Game 152: MIN vs. NYY — Sweep dreams of postseason potential this afternoon

In today’s afternoon finale against the Twins, the Yankees went in with every intention to sweep their potential Wild Card opponents and press on to closing that gap between them and the AL East leaders. The Yankees did both. Hopefully, but more on that later.

Luis Severino is technically being set up for the first game in the postseason, potentially the one-off Wild Card game. But fingers crossed he’s more #SevySharp and less whatever he was today. Yes, Severino was certainly less than sharp today, throwing 71 pitches in just 3 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and striking out just 3 Minnesota batters. To borrow a popular phrase the Yankees skipper often says in press conferences: “it’s not what you want”.

But to be fair, it wasn’t really bad until Severino’s final inning. Outside of that, he allowed just 1 hit, no runs, and no walks. He just wasn’t quite finding it today. All of those allowed runs came in the 3rd inning. With 1 out, Severino gave up 2 singles and a walk to load up the bases. Another single scored the Twins’ first run, and one more single scored 2 more runs. Severino then focused in and got those other 2 outs of the inning, but he was just not having a good day. And as we’re down to just 10 games of the season, every single game matters. Every pitch, every out, every strike, every hit, every run matters. There’s no more leash allowed.

So that was it for Severino. But the game was in good hands. Chasen Shreve came on and just breezed his way through the middle third of the game. Shreve pitches just 33 pitches through 3 innings, setting himself up for the eventual win. Heller came on in the 7th and kept things scoreless, German’s final 2 innings were near perfect, adding 4 more strikeouts and holding the Twins to those 3 early runs scored.

Technically, any team that scores second and then takes the lead becomes a “come-from-behind” win, even when they come from behind to dominate. I’m not a fan of this terminology, as it puts home teams at a weird language disadvantage (though not a physical one). The Yankees weren’t the underdogs today, in any sense of the word. Not that the Twins were, but the Yankees just played better. They played better the entire series, so it is a deserved win overall.

Anyway, with the Twins leading, getting onto the board first in the top of the 3rd inning, the Yankees saw their opportunity against the Twins’ starter, who was having a less-than-stellar day today as well. Bird led off the bottom of the 3rd with a double and then scored as part of Aaron Judge’s 45th homer of the season, a big 1-out 2-run home run into the right field corner seats. Gary Sanchez backed that up with his own home run, a solo shot up the middle, his 32nd of the season, to tie up the game right then and there.

Then in the 4th, Ellsbury hit a 1-out triple, watched Frazier work a walk, and then scored on Greg Bird’s double. That was it for the Twins’ veteran starter, but their bullpen didn’t have good luck out the gate, which was great for the Yankees’ momentum. Brett Gardner singled to score Frazier for that insurance run. After another out, Sanchez singled to score Bird. So with 2 runners on base, Didi Gregorius smacked a 3-run home run into the right field seats to ensure the Yankees victory today.

And into the 5th, with a new reliever on the mound, Holliday singled, Ellsbury walked, and a fly out moved Holliday to 3rd. A wild pitch then scored Holliday. Then the Yankees loaded the bases with Bird’s single and Gardner’s hit-by-pitch. And the Twins knew they needed to stop this free-for-all and called in a new reliever again. First, Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly easily scored Ellsbury, and then Sanchez’s single loaded up the bases again. But a strikeout on a foul tip stranded all on the bases looking to add more runs to the Yankees’ big lead.

But they didn’t need to. And they really wouldn’t get much more chances. A few more hits (15 total today), but nothing collectively to add more.

But again, they really didn’t need to pad their lead any more.

Final score: 11-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 3-0.

PSP: Sometimes, I try to stall posting this blog a few extra minutes so that I can add information about upcoming opponents or waiting on a milestone or injury news. But I won’t do that today. The opponent the Yankees are watching constantly is the Red Sox, and they don’t play until tonight. So for now, that means the Yankees are just 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. (Go Orioles tonight!)

In other numbers, the Yankees are floating around the “magic number” that means they are officially in the postseason. Currently, that number is 4. Yes, that means, the Yankees need 4 games to clinch postseason, and there are only 10 games left of the season. We shall see how that all pans out in the next coming weeks.

Also, in the 5th inning today, Todd Frazier hit a foul ball line drive into the seats and it directly hit a young girl. She was treated on the scene and taken to a local hospital for further treatment. Due to HIPPA medical privacy laws, there isn’t much more information at this time. But our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family right now as she recovers.

Go Yankees!

Game 151: MIN vs NYY — Rain delays but #CCStrong continues

An initial rain delay stalled the game for over an hour before the Yankees could face the Twins for their middle game of this series. It certainly didn’t help kick things off right away, and for what ended up feeling like a long game (though only about 3.5 hours), an extra hour before the first pitch made tonight feel a little long. The only pay-off? A Yankee win.

And some pretty good pitching by CC Sabathia again. Sabathia threw just 77 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and striking out 5 Minnesota batters. This, of course, set him up for the eventual win. Though he certainly got off to a rough start. In the 1st, 3 consecutive singles quickly loaded up the bases, but a double play scored one run and started a momentum for Sabathia which carried through most of his efficient remaining innings, save a lead-off solo home run in the 3rd.

The Yankees then handed off the ball to the stellar bullpen beginning with the standout that is Chad Green. David Robertson, however, showed off his nasty stuff in his 12-pitch 8th inning. And Aroldis Chapman’s 9th easily set him up for his 20th save of the season.

Meanwhile, the Twins’ pitchers just didn’t have a very good hold on things, despite their attempt to piece together relievers through the innings. They ended up sending in 7 relievers after their starter exited the game in the 4th inning after 90 pitches.

In the 2nd, Castro led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Bird’s 2-out walk, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s double. Ellsbury led-off the 4th with a double and then after Bird’s 1-out walk, Ellsbury scored on Gardner’s single to tie up the score again. After the starter left the game, the reliever promptly threw a wild pitch that moved both runners into scoring position. And then Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly scored Bird.

With a new pitcher and 1 out in the 5th inning, Headley was hit by a pitch and Castro singled. Both runners moved up on a ground out, and Frazier’s walk loaded the bases. Then with another new pitcher on, a fielding error allowed Bird to reach base safely and score Headley. But even with loaded bases, a pop out ended the hope to expand their lead further.

Judge and Sanchez led-off the 6th with singles to put runners on the corners. Then with 2 outs, Starlin Castro singled and scored Judge, and a wild pitch moved runners up to scoring position. The Twins opted to intentionally walk Ellsbury (again) to load up the bases, which worked in their favor as a ground out ended yet another Yankee offensive threat.

But that would be it for the Yankees. And tonight, that would, once again, be enough.

Final score: 5-2 Yankees

Postseason prep: Just another FYI on the AL East standings… the Red Sox won another extra innings game tonight. They took the Orioles into the 11th inning totally scoreless, until the Red Sox finally found their opportunity and scored on a wild pitch in the top of the 11th. And the O’s couldn’t find their chance in the bottom of the inning. So the standings stand still at 3 games between the Red Sox and Yankees.

And in a little follow-up story, remember the “thumbs-down guy” from the game last week? The guy who stood up and gave a big “thumbs-down”, which Todd Frazier picked up and the entire team eventually turned into a weird positive symbol. Well, it turns out he’s actually a Mets season ticket holder, who took advantage of the cheap tickets for the relocated game to get good seats behind home plate. And on a whim, the man stood up and gave a thumbs-down. He seems to be enjoying his status as an internet sensation, but is also totally chill about it.

Go Yankees!

Game 150: MIN vs. NYY — A solid start makes all the difference

There’s a lot of talk about this particular series as if the standings remain as they are, the Yankees will face the Twins in the Wild Card game in just a couple of weeks. So, beginning tonight, we could be looking at a preview of things to come. I mean, I get why the Twins are something this season, but there are still quite a few games left of the season that could certainly change everything.

Jaime Garcia had a really stellar outing in pinstripes. After struggling so much in the beginning of his Yankee career, it’s nice to see him settling into the pitcher they knew he could be, the one they traded for. He threw 85 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up just 4 hits and one unearned run, while striking out a solid 9 batters. That unearned run came in the 5th inning. A lead-off single ended up at 3rd on a single and a fielding error and then scored on a fielder’s choice out. The error, of course, made it unearned.

David Robertson came on to finish off the 6th inning and then pitch through the 7th to keep the score fairly clean. Dellin Betances came on for the 8th and really struggled his way through — hitting the first batter with a pitch, a sacrifice bunt, a walk, a wild pitch, and a walk to load up the bases.

Not willing to take any chances, the Yankees called on Aroldis Chapman for what became a 5-out save. And boy, did he deliver, starting with a well-placed strikeout to keep the bases loaded in the 8th and then a fly out to get out of the jam. And then breezing through the 9th inning to seal it all up for them.

Meanwhile, the Yankees didn’t really do that much damage against the Twins’ pitching staff. Aaron Judge hit a 1-out solo home run into the right field seats, his 44th of the season, to kick off the scoring for the Yankees. The Yankees were able to get on base often (8 hits and a walk), but they weren’t able to capitalize much on that.

In the 6th, with 1 out, Headley and Castro singled and then moved into scoring position with a wild pitch. The Twins intentionally walked Ellsbury to load up the bases, and then gave up a sacrifice fly to Todd Frazier to score Headley to double the Yankees’ low score. That would be the end of the Twins’ starter, and their bullpen had pretty good luck against the Yankee offense, keeping them at their low score.

Both teams spent most of the game waiting for their offense to pick up and do something. But neither team really did.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees

David Robertson is one of this year’s finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, an annual honor given to the player “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.” It is part of the players’ choice awards, awarded in the postseason and voted on by secret ballot to honor fellow players who have made an outstanding impact in this past season. Mariano Rivera is the only Yankee to win the MMMotY award, back in 2013.

Robertson is recognized for his outstanding on-field performance, but he dedicates much of his off-field time to the foundation he runs with his wife Erin — High Socks for Hope. In the past, they have helped with relief efforts following natural disasters like tornadoes and Hurricane Sandy, and they are already involved in current efforts to clean up following the two recent disasters in Texas and Florida. They also have a few special branches of the foundation including one that helps with homeless veterans and a fund set-up in honor of Erin’s dad who lost his battle with cancer last year.

Fans selected the nominees from each division, and now players will vote for the player they believe is worthy of the honor this year. Robertson is up against other very philanthropic players from all over the league, and I wish them all the best in their endeavors to give back to their communities through so many different charities.

Postseason Prep: I don’t know what it is but the Red Sox are really working these extra inning games lately. As of this posting, they’re holding strong against the Orioles in the 11th inning. And I think you can guess that I’m pretty much “Go, Baltimore!” for that series. They’re still flirting that 3-game gap between the Red Sox and the Yankees for the AL East — meaning the Yankees have to keep winning and the Red Sox need to lose some of these games to stop the status quo and actually make some headway in the standings.

That reminds me… I got a text from my brother earlier today, asking for help. No, it wasn’t about his love life or something life shattering. He felt a little flustered because this guy he works with always wants to talk about baseball, and my brother is really not that into sports. Sure, he’ll go to a game, and he definitely has his favorite teams (almost anyone except Boston, smart man that he is). But he doesn’t really follow the season. At all. So I ended up sending him 21 texts about the current status of the season and league within about 10 minutes. He talks to the guy for like a minute every day, but now, he’s good for the next week or so. (You’re welcome!)

Or, you know, he could just read my blog…

Go Yankees!

Game 93: NYY vs. MIN — Another series loss despite new additions

The Yankees haven’t won a series since the sweep on June 9-11. And now, as the Yankees board a plane for their second West Coast trip to start an early weekend, that fact is still true after dropping today’s game and the mid-week series to the Twins.

Jordan Montgomery got the nod to close out the series this afternoon, throwing 104 pitches in his 6 innings. He gave up 7 hits, a walk, and 6 runs, striking out just 3 Minnesota batters. Actually, outside of a single inning, Montgomery had a stellar outing. In just the 2nd inning, Montgomery threw 38 pitches, gave up 5 hits and a walk, and allowed all 6 of the Twins’ runs this game.

In that inning, with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, a single scored 2 runs. After a walk, another single scored another run, and a big 3-run home run doubled the Twins’ score and lead. It created a rather big mountain for the Yankees to scale during the game. Perhaps they left their hiking boots back in the Bronx.

The Yankees were able to get on base during the game, but they didn’t do anything to collect runs. In fact, they were held off from doing so until the 7th inning, the end of the Twins’ starter’s day. Clint Frazier led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Romine’s hit-by-pitch, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single. An error on that same play moved Gardner and Romine to scoring position, but a new pitcher shut down any hopes for a comeback rally that inning.

Well, the bullpen in both cases continued their pretty strong showing this series. The Yankees’ offense was unable to break through again for the final two innings, and the Yankees’ relievers also fended off the Twins’ bats from adding to their solid lead. Chad Green and new Yankee Tommy Kahnle each gave a scoreless inning, but the Yankees would fall short in the end thanks to that monster early lead.

Final score: 6-1 Twins, Twins win series 2-1

Big roster news: the Yankees and White Sox orchestrated a big trade. In preparation, the Yankees optioned Chasen Shreve back to AAA Scranton and designated Rob Refsnyder and Ji-Man Choi for assignment.

The Yankees sent prospect pitcher Ian Clarkin and prospect outfielders Blake Rutherford and Tito Polo along with Yankees’ bullpen staple Tyler Clippard (who was decidedly sad to go but understood the reasoning) to the southside of Chicago. In exchange, the White Sox sent reliever Tommy Kahnle (who pitched in today’s game), infielder Todd Frazier (also the 2015 HR Derby winner), and former Yankee closer David Robertson. (Yes, Yankee Universe, D-Rob and his “high socks” are back in the Bronx.) All three new Yankees arrived during the game, suited up, and a Kahnle and Frazier even got to play later in the game.

Now, how this will pan out will be interesting. Todd Frazier is usually a regular 3rd baseman, but he does have experience at 1st; so while Headley is still on the team and playing, I can’t see Girardi using Frazier for anything but 1st. Kahnle will naturally fall right into the bullpen, which shouldn’t be much of an issue, except whether he is a 1-inning guy or long-term may yet be determined.

The biggest question mark really is Robertson, who is a great closer and was great as one for the Yankees, though he fell into the 8th inning slot next due to the Yankees’ legend Mariano Rivera being the everyday closer. With the likes of Chapman and Betances still in play on the team, the most common thought will be having Robertson slide back into his 8th inning role and move Betances to sticky situations or closing out non-save games.

And if you’re wondering, Todd Frazier donned #29, Kahlne #48, and Robertson is back in his old #30. Clint Frazier willingly gave up his #30 for Robertson, asking instead for #77, a quirky nod to hero Mantle (#7) and good friend Judge (#99).

Go Yankees!

Game 92: NYY vs. MIN — Even a plague of moths can’t stop a Yankee win tonight

On this day in Yankee history in 1999, David Cone became the 3rd Yankee pitcher and 16th MLB player to throw a perfect game. Cone threw just 88 pitches to the visiting Montreal Expos’ lineup, striking out 10 of them. There was a 33-minute rain delay in the middle of the 3rd inning, but it didn’t seem to affect Cone’s momentum in the slightest. The Yankees went on to win the game 6-0. Cone’s catcher that day was current manager Joe Girardi. And the manager of the Yankees then, Joe Torre, was also celebrating his birthday. So, happy anniversary on the game and happy birthday, Mr. Torre!

For tonight’s game against the Twins, the Yankees called on Luis Cessa to start, but Cessa had a bit of trouble tonight. He threw 76 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, striking out just 2 batters. Right in the 1st, he loaded up the bases with 2 walks and a hit-by-pitch and 2 outs, he walked another batter to get the Twins on the board early, but then got out of the jam with the first of his 2 strikeouts.

A 1-out solo home run in the 3rd doubled their score. And in the 4th, a 1-out double scored on a big triple. After 1 more out, the Yankees opted to go to their bullpen and call on Chasen Shreve. And once they opened that bullpen door, it was one of the best things they did for the team. Shreve closed out the 4th and got through the 5th scoreless, albeit a bit of a jam.

Warren’s beautiful 6th and 7th innings continued the momentum and set up the final two relievers — Betances who found some 8th inning drama but got out unscathed, and Chapman’s 16-pitch 9th inning for his 10th save of the season.

Now, that could be bad, but the Yankees were hitting quite a bit tonight — 13 total hits off the Twins’ pitching staff, 8 of those alone off the starter. The Yankees did all of their big damage in the middle of the game. In the 4th, Judge led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single, then to 3rd on a fielder’s choice, and scored on Chase Headley’s single to get the Yankees on the board. (Judge’s productive offense tonight clearly negates whatever silly “home run derby jinx” the online trolls seem bent on believing.)

Still down in the 5th, the Yankees decided to grab the lead and not let go. Torreyes led-off with a single and ended up on 3rd after Gardner’s ground-rule double. Then Gary Sanchez (another victim of those online “derby jinx” trolls) hit a big double that scored both Torreyes and Gardner. That ended the Twins’ starter’s night. Aaron Judge’s single scored Sanchez, and then he scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ solid 1-out 2-run home run to ensure the Yankees’ lead and eventual victory tonight.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees.

Also, about the 6th inning of tonight’s game, Target Field was seemingly invaded by thousands of moths. It was almost like a Biblical plague, but with floating white, non-biting things, almost like big, thick snow flakes in appearance, in the air. I thought they were paper or debris on the field and in the air at first, but was later corrected when I could see their buzzing wings in close-up shots. Fortunately, it was nowhere near as bad as the infamous “midges game” back in 2007.

Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees optioned Bryan Mitchell back to AAA Scranton, recalling tonight’s starter Luis Cessa.

Injury updates: Greg Bird and Michael Pineda had their scheduled surgeries today to repair their injuries. Bird released a post-op statement, stating his intention to get back in the game as soon as he possibly can. Here’s hoping for their quick return to full health.

Go Yankees!

Game 91: NYY vs. MIN — A case of the Mondays

I did the math. We’re looking at a team that’s on track for 85 wins this season, quite a few less than the last time I did that math on my mirror. But looking at the standings and how the Yankees are playing right now, none of that really surprises me in the slightest.

Bryan Mitchell got the start tonight in the opening game against the Twins. He threw 90 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs (only 1 earned), striking out just 2 batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out walk scored on an RBI double to get the Twins on the board.

And after loading up the bases in the 3rd, the Yankees’ defense jumped into action getting the first 2 outs in a solid double play, first by a line drive to Judge in right field and then firing it home to get the runner trying to score there. But then a missed catch error by Mitchell led to the next batter scoring.

The Yankees’ offense caught up in the middle of the game, in the 5th. With 2 outs, Garrett Cooper doubled and then scored on Austin Romine’s double. And in the 7th, Headley hit a 1-out double and then scored on Cooper’s double to tie up the game.

So, the Yankees looked at rookie Caleb Smith (the 12th Yankees making his debut this season) to give some long-term relief and ultimately close out the game. He was fine until the 8th inning. He gave up consecutive singles to lead-off the inning. A pinch-hit single scored the winning run, and a double scored the insurance run. But then Smith got things under control, intentionally walking one batter and loading up the bases before getting his 5th strikeout of his outing.

The Yankees’ offense got a few chances to do something, like in the 8th inning, but they didn’t do anything except leave base runners stranded (yeah, that old song!).

Final score: 4-2 Twins

Injury updates: tomorrow, both Greg Bird and Michael Pineda will undergo surgery to repair their respective injuries. Bird chose surgery to deal with his lingering ankle issue, now diagnosed as an excess bone growth on his right ankle. His surgery will occur in New York and about 6 weeks of rehab is scheduled to follow. This means Bird could potentially resume baseball activities in early September.

Pineda opted for Tommy John surgery to repair his partially torn UCL in his right elbow. After his initial diagnosis and recommendation, he sought a second opinion with the Reds’ medical director in Cincinnati. That physician will perform the surgery tomorrow, and then Pineda is looking about about 15-ish months before he’s back on the mound.

With the looming trade deadline (July 31), these two surgeries, and the current slump of the team, I expect the Yankees might be in the market for a few new faces in pinstripes. No one saw the likes of Ichiro Suzuki or Chase Headley in such instances, but both veteran players were (and are) key to the team’s upswing for the rest of the season they jumped into.

In other words, new faces do work, even at the loss of some familiar ones, because the ultimate goal is #28. Every single season until it happens. And then it’s on to #29… #30… #31…

Go Yankees!

2017 All-Star Game: Millennial take-over

For a city so synonymous with aging Boomers and the height of a young Gen-X, it seems like it got a bit of a makeover, filled with Millennial who weren’t even born while iconic Miami-based shows like Miami Vice (1984-1990) were still on the air. Well, maybe a few during the run of Golden Girls (1985-1992), but that would be generally less than ideal comparison for a group of competitive 20-something young ball players. They would probably prefer shows like the more recent action spy show Burn Notice (2007-2013) which was sometimes referred to by fans as the 21st century version of Miami Vice (but without Don Johnson’s floppy hair and those hideous pastel suits on the lead heroes).

So it was the National League (and their reserves) against the American League (and their reserves) to face off for the 88th All-Star Game. And despite the ridiculous show of power 8 key players put on last night, tonight’s game was a pitcher’s game from the start to finish. Each team put up 9 pitchers who each threw about 15 pitches per inning and struck out a total of 22 batters overall.

But it wasn’t like the batters weren’t hitting, as they racked up 17 total hits (and 6 walks) over the game, but they just weren’t exactly given much chance to do much with those hits thanks to the defense. Again, it was an All-Star Game, and for the first time in a really long time, it felt like both teams were fairly evenly matched in every aspect of the game — pitching, batting, base-running, and defense. And tonight’s game proved that.

No one got close to scoring until the 5th inning with the AL up at bat. With 2 outs, Schoop (Orioles) doubled and then scored on Sano’s (Twins) single. A nice bit of redemption for the power-hitter after falling short to Judge last night, responsible for the first run scored of the night. The National League answered back in the 6th when their veteran catcher Molina (Cardinals) hit a long home run into the corner of the AL bullpen to tie up the game.

And the game ended up being played into extra innings thanks to all those aptly named all-star players. So when NL manager Joe Maddon sent in his lone Cubs pitcher and closer Davis, he unfortunately didn’t count on Cano (Mariners) liking the third pitch, sending it into the AL bullpen for the winning home run.

Only fittingly so, AL interim manager Brad Mills (filling in for a recovering Terry Francona, who made an “appearance” in the AL clubhouse) sent in his own closer Miller (Indians) who got out of the 10th inning and saved the game for the AL with a final strikeout.

Final score: 2-1 in 10 innings, American League over National League

Robinson Cano, of course, got the All-Star Game MVP award thanks to that 10th inning, game-winning homer. And after accepting the glass bat trophy, he was asked to choose between a red Chevy Colorado pickup truck and a special Transformers edition blue Chevy Corvette. Cano wisely chose the Corvette.

Okay, Yankee Universe, you’re wondering how our 5 All-Stars did. Aaron Judge started the game in right field and batted third in the lineup, but he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Judge later admitted he was a bit tired after last night’s Derby and nervous and excited about the game tonight. Gary Sanchez came on for the second half of the game as the back-up catcher and ended up batting 8th, and he went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Starlin Castro was present but unable to play due to his lingering wrist injury, so he spent time in the dugout cheering on his teammates and the American League.

In pitching, Dellin Betances showed the world what it felt like when he wanted to throw in some drama in the 3rd. He gave up a lead-off single, then struck out 2 batters, a wild pitch moved the runner to 2nd before he walked the batter, another wild pitch moved runners to scoring position, another walk loaded up the bases (and had everyone but Yankee Universe biting their nails), and a dribbling ground out ended the threat and the inning, getting Betances out of the jam… as usual.

Luis Severino would have pitched in the 11th inning had the NL tied up the game, and while he was disappointed not to see any play time in Miami, he really just wanted to see the AL win the game. Wish granted.

It is worth noting that the All-Star Game no longer counts for much of anything in the long-run more than bragging rights. As of this year, with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the league, the home field advantage goes to the team that has the best record between the AL and NL champions (which was always a much better idea). Full disclosure: the players of the winning ASG team do get a $20,000 bonus check; so I guess it’s a bit more personal than bragging rights.

Okay, the millennial invasion of Miami was never more apparent than at what became one of the most talked about moments in the game. Mariner’s designated hitter (and one of the oldest guys, on either roster) Nelson Cruz came up to bat in the 6th innings and walked over to the home plate umpire Joe West and asked for a picture with him as he pulled out his phone from his back pocket. NL (and Cardinals) catcher Yadier Molina (also one of the older players) took the picture for Cruz as West seemed both confused and amused at the concept. While not technically a selfie, it went around the internet quickly that Cruz wanted a selfie with West (who is just called his 5000th game last week and is often one of the least liked umpires in the business, which may explain Cruz calling him a “legend”).

In a touching tribute before the game tonight, the league honored Latin-American baseball legends and Hall of Famers in an on-field ceremony — Roberto Alomar, Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Pedro Martinez, Tony Perez, Ivan Rodriguez (who was part of the 2003 Marlins’ championship team), and the late Roberto Clemente (who was represented by his wife Vera). Then, they all threw out the ceremonial first pitch to current All-Star players of Latin-American birth. It was a great way to “pass the torch”, as it were.

We’re back after a couple of days rest in Fenway to restart the season with the rivalry series in Boston on Friday. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Go Yankees!