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 53: NYY vs. TOR — Strong start, stronger late-inning bombs

A lovely 64° and sunny in Toronto (not a sign of “The Big Smoke” in sight), with the roof open at Rogers Centre and a great view of the landmark CN Tower for the sellout crowd today. In other words, it was a beautiful day for some baseball.

Jordan Montgomery got the start today. The rookie throwing what had to be his strongest start of the season so far. He threw 103 pitches through the 6 innings, giving up just 3 hits and 3 walks, and striking out 5 Toronto batters, setting himself up for the win. But the important part of the whole outing was that there were no runs scored by the Blue Jays, thanks in part to the outstanding performance by the great Yankees defense.

That continued through the latter third of the game, as Warren, Clippard, and Betances each took an inning to shut the Blue Jays down and keep putting up those zeroes on the scoreboard.

Of course, this would all mean nothing unless the Yankees had some offense to counter it. And actually, the Blue Jays starter had a pretty good outing himself for the first 7 innings. The Yankees weren’t even able to score until the 3rd inning. Refsnyder made it safely to 1st on a fielding error, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Hicks then scored on Aaron Judge’s double to put the Yankees in the lead on a few unearned runs. And in the 7th, Castro led off with a double and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. Gregorius would later get caught in a rundown.

The Blue Jays starter had a pretty good day if the Yankees’ pitchers didn’t have a better one. Or if the Jays’ bullpen didn’t have a really off 8th inning. Brett Gardner led-off with a solo shot to right field. And 2 outs later, the Yankees decided to back-to-back-to-back — Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro, and Didi Gregorius.

It would be just the 4th time in Yankees history they hit 4 homers in a single inning — 1977 (in Toronto, the 8th), 2005 (against the Rays, the 8th), 2012 (against the Red Sox, the 2nd), and then today (in Toronto in the 8th). Though oddly none of them were 4 consecutive homers.

Final score: 7-0 Yankees.

Injury news: Jacoby Ellsbury has been shut down due to the return of his concussion symptoms. He had been taking swings in the batting cages and running a bit in the outfield for practice and to work his way back to the team. But with the recurrence of his symptoms, he’s officially shut down from all baseball activities.

Also… Greg Bird continues his rehab with the Tampa Yankees. And Aroldis Chapman threw a light session today and is feeling good. So he’s nursing that shoulder and easing his way back into baseball shape.

And despite taking a bad foul ball off his knee, Austin Romine stayed in the game. He clearly was in pain through the game, even as he jogged to 1st a couple of times. He should have a nasty bruise to nurse for the next few days, but Sanchez is scheduled to start with Severino’s start tomorrow.

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 49: NYY vs. BAL — Strong start leads to victory

Okay, after yesterday’s loss, my time line was filled with stats that mirrored the fact that the Yankees have a terrible losing streak in Camden Yards, something I’ve found rather frustrating in the last five years of this blog. There was a blog I read years ago that talked about the “voodoo magic” of the evil “blackbirds” (referencing the Orioles mascot) due to their losing stats in Baltimore. And honestly, every time the Yankees play there, that does echo through my mind.

And the funny thing was that leading into tonight’s game, I read several statistics in my newsfeed that talked about how the Yankees are the only AL team with a winning record on the road, joining 7 NL teams with such a distinction. Maybe it was a sign, but I trust omens (even supposedly voodoo birds), especially in baseball. But as hindsight is 20/20, I can see how someone could think it was such a superstitious harbinger.

But I put my belief in tonight’s success on the outstanding performances by the players in this middle game against the Orioles. Like tonight’s starter Luis Severino, who threw 100 pitches into the 7th inning and didn’t allow a run until the 6th. Overall, he gave up 7 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out an impressive 8 batters. You just knew it was going to be a good night for the pitcher after his 9-pitch 1st inning.

In the 6th, Severino gave up a lead-off single who moved to 2nd on a 1-out walk and then to 3rd on a 2-out single. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, Severino needed to get out of the jam to remain scoreless, but a slow grounder to short became a single with a late throw to 1st and all the runners advancing, including the Orioles’ first run of the night to break Severino’s scoreless outing. Severino pulled it together in the end to get out of the jam with a great strikeout.

So, after 1 out in the 7th and 100 pitches, Severino’s night was done. Layne and Warren each took an out to complete the inning and keep the strong start continuing into the last bit of the game. But Bryan Mitchell’s 8th inning had issues from the start. A throwing error allowed the lead runner to end up all the way at 2nd, something that seemed to rattle the normally unflappable Mitchell. Two outs and a walk later, Mitchell gave up 2 singles that scored both runners.

As Mitchell wasn’t going to get it done tonight, the Yankees turned to the ever-reliable Tyler Clippard to close out the game, looking for a 4-out (non-save) close. Clippard needed just 2 pitches to end the 8th and just 7 to breeze his way through the 9th to shut out the Orioles, helping add to the Yankees strikeout total of 11 tonight.

But the starting pitching wasn’t the only thing that was strong tonight. The Yankees offense certainly showed off for the first half of the game, withe Orioles starter and first reliever getting really roughed up. In the 1st, Brett Gardner led-off the game with a big home run, and one out later, Matt Holliday copied with his own solo home run. (Both batters hitting their 10th homer of the season in just that inning.)

In the 2nd, Gregorius led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ single. Holliday led-off the 3rd inning with another solo home run, his 2nd of the night and 11th of the season. Then Judge hit a 1-out single and Hicks worked a 2-out walk. Judge scored on Chase Headley’s single, which spelled the end of the Orioles’ starter’s night.

The first reliever got out of the jam that inning, but got into his own trouble in the next. Gardner led-off with another home run, his 3rd game this season with multiple homers. (Comparatively, the rest of the team combined only have 4 games with multiple homers.) Sanchez and Castro singled to get on base and then scored on Aaron Judge’s just-shy-of-a-home-run doubledouble to cap off the Yankees offensive dominance tonight in just the 4th inning.

It was more than enough tonight.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

Injury updates: Greg Bird is scheduled to join the Tampa Yankees on Thursday at Steinbrenner Field against the Charlotte Stone Crabs (the Rays Single-A team, and yes, you read that right — “stone crabs”). As far as a timeline, there’s nothing set yet. They’ll want to see how he (and his ankle) handle the game again.

Bird will be joining fellow 1st baseman Tyler Austin in Tampa. Girardi mentioned in a recent interview that due to Austin’s missed Spring, he is looking at about 50 at-bats (roughly 7-8 full games) before he could be cleared to join the team and make his 2017 debut, if there’s room for him. There is a bit of chatter that they’ll start Austin this season in AAA Scranton to ease him into the big leagues, but with Bird still out and an unsure timeline, that may just be “chatter”.

And in better news, Jacoby Ellsbury is feeling much better, saying today was the first day he woke up without a headache. Concussions aren’t something you just bounce back from, nor are they something you take lightly. However, he is clearly recovering, and at this pace, he is aiming to be back by weekend series in Toronto.

There was a brief moment when the Yankees were concerned after Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch on the hand in the 9th inning, but the x-rays were negative. Looks like he’ll be nursing a bit of a bruise for a few days, but fortunately nothing more serious.

Despite all these injured players, the Yankees aren’t limping along. No, they’re excelling. Because that’s who they are this season. Some years, it’s a fall-back to blame “all the injuries”, but clearly, it’s just an excuse. These Yankees are in it to win it, and nothing’s going to trip them up. Not even some superstitious avian supposition.

But there’s always tomorrow in Baltimore…

Go Yankees!

Game 45: OAK vs. NYY — #TanakaTime and it still falls short

So, can we blame Michelangelo? Not the Renaissance artist, but the Ninja Turtle. Masahiro Tanaka’s had a rough time this season after a near-flawless Spring, then he dresses up as a turtle yesterday for HOPE Week, and then he throws a near-flawless outing tonight in the opening game of the weekend series against the visiting Athletics.

Tanaka threw a beautiful 111 pitches into the 8th inning, giving up just 5 hits and no walks, and striking out 13 Oakland batters. That statistic alone is a huge feat, as the last Yankee to get 13 strikeouts with 5 or fewer hits was Mike Mussina (September 28, 2001) vs. the Orioles. But the biggest feature is no runs. His last allowed single was on base when he left the mound, thus making him responsible for that runner.

And unfortunately, Tyler Clippard had a rough time getting the final 2 outs of the 8th inning. A pick-off attempt went awry and that runner ended up all the way at 3rd. Defense came in handy on the first batter who hit into a fielder’s choice that had Headley charging the ball and getting the out at home.

But a walk put 2 runners on base to threaten again. A single scored the first run of the night, leaving runners at the corners. The next batter hit into another RBI single to double the A’s score. The Yankees challenged the play, believing the runner was actually out at 1st and thus the run didn’t score, but the call was upheld (but not confirmed). And Clippard was able to find that final out to get out without falling into the threat.

Reliever Jonathan Holder stumbled a bit out of the gate, giving up a single and a 2-run home run to kick off the 9th inning before buckling down and getting the needed 3 outs. But the damage was done.

And into the bottom of the 9th, the scoreless Yankees went, looking for a big comeback. Or at least to get on the board so they’re not shutout. With a new reliever, the Yankees made their move. Hicks worked a walk and ended up at 3rd on Castro’s 1-out single. Judge worked a walk to load up the bases, and with just 1 out, the Yankees were looking for something, anything to happen in this final inning. It would be Didi Gregorius to hit a long sacrifice fly to score Hicks and get the Yankees on the board. But it was also the 2nd out of the inning. But a pinch-hit pop out ended the game and the rally.

Final score: 4-1 Athletics

Injury update: Greg Bird has been tending to his bruised foot, getting some workouts in periodically. But now, he’s on his way to Tampa for further workouts before he will begin his rehab games soon after.

HOPE Week concludes with Day 5, and the Yankees honoring 14-year-old Tyler Cashman. Tyler started “Points for Pain” after his mother began suffering from chronic pain after a 2008 procedure. His idea was to organize local sports teams to partner with fans to donate money based on how many points the teams scored in a game. To date, he’s already raised over $25,000 for a pain foundation, and he’s inspired other kids to start their own programs to raise money.

So, Tyler and his family were hanging out at the Central Park Boathouse when Chris Carter, Aaron Hicks, Matt Holliday, Bryan Mitchell, Austin Romine, and Chasen Shreve showed up for a fun afternoon. They took row boats out on the lake, raced RC sailboats (even donning sailor’s hats), and had a picnic on the grass, tossing a football around a bit.

The Yankees also presented the US Pain Foundation with a $10,000 donation, and Tyler was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before tonight’s game.

And that’s it for the 2017 HOPE Week, a new legacy of some amazing kids making a difference in their world. I hope it inspired you to change a part of your world. Because you can make a difference. It is doesn’t have to be in a big way, but there’s always something you can do to change the lives of someone in some way. They say that you don’t have to do it all, but you can definitely do something. So, go and do something.

Go Yankees!

Game 25: TOR vs. NYY — Home runs x7

Baseball is a funny sport because most games have quite a bit of downtime between them. In American football, it’s about a week. In other football, it’s at least 4 days (though usually about a week). In hockey, it’s every other day. In basketball, it’s a couple of days on, a couple of days off. But no, in baseball, it’s every day. That means, you can have one terrible game and wake up the next day with a redo shot and come out swinging for the fences.

And they certainly found those fences tonight. In the middle game in the series against the Blue Jays, the Yankees were looking to regain their winning momentum. Fortunately, they had plenty of opportunities tonight to do something about that. Masahiro Tanaka had a decent outing as tonight’s starter, throwing 91 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs, and striking out just 4 Toronto batters.

Actually, Tanaka refused to give up a run until the 5th inning. He gave up a 1-out solo home run to get the Blue Jays on the board (albeit trailing by quite a bit at this point), and then a 2-out double scored on an RBI single to double their score. In the 7th, a lead-off solo home run (by the same player who hit the first one, by the way) kicked things off for the Jays. Then with 1 out and a runner at 1st with a single, Tanaka’s night was done.

But the bullpen kind of struggled out of the gate tonight. Tyler Clippard, usually in fine form, had some issues getting his outs. First, giving up a pop-out, but then loading up the bases with a single and a walk. Dellin Betances would have been fine except a balk moved all the runners up and scored another run, before a walk loaded the bases all over again. Betances got things in order and got a strikeout to end the threat and the 7th inning.

Tommy Layne had his own issues in the 8th. A lead-off single and double moved runners to scoring position, so that a ground out scored one more run for the Blue Jays. But then Layne got things under control and got the final 2 outs of the inning with his usual efficiency. Jonathan Holder easily had the cleanest inning, an 18-pitch, hitless, scoreless 9th inning.

Meanwhile, the Yankees got an early lead and kept building on it, thanks in part to some well-placed (or poorly-placed if you’re a Jays’ fan) pitches by their starter, who gave up a total of 10 hits in his 4 innings. Gardner led-off the 1st inning with a double, ended up at 3rd on Headley’s single, and then scored on Matt Holliday’s double.

In the 2nd, Judge led-off with a walk and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2-run home run. Carter then singled and scored as part of Brett Gardner’s 1-out 2-run home run. And outfielder Aaron Judge wanted in on the fun, adding his own flair — a 1-out solo home run in the 3rd (his shortest home run to date, by the way). And Gardner hit his 2nd homer of the game, a 1-out solo home run in the 4th inning.

And then the Yankees faced the Toronto bullpen. Though to be perfectly fair, collectively, the bullpen did a better job on the mound tonight than the Jays’ starter. In the 6th, with 1 out and 2 runners in scoring position (thanks to a wild pitch), Chase Headley’s single scored the lead runner, Carter, adding to the Yankees’ increasing lead. Castro led-off the 7th with a double and Gregorius worked a walk. And it would be (who else?) Aaron Judge to hit his 12th home run of the season, a 3-run shot into the left field seats. Despite getting 3 more base runners on in the 7th, the Yankees’ run-scoring was over.

Final score: 11-5 Yankees

A bit of weird trivia came up on my timeline during the game. Apparently, the last time the Yankees’ starting outfield all hit home runs and hit a combined 5 homers in a single game was May 30, 1961 — Mantle (2), Maris (2), and Berra (1). Tonight, it was Judge (2), Gardner (2), and Hicks (1). Not bad company to be part of.

Okay, so there’s a ton of injury updates and roster moves to talk about. First up, Greg Bird‘s ankle from that Spring Training injury in March hasn’t healed, as MRI tests reveal that his bone bruise is the same as the last time they checked. The Yankees put him on the 10-day DL, calling up Rob Refsnyder as an extra bench player while Bird rests and gets treatment. Also, for fresh arms in the bullpen (not that they needed it tonight), the Yankees sent Luis Cessa back to Scranton, recalling Chasen Shreve.

Now, during last night’s game, Jacoby Ellsbury ran right into the center field fence during a key play, and while he finished the game, today’s tests revealed some soreness and a bruised nerve in his left elbow. So he’s shut down for a couple of days, hopefully rejoining the team fully for the weekend series in Chicago. Though clearly, the outfield is covered for the time being.

And during the game tonight, Austin Romine suffered some discomfort and was ultimately pulled from the game in the 6th inning, as he advanced to 3rd on an offensive play. At the change in the inning, Romine was done with the game, Higashioka in behind the plate and Romine diagnosed with what was dubbed “cramping in the right groin”, later attributed to dehydration. If you’re wondering about catcher options, know that Sanchez did really well with the Scranton team tonight for his rehab game. They are hoping he will rejoin the team by this weekend, unless they need him before then.

On a slightly different note, I do want to address a general issue. Normally, I wouldn’t be mentioning an incident where a Baltimore outfielder was harassed by fans at Fenway last night. But this was no ordinary incident. Boston fans used racial slurs at the center fielder, one even hurled a bag of peanuts at him. As Yankee fans, we’re used to hostility from the opposing team’s crowd, but this was too far. I don’t care who you are or which team you root for, but you don’t resort to racial slurs and assault to antagonize a player. Much of the comparison is being drawn due to the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut and the vitriol he took from the racist crowds.

Folks, you cannot cheer on a team filled with players of color only to slur obscenities at players of color on the other team. Now, having spent time in Boston (and yes, Fenway), I know this is not representative of your city or your true fans. And yet, I wasn’t really that shocked to find out that this seems fairly common there (and in a few other rather known hostile stadiums). It’s always a few loud-mouth bad apples that lead the charge and spoil the game for the rest of the fans. Part of the fun of the game is rooting for your guys to do well, but resorting to violence and obscenity and stooping to racial slurs is downright degrading and doesn’t represent my sport.

So, all you who love this sport and love keeping it clean and family friendly, do your part. Teach your kids how to be good fans, and then you go be the example of what a good fan is. You can respect players on opposing teams as human beings (who might one day wear your team’s uniform) and still cheer on your guys. You can break the cycle. You can be the difference. You can prove that we’re better than we were 70 years ago.

Go Yankees!

Game 19: NYY vs. BOS — #AllRise, Judge & Severino take on Fenway

Consistent northeastern Spring rain spoiled the opening game at Fenway for the rivalry series yesterday, forcing a reschedule for when the teams face off again in The Olde Towne, the first game of a doubleheader on July 16. So, the Yankees were looking to recoup some of their magic they found in the Bronx last week in this now shortened series before heading back home again.

They definitely found it again, despite the cold air and the misty rain and the fog that settled in later in the game. This was thanks in part to some stellar pitching by starter Luis Severino. Severino threw 100 pitches in his 7 strong innings, giving up just 3 hits and 2 walks, and striking out 6 Boston batters, setting himself up for the eventual win. Dellin Betances breezed through the Red Sox lineup with just 13 pitches, including 2 nasty strikeouts, for the 8th inning.

At one point in the 3rd inning, right fielder Aaron Judge went running for a long foul ball and misjudged how high the wall was, tumbling over the edge headfirst as he caught the ball. He came up with the ball, but for some really weird reason, the umpires didn’t trust that he hadn’t just picked it up off the ground. (It’s weird because Judge is one of the more honest guys in the game, so if he dropped it, he’d say he dropped it.) This, of course, sent Girardi out of the dugout to ask for a replay, which took far too long and ultimately revealed what everyone already knew — Judge had the ball the whole time, so it was an out.

It was all smooth sailing for the Yankees. Especially because they gave their pitchers a nice lead to defend. In the 2nd, Castro reached 1st safely on a sloppy throwing error and then scored as part of Aaron Judge’s big 2-run home run over the right field wall. Then in the 6th, with 2 outs, Judge worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Greg Bird’s single off the Green Monster.

So, come the bottom of the 9th, all they needed was 3 solid outs for a nice win. But it’s Fenway. And when are these games ever so simple? Aroldis Chapman just struggled his way through the 9th inning. He allowed a lead-off walk and a double to put runners in scoring position, and a ground out scored a Red Sox run and got the first out of the inning. But then a wild pitch moved the lone runner to 3rd, a mere 90 feet from scoring another run. And then he walked the next batter. So, runners at the corners pushed Chapman to dig deep and get a much-needed strikeout. And then to atone for his outing, he took command again and got another one on his 33rd pitch of the inning to end the game and give him his 5th save of the season so far.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees

And in injury news: Didi Gregorius has been amazing with the Tampa Yankees during his rehab stint. He’s batting .444 with them, going 2-for-4 with a walk and RBI just tonight. His home run last night scored their only run of the game. In other words, things are looking good for him to rejoin the team for the next series, which starts Friday back in New York against the Orioles.

Okay, so what makes today’s game even more special is that the hero of tonight’s game, Aaron Judge, celebrated his 25th birthday today. (Happy Birthday!) So, his home run statistic is kind of a fun one. Apparently, despite the regularity of the rivalry series, Yankees who have homered against the Red Sox on their birthdays is a very small group of notable players — Judge today (age 25 in 2017) joins Cecil Fielder (age 33 in 1996), Roger Maris (age 32 in 1966), Yogi Berra (age 22 in 1947), Bill Dickey (age 26 in 1933), and Lou Gehrig (age 26 in 1929). Not a bad club to be part of.

Go Yankees!