After 2 quick outs, he gave up a double that then scored as part of a big 2-run home run to widen the lead. And with 2 outs and a runner at 2nd, Gallegos turned things over to Jonathan Holder. Holder had his own issues, giving up consecutive singles to score a final run for the Orioles before getting out of the inning.

But the Yankees weren’t exactly quiet when it was their turn to contribute offensively, giving the O’s starter his fair share of troubles. But while the O’s found bigger holes at key moments to forge ahead, the Yankees could only cobble together a few crumbs. In the 4th, Judge hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Headley’s walk, and then scored on Ronald Torreyes’ fielder’s choice (a failed double play), thanks in part to a sloppy fielding error.

With 1 out in the 5th and Gardner on 1st, Aaron Hicks hit a nice double to get the speedy Gardner home. Matt Holliday’s single would then score Hicks. But even with the bases loaded a few batters later, the Yankees couldn’t capitalize on a blatant opportunity to slice into the Orioles’ big lead. And a new pitcher seemed to know how to shut down the Yankees.

Fortunately, once they got to another reliever, the Yankees found another small hole. In the 8th, Torreyes and Romine hit consecutive singles to put them on the corners. A ground out moved Romine up to scoring position, and Brett Gardner’s ground out scored Torreyes. But a strikeout ended that rally before it really began. And the 9th inning reliever kept the Yankees from touching home plate, keeping the score as is.

Final score: 10-4 Orioles, Orioles win series 2-1

It’s worth noting that the Yankees haven’t won a series at Camden Yards since September 2013, when weather threatened and Mariano Rivera came up with the win. And after three days mulling over Baltimore and all its stories and suppositions once again, I still haven’t figured out where the “charm” in “Charm City” is, but I really want to watch Hairspray again.

Scranton Shuttle alert! Shuffling the pitching deck means that the Yankees sent Bryan Mitchell to Scranton and recalled one of the reliever’s tonight — Giovanni Gallegos. And now, with Greg Bird joining the Tampa Yankees for tomorrow’s game, I expect a few more roster shuffles are forthcoming in the next few weeks.

And MLB released the results so far of the fan voting for the All-Star Game starters, and 8 of the Yankees are in the top of their respective categories. Starlin Castro leads all AL 2nd basemen, and Aaron Judge is 2nd in all AL outfielders. Judge is 2nd overall in total votes received, which the young outfield keeps finding “surreal”. In all honestly, Judge is looking at being an ASG starter and would be only the 3rd Yankee rookie to do so (joining DiMaggio in 1936 and Matsui in 2003).

Joining Judge and Castro at the top of the list are Holliday (3rd as DH), Sanchez (4th as catcher), Gregorius (4th as shortstop), Headley (5th at 3rd base), and Gardner and Ellsbury come in 11th and 12th among outfielders, respectively. The only Yankee on the ballot who didn’t make it to the top of the list in his category is Greg Bird (1st base), as he’s been on the DL with that foot injury.

So, you as fans can help make Judge’s dream of being an ASG starter (and maybe watch him in the Home Run Derby, yes, his name’s been thrown in the chattering mix now) by voting in the All-Star Game Ballot. Vote up to 5 times a day, up to 35 times until Thursday, June 29, at 11:59 pm EST. I’m out of votes, so it’s your turn!

Go Yankees!

Game 41: NYY vs. TB — Starters strong at the Trop, 28 strikeouts

With the Yankees on the road for 81 games of the season, you get a great look at different parts of this country, different cities all over. So when I do my daily recap, I try to pull in fun things from the host city so that while you may never set foot in the cities (though you should because traveling is amazing!), you can experience a taste of exotic cities like St. Louis, St. Paul, and St. Petersburg.

Anyway, one of the things I like to do is find out the city’s nickname. Sometimes they’re well-known (like the “Windy City”), sometimes they’re really repetitive (both Seattle and Cincinatti are known as the “Queen City”), sometimes they’re interesting (Kansas City is the “City of Fountains”), and sometimes they’re just weird. I came across this list for St. Petersburg (where the Rays play) and also for Tampa (because it’s the largest city in the area) — St. Petersburg: “Always in Season”, “The Burg”, “Sunshine City”, and just “St. Pete” (as all the locals call it); Tampa: “Cigar City”, the “Lightning Capital of the World”, “America’s Next Greatest City”, “City of Champions”, and (my personal favorite) “The Big Guava”.

So, as I write this blog from “The Big Guava”, I think over this weekend series that took place just across the bay in “Sunshine City”. (Sorry, but this has been a long weekend.) The Yankees fell out of 1st place and then earned it back upon today’s win (and Baltimore’s loss against Toronto) to be back in 1st by just a half-game.

CC Sabathia got the start in this afternoon’s finale against the Rays. Sabathia tends to do pretty well at Tropicana Field, so it was no surprise that he had a pretty strong outing today. He threw 95 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up just 4 hits, a walk, and 2 runs (only 1 earned), and striking out 6 Rays’ batters.

With 2 outs (both strikeouts) and 2 runners on base in the 1st inning, Gary Sanchez went for a pick-off attempt at 1st, but the throw was off and passed Carter to allow the lead runner to score from 2nd (the unearned run). And a 1-out solo home run in the 5th doubled the Rays’ score to bookend Sabathia’s outing.

The Yankees offense faced a really fantastic pitcher, the Rays’ ace and a player on my top 5 non-Yankees pitching list, who just dominated the Yankees’ lineup today. Honestly, throwing into just the 7th inning, he got the Yankees to swing into an impressive 12 strikeouts.

But the Yankees, being the team that they are this season, found their moments, and it paid off in the end. Easily the weakest inning of the Rays’ ace, the 2nd inning began with Ellsbury’s double. Didi Gregorious (who had a fantastic day, going 4-for-4 today) hit a 1-out single and scored Ellsbury. And it would be Brett Gardner to hit his 8th home run of the season, a 2-out, 2-run shot into the first row of the right field seats to give the Yankees the slim lead they wouldn’t surrender all game.

The Yankees bullpen had a strong showing today, especially with that slim lead they had to protect. Green, Clippard, and Betances finished off and split the final 4 innings of the game, keeping the Rays off the bases and away from home plate.

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

The Yankees are now on their way back to the Bronx for their 7-game home stand, 4 games against the Royals and 3 against the Athletics. Plus, tomorrow kicks off HOPE Week, my favorite week of the year, where the Yankees honor local community organizations and outreaches, giving them a platform for their non-profit and a nice donation to continue their good work in the community.

Scranton Shuttle update: The Yankees called Bryan Mitchell back from AAA Scranton, sending Giovanni Gallegos back in exchange for a fresh arm in the bullpen. The bullpen continues to get a lot of work, but they are fairly strong and dominant this season. Something that clearly contributes to the fact that the Yankees are back on top of the AL East.

Go Yankees!