Saturday, July 8, 2017

Warning: Highly Flammable...

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP
Brewers 9, Yankees 4…

In a game that should have been about young Aaron Judge shattering a mark long held by the great Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, Tyler Clippard  torched a chance at yet another win as the Yankees fell to the Milwaukee Brewers.

We have gone from hoping the starters can successfully get the game to the bullpen to “OMG Joe, don’t take ‘the starter’ (insert name) out!”.  

But first, Aaron Judge.  With his 30th home run of the season, Judge broke the Yankees season record for most home runs by a rookie which has been held by Joe DiMaggio since 1936.  The homer, a shot to center off Brewers reliever Josh Hader, traveled 432 feet.  Judge has reached base in 37 consecutive games that he started, the only blemish being a recent unsuccessful pinch hit appearance.  He is also only one of three Yankees to ever have 30 home runs by the All-Star Break (joining Roger Maris who had 33 in his historic 1961 season and Alex Rodriguez who had 30 in 2007).  

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images
As for the game, it was a bend and mostly not break performance for Jordan Montgomery.  He worked out of a potential run scoring opportunity for the Brewers when they had two on with no outs in the second inning and got out of the inning by striking out Keon Broxton with a runner at third.  

With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Didi Gregorius lined a sharp fly ball to right but right fielder Domingo Santana made a slight turn in the wrong direction that caused him to miss Didi’s ball as it glanced off his glove for an error.  Didi ended up at third on the play.  Clint Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly and it was 1-0 Yankees.

The Brewers finally got to Montgomery in the 4th inning when Ryan Braun opened with a double and Jesus Aguilar homered to right as the Brewers took the 2-1 lead.  The Yankees came right back in the bottom of the inning when Didi Gregorius reached first base on another fielding error and Ji-Man Choi, providing something that we have rarely seen from the team’s first basemen…production, homered in the rain to right.  “Track, Wall, See Ya!” courtesy of Michael Kay. The Yankees had re-taken the lead with the second deck towering blast, 3-2.  

The rain started coming down in buckets and the game moved into a delay.  When play resumed in the top of the 5th, Montgomery got into trouble again when Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar hit consecutive one-out singles.  I am sure the rain delay factored into his performance.  Tyler Webb was brought in to replace Monty and he induced Domingo Santana to hit into an inning-ending double play.  For the game, Monty went 4 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hits and the two-run homer.  He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 4 in the eventual no-decision.  In the bottom of the inning, Judge led off with his historic home run.  4-2, Yankees.

Webb was back out on the mound in the top of the 6th.  He walked Ryan Braun on a 3-2 count and former Red Sock Travis Shaw followed with a double to push Braun to third.  Then, in a move that brought a groan from me, Manager Joe Girardi pulled Webb and brought in the flammable Tyler Clippard.  A wild pitch allowed Braun to score and Shaw to move to third.  Jesus Aguilar lofted a fly to center that scored Shaw and the game was tied.  

The Yankees were unable to do anything in the bottom of the 6th as Josh Hader and the Brewers struck out the side.  

With another groan when I saw Clippard back out on the mound for the 7th, any optimism I had was quickly evaporating.  With one out, Clippard walked Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana.  A fly out by Ryan Braun moved the runners to second and third.  Clippard issued an intentional pass to Travis Shaw and the bases were loaded for the only reliever who is worse than Dellin Betances right now.  Jesus Aguilar, loving every minute of Yankee Stadium, took advantage of the opportunity and destroyed the Clippard offering for a grand slam with a blast to center (his second homer of the night).  I know that Girardi was trying to avoid using Chad Green or Adam Warren, but Clippard should have never been the guy on the mound at that point in the game.  When I fire up the grill, I don’t use lighter fluid, I just throw pics of Clippard on the charcoal and flames erupt.


Girardi pulled Clippard at that point, but his replacement, Chasen Shreve, had the Clippard-Betances Syndrome and gave up another run with the first two men he faced.  A double by Hernan Perez and a single by Manny Pina (who?) which scored Perez.  The Brewers had the 9-4 lead and coasted to the four-hit victory.  Clippard (1-5) took the loss with his fifth blown game.  

The Yankees (44-40) are on the fast track for third place in the AL East.  The Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, to pad their lead by 4.5 games.  But even with the loss, the Rays are just a game behind the Yankees.

Brett Gardner had four walks in the game but wasn’t able to do anything with the free passes.  He was caught stealing third in the 3rd inning.  Clint Frazier, in addition to the sac fly RBI, had a triple in the 8th with one out, but was left stranded.

I remember back in the good old days when the Yankees bullpen meant a complete shutdown of the opposition’s offense.  I miss those days...  

Credit:  MLB.com
Odds & Ends…

When an “unnamed Yankees insider” speaks, it always sounds exactly like the words are coming out of the mouth of Yankees Idiot...sorry I mean...President, Randy Levine.  The “insider” told The New York Daily News, speaking about Greg Bird, that “You have to wonder what’s with this guy.  You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here, he’d want to be part of this.  Apparently not.”  I may be frustrated that Bird  has been unable to get back on the field with his ankle injury but I do not blame the player.  If he feels that he is not 100% and would be a liability on the field, I will not fault him for trying to find pain relief and good health before he returns.  Bird responded “I want to play.  I’ve always wanted to play since I can remember.  I love baseball.  For me, I’m doing everything I can to come back.  I love it and I want to be playing with these guys.  I would hope people see it”.  I see it and wish that Levine would shut the h*ll up…

Bird will consult with Dr Martin O’Malley, a foot and ankle surgeon, on Monday.  So, we should have clarity on whether or not he’s lost for the season soon.  This is shaping up to be two consecutive lost years for the young slugger. 

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP
Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro are now expected to rejoin the Yankees when they open the second half next week in Boston.  Holliday is going to start a rehab assignment today.  Castro bowed out of the All-Star Game and in a move that was a little bittersweet (for me) to take, Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners was named as his replacement.  Nothing against Cano as I still think he’s a good player, but it’s a reminder of the sting I felt when he left in free agency.  

In a surprise move today, the Yankees have optioned Jordan Montgomery and Luis Cessa to Triple-A and have recalled relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder.  I can only assume that the moves were made to strengthen the Yankees bullpen in light of Clippard's meltdown.  Montgomery will be back after the All-Star break.

Have a great Saturday!  A new day and a new opportunity to win a game.  Let’s Go Yankees!

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