Thursday, September 14, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles 9/14

And just like that it is game time in the Bronx between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles as these two teams begin a huge four-game set inside of Yankee Stadium. This series has all the makings of being epic on both sides as the Baltimore Orioles fight for their playoff lives while the Yankees look to fend off essentially half of the American League or more in the American League Wild Card chase. New York is also within striking distance of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East Division so I won’t be the one to count them out of that race either, not until someone who is a lot better at math than I am tells me that I have to. In the contest tonight the Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound to face off with Wade Miley for the Orioles. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MASN, MLB Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into the WFAN broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

Follow us on Twitter by following @GreedyStripes and enjoy the game. Enjoy the series, enjoy the weekend and enjoy watching Orioles manager Buck Showalter simmer over being fired after the 1995 season by George Steinbrenner while all the time forgetting that it was 22-years ago and that it is time to move on. Need a win, get a win and piss of Showalter all at the same time. Go Yankees!

Prediction: Yankees win 7-5

Quick Hit: My Early 2017 Awards Predictions

With less than a month to go during the regular season here in 2017 I wanted to take an early stab at predicting the American League and National League major awards. I did these same predictions here on the blog before the season, and I will showcase them at a later time, but these are a separate set of predictions based on what we have seen thus far. Right, wrong or argumentative leave your thoughts and comments below in the comments section.

AL MVP – Jose Altuve. Houston Astros.
Runner up – Mike Trout. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

NL MVP – Paul Goldschmidt. Arizona Diamondbacks.
Runner up – Giancarlo Stanton. Miami Marlins.

AL Cy Young – Chris Sale. Boston Red Sox.
Runner up – Corey Kluber. Cleveland Indians

NL Cy Young – Max Scherzer. Washington Nationals.
Runner up – Clayton Kershaw. Los Angeles Dodgers.

AL Rookie of the Year – Aaron Judge. New York Yankees.
Runner up – Andrew Benintendi. Boston Red Sox.

NL Rookie of the Year – Cody Bellinger. Los Angeles Dodgers.

Runner up – Josh Bell. Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Quick Hit: Small Update on the Red Sox Sign Stealing Scandal

“The Boston Red Sox are stealing our signs using an Apple Watch!!” – Yankees GM Brian Cashman

“Well they are stealing our signs using YES Network cameras!!” – Red Sox executive Dave Dombrowski

“Is there a timetable for a resolution for the Red Sox stealing the Yankees signs?” – New York Post

“Quick” – Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Major League Baseball

I may be embellishing a little bit for dramatic effect but the above is basically how the whole sign stealing debacle has gone down thus far between the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the league. The latest quote though is a small update on the scandal as Commissioner Manfred expects to rule and act on this quickly, which is great news for the sport. Honestly I don’t expect much to come of this, maybe a fine or two which are generally drops in the bucket for these multi-billion dollar teams and multi-million dollar players, but maybe it will set a precedence and put a stop to it. Who knows?

You have to come down strong and heavy though on the Red Sox if you ask me, and not just because I am a Yankees fan. Again I turn to the word precedence. The Red Sox admitted to the wrongdoing leaving no doubt that the act occurred. Many other teams are probably already stealing signs using electronic devices despite it being against MLB rules and many of those teams are looking at this decision to base their decision of whether they continue to do so or not. If the penalty is a slap on the wrist and a simple wag of the finger back and forth I doubt it deters many teams or any teams from continuing to steal signs illegally. If the Red Sox get the hammer dropped down on them though it may deter the electronic part of the sign stealing just a bit.

If you think I’m crazy look at the early failed steroid testing punishments and the number of players still using and failing tests compared to the current penalties and number of failed tests. It isn’t a coincidence. 

Quick Hit: Shohei Otani OFFICIALLY Coming to MLB in 2018

I know this is probably a little late but like I said this morning, we are just catching up after Hurricane Irma. Japan’s answer to Babe Ruth is coming to the Major Leagues in 2018, let the mayhem begin.

It feels like we have been talking about Otani forever now but the reality of the two-way star heading to the Major Leagues and the United States is about to come to fruition. Otani is leaving millions of dollars on the table by not waiting to his age 25 season to come to the Major Leagues due to the international free agent rules written into the collective bargaining agreement but part of me thinks either way Otani will be just fine.

Otani, 23-years old, has a 100 MPH fastball and a nasty slider to boot as well as a heavy bat that can hit 30-40 home runs in a season potentially. Many teams expect Otani to be a pitcher at the Major League level but you have to think that the draw of being able to hit more times than not in the National League might give certain teams a leg up on the competition, which is not good news for the New York Yankees. Of course Yankees pitchers get to hit sometimes as well with interleague play being an all-year thing now but more times than not New York is employing a DH on any given night.

There is expected to be anywhere from 12 teams or more vying for Otani this offseason including the Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox. Otani reportedly “likes the spotlight” according to one post I read this morning on the New York Post which would give a big market team like the Yankees an advantage but for every advantage is one disadvantage. The Yankees could potentially see Masahiro Tanaka opt-out of his contract at the end of this season as well and you have to think having a guy like Tanaka on your team would only help you in your pursuit of Otani, and the subsequent grace period and adjustment period after signing him.

Will the Yankees make a run at Otani? Absolutely, yes. Will they get greedy and get their man though? Time will only tell. Stay tuned… 

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles 9/14

The New York Yankees have many teams eyeing them and gunning for them as seemingly half of the American League is in the midst of a playoff chase. While every team out there wants to play spoilers for the Wild Card leading Yankees the team from the Bronx could do some of the same tonight against one of their most bitter rivals in the Baltimore Orioles. Tonight the Yankees and the Orioles begin a huge and potentially season-ending four-game series in the Bronx with the Orioles backs against the playoff wall. Can the Yankees put the nail in the Orioles coffin while also taking a couple huge step towards their own playoff dreams? You’ll have to watch to find out as the Yankees send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound to face off with Wade Miley for the Orioles.

Tanaka was not sharp in his last start where the right-hander gave ups even runs in four-plus innings of work against the Texas Rangers. Tanaka also gave up seven runs against this Baltimore Orioles team the last time he faced them on May 31 in 5.2 innings of work. Tanaka will have to be much better tonight in the Bronx for the playoff-hopeful Yankees.

Miley has run into the saw mill that is the Cleveland Indians in each of his last two starts so you would have to think seeing the Yankees offense led by Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius would be a sight for sore eyes, right? We hope not. 

The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MASN in Baltimore, MLB Network nationally and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into the WFAN broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. I would personally like nothing more than to end Buck Showalter and the Orioles season, whether it be mathematically or not, tonight and into the weekend in the Bronx because you know if the shoe were on the other foot the Orioles and their spiteful former Yankees manager would do the same to us, or worse. Need a win, get a huge win and crush those birds. Go Yankees!

Turbulence at 10,000 Feet but Landing is Perfect...

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
Yankees 3, Rays 2...

The only way to play drama-free baseball with the Yankees bullpen is to insert Chad Green.  Otherwise, it's going to be a bumpy ride. Joe Girardi made a few pitching moves that left a couple of Yankee pitchers with ruffled feathers but in the end, the Yankees came away with the game and series win over the Tampa Bay Rays. It doesn't matter how we get the "W" as long as we successfully get the "W".

The Yankees jumped on Rays starter Chris Archer first.  Starlin Castro led off the top of the 2nd inning with a single to center. He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who singled to right, putting runners at first and third. Todd Frazier's single to left center past a diving Adeiny Hechavarria scored Castro while Ellsbury took second. After Clint Frazier struck out, Austin Romine walked to load the bases.  Brett Gardner singled through the hole to left, driving in both Ellsbury and the Toddfather. The Yankees led, 3-0. Chase Headley grounded into a double play at second so the Yanks were unable to push any further runs across. Sadly, it would be the last runs the Yankees would see on the day.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Yanks had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 3rd but Archer struck out Clint Frazier to escape the jam.

While I was wishing that the Yankees had anyone on the mound not named  Jaime Garcia, the Rays got a run back in the bottom of the 3rd when Kevin Kiermaier led off with a home run to right field. It was Kiermaier's second home run in as many days. But that's the hazard of having Garcia pitch, you know the opponent is going to score runs. The job is to score more than he allows.   

To the Yankees' credit, they made Chris Archer work. While they only got the three 2nd inning runs off him, Archer was gone after surrendering a lead-off double to Gary Sanchez in the top of the 5th. Four innings of work with 92 pitches thrown.  Sonny Gray's complete game on Tuesday was only 2 more pitches than Archer threw with four more innings. It's unfortunate that the Yankees couldn't do more damage against Archer in light of their extended at-bats.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Jaime Garcia got the hook in the bottom of the 5th when he gave up a two-out single to Lucas Duda. With Evan Longoria coming to bat, Joe Girardi didn't want to take any chances. Chad Green came in and got the final out. I was actually amazed that Garcia made it into the 5th inning without allowing more than one run. He didn't last long enough to qualify for a win but I can assure you that I did not shed a tear as he was walking off the mound.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

As for Chad Green, he's a freakin' rock star. I didn't want the guy to make the opening day roster yet he's been Mr Lights Out for the bullpen. He showed off his magic when he struck out the side in the bottom of the 6th. I can see why  Joe Girardi gets the urge to leave Green in the game, but I was thankful that he only worked 1 1/3 innings despite his stellar work. I'd rather have Green available on Thursday or Friday as opposed to waiting until Saturday at the earliest. Need to keep this guy ready for frequent work.

Tommy Kahnle took over in the 7th. It provoked Rays manager Kevin Cash to start making moves. First up, Mallex Smith pinch-hit for Peter Bourjos and reached on a single to left field. Corey Dickerson, pinch-hitting for Jesus Sucre, hit into a double play, first to second. It was a good thing because Brad Miller followed, pinch-hitting for Danny Espinosa, and singled to left. If the Yankees had not been able to erase Smith at second, it is very possible that he could have scored on Miller's hit. Kevin Kiermaier flied out to left to end the drama, but Kahnle did his job. It wasn't as pretty as Green's performance but the end result was the runs for the Rays.

The Yankees had a great opportunity to tack on some insurance runs in the top of the 8th inning. Starlin Castro singled to left, Jacoby Ellsbury doubled down the right field line and Todd Frazier was intentionally walked to load the bases. Clint Frazier had first crack but he popped out to first baseman Logan Morrison in foul territory. Next up was Austin Romine but he struck out to end the inning.  A huge missed opportunity to get at least a run or two more.

On to the 8th and it was Dellin's turn. Lucas Duda, potentially facing his last at-bat in his former ball park for this series, flied out to center in front of the warning track. I was worried about him and it would not have surprised me to see the man on the field with the most career HR's at Citi Field to have parked one. It was not to be but it didn't stop Evan Longoria, Yankee-killer, from hitting a single up the middle in the next at-bat. Betances always makes me think of former Orioles manager Earl Weaver and his reliever Don Stanhouse, whom Weaver referred to as "Full Pack" in reference to the number of cigarettes he would smoke during Stanhouse's appearances. Betances does that to me even if I don't smoke. Dellin struck out Logan Morrison for the second out, but Joe Girardi wasn't going to take any chances. He made the call to the pen to bring in Aroldis Chapman an inning early. Of course, Chapman walked his first batter (Stephen Souza, Jr) to move Longoria into scoring position at second base.  Adeiny Hechavarria, the latest Yankee-killer, singled to shallow center field, scoring Longoria. Hechavarria and Chapman played together in the Cuban Leagues ten years ago so there's history between the two.  Souza moved to third to put runners at the corners. Chapman finally struck out Wilson Ramos, pinch-hitting for Mallex Smith, on a foul tip, but the Rays had closed the gap to 3-2. Those potential insurance runs in the 8th inning sure would have been nice.  

The Yankees blew another huge opportunity for runs in the 9th. With Brad Boxberger pitching for the Rays, Brett Gardner led off with a single up the middle. With Chase Headley at bat, Gardy appeared to steal second base but he was sent back to first when it was ruled that Headley's bat had hit the catcher's arm for interference. Headley then singled to right, advancing Gardy to third.  Gardy probably would have scored had the steal been successful.  From there, the offense stalled. Gary Sanchez struck out swinging and Didi Gregorius flied out to left (not deep enough to score Gardy). Headley stole second but it didn't really matter when Starlin Castro popped out to center to end the inning.  Ugh!

Chapman had me on the edge in the bottom of the 9th. He walked the first batter, Curt Casali, a career .197 hitter. WTF??!! Fortunately, from there, Chapman struck out Brad Miller and Kevin Kiermaier. Lucas Duda was able to make it to the plate for one final Citi Field "home" appearance with a chance to send the ball out of the park for a walk-off win.  But the Missile rose to the occasion and struck out Duda for the final out. The Yankees win!

The Yankees (79-66) moved back to three games behind Boston with the win.  The Red Sox fell to the Oakland A's, 7-3. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1, so they recaptured third place from the Tampa Bay Rays.  The O's trail the Yanks by 7 1/2 games entering play today. The Minnesota Twins held off the San Diego Padres, 3-1, in extra innings to remain three games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.  

Jaime Garcia was apparently very upset with Joe Girardi about the early hook but I could care less what Garcia thinks. His Yankees career will be over soon. There's no way he is a member of the 2018 Yankees.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-New York Post

Chad Green (5-0) picked up Garcia's win with his stellar relief effort. Aroldis Chapman captured his 18th save despite the high wire act.  

I was very grateful that those late missed scoring opportunities didn't come back to bite the Yankees. As we saw, they very possibly could have. The Yankees will need to play better at home in the upcoming series if they want to continue to win.

Next Up:  Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York...

Having completed the short stay in Queens, the Yankees return to home sweet home to face the fading Baltimore Orioles for a long four-game set. The O's generally play the Yankees very tough so they'll be looking to play the role of spoiler for this series. If there is anything I've learned over the years it is to never underestimate Orioles manager Buck Showalter.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

Orioles:  Wade Miley (8-12, 4.96 ERA)
Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (11-11, 4.82)

Orioles:  Jeremy Hellickson (2-4, 6.54 ERA)
Yankees:  Luis Severino (12-6, 2.96 ERA)

Orioles:  Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA)
Yankees:  CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.85 ERA)

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.03 ERA)
Yankees:  Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17 ERA)

October is coming.  Live it, feel it.  Now is the time for the Yankees to make a charge!

Odds & Ends...

Game 2 of the International League Governor's Cup Finals goes to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The RailRiders beat the Durham Bulls, 4-0, behind stellar pitching from Domingo German (7 innings, one hit, no runs, three walks and eight K's) and two relievers.  The Bulls featured an inning of relief from former Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Nasty Nate pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the Bulls, giving up two hits and striking out one. The series is tied.  Game 3 will be tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Chance Adams will be on the mound for the RailRiders, while the Rays top prospect, Brent Honeywell, will pitch for the Bulls.

The news wasn't so good in Trenton, NJ where the Thunder dropped Game 2 of their Eastern League Championship series to the Altoona Curve by a score of 4-2. The losing pitcher was Justus Sheffield who had been part of a no-hitter during his previous outing. The series now shifts to Altoona, PA this evening with the Curve needing to win just one game for the best-of-five championship. Will Carter (3-1, 3.26 ERA) gets the start for the Thunder.

Have a great Thursday!  Not asking for much today...just a win!  Go Yankees!

Why I’m Not Afraid of the Cleveland Indians in the Postseason

The Cleveland Indians are one of, if not the best team in Major League Baseball here in 2017 but you know what? If the New York Yankees and the Indians meet in the playoffs here this season I am not at all worried and here is why.

They call the playoffs baseball’s second season for a reason, what you did in the regular season and $15 will get you a beer at Yankee Stadium. It means little to nothing and I personally, as a fan, refuse to be psyched out or taken off my game because the Indians won their division, won 21 games in a row, etc. etc. etc. I’m not scared. The playoffs are usually won by the hottest team at the time and aren’t always won by necessarily the best team. That’s the great thing about baseball, any team can beat any pitcher and any opposing team on any given night. You can’t predict baseball so you can’t necessarily predict that the Indians will be the hottest team when the calendar changes to October. Hell you can’t predict that the Indians will be the hottest team tonight or this weekend, they could go on a slide much like the Los Angeles Dodgers have of late. You just don’t know and I’m not that scared of them to be honest. None of this is to disrespect the Indians, their team or what they have done this season either. They are a great team and they are playing extremely well, much respect to all, but respect and fear are two entirely different things.

The New York Yankees are built for short series and the postseason. The team is young, energetic and overall healthy at this point in the season when most teams cannot say the same here in September. The pitching has been fantastic, the bullpen has the potential to be absolutely and completely dominant when on and used properly and the offense can hang a crooked number on the scoreboard at any given inning. Again, not to say that the Yankees are better than the Indians or that Cleveland cannot do the same because they can. I am merely saying that I have confidence in this group of Yankees players and the team. Again, I am not saying the Yankees will necessarily reach the ALDS or ALCS (more than likely the ALDS though if New York does not win their division) and meet Cleveland, I am just saying IF they do I am not worried. I think New York can stand and throw punches with the best of teams in baseball this season and at the end of the day, win lose or draw, whoever they are facing will know that they were in a fight for their lives.

How did the 2002 Oakland Athletics fare in the postseason, the last team to win 20 games in a row in a season, you ask? After winning 103 games and after having both the AL MVP (Miguel Tejada) and AL Cy Young Award Winner (Barry Zito) the team lost in five games to the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series. 

So it Seems…. Catching Up After Irma

Good morning everyone and welcome back. I hope everyone is doing well this morning. I apologize for the delay in posts here on the site but Hurricane Irma kept me away longer than I expected it to. The damage here in North Georgia was minimal but with the rain and amount of wind we had the power was out for nearly 75% of the state, if not more. Schools were closed. It was just an all-around bad situation but honestly it was a situation that I cannot complain about. Everyone I know, everyone I love and everything I own is okay. Nothing was damaged, no one was hurt. I know not everyone was that fortunate and you have my thoughts, prayers and well wishes.

Now it’s time to get caught back up so let’s get to it. Good morning and I love you all. Except for you, I loves you very, very much. HEY YOU. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/14: Red Sox Suck!

whoops.... we posted this yesterday. Better to be a day early than a dollar short I guess.

As everyone knows by now the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox have one of the strongest and most hated rivalries in all of Major League Baseball history. The rivalry was especially hot and in full form in the 2000's as the two teams traded division titles and both teams won multiple World Series championships. On this day in 2007 that rivalry went to a whole new level when Yankees infielder Shelley Duncan signed an autograph for a ten year old Red Sox fan Griffin Whitman. Shelley signed the autograph "RED SOX SUCK" before signing his name.