Game 162: TOR vs. NYY — Hello, October baseball… Farewell, regular 2017 season…

As this game didn’t really count for much of anything, it certainly lightened the mood and intensity off this afternoon’s finale in the Bronx. Closing out the season against the Blue Jays, the Yankees rotated out their starting roster quickly to allow some of the other guys on the roster to get a chance to play in the game that doesn’t count. After a recent rather warm trend in the City, the weather finally caught up to the calendar today, as if turning the page to October meant it was suddenly hoodie and boot weather. Only fitting as the playoffs that lead to the Fall Classic begin in just 2 days.

Again, today’s game mattered for nearly nothing (much closer to a Spring Training type feel than an exhibition game) because regardless of the outcome all over the AL today, the Yankees will face the Twins on Tuesday in the Wild Card game, and the Blue Jays will be watching the postseason from their respective couches.

Jordan Montgomery got the start in today’s game, throwing 62 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 2 hits, a walk, and a run and struck out 3 Toronto batters. He held them off for most of the game until the 4th inning, giving up a 1-out walk and single to put runners in the corners before a sacrifice fly scored the lead runner to get the Blue Jays on the board.

Just reinstated off the DL today, Adam Warren took over for Montgomery in the 6th and breezed his way through the next 3 outs (and into the 7th inning) in just 13 pitches. Domingo German was up next, asked to get the next 5 outs. German had an issue in the 8th inning when the lead-off batter struck out on a wild pitch and made it safely to 1st (I still don’t get this weird loophole). He then moved to 2nd on a walk, then to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, and then scored on a ground out. Ben Heller breezed through the 9th in just 14 pitches.

Meanwhile, the Yankees weren’t exactly sending balls out of the park today. With the Blue Jays leading in the 4th, the Yankees didn’t answer back until the 7th inning with Matt Holliday’s 1-out solo home run deep into the left field seats to tie up the game at that point. Bird then worked a walk and ended up at 3rd on Andujar’s double, but 2 ground outs later and their best shot at jumping ahead left both runners stranded on the bases.

They didn’t get another shot at tying the game or taking the lead. On the other hand, it was very strange way to lose a game for the Yankees. According to those who know such things, it was the first time they lost at home when they allowed 2 hits or fewer since August 1979.

Final score: 2-1 Blue Jays, Yankees win series 2-1

The Yankees end their 2017 season with 91 wins and 71 losses and will start their journey towards the #28 on Tuesday night in the Wild Card game against the Twins. The game will be held at Yankee Stadium as they ended the season 6 games ahead of the Twins.

Before today’s game, the Yankees presented Aaron Judge with a special award to commemorate his rookie home run record. They awarded him with a specially designed glass gavel. Judge, who did not play in today’s game, ended his rookie season with 52 home runs. He also joins Red Sox great Ted Williams (back in 1939) in the record books as only the second rookie to score at least 100 runs, hit at least 100 RBIs, and work at least 100 walks. But by now, we’re rather used to seeing Judge’s name tightly woven with baseball’s legends.

And in more positive news, the Yankees announced today that they will be expanding their netting at both Yankee Stadium and Steinbrenner Field in Tampa (where they play their home Spring Training games) for the upcoming 2018 season. Plans aren’t fully finalized, but the netting is said to be in place prior to any official home games to further protect fans from dangerous incidents like the one just a few weeks ago with the little girl.

Postseason prep: All the games are wrapping up for this season as I post this, and as everyone has a day off before October baseball really begins, I’ll do a much deeper post in preparation for the postseason. This will include my predictions on the onset, the only time during the year I will publicly make postseason predictions. I must be a glutton for punishment because I am always wrong. Because baseball really is rather unpredictable, especially in the postseason.

Go Yankees!

Game 157: TB vs. NYY — Hicks’ theft & Yankee offense keep division hopes alive

Well, that certainly helps matters this postseason. The Yankees are looking to collect as many wins as possible this final week, these final 6 games. So tonight was a very good start.

Jordan Montgomery got the start in tonight’s opener against the visiting Rays. He threw 79 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and a lone run, and struck out 5 Rays batters. And except for a pretty sloppy 1st inning, Montgomery actually reined it in and set up the Yankees for the eventual win.

In the 1st inning, Montgomery gave up 2 singles and a walk to quickly load up the bases with no outs. He finally got a well-placed strikeout to start the momentum for the Yankees. But it would be another Yankee that would really flip the switch. Again, the bases are loaded, so the next batter hit a big, long fly ball right over the wall by the Yankees’ bullpen. And that would be detrimental except for Aaron Hicks, who leapt, reached over, and brought that ball back over the wall to remove the potential grand slam and flip it into a sacrifice fly. So the Rays scored 1 run (rather than 4), and the Yankees were just getting started.

The final third of the game was split between the strong Yankee bullpen that’s just been dynamic this season. Kahnle and Robertson shut the Rays down through the 7th and 8th innings, and Dellin Betances breezed his way through a 7-pitch 9th inning to effectively end the Rays’ hopes completely.

The Rays’ starter has been having a pretty good season. But whatever he did this season certainly didn’t transfer up to the Bronx tonight. He only pitched into the 2nd inning. And the Yankees just got to him in that 2nd inning and didn’t let up tonight. Starlin Castro kicked off the inning with a solo home run to instantly tie up the game. But then 3 consecutive singles to both Fraziers and Torreyes loaded up the bases. With hopes for the dramatic alive, the Aarons were up next, but they both rather anti-climatically worked walks [Note: only Hicks’ walk is available, though Judge’s one looked rather similar as it’s a walk] to walk in both Fraziers.

And with still no outs, the Rays couldn’t bear it and pulled their starter right there in the 2nd inning. Their first reliever got Sanchez to line into a double play and get Hicks to double off 2nd to finally get a couple of outs on the board. A wild pitch scored Torreyes, but a fly out ended the Yankees monster inning.

The Rays’ bullpen did a better job keeping the Yankees from adding to their score for most of the game after that. But in the 8th, they found another opportunity. In the 8th with 1 out, Torreyes worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and ended up at 3rd on a ground out. Judge worked a walk, and then Gary Sanchez’s single scored Torreyes and moved Judge to 3rd. Matt Holliday’s single then scored Judge to cap off the Yankees’ offense tonight. [Note: Holliday’s RBI video is also missing, but it’s a standard play. You’ve seen him hit plenty before.]

Final score: 6-1 Yankees

Roster moves: Obviously, the Yankees activated Aaron Hicks off the disabled list before tonight’s game. Coming off an oblique injury, Hicks proved absolutely vital to tonight’s game right from the start with that insane catch and then got on base 3 times by working 3 walks, one of those walking in an RBI. So, clearly, everyone is glad to see Hicks again. (Except maybe the Rays.)

Postseason prep: So many things happened as a result of tonight’s games. First, the Red Sox lost their game tonight to the Blue Jays, leaving that particular magic number at 3 games. But this also makes the Yankees just 3 games behind them in the standings. Hope is still alive for that division title.

Now, should the Yankees not beat the Red Sox in the division, with tonight’s win, they have secured home field advantage for the Wild Card game. As to the 2nd Wild Card spot, that is still technically open. Tonight, the Royals, Rangers, and Rays have all been eliminated for that spot. That leaves the Angels, who face elimination in one more loss or one more Twins’ win. In other words, chances are with the Twins being that 2nd Wild Card spot. But which East Coast stadium they’ll be vying for the Wild Card spot is still very much up for grabs.

In other words, who knows? So, we’re still rooting on the Blue Jays tomorrow!

Go Yankees!

 

Game 148: BAL vs. NYY — Monty keeps up the momentum

The Yankees continue their drive towards the postseason with momentum. This is the one part of the schedule that is clearly working in the Yankees’ favor. Yesterday’s win was Joe Girardi’s 900th win as the manager of the Yankees, joining the likes of the legendary Joe Torre and Casey Stengel. And that is certainly helping that aforementioned momentum.

Jordan Montgomery had a much better outing than any other one in the recent month, setting himself up for the first win since July. He threw 95 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 4 hits and a walk, and struck out 6 batters, all while keeping the Orioles completely scoreless. Kahnle and Heller continued that scoreless streak through the next two innings.

Chasen Shreve found some trouble in the 9th inning. He gave up a 1-out walk that scored on a 2-run home run before loading up the bases with 3 consecutive walks on 2 outs. Giovanni Gallegos came on to stop the anti-momentum of Shreve, which was odd enough in itself. He unfortunately promptly balked to move all the runners up that also scored another run for the Orioles. But then he got a strikeout to close out the game.

Meanwhile, the Yankees pressed into the Orioles’ pitching staff enough to force their starter out of the game in just the 4th inning. In the 3rd, with 2 outs, Headley and Judge worked walks and then were part of Didi Gregorius’ 3-run home run into the right field seats to get the Yankees on the board. Then in the 4th, Ellsbury doubled and Todd Frazier walked, so Greg Bird’s 5th homer of the season became a 3-run home run to double the Yankees’ lead. And that would be it for the O’s starter.

In the 5th, with 1 out, Gregorius singled, moved to 2nd on Castro’s hit-by-pitch, and then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single. And with a new pitcher in the 7th, Gregorius led off with a single and then scored as part of Todd Frazier’s 2-out 2-run home run up the middle to cap off the Yankees’ big offense tonight. (And the “thumbs-down” thing is still a thing apparently.)

The biggest downfall for Yankee pitchers tonight, which fortunately didn’t go against them that much, was the 8 total allowed walks. That stat has to improve as against another team that would take advantage of that, that could be quite detrimental to the Yankees’ hopes for October baseball.

Final score: 9-3 Yankees

Roster moves: before today’s game, the Yankees recalled reliever Jonathan Holder (who pitched rather well again this afternoon) and infielder Miguel Andujar from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Andujar made his MLB debut today late in the game as a DH substitute, and for his first MLB at-bat, he grounded out. That first hit is coming.

Postseason prep: well, the Red Sox won their marathon game last night against the Rays in the 15th inning, after getting 7 runs in that final inning to beat the home team 13-6. That kept the Red Sox 3 games ahead of the Yankees, and after tonight’s win against the Rays, they remain that 3 games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East. Again, it’s still very much “Go, Rays!” this weekend, while the Yankees need a final win tomorrow to sweep the Orioles and head into their final 2 weeks of the season with that winning momentum.

Go Yankees!

Game 142: NYY vs. TEX — Baby Bombers show off in Texas finale

I wish I could say that this afternoon’s game was a great game. At first glance, it might look great because the outcome was in the Yankees’ favor. But a second look, and one has to wonder how either team was lucky enough to keep the game under 4 hours with the pitching being a bit less than stellar.

With today’s finale in Texas, the Yankees were looking to continue their march towards that postseason with some kind of power, looking to their offense to carry them into October. Usually, the pitching is there to give them some back up, but today, there was a rather mixed bag in that case.

Jordan Montgomery got the start today and once again had some struggles through his abbreviated outing. He threw 79 pitches into the 4th inning, giving up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out just 3 Texas batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out solo home run got the Rangers on the board, but with 2 outs and 2 runners in scoring position, Montgomery relied on his defense to get the final out of the inning and out of the jam. In the 4th, he gave up consecutive walks before a 1-out double would score another run.

The Yankees called on Chad Green to do what Chad Green does, and give the Yankees some long-term relief so early in the game. He gave up a sacrifice fly that scored Montgomery’s lingering runner before Green got a well-placed strikeout. Even Green had a spot of trouble in the 5th inning when his lead-off batter doubled and then promptly scored on an RBI single. But then Green zeroed in and breezed his way through his next 5 outs (and in doing so, set himself up for the win).

Tommy Kahnle closed out Green’s 6th inning and basically breezed his way through the 7th before handing the ball over to Dellin Betances. Betances found his own sticky spot in the 8th inning, despite getting 3 strikeouts for his 3 outs this inning. With just 1 out, Betances gave up consecutive walks that both scored on a double. Caleb Smith got 2 quick outs in the 9th and then gave up a walk that scored on a double before getting that 3rd out to close out the game.

And all those statistics would not spell good news for the Yankees if the Rangers had a better pitching staff. But really, they are just not good, or at least they weren’t so good tonight. The Rangers’ starter only throwing into the 4th inning. In the 1st inning, Gary Sanchez kicked things off with a solo home run into the left field seats, his 29th of the season.

Gardner singled to lead off the 3rd, moved to 2nd when Sanchez was hit by a pitch, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. This broke the early tie, but the Yankees weren’t done yet. Castro reached safely on a fielder’s choice, and due to the slowness of the Rangers’ defense, all runners were safe on all 3 bases. Aaron Judge’s long sacrifice fly scored Sanchez.

In the 4th, Ellsbury was hit by a pitch (yes, this happened a lot tonight) and Romine singled, and that would be it for the Rangers’ starter. Not that they could depend on the bullpen to halt the Yankees’ charge. Brett Gardner smacked a nice triple that scored both runners. A fairly routine single by Chase Headley scored Gardner. After Sanchez’s double, Didi Gregorius’ single scored Headley. (All of this before an out was scored this inning.) Then on a double play, Sanchez still scored to keep the momentum alive. Only to be followed up by Aaron Judge’s 40th home run of the season.

And the Rangers finally went to their bullpen to get out of this inning. But that reliever found his troubles in the next inning loading up the bases with consecutive doubles and a fielding error. Didi Gregorius singled and scored the 2 lead runners before being thrown out trying for 2nd base.

To show off a bit, Aaron Judge hit a 1-out solo home run in the 6th, and Gary Sanchez followed that with a solo home run to lead off the 8th. (More on this after the recap.) And in the 9th inning, the Yankees proved they weren’t done yet. Ellsbury led-off with a walk, and Romine singled. Tyler Wade singled home Ellsbury, and pinch-hitter Erik Kratz had his first Yankee hit, a double, that scored both Romine and Wade to cap off the Yankee runs scored today.

Now, back to what I started with is a bit of why I have a hard time calling this a great game. A “great game” is one where the pitching, hitting, defense, base running, and bullpen are all really good, even more so if both teams do so. But statistics show a different story. In total, pitchers gave up 28 hits, 10 walks, and 23 runs (5 of them homers). And here’s the biggest difference in pitching staffs — the Yankees got the Rangers’ batters swinging at 13 strikeouts, while the Rangers entire staff only got the Yankees to strikeout twice. Again, it’s hard to call this a “good game”, let alone a great one. But it’s nice to win it anyway they can.

Final score: 16-7 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Now, those “Baby Bombers” Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Both young stars hit two home runs each in today’s game, showing off the Yankee offense in the best possible way. For Aaron Judge, he hit is 40th and 41st home runs of the season, officially becoming the 2nd rookie in MLB history to hit over 40 home runs in a single season. And he’s got 20 games to at least tie up the record holder (Mark McGwire) at 49. Judge is also in some very vaunted company as the 5th Yankee to hit at least 40 home runs age 25 and under — Mantle, DiMaggio, Gehrig, and Ruth.

Now, Gary Sanchez isn’t exactly a footnote here. He has hit 50 home runs in his first 162 games (over the last 2 seasons). This season alone, Sanchez leads all catchers in the league with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs after today, and this is despite missing an entire month of baseball earlier this year. And speaking of catchers, Sanchez’s 30 home runs this season tied other legendary Yankee catchers in most home runs in a season — Posada in 2003 and Berra in 1952 and 1956.

And remember, folks, there’s still 20 games left in this season. Both Sanchez and Judge have about 20 more games to just surge ahead and show off some more. And don’t think they won’t try. We are watching the next Berra-Mantle anchored dynasty, like my grandfather used to talk about. My grandkids will hear my stories of the Sanchez-Judge era of greatness. And just maybe they’ll get their own dynasty of legends in the making.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: having a bit of trouble with the links, so I included the recap, but it only covers Judge and Sanchez’s home runs. Will link the rest as soon as I can.}

Game 137: NYY vs. BAL — Labor Day afternoon delivery

It’s a beautiful September Monday afternoon in Charm City as the Yankees begin their final push for the postseason facing the flagging Orioles for this mid-week series. Baltimore fans clearly expected a better holiday show, but the sprinkling of Yankee fans found it instead.

However, both starters today had terrible outings, both pitching into the 5th inning and neither making it out of that inning. Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery had a slightly better day, throwing 67 pitches, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 3 runs (2 earned), and striking out 4 Baltimore batters. A lead-off solo home run in the 1st got the O’s off to a strong start. But then a fielding error to lead off the 2nd scored as part of a 2-run home run to give the O’s a nice early lead.

But the Yankees weren’t having that. Montgomery shut them down, still exiting the game in the 5th inning, but handing over the ball to the ever reliable Chad Green. Green breezed his way to close out the 5th and then continued to shut down the O’s in the 6th and 7th innings, adding 4 strikeouts of his own and setting himself up for the eventual win.

David Robertson had a bit of trouble in the 8th, giving up 2 walks, but his 2 strikeouts and veteran cool got him out of the inning without adding to the Orioles’ score. Dellin Betances got the first 2 outs of the 9th but then a solo shot put one more on the board for the home team before Betances got out of the inning with his 2nd strikeout. Yankee pitchers racked up a total of 12 strikeouts against the Baltimore offense.

Meanwhile, the Yankee offense found its momentum in the middle third of the game. In the 4th, Castro led-off with a single and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run, his 20th of the season. Then Judge walked, moved to 2nd on Frazier’s 1-out walk, and then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single. And the game was tied at this point.

So, the Yankees continued their advance in the 5th inning with a bit of deja vu. Headley led-off with a single and then scored on Starlin Castro’s 2-run home run. That ended the Baltimore starter’s day (after 98 pitches) and the O’s would dip into their bullpen. In the 6th, Frazier and Ellsbury worked consecutive walks and moved up on Romine’s sacrifice bunt. A new reliever got a ground out off Brett Gardner, but Frazier still scored. After walking Headley, the Orioles got a new pitcher to give up a single to Starlin Castro to score Ellsbury to ensure the Yankees a victory today.

The biggest problem for the Orioles’ pitching was the 10 walks they gave up. The Yankees may be the “Bronx Bombers”, but they’re not against playing some small ball and capitalizing on handouts like consecutive walks and well-placed singles.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees

Aaron Judge had an interesting offensive day. He went 1-for-1 with a run scored and 4 walks. For a guy who’s known for his massive home runs, he’s certainly worked his way into a new category, now sitting at 103 walks for this season. And because it’s Judge, he’s now in some pretty legendary company for a weird statistic. Yankees age 25 and under with 35+ home runs and 100+ walks in a single season are Judge, Mantle (1955-1956), Gehrig (1927), and Ruth (1920). Usually, people associate power-hitters like Judge with a large amount of strikeouts, so don’t worry — he’s still got plenty of those (181) this season too.

Gary Sanchez was out of today’s lineup, starting his suspension for his involvement in the scuffle on August 24 in Detroit. Originally, he was issued a 4-game suspension, but upon appeal, the ruling was reduced to 3 games. So it looks like he’ll be out for the Baltimore series. Austin Romine was issued a 2-game suspension for his part that day, but his appeal is ongoing and thus he was today’s catcher. Sanchez issued an apology to the fans on his personal Facebook page.

Go Yankees!

Game 134: BOS vs. NYY — September off to a stunted start

And just like that fortunes reversed. September begins, and the Yankees are still in heated contention with the Red Sox (and a few other teams) for the postseason. Sonny Gray got the start tonight, and certainly had mixed results. On one hand, he struck out 9 Boston batters in just 7 innings, but on the other, he gave up 4 runs.

Gray threw 98 pitches in those 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and a walk. And those pesky 4 runs, all scored on home runs. In the 3rd, he allowed his lone walk before a home run scored both runners to put the Red Sox in the lead. A 2-out solo home run in the 5th and a lead-off solo shot in the 7th added those 2 more runs for the Red Sox.

Meanwhile, the Yankees kicked off the offense in the 1st when Brett Gardner hit a lead-off double and then scored on Aaron Judge’s double. Then they struggled with much offense, only getting 2 more hits and a walk off the Red Sox’s starter in his 7 innings.

Aroldis Chapman’s 8th inning was almost perfect, where he got all 3 outs as strikeouts. And Adam Warren kept the Red Sox from adding to their score with a 14-pitch 9th. But unfortunately, the Red Sox’s relievers for both innings followed the example and threw 2 scoreless innings as well, leaving the Yankees in the dust.

Final score: 4-1 Red Sox

Before the game today, former Yankee legend (and Grammy-nominated classically trained guitarist) Bernie Williams performed an amazing version of the national anthem as Little Leaguers from the area who narrowly missed representing the US in the recent Little League World Series joined Yankee players all over the field to be honored for their success this season.

Roster moves: just in time for the September call-ups, the Yankees activated Matt Holliday from the DL, after his recovery from a back injury. They also transferred pitcher Luis Cessa, who is still dealing with his ribcage injury, from the 10-day to the 60-day DL, effectively removing him off the 40-man roster. This made room for the Yankees to select the contract of newly acquired Erik Kratz, promoting him from AAA Scranton.

They also recalled pitchers Jordan Montgomery, Ben Heller, and Bryan Mitchell from AAA Scranton. There is still room for additions this month, but the Yankees also want the RailRiders to work on their own upcoming postseason and potential repeat of their championship in a few weeks. They finish their season on Monday as division leaders (by 7 1/2 games!).

Like the big leagues, the team with the most wins will face the winner of the Wild Card games (to be played on Wednesday and Thursday). The RailRiders are ready for that role unless they get swept by the Phillies’ AAA team. Their Division Series (best of 5) begins next weekend. Their Championship Series is shortly after that (beginning September 12) for the “Governor’s Cup”. And the ultimate championship game between the Pacific Coast League and the International League (where the RailRiders play) to be played on September 19 at PNC Park (the RailRiders’ home park). Best of luck to you guys once again in your postseason!

Go Yankees!

Games 131 & 132: CLE vs. NYY — Rain created a double-header steam roller

After yesterday’s rainy mess that was the entire tri-state area, the Yankees rescheduled their game to combine into a single-admission double-header — the make-up game starting a mere 30 minutes following the close of the first game. It was more than slightly disappointing.

Game 1: (The regularly scheduled Wednesday game)
Jaime Garcia got the start today and just had a rough start right out of the gate. He threw 87 pitches into the 6th inning, and despite not giving up many runs, every inning was just a struggle for the new-ish starter. He gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs (only 1 earned), striking out just 5 batters.

In the 1st, the lead-off batter singled, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a single, and then scored on a passed ball (the unearned run). Another single scored the other base runner to put the Indians up fast and first. But then they spent the rest of the game defending this super early lead.

Of course, the Yankees did their best to limit the Indians to those 2 runs as well. And they certainly succeeded. Despite Green’s struggles through each inning, he kept the Indians from cross the plate under the rest of his tenure. He passed the ball to the outstanding Chad Green, who just sailed through the end of the 6th, 7th, and most of the 8th inning, thanks to 7 stellar strikeouts (of his 8 outs). Tommy Kahnle closed out the 8th and threw a great 9th to keep the Indians from adding to their score through the end of the game.

In the mean time, the Yankees tried to ding into the Indians minor lead, and for the most part were unsuccessful. In the 3rd, with 1 out, Hicks worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a ground out, advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. Then despite getting Gregorius into scoring position with hopes to tie up the game, they left him stranded there. And that became the story of the game — leaving runners in scoring position without getting them home.

Final score: 2-1 Indians

Game 2: (the make-up game)
Thirty minutes later, the Yankees were ready to take the field, in all efforts to take one game of the series. Today’s 26th man Jordan Montgomery got the start for the make-up game today, and unfortunately, he didn’t have the greatest outing either.

Montgomery threw 92 pitches in just 4 innings, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out 5 Cleveland batters. His biggest weakness, following his predecessor today, was the 1st inning. A lead-off batter singled, moved to 2nd on a walk, and then scored on a 1-out single. A double then scored the next run, and a single scored 2 more to give the Indians another early lead. Then despite loading up the bases, Montgomery got out of the inning with a well-timed strikeout. (Actually, all 3 outs that inning were strikeouts.)

The Yankees offense answered back again rather softly. In the 2nd, Judge led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a 1-out single, and then scored on Greg Bird’s single. Once again, they played the get runners on base without getting them home. Which didn’t help Montgomery’s short start.

And it certainly didn’t help ease the relievers, who had their own struggles today. Chasen Shreve came on in the 5th and promptly gave up a lead-off solo home run. Two doubles in the 6th added one more run. Caleb Smith closed out the 6th, but then a 1-out walk in the 7th scored on a 2-out 2-run home run. He also gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 8th, but sailed his way through the next 6 outs.

That was quite the deficit to face as the Yankees were hoping for an 8-run rally in the bottom of the 9th (to tie up the game), as evidenced by the lingering small crowd in the stadium. With 1 out, Todd Frazier worked a walk, and Aaron Hicks singled (his 4th hit of the game, by the way) with hopes for a rally. It would be Greg Bird to the rescue again with a big 3-run home run to reduce the Indians’ lead. But 2 outs later, the rally hopes were dashed, and the Yankees were swept.

Final score: 9-4 Indians, Indians sweep the series 3-0.

Some trivia thanks to the online people who know these things: The last time the Indians swept the Yankees in a 3-game series was April 1989, and the last time the Yankees lost both games of a double-header to the Indians was 1995. Also, the Yankees are the only team in the league that hasn’t lost a game by at least 8 runs thanks to Bird’s last-minute big home run.

Roster move: as I mentioned before, the Yankees chose Jordan Montgomery as their 26th man on the roster, as allowed for all double-headers. I imagine he will be on his way back to Scranton tonight, but no worries, the September calls up is just 2 days away. He’ll be back.

And in a fun story, the stadium had food delivered to each dugout so that the players and staff could munch on stuff during their long stint on the field. One rather brave employee balanced a rather large trays of food, including a rather precariously placed plate of cookies. Just as he was stepping down close to the dugout, the plate was tilting and slipping ever so slightly, but another employee reached up a hand to grab the plate before it fell and the tray was safely delivered. (Hope someone gave the “Cookie Hero” a nice tip!) A fun, positive spin on a rather disappointing day.

Next up: the Red Sox… which is the ultimate series to win this weekend.

Go Yankees!