Game 116: BOS vs. NYY — Blown save & extra inning disappointment

It’s funny, actually. Going into the later innings, despite the game being tied, all the “people that know” were giving the Yankees a 60-70% chance of winning the game. And then everything went so terribly wrong.

Jordan Montgomery certainly showed no ill effects from his foul ball connection yesterday, having a pretty good outing in tonight’s finale against the visiting Red Sox. He threw 84 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and a single run, and struck out 4 Boston batters. Montgomery held the Red Sox off until the 5th inning, when a 1-out walk moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on an RBI single.

Robertson came in to close out the 6th for Montgomery and sailed his way through the 7th, keeping the Red Sox to that lone run. Betances followed that up with a flawless 12-pitch 8th inning.

Like I said before, the Yankees had tied up the game, right in the bottom of the 5th. Headley hit a 1-out single and then easily scored on Austin Romine’s powerful triple. Up against the Red Sox’s ace pitcher, the Yankees always have a bit of trouble (as does every other team, if we’re being honest) trying to do much of anything. The Yankees racked up his pitch count, but he countered by getting the Yankee batters to strike out 12 times in just 7 innings.

So when the Red Sox’s ace starter finally left the game in the 7th, the Yankees saw their opportunity to make up for lost time. With 1 out in the 8th, the Yankees loaded up the bases with 2 walks and a single. Todd Frazier’s long sacrifice fly scored lead-runner Hicks to break the tie (and those winning odds skyrocketed, by the way). But with a new reliever on the mound, the next batter struck out in just 3 pitches.

And it was on to Aroldis Chapman for just 3 outs to hand the Yankees the win. He struck out the first batter in just 3 pitches (and 101+ mph fastballs that just stunned the veteran powerhitter). But the next batter, a young rookie on the roster, promptly sent a fastball into the visitor’s bullpen out in left-center field to tie up the game.

And the Yankees tried to make something happen in the bottom of the 9th to walk-off a win — a lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt and then to 3rd on a ground out, but the Yankees left him stranded there. Chapman continued into the 10th inning, getting a lead-off strikeout, but then hitting a batter and walking the next.

Tommy Kahnle walked the next batter to load up the bases, and then gave up a single so the Red Sox could score the winning run before Kahnle pitched through the next 2 batters with the bases loaded. Once again, all the Yankees needed was to catch up and retake the lead in the bottom of the inning. But oddly, the Red Sox closer (who normally struggles against the Yankees this season) was on point and breezed through the necessary 3 outs to advance the Red Sox’s lead in the AL East.

Final score: 3-2 Red Sox, in 10 innings, Red Sox win series 2-1.

Scranton Shuttle: the Yankees optioned reliever Giovanni Gallegos back to AAA Scranton and recalled reliever Caleb Smith for a fresh arm in the bullpen.

Yes, the Yankees are now 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. We are solidly in the Wild Card race, leading the Angels by 1 1/2 games. But we are winding down the series and there are just 46 games left in the Yankees’ season. Even so, there’s still time for many things to happen, especially as the Yankees will face the Red Sox again next month.

And in more fun news: today marked the anniversary of Aaron Judge’s debut as a Yankee. Yes, exactly one year ago today, #99 began his legacy in the Bronx. A legacy that certainly kind of faltered a bit by the end of last season, but then became something to talk about beginning in Spring Training of this year. He’s had similar struggles as last season in this post All-Star break, but there’s no reason to think he’s stuck there permanently.

Because it’s Judge — the kid who won the Home Run Derby and hit home run balls well over 500 feet, who hasn’t faltered in the outfield at all and is known for his quick and strong arm, who still (despite his struggles this year) is still very much in contention for rookie of the year (and deserves it in my opinion), and who really could be the first retired #99 in Monument Park and Cooperstown in like 25 years.

Go Yankees!

Game 114: BOS vs. NYY — Now, that was a game

I went to a minor league game recently. Yes, I do care about baseball outside of the Yankees. Okay, it was a Yankees’ minor league affiliate, but the point remains — go see a minor league game (plus it was like $5 for the ticket and free parking).

Anyway, so I was at this game, and the home team was down by a run in the 4th inning when the fans already started heading for the exit. Even after they tied up the game in the 5th, the fans trickled out. The home team ended up getting 5 runs in the 7th inning, but only half the original crowd was there to witness it. And by the final inning, where the home team ended up just shutting out the visitors, the crowd was just a scattering of people in the stands.

But it’s a thing I see in nearly every game. People just leave if they think the game is over regardless of who’s in the lead. When will they learn?

Fortunately, in a rivalry game, this kind of thing is rarely a problem. The Fenway Faithful and Yankee Universe jointly know the cardinal rule of baseball — “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”. And tonight’s sell-out crowd in the Bronx was there to watch the opening of rivalry week against the Red Sox for this weekend series. And they were given quite the show.

Jaime Garcia was given the start for tonight’s game, throwing 103 pitches into the 6th inning. He gave up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out 6 Boston batters. Garcia is clearly still finding his way on the mound in pinstripes, but his outing tonight was a bit better than his one in Cleveland. In the 1st, a 1-out walk scored as part of a 2-out 2-run home run to get the Red Sox on their board first. He held them off for most of his outing, giving up a 2-out solo home run in the 5th to give the Red Sox an insurance run.

After Garcia went into triple digits in his pitch count, he struggled to get the final out of the 6th inning. So disappointingly, he handed off the game to Adam Warren, who came on for some longer relief and successfully kept the Red Sox from adding to their lead. Warren closed out the 6th and then breezed his way through the 7th and 8th innings.

The Yankees’ offense only got 2 hits and 2 walks off the Red Sox’s starter, so they had to wait for the bullpen, who up until tonight has been really good (one of the prime reasons they’re at the top of the AL East). So the Yankees found their opening in the 8th inning. To lead-off the inning, pinch-hitter Gardner was hit by a pitch. Well, originally, the umpire didn’t call it as such, thinking it was just a bad bouncing ball. But a Yankees challenge and replay overturned the call and sent Gardner down the 90 feet to 1st base.

Aaron Hicks is back in action and proved his worth tonight by hitting a 2-run home run into the seats in the corner of right field. With the Yankees finally on the board (and only down by a run), the stadium sparked alive with rally energy. Sanchez singled and moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and Judge worked a walk. And with absolutely no outs recorded in this inning, the Red Sox went back to their bullpen.

It didn’t really help them much. Didi Gregorius promptly singled and scored Sanchez to tie up the game, and Todd Frazier followed that up with his own RBI single to score Judge (the winning run). After a strikeout (the first out of the inning), Ellsbury singled to load up the bases. Ronald Torreyes’ long sacrifice fly scored Gregorius for an insurance run, and Gardner (yes, the Yankees batted through the line-up in a single inning) worked a walk to load up the bases again. This prompted the Red Sox to go back to the bullpen again and they finally found that 3rd out.

So, with the Yankees now leading, they turned to Aroldis Chapman to close out the 9th inning and earn the save. But Chapman had some trouble with his command today walking his first 3 batters to load up the bases. Suddenly, the Red Sox contingency in the stadium were awake and cheering wildly. The next batter hit into a sacrifice fly double play, as Hicks caught the sacrifice fly that scored the lead runner, but fired the ball to Frazier at 3rd to tag out the runner there trying to advance. Even a challenge from the Red Sox upheld the original call. A fly out to center field ended the inning, the game, and the threat.

Final score: 5-4 Yankees

And in injury news: CC Sabathia was placed on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation in his right knee. In his place, the Yankees have recalled Jordan Montgomery. (I told you he wouldn’t be gone long.) Now, Sabathia’s knee injury is a concern, as it’s the same knee he’s had trouble with for some time. His original plan for maintenance this season kind of fell to the wayside as he felt really good with it and hasn’t needed special care since before Spring Training. And truth be told, he’s been rather strong in his outings this season, so I can understand thinking things were finally better for him.

However, as someone who also has a recurring knee issue, I know the perils of being too optimistic in these cases. Just when you’ve had no issues for months and it feels like you could run up three flights of stairs, you do something normal — like run up three flights of stairs — and suddenly, you’re back out of commission for the next six weeks having to nurse your old injury that suddenly tweaked weird about halfway up the three flights of stairs that you still insisted on climbing in its entirety just to prove you’re not really injured. And you didn’t want everyone to know you couldn’t finish the climb. And you don’t want their pity unless they want to carry you up the last half of the stairs like a pack mule up the mountainside.

Anyway, the point being — take care of that knee, Sabathia. We’re going to need it and that left arm at its peak come October.

Go Yankees!

Game 112: NYY vs. TOR — It was close, until it wasn’t

Masahiro Tanaka got the start for the middle game of this mid-week series in Toronto. He had a bit of a struggle tonight, throwing 88 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up just 2 hits, but 5 walks, and 3 runs (just 2 earned), striking out just 2 Toronto batters.

In the 2nd, with 2 runners in scoring position, a ground out scored the Blue Jays’ first run. A fielder’s choice got the other runner coming home in a wild rundown play with far too many throws, just a standard 5-2-6-2-6-1 play. The lead-off batter in the 3rd reached on catcher’s interference (and it wasn’t Ellsbury!), but then Tanaka quickly loaded the bases with 2 walks. A sacrifice fly scored the only run as they worked their way out of the inning without further damage. After a lead-off home run and a walk in the 5th, Tanaka’s night was over.

He handed the ball off to Chad Green, who promptly ended the 5th with 3 consecutive strikeouts. But then Green got into trouble of his own in the 6th. With 1 out and a runner on 1st, a double scored another run for the Blue Jays, and it was on to Tommy Kahnle for relief. A wild pitch moved the runner to 3rd, and after a walk and out, a single scored yet another Toronto run.

But that would be it for the Blue Jays as the back-end of the bullpen came in with great momentum. Robertson and Betances just sailed through the 7th and 8th innings, and Warren, despite allowing 2 baserunners, got out of the 9th unscathed.

Meanwhile, it seemed like quite the cat-and-mouse game. After the Yankees, who got on the board first, would score, the Blue Jays would come back and grab a few of their own runs. But then the Yankees got to the point where their offense was uncatchable and their relievers were too strong for the Blue Jays to catch-up completely.

To lead off the 2nd inning, Gary Sanchez and Todd Frazier hit consecutive solo home runs to start tonight’s run-scoring. Then Didi Gregorius got in on the game with a 2-out solo home run of his own in the 3rd. In the 5th, with 2 outs, Judge and Gregorius were in scoring position and the starter handed over the ball to the bullpen. Todd Frazier’s double scored both runners, and Jacoby Ellsbury followed that up with a double of his own to score Frazier.

They jumped on the Blue Jays’ bullpen and their less-than-stellar outing tonight. In the 8th, Frazier led-off with a single, and the Blue Jays changed pitchers. After a strikeout, they changed pitchers again. Garret Cooper (who ended up with a 4-hit night, by the way) doubled, and Ronald Torreyes’ single scored both runners {Note: no media link, sorry}.

Finally, in the 9th, the Yankees loaded up the bases after Gregorius and Sanchez singled and Frazier was hit by a pitch. All the runners moved up on Jacoby Ellsbury’s ground outground out, so Gregorius scored. Cooper’s single then scored both Sanchez and Frazier to cap off the Yankees’ big night of scoring.

The Yankees’ roster was heavy on the offense tonight, with 17 total hits. Every starter got on base, most with hits, most with multiple hits. It was just a big show of Yankee power.

Final score: 11-5 Yankees

Injury news: so last night, CC Sabathia only threw 3 innings because in the 3rd, he kind of tweaked his knee, the same knee he’s had trouble with in the past. Despite today’s MRI showing no new damage, knee injuries are difficult to diagnose and treat. Sabathia is confident he won’t have to go on the DL or miss his next start. As someone who also has a lingering knee issue, I hope he is able to deal with this without much drama or lingering pain.

Clint Frazier was out of tonight’s game due to a tightness in his oblique. It was a last-minute change, just 40 minutes before the game. Hopefully, this is just a short-lived injury. But there is talks that Aaron Hicks is close to being activated. His rehab stints are going well, and he was recently transferred to be with AA Trenton. There is talk that Hicks will be back on Friday, when the Yankees return to the Bronx to host the Red Sox for the weekend.

In the interim, the Yankees close out their North of the Border series tomorrow night, helmed by Sonny Gray, hoping to have a better outing than his last time on the mound for the Yankees. Fingers crossed that the Yankees can head home with a series win this time.

Go Yankees!

Game 108: NYY vs. CLE — Bumpy start ends in continued slump (but the Lake & rivers are clean…er)

Based on how tonight’s game panned out, I think the city of Cleveland is seeking revenge for calling them the “Mistake on the Lake” in yesterday’s post. (More below after the game recap.) To be perfectly fair and reveal some full disclosure, my mom’s family grew up in Northeast Ohio, and they always called the city that. (Literally, I only here that phrase in my mother’s voice. Thanks, Mom!)

They also grew up diehard Indians’ fans, still waiting for their next World Series win, most of them not even alive the last time Cleveland won (1948). This makes this series a whole lot more interesting personally, making the one thing both sides of this have in common is that we both root against the Red Sox. (Though I’m still a little murky as to why the Indians think of the Red Sox as a valid rivalry.)

Anyway, the Yankees called on their other newly acquired starter Jaime Garcia. This ended up being Garcia’s third straight start with three different teams — July 21 with the Braves, July 28 with the Twins, and tonight with the Yankees. But Garcia got roughed up in this particular team debut. He threw 87 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs (only 5 earned), and struck out just 4 Cleveland batters.

In the 2nd, with 2 outs, Garcia gave up a walk and then scored on a double. The runner ended up at 3rd on the throw and then scored on a passed ball. Despite giving up a walk and a single to load up the bases, Garcia got out of the inning with a line out to Gregorius. In the 3rd, a lead-off single scored on another single and throwing error. The base runner ended up at 2nd on that play, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a sacrifice fly.

Garcia just couldn’t find the momentum to get through these innings. In the 5th, a 1-out walk stole 2nd and then scored on a single. Then that runner moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and ended up at 3rd on a ground out. That would be it for Garcia.

It was on to Chad Green, whose wild pitch scored one more run for the Indians that inning before getting that 3rd out of the 5th. Green then breezed through the next 2 innings, tallying up 5 strikeouts himself. He then handed the game over to Tommy Kahnle for the 8th inning, who found his own trouble — a lead-off double scored on an RBI double to add the Indians’ final run of the night.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were hitting off the Indians’ pitchers tonight — racking up 11 total hits (more than the Indians’ offense got tonight), 7 off the starter alone. Those hits (and the 2 walks) just weren’t adding up to runs-scored. In fact, for most of the game, it felt like the Indians’ pitcher and defense were much more dominant tonight.

Then in the 5th, Todd Frazier hit a 1-out solo home run into the right field seats to get the Yankees on the board. The Yankees then loaded up the bases later in the inning, but a swinging strikeout ended that potential rally and stopped them in their tracks.

The Yankees got one more chance in the 9th inning. Despite a lead-off single that got erased in a double play, it would be Ronald Torreyes to kick off a potential moment of hope. He hit a solid single, moved to 2nd on defensive indifference, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single. But a fielder’s choice ground out ended the inning and the game. Too little, too late.

Final score: 7-2 Indians

Okay, more on the nicknames… “The Mistake on the Lake.” Look, a lot of this points back to the late 1960s before much of current clean water restrictions were enacted and Lake Erie was so polluted and that fed into its major rivers. At one point, it was so bad that the Cuyahoga River (the main river through Cleveland) actually caught on fire in 1969. Fortunately, with the passing of the Clean Water Act three years later, the city was forced to clean up its waterways and the big lake on its north shore. But the reputation for being the city whose river once caught on fire stuck, especially with those from the area (or rather the suburbs around the area).

In its place, the city has tried to refocus attention on its biggest attraction — the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Thanks to the rise of the genre, and how many of its biggest stars were from the area, the natural connection to the city evolved over time only to be cemented by the Hall when they built it in 1983. Since then, I think most people think of this (or Drew Carey) when they think of Cleveland.

That is until last year. When Cleveland became “Believe-land” as both their biggest sports were the Cavaliers (basketball) and Indians (side burn: even my Cleveland-area family aren’t Browns fans, but that’s a completely different story). Both the Cavs and Indians went to their respective championships, all the way to Game 7. Only the Cavs came up as winners in the end, but it still made last year something for Clevelanders everywhere to be proud of that wasn’t music or pollution-related history.

On a personal note, due to family connections, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Cleveland, and I’ve never been to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame or a Cavaliers game. No, growing up, we explored less nickname-worthy places. Like finding out their art museum has an Armor Court. And their historical society has an extensive antique car and aviation exhibit. And there’s a village stuck in the early 1800s, much like Colonial Williamsburg but 1820s rural Ohio.

Despite the deep roots here, this may actually explain why I’m a Yankees fan.

Go Yankees!

Game 104: DET vs. NYY — Yankees remain strong, last-minute trade grab

Today was the final day of the big MLB trade deadline, and even the Yankees benefited from some last-minute trade deals. But at the expense of some pretty great prospects. More after the game recap, as they still had to play a game in the Bronx.

The Yankees continued their home stand with this 3-game midweek series against the visiting Tigers. The Yankees are hoping to keep their winning momentum going with this new series, so it was only natural to look to Luis Severino to start tonight’s game. Severino threw 116 pitches in just 5 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and a run, and still struck out 8 Detroit batters.

The still hashtag-less Severino had his toughest inning was the 4th. With 2 outs, he struggled to get that final out, giving up a single that scored on an RBI double. The Yankees’ defense also earned their 2 fielding errors that inning, though it ultimately didn’t affect the score. It just helped push up his pitch count, which was really the roughest part of his outing.

Tommy Kahnle came on in relief for the 6th inning and had a bit of his own struggles. His lead-off batter was hit by a pitch, moved to 2nd on a single, and then scored on a 2-out single to double the Tigers’ score.

Betances had better luck in the 7th, keeping the Tigers from adding to their score, and Jonathan Holder kept things smooth in the 8th. Holder’s 9th inning, however, wasn’t so smooth. With just 1 out on the board, Holder loaded up the bases with consecutive singles and a hit-by-pitch, before handing over the ball to Aroldis Chapman. A fielder’s choice (or rather a late effort at a double play) scored just one more run for the Tigers before a 3-pitch strikeout ended the Tigers’ last-minute rally.

Meanwhile, the Yankees took their opportunities when they found them. In the 4th, they loaded up the bases with a walk, a fielding error, and a walk. Chase Headley’s double scored 2 runs, and then Todd Frazier’s single scored 2 more. All before the Yankees got a single out that inning, and suddenly the Yankees leapt ahead of the Tigers.

Aaron Judge added an extra cushion to the lead with a 1-out solo home run in the 5th into the left field seats. In the 7th, lead-off batter Ellsbury was hit by a pitch, stole 2nd, and then scored on Clint Frazier’s giant triple. After Judge worked a walk, the Tigers pulled their starter and went to their bullpen. Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly scored Frazier for the final Yankees’ run of the night.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees.

Scranton Shuttle: before the game, for fresh arms in the bullpen, the Yankees optioned pitcher Luis Cessa to AAA Scranton and recalled Jonathan Holder, who ended up in tonight’s game.

Okay, the big trade of the day has the Yankees picking up a new pitcher for the starting rotation — Sonny Gray, a 27-year-old starter from the Athletics. In trade, the Yankees sent 3 of their prospects — outfielder Dustin Fowler, infielder Jorge Mateo, and pitcher James Kaprielian. Yes, Fowler and Kaprielian are on the DL recovering from surgeries, which should tell you how valuable both teams think of these players.

Sonny Gray was a first round draft pick in 2011 for the Athletics, after pitching at Vanderbilt. Gray came up in the A’s organization, making his MLB debut in 2013 and the 2015 All-Star team. He’s had a bit of a rough season last year on and off the DL, and another small one early this season. But he’s got the history of consistency and the youth that the Yankees really need for some potential long-term players.

The Yankees also picked up extra money for the international draft market (also called “Future Considerations”) on this trade. They picked up even more when they sent pitching prospect Yefry Ramirez to the Orioles. This is good for the Yankees as they continue to expand internationally and pick up more players in a broader market.

Go Yankees!

Game 101: TB vs. NYY — Bronx Bombers back #TanakaTime

Basically, tonight’s game was everything you’d want a game to be if you’re a Yankee fan. Except it was super short. Clocking in at 2 hours and 23 minutes, it’s easily one of the shorter games of the season, and it’s really easy to place the blame on the Yankees for this. They came in ready to continue this winning momentum, and then they did just that.

And most of the reason for the ease of this game was that starter Masahiro Tanaka was just a beast tonight, getting the visiting Rays batters to strike out a whopping 14 times. He even held them to a no-hitter until a 6th inning 2-out single snuck by Gregorius. But then Tanaka got back in the game with a strikeout. Tanaka gave up just one more hit, a 2-out solo shot to allow the Rays their lone run of the game.

So after 8 innings and 109 pitches, Tanaka Time was done. The game was turned over to David Robertson, who breezed his way through the 9th inning in just 6 pitches. Boy, it’s good to have him back on our side of the game.

The Yankees were able to support Tanaka’s outstanding pitching effort with enough run support on the backs of home runs by their outfielders. In the 1st, Brett Gardner liked that 3rd pitch of the at-bat again to lead off the inning with a big solo home run into the Yankees’ bullpen. Aaron Judge followed suit with a 1-out solo shot, his 33rd home run of the season.

Then in the 5th, Todd Frazier worked a 1-out walk, and Gardner worked a 2-out walk. This set up Clint Frazier to hit a no-doubter 3-run home run deep into the left field seats, above the visitor’s bullpen.

After a couple of innings against a former teammate, the Yankees decided to change things up and play some small ball in the 8th. Gardner was hit on the back shoulder by a pitch (he’s fine) and, after a strikeout, moved to 2nd on a ground out. The Rays’ reliever intentionally walked Sanchez, so a wild pitch moved both Gardner and Sanchez into scoring position. Didi Gregorius then singled to score Gardner easily, but then Sanchez tried to score too and got caught out at home to end the inning.

But the Yankees already had a hefty lead, so it was all good at the end.

Final score: 6-1 Yankees

So, I left out a small part of the “Gardy Party” celebration last night because I wanted to see how the story played out. And honestly, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Gardner, as you know, hit the game-winning home run in the 11th inning last night, and as he came into home where the team was waiting to celebrate, he tossed his helmet off. Well, Judge saw the stray helmet and thought someone might trip over it, so he picked it up. In the process of celebrating, the helmet bounced off someone else and bounced into Judge’s face, chipping his front left tooth.

No worries for Judge and his thousand-watt smile. A dentist fixed it this morning, and Judge clearly was in tonight’s game and continued to make an impact like nothing happened. After last night’s game, the reporters asked guys in the clubhouse who broke the tooth, and there was a bit of back and forth blaming each other in good fun — fingers pointing to Clint Frazier and Austin Romine. But really, it was a chipped tooth. Very fixable.

And I didn’t think it was that big of a deal last night, but my Twitter feed (when not filled with political drama) was filled with dental jokes, comments, and pictures of Yankees security searching the field for the piece of the tooth (which they never found). Maybe I wasn’t as concerned because I’ve chipped teeth before. They’re fixable. It’s not fun to get done, but it’s no big deal. I don’t know.

But it’s a good filler for a short game tonight.

Tooth drama is over. Judge is good. (Despite the naysayers on message boards that still think he and Sanchez are battling the “Home Run Derby Curse”.) The Yankees are on a roll, and we’re all on board to chase the October baseball dreams.

Go Yankees!

Game 100: TB vs. NYY — A walk-off Gardy Party

100 games. The Yankees hit this milestone on an upswing, winning their last 5 of 6 games, and just a game behind the Red Sox in the AL East. So they went into this 4-game weekend series against the visiting Rays with this momentum.

CC Sabathia got the start tonight and held off the Rays for most of his outing, but then struggled to find his footing in his final inning. Sabathia threw 86 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, but struck out just 3 batters. He gave up a lead-off home run in the 4th to get the Rays on the board, but it would be the 5th inning that would give him trouble. With 1 out, he gave up consecutive doubles that scored one more run. After a walk, the Yankees gave Sabathia to hook and replaced him with Chad Green.

Unfortunately, Green promptly gave up a double that scored 2 more runs for the Rays, both charged to Sabathia, before Green got himself out of the inning. Green had some issues in the 6th as well, giving up a 1-out solo home run. It wasn’t clean, but the damage was limited.

Kahnle did a fantastic job in the 7th, throwing just 9 pitches to breeze through the Rays. With 2 quick outs in the 8th, Betances, of course, gave up a couple of singles to make things interesting before getting a ground out to get out of the threat. Warren’s 9th inning also kept the Rays from adding to their score.

The Yankees actually got on the board first. In the 2nd inning, Headley hit a 1-out single and then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s double. Ellsbury then scored on Todd Frazier’s single. Gary Sanchez’s 1-out solo home run in the 3rd to keep the Yankees in the lead, but after the Rays caught up and passed them, the Yankees took their time to catch up.

In the 8th, Gregorius led-off with a single and moved to 3rd on Headley’s single. After a new Rays pitcher, pinch-hitter Matt Holliday hit into a fielder’s choice out at 2nd, but scored Gregorius. And Brett Gardner led-off the 9th inning with a triple and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s 2-out single to tie up the game and force them into extra inning.

Aroldis Chapman just fired his way through the 10th and 11th innings in just 19 total pitches and 4 stellar strikeouts, setting himself up for the win. Brett Gardner liked the 3rd pitch in the 11th inning and hit a big home run into the right field seats, his 18th of the season, for the walk-off home run victory.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees, in 11 innings.

CC Sabathia earned his 2800th career strikeout tonight. He currently sits at 21st on the all-time strikeout leaders, just 3 behind legendary pitcher Cy Young. Sabathia also the leader among all active pitchers, nearly 400 more than the next active pitcher. {Note: the graphic on the video link and posts on Twitter list Sabathia as now surpassing Young, but every other noteworthy source, even MLB.com itself, has Cy Young listed at 2803 strikeouts, not the 2799 you’ll see on the link. I’m assuming it has to do with how often scoring differences and record-keeping occurred before a lot of general regulations we’ve become so accustomed to these days.}

In a brief side note, the strike zone was a little high tonight (basically shoulder to mid-thigh, rather than the standard numbers to knees), which angered both teams for most of the game. Eventually, it would be Girardi to get the boot in the 7th

Both Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin are nearing their rehab assignments, which will probably both be right after this weekend series. Hicks’ oblique issue is concerning because it can feel deceptively better and then a slight twist to the torso can tweak it all over again. Austin’s hamstring is a fairly common injury, but still needs caution in the process of recovery.

Muscle issues are much harder to bounce back from than broken bones. When broken bones are healed, there’s definitive evidence — it’s not broken any more and the bone has fused itself back together (it’s actually a really cool process). But with muscles, there’s no clear-cut way to tell if you’re 100% healed, even if it feels much better. Minute tears in the muscle can hide and suddenly cause much more damage, setting back recovery even further. Stay safe, guys!

Go Yankees!