Game 63: NYY vs. LAA — Not quite a good night in the City of Angels

Angels Stadium is often called “Yankee Stadium West” because there is a rather large contingent of Yankee fans in the LA area who come out in droves for Angels-Yankees games every year. And that’s apparent by how much blue and white fill the cherry red seats and that the games are sold out in the middle of the week.

But I’m thinking it felt a little less like a second (or third?) home for the Yankees after this series. Despite the strength the Yankees showed this week, even coming from behind, it seemed to fall short in the end in these last two games. Pretty much faulting the less-than-ideal pitching show from both teams in the last 48 hours.

It’s really no surprise that the Yankees broke through right in the top of the game. Gardner led-off with a single and moved to 3rd on Judge’s 1-out single. After Judge stole 2nd (and has just 1 less stolen base than Gardner this year), Matt Holliday’s sacrifice fly scored Gardner to get the Yankees on the board. Castro was then hit by a pitch to set-up a big breakthrough by Gary Sanchez, who hit a great 3-run home run into the left field seats.

Michael Pineda certainly had an off-night tonight. He threw 102 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 10 hits, a walk, and 5 runs overall, and striking out just 2 Angels batters. After the Yankees gave him a nice lead, Pineda struggled right from the start, giving up 3 singles to load the bases with 1 out. A sacrifice fly got the Angels on the board. It was only a sacrifice fly because of the amazing defensive skills of Aaron Hicks actually reached over the center field wall and caught it, robbing that batter of a grand slam that would’ve quickly tied up the game. But Pineda got out of the inning without further damage.

It didn’t last long. After a lead-off single in the 2nd, a 2-run home run edged the Angels closer to the Yankees’ lead. And in the 3rd, the lead-off single moved to 2nd and then 3rd on 2 ground outs. After a walk, Pineda threw a really messy wild pitch, which easily scored the runner from 3rd (the runner who is not fast at all, a veteran with a persistent injury and better known for some towering home runs) to tie up the game. Another single scored another run and put the Angels in the lead.

The Yankees came back to tie it all up again in the 6th. Sanchez led-off with a single and ended up at 2nd on a throwing error. After 1 out, Chase Headley hit a single which scored Sanchez, and then Headley got caught in a rundown between 1st and 2nd. The game was tied again, but it was only the 6th inning.

Pineda was able to fend off the Angels for the second half of his outing, but he handed over the game to recent call-up (see below) Ronald Herrera. Despite getting ahead in the 7th with 2 quick outs, Herrera gave up a walk and then a big 2-run home run to give the Angels back the lead. Herrera had trouble getting that 3rd out of the inning. The next batter was hit by a pitch and then stole 2nd, ending up at 3rd due to a throwing error (Sanchez having a bad defense day, but a great offense day). But then Herrera got the strikeout he needed to stop the Angels’ advance.

Like I said, neither pitching staff was really at their best tonight. The Angels’ starter only made it into the 4th inning due to a potential injury, and both teams gave up 26 collective hits and got just 9 total strikeouts.

Final score: 7-5 Angels, Angels win series 2-1

Injury news: after last night’s unexpected injury and exit, CC Sabathia was tested and examined for what caused the tightening of his hamstring. An MRI revealed a grade 2 hamstring strain, which makes a stint on the disabled list unavoidable. As of yet, the Yankees haven’t set a timetable or announced a rotation replacement (for Sunday’s start) or a corresponding roster move.

Roster moves: The Yankees have been busy moving people around. Chapman is working with the Tampa Yankees on his rehab assignment. After designating Tommy Layne for assignment, they ended up outrighting him to AAA Scranton (like I said, they still want him around). Before the game today, they optioned Ben Heller to AAA Scranton, recalling tonight’s newest addition to the bullpen Ronald Herrera from AA Trenton. And in completion of a trade made earlier (Johnny Barbato) with the Pirates, the Yankees picked up pitching prospect Matt Frawley.

And the final day of the MLB Draft was earlier today, and the Yankees filled out their draft choices with 19 pitchers, 4 outfielders, 5 infielders, and 2 catchers.

Pitchers: Shawn Semple, Harold Cortijo, Aaron McGarity, Garrett Whitlock, Ron Marinaccio, Bryan Blanton, Janson Junk, Colby Davis, Riley Thompson, Austin Crowson (L), Alex Mauricio, Shane Roberts, Tristan Beck, Jacob Stevens, Jordan Butler (L), Andrew Abbott (L), Tanner Burns, Brent Burgess, and Andrew Nardi (L)
Outfielders: Steven Sensley, Pat DeMarco, Jake Mangum, and Jimmy Herron
Infielders: Eric Wagaman (1B), Ricky Surum (SS), Chris Hess (2B), Alika Williams (SS), and Hayden Cantrelle (SS)
Catchers: Ryan Lidge and Steven Williams

Overall in the draft, the Yankees clearly sent a message as they sought 28 total pitchers, 5 outfielders, 5 infielders, and 2 catchers. In thinking back to these last few seasons, the biggest weakness is the pitching and the Yankees are clearly setting themselves up for a future of stronger pitching options. And prospective pitchers made good trade bait if the Yankees need to fill an offensive hole along the way. It was a good move for the organization.

Go Yankees!

Game 59: BAL vs. NYY — They don’t call them the “Bronx Bombers” for nothing…

It only took until the end of the 1st inning when I knew this was going to be one of “those games”. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I prefer those close games, the edge-of-your-seat action when you don’t know if they can pull it off in the end, right up to the very last out when you find you can breathe again. Yeah, this was not one of those games.

Luis Severino had a truly great outing tonight, in this middle game of the weekend series with the visiting Orioles. Severino threw just 89 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up just 2 hits, 2 walks, and a single run, striking out 8 Baltimore batters along the way.

Severino was so strong that he breezed through his 12 outs (4 innings) straight, not allowing his first base runner until a lead-off walk in the 5th. The first hit of the night for Baltimore was also in the 5th, but Severino pitched his way out of the inning. Other than that, the only other hit he allowed was a 2-out solo home run in the 7th. And that would be the first run the Orioles scored tonight.

The two relievers each took an inning and gave up a single run each. Giovanni Gallegos came on for the 8th and gave up a 1-run solo shot. Tommy Layne gave up a lead-off walk who moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on a 2-out pinch-hit single before ending the inning (and game) with another ground out.

But no worries, like I said, it was one of those games. Because the Orioles couldn’t seem to find a pitcher to shut down the Yankees’ dominant offense (except for a ironically former Yankee reliever). In the 1st, with 2 outs, Aaron Judge hit his 19th home run of the season into the left field seats. Holliday singled and moved to 3rd on Castro’s double, and both scored on Gary Sanchez’s single. Then Didi Gregorius hit a 2-run home run to clear the bases. Headley worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Chris Carter’s single.

With 1 out in the 2nd, Judge and Holliday both earned walks and then scored as part of Starlin Castro’s big 3-run home run. That was the final straw for the O’s starter after just 45 pitches in the middle of the 2nd inning. The new reliever got the needed 2 outs to end that inning and was able to make it through the 3rd, but then ran into trouble of his own in the 4th. Hicks led-off with a walk and then made it to 3rd on Judge’s single. Matt Holliday’s 3-run home run cleared the bases before this reliever got the first out of the inning. After Sanchez’s double (and just 44 pitches), he too was shown the door.

In a repeat of events, the new reliever got the last 2 outs of the inning. But then found trouble in the 5th himself. With 1 out, Gardner singled, Hicks doubled, and Judge’s double scored both runners. After Holliday’s single, a double play ended the inning. But that would be it for that reliever too (with another 45 pitches).

The former Yankee breezed his way through the Yankees in the 6th and 7th innings in just 27 pitches, the first time in the game that the Yankees weren’t the dominant ones. But then the O’s decided to send in a new guy. (And this is where all the Baltimore “message board managers” went all: “Why?!?”) Because, of course, there were more runs the Yankees needed to score.

Torreyes led-off the inning with a hit-by-pitch and then scored as part of a 2-run home run by Gary Sanchez. Headley would later get a 1-out double to put another runner in scoring position, but the pitcher got the final 2 outs he needed to make sure the Yankees weren’t into utterly ridiculous territory as far as run-scoring goes. But the 18 total hits (and 5 walks) by Yankee hitters was already ridiculous enough.

Final score: 16-3 Yankees.

It is worth noting that Aaron Judge continues to set MLB records. He was a triple short of the cycle tonight, which would’ve been cool as no one has hit for the cycle yet in the new Yankee Stadium. (A cycle is when a single batter hits a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in a single game, though not necessarily in that order.) But the one record he set tonight had to do with his power — his home run in the 1st inning had an exit velocity of 121.1 mph. That means he hit that ball harder than anyone has ever hit a ball since they started that stat (beating the previous record of 120.3 mph in 2015). He currently hold the record for the top 4 hardest hit balls this season.

And it’s only June 10, people!

The Yankees opted to give Masahiro Tanaka an extra day’s rest, moving his start to Monday against the Angels in California. But the Yankees just announced who will start for Sunday’s finale against the Orioles. It will be Chad Green. And to replace him in the bullpen, the Yankees called up Domingo German and designated Tommy Layne for assignment. Layne has been crucial for the Yankee bullpen, I doubt Layne will go far. And we’ll see how this starter gamble plays out over the next two games. So stay tuned!

Go Yankees!

Game 50: NYY vs. BAL — Overcoming struggles fall short in the Yards

I really wish I was superstitious. Then I could blame all that stupid bird magic nonsense on why the Yankees stumbled pretty hard in tonight’s finale against the Orioles in Baltimore. Yes, it could just be an off-night. Yes, it could just be a Wednesday. It could just be a long weekend, followed by a tough series. Or it could just be they just didn’t play well tonight. Take your pick. It doesn’t change the outcome. The beauty of hindsight justification is that it’s over and done with and all you can do is reflect, correct, and move on.

And I’m sure that’s what Masahiro Tanaka will want to do after his tough outing tonight. He threw 103 pitches into the 6th innings, giving up 9 hits, 2 walks, and 7 runs, striking out just 4 Baltimore batters along the way. Tanaka managed to isolate the major damage to his 2 middle innings, as if sandwiching the bad between the good could make it a tiny bit better or something.

In the 3rd, with 1 out and runners on the corners with singles, a double scored the first Orioles’ run of the night, leaving runners in scoring position. They did just that on a 2-out double. Though not before Tanaka got his 500th strikeout with MLB and the Yankees. (This doesn’t, of course, include any he had in Japan before signing with the Yankees in 2014.)

Another single scored the 4th run of the inning for the O’s, and just like that, they were out in front and strong. And with 2 outs and 2 runners on base in the 4th, Tanaka gave a perfectly placed strike to a power hitter to hit over the center field fence for a 3-run home run to really secure Baltimore’s lead.

With a runner at 2nd and 2 outs in the 6th, Tanaka handed over the ball to Tommy Layne, who needed just 4 pitches to get the batter to line out directly to Gardner in left field. Recently returned, Giovanni Gallegos came on for the 7th and saw his own moments of struggled. After 2 quick outs, he gave up a double that then scored as part of a big 2-run home run to widen the lead. And with 2 outs and a runner at 2nd, Gallegos turned things over to Jonathan Holder. Holder had his own issues, giving up consecutive singles to score a final run for the Orioles before getting out of the inning.

But the Yankees weren’t exactly quiet when it was their turn to contribute offensively, giving the O’s starter his fair share of troubles. But while the O’s found bigger holes at key moments to forge ahead, the Yankees could only cobble together a few crumbs. In the 4th, Judge hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Headley’s walk, and then scored on Ronald Torreyes’ fielder’s choice (a failed double play), thanks in part to a sloppy fielding error.

With 1 out in the 5th and Gardner on 1st, Aaron Hicks hit a nice double to get the speedy Gardner home. Matt Holliday’s single would then score Hicks. But even with the bases loaded a few batters later, the Yankees couldn’t capitalize on a blatant opportunity to slice into the Orioles’ big lead. And a new pitcher seemed to know how to shut down the Yankees.

Fortunately, once they got to another reliever, the Yankees found another small hole. In the 8th, Torreyes and Romine hit consecutive singles to put them on the corners. A ground out moved Romine up to scoring position, and Brett Gardner’s ground out scored Torreyes. But a strikeout ended that rally before it really began. And the 9th inning reliever kept the Yankees from touching home plate, keeping the score as is.

Final score: 10-4 Orioles, Orioles win series 2-1

It’s worth noting that the Yankees haven’t won a series at Camden Yards since September 2013, when weather threatened and Mariano Rivera came up with the win. And after three days mulling over Baltimore and all its stories and suppositions once again, I still haven’t figured out where the “charm” in “Charm City” is, but I really want to watch Hairspray again.

Scranton Shuttle alert! Shuffling the pitching deck means that the Yankees sent Bryan Mitchell to Scranton and recalled one of the reliever’s tonight — Giovanni Gallegos. And now, with Greg Bird joining the Tampa Yankees for tomorrow’s game, I expect a few more roster shuffles are forthcoming in the next few weeks.

And MLB released the results so far of the fan voting for the All-Star Game starters, and 8 of the Yankees are in the top of their respective categories. Starlin Castro leads all AL 2nd basemen, and Aaron Judge is 2nd in all AL outfielders. Judge is 2nd overall in total votes received, which the young outfield keeps finding “surreal”. In all honestly, Judge is looking at being an ASG starter and would be only the 3rd Yankee rookie to do so (joining DiMaggio in 1936 and Matsui in 2003).

Joining Judge and Castro at the top of the list are Holliday (3rd as DH), Sanchez (4th as catcher), Gregorius (4th as shortstop), Headley (5th at 3rd base), and Gardner and Ellsbury come in 11th and 12th among outfielders, respectively. The only Yankee on the ballot who didn’t make it to the top of the list in his category is Greg Bird (1st base), as he’s been on the DL with that foot injury.

So, you as fans can help make Judge’s dream of being an ASG starter (and maybe watch him in the Home Run Derby, yes, his name’s been thrown in the chattering mix now) by voting in the All-Star Game Ballot. Vote up to 5 times a day, up to 35 times until Thursday, June 29, at 11:59 pm EST. I’m out of votes, so it’s your turn!

Go Yankees!

Game 47: OAK vs. NYY — A grand Judgement day

Well, that’s not a bad way to end the last homestand of the month. The Yankees wanted to finish the week strong, and they did going 4-2 (with a postponed game in the middle) overall for the homestand. And they’re off to face division rivals in Baltimore and Toronto to continue to mold and shape the AL East next week.

Continuing the camo-accented uniforms for the weekend’s honoring of military veterans and their families for Memorial, the Yankees closed out their series and homestand against the visiting Athletics in this afternoon’s rubber match. Michael Pineda got the start and threw 101 pitches through 6 innings, giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs (only 2 earned), and striking out 5 Oakland batters to earn the win.

The lead-off batter in the 2nd inning worked a walk and moved to 3rd on a ground-rule double. The next batter hit a solid single to left field, which scored both runners as the batter tried to stretch it into a double. The on-field call was safe at 2nd, but the Yankees challenged it. It was eventually overturned thanks to the sharp throw of Gardner and the quick swipe of Castro.

In an inning I’m sure Pineda would like to forget, a 1-out walk in the 6th moved to 2nd on Pineda’s balk and then scored on a throwing error by Pineda. But then the defense kicked it up by getting a sweet double play to end the inning — a line drive out to Castro who fired it to 2nd to get the runner doubled off 1st.

Chad Green was the first to relieve Pineda, throwing a flawless 7th, but getting into a spot of trouble in the 8th with a 1-out walk and a big 2-run home run. Tommy Layne came on for a 1-pitch fly out, and Adam Warren got the last out of the inning in just 2 pitches. Warren continued that flawless streak through the 9th inning, earning the save in just 9 more pitches.

Meanwhile, the Yankees offense had to come up with an offensive win, mainly on the back of a certain power-hitter with his own new fan section. In the 2nd, Castro led-off with a single, ended up at 3rd on Gregorius’ single, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly to get the Yankees on the board.

With 2 outs, the Yankees loaded the bases in the 3rd with singles by Torreyes and Sanchez and a fielding error on Holliday’s hit. So it would be Aaron Judge to hit his 16th home run of the season and 1st grand slam of his career. And the crowd went nuts, including some special little leaguers who were lucky enough to sit in “The Judge’s Chambers” to witness history (the ball landing just below that section).

In the 4th, Hicks led-off with a single, stole 2nd only to end up at 3rd on a throwing error, and then scored on Chris Carter’s sacrifice fly. So the Yankees dinged the Oakland starter into the 6th inning, including unearned runs thanks to their sloppy errors. But the Oakland relievers didn’t have any better luck. (Fortunately for the Yankees!)

In the 7th, Torreyes hit a 1-out single and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. The A’s challenged the call on the field originally as they thought it might have been a caught ball first before the outfielder tumbled to the ground and lost the ball from his glove, but the replay upheld the call of no-catch because they didn’t think he actually had the ball safely in his glove before it popped out.

And in the 8th, under a new reliever, with 2 outs, the Yankees loaded up the bases again with a couple of walks and a fielder’s choice so that Brett Gardner’s double scored 2 more runs to ensure the Yankees’ victory.

Final score: 9-5 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

And they’re off to Baltimore, like I said in the beginning. They’ll play 3 games at Camden Yards. The Orioles are currently 3 games behind the Yankees, but you know they’re looking to make things a little more even. So it’s bound to be a good series battle. The Yankees then take a trip north of the border for a 4-game weekend series against the Blue Jays, who are looking to take their current losing season (4 games under) and flip that around.

However, it’s still really early in the season, and the Yankees have had some really good games with some really good players. Trying to predict the World Series now is about the same as guessing the plot line of the next Star Wars movie — you might have some ideas and theories, but your accuracy is going to be really low, percentage-wise. I know what I’d like to happen (in both instances), but I’m at about at 30-40% positive on my guess. (And I have a feeling I’m going to be more right about baseball than a galaxy far, far away.)

But that’s baseball and life… you never know what’s going to happen. There’s too many possibilities. And doesn’t that mysterious factor just make things a bit more interesting?

Go Yankees!

Game 44: KC vs. NYY — A solid royal shutout

Luis Severino was on point tonight as the Yankees played their third of 4 games against the Royals this week. Severino was just zoned in and firing away in a completely dominant start. He threw 114 pitches in his 8 shutout innings, giving up just 4 hits and a walk, and striking out 7 batters. Basically, it was just him and catcher Gary Sanchez playing catch all night. And Dellin Betances helped seal the deal with his flawless 9th inning, and all 3 outs were strikeouts for his 4th save this season.

Against the Royals’ pitchers, the Yankees managed to eke through a few offensive moments. Didi Gregorius led-off the 3rd inning with a nice solo home run just in front of the new section in right field dubbed “The Judge’s Chambers”. Then in the 6th, Gary Sanchez led-off with a single, stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error, all before scoring on Matt Holliday’s sacrifice fly.

And in the 7th, Gregorius’ lead-off ground-rule double ended the Royals’ starter’s night. Gregorius then made it to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single to cap off the Yankees’ scoring on tonight’s rather strong showing on all fronts for the Yankees.

Final score: 3-0 Yankees

For HOPE Week Day 3, the Yankees sent a few of their start players to surprise a couple of pretty great 3rd graders known as “The Comedy Kids“. Almost 2 years ago, 6-year-old Scarlett Chwatko was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Nearly a year later, Scarlett’s mother received a phone call from her son’s school asking about a planned family fundraiser. Apparently, Scarlett’s older brother Max and his friend Alex Travin had been telling jokes all around their school for donations to pediatric brain cancer research. Max felt this was his way to help people find a cure for his sister’s cancer and to help people “not feel so sad about the cancer”.

Hence, “The Comedy Kids” was born, even booking their first gig at a local farmer’s market where the families live (about 30 miles northeast of Yankee Stadium). They donated all their raised funds to a non-profit for cancer research called A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure Foundation. Since that first gig in November, The Comedy Kids have set up a website and raised more than $20,000 for cancer research. Their site also helps other kids set up fundraisers for other causes. The Yankees joined in with their own $10,000 donation tonight.

This afternoon, Tyler Clippard, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Aaron Judge and Tommy Layne toured Rockefeller Center with Max and Alex, visiting Studio 8H so the boys could tell jokes on the famed Saturday Night Live stage. Then they hung out with Jimmy Fallon (who is also a huge Yankees fan) on the set of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and they gave him pointers on comedy.

Honestly, there are some HOPE Week recipients you never forget. And these kids are right there at the top of my list. Max and Alex are some pretty special kids, who are not only helping out Scarlett but also empowering other kids to find their cause and change their own piece of the world.

Go Yankees!

Game 40: NYY vs. TB — And they say baseball’s a boring game…

I blame the Hawaiian shirts. Unless you are a man of a certain age or going to a theme party, there is absolutely no reason for Hawaiian shirts to exist or to be an acceptable marketing tool to fans for a Saturday afternoon game. I don’t care that it’s Florida, but this isn’t Key West in 1977. You aren’t Elvis Presley or Jimmy Buffett. And I really need something to blame.

Of course, the drama with the home plate umpire should be enough. It’s certainly enough to warrant a nearly four hour afternoon game in St. Petersburg today, the middle game against the Rays this weekend. The Yankees were looking for Masahiro Tanaka to give them a good base to get a win today. But it was not to be. Tanaka got really roughed up from the start, throwing into the only the 4th inning with 76 pitches, giving up 9 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs, striking out 4 batters. It’s hard to believe this is the same Tanaka from Spring Training.

Tanaka gave up a lead-off home run in the 1st inning to set the tone for his outing (and the game, really).  In the 2nd, with 2 outs and 2 runners on base, a double scored the lead runner before Tanaka intentionally walked the next batter. And then the runner at 2nd dangled too far off base and reminded the world why April saw the phrase “You don’t run on Gary!” become popular. He ran on Gary, and he got out. A 1-out solo home run in the 3rd added another notch to the Rays’ score.

But it would be the 4th inning that really sealed the deal for the game. The lead-off batter doubled, and the next batter struck out on a wild pitch that allowed him to reach base safely (thus negating the out). A 3-run home run (by the same guy that led-off the game for the Rays with a homer) really cemented the Rays’ lead. Two singles and runners on the corners later, Tanaka was done for the afternoon.

In came Tommy Layne. Layne walked the first batter and loaded the bases, but then the infield got some great defense in with consecutive line-outs up the middle and a force out at 2nd to get out of the jam. That’s called teamwork.

Before we get to the heart of the drama today, the Yankee weren’t exactly sitting back watching the Rays tally up these runs without adding some of their own. Aaron Judge kicked off the 2nd inning with his 15th home run of the season into the right field seats to initially tie up the game. Then in the 4th, with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, Chase Headley’s double scored both Castro and Judge to tie up the game again. And in the 5th, Gary Sanchez hit a big 2-out solo home run up the middle to tack on another run for the Yankees. Matt Holliday was hit by a pitch but then the Rays got the 3rd out of the inning to halt any attempt to rally.

And then came the now infamous bottom of the 5th inning. A lead-off single and fly out seemed rather innocuous to start this inning. But then Layne hit the next batter, throwing a bit high actually. (more later) A single score the lead runner, and that was it for Layne. Giovanni Gallegos got the opportunity to try, but promptly loaded the bases with a walk. A single then scored 2 of the runners, so pitching coach Larry Rothschild made a visit out to the mound to check on his pitcher. Sometime between saying his bit to Gallegos and before hitting the baseline, the home plate umpire decided to eject Rothschild. (again more later)

Joe Girardi was just as confused as I was on that decision and came out to question the call. And in the process, he too joined Rothschild in the clubhouse for the rest of the game. But not before Girardi took a page out of old Yankees manager Billy Martin and actually physically walked over to home plate and covered up the base with dirt. Then Gallegos walked the next batter and loaded up the bases again before getting a well-placed strikeout and a force out at 2nd to get out of his own jam.

The Yankees came up to bat at the top of the 6th inning, and the drama continued. Aaron Judge was promptly hit by a pitch on the left side, which is where you hit someone if you intend to hit them. The home plate umpire immediately ejected the Rays’ starter, and this may be the only ejection I actually agreed with tonight. A former Yankee came on to give up a double to Ellsbury to put runners in scoring position. Judge then scored on Chase Headley’s ground out, but then breezed through the next 8 outs of the Yankees. The Yankees got a baserunner in the 9th, a walk, but the Rays pitching found favor at the plate and ended the Yankees’ hopes for a comeback.

The Yankees’ pitching began to take a turn for the better as Gallegos got 2 outs in the 6th before Chasen Shreve breezed his way through 4 outs, 3 of them solid strikeouts. Jonathan Holder’s beautiful 9th inning continued his momentum and solidifying him for being a key aspect of the Yankees bullpen.

Final score: 9-5 Rays.

Okay, so let’s talk about the drama and all the ejections. So, unfortunately, the batter Layne hit in the 5th that seemed to kickstart this whole mess was the same batter that already hit 2 homers off Tanaka, so the Rays’ announcers jumped to the conclusion this was on purpose. Which I guess I could understand, but like I said before, when pitchers intentionally throw at batters, they don’t throw at their heads (unless they’re major jerks). But one could argue for the fact that the Rays’ starter already hit Matt Holliday in the 4th, and thus this was revenge.

I just have a huge problem with that entire line of logic because Layne isn’t the kind of guy that would do that, especially like that. Why would a pitcher risk getting a batter on base when they need to shut them down quickly to get back in the game for a comeback?

Now, the pitcher hitting Judge? That was no doubt in anyone’s mind as on-purpose.

I had a researcher do some work for me during the game, and apparently, the home plate umpire is known for two things — ejecting people without justifiable cause and for antagonizing players and coaches to justify said ejection. Rothschild came from the mound and made an off-the-cuff remark about the umpire missing a few pitches. Ejected.

So, Girardi rightly came out to ask why Rothschild was ejected because it didn’t seem directly clear. And just because Girardi deigned to ask a question, he was immediately tossed from the game too. And, like Girardi said later, if he was going to get tossed, he was going to get his money’s worth. Hence, the redecoration of the home plate.

And I’m not just saying this because of how the drama played out. I’ve supported or condemned ejections and intent balls from both sides of the game, and sometimes the Yankees deserve the ejection or I know they hit a batter on purpose. I call it like I see it. I don’t always agree with the choices, and I’m not a big fan of intentionally hitting a batter ever (even a showboating diva). But I will be honest about what I see. And tonight was just a mess on all fronts.

It’s one of those days I’m glad just to put in the books and turn the page, hoping for something better. And there has to be something better. Perhaps even less dramatic. But it struck me as amusing how everyone seems to think baseball is boring. Clearly, they’ve never witnessed a game like today. Baseball is most definitely not boring.

Go Yankees!

Game 28: NYY vs. CHC — Early heroics pays off

Another chilly day in Chicago, and while arguably not as cold as yesterday’s day game, once that sun set over the Second City, the cold kind of settled in and enveloped Wrigley and all its inhabitants tonight. It seemed to have differing effects on the starters in this middle game of the weekend series against the Cubs.

Jordan Montgomery got the start for the Yankees tonight, and once again, had a rather strong outing. He threw 100 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up just 3 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs (only 2 earned), and struck out 3 Chicago batters. Actually, the rookie pitcher sailed through the first 4 innings and only found some trouble in the latter part of his outing.

In the 5th, a lead-off walk moved to 3rd on a double, and then 1 out later scored on a groundout play. The next runner scored on a throwing error (the unearned run) to get the Cubs on the board. And with 2 outs in the 7th, a walk ended up scoring on a deep triple into the left field corner. That would be the final pitch for Montgomery tonight, handing the ball over to Tyler Clippard who threw exactly 1 pitch tonight and got the necessary 3rd out of the inning.

It would be reliever Tommy Layne that would have the most trouble for the Yankee pitchers tonight. With 1 out, a batter hit a triple (same troublesome corner) and then gave up a walk. A fielder’s choice out at 2nd kept runners in the corners before a single scored the lead runner. A passed ball moved runners into scoring position, which they did on a 2-RBI single (though it could arguably have been a fielding error). That would be it for Layne tonight (no thanks to the defense in this inning).

And despite giving up a double to kick off his night, Adam Warren then got the next 4 outs to close out the game, 3 of them were strikeouts. In comparison, the pitcher for the Cubs’ 9th inning was a catcher (due to exhausting their bullpen), of which the Cubs’ fans were well aware and cheered on every strike as if it were a World Series Game 7. (more in a moment)

The Cubs’ pitchers had a really awful time against the Yankees tonight (oddly, except that final pitcher). The starter didn’t even make it out of the 1st inning. Gardner led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Hicks bunt single and a throwing error. Hicks then scored on Starlin Castro’s double. And then it was Castro’s turn to score on Gary Sanchez’s 1-out double. Then with Gregorius on base with a single, Chase Headley’s double scored both runners, landing Headley at 3rd on the throw.

And with just 23 pitches, the Cubs pretty much handed the game to the Yankees with those 5 runs. But they had to spend the rest of the game ensuring they would win. A new reliever had better luck against them for the moment. In the 3rd, with 1 out and Sanchez and Gregorius on base with singles, Chris Carter reached on a fielding error and failed force attempt, scoring Sanchez. Hicks hit a 1-out double in the 4th and scored as part of Starlin Castro’s big 2-run home run.

The Yankees would hold off their scoring until the top of the 8th. With 1 out, Refsnyder walked and Gardner singled, only to score both on Aaron Hicks’ monster 3-run home run to push the Yankees into double digits on the scoreboard. So, it was a bit of a surprise the 9th inning reliever walked 2 batters but didn’t allow a single run (maintaining his perfect ERA of 0.00).

Final score: 11-6 Yankees.

The Yankees have one more game, the finale of this series tomorrow night at Wrigley before heading over to Cincinnati for a short series against the Reds.

And this is your reminder to go vote for your favorite players to start the All-Star Game this summer in Miami. You can vote up to 5 times per day, up to 35 times total. So vote your 5 times today! Voting ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 29, 2017. But don’t wait!

Go Yankees!