Game 68: LAA vs. NYY — Skidding out of 1st place

Well, coming home didn’t help the Yankees’ West Coast skid, now on a 7-game losing streak. Maybe it’s because they technically brought the West Coast with them starting this mid-week series against the Angels. This also means that the Yankees have slipped out of 1st place in the AL East to the (ugh!) Red Sox.

And here’s how that happened tonight…

Michael Pineda actually had a pretty decent outing tonight, after a bit of a messy start. He threw 105 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 7 hits, a walk, and 3 runs (only 1 earned), and striking out 7 Angels’ batters. In the 1st, a lead-off double scored on an RBI single to get the Angels on the board (the only earned run allowed by Pineda). The lead-off batter in the 2nd reached on a fielding error, ending up at 2nd as a result, and then scored on a 1-out double. That batter then scored on a 2-out single to give the Angels an easy early (and mostly unearned) lead.

Meanwhile, the Yankees took advantage of the Angels starter, who only gave up 2 hits, but also 5 walks in his 5 innings. In the 4th, Castro led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s walk, to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Chase Headley’s sacrifice fly. Aaron Judge hit a 2-out solo home run, his 24th homer of the season, in the 5th. Then facing a new pitcher, Gary Sanchez hit a 1-out solo home run into the right field seats to tie up the game.

And things were looking good for the Yankees. Pineda finished his outing strong, handing the final out of the 6th to Chasen Shreve who used just 5 pitches to get that final strikeout. But Tyler Clippard just struggled out of the gate in the 7th inning, giving up a lead-off solo home run, a double, a fly out (yay!), and an RBI triple. And that was it for Clippard.

Jonathan Holder came on to stem the tide, but still had his own issues. An RBI single scored one more run, charged to Clippard. In the 8th, a lead-off ground-rule double moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, and then scored on a single. And to cap off the game for the Angels, a player hit a 2-out solo homer up the middle.

And the Yankees’ offense against the Angels’ bullpen? Holliday’s double in the 8th. And that’s it. The Angels’ bullpen was showing their strength tonight in the Bronx, and the Yankees, well, weren’t.

Final scores: 8-3 Angels

Prospect watch: Yankees’ #2 prospect Gleyber Torres was pulled from a game on Saturday due to some soreness in his left elbow after an awkward slide. After some tests, it was revealed that Torres hyper-extended his elbow on that slide, tearing his ulnar collateral ligament (or UCL), which requires the surgery named for famed pitcher Tommy John to repair it. Because Torres is not a pitcher, nor is the injury in his actual throwing arm, the return to baseball activities is less than standard for the injury and surgery option. Torres will miss the rest of this year, and there is no set date for the surgery as of yet. Speedy recovery, kid.

And just a quick heads up: 20 of the 40 players drafted last week in the MLB draft have signed with the Yankees, but a few more (including the top 2 picks) are expected to exercise their option and sign on as well. Players can opt out of the selection and choose a different path for this next year, putting themselves up for the draft next year or doing something else entirely. But over 50% signed to be Yankees? And in the middle of this losing streak? Yeah, I’ll take it as a sign for good things to come for the organization.

Now, if only that can make that happen on the field… like this week… like tomorrow…

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!

Game 60: BAL vs. NYY — Judge-ment Day

The Yankees went into this afternoon’s game looking to end this homestand on an upwards swing before heading for their first West Coast trip of the season. And they certainly succeeded.

Chad Green was called up yesterday for the start in today’s finale against the Orioles, but he had a mixed bag. It started off pretty well, but he ended on a bit of a sour note. He threw 53 pitches into the 3rd inning, giving up 2 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, striking out just 3 batters. In the 3rd, the lead-off batter doubled and then scored on the next batter’s double. That would be it for Chasen Shreve, but he too struggled to find the footing (and that runner was Green’s responsibility.

Shreve promptly gave up a double that scored Green’s remaining runner, and then he gave up yet another double (the 4th consecutive one of the inning) to score Shreve’s first runner before getting those pesky 3 outs of the inning. Jonathan Holder was able to hold off the Orioles from adding to their score for the 4th and into the 5th inning, something Adam Warren picked up in the 5th and ran with into the 7th inning.

Recent call-up Domingo German came on for a long-term close finishing up the final third of the game, sailing through right up until that final inning. He just had to make a dramatic flourish right there in the end. But he was also able to hold off the Orioles.

Meanwhile, while the bullpen got quite the workout, the Yankees offense did what they love to do — hit big and hit a lot. In the 1st, the Yankees loaded up the bases with 2 singles, a walk, and an out. Starlin Castro’s single scored Gardner and Judge to kick things off for the Yankees’ runs today. Of course, Gary Sanchez promptly opened things wide open with a big 3-run home run.

Despite that big 1st inning, the O’s starter was able to tamp down on the Yankees’ offense. That is until the 4th inning. With 1 out, Hicks walked and ended up at 3rd on Judge’s double. They both scored on Matt Holliday’s single. And that would be it for the Orioles’ starter, who didn’t make it out of that 4th inning.

And the true weakness of the Orioles was certainly exposed this weekend, as the bullpen continued to get hammered by the Yankees’ offense. In the 6th, Aaron Judge hit the biggest home run of the season, 495 feet over the left field bleachers (into the wheelchair row behind the bleachers on the concourse out there). After Holliday reached on a fielding error, Starlin Castro got in on the fun and hit a nice 2-run home run.

In the 7th, with 1 out, Torreyes and Gardner both walked and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Then Judge hit a 2-run home run into the right field seats, his 2nd of the game and 21st of the season to cap off the game.

Final score: 14-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep Orioles 3-0

After Judge’s first home run in the 6th, it was basically all anyone could talk about. Judge had a really perfect day actually, going 4-for-4, with 4 runs scored, hitting in 3 RBIs. And of course, there were those 2 home runs. That 495 foot homer is the longest hit home run this season, and tied for 2nd longest in the “Statcast Era”, just 6 feet short of the longest homer hit by a certain Miami slugger.

But overall, not a bad way to hop a plane to California… on a 5-game big winning streak.

It’s that time of year again. The MLB draft begins tomorrow and will run through Wednesday. The Yankees have one draft pick per round this year — #16, #54, & #92. Then for rounds 4-40, they pick 17th in each round until the end. In addition to following the games against the Angels, I’ll be posting draft updates for the Yankees.

Recent Yankee draft picks have certainly found their way around the league, some still with the Yankees, others traded to other teams’ farm systems. But just because they’re not picked in the 1st round doesn’t mean they won’t do something amazing or make it in the majors. Gardner was selected in the 2005 3rd round, Refsnyder in the 2012 5th round, and Betances in the 2006 8th round. In fact, though Judge was selected in the 1st round, he was the 32nd pick. That’s right, 31 other players were selected in 2013 before the Yankees went with the current home run king and All-Star leader. (Though he wasn’t even the Yankees first pick!)

Go Yankees!

Game 58: BAL vs. NYY — Home field advantage, home field dominance

It was Reggie Jackson bobblehead night in the Bronx, Mr. October himself having a bit of fun with it as he too bobbled his head in response to the recognition before the game. Also, it was basically a gorgeous Friday night for baseball, the weather quite a bit warmer and the sky streaked with colors of the coming sunset as the Yankees prepared to continue their home dominance in this new series against the visiting Orioles.

The rookie pitcher Jordan Montgomery got the start, and really had a fantastic outing. In his 7 innings, he threw 94 pitches, giving up just 5 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and struck out an impressive 8 Baltimore batters. After a near flawless 3 strikeout, 15-pitch 1st inning, Montgomery found his only real trouble of the game in the next inning. He gave up that lone walk to lead off the inning who promptly scored on a 2-run shot up the middle for the O’s only runs of the night. Then Montgomery dialed back in and fairly breezed through the rest of his outing.

Tyler Clippard then followed suit with a beautiful 10-pitch 8th inning, and birthday boy Jonathan Holder (Happy 24th!) closed out the game in the 9th to give the Yankees (and Montgomery) the win.

Technically, if the winning team is not the first ones to score, it is considered a comeback win. Which I think is ridiculous, as it should only be a “comeback” if there’s an incredible run difference and it’s late in the game. Like it truly matters. But it’s the way it is, so whatever.

So, despite being down 2-0 going into the bottom of the 2nd inning, the Yankee staged their “comeback”. Starlin Castro led-off with a solo home run. Sanchez then doubled, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Chase Headley’s long (and just about 2 feet shy of a homer) sacrifice fly to tie up the game. Aaron Hicks smacked a lead-off solo home run in the 6th inning (into the new “Judge’s Chambers”) to push the Yankees into the lead.

In the 7th, with a new pitcher, Chase Headley reached 1st on a fielding error, moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, ended up at 3rd on a ground out, and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2nd home run of the game (and 10th homer of the season), this one off the 2nd deck in right field. Judge then worked a walk and made a nice slide to come in and score on Matt Holliday’s (just inches shy of a homer so it bounced off the back wall) double.

Another new reliever didn’t seem to help the Orioles as the Yankees loaded up the bases in the 8th with 2 singles and a walk. Austin Romine’s single scored Sanchez and Gregorius, but Headley ended up getting thrown out going to 3rd (also the 1st out of the 8th inning). The defense buckled down and got the final 2 outs of the inning on fielder’s choice ground outs.

But the dent had been made. And the Yankees racked up 11 hits tonight.

Final score: 8-2 Yankees.

Injury updates: Aroldis Chapman is on his way to Florida to begin his rehab after his shoulder injury. He will work his way back into baseball activities with a goal to rejoin the team in the Oakland series next weekend in California.

And HOPE Week continues around the Yankee farm system. The Single-A Charleston RiverDogs had their own HOPE week at the end of May honoring great organizations around the Charleston area.

And AA Trenton Thunder are in the middle of their HOPE Week. They are out this week serving the greater Trenton area (which often extends from Philadelphia to Princeton). The AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will start their HOPE Week on Jun 19, and other affiliates are scheduled to join in the fun later this summer.

Basically, it’s good to see the Yankees all across Yankee Universe continue to give back in whatever community they’re planted. A good reminder for all their fans across the globe — you can make an impact wherever you are, but just reaching out to fill a need or taking the time to care about someone. You may not change the whole world in that moment, but you certainly can change someone’s world. And that’s really what matters.

Go Yankees!

Game 56: BOS vs. NYY — #CCStrong shuts out the competition

According to some weird trivia bits on my newsfeed, tonight’s game was the largest shutout win against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium since September 1965. And honestly, it’s really a whole lot to do with starter CC Sabathia, who dominated once again, and led the Yankees to his 5th straight win.

Like I said, Sabathia was dominant through his outing tonight in the middle game against the Red Sox, throwing 95 pitches through his 8 innings. He gave up 5 hits and no walks, striking out 5 Boston batters. But more importantly, Sabathia allowed no runs.

Yes, between the dominant pitching by Sabathia and the great defense, the Yankee kept the Red Sox scoreless. And Jonathan Holder continued that streak with a stellar 10-pitch 9th inning to breeze through the Red Sox lineup and close out the game.

In the 3rd, Didi Gregorius led-of with a solo home run to start off the Yankees’ run-scoring tonight. The Yankees loaded up the bases that inning, but left all 3 runner stranded. But this certainly wasn’t the sign of things to come this game. Castro led-off the 4th inning with a great stand-up triple and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s single, and Headley hit a 1-out single to join Sanchez on the bases. They both then scored when Chris Carter hit a really big 3-run home run deep into the left field seats.

Later, in the bottom of the 7th, Gardner reached 1st on a fielding error and then stole 2nd, his first stolen base since April 10. Gardner eventually scored all the way from 2nd on Matt Holliday’s 2-out single. He went all “superman” as he slid into home plate to easily beat the off-center throw.

In the 8th, with 1 out, Gregorius singled and Headley walked to get things started again. Chris Carter’s single scored Gregorius, moving Headley to 3rd. And Brett Gardner singled home Headley to cap off the Yankee runs tonight. The Yankees certainly racked up the hits (as well as the runs), with a grand total of 12 hits by Yankee batters.

Final score: 8-0 Yankees

A rather nice turn of events after last night. Though you can’t say the Yankees didn’t make it a close one despite the struggles at the start. These Yankees this season are something else to watch.

On another note: one of my favorite parts of seeing baseball live and in person is showing up early for batting practice. You get to watch the players take swings and the occasional fielding drill all leading up to the game. This year is especially fun for fans who crowd the outfield seats and bleachers in hopes of catching batting practice home run balls from the likes of a player like Aaron Judge. You never know when one of his big hits can come your way out there.

In fact, it’s not only fans that have to stay alert for an Aaron Judge hit. Judge has actually broken a television in a club in the outfield seating area at Yankee Stadium, hit 2 balls into a hotel near the stadium in Toronto, and smacked one into a vendor’s kiosk, bouncing it off the bar area, before tonight’s game.

So basically, when Judge is up, look out! Those little signs on the backs of the chairs are true, especially when a certain outfielder is in the batter’s box or in the batting cage:

Be Alert!
#truth {photo courtesy of author}

Go Yankees!

Game 52: NYY vs. TOR — The Big Smoke clouds the Yankees’ night

After last night’s rather dominant start from the Yankees, the Blue Jays decided that turnabout was fair play and copying the Yankees’ example to set themselves up for a win. And while imitation is usually the sincerest form of flattery, it’s really not in sports. Not that the game went anything like last night’s game.

Michael Pineda got the start in tonight’s game and got roughed up in his 5 innings. He threw 87 pitches, giving up 10 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, striking out just 1 batter. In the 1st, he gave up a 1-out solo home run, a 2-out walk and a 2-run home run to give the Blue Jays a nice early lead. A lead-off walk in the 3rd moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. And in the 4th, a lead-off single ended up at 3rd on a 2-out single and then scored on Pineda’s wild pitch.

Jonathan Holder came in for the 6th inning, having a pretty good outing save a single pitch that ended up becoming a solo home run to continue expanding the Blue Jays lead. In the 7th, Adam Warren had a bit of a struggle, due to some fielding mistakes. A missed catch error allowed the first batter to reach 1st. The Yankees challenged the out at 1st, but it was upheld as safe. That runner ended up at 3rd on a double and then scoring on a sacrifice fly. But Warren got out of trouble. Chasen Shreve’s 8th was a 16-pitch flawless outing.

The Yankees were quite stifled in their offense tonight, not even getting on the board until the 6th inning. The Blue Jays starter only gave up 2 hits and 2 walks going into the 6th inning. Then Sanchez singled, and Aaron Judge hit a 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board and end the Blue Jays’ starter’s night. Under a new reliever, Holliday worked a walk and then scored as part of Starlin Castro’s 2-run home run to double the Yankees’ score.

And in an effort to edge further into the Blue Jays’ lead, Judge worked a 2-out walk and then scored on Matt Holliday’s double to cap off the Yankees’ runs tonight, falling just short of the Blue Jays.

Final score: 7-5 Blue Jays

And Aaron Judge was honored again as the American League Rookie of the Month, this time for May, of course. Not really a surprise to anyone really. He hit his 18th home run tonight, currently batting .326, with an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.122 (which is insane). He is the first Yankee to win ROTM more than once, and the fourth Yankee to ever be awarded (also Cano, Matsui, and Sanchez) the honor. Add in Judge’s high standings in the All-Star Game voting, and Judge is having quite the year.

And it’s only June 2, people!

The weekend continues tomorrow in Toronto, “The Big Smoke”. Apparently, such a nickname was originally given to larger Australian cities by its native people due to its industrial production (or air pollution). It was then affectionately applied to London (for much of the same reason — the notorious London “fog”). And along the way, it was applied to Toronto and stuck. It’s certainly a better nickname than “Hogtown” or “The City That Works”.

Makes you kind of appreciate the “Big Apple”, “Gotham City”, and the “City That Never Sleeps”…

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!