Game 86 Quick Recap: NYY 5 BOS 1

Big Mike and Buchholz.  The pitching matchup was a really good one on paper last night.  Unfortunately for Boston only Big Mike was able to live up to that matchup, as they lost their ace early to an elbow injury.  The Yankees used that unexpected pitching change to grab a comfortable lead and ride Pineda’s strong start to a series-opening victory.

Pineda was sharp, even if he did have at least one runner on base all night.  The Sox put men on in each of the first 4 innings, but Pineda was always in control and shut them down with his strong fastball-slider combo.  Mookie Betts got to him for a solo homer in the 5th and that was the only black mark on Pineda’s line.  He struck out 6, didn’t walk a batter, and left with 2 outs in the 7th as Joe went to the ‘pen to face Betts again.

The top of the 4th was when the Yankees won the game.  They already had 1 run against Buchholz courtesy of an A-Bomb in the 1st and they put 2 men on with 1 out in the 4th on a single and a double.  That was when Buchholz left and reliever Robbie Ross had a tough time escaping the jam.  His defense really let him down, with Mike Napoli and Brock Holt flubbing grounders, and the Yanks took advantage of the extra outs with a Brett Gardner ribbie single and A-Rod bases loaded walk to push the game to 4-0.

The sailing was smooth from there.  Jacoby Ellsbury singled in a run in the 8th, Justin Wilson cleaned up the 7th for Pineda, and the Deldrew Millances was back to their usual tricks with scoreless and strikeout-filled 8th and 9th innings.  Start spreading the news indeed. Continue reading Game 86 Quick Recap: NYY 5 BOS 1

Game 85 Recap: Yankees 6 Athletics 2

[caption id="attachment_76675" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Tanaka vs OAK A master at his craft. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

I said I wanted the Yankees to go at least 4-2 in these last two series before the break.  They got halfway there this afternoon with a series-clinching win over the A’s behind a strong start from Masahiro Tanaka and an All Star-caliber performance by 2015 American League All Star Brett Gardner.

Things didn’t look promising for Tanaka early.  He seemed to get rattled by a catcher’s interference call to start the top of the 2nd and gave up a double to Billy Butler in the next at-bat to tie the game at 1.  A walk and another double made it 2-1 Oakland and got the NY tabloid guys’ fingers ready to type out another “the sky is falling!!!” post on Tanaka for tomorrow morning.  The 2-seamer appeared to be the problem pitch, and Tanaka’s command in general seemed a tick off again.

And then he went on to retire the next 18 batters he faced in a row.  From the start of the 3rd inning into the 8th, Tanaka was perfect.  In fact, he was better than perfect.  He had to get 4 outs in the 4th inning when a strikeout pitch was wild and the Oakland batter reached base.  Whatever command problems he had got fixed quickly and Tanaka was a ground ball machine for the rest of the game.  When he wasn’t getting GB outs, he was finding and locating his splitter and slider as swing-and-miss strikeout pitches.  It was vintage Tanaka, almost as if those couple of bad outings really were just blips on the radar and no reason to panic.  The guy’s a great pitcher and great pitchers always figure it out.

The Yankee run support of this great starting pitching performance was early and often, with a late-game gut punch for good measure.  2015 American League All Star Brett Gardner got things started with his 10th home run of the season in the bottom of the 1st.  The dude is positively deadly when he’s locked in on a fastball.  Gardner was right in the middle of the action in the 3rd as well, singling after a Jacoby Ellsbury leadoff walk to set the table for Mark Teixeira.  Teix singled home Ells for the game-tying run, Ellsbury singled home 2 more in the 4th to go ahead, and they never looked back.

Chasen Shreve came in for Tanaka with 2 outs in the 8th and got the final one no problem.  This set up the bottom of the order for an insurance rally in the bottom half, which came on a Chris Young walk, Cole Figueroa ground-rule double, and a Marcus Semien error.  Always nice when the defense can help you out and nobody does it better than Semien.

Shreve almost finished things up with 2 outs in the 9th, but Josh Reddick singled to bring out Joe for a pitching change.  I could almost feel all the Joe haters’ anger there.  It felt grand.  Adam Warren came on and struck out Billy Butler on 3 pitches for the final out because Adam Warren is the man.  So close to being a sweep, but in the end you can’t be unhappy with taking 2 of 3.  The Yanks move on to the weekend and what should be a fun series with the Sox. Continue reading Game 85 Recap: Yankees 6 Athletics 2

Game 84 Recap: Yankees 5 A’s 4

[caption id="attachment_76664" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Teix HR vs OAK Insert gluten-free joke here. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

From one starter who struggles to get through 6 to another who struggles to get through 6 without getting shelled, the Yankees were on the wrong side of the odds again heading into last night’s game.  But their luck changed quickly after a discouraging start and they held on late to even the series.

That discouragement came thanks to the Ace Formerly Known as CC Sabathia, who gave up 2 runs on 5 hits before he recorded his 5th out of the game.  Almost all the contact generated off him was extremely hard and it took a little luck for him to get out of the 1st inning unscathed.  Roth was out to talk to him and Joe had Bryan Mitchell up in the ‘pen for him in the 2nd, so that’s a sign of how little leash CC has left these days.  Hard to say he hasn’t earned it.

But the big guy managed to get it together long enough to stop the bleeding in the 2nd, and once he did that he actually settled in and gave his team a decent start, by his present day low standards that is.  He worked around a walk in the 4th and 2 men on in the 5th, and was lifted for Mitchell after getting a groundout and giving up his final hit of the night in the 6th.  Considering the way things started, 2 earned runs in 5.1 innings is plenty good from Sabathia.

And the Yankee offense made it work.  They got their first run in the bottom of the 2nd when Chris Young reached on a Brett Lawrie error and scored on a Didi Gregorius double.  They caught a break when Oakland starter Scott Kazmir left the game between the 3rd and 4th innings with triceps tightness, and then rudely welcomed Evan Scribner to the game with a Mark Teixeira solo shot.  They weren’t done with Scribner either.  Young walked, JRM singled, they both advanced to scoring position on a stolen base and a wild pitch, and Jose Pirela brought Young home with a go-ahead sac fly.

Teix tacked on the first insurance run in the 6th, when he led off the inning against Scribner again and took him yard, again.  Everyone’s favorite second baseman Stephen Drew provided the second in the bottom of the 8th when he popped a solo shot of his own.  Blame Mike Axisa for that one.  Drew’s run actually proved to be huge when Andrew Miller grooved a 3-2 fastball to Marcus Semien in the 9th.  Semien clubbed it for a 2-run homer to bring Oakland within 1, but Miller recovered and locked down the win.  What can you say, Drew is just a clutch player. Continue reading Game 84 Recap: Yankees 5 A’s 4

Game 83 Recap: A’s 4 Yankees 3 (10 Innings)

[caption id="attachment_76643" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Betances vs OAK Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

The Yankees followed up a string of 20 games in 20 days with 2 scheduled off-days in 5, and kicked off their final short series of series before the All-Star break last night against the Oakland A’s.  They got whooped pretty bad by the A’s the last time they faced them out in Oakland, and they were facing Oakland’s best starter last night.  While they didn’t get peak Sonny Gray, they were unable to take full advantage of that early and coughed the game up late.

It was clear from the first batter of the bottom of the 1st that Gray wasn’t his usual sharp self.  Brett Gardner singled to lead off and Gray walked Chase Headley on 4 pitches to put the Yankees in business.  After 2 outs by A-Rod and Teix, Brian McCann and Garrett Jones came through with back-to-back base hits to give the Yankees a quick 2-1 lead.

That lead could have been more if A-Rod or Teix came through, and it would have been more than a run if Nathan Eovaldi could have had a clean top of the 1st.  Oakland got him for a pair of singles in the inning, the second a run-scoring one from Josh Reddick.  They picked up 3 more singles to start the top of the 3rd and it was another typical Eovaldi outing.

The Yanks regained the lead in the bottom of the 4th on a walk to McCann, single by Jones, and another single by Didi Gregorius, but other than that and the 1st inning they were never able to do much against a shaky Gray.  They went down in order in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, made nothing of a 2-out Chris Young single in the 6th, and wasted an error to put the leadoff runner on in the 7th when Chase Headley lined into an inning-ending double play.  The Yanks have been pretty good about taking it to aces this season.  Last night it just didn’t happen.

Which left the door wide open for the A’s to come back and tie the game.  They did it in the 6th on a Billy Butler solo home run against, surprisingly enough, Chasen Shreve.  Joe went to his bullpen with 1 out in the inning and Reddick coming up for a third time.  Guess he had seen something that made him not want to allow Eovaldi to face Reddick again and he went with the L-L matchup.  That worked just fine, but then Butler came up next and homered on a first-pitch fastball.  The binder giveth and the binder taketh away.

Shreve got out of the inning, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, and Dellin Betances held Oakland scoreless, and thanks to the non-existent offense the game went to extra innings.  Brett Lawrie led off the top of the 10th and got a hanging 1-1 curveball from Betances that he drove into the left field seats for the go-ahead home run.  Gardner and A-Rod set the stage for another walk-off in the bottom half, but Tyler Clippard got Mark Teixeira to strike out and the A’s stole one.  The Yankees got multiple 1st inning runs, couldn’t tack on, and lost a close game they should have won.  Where have I heard that before? Continue reading Game 83 Recap: A’s 4 Yankees 3 (10 Innings)

Game 79 Recap: Yankees 3 Angels 1

[caption id="attachment_76476" align="aligncenter" width="550"]High Fives vs LAA Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

The Yankees were guaranteed a losing road trip when they dropped the second game of this series on Tuesday night.  It was all about saving face and not getting swept in the finale last night, and to their credit the Yanks were able to do enough to prevent that.  They matched the offensive output of their previous 3 games and got a solid all-around pitching performance to get the W.

It wasn’t exactly an offensive outburst for the lineup.  They got their first run in the top of the 3rd the hard way.  Didi Gregorious led off with a single, moved to second on a Stephen Drew sac bunt, third on a Brett Gardner groundout, and home on a Chase Headley ribbie single.  If you can’t mash ’em, manufacture ’em, I guess.  The second run came much easier in the 6th, as the heart of the order came up for a third time against Angels starter Matt Shoemaker and Garrett Jones smashed an 0-2 fastball into the right field seats for a solo home run.

That run gave Nathan Eovaldi a little more wiggle room as he worked his way into the 6th inning scoreless.  It wasn’t necessarily an easy go for him.  He spent a lot of time working out of the stretch as the Angels put at least one runner on base in 4 of the first 5 innings.  But he handled those situations well, mixing pitches and working down in the zone better to generate ground balls when he really needed them.  He got in trouble in the 6th by walking Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to load the bases with 1 out and Joe gave him the hook, but Eovaldi probably deserved a better final line.  The ball 4 call to Trout was bogus.  Either way, pretty good start for Eovaldi.

Chasen Shreve got the call to work out of that jam and he did so masterfully, getting Erick Aybar to pop out to short and David Freese to ground out to third.  A 1-2-3 7th inning followed and the lineup tacked on a big insurance run in the 8th on a bases loaded single by Didi.  That run proved huge when Trout homered off Justin Wilson in the bottom half of the inning, but Wilson and Dellin Betances were able to hold the Angels to 1 and nail down the win.  Always nice to head back home on a travel day with a W. Continue reading Game 79 Recap: Yankees 3 Angels 1

Game 78 Quick Recap: LAA 2 NYY 1

[caption id="attachment_76438" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Nova vs LAA Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

The Yankees really aren’t doing much lately, so there’s no point in spending too many words on last night’s game.  You only get 2 hits as a team, you lose.  Pretty simple.

The first of those 2 hits came in the top of the 2nd, when Mark Teixeira homered to lead off the innings against Andrew Heaney.  It was his 19th of the year and the only run the Yanks would get.  Brett Gardner had the other hit, a 2-out single, the next inning and that was it for the rest of the game.  The Yanks drew 2 walks over the final 6 innings against Heaney and the Angel relievers and never advanced a runner to second base.

To his credit, Ivan Nova was pretty solid in his second start back from Tommy John.  This one definitely had more of that post-TJS feel than his first start.  Nova had to work around 2 on/1 out in the 1st inning and bases loaded in the 2nd to keep Anaheim off the board.  He settled in for 3 relatively comfortable innings after that and then just ran out of gas in the 6th.  He was only at 72 pitches, but he left fastballs up to Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar to start the inning and they both hit them for solo home runs.  A strikeout of David Freese, a double by Matt Joyce, and Nova’s night was done.  Not a bad outing at all, but he didn’t get any help. Continue reading Game 78 Quick Recap: LAA 2 NYY 1

Game 77 Recap: Angels 4 Yankees 1

[caption id="attachment_76422" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Sabathia vs LAA Ooooooooh, the symbolism. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

The Yankees’ first trip out west roughly a month ago netted them 4 wins and 2 losses.  They started this latest one off with a 4-game split in Houston before making their way out to Cali for a 3-game set with the Angels.  The bats weren’t around very often in Texas and they didn’t make the trip out to LA either last night as the Yanks dropped the series opener.

The bar has been set impossibly low for CC Sabathia at this point.  Anything more than 5 innings pitched and less 4 earned runs allowed seems like a major victory.  Sabathia managed to do that last night and still ended up not really pitching that well.  He gave up a run in the bottom of the 1st on a 2-out RBI double by Albert Pujols.  No shame in that, nor is there shame in giving up a home run to Mike Trout, which CC did with 2 outs in the bottom of the 3rd.  But giving up another homer to C.J. Cron?  That’s bad.  Even worse when it was on a 3-1 fastball down the middle of the plate.  CC does that in every start and it costs him in every start.  Figure it out, man!

Not that those 3rd and 4th runs really mattered much.  The Yankees scored 1 run in the top of the 3rd, on a Didi Gregorius walk and singles by Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez, and then never again.  And they had plenty of chances.  Gardner doubled to lead off the game in the 1st, they had the bases loaded in the 3rd, 2 on and 2 out in the 5th, and 2 on and nobody out in the 7th.  But Gardner got thrown out at third base to end the 1st, Teix grounded out in the 5th, and Trout robbed Chris Young of extra-base hits twice (!!!) in the 3rd and 5th.  A combination of bad baseball, bad timing, and bad luck.  Sometimes that happens.  Seems to happen more often when the Yankees aren’t hitting at home.

For some reason, Sabathia was sent out to start the 8th inning.  Not sure why Joe needed to save the bullpen after Big Mike just did that the day before, but whatever.  Maybe he was trying to get CC an extra strikeout to build confidence or some dumb crap like that.  Sabathia pitched to 1 batter and left for Nick Rumbelow, who got the final 2 outs after walking Trout. Continue reading Game 77 Recap: Angels 4 Yankees 1

Game 76 Quick Recap: HOU 3 NYY 1

The Yankees did themselves a huge favor by coming back to win yesterday afternoon’s game.  They’ve blown more than a few games like that already this season and the failure to win those games is what has them in second place in the division.  The offense no-showing today made yesterday’s win all the more important and allowed them to leave Houston with their heads held at least at normal head-holding position after dropping the series finale to the Astros.

The Yanks jumped out to the early lead in the top of the 3rd, thanks in part to some bad pitching (Stephen Drew walk), worse pitching (wild pitch in the next at-bat), and clutch hitting (Brett Gardner RBI single).  That was all they would get off Houston starter Colin McHugh, however.  He held them to 1 measly hit over the next 5 innings and set the stage for his team’s comeback.

That comeback came slowly and methodically against a pretty solid Michael Pineda.  He wasn’t as dominant as we’ve seen him at times this year, but he was more than good enough to win.  The first run he gave up wasn’t even his fault.  Carlos Correa hit what should have been an easy flyball out in the bottom of the 4th.  But Brett Gardner and Garrett Jones miscoummuno’d and let the ball drop between them, which gave Correa time to motor around for a pseudo-inside-the-park home run to tie the game.  His leadoff double in the 7th led to the second run, and a Jason Castro sac fly after a leadoff double in the 8th gave Houston an insurance run.  All in all, Pineda gave up 2 ER in 8 innings with 8 strikeouts and no walks.  Plenty good enough to earn a win, except on a day when your lineup doesn’t come to play. Continue reading Game 76 Quick Recap: HOU 3 NYY 1

Game 75 Quick Recap: NYY 9 HOU 6

Well that was an interesting way to win a game.  The Yankees looked like they were going to cruise to a second straight victory after going up 6-0 early.  But Masahiro Tanaka‘s struggles to throw the ball anywhere but the middle of the plate continued and the Astros came storming back before some late-game heroics by the offense pulled the Yanks back ahead for good.

The Yanks have been beasts in the 1st inning this year and they kept that trend going yesterday.  A leadoff double by Brett Gardner and back-to-back walks loaded the bases with nobody out.  After Mark Teixeira popped out to first, Brian McCann took a hanging 1-0 changeup from Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer and crushed it into the right field seats for a grand slam.  Oberholtzer left another change up to Chris Young with Gardner on first in the 2nd inning and Young hit it for a 2-run home run.  Just like that, 6 runs on the board before 6 outs were recorded.

And then Tanaka began to give it all back.  The Astros put 2 on the board with Chris Carter RBI double and George Springer RBI single in the bottom of the 2nd.  Carter turned to the long ball for the third run in the bottom of the 4th, and things got really ugly in the 5th.  Tanaka walked Springer to start the inning, left a 2-0 fastball up to Carlos Correa and watched it leave the yard, and got taken deep to left by little Jose Altuve just 2 pitches later.  6-0 lead turned into a 6-6 tie game.

Enter the top of the order again.  Gardner walked to start the top of the 8th, Young reached on an error, and Teix came through with a 2-run double to deep left field to put the Bombers back on top.  A Chase Headley insurance solo shot in the 9th and more ace work by the top half of the bullpen and the Yanks managed to avoid what would have been a bad loss. Continue reading Game 75 Quick Recap: NYY 9 HOU 6