"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Boom Bip

The Yanks hit a bunch of loud home runs last night—solo shots from Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge (of the Winfield line drive variety), and a 3-run bomb by Clint Frazier. Combined with Masahiro Tanaka’s masterful 14-K performance, it was more than enough for the Yanks to cruise to a 6-1 win, and bump the Red Sox out of first place.

More this afternoon on a cool, gray summer day in July. A kid named Caleb Smith gets the start for the Bombers. He’ll probably need a mess-o-help from the offense.

Never mind the chill:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags.

Cloudy With a Chance of Homers

The Yanks blew a 3-0 lead, the Rays squandered a 5-3 lead, and our boys stole a victory when Brett Gardner hit a solo home run in extra innings. Sure, it was not pretty, but against the Rays, sheeeeeeeeet, we’ll take it.

Our man Tanaka is on the hill tonight.

Never mind Evan Longoria:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Dem Rays

Belated but not too late. Here goes a game thread.

Never mind the storm clouds:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

The Ghost of Phenoms Past

Whenever I think of Homer Bailey, I’m reminded of how treacherous it is to anoint a pitching prospect as a future star. Sure, things worked out with Clayton Kershaw, but we don’t have to look beyond our own backyard to remember the trials and tribulations of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. According to Baseball Prospectus, the top five pitching prospects in 2008 were Clay Buchholz, Joba Chamberlain, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, and Homer Bailey. That group has produced a first-ballot Hall of Famer, an occasional All-Star, a middle of the rotation innings-eater, a flash in the pan, and Bailey.

Homer’s had a nice career, if you allow that any eleven-year stint in the major leagues is a nice career, but he appears to be nearing the end of the road. He’s only made six starts this year, but they’ve been forgettable. In 27.1 innings he’s allowed 26 runs (I’ll spare him the embarrassment of calculating that ERA) along with 43 hits and 13 walks. He did manage two wins in his first two starts of July, allowing a total of two runs over 12.1 innings, but his last two starts have been abject disasters — 14 runs in 4.2 innings. (That sound you hear in the background is Gary Sánchez starting up the Score Truck.)

It seems perfect that the Yankees have their own phenom on the mound today. Luís Severino has been exactly what you’d expect from a young pitcher with a huge future. He hasn’t been Dwight Gooden, but no one has, really. There have been bumps in the road, but in general he seems to be getting better over the course of the season. At his worst he tends to lose focus and make mistakes; at his best he is virtually unhittable, carrying his 100-MPH velocity deep into his starts. His spot in the rotation is the one that I look forward to the most. Each dominant outing pushes my memories of the misguided handling of Hughes and Chamberlain deeper into my subconscious. Severino will be a star.

All of this, of course, points to a huge win and a series sweep for the Yankees, so relax and enjoy!

As Alex would say, Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Gardner, LF
C. Frazier, RF
Sánchez, C
Holliday, DH
Gregorius, SS
Headley, 1B
Triple Play Frazier, 3B
Ellsbury, CF
Torreyes, 2B

Severino (6-4, 120.2 IP, 136 K, 30 BB, 104 H, 3.21 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)

Wrestling with the Reds

When I think of the Cincinnati Reds, I will always and forever think back to the Big Red Machine of the 1970s. I’m not old enough to remember watching those teams, but after a fortuitous trip to Yankee Stadium when I was seven years old transformed me into a Yankee fan for life, I vividly remember flipping through a pack of baseball cards and painfully reading about the Yankees’ sweep the previous year at the hands of the Reds in the 1976 World Series. Sure, that was decades ago, and the Reds have since given us players like Paul O’Neill and Aroldis Chapman, but the little boy in me still holds that grudge.

Tonight the Reds come in to town for a brief two-game series. It would behoove the Yankees to win both games, because these Reds aren’t big, and they aren’t a machine. Only three teams in baseball have worse records than Cincinnati, and if it weren’t for Scooter Gennett’s four-homer game from a few weeks ago or the trade rumors surrounding shortstop Zack Cozart, they’d be completely irrelevant.

Our young Jordan Montgomery takes the mound against the equally young Luís Castillo. The Yankees have historically struggled against rookie pitchers (Castillo will be making just his seventh career start), but hopefully that won’t be case tonight. Perhaps the Score Truck will even make an appearance. As Alex would say, “Let’s Go Yank-ees!”

Gardner, CF
C. Frazier, LF
Judge, RF
Holliday, DH
Gregorius, SS
Headley, 1B
T. Frazier, 3B
Wade, 2B
Romine, C

Montgomery (6-5, 101.1 IP, 93 K, 32 BB, 4.09 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .247/.305/.413)

The Little Things

The Yankees have had lots of disappointing losses over the past six weeks, so many that after a while it became pointless to label one or another as the “worst loss of the season.” Saturday night’s game in Seattle certainly doesn’t fit into that category, but I’m certain that several different Yankees went to bed wondering about what might have been, about all the small ripples that could’ve bent this game in New York’s favor.

Things begin nicely enough with a run in the second, but the manner in which the run came across is a bit troubling. Todd Frazier may have been acquired more to keep him from the Red Sox than for any benefit he may give the Yankees – so far that benefit is minimal – but he’s been struggling. He came to the plate in the second inning with no one out and runners on first and second, and wasted little time in killing the rally. After swinging through two pitches to dig an 0-2 hole, he bounced into a 5-4-3 double play. The run scored, but a big opportunity was missed. Todd Frazier likely did not sleep well last night.

Masahiro “Box of Chocolates” Tanaka was on the mound for the Yankees, and after two uneventful innings, things unravelled for him in the third. Mike Zunino led off the inning with a homer to tie the game at one, and two batters later Ben Gamel whacked a dinger of his own to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead. Tanaka rebounded by striking out Robinson Canó for the second out, but then there was an infield single by Nelson Crúz, a splitter that landed on Kyle Seager’s foot, and then consecutive RBI singles from Danny Valencia and Mitch Haniger. Tanaka threw 39 pitches and allowed four runs in the inning, adding to the confusion which swirls around the most enigmatic pitcher on the Yankee staff.

But then things got even more confusing for Tanaka. He set down the side in the fourth on just six pitches, then did the same in the fifth with only eight. He had to work just a bit harder in the sixth, but he still managed a one-two-three inning on thirteen pitches. If you happened to duck away from the game for some reason during the third inning, you probably think Tanaka had a brilliant outing, and except for that third inning he did. In his other five innings he faced just seventeen batters and allowed only two singles. In that fateful third frame, however, the Mariners sent all nine batters to the plate and produced three singles, two homers, and a hit batsman. Were it not for that inning, this would’ve been an easy win for the Yankees. Masahiro Tanaka likely did not sleep well last night.

After Tanaka righted the ship, the Yankee batters began to chip away at Seattle’s Ariel Miranda. They cut the lead to 4-2 in the fifth inning when Garrett Cooper tripled and came home on a sacrifice fly from Ronald Torreyes, and Aaron Judge lofted a ho-hum homer to right to make it 4-3 in the sixth.

In the eighth, another opportunity was missed. Brett Gardner singled with one out, bringing up Clint Frazier. (Yesterday, by the way, I campaigned for Frazier to continue playing over Jacoby Ellsbury; I can only assume that Girardi reads the Banter, because before Saturday’s game, the manager said he’d continue to play the youngster, and revealed he’d explained this to Ellsbury.)

Frazier looked at the first pitch he saw from Seattle reliever and former Yankee David Phelps and hit a laser that looked like it might make its way into the stands in left field. Instead the ball hit the yellow line that marks the top of the wall and fell to the turf for a double that pushed Gardner to third. Only two inches, perhaps, separated the Yankees from a 5-4 lead, but they’d at least get the tying run two batters later when Matt Holliday came up with the bases loaded and produced a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Gardner and moving Frazier to third.

Next up was Gary Sánchez. Last year’s phenom hasn’t matched the obscene numbers from his rookie campaign, but it could be because he seems to hit rockets into fielders’ gloves at least once or twice a game. Batting with two out and runners at the corners here in the eighth, he did it again. He sampled a 2-0 pitch and sent a rope out to right field that seemed certain to be an RBI single (or perhaps more), only to watch Haniger race in to snare it for the final out of the inning. An inch here or there and this would’ve been a huge inning. Clint Frazier and Gary Sánchez likely did not sleep well last night.

As the game moved into the bottom of the eighth, all signs seemed to favor the Yankees. With a relatively fresh holster of flame-throwing relievers, Girardi would be able to bring one in after another, casually putting zeroes up on the scoreboard as confidently as a riverboat gambler laying aces on the table. All he’d have to do was wait for the Yankee offense to scratch out another run before playing his final card and securing the win, right?

That idea lasted about thirty seconds. Fresh off Friday night’s dominant performance, David Robertson came in to face Canó as he led off the eighth. Robertson put a fastball exactly where he wanted it – at the knees and on the black – a perfect pitch that would’ve crippled any ordinary left-handed batter, producing a ground ball to second if he swung or an 0-1 count if he didn’t. Robinson Canó, however, is no ordinary hitter. He reached out across the plate with his smooth-as-molasses swing and served the ball out to left field. The ball carried deep and deeper until it finally settled into the stands for a home run and a 5-4 Seattle lead.

After following the path of the ball into the bleachers, Robertson immediately snapped his head back towards Sánchez in disbelief. The replay of Canó’s swing showed Sánchez equally surprised, turning his empty glove and his bare hand up to the heavens in the universal symbol for “what the hell just happened?” Robertson easily mowed through the next three batters, but the two continued discussing the pitch as soon as they got to the dugout. Afterwards Robertson admitted that he had put the pitch exactly where he wanted, but acknowledged he had simply been beaten by a great hitter. David Robertson likely did not sleep well last night.

So after scraping their way back into the game and looking poised to win, the Yankees were suddenly three outs away from defeat. Didi Gregorious led off the ninth with a walk, but when Todd Frazier fouled out, dropping his average to a lusty .201, and Chase Headley (batting for Cooper) flied out to center, the Yanks were down to their final out, and this is when the gears started turning.

Ronald Torreyes was headed to the plate, and Girardi could’ve pinch hit Ellsbury, but instead he chose to use Ellsbury to run for Gregorious, explaining afterwards that he felt like he needed to steal a base. I suppose the marginal upgrade in that spot outweighed what would be (sadly) a similarly marginal upgrade had he hit for Torreyes.

You probably already know that it worked out, and Torreyes drove in the tying run, but unless you were watching you don’t know how it happened. Torreyes, naturally, fell into an 0-2 hole, putting the Yankees even deeper into the jaws of defeat, but when Ellsbury stole second on the next pitch, suddenly there was a glimmer of hope. On a 1-2 count, Seattle closer Edwin Díaz threw a slider that darted away from Torreyes and into the opposite batter’s box. Having already committed to his swing before realizing he couldn’t possibly reach the pitch, Torreyes did the only thing he could do; he threw his bat at the ball, barely clipping it to stay alive. The bat came to rest just behind the pitcher’s mound, and Díaz politely retrieved it for him, only to have his next pitch rudely laced into left field, easily scoring Ellsbury with the tying run.

The bottom of the ninth inning was interesting for two reasons. First, all of Girardi’s maneuvering had left him with a makeshift infield: Todd Frazier was still at third, but Torreyes had moved over to short, Headley was placed at second for the first time in his major league career, and Austin Romine came in to play first. (Part of the problem was that Starlin Castro had been put on the disabled list earlier in the day, and his replacement, Tyler Wade, hadn’t been able to get to Seattle in time for the game; the Yankees were playing a man short.) The second interesting thing was Tommy Kahnle, who continues to be dominant. Guillermo Heredia reached on a hit by pitch (the play was upheld by review, but I still don’t believe the ball hit him), but Kahnle struck out the other three hitters he faced, something I think we’ll see a lot of over the course of the summer.

Home plate umpire Pat Hoberg decided to insert himself into the game during the tenth inning, and a disgruntled Yankee fan could easily argue that Hoberg decided the game. Clint Frazier led off the tenth against Tony Zych and worked his way into a 2-2 count. The next pitch came in low, probably an inch or two below the knees, but Hoberg saw it as a strike, and Frazier returned to the bench. Judge was up next and pushed the count full before taking a pitch and immediately tossing his bat back towards the Yankee dugout. He had taken three steps towards first before Hoberg rung him up for strike three. Perhaps more than any Yankee, Judge has a firm understanding of the strike zone, and this pitch was a clear ball, even a touch lower than the one which had victimized Frazier. So instead of having runners on first and second with no one out in the top of the tenth, the bases were empty with two outs. Holliday followed all that with a grounder to short, and the inning was done.

Adam Warren came in for the bottom of the tenth and was promptly touched for a loud double by Ben Gamel, and suddenly the game was there for Seattle’s taking. After an intentional walk to Canó, Nelson Crúz stepped to the plate looking to be the hero. The real hero, though, would be Hoberg. With the count 1-1, Warren threw a pitch at the knees, a pitch that appeared to be even a hair or two higher than the strikes to Frazier and Judge, but Hoberg didn’t flinch. He saw it low, and Gary Sánchez wasn’t happy about it. His body slumped in disbelief when he didn’t get the call, and he turned his head to bark at Hoberg twice before returning the ball to Warren. Still not satisfied, he got up from his crouch and said a few more words before finally sitting back down. I’d like to think that Hoberg gave him some leeway because he knew he had missed the call.

Ten seconds later the game was over. Swinging aggressively at a 2-1 pitch (instead of defensively, had the count been 1-2), Crúz lashed a single to right, and Gamel scored easily. Mariners 6, Yankees 5. I’d like to think that Pat Hoberg did not sleep well last night, but I’m guessing he probably slept like a baby.

If Friday night’s game was the blueprint for future success, Saturday night was the ghost of failures past. It was the fifth time the Yankees had been walked off, something that happened only four times last year, and it lowered their mark in one-run games to an abysmal 9-19.

The good news, of course, is that tomorrow is another day and another chance to win the series. It won’t be the most important game of their season, but it’s certainly a big one. Don’t worry, though, I feel a victory coming on, as likely as hot coffee on a rainy day in Seattle.

The Face of Things to Come

If the Yankees are going to track down the Red Sox and make a push towards more meaningful games in September and October, Friday night’s game in Seattle will serve as the blueprint, starting with the pitching.

After Luís Severino set the tone in the series opener and laid to rest any thoughts that he might not be the Yankees’ ace, the elder statesman of the staff came out and reminded fans that he’s far from done. CC Sabathia has battled well-publicized issues on and off the field over the past few years, so this season has been something of a revelation. He pitched to a 4.54 ERA from 2013-16, but on his 37th birthday, Carsten Charles earned his ninth win (matching his nine wins in 2016 and his total from ’14 and ’15) and lowered his ERA to 3.44.

In the first inning, however, it didn’t look like Sabathia would be in the mood to celebrate anything at night’s end. The first two batters went down harmlessly enough, but Robinson Canó singled and went to third on a booming single off the bat of Nelson Crúz. (How Crúz could end up at first after hitting a ball to the base of the wall is completely beyond me. Cadillac much?)

Sabathia did his best to get out of the jam by getting a ground ball from Kyle Seager that should’ve ended the inning were it not for the inexperience of Chad Headley at first base. The ball was hit hard to Headley’s right, but instead of leaving the ball for Starlin Castro, who was pulled over and deep in a shift for Seager, Headley took a dive and missed. When Castro fielded the ball easily, Headly had to scurry back to first to take the throw on the run while searching for the bag with his foot, something he’s likely never done at third base. He missed the bag, and the Mariners had a 1-0 lead.

Seattle had Andrew Moore on the mound, and in the third inning the Yankees began to take his measure. It was the bottom of the lineup that started things off. Headley set about redeeming his earlier misplay with a leadoff double to center, then came home on rocketed double to right center off the bat of Clint Frazier. A quick word about Frazier – there’s no way this kid should be going anywhere. Whether you want to believe the numbers or what you see with your eyes, he has the résumé of a major league ball player. In addition to this RBI double, he also produced a diving catch in left that would fit comfortably on any outfielder’s highlight reel. I understand that Jacoby Ellsbury is making roughly forty times Frazier’s salary, but is there anyone out there who thinks Ellsbury is the better player? Anyone?

But back to our game. That Frazier double tied the game at one, and after a fly out from Brett Gardner and a walk to Gary Sánchez, Aaron Judge came to the plate with runners at the corners. Judge got a good pitch to hit from Moore, but he just missed squaring it up – and lofted a sac fly to the wall in center field. It was 2-1, Yanks, but there would be more from Judge later on.

Sabathia, meanwhile, was fighting through his start. He wouldn’t allow a run after that first inning, but there was a loud double from Ben Gamel in the second, and then a walk and a hit batsman in the third. It wasn’t easy, but then suddenly it was. After hitting Seager, Sabathia coasted through the next eight batters, striking out four of them.

Normally, that would be the story of the game, but Aaron Judge simply isn’t normal. Judge came to the plate in the fifth inning with one out and runners on first and third and watched the first two pitches sail outside the zone. He fouled off a 2-0 fastball and was clearly frustrated that he had missed his pitch, possibly also frustrated that it had been ten games since his last home run.

He didn’t miss the next pitch. Moore left a slider up around the belt and on the inside half of the plate, and Judge hit a ball as hard and as far as any he hit during last week’s Home Run Derby. Everyone in the park knew it was gone immediately, so Judge took a glance towards left field during his followthrough, but his head was down before leaving the batter’s box, and he didn’t look up again until rounding first, long after the ball had been caught by a fan in the upper reaches of the upper deck. Another ten feet and it would’ve left the stadium, a feat not accomplished in the eleven-year history of Safeco Field.

How prodigious was this home run? It was too big for Statcast, which couldn’t track the blast. (The Twitterverse ate this up, by the way.) With no high-tech data, people were forced to do it the old-fashioned way, with Mariners’ PR people offering a ludicrous estimate of 415 feet before someone, somewhere, settled on 437, a guess which calls to mind our President’s estimates of his Inauguration crowd.

But as many have said, it’s probably better this way. The Legend of Judge grew a few sizes on Friday night, and on Saturday people will take selfies in the seat where the ball landed and an intern will no doubt be dispatched with a tape measure, just like the days of Jimmy Foxx and Mickey Mantle.

Oh, and another thing – don’t worry too much about Judge and his second-half slump. The big fella appears to be just fine.

The scoring was done for the night, thanks mostly to the Yankee bullpen. Sabathia walked the leadoff batter in the sixth inning, and Joe Girardi didn’t hesitate, jumping at the chance to unwrap the back end of his bullpen, gifts that just keep on giving. First up was Tommy Kanhle, who touched 100MPH on the gun while setting down all three batters he faced, and then David Robertson and his high socks took the seventh and struck out the side. (Welcome back!)

Dellin Betances had the eighth and worked around a double and a single before giving way to Adam Warren who faced just three batters in the ninth. In total, the bullpen logged four innings and struck out six while yielding just three hits.

So this 5-1 Yankee win is the blueprint for how the team might climb over the Red Sox and back into the division lead. Of course, before we start thinking about division flags and playoff rotations, these Yankees have to win a series, something they haven’t done since early June. This is the time.

Out of the Wilderness

Sevy

My son and I went to see the Yankees play in nearby Anaheim on the night of June 12, and it couldn’t have been better. Angels Stadium was overrun with Yankee fans, a boisterous group who came to praise Aaron Judge and bury the past few seasons of Yankee mediocrity. All of us got what we came for as Judge launched a homer to put the game away (eliciting chants of M!V!P!, right there in Mike Trout’s house) and the Bombers won their fifth straight game, reaching a high-water mark for the season at 38-23.

What’s happened since has been well documented. The seven-game losing streak that began on June 13 was just a taste of the slide yet to come. The Yankees have won neither a series nor consecutive games since then, wandering through the wilderness on a 10-22 streak that threatens to erase all the hard work and good fortune of April and May, and eliminate any hope for October.

Thank the Ghosts for Luís Severino. Feel free to fall in love with Aaron Judge if you haven’t already, keep holding that torch for Gary Sánchez, and lament all you want about Clint Frazier’s impending demotion, but Severino deserves as much hype as those three. (The next Core Four? Dare we dream so big so soon?)

Severino opposed the Mariners’ Felix Hernández, who is somehow already 31, and the two of them traded zeroes through the game’s first five innings. The Yankee hitters offered little resistance, earning just a second-inning walk, a third-inning single, and a walk that produced a fourth-inning double play. Early on, it was just another one of those games where you sat wondering how they’d ever manage to score.

Thinks weren’t quite that easy for Severino, but he rose to the occasion when challenged, aided by a fastball that’s rapidly become one of the best weapons in the league. (By the way, here’s an interesting article in which Tom Verducci explains that even though Yankee pitchers have the highest average velocity on their fastballs, no staff in baseball throws as few fastballs as they do, a trend that seems to be spreading throughout baseball.) But back to Severino. He blazed a 99-MPH fastball past Kyle Seager with runners on first and second to end the first, induced a pop-up from Mike Zunino to end the second with a runner on third, and wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth by victimizing Jean Segura, showcasing 100-MPH heat just off the plate before using a curve to induce a feeble ground ball to short.

The spell was finally broken in the top of the sixth. Five minutes before midnight Eastern Stadium Time, Brett Gardner crushed King Felix’s ninetieth pitch, launching it deep into the Seattle night for a 1-0 Yankee lead. It still seems odd to see Gardner hitting no-doubters, as he occasionally does, but that’s what this was. Hernández was cursing himself before finishing his follow-through, Gardner was in his home run trot just a step out of the batter’s box, and Robinson Canó immediately began examining the dirt between his feet at second base. No doubt.

But would that single run be enough? Severino came back out and immediately took the game by the throat, retiring the Mariners on ten dominant pitches in the sixth and just eleven in the seventh. How good has Severino been lately? In his last two starts, opposing Chris Sale in Boston and King Felix in Seattle, his numbers are impressive: 14 IP/12 H/1 R/3 BB/12 K/1.07 WHIP/0.64 ERA. The Yankees may be sliding, but Severino is riding a personal three-game winning streak.

In the top of the eighth the Yankee hitters scratched out another run, but that single run should’ve been so much more. Aaron Judge found himself at the plate with the bases loaded and only one out, and I found myself irrationally hoping for a grand slam that would ice the game and soothe any concerns about Judge’s current slide. Instead it was a soft liner into right that moved everyone along ninety feet. If it were a fish you wouldn’t throw it back, but you wouldn’t mount it on the wall either. Matt Holiday came up next and grounded into a third-to-first double play, and the inning was over. (Side Note #1: Seattle’s Tony Zych faced the final three batters of that inning, and to confirm what you’re wondering, I looked it up. Assuming they still publish a hard copy of The Baseball Encyclopedia, Zych would be on the very last page. Side Note #2: On the first page of that volume you’ll find one-time Seattle pitcher David Aardsma, meaning that the Mariners are the alpha and omega of Major League Baseball. Kind of.)

Severino had thrown an easy 100 pitches over seven frames, and even though it might’ve been nice to send him out for the bottom of the eighth and squeeze another inning out of him, it seemed the perfect time for Joe Girardi to take advantage of his shiny new bullpen (The Embarrassment of Pitches?). I expected to see our old friend David Robertson in the eighth inning role, but Delin Betances came in instead. Even though the boxscore makes it look like he struggled, it wasn’t that serious. Sure, the hit by pitch was concerning, but the single that followed was just a harmless ground ball that found its way between Castro and Headley, and were it not for a botched double play, the inning could’ve been over a batter earlier than it was. (It also could’ve been much worse; that botched double play went to review, and I was ready for them to rule that Castro hadn’t actually secured the (wild) throw from Betances and put the runner back on second, loading the bases with just one out, but the ruling came down in favor of the Yankees.) The inning ended uneventfully.

Even after Double Agent Cano gift-wrapped two runs with a throwing error in top of the ninth, doubling the Yankee lead to 4-0, Girardi still sent Aroldis Chapman out to pitch the ninth, no doubt hoping to get his closer straightened out. That didn’t happen. If you weren’t watching, you still know exactly what it looked like. The fastball was live, but there was no control. He walked Mike Zunino to lead things off, then two pitches later he missed his target by about four feet, blazing a fastball past a lunging Sánchez for a wild pitch that sent Zunino to second. Chapman recovered to strike out Jean Segura and Ben Gamel, but it took 14 pitches for him to slog through those two at bats, and it didn’t seem that much had been straightened out. Due next was Canó, who reached to his shoes to slash at a slider and lace a double to the gap in right center, driving in a run and shrewdly maintaining his cover. The next batter popped up harmlessly to the right side, and the game was done. Yankees 4, Mariners 1.

Ah, but tomorrow night brings the question the Yankees haven’t been able to answer since that night in Anaheim more than five weeks ago. Can they win two games in a row? Tomorrow night they will. Book it.

Salty in Seattle

jacobsen salt

Good match-up to start the weekend series in Seattles—Little Luis vs. King Felix.

Never mind the contenders:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Food & Wine]

Splish Splash

splash bags

A loss on Monday night was followed by a win last night in Minnesota. And then some news: Todd Frazier and David Robertson are headed to the Yanks.

Always did like that David Robertson.

Picture by Bags

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

bags blonde

Are you kidding me? Down 1-0 in the 9th, the Yanks tie the game on a Matt Holliday home run and it takes them 16 innings to outlast the Sox, 4-1.

And today gives a day-night doubleheader.

Summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime.

Never mind the bollocks:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Yes, We Have No Bananas

Graf Truck Bags

The Yanks opened the second half slipping on the banana peel in the 9th as Aroldis Chapman blew a lead and the game.

Fug.

And Dr. Doom—Chris Sale—on the hill today. With A.J. Pierzynski on the broadcast. This is going to be a long day.

Never mind the odds:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

You’re All Wet

interior rain bags

What did I miss?

The Home Run Derby? The All-Star Game? Big Mike possibly done for the season?

And what could be a 4-game beatdown up in Boston this weekend?

Anything else?

Part Two begins now.

Picture by Bags

The Lost Weekend

bags blue sky manhattan skyline

Well, that sucked. The Yanks won a laughter on Friday night but then Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman blew Saturday’s game (spoiling a nice debut for Clint Frazier) followed by yesterday’s beat down. No, that wasn’t how it was supposed to go at all.

Right now, the Astros are the Man. And the Yanks ain’t.

Our boys are back home where it is Hotter than July—wait, it is July. Those damn Jays.

Picture by Bags

Not Ready For Prime Time

Coke Cases Bags

That was the verdict when the Yanks and Astros met earlier this season in the Bronx. Now, they play a weekend series down in Houston.

Never mind the heartache:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

A Day to Remember, A Moment to Forget

Fowler

Imagine for just a minute that you’re Dustin Fowler. As the 2017 season unfolds, you watch as one of your former minor league teammates becomes the biggest star in baseball, and as spring ripens into summer, one prospect after another climbs through the ranks and debuts in New York. Undaunted, you continue to grind at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, putting together a season that turns heads and has many observers wondering when you might join the rest of the Baby Bombers at the major league level.

In late June your hard work pays off. On Wednesday night your manager pulls you aside and tells you that tomorrow will be your day. Instead of riding the team bus to Thursday night’s game in Syracuse, you’ll be hopping a plane to Chicago and the major leagues. To make the day even more special, you get word on Thursday afternoon that you’ve been named an International League All-Star. For a moment you wonder about the league All Star Game, but it only takes seconds before you realize that you’d trade twenty minor league all star games for just one game in the show.

Your parents can’t make it to Chicago for the game, but when you arrive at the stadium and see your road jersey hanging in a locker marked “Fowler,” your parents are the only thing you can think of. Just as it still is for millions of kids across America, your baseball journey began with your parents. Games of catch with your father in the waning twilight after work, countless rides to practice and games, rolls of quarters and trips to the batting cages, and on and on and on. Because they were there then, you are here now.

It doesn’t take long for the media to find you during warm ups, and you answer different versions of the same question with different versions of the same answer. “It’s hard to put into words how excited I am,” you explain, “but it’s great to be here. It’s what I’ve worked for my whole life, and I’m just excited to get my career started.”

Before you know it the game arrives. A two hour and fifty minute rain delay does nothing to dampen your spirits, and when you sprint onto the field to take your position in right field before the bottom of the first inning, you float. After two quick outs Jose Abreu flicks a fly ball in your direction down the right field line. You take off after the ball in a flash, just as you’ve tracked thousands upon thousands of fly balls. There’s no thought, only reaction laced with twenty-two-year-old adrenaline, and before you know it the stands are rushing towards you far faster than they should. The ball you’ve been chasing curls harmlessly into the seats just as your body slams into the restraining wall. You’ll shake it off like you’ve shaken off so many bumps and bruises, but then your right foot hits the ground and you collapse in a heap.

Before you realize what’s happening, you’re surrounded by teammates and coaches and trainers. Steve Donohue crouches down and examines your knee while Joe Girardi buries his face in his hands, wiping tears from a face that’s seen fifty years of baseball. Veterans and rookies who had celebrated your arrival only hours before, form a circle of sorrow around you. Their words are positive and encouraging, but you see something different in their eyes. When they look at you they see Moonlight Graham, a player who came and went on this very day in 1905.

And then you’re on a cart driving out of the stadium with your knee in a splint and your heart in your mouth, the day your whole life has been pointing towards suddenly crashing down around you.

The game, of course, continues without you. Your team had taken advantage of an error to grab a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but the White Sox jump back with two runs in the second, a rally made possible when your replacement, Rob Refsnyder, simply drops a fly ball. Your Yankees never lead after that, and nothing much of interest happens the rest of the away aside from a spotless performance from the much maligned bullpen (3.1 innings pitched, one hit, zero runs, zero walks, five strikeouts), and the curious case of Aaron Judge.

You know Judge well and nothing he’s doing surprises you, but as you listen to the end of the game while being prepped for surgery on your torn patella tendon, two things strike you as odd. First, with two outs in the seventh and the bases empty, Judge draws an intentional walk, making him only the third player this season to get a free pass with no one on board. That’s certainly strange, but in the ninth inning something happens that doesn’t fit the game you’ve grown up with.

After getting the first two outs of the inning, White Sox closer David Robertson gives up a clean single to Brett Gardner, setting up a showdown with Judge, and this is where things stop making sense. Even though the speedy Gardner carries the tying run in his pocket, the White Sox choose not to hold him on. Even though the speedy Gardner carries the tying run in his pocket and isn’t being held on by the White Sox, the Yankees choose not to have him steal second. The White Sox want Girardi to send Gardner, which would open up first base and allow them to walk Judge, but Girardi doesn’t take the bait. Judge eventually strikes out to end the game, but it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.

The final score of the game is White Sox 4, Yankees 3, and the Yankees have fallen out of first place, but as the anesthesia creeps into your lungs and begins to fog your mind, your last conscious thought is for yourself. Again you see Abreu’s fly ball slicing off his bat, but this time it stays in play, this time you easily gather it in, this time you trot down the line towards the dugout, your adrenaline rising as each step brings you closer to your first major league at bat.

It Might Blow Up But it Won’t Go Pop

Ballongs Bags Color

As if we need another reason to love Aaron Judge, there’s this.

Couple of rookies got their first big league hits last night—Miguel Andujar went 3 for 4 with 4 RBI in his first game!—as the Yanks blitzed the White Sox, 12-3.

Going for the series win tonight. Be a shame not to get it.

Never mind the Bromo:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

At Least Nobody Got Hurt

Otto Bags

Except some feelings. (Okay, Matt Holliday was placed on the DL but we already knew he was sick.)

Yanks come back late, then Betances blows the game, Yanks lose, everyone is sad, though some are also angry.

Maybe tonight won’t suck.

Never mind the disabled list:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Do Not Cross

police barricade bags

Our Yanks beat the White Sox on Monday night but it wasn’t easy as the bullpen decided to make things nervous late. But they didn’t totally shit the bed and the Yanks got a much-needed win, 6-5.

Starlin Castro heads to the DL because, why not? All the cool kids are doing it these days.

The only good news is that another bright young prospect—this time, Tyler Wade—gets called up.

Never mind the M*A*S*H unit:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

 

Chi-Town It Is

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Yanks are in Chicago for four games against the White Sox.

Never mind all this sucking:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture via Eater.

 

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