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!

Spring Game 30: TOR vs. NYY — #BirdPower & another walk-off win

I love close games. Those games that are tight in score, where the teams seem pretty evenly matched across the board — pitching, hitting, and defense. The games where it really could be anyone who ends up the winner, and it goes right down to the wire. Games like today.

Adam Warren got the start this warm afternoon against the visiting Blue Jays, and despite have some struggles with the strike zone, still managed to throw a pretty good afternoon, pitching into the 4th inning. A lead-off double in the 1st scored on a 2-out single to get the Blue Jays on the board. With a lead-off walk in the 2nd, a 1-out 2-run home run gave the Jays a nice lead. After giving up a 1-out solo home run in the 4th, the Yankees called Warren’s outing done, calling in Tommy Layne for a quick 2 out to close out the inning.

Meanwhile, the Yankees kicked off their scoring in the bottom of the 2nd with Greg Bird’s lead-off solo home run (#BirdPower), his 7th homer of the Spring. Two outs later, Hicks reached on a messy fielding error, stole 2nd, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. In the 3rd, with 1 out and Ellsbury on 2nd, Matt Holliday’s single scored Ellsbury to tie up the game at that point. But despite loading up the bases, the Blue Jays lucked out on a grounder hit into a double play.

Then the game went a bit into back and forth, with a stellar 2 outs by Holder. In the 7th, Niese had a slight struggle, as a 1-out double later scored on a 2-out single to give the Jays an insurance run. But the Yankees answered back in the bottom of that inning with Wade hitting a 1-out double, moving to 3rd on a fly out, and then scoring on Mason Williams’ single.

And then the game turned to reliever JP Feyereisen, who really fired his way through his 8th inning. This young reliever is really proving pretty consistent and strong, and almost had my vote for Player of the Game (more below). And Marsh‘s 9th inning, kept the Yankees strong, pulling them into that final half-inning with fingers crossed for the offense.

Outfielder Zehner led-off with a single, and Torreyes reached safely on a fielding error. So with 2 outs, Mason Williams hit a little grounder that was mishandled, scored Zehner to tie up the game, and moved 2 runners to scoring position. The whole stadium was alive with anticipation. On the first pitch he saw, Pete Kozma knocked it straight up the middle and through the gap to score the winning run.

So, for a second day in a row, the Yankees get a walk-off win at home.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees

Player of the Game: Despite Feyereisen’s outstanding outing, I’ve got to give today’s POTG to Pete Kozma. Look, Kozma is consistent on defense, a key player in many of the late-game outs. And when he hits, he’s really good and can come through in the clutch. Like today. He’s one of those guys I’ve been watching for a few seasons, and after his amazing contributions to the RailRiders and their championship season last year, he seems to be continuing that momentum into the Spring.

Before game today, the Yankees presented the awards for the outstanding pitcher and outstanding player of their minor league farm system last year. The 2016 Kevin Lawn Awards were awarded to pitcher Chance Adams (with Tampa and Trenton last year) and outfielder Aaron Judge (with Scranton until being called up in August last year). Both awards are well-deserved, though I imagine it might have been difficult to choose just one per category, as the Yankees have so many amazing young players in their organization.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 29: PHI vs. NYY — Pulling it all together in the end

Players don’t win games, teams do. It’s why the concept of teamwork is vital to team sports like baseball. So every player must do their part, the best to be part of that team in order to do something good — like win games.

CC Sabathia got the start today against the visiting Phillies, pitching into the 6th inning. Sabathia had a lone sticky inning, but really came up strong for most of the game. Part of this was due to the support of his teammates behind him. Sabathia gave up 9 hits and a walk over his tenure on the mound, and struck out just 1 Phillies batter.

In the 2nd inning, Sabathia faced 8 batters and had trouble putting together those 3 outs. After getting 3 strong outs in the 1st inning, he followed that up with another one to kick off the inning, but then he gave up 2 singles, a wild pitch, and a walk to load up the bases. Another single scored the 2 runs for the Phillies, and one more single loaded up the bases again. The next batter hit a dribbler to 3rd base and Headley made the play at home to stop the scoring before Sanchez fired it to 1st just a hair late to keep the bases loaded. The final batter hit into a short grounder to get the runner at 2nd for the force and get the Yankees out of trouble.

Thankfully, those 2 runs would be the only runs the Phillies scored this afternoon. Mostly because of the stellar pitching from Dellin Betances, who closed out the 6th inning, and Luis Severino, who cemented his spot in the rotation with 3 flawless innings and 5 nasty strikeouts to freeze the Phillies’ offense.

The Yankees’ offense was up against a pretty good pitcher today, who certainly held the Yankees off for most of the game during his strong time on the mound, into the 7th inning. His immediate reliever continued the strong pitching. Both of these pitchers could rely on their infield especially to make the sharp plays to turn the Yankees’ hits into routine ground outs. The Yankees had a single opportunity in the 3rd inning after Hicks worked the Yankees’ lone walk of the game to lead-off the inning. Judge followed him up with a single and then ended up at 2nd when the next batter hit into a double play (getting Hicks at 3rd and the out at 1st). But Judge would go on to score from 2nd on Brett Gardner’s nice single to get the Yankees on the board.

And on into the bottom of the 9th, they went. With a new pitcher on the mound for the Phillies, the Yankees pulled it all together to make a difference. Avelino led-off with a single and then scored on Castillo’s big double to tie up the game. Then down 2 outs, Amburgey stepped up and hit a solid single to score Castillo (thanks to a really bad throw to the plate too) for a wonderful walk-off win.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees

Player of the Game: I really can’t make this call today for a few reasons. First, we’re in the final week of games, so a lot of the young guys that qualify for this category are now reassigned to minor league camp (more below). And second, today’s game was the perfect example of many of the players contributing to make it work. And I guess today’s POTG would go to the team. With Severino on the mound for the final third of the game, the players had the opportunity to show what it meant to work together in the field. And in the final inning, they collaborated to tie up the game and then win it in a walk-off. Everyone worked together, so everyone won.

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Honoring the 2016 AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for their Championship Season, Steinbrenner Field, March 24, 2017 [photo courtesy of author]
And it’s no surprise really because before today’s game, the Yankees honored the 2016 AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team, who won the International League championship, the Governor’s Cup, and the AAA National Championship last year, with a special video recap of their season and then presented last year’s roster with their championship rings and had the championship trophy on display at Steinbrenner Field. Last year’s roster included Tyler Austin, Johnny Barbato, Luis Cessa, Aaron Judge, Brady Lail, Pete Kozma, Rob Refsnyder, Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, and Nick Swisher. (No wonder they won!)

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The Champion 2016 RailRiders & their new hardware [photo courtesy of author]
And in some roster moves today: prior to today’s game, the Yankees optioned reliever Luis Cessa to AAA Scranton and reassigned him to minor league camp. Joining him there were infielder Ji-Man Choi, outfielders Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier, and Billy McKinney, and pitcher Jason Gurka. They also received reliever Tyler Jones as a Rule 5 Draft return from the Diamondbacks, who was assigned to AAA Scranton and minor league camp. (A Rule 5 Draft return is when a player is selected by another team as part of a deal, but then because he isn’t signed formally by that team, he is returned back to his original team.)

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 21: NYY vs. TOR — Shaky start, catch-up and excel

Another lovely Spring day for baseball. Sunny, clear blue skies. A second day of cool weather, even a bit chilly in the shade. Rowdy Canadians in their Spring home stands, and quite the game on the field.

Luis Cessa got the start for the Yankees today in Dunedin (about 20 miles or 30 minutes west of Steinbrenner Field, across Tampa Bay) against the Blue Jays, and had quite the shaky start. In the 1st, after 2 quick outs, Cessa gave up a single and double to put runners in scoring position, something they did on another single. After a walk, another single scored a third run that inning to give the Blue Jays an early lead. In the 2nd, a nice 1-out triple scored on another single, so after a stolen base and strikeout, the Yankees decided Cessa needed to call it a day.

Ben Heller came on in relief for the Yankees, closing out the 2nd and keeping the Blue Jays from adding to their lead in the 3rd. Then, the ball went to Bryan Mitchell, who’s been having a pretty good Spring so far. Mitchell threw 3 innings and kept things pretty tight for the most part. In the 6 (his final inning), he gave up a lead-off walk that scored on a 1-out triple. But then the Yankees teamed up and got the out in the next play making the out at home in a beautiful, sharp fielder’s choice.

Okay, in the mean time, the Yankees played a bit of catch-up as the Blue Jays’ offense kept itself alive. In the 1st, Torreyes and Castro each singled and moved up to scoring position on a wild pitch, before Torreyes then scored on Chris Carter’s ground out to kick of the scoring today. Then in the 3rd, Aaron Hicks and Starlin Castro hit a pair of solo home runs over the right field fence to close in on the Jays’ lead. It would be Rob Refsnyder’s 4th inning lead-off solo home run to tie things up at that point in the game.

Down a run going into the 7th, Clint Frazier took care of that with a monster lead-off solo home run. In the 8th, McKinney kicked things off with a walk, moved to 3rd on Castillo’s single, and then scored on Ji-Man Choi’s ground out to give the Yankees the lead. Castillo then scored on Mason Williams’ single.

But it would be the 9th inning that the Yankees came into full force. Solano led things off with a single, moved to 2nd on a ground out, ended at 3rd on Wade’s single, and then scored on a fielding error Billy McKinney hit into. Then a walk loaded up the bases. Choi’s single scored Wade, and Williams’ sacrifice fly scored McKinney. After Tejada’s hit-by-pitch loaded the bases again, Frazier’s single capped off the scoring as Castillo crossed the plate. A new pitcher for the Blue Jays left the bases loaded, but it was enough to keep the Yankees’ lead hefty and secure.

Yankees fans seemed to anticipate watching the young prospect James Kaprielian, but he’s been limited this Spring until today’s game. He threw a near-flawless 2 innings, including 3 stellar strikeouts. And JR Graham was just outstanding in his 9th inning, with all 3 of his outs being great strikeouts.

We should note that the Yankees’ pitchers certainly had their issues today, giving up 8 hits and 4 walks, but their 15 strikeouts was just a phenomenal statistic to celebrate today. In contrast, the Yankees’ batters hit 14 hits and worked 4 walks off 9 Toronto pitchers. Though, to give them credit, they still got the Yankees to swing at 10 strikeouts today.

Final score: 11-5 Yankees

Some roster moves today after some outstanding contributions from some key players. After the game, the Yankees optioned outfielder Mason Williams to AAA Scranton and reassigned him to minor league camp. And James Kaprielian was reassigned to minor league camp. The Yankees also signed reliever Ernesto Frieri to a minor league contract and an invitation to Spring Training. His last MLB appearance was with the Rays in 2015, but he seemed to catch scouts’ interest during his stint with the Colombian team in this year’s World Baseball Classic.

And speaking of the World Baseball Classic, last night, in one of those great games, the teams representing Venezuela and USA faced off and made it a close game. After a surprising 3-run 8th inning, Team USA came out on top 4-2. Tonight, Venezuela will battle the team from the Dominican Republic at 10 pm EST.

I don’t know why, but this WBC is really one of the more exciting, edge-of-your-seat tournament. Not that I’m complaining. Actually, I’d love to see more of that kind of game. If you want to “fix baseball” (though I’m not sure why you would or how that’s even possible), this is how. It’s why people love real rivalry game and those walk-off moments. A close game is almost always better than a blowout or rout. That nail-biting nervousness and adrenaline rush right up to the very end… those are the stuff of dreams and legends.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: No cameras or video links today, unfortunately. Not that there’s much to say about the stadium in Dunedin, but the play today, especially in the latter half of the game, was pretty good. I guess you’ll have to use your imagination. Or, you know, plan to see a game in the future.}

Game 155: NYY vs. TOR — Taking a moment to remember, to mourn, to cherish

The Yankees postseason chances are looking slimmer and slimmer these days, especially as there’s only 7 more games left — one more in Toronto tomorrow night and then two 3-game series back in the Bronx. And after this afternoon’s game, the Yankees are officially out of the AL East and only 2 games from being eliminated from the Wild Card race. Yeah, things are looking like the Yankees will be enjoying the playoffs from their respective couches.

But for a few glorious moments, it looked like today might be different. Michael Pineda got the start in the third game of the wraparound weekend series in Toronto. He threw 97 pitches just shy of 6 innings, gave up just 3 hits, 3 walks, and a run, and struck out 7 batters. He even earned his 200th career strike out in the 3rd inning. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo home run in the 4th inning. Adam Warren got the nod to finish Pineda’s 6th and got out of a self-induced jam in his 7th inning, keeping the Blue Jays from adding to their score.

In the top of the 7th, the Yankees broke their scoreless innings streak at 33 (going back to their last game against Tampa Bay) when Didi Gregorius led-off the inning with a solo home run to tie up the game.

It didn’t last long. Dellin Betances came on in relief of Warren in the 8th and got back into his recent struggles. His first batter walked, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on an RBI single to give the Blue Jays back their lead. Betances buckled down and got 2 rather nasty strikeouts to get out of the inning.

So it was the Yankees’ turn to respond in the top of the 9th. Teixeira led things off with a single, and then Refsnyder came on to pinch-run for him. Butler pinch-hit a single only to be pinch-run by Solano. Both runners moved up on an easy ground out. Mason Williams’ nice single scored Refsnyder to tie the game again and move runners to the corners. And Ronald Torreyes’ sacrifice fly scored Solano to give the Yankees the lead.

All they had to do was hang onto that lead with 3 simple outs in the bottom of that inning. Betances came back out and walked his first batter, so the Yankees opted for Tyler Clippard. (Now, hindsight is 20/20, so I’m going to leave the managing to Girardi and continue my recap now.) A single put runners on the corners, and then things got a bit messy. The next batter bunted a single, which due to a terrible throwing error allowed the runner to score and the other 2 to move into scoring position. Clippard then recorded the first out of the inning, a strikeout, but intentionally walked the next batter to load up the bases. Needless to say, things weren’t looking so good for the Yankees. The final batter easily singled home the winning run for a walk-off victory for the sold-out home crowd.

Random game facts: both 9th inning pitchers recorded a blown save in addition to a win-loss statistic. Doesn’t happen in every walk-off situation, but it makes for a weird trivia bit. And between both pitching staffs, there were 21 total strikeouts handed out today. Not bad overall, but the final few innings certainly doesn’t say a lot for either bullpen today.

Final score: 4-3 Blue Jays.

And sadly, the entire baseball world was rocked by some terrible news this morning. Some time last night, young Marlins ace Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident off the coast of Miami. He was just 24. Fernandez’s two friends, one who owned the boat, also perished in the accident.

After three failed attempts and even time in jail, Fernandez fled Cuba with his mother at age 15. During the trip, he even rescued her from drowning. They settled in Tampa where he went to Alonso High School and, of course, played baseball. He caught the eye of scouts and signed with the Florida Marlins right out of high school. He made his stellar debut with the Marlins at age 21 in 2013, where he earned numerous awards including Rookie of the Year (rightly deserved).

Following his debut season, the Marlins arranged to bring his beloved grandmother to Florida from Cuba, who spent the rest of his career at every game she could, right next to his mother and other beloved family. Fernandez singled himself out as an outstanding starter, solidifying his role as the Marlins’ ace. About halfway through the 2014 season, he underwent Tommy John surgery and threw his first game after recovery just before the All-Star Break in 2015. He having a strong 2016 season, even earning his second All-Star Game selection (his 1st was in 2013).

He was even scheduled to start today’s game against the Braves, but they pushed back his start to Monday so that he would be on schedule to pitch the final game of the season. All across baseball today, before every game, there was a moment of silence to honor his memory. Athletes, executives, journalists, and people everywhere took to social media to pay their tribute, express their grief and often near disbelief at such a tragedy, or just remember a friend, teammate, or budding sports icon.

On a personal note, as much as Fernandez loved baseball and his teammates, never losing his sense of fun and joy, he never forgot his first priority was his family. He and his girlfriend just found out this week that they are having a baby daughter, due early next year.

Today’s Braves-Marlins game was, of course, cancelled to allow his teammates the time to grieve his passing. Fernandez was one of those guys in the league that everyone loved and genuinely loved everyone. He owned up to his young missteps when made, and never forgot to enjoy every moment of a life he literally risked his life for.

Our continued thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and teammates, and especially with his daughter who will never get to meet her father.

Go Yankees!

Game 151: NYY vs. TB — 8 home runs & Gary Sanchez

Masahiro Tanaka had a somewhat bad night. And yet, he still ended up with the win. That was partly due to the Yankees’ surging offense again and partly due to the really sloppy pitching by the Rays. The host team certainly didn’t put up much of a fight (save a single inning), much to the chagrin of the small hometown fan base represented at the Trop tonight. As usual, a good portion of the Tampa Bay area crowd were Yankee fans.

Okay, weird stuff first. So, except for the 3rd inning, Masahiro Tanaka actually had a pretty good night — 70 pitches in those other 5 innings, 3 allowed hits, 2 allowed walks, and 4 strikeouts. So for 29 pitches in the 3rd, Tanaka did the unheard of — gave up 4 solo home runs to the Rays in a single inning. A first-pitch lead-off home run got the Rays on the board, before worked his way through a strikeout and a ground out. Then he gave up back-to-back-to-back home runs before getting out with a line drive out. Tanaka has never given up 4 home runs in a game ever, let alone in a single inning, and it set a club record for the Rays.

Weird trivia bit: Tanaka joins an odd little group of Yankee pitchers that allowed 4 homers in a single inning — Chase Wright (in 2007), Hall of Famer Randy Johnson (in 2005), Scott Sanderson (in 1992), and the great Catfish Hunter (in the infamous 1977 season).

Adam Warren tossed a scoreless 7th and came on for the 8th. After getting his only strikeout of his outing, Warren gave up a solo home run. So with the Rays cutting into the Yankees’ lead, the Yankees rotated through Layne and Clippard for the next two outs of the inning. Holder threw a beautiful scoreless 9th inning to keep things steady for the Yankees.

Let’s be honest: the Rays had just an awful night, helmed primarily by the pitching staff. Their starter struggled from the very beginning, throwing a 34-pitch 1st inning. Gardner led things off with a single and Ellsbury worked a walk. They each scored on singles by Gary Sanchez and Brian McCann. And there was still no outs yet. So they finally got a couple outs before Ronald Torreyes got in on the action with an RBI single to score Sanchez. Not a bad start for the Yankees.

And for some reason, the Rays’ starter came out for more torture in the 2nd inning. Solano and Gardner singled and moved into scoring position on a ground out. Then Gary Sanchez hit his 18th home run, a 3-run blast to shove the Yankees deeply into the lead. Once McCann and Teixeira were on base with hits, the Rays realized they weren’t going to get much out of their starter and went to the bullpen. Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly tagged on one more run for the inning, but that reliever was able to stop the bleeding through the 3rd inning as well.

The Rays brought in a long-term reliever, who allowed some hits, but really kept the Yankees from doing much with them until the 6th inning. With 2 outs, it was Gary Sanchez to hit his 19th career home run to add to the Yankees lead. (More on this below.) Yes, that’s insane, and the small crowd at the Trop (even the Rays fans) kind of went crazy. Who is this kid?

The Yankees didn’t do much in the 7th or 8th innings, thanks in part to a few of the Rays’ better relievers. But they certainly took the 9th inning reliever to task. Gregorius led-off that inning with a single, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored on Mason Williams’ single. Donovan Solano hit his first home run this season, scoring Williams and just solidifying the Yankees dominance in this game.

Final score: 11-5 Yankees.

The last time the Yankees allowed 5 or more home runs and still won the game by 5 or more runs was May 22, 1930, with a final score of 20-13 over the Philadelphia Athletics (the second game of a doubleheader, too).

So, tonight, the Yankees scored 11 runs off 17 hits tonight. That is some bad pitching, augmented by some sloppy defense. And this is a shame for several reasons. First, the power-hitting section of the Rays’ line-up has a ridiculous number of home runs this season (138 for their top 6 hitters, an average of 23 for those 6). They even added to their totals tonight in that 3rd inning, and actually all their runs tonight were oddly off solo home runs. Second, they really should be better overall. It’s why you can’t rely solely on statistics and “on-paper”. The intangibles mean and affect everything.

Okay, let’s talk about Gary Sanchez once again. So, Sanchez is the fastest player in all of MLB recorded history to hit his first 19 home runs (in just 45 games), which beats the Boston Braves’ Wally Berger, who hit his 19 home runs in 51 games in 1930. Sanchez also is beating Ruth’s 1927 record in per at-bat rate — Ruth’s record was 1 homer in every 9 at-bats, Sanchez currently sits at 1 in every 8.7 at-bats.

For your amusement:

Comparisons have been made to everyone from Ruth to Mantle to Bench. Personally, I think he’s just carving out who Gary Sanchez is. He’s even started a trending hashtag (#IAmGary or #ElGary). And being 23 years old and just starting out in his career, I’d say he’s right on track to find out who Gary Sanchez is and who he will be.

Go Yankees!

Game 145: LAD vs. NYY — A pitchers’ duel, 2 rain relays, errors & unearned runs

Boy, some days they don’t make things easy. On this Wednesday afternoon in the Bronx, the Yankees and Dodgers faced their rubber match, each gunning for a win for their own reasons — the Dodgers to stay far ahead in the NL West, the Yankees to keep narrowing that Wild Card race. And both teams (with some help from nature) certainly kept things interesting.

For the majority of the game, both pitching staffs kept the game scoreless right up until the 9th inning. Complicate matters with 2 rain delays. The first was in the 3rd inning, a brief 12 minutes, someone commenting the ridiculousness of it as they barely unrolled the tarp before they had to roll it back up again. The next came in the bottom of the 5th, lasting a full 48 minutes. It was unsure whether the Dodgers’ starter, recently returned from back surgery, would be ready after such a delay, but he did and did so pretty well actually.

By the way, the Dodgers’ starter was running a perfect game there for quite some time. It was Starlin Castro to break it up by reaching base on an error in the 5th. The next batter, Chase Headley got on base with a single to ensure the broken perfect game, but a rain delay put a halt to their advance.

On the Yankees side of things, Michael Pineda got the start today, and despite the Dodgers pushing his pitch count up, Pineda kept things under control. He threw 82 pitches in his 4 innings, giving up just 2 hits and 2 walks, striking out 5 LA batters. Tommy Layne continued the scoreless streak through the 5th inning before Luis Severino did what he’s becoming rather good at — long-term relief. Severino went 2 innings, keeping the Dodgers scoreless as well. Tyler Clippard added 2 more strikeouts to the total in his 13-pitch scoreless 8th inning.

But then it was the 9th inning and something had to happen. Dellin Betances, unfortunately, was at the helm when it all got messy. The first batter reached on a fielding error, stole 2nd, and scored on an RBI double. That runner moved to 3rd on a line out. Okay, then the ultimate mess. The batter hit the ball back to Betances, who smartly chose to throw it home, but his wide throw had the runner scoring and the batter ending up at 2nd. Betances buckled down and got 2 outs to end the run-scoring by the Dodgers, hoping for a rally by the Yankees offense.

Unfortunately, the Yankees faced the Dodgers’ great closer who plowed through the Yankees roster to earn his 44th save of the season (which is more than half of the Dodgers’ wins this season).

Final score: 2-0 Dodgers, Dodgers take the series 2-1.

Roster update: So, after Aaron Judge came out of the game last night with oblique strain, before the game today, the Yankees placed him on the 15-day disabled list (as predicted). In his place, the Yankees recalled Mason Williams from AAA Scranton.

As I mentioned before, the Yankees farm system is doing really well in their own postseason, currently underway. The Single-A Tampa Yankees made it all the way to their league’s championship game before falling to the Pirates’ Single-A team (the Bradenton Marauders). The AA Trenton Thunder are currently in their league’s championship series against the Indians’ AA team (the Akron RubberDucks).

And the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders have commanded their league and are currently battling out the Braves’ AAA team in their championship division (the International League). Should they win this series, they will go on to face the winners of the Pacific Coast League championship (either the Padres’ El Paso Chihuahuas or the Dodgers’ Oklahoma City Dodgers) at a special game in Memphis on September 20.

And after all that conversation about minor league teams, I can’t help but smile at all the names of minor league teams. Most of them are in reference to whatever city hosts them (like the El Paso Chihuahuas being its geographic location to the Mexican region of Chihuahua) or whatever major league affiliates they feed into (like the “RailRiders” to the subway-infused New York City Yankees). Of course, there are some that make no sense (like the Rockies’ AA team, the Hartford Yard Goats), at least to me, but I’ll leave you to be the judge.

Besides, you can’t beat minor league baseball! It’s the best of both worlds — the feel of a community game with the players that could be the next baseball stars or Hall of Famers. So when the season starts up again, find your local club and see some games! You’re guaranteed to have an inexpensive, great night with some local flavor.

Go Yankees! (And their affiliates in their respective postseasons!)