Thursday, October 19, 2017

Masa and a Few Runs = Formula for Success...

Credit:  Al Bello-Getty Images
American League Championship Series
Yankees 5, Astros 0...
Yankees lead the Series, 3-2

The Yankees rode stellar pitching and a few clutch hits to take the advantage in the ALCS as the series now shifts to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night.

It was great to see Andy Pettitte throw out the ceremonial first pitch and it certainly brought a championship pedigree to the mound.  Nothing like starting a game exactly right!  As a Houstonian and a former Astro, it would be easy for Andy to root for the road team but I am so glad (and proud) that he has always been entrenched in his love for the Yankees. 


Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Yankees proved that they are not afraid of Chris Sale and Corey Kluber, the AL's best, and while they may not be afraid of Dallas Keuchel, the latter has proven to be an enigma in recent years and, in particular, this season. So, there was some reservation, at least on my part, with the thought of Keuchel picking up the ball for the pivotal Game 5.  

First up, though, was Masahiro Tanaka to face the potent Astros line up. It was not that long ago that Jose Altuve blasted three home runs in an ALDS game against the Boston Red Sox. The man short on stature and long on talent will most likely beat out Aaron Judge for AL MVP. Throw in the countless other stars in the Astros lineup, and it is easy to see why the team won 101 games in the regular season. Tanaka easily retired the first two hitters, but then a fielding error by third baseman Todd Frazier allowed the dangerous Altuve to reach first base. Time and again, Altuve has worked his way through the bases, through speed and superior baseball instincts, to find home plate, but not this time. Carlos Correa hit a soft grounder to third to end the inning and send the Astros to the field for the first time.

Of course, Dallas Keuchel treated the top third of the Yankees order like kindergartners trying to connect with Major League heat. He retired the Yankees in order to complete the first inning, including strikeouts of young sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. It looked like it might be one of those days.

Yuli Gurriel led off the top of the 2nd with a double to the wall in left to put the Astros in business. However, Tanaka wasn't having any of it. Although Gurriel would find his way to third, there would be no homecoming as Masa retired the next three hitters on ground outs.  

In the bottom of the 2nd, it looked like it was going to be more of the same with Keuchel. He struck out Didi Gregorius on a foul tip and got Aaron Hicks to ground out to short for the first two outs. Hits were starting to look like they would be hard to come by when Starlin Castro hit a sharp line drive to the warning track in left and off the wall for a double. Greg Bird followed with a single to right and the Yankees had their first run off Keuchel in the post-season. Todd Frazier struck out to end the inning but the Yankees were able to walk back onto the field with a 1-0 lead.


Credit:  Michael Ciaglo-Houston Chronicle
After the Astros were unable to do anything with a one-out single by George Springer in the top of the 3rd, Chase Headley led off the bottom of the inning with a single to center. Brett Gardner grounded into a force out at second but all things considered, I was okay with substituting the speedier Gardner for Headley. It paid off when Aaron Judge ripped a double to the left field corner, bringing Gardner around to score. The Yankees were up, 2-0. A couple of strikeouts ended the inning, but at least the Yankees were getting their hits against the very difficult Keuchel.  


Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
After the teams traded '3-up, 3-down' innings in the 4th, the Astros looked like they might put together a little rally in the top of the 5th. Tanaka struck out the first batter, Carlos Beltran, but Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single to right. A wild pitch during Brian McCann's at-bat moved Gonzalez to second. McCann subsequently took a walk to put two runners on with only one out. Tanaka rose to the occasion and struck out both George Springer and Josh Reddick. A huge performance by Tanaka in a tough spot.


Credit:  Andrew Maclean-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Chase Headley hit a soft grounder to third to lead off the bottom of the 5th. A throwing error by third baseman Alex Bregman (ball was low and skipped past first baseman Yuli Gurriel) allowed Headley to take second. After a ground out by Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge drew a walk. I think the FOX TV Crew described it as the 'intentional unintentional walk'. That's fine. Bring Gary Sanchez to the plate. El Gary did not disappoint when he singled to left into the corner, bringing Headley home to score. Judge moved to third. Didi Gregorius lined a single up the middle that deflected off the glove of diving second baseman Jose Altuve in center field. Judge scored to make it 4-0. End of the day for Yankee killer Keuchel. 


Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Astros made the call to the pen to bring in Will Harris. Win or lose, the Yankees were finally able to find the solution for Keuchel like they had Sale and Kluber. Harris got the Astros out of the inning when Aaron Hicks flied out to left, but it had been a very productive inning for the Pinstripers. However, last night showed that a 4-0 lead is not safe, so onward we go. Or rather I should say onward Tanaka went.  

Tanaka breezed through the 6th and 7th innings although the final out of the latter inning saw the third strike get away from Gary Sanchez. Fortunately, El Gary was able to retrieve the ball in foul territory and throw a zinger to Greg Bird ahead of Marwin Gonzalez to complete the final out. 


Credit:  Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle
Regardless of the final outcome of the game, it was a masterpiece by Tanaka. Seven innings, three hits, no runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts. Okay, I think I am back in "Masa, please do not opt out" mode.

While David Robertson was warming up in the Yankees bullpen, Gary Sanchez unloaded on a pitch from Astros reliever Brad Peacock in the bottom of the 7th to send it flying into the left center seats. 


Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP
Didi Gregorius followed El Gary with a sharply hit ball to left and he slid into second just ahead of the throw for a double. David Robertson took a seat after the Sanchez home run and Tommy Kahnle began warming up. The Yankees weren't able to do anything with Didi when Aaron Hicks struck out and Starlin Castro grounded out to third, but at least they had padded their lead by one and now led the Astros, 5-0.

Kahnle, as expected, got the call for the 8th. He did his job...make it an uneventful inning and he did. A couple of fly outs and a punch out of Josh Reddick and it was time to get the Yankees back up for hopefully their final at-bats of the night.

With Francisco Liriano taking over for Brad Peacock in the bottom of the 8th, Greg Bird led off with a walk. While Todd Frazier was batting, a wild pitch freed Bird to take second. Frazier subsequently grounded out to third. Chase Headley was next and his short squibbler that died in front of home plate was scooped up by catcher Brian McCann who threw Headley out at first. Bird made his way to third. Unfortunately, Bird was left stranded when Brett Gardner struck out.  Off to the 9th inning...

Holding a five-run lead, Tommy Kahnle returned for the top of the 9th. Jose Altuve jumped on Kahnle's first pitch to fly out to center. One out. Carlos Correa lined a hard hit ball to right for a double, causing some movement in the Yankees bullpen. Nevertheless, Yuli Gurriel hit a grounder to short which Didi Gregorius threw to first for the out. Two outs. Correa advanced to third on the play. Obviously, Correa was inconsequential at this point, but everyone wanted the shutout (well, except for maybe the Astros, their fans and the Red Sox Nation). Kahnle made it happen when he got Alex Bregman to fly out to Aaron Hicks in center. Three outs...game over. Yankees win!  


Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Best case scenario played out as the Yankees now head back to Houston needing one win in the next two games to advance to their World Series since 2009. The Astros are now the team with their backs to the wall. The road ahead remains difficult but the young Baby Bombers have heart and 'no quit' desire like none other.  

This was a great team victory, led...obviously...by the great Masahiro Tanaka. I am sure that Sonny Gray is asking, "What is this run support you speak of?". Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius...too many heroes to name. Great job by Tommy Kahnle to finish off the win for Tanaka! 

Let's keep this winning streak alive. Great job, Bronx Bombers! Thumbs down, Guys!  


Credit:  Michael Ciaglo-Houston Chronicle

Odds & Ends...

There was a funny Twitter exchange between the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees prior to Tuesday's game. The Red Sox tweeted "Today's basically a holiday..." showing a clip of Game 4 of the ALCS on October 17, 2004 when the Red Sox tied the series on a walk-off home run by David Ortiz in 12 innings after falling behind 2 games to none. The Yankees had the perfect response, "Ah, work day for us. Game time is 5:08pm, if you're not busy". The Red Sox could only respond with a rolling eyes emoji.  



Have a great Thursday! It's a day off as the Yankees head back to the deep of the heart of Texas. Bring home the AL Championship, Boys! Go Yankees!

So it Seems… How Many Different Heroes?


Good morning everyone and welcome to what could possibly be the final day of travel for the New York Yankees this season. Sure, if the team doesn’t make the World Series they always have to travel back to New York but they would be doing so with the season over with, and I don’t know about you but I am not ready to see this team stop playing just yet. This team is special, I have said that all season long, and this team just doesn’t know when to quit. This team is exciting and it seems like they have a new and different hero every single night.

Whether it be CC Sabathia who doesn’t lose after a Yankees loss, whether it be Didi Gregorius who made an entire culture and fan base stop talking about one of the greatest players in their franchises history, whether it be the New Jersey native Todd Frazier who keeps the screams for him to be on the team in 2018 flowing with a great consistency, whether it be Aaron Judge with the bat or in the field as he makes everyone in the Bronx All Rise regardless, whether it be the Yankees bullpen who has saved the team from utter destruction on more than one occasion this postseason, whether it be Gary Sanchez who was just waiting to break his 0-13 skid when the Yankees needed it the most, so on and so on and so on. I could go on forever because there is a new hero every night.

That’s when you know a team is special and that’s when you know you have more than just a collection of players, that you have assembled and molded a ball club. Win, lose or draw here in Houston over potentially the next two games I couldn’t be prouder of this team, the men who assembled the team and the men who keep them together day in and day out. Thanks for the memories, although I’d be lying and going against everything that is greedy if I didn’t say I wanted just a few more. Thanks in advance.


And hey you. What a week huh. There have been ups, there have been downs but there’s been one rock throughout it all. You. Thank you for being there and thank you for being you. I love you Kari. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/19: Freddy Sez


On this day in 2010 the Yankees paid tribute to long time fan Freddy Schuman after he had been coming to Yankees games since 1988. Schuman was known for banging his spoon on a skillet and his catchy signs in the stands. The Yankees held a moment of silence before Game 4 of the ALCS and showcased Schuman memorabilia in Gate 4 at Yankees Stadium. "Freddy Sez" will always be remembered by the Yankees fans and by Yankees Stadium.

Also on this day in 2007 manager Joe Torre rejected the Yankees offer to come back and manage the team on a pay cut ending his Yankees career. Torre managed for 12 seasons and saw 12 postseason appearances, 10 AL East titles, six American League pennants, and four World Series championships.


Also on this day in 2004 all Yankees fans remember hearing the FOX announcing crew talking about Curt Schilling and his bloody sock. The Red Sox became the first team to ever be down three games to none in the ALCS and be three outs away from elimination to force a Game 7. Also on this day in 2004 we saw the Alex Rodriguez slapping of the ball stunt that cost the Yankees a run and probably a rally in the Game 6 loss.


Finally on this day in 1987 the Yankees hired Billy Martin to be their manager for the fifth and final time under George Steinbrenner. Billy would make it until June 23rd and finish his Yankees managing career with a 559-385 (.591) that saw two American League pennants and a World Series title in eight seasons.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ALCS Game Five Thread: New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros


Is it commuting time? Or is it baseball time? The world may never know for sure but the Bronx is faced with that very question tonight as it is already game time between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Game Five of the American League Championship Series, here we go. The New York Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound tonight looking to put another “W” in the win column for the Yankees at home this postseason while the Astros have other plans with Dallas Keuchel back on a Yankee Stadium mound. The game will be played at 5:00 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on FOX Sports One.

Follow us on Twitter by following @GreedyStripes and enjoy the game. Need a win against a guy the team has never even scored against in the postseason, easy peazy so get a win. Go Yankees!

Prediction: Yankees win 4-1


ALCS Game Five Preview: New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros


The New York Yankees have been one of the best teams at home here in 2017 during not only the regular season but in the postseason as well. New York must protect its house one more time this evening as the Houston Astros and the Yankees play Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. Home field advantage has been a huge thing for most teams throughout this postseason and I have a feeling it will continue to be huge for especially the Yankees tonight in the Bronx as the team needs another win before heading back to Houston for Game 6, because there WILL be a Game 6. Write it down. The Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound tonight looking to pitch as well or better than he did in Game One of the series while the Astros will counter with an old thorn in the Yankees side in Dallas Keuchel.




Tanaka matched Keuchel for much of their Game One matchup in this American League Championship series but it was not enough in a tough loss for New York. Tanaka has pitched marvelously in his last two playoff starts though which is a great sign for the New York Yankees going forward who need another great start tonight from him in the Bronx.




Keuchel pitched seven shutout innings in that Game One victory for Houston including ten strikeouts. Keuchel also shutout the Yankees for six innings in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game which means, and maybe this is just Optimistic Dan speaking here, that New York is due to run into a few and scratch a few runs across the board here tonight. I just hope they are enough for a victory.




The game will be played at 5:00 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on Fox Sports One. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio, because come on guys… 5:00 in the afternoon on a Wednesday in the middle of a work week… what the hell were you thinking MLB schedule makers? by tuning into either WFAN with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman or by tuning into ESPN Radio. Bold prediction time, if the Yankees win tonight against Keuchel the team will 100% win the series so need a win, shock the world and get a win. Go Yankees!


How to Judge a Four-Run Deficit...

Credit:  Andrew Savulich-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
American League Championship Series
Yankees 6, Astros 4...
Series tied, 2-2

The 2017 Yankees seem to thrive in the face of adversity. Down by four runs and facing a potential 3-1 disadvantage in the ALCS, the young Baby Bombers rose up and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.  

The game was expected to be a pitching duel between Sonny Gray and Lance McCullers, Jr but then again, with the exception of Monday night's game, every game has featured stellar starting pitching. Former Yankee Carlos Beltran picked up the game's first hit when he doubled to the right field wall off Yankees starter Sonny Gray with two outs in the second inning. Fortunately, he didn't get to experience third base but the early goings of the game saw a few runners left stranded. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

I knew that Lance McCullers, Jr was going to be tough on the Yankees. Despite his inconsistent year, he has generally been very strong when facing his dad's old club.  



The bottom of the 4th brought an interesting play albeit with no runs for the Yankees. Aaron Judge walked to start the inning for the Yanks. With one out, Gary Sanchez flied out to right. On El Gary's fly, Judge was running with the pitch. He turned after running past second and ran back to first after realizing the ball had been caught but was called out as he slid back into the bag. The Yankees challenged the play which confirmed Judge's foot had reached the base before the ball, however, when Judge was at second and passed the bag, he did not re-step on the bag on his way back to first. As the Astros prepared to throw to second as a follow-up to the challenge play at first, Judge made the break for second. The Astros threw Judge out on the play but, technically, he was out for that "misstep", ending the inning. A lesson learned for the big guy.


Credit:  Michael Ciaglo-Houston Chronicle
Poor Sonny Gray. The guy never gets any run support and Tuesday was no exception. The game entered the sixth inning still scoreless for both teams.  After Gray walked George Springer, Gray's former Oakland teammate Josh Reddick reached base on catcher's interference by Austin Romine (much to Romine's chagrin). Despite allowing only one hit up to that point, Manager Joe Girardi made the decision to pull Gray one pitch into the next at-bat (Jose Altuve), a ball in the dirt, and replaced him with David Robertson.  


Credit:  Michael Ciaglo-Houston Chronicle
D-Rob walked Altuve which loaded the bases with no outs. After striking out Carlos Correa for the first out, Yuli Gurriel cleared the bases with a double down the line, just inches past the glove of the diving Todd Frazier at third, to the left field corner. Brett Gardner threw the ball in to Didi Gregorius and the Yankees were able to catch Gurriel between second and third for an out. Alex Bregman subsequently grounded out to third to end the inning for the Astros, but they had taken a 3-0 lead.

Chad Green replaced Robertson in the top of the 7th inning. He struck out former Yankee Carlos Beltran for the first out, but then gave up a double to right center by Marwin Gonzalez. Brian McCann hit a grounder to second baseman Starlin Castro in shallow right but the ball ate up Castro for an error, allowing McCann to safely reach base. Gonzalez scored on the play to increase Houston's lead to 4-0. George Springer hit a grounder to third that Todd Frazier turned for a double play, second to first, to avoid further damage and send the game to the bottom of the 7th.

Trailing by four runs with Lance McCullers, Jr pitching a shutout, Aaron Judge stepped to the plate. Judge hammered McCullers' first pitch over the wall in center field into Monument Park for a home run.  The Yankees were on the board.


Credit:  Howard Simmons-New York Daily News
The Astros still held a 4-1 lead, but McCullers was finished. The Astros brought in Chris Devenski to face Didi Gregorius.  Didi tripled to the left-center field wall. Gary Sanchez was next and he hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Didi. The Yankees had closed the deficit to two runs.  Greg Bird walked to finish Devenski's stay and Joe Musgrove came in to retire Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks. Still, the Yankees had chipped away and their bats were starting to show signs of life.

After three up-three down for Chad Green in the top of the 8th, the Yankees got to business in the bottom of the inning. Todd Frazier singled to left to get things started. Chase Headley, pinch-hitting for Austin Romine, singled to left in the gap, moving Frazier to third.  Headley took second on the throw in from the outfield, after stumbling between first and second. He was able to make it to second ahead of the throw after cut-off man Carlos Correa had thrown the ball to first. 


Credit:  Andrew Savulich-New York Daily News
The Astros pulled Musgrove to bring in their closer, Ken Giles. Brett Gardner hit a grounder to second baseman Jose Altuve who threw to first for the out but Frazier scored to make it a one-run game. Headley moved to third, and was replaced by pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury. Aaron Judge doubled to left off the wall to score Ellsbury and the game was tied at 4. Didi Gregorius singled to left, a roller under the glove of shortsop Carlos Correa, with Judge advancing to third. It set up Gary Sanchez's double to the wall in right center to score both Judge and Gregorius. The Yankees had captured the lead, 6-4. 


Credit:  Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
After Ken Giles intentionally walked Greg Bird, he was pulled and replaced by Luke Gregerson. Starlin Castro worked a walk to load the bases but the Yankees were unable to capitalize when Aaron Hicks hit a slow grounder toward first allowing the Astros to get the force out of Sanchez at home and Todd Frazier grounded out to third.

On to the 9th inning and the awaiting arm of Aroldis Chapman. Chapman struck out fellow Cuban Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman for the first two outs. With Carlos Beltran due up, the Astros sent in pinch-hitter Evan Gattis to hit. I personally would have stayed with Beltran but Astros manager A.J. Hinch had different ideas. It didn't pay off for him as Gattis lofted a fly to left for the final out. The Yankees had overcome a four-run deficit to win the game and tie the ALCS at two games apiece. The Yankees win! Woohoo!

Chad Green (1-0) was the winner, while Aroldis Chapman earned the save.  Ken Giles (0-1) took the loss for the Astros.

The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by former Yankee great Paul O'Neill with Ronald Torreyes catching. O'Neill looks like he could still take a few hacks at home plate or at the very least, overturn a water cooler or two.


Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images
Credit Aaron Judge. His home run changed the offensive temperature from very cold to very hot. It was the tandem of Judge and Didi Gregorius that set the pace for the Yankees to score six unanswered runs. Very nice to see Gary Sanchez join the action after an 0-for-13 skid in the ALCS. 


Credit:  Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle
The two errors by Starlin Castro on what appeared to be two fairly simple grounders was not fun to watch.  

There were complaints prior to the game about Joe Girardi's decision to have Austin Romine catch Sonny Gray with Gary Sanchez sliding to DH. I had no issue with the move. In the limited sample size since Gray joined the Yankees at the trading deadline, his ERA with Romine has been significantly better (3 starts, 1.45 ERA) than when El Gary is behind the plate (8 starts, 4.63 ERA). Among Matt Holliday, Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley, there's no doubt that Headley deserves the next start at DH. I am disappointed see Holliday's Yankee career end on the bench but the simple truth is that he has not hit since returning from the DL after his bout with the Epstein-Barr Virus. I know that to get hits, you need at-bats, but the Baseball Gods have not smiled upon Holliday in the second half. It would still be cool if he could get a crucial pinch-hit at some point before the Pinstripes become a distant memory for him.

It was a very solid performance by Sonny Gray and is certainly a tremendous preview of coming attractions for the 2018 season (if not the remainder of the 2017 post-season).  


Credit:  Andrew Mills-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
By winning, the Yankees have guaranteed that the series will head back to Houston for Game 6. Hopefully, they can win today to make it a much sweeter plane flight to Texas. The challenge is difficult with Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander slated for the mound over the next two games.  However, the 2017 Yankees have beaten Chris Sale and Corey Kluber and they tend to excel when their backs are to the wall.  Win or lose, you can be assured that the Yankees will never, ever quit.  

Have a great Wednesday! Let's just get a win today. Only one win. Thumbs down, let's do this! Go Yankees!

So it Seems… I’ve Been Quiet and Now I’m Explaining


Good morning everyone and Happy Wednesday. It has been a bit quiet on the blog here lately and for that I apologize. The last time we really spoke I described how work was getting busy, well work got busy. When work started to slow down I got sick. I don’t get sick very often but when I do, usually once or twice a year, I generally tend to get really, really sick. I had a fever for over five days straight and that was with taking ibuprofen every four hours or as often as I could stand it. As I finally started to get better now my baby is starting to get sick, ugh.

First I want to thank you for all your patience with the blog. I am not going anywhere, we are not going anywhere and we will continue to push on, together. I then want to thank my beautiful love, Kari, for taking care of me as I have been sick. You’re the best baby. Oh, and I’m sorry I got you sick. Ugh again. I guess it’s time to return that taking care of you favor, huh? I’ll do it happily, because I love you.

Have a great day everyone, except for Dallas Keuchel. Screw that guy. I love you all, especially you. HEY YOU. Have a great day and I hope you’re feeling a little better this morning.


This Day in New York Yankees History 10/18: Mr. October



Reggie Jackson was brought in by owner George Steinbrenner to propel the Yankees to their first World Series title in what felt like forever, and that he did. On this day in 1977 Reggie hit three home runs on three consecutive pitches in the World Series in the clinching game of the Yankees 21st World Series title. The nickname Mr. October stuck immediately as he had hit a home run in his last at bat of the previous game as well making for four consecutive home runs across two games.


Also on this day in 1960 a mere five days after losing the World Series to Bill Mazeroski and the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 7 of the World Series manager Casey Stengel was fired. The Yankees cited the fact that Stengel was too old to manage in which Stengel replied “I’ll never make the mistake of being 70 again.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

All Rise for Home Sweet Home...

Credit:  Abbie Parr-Getty Images

American League Championship Series
Yankees 8, Astros 1
Astros lead Series, 2-1

CC Sabathia is proving, again and again, that he is the team's prime stopper in 2017. I almost feel bad since I was among those who left CC for dead. I started to buy into Sabathia early in the season, but when he ran into his bump in the road and time on the DL, I was burying the guy again. Yet, here he is on the main stage, being trusted with the ball in the most dire situations and he has not disappointed. Monday, backed by home runs from Todd Frazier and Aaron Judge, Sabathia reeled off his 10th win (against no losses) following a Yankees loss with an elite 1.69 ERA in those situations as the Yankees put the brakes on Houston's march to the World Series.  

Aaron Judge draws the most attention when going yard, but the biggest hit was provided courtesy of Todd Frazier. At the trading deadline when the Yankees acquired Frazier, it felt like he was going to be a two month rental before moving on. However, Frazier is showing how much he enjoys playing in the Bronx and seems to be tailor made for Yankee Stadium. I recognize that Miguel Andujar (or perhaps a free agent signing of Manny Machado after the 2018 season) represents the future at third, but Frazier deserves an encore performance in the Bronx next season.  


Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

While the final line for Astros starter Charlie Morton was not pretty, he was pitching great early. After two strikeouts by Morton to start the game, Didi Gregorius got the first hit for the Yankees with an infield grounder to third, but he was quickly erased for the final out when Morton's pickoff throw to first was a little faster than Didi's sliding hand.  

It looked like Morton, who grew up as a Yankees fan in Connecticut, was going to have a very good game in this pitching-strong series. Like the first inning, Morton got two quick outs to start the second inning...a line out to center by Gary Sanchez, who jumped on the first pitch, and a strike out of Greg Bird. Then, Starlin Castro hit a weak squibbler toward third that third baseman Alex Bregman tried unsuccessfully to barehand. Carlos Correa retrieved the ball and threw to first, but Castro had already crossed the bag. Aaron Hicks followed with a high fly to left that dropped in for a single. The Yankees had runners at first and second, but those were two hard earned hits so you couldn't really fault Morton. On Morton's third pitch to Todd Frazier, he threw a good outside fastball but Frazier reached out and got enough of the bat on the ball with a one-handed swing to power it over the right field wall. The Yankees were up, 3-0.


Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Staked to a three-run lead, CC Sabathia appeared to wobble in the top of the 3rd inning. After getting two outs, he walked George Springer. Alex Bregman singled to deep left, but a great throw by Brett Gardner to second base held the runners at the corners. The very dangerous Jose Altuve was up next and Sabathia pitched very cautiously to him before losing him on four balls. The bases were loaded for the Astros, the best hitting team in baseball with runners in scoring position. However, Sabathia got Carlos Correa to pop out to short for the final out. Weebles wobble but they don't fall down. Excellent job by Sabathia to get out of the inning unscathed.

Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 4th with a fly to left that bounced over the wall for a ground rule double. Left fielder Cameron Maybin came running up to catch the ball but then pulled up at the last moment before the ball hit the ground and became a souvenir in the seats. After Starlin Castro grounded out to third, Aaron Hicks hit a fly to right which Josh Reddick caught on the warning track but Bird was able to tag and move to third. Todd Frazier walked to bring up Chase Headley. Headley hit a grounder to second baseman Jose Altuve in shallow right and reached when Altuve bobbled the ball. Frazier was safe at second and Bird scored on the play. Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch on the left knee to load the bases, which brought Astros manager A.J. Hinch out of the dugout with a call to the bullpen. He brought in Will Harris to replace Morton. With Aaron Judge batting, Harris threw a wild pitch and the runners advanced, pushing Frazier across home plate to score the Yankees' fifth run. Judge finally broke out of his ALCS slump when he blasted a line drive into the left field seats for three more runs. The Yankees had increased their lead to 8-0.


Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Astros threatened again in the top of the 6th inning. Carlos Correa started the inning with a hard grounder that deflected off the glove of Didi Gregorius to safely reach first base. After Sabathia recorded two outs, Marwin Gonzalez hit a grounder to Gregorius and reached base when Didi lost his footing and overthrew Greg Bird at first. Correa moved to third. After a visit to the mound by Larry Rothschild, Sabathia got Josh Reddick to hit a soft grounder back to the pitching mound that CC was able to field and throw to first for the final out. The shutout remained intact for the great 37-year-old Yankees lefty.

For Sabathia, his day was finished. Adam Warren took over in the top of the 7th. It didn't start well when he walked his first batter, but he settled in and retired the next three batters to push the game to the 8th inning. Warren was back out for the 8th and retired the Astros in order.


Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

It was inevitable that we'd see Dellin Betances at some point and Joe Girardi decided his time was the top of the 9th inning to seal the deal for the Yankees. It was a great opportunity for Betances to earn redemption and show that he can be a trusted arm for the duration of the playoffs. Unfortunately, it was a missed opportunity for Betances who walked the first two batters he faced and was pulled.  


Credit:  Getty Images

Tommy Kahnle was brought in. Cameron Maybin greeted Kahnle with a single to left to load the bases. Kahnle struck out George Springer for the first out but then he walked Alex Bregman which pushed Marwin Gonzalez across the plate for the Astros' first run (a run charged to Betances). Bases still loaded for likely AL MVP Jose Altuve and only one out. Kahnle came up big when Altuve hit a grounder to second baseman Starlin Castro, who stepped on second and threw to Greg Bird at first to complete the double play. Game over. Yankees win!

Granted, Judge's home run was huge. While I still feel that Frazier's bomb was the difference-maker (offensively), the play of the game occurred in the top of the 4th inning when Marwin Gonzalez led off with a fly to right that took Aaron Judge to the wall. Judge reached up to catch the ball as he crashed into the wall and fall to the ground. It was an incredible catch to rob Gonzalez of a potential home run. Of course, it brought the obligatory questions of who was hurt the most...Judge or the wall...but it was the play of the game in my opinion. The Yankees were holding the three-run lead at that point courtesy of the Frazier home run, and a rally by the Astros in that spot would have made it a much different game.  


Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Judge, proving his glove is as powerful as his bat, also made a diving catch of a line drive hit by Cameron Maybin in the fifth inning.


Credit:  Robert Sabo

I can't say enough great things about CC Sabathia. Time and again, he has proven to be a crafty veteran who simply knows how to win. He's faced his share of adversity but continues to overcome. Like Frazier, I think that CC Sabathia was earned a spot on the 2018 Yankees.  


Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees now turn Game 4 over to the forgotten Sonny Gray. Like Betances (who failed his ALCS audition), this is a chance for redemption for Gray. We know that he will be a huge part of future Yankee teams but this is his time to grab the moment and make his mark in New York. Gray (10-12, 3.55 ERA) will be opposed by Lance McCullers, Jr (7-4, 4.25 ERA). Don't let the ERA fool you, McCullers, the son of a former Yankee, has been very tough on the Pinstripers.  This game should be a classic. Hopefully, Sonny Gray rises to the challenge to craft an exciting first chapter of his Yankees post-season career.  

Odds & Ends...

I missed the weekend game (Game 2) due to a preplanned trip. The Yankees failed to tell me that they were going to make it to the American League Championship series earlier in the year when I made plans. A heartbreaking loss is not fun to write about, but I really appreciated the way that Astros catcher stood up for Gary Sanchez after the game. McCann could easily join the throngs who love to bash the Yankees but he's been nothing but the professional that we came to love during his days in the Bronx.  

I keep reading so many articles that speculate whether or not Manager Joe Girardi will return and how he seems to be edgier around friends and family. Personally, I think he'd be foolish to leave at the dawn of a new era in Yankees baseball.  I think he'll come to an agreement with the Yankees after the season is over to help the Baby Bombers strive for greater heights over the next few years. Honestly, I do not see any viable alternatives and nothing against Yankee coaches like Tony Pena or Rob Thomsen but I think, despite his faults, Joe Girardi is the best man for the job.

Have a great Tuesday! Like Joe Girardi and Joe Torre before him have said, let's just win one game today. We believe. Go Yankees!

So it Seems… Just When I Needed it Most!


I’m going to be honest, yesterday was not a good morning for me. Without going into too much detail it was just one crap storm after the other. Now I can’t complain too awful much, I did wake up next to my best friend and the one put on this planet for me while all my kids were both healthy and alive but it was just the little stuff that just kept on snowballing. Little things, big things, trivial things and things that I shouldn’t let bother me like I do. Then I went to work, which is always fun on a Monday, and found out that my computer was worked on over the weekend. What that means in my company is if the IT guys work on your computer you can expect it to not work when they get done with it, period. And it didn’t, again. It worked before they touched it, but I digress.

As I was sitting there watching them “fix” my computer I had an email come through that caught my eye. It has a quote on it and I’ll be damned if that quote didn’t sum up my morning and my thoughts on the day in one sentence. That quote is below, maybe it can help someone else too.

“Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to reach his goals.” -Dorothy Height


I may not be great, but I will be. I won’t give up until I am. I LOVE YOU. Hey you. Let’s keep this damn thing together. Have a great Tuesday everyone.