Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles 5/2

Game time in the Bronx between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. Happy Tanaka Day ladies and gentleman! The New York Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound tonight to square off with Mat Latos for the Toronto Blue Jays. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV.

Follow along and interact with us all season long as we inch and crawl towards 5,000 Twitter followers by checking out @GreedyStripes. Enjoy the game everyone and as always, Go Yankees!!

Quick Hit: Ground Broke on Jackie Robinson Museum

After ten long years of waiting thanks to the economy and our recent recession the ground has officially been broken in New York City at the future Jackie Robinson Museum landsite. In a ceremony last week Rachel Robinson, the wife and widow of the late Jackie Robinson, and their daughter Sharon Robinson broke ground on the project with Commissioner of Major League Baseball Rob Manfred.

The museum is set to be opened in the spring of 2019 and will be funded by the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The foundation has already raised about 23.5 million at the time of this writing and will look to raise $42 million in honor of the jersey number that Robinson wore during his playing days in the league.

You can donate to the cause online by visiting the Jackie Robinson Foundation’s website.

Welcome Back, Refsnyder & Shreve!...

The Yankees have announced two players have been recalled from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  

Rob Refsnyder was called up to replace Greg Bird, who has been placed on the 10-Day Disabled List with a bruised right ankle.  All things considered for Bird, this is best-case scenario.  His hitless act was getting stale in the Bronx and he needs the time to recover from the ankle injury he suffered at the end of training camp (assuming that's been an on-going cause for his difficulties at the plate).  Chris Carter becomes the starting first baseman, with an assist from Ref.  

Lefty reliever Chasen Shreve was also recalled to replace Luis Cessa.  Cessa provided long relief for Luis Severino in yesterday's loss to the Toronto Blue Jays during his one day stay in the Bronx.  He did his job (kept the rest of the bullpen on rest for the night).  

Maybe I should consider taking a job as an Uber driver for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to New York City route.  It's starting to get some activity!

Here's hoping that the latest Bronx stay is excessively successful for both Refsnyder and Shreve!  Welcome back, Guys!  For Bird, I hope that time off allows you to return to 100% good health and positions you to rehabilitate your batting average upon your return.  For Cessa, get used to it. I think you'll be making this trip frequently this year.

Let's Go, Yankees!

USA Today’s Weekly MLB Power Rankings

Another exciting week of Major League Baseball in the books and another winning streak for the New York Yankees. Now ladies and gentleman I know many people are still skeptical about this team because it’s still early but I have said it many times and I will say it again for you all today. Divisions cannot be win in April but they can certainly be lost in April and the Yankees definitely did not lose their division this month with a strong showing. How would this strong month be reflected in the USA Today’s weekly set of power rankings? Well very well, actually.

The New York Yankees crept up three more spots all the way to the 5th spot. Top 5 baby! The fellow members of the top five include the #1 Washington Nationals, the Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Indians and the Houston Astros. The Yankees leapfrogged two fellow members of the American League East Division knocking the Baltimore Orioles to 6th and the Boston Red Sox to 7th. That’s always that much more satisfying.

The Chicago White Sox had a great week as well climbing a whopping 15 spots all the way to the lucky #13 position while the Cincinnati Reds had a week they would like to forget dropping 10 spots to the #27 position. There’s only three teams in the league who are ranked worse than the Reds right now and they are the #28 Toronto Blue Jays, the Kansas City Royals and the #30 San Diego Padres.

I realize the sample size is still small as we turn the calendars around the league to May but the larger the sample size we get the smaller jumps and falls we will see and the truer the picture we will see painted with these power rankings. Until then stay tuned and Go Yankees!

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays 5/2

The New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays are back at it again today with the middle game of their three-game set in the Bronx. The Yankees are flying high right now in the division despite a slow start to the season while the Blue Jays are still looking to find their wings in 2017. Let’s hope Toronto doesn’t find them at least until after this series, if at all, and the man donned with the task of keeping Toronto down is the ace and the stopper Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees. The man looking to get the Blue Jays to a winning streak is an old veteran in Mat Latos.

Tanaka pitched an absolute gem in his last start inside Fenway Park hurling a shutout in Boston against the Red Sox. Tanaka only allowed three hits in the starts striking out three and walking none. Tanaka only threw 97 pitches in the start and looks to have finally adjusted to his extra arm strength and velocity that he found over the winter.

Latos pitched well in his last outing as well pitching six scoreless innings against a tough St. Louis Cardinals offense. Latos is filling in for an injured J.A. Happ right now but if he pitches well enough he could stick in the rotation or in the very least in the Toronto bullpen.

The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along on the radio with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, Mr. and Mrs. Baseball, on WFAN. Enjoy the game and Go Yankees!!

Forget Yesterday, Fight for Today…

It’s tough to follow a game that you should have won with a dull, listless performance.  So it was for the Yankees as they fell 7-1 to the AL cellar rats, the Toronto Blue Jays.  To the Blue Jays credit, they are now on a three-game winning streak and have held their opponents to a single run in each of those victories.  It was just a matter of time before the Blue Jays started playing like the team many predicted to contend for the AL East and unfortunately the Yankees may have run into them at the wrong time. 

Luis Severino, after his brilliant performance in Boston, let the bottom of Toronto’s batting order do the damage.  In the second inning, he allowed a two-run homer to the number seven hitter, shortstop Ryan Goins, who is subbing for the injured Troy Tulowitzki.  It would be the only runs Toronto would need on a quiet night for Yankee bats.  Severino allowed another home run in the sixth inning to the number nine hitter, third baseman Chris Coghlan, a fill-in for the injured Josh Donaldson.  Severino (2-2) lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up 8 hits and 5 runs.  He walked two and struck out 3.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Reliever Luis Cessa took one for the team and finished the remaining 3 1/3 innings to provide rest for the weary Yankees bullpen.  He did give up a two-run shot to Jose Bautista in the seventh inning but was otherwise effective.  

Jacoby Ellsbury made a great play in the sixth inning with a leaping catch of a potential double.  His momentum carried him into the centerfield wall.  A runner on third scored on the sac fly, but then Ellsbury overthrew Aaron Judge on an attempt to get the ball back into the infield which allowed a runner on second to also score.  

Greg Bird is lost at the plate.  His latest 0-for-4 performance dropped his batting average to an even .100.  He left 5 men on base.  The Yankees continue to give him chances to turn it around, but when is enough?  I’ve been in Bird’s corner but at some point, he needs to figure this out at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, not New York, in order to restore his confidence.  I had thought he was getting better swings in recent days but the results are not there.  I am not ready to say ‘send him down today’ but it is probably not going to take too many more games of hitless results.  

It was just one of those games.  The Yankees have struggled against the Blue Jays in recent years as they are just 13-26 against Toronto since the start of the 2015 season.  The loss dropped the Yankees (15-9) one game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.  The O’s beat the Boston Red Sox 5-2 on Monday night to recapture sole possession of first place.  But today, yesterday means nothing.  The Yankees can still take this series and it starts today with timely hitting and precision pitching.   

Prior to the game, the Yankees recalled Cessa to provide long relief insurance and optioned reliever Bryan Mitchell to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Brendan Kuty of NJ.com had the best Twitter line:  "Mitchell will likely share 1B duties with Refsnyder and Choi" in reference to Mitchell's one inning of work at first base on Sunday.  Too funny!

With no offense to Jorge Mateo, my personal favorite for the future of center field at Yankee Stadium had quite a game on Sunday.  Dustin Fowler, a strong candidate to eventually unseat Jacoby Ellsbury, hit for the cycle as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Indianapolis Indians (the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top farm club), 7-6. 

In the bottom of the 11th inning, Fowler capped his memorable day with a walk-off home run, completing the cycle.   For the game, the 22-year-old went 5-for-6 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s.  For the season, Fowler is batting .293 (24-for-82), 4 home runs, and 12 RBI’s.  He is second on the team with a .914 OPS.  He has also stolen two bases.

Fowler’s day:

1st Inning:  Tripled to right.
3rd Inning:  Grounded out to third.
5th Inning:  Doubled to right, scoring Tyler Wade.
7th Inning:  Singled to center.
9th Inning:  Doubled to right.
11th Inning:  Homered to right, no one on…RailRiders win!

It may have taken two extra innings, but what a way to cap hitting for the cycle!  Congrats to Fowler for the terrific game.  I look forward to the day when he is doing this in the Bronx.

Credit:  Times Leader

I am a Yankees Homer but I can’t predict an AL championship for the Yankees yet.  Granted, the team finished the month of April in a first-place tie with the Baltimore Orioles, but it’s still a very long season.  The Yankees had a chance to bury the Orioles on Sunday and couldn’t do it.  The ebbs and flows the season will ultimately predict the final standings.  Let’s see how the team handles its first real stretch of difficulty.  With the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros looming on the horizon, adversity is on its way.  The last time catcher Gary Sanchez started a game, the Yankees were 1-4.  So let’s not start printing World Series tickets just yet.  Through May 1st last year, the Yankees were 8-15.  This season, they are 15-9 through the same date.  If they finish the season, from this point forward, with the same number of wins and losses as last year, they are a 90-win team.  I think this team can contend for a Wild Card spot but I am not ready to anoint them as potential division champions. I still expect Boston to play much better as the season progresses, particularly if they get David Price back.  And I’ve learned to never underestimate Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles.  The charging Blue Jays also have the Yankees’ number.  If the Yankees are still slugging it out for first place at the All-Star Break, then I’ll reconsider my forecast.  But for now, I still feel the best case scenario is a Wild Card slot with the division championship a season or two away.

Have a great Tuesday!  Today is a new day…time to beat these pesky Jays!

Remembering the Last Time the Yankees Had a Pitcher Play in the Field

Over the weekend the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles played extra innings in two of their three games causing both bullpen’s to run a little short-handed. While in many cases we see positional players take the pitcher’s mound and pitch, which is always entertaining, very rarely do we ever see a pitcher take the field and man a position. We did on Sunday though when Bryan Mitchell manned first base for the Yankees with the thought process that he would come back out for the 10th inning to pitch again. The last time the Yankees saw a pitcher man a position in the field was on July 24, 1983 inside Yankee Stadium against the Kansas City Royals.

If the date didn’t immediately jump out at you then let me explain. This game will forever be known as the great Pine Tar Incident in Major League Baseball. The controversy came in the ninth inning with two outs when George Brett hit a two-run home run to put the Royals ahead of the Yankees, well until Yankees manager Billy Martin came out and argued the call. Martin noticed a large amount of pine tar on Brett’s bat and asked the umpires to rule on the matter. The rule is the amount of pine tar on the bat cannot exceed the width of home plate, Brett’s bat did and he was called out at home thus ending the game and the rally. Brett stormed out of the dugout furiously after the umpires and after pleading his case to no avail. The game was over, the Yankees win.

Now long story short the game was protested and the Royals eventually won the protest. The game was restarted and Brett’s home run was allowed and the Royals hung on to their 5-4 lead for the victory but that’s not the point of this post. The point of the post is who was playing in center field that game. Maybe you have heard of him, Ron Guidry?

Martin was furious about the game being protested and then continued so in an act of protest the Yankees manager moved Guidry to center field. Guidry replaced then center fielder Jerry Mumphrey who has since been traded to the Houston Astros while Martin also moved left-handed throwing Don Mattingly to second base after then second baseman Bert Campaneris was injured. Martin, like Joe Girardi over the weekend, did not want to potentially lose a pinch hitter, runner or pitcher which accounted for the decisions.

And now you know. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 5/2: Iron Man Streak Ends at 2,130

On this day in 2001 Paul O'Neill joined the 2,000 hit club as the 215th member when he hit a single in the ninth inning off of Twins relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins.

Also on this day in 1984 Don Mattingly had the only Yankee hit breaking up a perfect game bid for LaMarr Hoyt. Hoyt faced the minimum of 27 batters in a Chicago White Sox victory 3-0 over the Yankees.

Also on this day in 1958 the New York Yankees threatened to broadcast their games nationwide if the National League went ahead with its plans to broadcast Los Angeles Dodger and San Francisco Giant games in New York City. This was obviously just the beginning.

Finally on this day in 1939 Lou Gehrig told the Yankees manager Joe McCarthy that he was benching himself "for the good of the team" ending his iron man streak. The streak began in 1925 and ended at 2,130 consecutive games.