Game 70: LAA vs. NYY — So maybe… and not so much…

Things were looking so good. And then they weren’t. Perhaps it was indicative of how the recent week has been. Or perhaps it’s the end of whatever bad luck lingers from the West Coast trip, brought to New York by the West Coast-based Angels as they finished up this mid-week series.

Luis Severino had a rare mixed bag for tonight’s start. He threw 99 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs (only 5 earned), and struck out just 5 batters. His 2nd pitch found its way into the left field seats to put the Angels on the board early in this game. And in the 3rd, with 2 outs and runners on the corners, consecutive singles scored 2 more runners.

Then Severino buckled down and threw a few more typical innings for him. Until the 6th inning, a lead-off double scored on a single. A single and error in the 7th put runners on the corners, but Severino’s night was done. But he was still responsible for both runners (except not really, because of the error).

Chasen Shreve took over for Severino and got a sacrifice fly who scored the first runner in just 3 pitches. Dellin Betances took over next, but had his own share of issues. The runner at 1st stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error before scoring on a single. Then after a walk, Betances got a nice strikeout, but then a double scored 2 more runs to push the Angels even more in the lead.

Domingo German came on for the final 2 innings. With 1 out in the 8th, he gave up a double, a wild pitch, and a walk. But then German’s pick-off error scored the lead runner moving the other runner all the way to 3rd where he scored on a sacrifice fly to cap off the Angels’ big run-scoring evening.

And despite all that, the Yankees actually started the game really well. In the bottom of the 1st, with 2 outs and 2 runners on base with walk, Starlin Castro’s single scored Judge to tie up the game. In the 2nd, with 1 out, Carter doubled and moved to 3rd on Torreyes’ single. A fielder’s choice (these are almost always failed double plays) on Brett Gardner’s hit scored Carter. Then with Hicks also on base with a single, Aaron Judge was set up for a monster 3-run home run, his 25th of the season, just straight up to Monument Park.

But with the Yankees unable to find their offensive footing beyond this early rally, and their pitchers suffering with a weird inability to be able to keep the Angels from retaking the lead and then taking over the game, it was just not going to be a better outcome tonight for the Yankees. That late-inning rally never did materialize tonight.

Final score: 10-5 Angels, Angels win series 2-1

The Yankees will face the Rangers for a weekend series starting tomorrow night. But this will also include many celebrations leading up to the Old Timers’ Game on Sunday. Again, it’s time to get back on the winning track, and maybe the presence of winning legends from championship teams will rub off and help the current team out a bit.

Go Yankees!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final score: 16-3 Yankees.

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

And it’s only June 10, people!

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

Go Yankees!

Game 54: NYY vs. TOR — Late inning power leads to Queen City split

I realize that a “Queen City split” sounds like something you’d find in bowling or poker. But that’s what we find as a result of this weekend’s series in Toronto. Each team taking half of the pie, with the Yankees headed home after a disappointing road trip to division rivals. What makes it worst is that it was actually a tight, really good game until late in the game.

The Yankees faced a pretty tough pitcher in the Jays’ starter, but they were able to get on the board in the 4th and keep the lead for a bit. Aaron Judge hit a 1-out single and then stole 2nd, ending up at 3rd on a throwing error. He then scored on Matt Holliday’s double. And in the 6th, Brett Gardner led off with a single, moved to 2nd on a walk, to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Holliday’s fielder’s choice out (another failed double play attempt).

Luis Severino got the start this afternoon under the dome, throwing 98 pitches through his 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and just 2 runs, striking out 7 Toronto batters. And Severino didn’t give up any runs at all until the 6th inning. With 2 outs, Severino gave up a single looking to keep the Jays’ scoreless and get out of the inning. But a well-placed strike became a 2-run home run to tie up the game.

Honestly, Severino threw a really good game, ending up fortunately with a no-decision. (I always hate it when a pitcher has a great day and still ends up with a loss.) But then the Blue Jays’ starter also had a great outing. But what made the difference was the Blue Jays’ bullpen — giving up a hit, but blasting through the Yankees’ roster in just 27 pitches in 3 innings, making the Yankees collect 5 strikeouts.

Tyler Clippard needed to do the same thing, and he was on his way to doing so. His lead-off batter, a former AL MVP, worked his way to a full count before smacking a solid shot over the right field wall to give the Blue Jays the lead. Clippard admitted the pitch wasn’t where he wanted it, leaving it too high in the zone for the batter. But then Clippard was able to get the next 3 outs fairly easily.

However, the Yankees’ offense was unable to cobble anything together except 3 strikeouts in the 9th for a comeback rally.

Final score: 3-2 Blue Jays, series split 2-2.

And have you voted yet for the All-Star Game starters? Vote your daily 5 times now, and maybe help the Yankee starters rise in the ranks. You can vote every day, up to 5 times daily, up to 35 total until June 29 at 11:59 pm EST. The Yankees could be represented by Judge or Castro or Sanchez, so this could be a great opportunity for them to shine in the Summer Classic.

The Yankees travel back to the Bronx, and after an off-day tomorrow, will host the Red Sox for a three-game mid-week series. Currently, the Red Sox are 2 games behind the Yankees in the standings, coming into this next series hoping to flip that around. But wouldn’t it be kind of nice to see them behind 5 games?

Go Yankees!

{Side note: We stand with London and Manchester today as they continue to recover and heal and stand strong, united in love which defeats fear and hate every day.}

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!

Lots of rain means tonight’s game postponed, but that doesn’t dampen the fun in the Bronx

Early this morning, the powers-that-be checked the weather radar (or simply opened their curtains) and figured out that it’s going to rain all day, with a possible minor break around game time before thunderstorms roll back in again. Basically, not exactly ideal weather for the Yankees and Royals to play their final game of this week’s series.

So, they called it postponed and rescheduled the finale for Monday, September 25 to squeeze in a game on a mutual off-day. The Yankees will be coming in from a short series in Toronto before their final homestand, and the Royals will make a brief trip eastward after a weekend series in Chicago before heading home for their final homestand.

Game information, start time, and rainout policy details are found here.

Last night, the first pitch of the game had Jacoby Ellsbury ran hard tracking down a long fly ball, slamming into the back wall with his head and right arm. He made the out, of course, probably saving a double or even a triple from the speedy Royals lead-off runner. But it also landed him on the 7-day disabled list with a concussion and sprained neck. There is no timetable for his projected recovery.

Aaron Hicks, who came on at the top of the 2nd inning to replace Ellsbury, will likely see more time on the playing field. So to fill his spot as the utility outfielder, the Yankees recalled Rob Refsnyder from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Day 4 of HOPE Week continued on as planned. Today, the Yankees recognized A Moment of Magic Foundation, a non-profit organization that began as “The Princess Project” in which college-age students dress up as popular fairy tale princess to visit children’s hospitals and schools. Now nationwide, A Moment of Magic sends out “The Fairytale Force” (the princesses) or “Mission Super Hero” (popular comic book superheroes), college students from around the US, dressed as princesses and heroes to visit children at local hospitals and schools.

In a fun twist, A Magic Moment’s local Fairytale Force paired with certain Yankees dressed as superheroes to surprise participants from another great organization called Friends of Jaclyn, an organization the Yankees honored in 2014. Friends of Jaclyn is a foundation in honor of Jaclyn Murphy, who, after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, was paired with a local college lacrosse team. Her lasting legacy is now to pair sick children with local high school and college athletic teams “to show them love, support, and friendship”.

It would be the starting rotation that showed up to surprise lucky Friends of Jaclyn at a party held at Yankee Stadium — Superman (CC Sabathia), Supergirl (CC’s wife, Amber Sabathia), Iron Man (Luis Severino), Wolverine (Michael Pineda), the coolest ninja turtle Michelangelo (Masahiro Tanaka), Captain America (Jordan Montgomery) and Spider-man (GM Brian Cashman).

What a great way to put a smile on children’s faces, giving them the amazing gift of joy and wonder! Genuine love, support, compassion, and encouragement can go a long way in recovery and healing for both the kids and their parents. It’s good to see foundations like A Moment of Magic and Friends of Jaclyn continue this legacy of compassion and joy.

One more day of HOPE Week tomorrow before the Yankees take on the Athletics as they begin their weekend series. With hopefully, a bit less precipitation.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 44: KC vs. NYY — A solid royal shutout

Luis Severino was on point tonight as the Yankees played their third of 4 games against the Royals this week. Severino was just zoned in and firing away in a completely dominant start. He threw 114 pitches in his 8 shutout innings, giving up just 4 hits and a walk, and striking out 7 batters. Basically, it was just him and catcher Gary Sanchez playing catch all night. And Dellin Betances helped seal the deal with his flawless 9th inning, and all 3 outs were strikeouts for his 4th save this season.

Against the Royals’ pitchers, the Yankees managed to eke through a few offensive moments. Didi Gregorius led-off the 3rd inning with a nice solo home run just in front of the new section in right field dubbed “The Judge’s Chambers”. Then in the 6th, Gary Sanchez led-off with a single, stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error, all before scoring on Matt Holliday’s sacrifice fly.

And in the 7th, Gregorius’ lead-off ground-rule double ended the Royals’ starter’s night. Gregorius then made it to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single to cap off the Yankees’ scoring on tonight’s rather strong showing on all fronts for the Yankees.

Final score: 3-0 Yankees

For HOPE Week Day 3, the Yankees sent a few of their start players to surprise a couple of pretty great 3rd graders known as “The Comedy Kids“. Almost 2 years ago, 6-year-old Scarlett Chwatko was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Nearly a year later, Scarlett’s mother received a phone call from her son’s school asking about a planned family fundraiser. Apparently, Scarlett’s older brother Max and his friend Alex Travin had been telling jokes all around their school for donations to pediatric brain cancer research. Max felt this was his way to help people find a cure for his sister’s cancer and to help people “not feel so sad about the cancer”.

Hence, “The Comedy Kids” was born, even booking their first gig at a local farmer’s market where the families live (about 30 miles northeast of Yankee Stadium). They donated all their raised funds to a non-profit for cancer research called A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure Foundation. Since that first gig in November, The Comedy Kids have set up a website and raised more than $20,000 for cancer research. Their site also helps other kids set up fundraisers for other causes. The Yankees joined in with their own $10,000 donation tonight.

This afternoon, Tyler Clippard, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Aaron Judge and Tommy Layne toured Rockefeller Center with Max and Alex, visiting Studio 8H so the boys could tell jokes on the famed Saturday Night Live stage. Then they hung out with Jimmy Fallon (who is also a huge Yankees fan) on the set of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and they gave him pointers on comedy.

Honestly, there are some HOPE Week recipients you never forget. And these kids are right there at the top of my list. Max and Alex are some pretty special kids, who are not only helping out Scarlett but also empowering other kids to find their cause and change their own piece of the world.

Go Yankees!