Game 97: NYY vs. SEA — Losing streak broken

I find it interesting that it was a West Coast trip that the Yankees’ recent losing streak. So it’s only fitting that a West Coast trip could end it. And with the final West Coast game of the season, the Yankees needed a win to move forward with the rest of the season.

So they called on rookie Caleb Smith to start today’s final game in Seattle. After a pretty clean first third of the game, Smith a bit of a struggle towards the end of his outing. Overall, he threw 56 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, most of that was in the 4th inning actually. He loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. Two outs later, he gave up a 2-RBI single and then a 2-RBI double to push the Mariners into a nice lead. And Smith’s outing was over, handing things off to Chad Green who ended the rally with a nice strikeout.

Green went on to throw through the 5th and 6th innings, keeping the Mariners from adding to their score and setting the momentum for the rest of the bullpen — Dellin Betances’ clean 7th and David Robertson’s 10-pitch 8th. Aroldis Chapman made things a little interesting but still managed to keep things together for the 9th and the eventual save.

Meanwhile, the Yankees kicked off the game with a solo home run by Brett Gardner, his 17th of the season. And Didi Gregorius added one more run in the 2nd with a solid solo shot into the right field seats only to do it again in the 4th with another one, a great 2-homer game for Gregorius.

And in the 6th, with a new pitcher, the Yankees loaded up the bases with a couple walks and a single. Brett Gardner’s single scored Headley to tie up the game. With a new pitcher, the Yankees kept their momentum going as Clint Frazier’s double scored 2 more runs. Despite loading up the bases with Judge’s intentional walk, the Mariners finally remembered their defense and got 2 quick outs.

After that, neither team managed to do much more offensively, and with Chapman’s save, the Yankees were set up for a game win and a series win.

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

Roster moves: Well, the Yankees orchestrated a trade with the Blue Jays, where they sent infielder Rob Refsnyder in exchange for 1st baseman Ryan McBroom, a prospect from the AA affiliate. They also outrighted Ji-Man Choi to AAA Scranton and traded reliever Dillon McNamara (formerly with AA Trenton) to the Giants.

And with that, the Yankees are headed back to the East Coast to start a long 9-game home stand on Tuesday (facing the Reds, Rays, and Tigers). Hopefully, carrying this winning thing with them and setting the momentum to carry them into October baseball.

Go Yankees!

Game 96: NYY vs. SEA — 3rd & 10th inning woes

Before a sell-out crowd in Seattle, the Yankees were looking for a third win in a row, but the Mariners weren’t about to be swayed by their bad record recently and certainly gave the Yankees a rather hard time in the process. Well, actually, save one inning early in the game, it was a Yankee-dominated game in most respects.

Masahiro Tanaka started tonight’s game and outside of that one aforementioned inning, he had a pretty great outing. Outside of that inning, he gave up just 2 hits in 5 innings, throwing just 58 pitches. But in the 3rd, he threw 39 pitches and gave up 5 hits and 4 runs.

A lead-off home run got the Mariners on the board, followed by another solo home run just an out later. Tanaka got another out, but then struggled to find that third out. A single and hit-by-pitch put a threat on base before the Mariners came in and got consecutive singles to score consecutive runs to double their score.

Other than that, Tanaka powered through and kept the Mariners at bay (sea-faring metaphoric pun intended). Green plowed through the 7th and kept the score as-is, but David Robertson’s 1st pitch in the 8th inning became a solo home run into the left field seats to add to the Mariners’ score. But then Robertson breezed through the next 3 batters, followed up by Kahnle in the 9th doing the same in 3 strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees did dominate quite a bit of the game. They even struck first in the 2nd. Gary Sanchez led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ single, and then scored on a double play. In the 5th, Garrett hit a big 1-out triple and then scored on Ronald Torreyes’ sacrifice fly.

With 1 out and a new pitcher in the 6th, Aaron Judge hit his 32nd home run of the season into the right field seats. In the 8th, with 1 out, the Yankees loaded up the bases (including an intentional walk to Judge), but the only thing the Yankees could make happen in this scenario was a Matt Holliday sacrifice fly. In the 9th, Gregorious led-off with a walk and, 2 outs later, was pinch-run by Ellsbury. Ellsbury promptly stole 2nd and then scored on Torreyes’ single to tie up the game.

And into the 10th they went. The Yankees were shut down in order at the top of the inning, turning to Adam Warren to push things into the 11th. But Warren immediately struggled. Warren gave up a lead-off double and then intentionally walked the next batter. A single then scored the winning walk-off run to hand the victory to the Mariners.

Final score: 6-5 Mariners, in 10 innings

Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees announced that Starlin Castro would be headed to the 10-day disabled list due to a lingering hamstring issue, suffered initially in Minnesota on Wednesday. In his place, they recalled Tyler Wade.

The Yankees have one more game tomorrow in Seattle, their last game on the West Coast this season (at least during the regular season). Fingers crossed for a game win which means the first series win since early June.

Go Yankees!

Game 95: NYY vs. SEA — Quite a birthday bash, hosted by Judge

Well, the Yankees have won 12 of their last 13 games at Safeco Field in Seattle. So much for that so-called “home field advantage”.

CC Sabathia celebrated his 37th birthday today by starting tonight’s game against the Mariners. His biggest problem tonight was his pitch count, throwing 98 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and a run and struck out 5 batters. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Sabathia gave a walk that moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on another single. Yet another single loaded the bases before a grounder ended the initial threat. In other words, outside of that 1st inning, Sabathia only allowed a hit and 2 walks, which was great.

After allowing a walk in the 6th, Sabathia turned things over to Tommy Kahnle, who threw a solid 10 pitches to breeze his way through the 6th. Then David Robertson made his 2017 debut as a Yankee, throwing his first Yankee strikeout since September 26, 2014. Robertson threw 13 pitches and got 3 consecutive strikeouts for the 7th.

Dellin Betances made the 8th inning interesting (par for the course with Betances), giving up a couple of big hits but not allowing a run and still striking out 2 batters along the way. Adam Warren’s 11-pitch 9th inning was almost perfect. Somehow, the bullpen righting itself recently has set things in motion for the rest of the team. Whatever it takes to revert the Yankees back to their momentum of earlier this season.

Anyway, on the flip side of the field, the Yankees had a decent outing against the Mariners’ starter, racking up 9 hits in just 6 innings. And in the 3rd, Headley led-off with a double and then scored on Clint Frazier’s double to tie up the game. A fly out moved Frazier to 3rd, and after a walk, Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly scored Frazier to move the Yankees into the lead.

In the 5th, with 1 out, Gardner and Sanchez each singled and sat on the corners. And then it would be Aaron Judge to hit just a monster 3-run home run deep into the left field seats. That would be his 31st home run this season, but his first since July 7 (so 14 days, including the 4-day All-Star break and excluding the 47 BP-like ones he hit during the HR Derby).

But anyway, that was more than enough to keep the Yankees’ streak in Seattle solid.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees

So, this was CC Sabathia’s first ever win on his birthday, despite being his 6th birthday start — 2002 and 2006 with Cleveland; 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2017 with the Yankees. However, he also has a current 10 wins and 1 loss in his career at Safeco Field, though it’s 6-0 as a Yankee. Maybe then that stat about the Yankees being great in Seattle has a whole lot to do with Sabathia. It’s almost surprising the Mariners didn’t do more to try to buy Sabathia’s contract. But then all the better for Yankee Universe.

Happy Birthday, CC!

Go Yankees!

Game 94: NYY vs. SEA — New number, new position, new series, new win

Luis Severino was on point tonight, which the Yankees certainly needed in a game where they faced one of the Mariners’ star pitchers, their former ace who still has his own fan club in the left field corner of Safeco Field. Severino threw 100 pitches in his 7 scoreless innings, gave up 8 hits and a walk, and struck out 6 batters.

Now, he’s always been a starter with quick a bit of power, but he actually threw the fastest pitch by a starter this season — a 101.2 mph fastball. With the bases loaded and 2 outs in the bottom of the 4th, and a 1-2 count, Severino cranked it up a notch trying to get an out and threw that speedy pitch, but the batter fouled it off to stay in the game. He eventually grounded into a fielder’s choice on the 8th pitch of the at-bat.

Anyway, the Yankees’ offense had some trouble hitting off the Mariners’ starter for most of the game. That is until Brett Gardner hit a solid 1-out solo home run in the 6th inning to get the Yankees on the board and in the lead.

Once the Mariners turned to their bullpen, the Yankees found more opportunities. Headley hit a 1-out single in the 8th and moved to 2nd when Gardner made it safely on base thanks to a fielding error. A new pitcher then walked Sanchez to load the bases. Aaron Judge then singled to score Headley before a double play ended the threat that inning.

And in the 9th, the Mariners sent in a new reliever, and the Yankees still put 2 runners on base with singles and 2 outs. And then Chase Headley hit a short grounder into shallow right field, but then the Mariners’ 2nd baseman totally missed the throw to the 1st baseman. Headley moved on to 2nd as the players scurried to get the ball, and that allowed both runners to double the Yankees’ score. This means that the only run the Yankees actually earned tonight was Gardner’s homer.

Meanwhile, the Yankees called on Dellin Betances for the 8th inning, who was able to escape his own self-inflicted jam with a great strikeout, before turning things over to Aroldis Chapman for the 9th. Chapman, unfortunately, had a bit of trouble, giving up a lead-off walk. That runner moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then to 3rd on a second strikeout. He then scored on an RBI double to get the Mariners on the board. But a fly out ended the inning, the threat, and the game.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees

Okay, it looks like there’s an answer to the giant question about having 2 veteran 3rd basemen on the roster. Shortly after news broke about the recent trade, Chase Headley spoke to Girardi and told him that he would be willing to do whatever necessary for the good of the team. So Girardi came back and asked Headley to play 1st, so that Todd Frazier could play 3rd. This means that the rookie Cooper would platoon Headley at 1st, and utility wunderkind Torreyes can fill in at 3rd.

Also, it certainly says a lot to me about Headley. Now, he could have pulled rank and insisted on not moving from the spot he’s played for most of his career, the position he’s known for, insisting the “new guy” play the other spot. But no, Headley put the good of the team above whatever sentiments he may have for the position. And honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to flip that around to see if that could work. However, the most important part was the character of the players willing to put the name on the front of their jersey first over the number on their back.

And speaking of which, while Todd Frazier grew up a Yankees fan, idolizing #21 Paul O’Neill, Frazier was assigned #29, despite having worn #21 with his former teams. While there was some chatter initially about petitioning O’Neill for permission for Frazier to wear his beloved #21, Frazier said earlier today that he’s totally fine with #29 and wouldn’t be asking for a change. O’Neill hasn’t commented on the issue and #21 isn’t actually retired, but it isn’t in circulation due to O’Neill popularity with the fans. If anyone could have brought back the #21 with justice, it would be Frazier, but I rather admire the fact that he’s sticking with something new.

A new chapter, a new number, a new position… sounds like a new turn of events for the Yankees this season. And if that breaks up whatever slump they’ve been in recently, I’m really okay with that too.

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!

Game 126: NYY vs. SEA — 800 wins, a 33rd birthday, & “The Kraken”

The Yankees take 2 out of 3 games in the series again, which is very crucial when they’re facing teams also in the Wild Card race. Add to that Joe Girardi’s 800th managerial win and Brett Gardner’s birthday, and it turns out that Wednesday is a pretty good day.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start for the final game this afternoon against the Mariners and kept them scoreless through his 7 innings. He threw 106 pitches, gave up just 6 hits and a walk, and struck out only 5 batters for his 11th win of the season. Tyler Clippard followed suit, giving up a couple of hits but keeping the Mariners scoreless in his partial 8th inning. Dellin Betances came in to sew things up for 4 outs, adding 3 beautiful strikeouts as is his M.O.

The Yankees certainly helped things along, led by those amazing “Baby Bombers”. And let’s be clear, the most powerful hitters (and players in general) on the roster right now are 26 years old and under. Starting out with a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning, by (who else these days?) Gary Sanchez. (I do like that everyone is calling him “The Kraken” as in “Release the Kraken” when he hits these home runs.)

In the 2nd inning, with 1 out, Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch and Hicks singled to provide some runners. Tyler Austin snapped his offensive slump with a nice RBI single to double the Yankees score. In the 4th inning, with 1 out, the Yankees loaded the bases with a couple of singles and a fielder’s choice. Birthday boy Brett Gardner hit a sacrifice fly added another run to their total.

In the last part of the game, the Yankees faced the bullpen and added to the score. Gardner led-off the 7th with a single, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ sacrifice bunt, watch Sanchez get intentionally walked, and then scored on Mark Teixeira’s single. And in the 9th, the Yankees loaded up the bases again — Gardner walked, Gregorius hit into a ground-rule double, and then Sanchez was intentionally walked AGAIN. Then with 1 out, Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly scored Gardner and moved the runners up. But a new reliever struck out the final batter.

Final score: 5-0 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

Okay, lots of people on social media started pulling some cool data about how many rookies had been intentionally walked in their first handful of games twice in the same game. Gary Sanchez has played in 21 games, hit his 9th home run today, and was walked twice intentionally in today’s game. Apparently, it’s a weird and big deal.

Here’s what the internet people discovered and posted (from trusted sources): Another rookie who did such a thing in his first few games was Brian McCann (while we he was with the Braves); the last Yankee catcher to get intentionally walked twice in a game was John Flaherty in 2004; Sanchez is the 55th player ever with two intentional walks in a game within his first 21 career games; he is also 1st Yankee to be intentionally walked twice in a game within 1st 21 career games since Joe Gorgon in 1938. (You’re welcome from the randomness of the internet.)

Roster update: after spending most of this season on the 60-day DL due to a fractured toe he sustained at the end of Spring Training, Bryan Mitchell finished his rehab assignment and was officially moved from the DL and optioned to AAA Scranton. And if you know anything about how the season is going, I expect we’ll see him in the Bronx before long.

Again, a Happy Birthday to Brett Gardner! And congratulations to Joe Girardi on his milestone.

Go Yankees!

Game 125: NYY vs. SEA — A gem in the Emerald City

CC Sabathia certainly threw a gem of a game in the “Emerald City” tonight in the middle game of this series against the Mariners. (I really wanted to get that pun out of the way quickly). Sabathia threw 101 pitches through 7 full innings, giving up just 3 hits, a walk, and the Mariners’ single run of the night, while striking out 7 batters. This was like vintage Sabathia for his 8th win of the season. His lone issue came in the 3rd inning when a 1-out triple scored on an RBI single (there’s 2 of those 3 hits) before the next batter hit into an unassisted double play by Mark Teixeira who also got the runner doubling off 1st. Teixeira makes those look easy sometimes.

Sabathia handed the game off to Tommy Layne who quickly shut down the Mariners in just 8 pitches in his 8th inning. Dellin Betances added 2 more strikeouts of his own in his 9th inning, hand-delivering the Yankees the win. There haven’t been many save opportunities for Betances as the wins have been too big (more than a 3-run difference), so he’s been getting almost standard bullpen work. Not that anyone is complaining as he’s still racking up his “innings pitched” and “strikeouts” statistics.

The Yankees certainly weren’t hesitating in the batter’s box, gathering 9 hits, 3 walks, and still swinging away at 10 strikeouts. In the 2nd, with 2 outs, Aaron Judge reached on a fielding error and later scored on Ronald Torreyes’ double to get the Yankees on the board first. Then with the game tied in the 5th inning, Torreyes led-off with a double and then was there to watch Jacoby Ellsbury’s big 2-run home run sail out of the park to give the Yankees the lead they’d never give back.

In the 6th, Teixeira led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on McCann’s ground out, and then scored on Judge’s sacrifice fly. Two singles and a stolen base later, the Yankees were looking to add to their score, but the Mariners perhaps wisely pulled their exhausted starter and the threat was quickly over. But then the Yankees wanted that insurance run in the 9th inning and saw their opportunity when Ellsbury ended up all the way at 2nd on another bad fielding error. He then scored easily on Didi Gregorius’ ground-rule double.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees.

Roster news: the Yankees placed pitcher Anthony Swarzak on the 15-day DL due to rotator cuff inflammation in his throwing shoulder. That is not good. In his place, they recalled reliever Ben Heller.

So the Yankees are looking at a rubber match tomorrow afternoon before heading home for a quick weekend series against the Orioles. They hit the road for a week to Kansas City and then Baltimore. Based on where Baltimore is in the standings, facing them two weekends in a row could either be incredibly helpful or incredibly harmful. I think you can guess which way I’m hoping they lean these next 10 days.

Go Yankees!