"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Category: Game Recap

It Wasn’t as Bad as You Think

Everything is amplified and magnified in October, and so it was on Tuesday night as the Yankees dropped the first game of the five-game American League Division Championship series in Cleveland. This is the same Cleveland team who rattled off a 22-game winning streak in August and September, the same team that many analysts tap as the most complete team in baseball, so it shouldn’t be a terrible surprise that the Yankees dropped a game to them. No one, after all, expected a Yankee sweep.

Nothing went right for the Yankees on this particular October night. Cleveland manager Terry Francona surprised everyone by tabbing Trevor Bauer to start Game 1 instead of Cy Young favorite Corey Kluber (can’t wait to see him in Game 2), but Bauer quickly justified Tito’s faith by retiring the first five Yankee hitters he faced. After an odd four-pitch walk to Greg Bird in the second, Bauer rebounded to strike out Todd Frazier to finish the inning. The pitch to Frazier appeared to be outside, just the first of many questionable calls that would benefit Bauer over the course of his outing.

Based on what we saw during the regular season, Joe Girardi’s choice for his Game 1 starter was also a surprise. Instead of pitching Masahiro Tanaka, who had had five days rest since his scintillating performance in his final start on September 29th (Tanaka will start Game 3 on eight days rest), Girardi decided on Sonny Gray. We’re supposed to be excited about Gray, a talented young pitcher with a manageable contract, but he’s been more grey than sunny during his time in the Bronx, losing seven games since he arrived and pitching to a mediocre 4.58 ERA in September.

Gray’s troubles on this night began in the bottom of the second. Jay Bruce led off the inning by pounding a ball off the wall in left field for a double, Carlos Santana singled to center, and then Gray made things worse by plunking Lonnie Chisenhall with a fastball to load the bases with nobody out. With the Yankee bullpen still recovering from its work on Tuesday night, this was the last thing Girardi needed to see. But Gray dug in and made a big pitch — and got a big assist from shortstop Didi Gregorius — inducing Roberto Pérez to ground into a nifty 6-4-3 double play. Bruce scored from third on the play, but no one in pinstripes was complaining. When Gray got Giovanny Urshela to fly out to end the inning, there was a sense that disaster had been avoided. Gray had weathered the storm.

The third inning was quiet for Gray, but he wandered into trouble again in the fourth. As most rallies do, this one started with a leadoff walk to Edwin Encarnación. Two pitches later it was Jay Bruce again, this time lifting a lazy fly ball to right field that floated over Aaron Judge and over the outfield wall for a lazy home run. Instead of digging in again, Gray began digging his own grave. He walked two of the next three hitters (his last three hitters), and then Adam Warren came in and made things worse by allowing a single to Urshela.

Once again, the bases were loaded; once again, the game seemed to be hanging in the balance. Once again, the Yankees wriggled free as Warren retired Jason Kipnis on a fly ball to right field. Cleveland held a 3-0 lead, but with the Yankee bats as cold as they were, those three runs felt like touchdowns.

Bauer was coasting. He had given up that walk to Bird in the second, and Judge had reached in the fourth after striking out on a wild pitch, but that would be it as Bauer compiled five hitless innings to start his night. His curveball was devastating, and during the postgame show YES Network commentator Jack Curry revealed that his average break of 9.6 inches was the biggest in baseball, greater even than Clayton Kershaw’s. Working off of that curve, Bauer confounded Yankee hitters with a mid-90s fastball up in their eyes and a backup slider that started in at the hands of the left-handed batters before breaking back over the inside corner.

As good as Bauer was — he’d finish with eight strikeouts and just two hits over six and two-thirds of an inning — he had help from the umpires. Third base umpire Brian O’Nora seemed to be flipping a coin when handling check swing appeals, but worse than that was home plate umpire Vic Carapazza’s strike zone which seemed to breathe in and out all night as if it were alive. Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Judge all struck out on pitches that were outside the strike zone presented by TBS, but neither of the network’s broadcasters made mention of this. (It’s no surprise that John Smoltz remained quiet, considering how much he and his Hall of Fame teammates benefited from the stretching of the zone during their careers.)

When Cleveland scratched out another run in the fifth on the strength of a single from José Ramírez, two wild pitches from Warren, and a sacrifice fly from Bruce, the 4-0 lead felt insurmountable. The Yankees made one last push in the eighth when Headley and Brett Gardner worked walks against Andrew Miller to bring up Judge with two outs and a chance to put some runs on the board, but the MVP candidate struck out for his fourth time of the night to end the inning and effectively end the game. Cleveland 4, New York 0.

It was a frustrating three and a half hours, but it wasn’t all bad. The announcers breathlessly reported all night that the Yankees had only two base hits, and they seemed almost disappointed when Starlin Castro punched a ball to right in the ninth for the team’s third hit, but Cleveland had only five hits themselves, none after the fifth inning. Jaime García pitched well enough in relief that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get a start instead of Gray should that spot in the rotation roll around again, and Dellin Betances appeared to put his September struggles behind him as he struck out the side in the eighth inning on just eleven pitches.

So there’s hope, my friends. Cleveland is a good team deserving of all the accolades that have come its way, but I still believe in these Yankees. This is the most interesting Yankee team in half a decade, and I’m sure they’ve got some fight left in them. I’m already looking forward to Game 2. Oh, and there’s one more thing — at least there weren’t any midges.

One More Pin, Rodney

Aaron Judge had a nice night—and there was some welcome and spirited banter in the game thread, which I’ll address separately—but that was about it as the Yanks took one on the chin in Toronto while the Red Sox won again. More today—a win gets our boys a ticket to the dance.

Never mind the blue birds:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

(p.s. And here is an update on the little girl who was hit by a foul ball earlier in the week.)

When Baseball Doesn’t Matter

The Yanks won and won big yesterday against the Twins but it all seemed trivial after a little girl was hit with a line drive off Todd Frazier’s bat. Just a devastating moment. So damn upsetting. I can’t stop thinking about the girl and her family and hope that she will be okay.

Yanks with the day off and are up in Toronto this weekend.

Picture by Bags

Night in the City

Some kind of onions win for the Yanks last night as they snuck by the Twins, 2-1. Dellin Betances walked the bases loaded in the 8th but he was rescued by Aroldis Chapman who struck out Joe Mauer on three pitches and then got Byron Buxton to fly out to right on the first pitch he saw. Chapman was dominant in the 9th as the Yanks got a big time win. Aaron Judge hit his 44th (word to Tino—20 years ago!).

Only drag was that the Red Sox won in extra innings…again. The O’s blew a big lead, no surprise there. That’s just the way it goes this summer.

Raining lightly in the Bronx but I hope they get this one in. Wonder if the Twins dare bunt against ol’ C.C.

Never mind the slickers:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Finger Lickin’ Good

The Yanks beat the snot out of the Rangers yesterday. Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge homered twice and it was a happy day in Yankeeland—16-7 was the final.

Picture by Bags

Southbound

Well, that worked. The Yanks hit 3 solo home runs against Chris Sale (Matt Holliday, Chase Headley, Todd Frazier), who labored and didn’t make it out of the fifth. Gave one back the next inning thanks to a few errors and then scored 6 runs in the bottom of the sixth to put it away. That was the ballbreaker for the Sox, who got jobbed on balls and strikes, had a crucial third out at first base (correctly) overturned, and then saw Starlin Castro deliver a big bases loaded knock. Aaron Judge followed with a much-needed 2-run blast and the Stadium got good and loud.

The final was 9-2, bringing the Yanks 3.5 behind Boston. Nice job.

No time to gloat as a quick turnaround has our boys down in Baltimore against the surging O’s this afternoon, their stud Dylan Bundy on the bump. Nope, no time to get too happy at all.

Time for another win. Roll on, men.

Never mind the self-congratulations:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Oops

The Mariners kicked the ball around in the first inning to the tune of 5 errors. The Yanks scored 6 runs and that would be more than enough for Masahiro Tanaka (10-1 was the final). Coupled with Saturday’s win and the weekend turned out okay, particularly with the Red Sox on a 4-game losing streak.

Will only get more intense this week: First, Cleveland, then Boston.

Get your Bromo ready.

 

Look, Up in the Sky…It’s a Bird

Greg Bird—my Dude!—returned yesterday, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a 3-run home run—and had 4 RBI in all—as the Yanks downed the Mariner’s 6-3. Thank you for your support, Sonny Gray.

With the win the Yanks gained ground in the Wild Card and the Al East—they are only 3 behind Boston in the loss column. Let’s not give it all back today, huh, fellas?

Never mind the sunshine:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Baseball Stinks

C.C. Sabathia was great and the Yankee bullpen held their own but the offense was horseshit and that’s why they lost a ball-breaker to the M’s, 2-1. Sure, it was Aroldis Chapman who got tagged with giving up the game winner but the Yanks had a million men on base all night and couldn’t do dick. They had fat pitches to hit all night and didn’t do dick. By the end of the game every damn one of them was jumping out of their shoes trying to hit a home run.

 

They played tight. And on a night that the Red Sox got pounded, the Yanks suffer a regrettable loss because it seemed so avoidable. Baseball is stupid.

That’s Gonna Smart

The Yanks got themselves good and galvanized yesterday in an old-fashioned boys-will-be-boys series of bench-clearing interruptions yesterday in Detroit. Who was to blame? The umpires for one. Miguel Cabrera and Gary Sanchez, too. You could throw in some other folks for good measure, like say how about Michael Fulmer, who started it all by plunking Sanchez after the Yankee DH homered against him in the previous at bat.

It got out of hand. That goes on the umpires. After that, everyone’s pride got in the way and nobody wanted to back down. The Yanks came together as a team—as many of the players alluded to postgame comments to the press—but it will cost them. A big suspension is looming for Sanchez, who would have made Mickey Rivers, Craig Nettles and Darryl Strawberry proud with his flurry of jabs.

Oh, and the Yanks lost the game, too—10-6.

 

White Heat

The Red Sox keep reminding the Yanks that the Baby Bombers are not yet ready for Prime Time. The bullpen rightfully gets the blame for blowing a 6-3 lead but watching it live, I got the sense that the Yanks blew it when Aaron Judge whiffed with the bases loaded and just one out in the 7th. He had a couple of good pitches to hit, put good swings on them, but fouled the balls off instead of putting them in play. Because that’s the way it goes and that’s the way it’s been going for Judge, who has now whiffed in more consecutive games than just about anybody ever.

Then the pen was horseshit, too—Aroldis Chapman looked especially mortal again.

9-6 was the sorry-ass final.

Tonight gives Chris Sale, aka Dr. Doom.

Yanks have their work cut out for them. Let’s see what they got.

Never mind the pressure:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Not Ready For Prime Time

Luis Severino and the Yanks took one on the chin on Saturday and then last night, the Yanks held their own against Chris Sale and took the lead in the 8th, before Aroldis Chapman gave it up in the 9th—and to be fair he surrendered a home run on a 102 mph pitch. The Yanks blew it in the 10th and dropped 2 of 3 to their rivals.

Our boys just ain’t good enough right now.

What a frustrating weekend it turned out be. And if you look at the glass half-full, got to figure the Yanks will go out and fuggin’ lose 3 of 4 to the Mets this week, right?

Ugh.

Okay, never mind the gloom:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

And For My Next Trick…

Our boys looked dead in the water again last night for 7 innings. Ass dead, dead ass. Then in the 8th, down 3-0, Aaron Hicks hijacked an inside pitch and launched it just fair down the right field line for a 2-run home run. A rally of walks and base hits followed and the Yanks had a 5-3 lead.

Not happy to leave well enough alone, Aroldis Chapman promptly walked the bases loaded to start the 9th. His ass got saved when a fly ball out to Hicks left turned into a double play thanks to aggressive base-running by our old chum Nunie. When the final out was made we all breathed a sigh of relief. What a huge win, especially with Dr. Doom, Chris Sale looming tomorrow night, all of a sudden the Yanks have a chance to steal the series with a win today.

I know Drew Pomeranz has been damn good this year but Luis Severino needs to act like the Ace we hope he can be, especially with Tanaka joining C.C. on the DL.

Never mind the southpaws:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

How About Another Win?

Our hero A—aron Judge is still down in the dumps but the rest of the boys got on the good foot last night as the Yanks pounded the Jays, 11-5.

Sonny Gray makes his second start for the Bombers tonight. Looking for a series win heading into the big serious with the Sox this weekend.

Never mind the blue and boo birds:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Just Passing Through

Tuesday night in Toronto was no bueno for our Yanks. Josh Donaldson hit a pair of homers off C.C. and our boys left a million guys on base in a dispiriting, 4-2 loss.

More tonight with Masahiro on the hill.

Never mind the summertime blues:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Where the Wild Things Are

It was not easy, there were a lot of strikeouts—on both sides—but the Yanks were able to survive a close one in Cleveland last night, 2-1. Aroldis Chapman benefitted for a pair of nifty defensive plays in the 9th, and whew, the Yanks got a win.

Let’s hope they get another one today and escape Ohio with a split.

Never mind the nonsense:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Walk Tall

Enough with this horseshit three-game losing streak. Time for a win.

Never mind the funky drummer:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Hit the Bricks Pal and Beat It

Man, oh, man, was that ever frustrating. Hours of rain delays and all the Yanks had to show for it was a 2-0 loss. And on a getaway day, to boot. I was muttering aloud by the end of it.

Welp, they have a tough few weeks ahead of them and they begin with a formidable four-game task in Cleveland. Tonight gives Kluber, who is no picnic. On the good foot, Sonny Gray will make his Yankee debut and we’re all looking forward to that. The Indians are good, let’s hope the Yanks find a way to hold there own and then some.

Never mind that nut banging on the drum:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Under the Hood

Yanks dropped a close one to the Tigers and the Red Sox won a close one against the Indians moving Boston a half-game back into first place. Today gives a matinee at the Stadium. Warm, muggy, summery.

Never mind the thickness:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Summer Harvest

I feel bad for the kid Fowler that came up, hurt himself, then gets traded. Hope he’s okay.

And I will be rooting for him in the future. Good luck, Dude!

Meanwhile, Sonny Gray will start Thursday and Jaime Garcia goes on Friday. New players! Fun. The Yanks beat the Tigers on Monday night, 7-3. Aaron Judge homered, Clint Frazier tripled, and Miguel Cabrera did a lot of barking, an old dog on a lousy team.

Back at it tonight. Keep it moving’ boys, more than plenty of work left to be done.

Never mind the standings:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver