Friday, September 1, 2017

Holding the Door to Victory...

Credit:  HBO

Yankees 6, Red Sox 2...

There was too much drama in the 9th inning but the Yankees persevered to defeat the Boston Red Sox in the opener of a four-game series in the Bronx.

CC Sabathia, reinforcing his reputation this year as the Yankees' stopper, got the win in a strong performance.  The first inning started a little rocky, but Sabathia made his pitches and avoided putting the Yankees in the early hole like they had with the Cleveland Indians the last couple of games.  After easily retiring lead-off hitter Rajai Davis, Eduardo Nunez, in a move that would draw CC's ire, bunted toward the pitcher.  Sabathia retrieved the ball but his throw to first base pulled Greg Bird off the bag.  Two subsequent walks and the bases were loaded.  Sabathia struck out the next two batters to avoid what could have been a very big inning for the Red Sox.  


Credit:  Craig Ruttle-Associated Press

There were a few challenges in the game.  The first one occurred in the top of the 2nd.  Rajai Davis was at the plate with a runner on first and two outs.  He was awarded base on a hit by pitch, but replay showed that the ball hit the end of the bat and not the player.  So, Davis, who had taken first with his acting performance, had to return to the plate.  He proceeded to strike out to end the inning.

Top of the 3rd and more challenges.  Eduardo Nunez led off the inning for the Red Sox with a single up the middle.  Next up was Andrew Benintendi who hit a liner to left field.  Nunez went around to third, and Benintendi slid into second at the same time as the throw.  The call on the field was safe but the Yankees challenged it and Benintendi was ruled out upon review (in a very close call).


Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

Mookie Betts walked to put runners at the corners.  Xander Bogaerts hit a grounder to short that appeared to be turned for a double play, but it was Boston's turn to challenge.  Betts, sliding into second, was ruled safe ahead of the throw from Didi Gregorius to Starlin Castro, so Bogaerts was the only out and Nunez scored on the play.  1-0, Red Sox.  Betts subsequently stole third and the Sox had runners at the corners when Rafael Devers walked, but Sabathia, continuing his bend but not break outing, induced Hanley Ramirez to hit into an inning-ending ground out.  

The Yankees finally got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd to tie the game.  Brett Gardner led off with a single to left, but he was erased when Aaron Hicks hit into a double play.  So, the bases were empty when Gary Sanchez came to the plate.  El Gary hit a high fly off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez that carried into the right field stands. It was Gary's 28th home run of the season and his 12th in August.


Credit:  Craig Ruttle-Associated Press

Sanchez always takes heat for the passed balls and wild pitches that get past him, but his arm is a thing of beauty.  In the top of the 5th, with Andrew Benintendi on first and Mookie Betts at the plate, Benintendi broke for second on a called third strike on Betts and El Gary's throw to Starlin Castro was easily in time to nail the sliding runner for the strike-em out, throw-em out double play.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees took the lead.  With one out, singles by Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks put runners at the corners.  Gary Sanchez hit a high fly to shallow right that looked like it would be the second out but Eduardo Nunez went too far and couldn't reach back to make the catch over his shoulder so the ball fell in.  Sanchez was awarded a single in what appeared to be an error.  No matter, Gardy scored on the play and it was 2-1 Yankees.  The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases for Aaron Judge with two outs but he weakly popped out for a missed opportunity.

While Sabathia was holding the Red Sox in check, the Yankees broke through with more runs in the bottom of the 6th.  Chase Headley started the inning with a double off the center field wall.  Greg Bird, who can be a huge asset down the stretch, ripped a Rodriguez pitch deep into the right-center field stands for a two-run home run.  After Todd Frazier singled to left, the Sox pulled Eduardo Rodriguez and replaced him with Fernando Abad.  Abad struck out Brett Gardner, but Aaron Hicks reached first with an infield hit.  Gary Sanchez lined out for the second out, however, Didi Gregorius singled up the middle to center field to score Headley.  The Yankees had taken a 5-1 lead.  The Sox replaced Abad with Heath Hembree who got the final out when Starlin Castro hit a grounder to short, forcing Didi out at second.

David Robertson took the mound to start the 7th inning so it closed the book on CC Sabathia.  It was a very gutty performance by Sabathia.  He could have easily broken and allowed the Red Sox to take advantage of their scoring opportunities but he held the door.  DRob easily set down the Red Sox for three quick outs to send the game to the bottom of the 7th.  The Yankees had an opportunity for a big inning but they were only able to score a single run.  Aaron Judge started things by working a walk on four pitches.  Chase Headley singled to center, a fly that dropped in, with Judge moving to third.  Greg Bird singled to left on a grounder through second and short to score Judge.  The Yankees were up 6-1.  Todd Frazier subsequently walked to load the bases with no outs.  The Sox went to the pen and brought in Robby Scott.  Sadly, Brett Gardner hit a liner at Eduardo Nunez and his throw to Xander Bogaerts beat Bird sliding back into second for the double play.  The Yankees challenged the play (replay did appear to show Bird's hand reaching second base just ahead of Bogaerts' foot) but the umps felt otherwise and stood by the call on the field.  Aaron Hicks followed by striking out for a huge missed opportunity.  I know that I didn't feel comfortable with a five-run lead at that point against the dangerous Red Sox lineup.

Robertson evaded trouble in the top of the 8th when the first two batters reached base, the second on his own fielding error.  Fortunately, he retired the next three batters to end the inning unscathed.  Moments like that make me appreciate that Big Papi retired last year.

Red Sox reliever Blaine Boyer easily set down the Yankees in the bottom of the 8th to send the game into the 9th inning.  Dellin Betances replaced DRob and then proceeded to scare the h**l out of me.  After Chris Young walked, Betances hit the next two batters (Christian Vazquez and Brock Holt) to load the bases with no outs.  He finally got the first out when Eduardo Nunez struck out swinging.  But a walk to Andrew Benintendi scored Young.  The Red Sox had two chances with the potential tying run at the plate and two hitters very capable of hitting the long ball.  Mookie Betts was first and he popped up for the second out.  Mitch Moreland, pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts, was next.  Moreland has done some damage against the Yankees this year, but Betances got him to fly out to left for the final out.  Whew, game over!  Yankees win!


Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

The Yankees (71-62) moved to within 4 1/2 games of the Red Sox with the victory.  They maintained a one-game lead in the Wild Card standings over the red-hot Minnesota Twins.  The Baltimore Orioles finally lost, 11-8 to the Toronto Blue Jays, so they fell 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

CC Sabathia (11-5) got the much-deserved win.  He walked too many (five) but he held the Sox to four hits and one run despite what seemed like multiple run-scoring opportunities.  He struck out six.  I was so fearful that Dellin Betances was going to blow the big lead in the top of the 9th but credit to him for his recovery to get the outs when he needed them.  My preference, not shared by Joe Girardi, is to keep Betances in a setup role and use David Robertson as the closer until Aroldis Chapman can right the ship.  

I like what I am seeing out of Greg Bird.  He is clearly showing signs of being the tremendous hitter he exhibited in spring training before injuring his foot.  He was 2-for-4 with 3 RBI's.  Gary Sanchez was great with his home run and 2 RBI's but it's a little bittersweet given the impending suspension. 

The Judge's Chambers featured a true Judge with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in attendance.


Credit:  Craig Ruttle-Associated Press

Hopefully the Yankees can continue their success against the Red Sox tonight when Sonny Gray takes the hill in perhaps his most significant Yankees start yet.  He'll be opposed by journeyman Doug Fister.   

Odds & Ends...

While we continue to await word on the suspension appeals for Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine (it is my understanding that Gary's appeal will be heard today), it sounds as though the Yankees will be able to stagger the suspensions so that the team is not without at least one member of its top catching tandem.  It's disappointing that Kyle Higashioka remains on the DL since it will most likely result in the loss of a 40-man roster spot for another player in order to create room for a back-up catcher.  It was looking like career minor leaguer Eddy Rodriguez might get the call, but the Yankees acquired veteran catcher Erik Kratz yesterday from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. The Yankees will soon make a roster move to add Kratz.  Kratz is 37 and has logged 225 MLB games since 2010 for various teams.  By comparison, the 31-year-old Rodriguez has only played 2 MLB games (for San Diego in 2012).  Any way you look at it, there's going to be a noticeable drop-off from the team of Sanchez and Romine to whomever fills the interim backup role.  

Prior to last night's game, the Yankees recalled RHP Giovanny Gallegos.  He takes the roster spot vacated when LHP Caleb Smith was optioned to Triple A after Wednesday's double-header loss to the Cleveland Indians.  DH Matt Holliday is expected to be activated soon.

Former Yankees Assistant GM and now Angels GM Billy Eppler is getting aggressive in helping his team track down the Yankees and the Twins in the Wild Card chase.  Eppler made a bold move yesterday to acquire OF Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers.  Upton is batting .279 with 28 HRs and 94 RBIs. Solid move for the Halos.  They gave up young pitching prospect RHP Grayson Long.  To make room for Upton, the Angels placed much-traveled Cameron Maybin on waivers.  He was subsequently acquired by the Houston Astros.  Later in the day, the Angels acquired 2B Brandon Phillips from the Atlanta Braves and the Astros, in a move that could solidify their chances for the World Series, picked up pitcher Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers.

There has been much talk about Shohei Otani this week with GM Brian Cashman's trip to Japan, but it is too premature for me to read anything into it. The Yankees do not have an advantage over other clubs should Otani decide to come to the United States other than they'd have more dollars to spend on some future contract that would have absolutely no bearing on the dollars that will be present for Otani's first contract.  It's a level playing field for the most part in terms of the international bonus pool money, with the slight increases for those teams like the Yankees that have added money through trades.  Still, the cap on those dollars can be reached by any number of teams.  I'll get excited if there are signs that Otani is actually considering the Yankees, but until then, it's a pipe dream.

Have a great Friday!  Hopefully the Yankees won't have to "labor" too hard for victories this weekend!  Go Yankees!

5 comments:

  1. Okay , not about your subject but when Holiday iz activated he should not automatically be onserted in the lineup.
    He has no power , he is still weak and can best help his team by staying out of their way.
    Sanchez though he hit a homer needs to be dropped to 6th and Bird needs to be in the 3rd spot.
    You would think with all that information ststistics wise they would see that when Judge and Sanchez hit 3rd it must mess with them in trying to do to much.
    David Cone said it and Flarety said it Chapman's arm angle is a little off and that hitters could be seeing the ball better.
    Let's het it done this year.

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    1. We don't know what we are getting with Holliday, especially after the Epstein-Barr Virus incident. He could come back and start hitting like he did in the first half or the fatigue and body pain could hamper him the entire season. Every case is different and there is literally nothing that anyone can do to help him but wait and tough it out.

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    2. Sorry, Rev. but I let it be known in the spring time, the Yankees make a run in 2018, not this year.
      The team has too many holes and not enough balance. If they make the Wild Card they don't look like a team that will get much further. They could, but not very likely!
      My opinion, not fact!

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    3. This team is built better than any to win the Wild Card round. Past that is anyone's guess because this team takes one step forward and two steps back a lot but when the team is hot they are nearly untouchable. It's going to be a crapshoot.

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    4. You got that right Daniel, IF they play as they did the first half, they could go all the way. I honestly see too many weak spots with this team as it is constituted right now to make a hard run this year.
      I still think next year is their year for a hard push for many reasons, well, not too many reasons...just a few!
      Have a fun day!

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