Game 160: Gallardo vs. Pineda

It took until September 30th for the Yankees to play their first meaningless baseball game, and that's a testament to how much they have overachieved this season. The fact that they cannot make the playoffs is no reason to stop rooting for them, however, as they could help push the Mariners or Tigers into the playoffs by drubbing the Orioles this weekend - and that's something to cheer for.

Check out the latest episode of the podcast while you wait for the game to start - E.J. and I discussed David Ortiz's retirement, Yankees rivalries, power up the middle, and Fox's Pitch.

Here's tonight's lineup:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Chase Headley, 3B
  3. Gary Sanchez, C
  4. Brian McCann, DH
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Didi Gregorius, SS
  7. Aaron Hicks, RF
  8. Mason Williams, LF
  9. Ronald Torreyes, 2B

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.

Game 159 Recap: NYY 5 BOS 1

I didn't watch very much of this game.  Call me immature or a hater or whatever, I didn't want to sit through 3+ hours of David Ortiz ball washing.  I really wish this Yankee team would have been around a few weeks ago though.  That would have made these final few games even more exciting.  Anyway, here are the bullet points:

- CC Sabathia was brilliant in his final start of the year.  He allowed 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks over 7.1 innings, striking out 8 and lowering his season ERA to 3.91.  He struck out the first 4 batters he faced and never looked back.  Fantastic season for the big fella.

- A pair of ribbie doubles by Starlin Castro (1st inning) and Jacoby Ellsbury (5th) gave the Yankees their first 2 runs.  A bases loaded walk by Tyler Austin and a wild pitch gave them 2 more in the 6th to stretch the lead, and another double by Aaron Hicks made it 5-1 in the 8th.

- Ellsbury, Castro, and Hicks each had 2-hit nights.

- Gary Sanchez went 0-5 and took a golden sombrero in the process.  That's rough.  I'd hate to be the next baseball his bat comes in contact with.

- Richard Bleier pitched a clean 9th, dropping his season ERA down to 2.14.  He and Tommy Layne have both done some good work lately.

- Kinda weird that the Yankees finished a sweep of the Red Sox and got eliminated from the postseason on the same day.  Ya just can't predict baseball, Suzyn.

Game 159: Owens vs. Sabathia

With four games left in the Yankees season, Team Entropy is still alive and well:

Embrace the chaos. Here's tonight's lineup:

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  3. Gary Sanchez, DH
  4. Starlin Castro, 2B
  5. Didi Gregorius, SS
  6. Chase Headley, 3B
  7. Brian McCann, C
  8. Aaron Hicks, RF
  9. Tyler Austin, 1B

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.

Game 158 Recap: NYY 5 BOS 3

The Mark Teixeira Retirement Tour keeps rolling on!  Teix provided the 9th inning dramatics again last night, hitting a walk-off grand slam to turn what looked like a surefire 3-0 loss into an incredibly dramatic comeback win.

This one got wild late, but it was a pitchers' duel early from 2 unexpected sources.  Bryan Mitchell danced in and out of trouble over 7 scoreless innings in his final appearance of the season.  He didn't rack up big strikeout numbers and he did walk 5 batters, but Boston only managed 2 hits against him.  Just like Cessa the other night, I'll take that against this lineup every time out.

Mitchell was matched by Clay Buchholz over his 6 innings of work, and his work was a little more dominant than Mitchell's.  The Yankees only had 1 hit off Buchholz and he struck out 6.  The lack of offense gave the Yankees no margin for error, and Starlin Castro made one to lead off the top of the 8th.  This resulted in 3 runs coming in on a ground ball double and Gary Sanchez passed ball and that set the stage for the big bottom of the 9th.

Brett Gardner singled to lead off the inning and Craig Kimbrel proceeded to walk the next 2 batters to load the bases with nobody out.  That brought Brian McCann to the plate, and after falling behind 0-2 he battled back to draw a 10-pitch walk and force in the first run.  Kimbrel was out, Joe Kelly was in, and he got Starlin and Didi to make quick outs, which brought up Teix.  Kelly threw a curveball for called strike 1 and tried to set it up again with a fastball on the second pitch.  Teix was ready for it and he got all of it, hitting it out into the Yankee bullpen for the walk-off win.  Really cool moment, and one that keeps the tiny playoff hopes alive for another day.

Game Notes:

- Strange night for the offense.  They drew 6 walks as a team, 3 of them in the 9th, and only had 3 hits.  Brett Gardner had 2 of the hits and 2 of the walks, so nice job setting the table by him.

- Props to Jonathan Holder, Tommy Layne, and James Pazos holding the Sox at 3 after the 8th.  Made the walk-off possible.

- Believe it or not, that was Teixeira's first career walk-off home run.  He said after the game that he hoped that was his final home run and I can't blame him for that.  That's a helluva good one to go out on.  We'll see what Joe does with him over these final 4 games.

Game 158: Buchholz vs. Mitchell

This is the most important thing to keep in mind when you're watching tonight's game:

Here's the Yankees lineup for this evening:

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  3. Gary Sanchez, C
  4. Brian McCann, DH
  5. Starlin Castro, 2B
  6. Didi Gregorius, SS
  7. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  8. Chase Headley, 3B
  9. Mason Williams, RF

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.

Game 157 Recap: NYY 6 BOS 4

I feel like the Yankees would go 156-6 every year if they got to face David Price every game.  That's a rule change that should be proposed at the next owners' meeting.  The Yankees smacked him around for 6+ innings last night, the final smack a decisive 2-run blow off the bat of one of the Baby Bombers.

It was a hot start for the lineup against Price in the bottom of the 1st.  Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ground ball single through the right side of the infield with 1 out and he didn't have to stand around on the bases very long waiting to score.  Gary Sanchez hit the first pitch he saw for a 2-run homer to left field, his 20th (!!!!!) home run of the season.  Just like that, 2-0 Yanks.

The scoring halted until the 5th, when a trio of singles brought in another Yankee run.  Luis Cessa had been pitching very well up to that point, blanking the vaunted Boston offense for the first 5 innings.  The lineup turned over for a third time in the top of the 6th, however, and the Sox strung together 3 hits and a ribbie groundout to make it a 3-2 game.  Give Cessa credit though.  He limited the damage to those 2 runs and kept the lead intact while retiring David Ortiz, Mookie Betts, and Hanley Ramirez in succession.

After that inning, the scoring really picked up.  The Yankees struck back for a run in the bottom of the 6th on a Didi Gregorius solo homer, his 20th of the season, and the Sox countered for 2 in the top of the 7th against Tommy Layne.  Price came back out for the bottom half and that was Boston's undoing.  Austin Romine hit a leadoff single on a 2-2 pitch after going down 0-2 and Tyler Austin did the same thing in the next at-bat.  Price tried to sneak a third fastball by him and he threw it right over the heart of the plate, giving Austin the chance to drive it out to the short porch in right.  That's easy picking for good power hitters and Austin hit it out for the go-ahead 2-run home run.

There was still work to be done to secure the win, and props to Richard Bleier and Tyler Clippard for holding the Red Sox down over the final 2 frames.  Even if they aren't going to the playoffs this year, it's a little bit fun to know the Yanks delayed the Sox from clinching the division for another day.

Game Notes:

- The homer capped off a big night for Austin.  3-3, 2 RBI.  He's got his batting line up to .230/.278/.432 on the season, and it's really inexplicable why he hasn't been playing more these last few weeks.  That's another 50-60 plate appearances that he needs if the organization expects him to be a part of the roster picture next season.

- 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K for Cessa.  I don't care how you get there.  If you can put that line up against the Red Sox, that's a job well done.

- Lotta nice nights in the lineup.  Didi went 3-4 with the homer, Gary was 1-3 with the homer and a walk, Ellsbury 2-4, and Romine 2-4 with 2 runs scored.

- Bleier has quietly pitched his way to a 2.25 ERA in 20 appearances this season, and he may be carving out a 2017 role for himself.  The Yankees are woefully short on reliable lefty relievers these days, and Bleier has shown the ability to work in multiple roles.  That's valuable.

- David Ortiz went 0-5 with 2 strikeouts and 7 men left on base.  He also complained after the game about how many mound visits the Yankees used when he was hitting.  What a loser.

Game 156 Recap: NYY 7 TOR 5

Well the final meeting between the Yankees and Blue Jays in 2016 was certainly a wild one.  We had dueling HBPs, multiple on-field confrontations, managers getting ejected, extreme home run pimp jobs NOT done by Jose Bautista, and a nerve-wracking Yankee win.  Yowza.

The fireworks started in the top of the 2nd when J.A. Happ took it upon himself to plunk Chase Headley in retaliation for Luis Severino putting one off of Josh Donaldson's elbow guard in the bottom of the 1st.  Only problem was that Severino was wild as hell in the 1st inning and the pitch barely hit Donaldson.  Benches emptied and words were exchanged after Headley was hit, and Joe Girardi got himself ejected for screaming at the umpires about why Happ wasn't thrown out of the game immediately.  He threw ball 1 behind Headley's legs before hitting him.

Moving to the bottom of the 2nd tied at 1, Severino didn't waste any time in sticking up for his teammate.  He fired the first pitch of the inning way inside on Justin Smoak and then came right back with the second one and hit him in the legs.  Benches cleared again and this time there were more than just words exchanged.  CC Sabathia was trying to get at Donaldson, Severino had to be pulled away by coaches and teammates before he could go at Smoak, Russell Martin and Gary Sanchez were jawing and trying to square off behind the plate, and Tyler Austin caught a punch to the eye somewhere in the middle of all of it.  When the dust settled, Severino, Larry Rothschild, and Rob Thomson were ejected.  Nobody on the Jays was.  Whatever.

There was a baseball game after all of this, and the Jays led most of it 3-1 after plating 2 runs in the 3rd against Jonathan Holder.  The Yankees chipped back in the 8th on a Brett Gardner double and a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI single, and they unloaded on Jason Grilli in the top of the 9th with 5 runs.  The first came on a deep Mark Teixeira home run to right, a home run that he pimped big time out of the box and then taunted Grilli about from the dugout after he rounded the bases.  Aaron Hicks took Grilli deep for a 2-run shot 2 batters later and the Yankees went to the bottom of the 9th with a comfortable 7-3 lead.

Normally that would be a cakewalk for Dellin Betances, but he's so out of gas and out of sorts command-wise right now that he can barely be counted on for 1 out.  He didn't record any in the bottom of the 9th, going walk, error, wild pitch, walk to load the bases.  Emergency manager Joe Espada went to Tommy Layne to stop the bleeding.  He got Donaldson to fly out, walked in a run, watched the bloopiest of bloops singles score another run to make it 7-5, then helped his own cause by fielding a Russell Martin chopper in front of home plate and diving to the plate himself to get the force out.  Down 0-2 in the count, Troy Tulowitzki lifted a high foul ball down the left field line that Brett Gardner made a nifty sliding catch on to end it.  Big time pressure spot for Layne and he came through.  That game was much more fun to win than it would have been to lose after all the early-inning shenanigans.

Game Notes:

- Teix went 2-4 with the game-tying dinger.  Gardner was 3-4 with 3 runs scored from the leadoff spot, and Ellsbury went 2-4 with 2 ribbies.

- Even without the ejection, it would have been a short night for Severino.  He was on a 50-pitch limit and he threw 30 in the 1st inning.  Fastball command was nowhere to be found and he missed way down and out of the zone with the slider as many times as he threw good ones for strikes.  The Yankee staff really needs to work with him on a lot of stuff if he's going to be a starter long-term.  He looks like a completely different pitcher than when he's working out of the 'pen.

- Speaking of the bullpen, great work by the committee of James Pazos, Kirby Yates, Richard Bleier, and Adam Warren to keep the Jays at 3.  They combined to work 5.2 scoreless innings against one of the best lineups in baseball.

- Happ got most of the blame for starting a fight that didn't need to be started, but it's worth pointing out how horribly the whole situation was handled by the home plate ump.  Joe should not have been ejected the first time the benches emptied, and for the fight to break out the next inning and 3 more Yankees come out of it ejected while no Blue Jays do is ridiculous.  If Happ gets tossed after hitting Headley, which he rightfully should have, Severino doesn't go out looking for payback in the bottom of the 2nd, and the second bench-clearing incident doesn't happen.  Horrible job controlling the situation before it escalated, and even worse job handling post-fight punishments after it did.