Friday, July 21, 2017

Just Winning Games in Seattle...

Credit:  Elaine Thompson/AP
Yankees 4, Mariners 1...

The Yankees took manager Joe Girardi's biggest concern ("just winning games") to heart as they defeated the Seattle Mariners on late night TV.  Of course, it didn't hurt to have perhaps the best Yankees starting pitcher (Luis Severino) on the mound.  Felix Hernandez is tough but I had the confidence in Sevy to persevere.

Credit:  Elaine Thompson/AP
The first innings of games, lately, always seem to be so tough.  King Felix easily dispatched the first three Yanks to move to the bottom of the first.  Ben Gamel ripped a one-out double to left (why did we get rid of him one day after being named the 2016 International League MVP again?...I know, the glut of outfielders but still, he has been very solid for the M's).  Robinson Cano hit an infield grounder that caught Gamel off second (out in a rundown...great athleticism by Sevy to start the play).  The deadly Nelson Cruz came up and singled to left to move Cano to second.  Corey Seager's big brother Kyle was next but Sevy dialed up the heat to 99 mph and punched Seager out to end the threat.  I am so tired starting games in the hole so it was great to see the Yankees escape without allowing any runs despite the two hits.  

The Mariners got their hits against Sevy but pushing them across the plate was a different story.  The M's threatened in the fourth with the game still in a scoreless tie.  Kyle Seager opened with a double just fair down the third base line (glad he didn't do that in the first inning).  Danny Valencia followed with a solid single to center to put runners at the corners with no outs.  Sevy was able to retire Mitch Haniger on a pop-up and Jarrod Dyson on a shallow center fly out after falling behind 3-0, before walking Mike Zunino to load the bases.  Fortunately, Jean Segura, in a long at-bat, hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius who flipped the ball to Starlin Castro to force Zunino out at second to end the inning.  

In the 6th inning with one out, Brett Gardner drilled a 'no doubt about it' homer right center, his 16th to match Matt Holliday and Todd Frazier, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead.  He was fortunate as King Felix was still going strong, recording all outs in the 6th by strikeout.  But on the other side, Sevy was still holding the M's off the board.

Credit:  Getty Images
Former Yankee James Pazos replaced King Felix in the top of the 8th.  After Jacoby Ellsbury weakly grounded out to Pazos with a broken bat, Chase Headley singled to center on a ball deflected off the tip of Robinson Cano's glove.  Brett Gardner hit into a fielder's choice but a fielding error by Jean Segura (he would have easily had the force out at second but was unable to successfully pull the ball out of his glove) allowed Gardy to reach base with Headley safe at second.  Tony Zych replaced Pazos and promptly walked Gary Sanchez on a full count to load the bases.  A single to right by Aaron Judge scored Headley and it was 2-0 Yankees.  Unfortunately, Matt Holliday hit into an inning-ending double play so the Yankees were unable to further cash in with the bases full of Yanks.

Dellin Betances replaced Sevy in the 8th and ran into a little trouble.  After hitting Kyle Seager with a pitch, Danny Valencia singled to right to move Seager to second.  With one out and the tying run at the plate, Mitch Haniger hit into a force out at second (a play challenged by the M's after Castro bobbled the ball on the exchange but upheld by the umps).  Seager moved to third.  Betances reared back and struck out Jarrod Dyson to leave Seager stranded. 

The Yankees picked up a couple of huge insurance runs in the 9th courtesy of Robinson Cano.  Didi Gregorius and Todd Frazier hit one-out singles off M's reliever Max Povse.  After Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to left (sure seemed like the Yankees were always having to work around Ellsbury outs), Chase Headley reached first base on a throwing error by Cano.  Both Gregorius and Frazier scored on the play.  Thanks Robby!  To Cano's defense, first baseman Danny Valencia gave up too early and didn't try to reach out to catch Cano's wide throw from shallow right.

It was off to the 9th and Aroldis Chapman with the Yankees leading 4-0.  Chapman's control issues continued as he walked the first batter, Mike Zunino.  Zunino was replaced by pinch-runner Guillermo Heredia.  A wild pitch by Chapman moved to Heredia to second.  Chapman struck out Jean Segura and Ben Gamel, with Heredia taking third, before Robinson Cano laced a double to the center field wall bringing Heredia home to score.  Chapman was able to secure the final out when Nelson Cruz flied out to right.  The Yankees win...a much needed victory.

Credit:  Getty Images
Hats off to Luis Severino (6-4) for delivering an ace-like performance against one of the AL's best starting pitchers.  Although he gave up 8 hits and a walk in 7 innings, he held the M's scoreless while striking out 6.  King Felix held the Yanks to 3 hits and struck out 9, but one of those hits was the Gardy homer which gave the Yanks the lead they would not relinquish.  I had confidence going into this game with Sevy on the mound and he did not disappoint.

Todd Frazier was 1-for-4 in his first Yankees start with a run scored.  Neither David Robertson nor Tommy Kahnle made an appearance in this game although Chapman was giving me reasons to wish that it was D-Rob on the mound in the 9th.  Joe Girardi must have thought the same thing as he had Robertson up in the pen after Chapman's wild pitch.

Ben Gamel was hitless in his next four at-bats after the first inning double, striking out three times. Robby Cano, Dontcha Know!, was 3-for-5 with the lone Mariners RBI.

Credit:  Elaine Thompson/AP
The Yankees (49-45) picked up on a game on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings and trail by 3 1/2 games.  The Red Sox lost 8-6 to the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yanks are a game behind the idle Tampa Bay Rays (tied in the loss column).  

The Yankees go for their 50th win tonight with CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.54 ERA) on the mound facing Andrew Moore (1-1, 5.25 ERA). Sabathia was moved up from Saturday as Masahiro Tanaka was pushed back a day.  The Mariners announced a change for their scheduled starter on Sunday.  Yovani Gallardo (4-7, 5.59 ERA) will replace Sam Gaviglio in the match-up against Luis Cessa.

Odds & Ends...

I've been reading columns that feel the Yankees overpaid to acquire Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.  After watching yesterday's acquisition of reliever and former Yankee David Phelps by the Seattle Mariners, I am starting to think the Yankees may have underpaid.  For Phelps alone, the Miami Marlins acquired four players.  Three of the players rank in the Mariners list of Top 30 Prospects according to MLB.com.  OF Brayan Hernandez rates the highest at #6.  RHP Brandon Miller is #16 and RHP Pablo Lopez is #22.  The Marlins also acquired RHP Lukas Schiraldi, son of former Major Leaguer Calvin Schiraldi.  Granted, the Yankees have a stronger farm system so #6 on the Mariners' list does not equal #6 on the Yankees list but this is still a very  good haul by the Marlins.  I know that one scout referred to them as "just guys" but I am also a believer in 'expect the unexpected'.  Suddenly, losing OF Blake Rutherford, LHP Ian Clarkin, and OF Tito Polo (along with the inconsequential Tyler Clippard) seems like a very small price to pay for a strong third base upgrade and two bullpen power arms.  I guess that we'll be seeing David Phelps very soon unless the Yankees can avoid giving the Mariners any late inning leads to work with.   

Credit:  Gary Landers/AP
Todd Frazier is now saying that he'll stay with #29 rather than ask Paul O'Neill if he can use #21.  If I was O'Neill, I'd probably reach out to Frazier and say, "It's okay, Kid...you've worn the number out of respect for me and for my original team (the Reds).  Please take #21 and wear it with pride".  There's no doubt Frazier will do the number justice.  

GM Brian Cashman has said that Clint Frazier will be optioned to Triple A when Aaron Hicks returns in a few weeks.  I know that he'll be back in September, but it does kind of stink that a douche like Jacoby Ellsbury gets to keep his seat at the grownups' table while Frazier has to go have a seat with the kids.  I hope that Frazier continues to make this a very hard decision for the Yankees.

Have a great Friday!  Let's just keep winning games in Seattle.  Go Yankees!

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