Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Recipe for Success: Just Add Hicks to the Mix...

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post
Yankees 4, Mets 2...

A day after a disappointing one-run loss to the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees bullpen backed homers by Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez to give the Yankees the victory over the New York Mets in the opener of their four-game series.  

Normally, I hate solo home runs.  Stronger preference (obviously) for round-trippers with men on base, but in this game, three solo shots were enough to power the Yankees to the win despite two home runs by the Mets (also of the solo variety).  

The Mets scored their runs in the third inning against Yankees starter Luis Cessa.  The Grandy Man, Curtis Granderson, showing how much he misses the right field porch, parked one there down the right field line.  One out later, Yoenis Cespedes sent one that bounced off the right field wall for a homer, just missed by Aaron Judge, and the Mets led 2-0.

The Yankees had a chance for a big inning in the 4th against Mets starter Rafael Montero.  Aaron Hicks singled to center, a soft liner, with one out.  Aaron Judge followed with a walk on four pitches.  A wild pitch by Montero advanced the runners to second and third, but it didn't really matter as the next batter, Didi Gregorius, walked on a full count to load the bases.  Gary Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Hicks (who came in just ahead of the tag), but that's all the Yankees would get as Chase Headley flied out to right.  The Mets still led, 2-1.  

While pitching to Rene Rivera to open the 5th, Luis Cessa apparently felt discomfort in his back which brought Manager Joe Girardi to the mound.  Cessa convinced Girardi to let him stay.  He was able to retire Rivera on a ground out, but the next batter, Juan Lagares, singled to center, a roller up the middle.  After making his second trip to the mound, Girardi pulled Cessa and replaced him with Chad Green.  After the game, Girardi said the medical staff does not believe the injury, a right rhomboid muscle issue, is serious, however, Cessa will undergo an MRI this morning.  

Credit:  Rich Schultz-The Associated Press
Back to the game, Lagares attempted to steal second but was erased on Gary Sanchez's brilliant throw to shortstop Tyler Wade.  Green then struck out Curtis Granderson to get out of the inning.

Aaron Judge, showing signs of breaking out of his recent extended slump, homered to open the 6th inning to tie the game at two.  The ball landed near the Modell's sign in right.  It was Judge's 36th of the season.

Credit:  Rich Schultz-The Associated Press
Outstanding pitching performance by Chad Green who continued to shut the Mets down through the seventh inning.  He kept the Mets off the board for 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief, walking one batter and striking out four.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-NY Post
David Robertson continued the bullpen mastery in the 8th when he struck out the side, with the only flaw a two-out walk to Asdrubal Cabrera.  

Aaron Hicks, leading off the bottom of the 8th inning, broke the tie when he belted a pitch from Mets reliever Hansel Robles deep into the right center stands.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
After Robles struck out Aaron Judge, the Mets brought in lefty reliever Jerry Blevins to retire Didi Gregorius on a ground out, and then made another switch to bring in righty Erik Goeddel to face Gary Sanchez.  As Julia Roberts said in the movie Pretty Woman, "Big mistake".  A blast to right center by Sanchez, near where Judge had parked his shot, and it was 4-2 Yankees.  Unlike Sunday night, the Yankees had their insurance run although they wouldn't need it.

Dellin Betances entered the game in the 9th due to Aroldis Chapman's unavailability (he had thrown 26 pitches over nearly two innings of work during Sunday's loss).  Betances, unlike Chapman, got the job done.  He allowed a two-out single to Mets rookie Dominic Smith when Tyler Wade, at short, was unable to make an accurate throw after a bare-handed grab.  Smith moved to second on defensive indifference but was left stranded when Betances struck out Amed Rosario to end the game.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (62-55) were able to pick up a game they had lost over the weekend to the Boston Red Sox with the victory.  The Red Sox, despite two home runs by Sunday night's hero...Rafael Devers, fell to the Cleveland Indians, 7-3, at Fenway Park.  So, the Yankees are back to 4 1/2 games behind the Sox.  The Baltimore Orioles took sole possession of third place in the AL East with their 11-3 victory over the sliding Seattle Mariners.  They are four games behind the Yankees.  The Tampa Bay Rays, dropping to fourth, lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1.  The Rays trail the Yankees by 4 1/2 games and are just a game away from the AL East cellar.  

I have to admit that it took me a minute to get Mike Axisa's tweet during the game about the great pitching performances of Luis Cessa and Chad Green.  One of the night's best tweets...


Aaron Judge extended his consecutive game streak with a strikeout (excluding pitchers) to 31 games.  He now trails Adam Dunn's record by only one game.  But to Judge's defense, he did hit his 40th career home run.  Gary Sanchez's shot was also his 40th career HR.  

David Robertson (6-2) was the beneficiary of the home run by Aaron Hicks as he took the victory.  The save was the seventh of the season for Dellin Betances.  

Odds & Ends...

To make yesterday's start, RHP Luis Cessa was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with LHP Caleb Smith, called up this past weekend, going the other way without tossing a pitch.  

I know that Aroldis Chapman's pitch on Sunday to Rafael Devers came in hot (103 mph) and Devers' swing was as perfect as it could be to make the home run the product of the hitter and not the pitcher, but count me among those who feel that Chapman is still not right.  It's going to take a few shutdown performances (Kenley Jansen-style) before I am going to believe that Chapman is the man for the 9th.  I like Chapman a lot and I was excited when the Yankees re-signed him, but at this moment in time, I feel that David Robertson and Dellin Betances represent stronger closing options.  That opinion dissipates when The Missile can show me he is once again the man for the job.  That's on him...not on me.


Credit:  Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Have a great Tuesday!  Last day at Yankee Stadium before the road trip.  Let's rock the house!  Go Yankees!

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