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 156: KC vs. NYY — #CCStrong, Make-up batting practice, historic afternoon

Today’s afternoon game was a minor blip in the regular schedule, a make-up game from a rain-out back on May 25. The Yankees start their final week of the season, 2 3-game series in the Bronx — the Rays and Blue Jays. The visiting Royals flew in from Chicago after the weekend and will head home to Kansas City for their own final week at home.

CC Sabathia got the start today and really had a great afternoon against the Royals. He was absolutely stellar through the first 3 innings, not giving up a hit until the 4th. But even then he really didn’t allow much until his final blip on the mound. He threw 80 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and struck out 4 batters. In fact, until the 7th inning, Sabathia limited the Royals to that walk and 3 hits alone.

So, feeling strong, and with a low pitch count, Sabathia came out for the 7th, but then found some trouble in the heart of the Royals’ order with their veteran power-hitters. He gave up a lead-off single, a 2-run home run, and a solo home run. That would be it for his afternoon. All pitchers are on a short leash now, so if you can’t limit the damage, it’s time to depend on the next guy to see you through.

And today, once again, that worked out well. Chad Green came on to do what Chad Green does, but after allowing a walk to his first batter. Then he promptly set the Royals down in order, righting the ship, as it were. Robertson’s 8th inning was a flawless 3-strikeout moment, and Kahnle’s 9th closed things out for the Yankees, overall limiting the damage to that lone blip by Sabathia in the early 7th.

Meanwhile, the Yankees took advantage of the late summer warm weather and found their swings early and often. Gardner led-off the 1st with a single, moved to 3rd on Sanchez’s double, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ ground out to get the Yankees on the board early. In the 3rd, Gardner worked a 1-out walk, and then Aaron Judge followed him with a big 2-run home run, his 49th of the season. (More on this after the recap.)

In the 6th, Gregorius hit a 1-out single and then scored all the way from 1st on Matt Holliday’s double. Greg Bird smacked a big 2-run home run into the 2nd deck of the right field seats to keep the momentum going. After an out, the Royals opted to go to their bullpen and piece together the rest of the game. But they just don’t have the bullpen they did a few years ago.

In the 7th, with 2 outs, the Yankees just let loose. Aaron Judge hit a really big solo home run that bounced into the left field bleachers — his 50th home run of the season, breaking the rookie home run record (more below). Gary Sanchez immediately followed that up with his own solo home run into the left field seats, his 33rd of the season. (Remember, Sanchez had about a month out due to injury too!) Despite loading up the bases a bit later, the Yankees couldn’t add any more to their score.

Well, that inning. Because in the 8th, they came back and added just a few more. With a new reliever and 1 out, Torreyes got another hit today (he went 3-for-4 today), and because they missed the catch originally, Torreyes got all the way to 2nd, but the player fumbled the throw and that error allowed Torreyes to keep going all the way to 3rd. He then scored on Brett Gardner’s double. Judge worked a walk (pinch-run by Clint Frazier) and Sanchez singled to load up the bases. Didi Gregoirus singled home Gardner, and Matt Holliday’s sacrifice fly scored Frazier to cap off the Yankees’ monster afternoon.

The Yankees’ offense racked up 15 hits and 4 walks, while getting only 5 strikeouts. The latter part of the game was basically Yankees’ batting practice after a while.

Final score: 11-3 Yankees

Technically, the Yankees win that May series with today’s game, winning 3 of the 4 games against the Royals. Boston doesn’t play until later tonight, so where they land on the standings is still a giant question mark.

Postseason prep: tonight… go Blue Jays! (Seriously, they beat the Yankees this weekend, surely they can take out the Red Sox.)

Now, both of Aaron Judge’s home runs mattered and ended up in Judge’s memory case. In 1987, Mark McGwire hit 49 home runs in his rookie season. Coming into today’s game, Judge was sitting at 48. That first one in the 3rd inning meant that Judge tied McGwire for the record. But the one in the 7th was #50, a new record for a rookie player.

Also, Judge has now homered off every AL team (including the 4 he hit late last season). As of now, he’s hit off 4 of the 15 NL teams — Mets, Brewers, Pirates, and Dodgers. So, there’s 11 teams waiting for a Judge home run. By the way, active players who have hit off all 30 teams are former Yankee (and current Astro) Carlos Beltran and current Ranger Adrian Beltre (who also has hit a home run in the 40 stadiums of the modern era). Judge’s name is already being thrown around with names of some great players, but setting records at every turn will do that to you.

And it’s not like CC Sabathia is some slouch in the midst of these rookies building their greatness. The veteran pitcher is certainly making a case to include his name in future Hall of Fame talks. His win today tied him with Yankee great Whitey Ford, as left-handed pitchers with 236 wins. Only 2 more lefties have more wins — 240 by Frank Tanana (who played for a few teams including the Angels, Rangers, and Tigers 1973-1993) and 239 by David Wells (a name that might be familiar to Yankee fans from his brief stint during the dynasty days, but also flitted around the league with teams like the Blue Jays 1987-2007).

To be perfectly fair, Sabathia is only at 17 seasons this year, 4 less than either Tanana or Wells and just 3/4 game wins behind them. He could very well jump both early next season. That is if he plans on renewing his contract after his current one expires following this season. And in pure disclosure: Whitey Ford earned his 236 wins in just 16 seasons, however, it was during the time (1950, 1953-1967) when the Yankees and winning games was almost a foregone conclusion.

I kind of miss those days… but these days are pretty awesome too…

Go Yankees!

Game 149: BAL vs. NYY — A rather “Gray Sonday”

It actually started off this afternoon as a bit cloudy over the stadium. I mean, it progressively got sunnier and the late afternoon shadows started creeping across the field as they always do on sunny matinee game days. The Yankees were hoping for a sweep of the Orioles in today’s finale of their 4-game series, but it was not to be. As sunny as it was today, it wasn’t so much for the Sonny on the mound today.

Sonny Gray got the start, throwing 80 pitches in just 4 innings. He gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs, striking out just 4 Orioles’ batters. In the 2nd, Gray gave up a 1-out double that moved to 3rd on a ground out and later scored on an RBI single to get the O’s on the board early. A 1-out single in the 3rd scored on a 2-out double to double their score. And in the 4th, the Orioles worked a lead-off walk and a 2-out single that moved up to scoring position on a wild pitch and then promptly scored on a big 3-run home run.

With that rather substantial lead, the Yankees turned to their bullpen in the form of Bryan Mitchell for the 5th inning. He gave up consecutive singles that put runners in the corners. A fielder’s choice ended up scoring the lead runner to cap off the Orioles’ runs today. But then Mitchell found his groove and settled into a nice pattern through the next 2 innings. Betances and Kahnle closed out the final 2 innings with flawless pitching, just 10 and 11 pitches (respectively) in each inning.

So, all the Yankees had to do was make up for it. And they were facing the one starter in the league with the highest ERA. Who, apparently, decided to have a pretty good day, unfortunately for the Yankees. In his 5 innings, he only gave up 3 hits and a walk and a 2nd inning lead-off solo home run to Didi Gregorius. (And by the way, the lady who got Gregorius’ home run ball couldn’t be happier!)

The Yankees found a few opportunities to advance once the Orioles got into their bullpen. In the 6th, Sanchez worked a 1-out walk and moved to 2nd on Castro’s 2-out single. Both then scored on Matt Holliday’s double. And Judge led-off the 8th with a double, moved to 3rd when Gregorius reached safely thanks to a throwing error, and then scored on Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly {No media link}. But the Yankees weren’t able to do much more than that. And it wasn’t enough.

Final score: 6-4 Orioles, Yankees win series 3-1.

Injury updates: there are a few Yankees who are stuck on the disabled list, but the Yankees. Adam Warren has been out since September 3 (officially) with back issues and is threw some long toss prior to yesterday’s game with no issues. Warren has been an effective part of the bullpen, usually solid for long-term relief, so his hole on the roster has definitely been felt. They are hopeful that he will be back in the ‘pen before the end of the season, however.

Aaron Hicks is still recovering from his oblique injury, doing some minor workouts to get back into the momentum of coming back soon. He was briefly sidelined from his recovery due to strep throat last week, but the Yankees are hopeful that successful batting practice in the next few days will open the door to his return to pinstripes shortly thereafter.

Roster moves: reliever Caleb Smith is currently battling a viral infection, so the Yankees placed him on the 10-day DL yesterday, retroactive to September 13 (the last time he pitched in a game). Reliever Domingo German was recalled AAA Scranton to fill in Smith’s spot in the bullpen.

Postseason Prep: Okay, so despite the Yankees’ loss today, there is some good news. The Red Sox also lost their game today (thanks, Rays!), so the standings remain the same. Not that the steady spot in the standings is what you want, but it’s better than the Red Sox gaining in their lead over the Yankees in the AL East.

If the standings remain the same, the Yankees will face the Twins for the one-off Wild Card game following the regular season. The Twins are on their way to New York for a 3-game mid-week series, so people are watching how this series pans out. The Yankees are hoping to gain ground on the Red Sox and push the Twins further down the standings. But the Twins are hoping to gain ground on the Yankees and close the gap between the potential Wild Card teams. Now, as of posting, the Twins are dominating the Blue Jays, and their assumed win will mean they are just 4 games behind the Yankees. It’s going to be a rather tight final 2 weeks of this season.

But that’s what makes it rather fun!

Go Yankees!

Game 146: BAL vs. NYY — Batting practice during #TanakaTime

Well, the Yankees are back home, a short 10 miles from the Tampa Bay’s temporary home this week. And they are hosting the visiting Orioles for this 4-game weekend series.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start for tonight’s game, throwing 102 pitches through his 7 innings. He gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, striking out 8 Baltimore batters. Both allowed runs were solo home runs — a lead-off home run in the 4th and a 1-out solo shot in the 6th. Basically, Tanaka was back into fine form tonight, setting himself up for the eventual win.

And the Yankees’ offense certainly gave Tanaka enough room to work within. In the 1st inning, Ellsbury led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Judge’s single, and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. Matt Holliday’s ground out was the first out of the inning and still scored Judge. Chase Headley’s single scored Sanchez, and Gregorius then singled. That set up Todd Frazier’s big 3-run home run up the middle to secure the Yankees’ early lead and end the Orioles’ starter’s night with just 1 out in the very 1st inning.

A new reliever shut down the Yankees until the 4th inning when Clint Frazier led-off with a single, and Ellsbury worked a walk. They both then scored as part of Aaron Judge’s 3-run home run. A new reliever once again sailed his way through the 5th, but then found trouble in the 6th against the charging Yankees. Clint Frazier led-off with a walk, and Ellsbury worked another walk. And once again, it would be Aaron Judge for another 3-run home run, his 43rd homer of the season. Gary Sanchez then followed it up with a solo home run of his own.

Finally, the Yankees stopped the charge forward, but the Yankee pitchers needed to keep up the momentum. Though they struggled in their own right. In the 8th, Bryan Mitchell came on to relieve Tanaka. The lead-off batter singled, moved to 2nd and 3rd on consecutive ground outs, and then scored on an RBI double. Another double then scored that base runner. Coming on in the 9th, Giovanni Gallegos gave up a lead-off solo home run to give the O’s just one more run tonight.

Final score: 13-5 Yankees.

Okay, there is a meme/video/picture going around of a man from Monday’s game who is giving a thumbs-down to the Yankees’ offense. Todd Frazier picked up on the man’s staid show and actually gave him a thumbs-down on Monday when he got his 3-run home run that night. Well, it continued tonight with Frazier giving a thumbs-down when he got his home run tonight, and the Yankees’ dugout was doing the same as if it were how they cheered on good things that happened to their teammates. All with big smiles on their faces, of course.

And in Yankees doing good things around the City news… Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances teamed up with Mr. Peanut and Boxed (a wholesale company) and found Yankee fans. They asked them a few questions, and fans with correct answers ended up winning tickets to a Yankees’ game. Plus, they got to hang out with, hug, and selfie with Gregorius and Betances.

Postseason outlook: I’m starting this section as we’re winding down the season, and I want to keep you informed on what’s going on so you’re not surprised when all of these teams suddenly enter the picture in a few weeks. So, the biggest story is that the Indians are currently at 22 straight wins after tonight’s extra innings win against the Royals. They are definitely on a roll, and I can’t imagine that bodes well for any of the other teams looking for AL pre-postseason momentum themselves. (Including the Yankees.)

I imagine I’ll see posts of this in my timeline tomorrow from my family who are avid Cleveland fans, donning their continued (and well-deserved, if I’m being honest) hashtag #Windians. (Also, I still think I like “Believeland” better.)

Fun joke at the expense of my Cleveland family: You know why the Yankees don’t need cheesy hashtags to promote their wins and prove they’re actually winning? The Yankees don’t need to self-promote or convince people they’re good because everyone already equates Yankees with winning. (…cheesy dad joke groan, rimshot, and sad trombone sound…)

Go Yankees!

 

Game 144: NYY vs. TB — Displaced disappointment

Apparently, this crosstown misplaced series is a huge hit in New York. After over 15,000 fans showed up for last night’s Yankee win over the “home team” Rays, the powers-that-be at Citi Field opened up a second deck to allow nearly 6000 more fans to watch tonight’s game.

Sonny Gray pitched all 8 innings for the Yankees tonight, actually throwing a pretty great game overall. He threw 94 pitches, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and struck out 9 Rays’ batters. Both of those runs were solo home runs — a 1st pitch solo shot in the 1st inning and a 1-out solo shot in the 8th.

Meanwhile, Gray was looking for some run support… that would just never arrive. I mean, they did get on the board first in the top of the 1st inning. Judge worked a 1-out walk (surprise!), moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s ground out, and then scored on Matt Holliday’s double.

Now, the Rays’ starter did pitch into the 6th inning, only giving up 2 hits and 2 walks to Yankee batters, and that lone run in the 1st inning. Tapping into the bullpen, the Yankees were hoping to use that to their advantage, as they’ve done for so many other teams this season. But the Rays’ bullpen may be the lone thing they have going for them this season. Collectively, the Rays’ bullpen gave up 1 hit. And that’s it for allowed base runners for the second half of the game.

Final score: 2-1 Rays

Injury news: after being a last-minute scratch at last night’s game due to lower back soreness, Greg Bird was sent for a precautionary MRI, which came back negative. He’s hoping to rejoin the team for tomorrow’s game.

Also, the Yankees released their 2018 preliminary schedule today. The Yankees will start their season with a 4-game series in Toronto (starting March 29) and end the season at Fenway (Sept. 28-30). All 30 teams will start on the same day this year, and with nothing to prevent them from starting that early like the World Baseball Classic or exhibition games for opening a new stadium or a historic Cuban baseball game.

It could be an interesting season, at least. Of course, so much of how tough the schedule will depend on how the season evolves in time. Like which team will hit a hot streak, which team will be plagued with random injuries, which team is ready to burst forth and make their push towards the postseason. A schedule can look deceptively good until the team is bogged down with unforeseen injuries, and suddenly, it’s a terrible schedule.

Baseball is really never predictable.

Go Yankees!

Game 143: NYY vs. TB — 4th inning to back up #CCStrong

One day, you’re going to see a random trivia question about the time when a New York team played in New York (and not against a fellow New York team) and wasn’t the home team. And you’re going to know the answer — the Yankees “visited” the Rays, the temporary hosts of Citi Field.

And I have to be honest, it was really weird to be at Citi Field for a Yankees game when the other team wasn’t the Mets. But some rather familiar vibes lingered around the stadium with the overwhelming majority of the fans being Yankee fans (something Rays fans are rather familiar with the split representation on their home turf). Almost all 15,327 people at CitiField were avid Yankee fans completely thrilled for a few bonus games closer to home.

But it was a rather typical Yankees-Rays game tonight, with CC Sabathia at the helm to start tonight’s opener in this misplaced series. Sabathia threw a pretty great outing once again, throwing 88 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and a single run, and striking out a solid 6 Rays’ batters. A lead-off walk in the 2nd scored on a 2-out triple to score the Rays’ sole run tonight.

Sabathia got the hook in the 5th with 1 out and after allowing 2 runners on base and the one Rays batter that seems to consistently do well against him (even when he’s having a good day). So it was on to David Robertson for some long-term relief, throwing a season high 36 pitches to get a nice 8 outs and sail the Yankees through the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. He also set himself up for the win for finishing the 5th inning for Sabathia.

Dellin Betances had a bit of trouble in the 8th, but certainly got himself out of it all with 2 stellar Betances-esque strikeouts. But it was Aroldis Chapman who pretty much sailed through the 9th inning in just 10 pitches. Yankee pitchers got the Rays to strikeout 12 times.

The Yankees actually only got half the hits the Rays did tonight (just 4 hits), but they also got double the amount of walks (6 total). And the Yankees only needed a single inning to make all the difference off the Rays’ starter, who didn’t make it out of that inning. In the 4th, the Yankees sent 10 batters up to the plate.

Judge led-off with a walk and ended up at 3rd on Sanchez’s deep single. Didi Gregorius hit into a sacrifice fly that scored Judge to initially tie up the game. After a second out, the Yankees just pounced. Matt Holliday profited from a fielding error, ending up at 2nd and scoring Sanchez for the go-ahead run. Then Jacoby Ellsbury got a free base because of (what else?) catcher’s interference (more after the recap).

So with 2 men on base and 2 outs, it would be Todd Frazier’s 24th home run of the season, a 3-run home run into the left field seats to assure the Yankees of a solid lead. After Tyler Austin’s double and Gardner’s walk, the Rays pulled their starter for the bullpen. And the Rays’ bullpen clearly had a better time against the Yankee’s offense, as the Yankees didn’t even come close to scoring after the Rays’ starter left the game.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees

Okay, so Jacoby Ellsbury set a new MLB record for catcher’s interferences. In just 5,310 plate appearances, Ellsbury has reached base due to 30 total interferences. The previous record holder was Pete Rose, who got 29 interferences in 15,890 total plate appearances over his career.

Injury news: so before tonight’s game, the Yankees activated Clint Frazier from his rehab stint and the DL due to a strained oblique. But just before the game, Greg Bird was a last-minute scratch due to “lower back tightness”, and the Yankees went with Tyler Austin in his spot. Fingers crossed for nothing worse that a weird momentary tweak for Bird.

And a big happy birthday to Jacoby Ellsbury! A great group along the 1st base line took a moment to sing “Happy Birthday” to Ellsbury after he worked a walk and stole 2nd in the 8th inning, which Ellsbury clearly appreciated.

Finally, let us take a moment to remember the events of this day 16 years ago. Today, we honor the memory of those we lost, the legacy of the heroes and first responders, and the pray for those still grieving their loss or dealing with health-related illnessness from that day. Baseball was one of many bridges used in healing the nation that desperately needed something to talk about, to think about, to focus on that wasn’t about destruction.

Many of today’s Yankees (as well as around the league) were just children 16 years ago, which just further impacts how our world has changed. Again, our thoughts and prayers are with those who are still mourning their lost loved ones as we join you in remembering their story, their journey, their contribution to our world cut short. They are never forgotten thanks in part to you.

Go Yankees!