Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays 9/26

The New York Yankees are back in the Bronx and just about ready to play host to the Tampa Bay Rays here in a three-game set. The Yankees postseason ticket has been punched and now the team is merely jockeying for position while the Rays will be playing golf here in two weeks for the long winter ahead. Don’t look ahead of these Rays and don’t let Tampa Bay play the spoiler. In the start tonight the Yankees will send Jordan Montgomery to the mound to face off with Blake Snell for the Rays. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, Fox Sun Sports 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. Need a win, get a win. Now Go Yankees! Enjoy the game. 

Quick Hit: Revealing My IBWAA Awards Ballot for 2017

USA Today’s Weekly MLB Power Rankings

There won’t be many more of these MLB Power Rankings left this season because there aren’t many weeks left in the 2017 season, regular season and the playoffs included. As we enter the final swing of the season and as the marathon that became a spring that has now become an all-out run comes to a close we can use these power rankings to judge how things will be for each team going forward. Remember, it isn’t necessarily always the best teams that win playoff series in October but the hottest teams generally do extremely well overall. If you’re hot your team will be high on the list, if not then they won’t be so let’s take a look at the list and prepare for the postseason that begins this October.

The Cleveland Indians won 29 of their last 31 games at the time of the release of the power rankings by the USA Today which officially makes them not only the hottest team in Major League Baseball right now but the best team as well. The Los Angeles Dodgers have occupied that top spot for the longest time this season but have since nestled in at the #2 position overall since the Indians became untouchable on-and-off the field. To round out the Top 5 teams we have the 3rd overall Houston Astros, the Washington Nationals and the Boston Red Sox. It is worth noting that Justin Verlander has a 4-0 record with a 0.64 ERA as a member of the Houston Astros this season. Who wants to face that team right now in the postseason?

The New York Yankees might if it means they didn’t have to face off with the Cleveland Indians which goes to show you just how deep the American League playoffs could be here in 2017. Speaking of the Yankees the Bronx Bombers remained steady this week at the #8 position overall. The way Aaron Judge is hitting, the way Luis Severino is pitching and the way Aroldis Chapman is closing again though I think this team may sneak up on a few teams in the postseason if they get past the Wild Card Round. Maybe I’m a homer, or maybe I know a little bit about what I am talking about.

Stay tuned to find out.

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays 9/26

The New York Yankees are fresh off their makeup game with the Kansas City Royals yesterday afternoon and are now the team is set to begin a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays hung around for much of the 2017 season both in the AL East Division race and the Wild Card chases but the team lacked the longevity in the races falling just short in both. Now the Rays are reduced to playing spoiler against the Yankees who still have a mathematical chance at hunting down the Boston Red Sox in the American League East Division race, and no one likes a spoiler. In the matchup this afternoon the Yankees will send Jordan Montgomery to the mound to face off with Blake Snell for the Rays.

Montgomery may be pitching for his postseason roster spot tonight in the Bronx as the Yankees open up a three-game set with the Rays. Montgomery pitched six scoreless innings in his last start 10 days ago against the Baltimore Orioles and may be in a battle with Jaime Garcia for a playoff roster spot. 

Snell was especially sharp in his last start against the Chicago Cubs allowing no runs in seven innings of work in a Tampa Bay victory. Snell has given the Rays seven innings in three of his last six starts compared to the one start in his MLB career prior that he reached at least seven innings over the course of 35 starts.

The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, Fox Sports Sun and MLB TV. You can also follow along with the playoff-bound Yankees in your cars and on the radio by tuning into the WFAN broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Enjoy the game!! Need a win, don’t take your foot off the gas, so get a win. Go Yankees!!!

Mr McGwire, I Believe You Have My Seat...

Credit:  Adam Hunger-Getty Images
Yankees 11, Royals 3...

Welcome to the Aaron Judge Show!  Number 99 entered the game trailing Mark McGwire's MLB Rookie Home Run Record of 49 by one homer. He departed the game, two homers later, as the new record holder. All Rise for the Judge!

Oh yeah, they played a game too...

The Yankees got on the board first. After CC Sabathia retired the Royals in order in the top of the 1st inning, Brett Gardner led off the Yankees' half with a single that dropped in right center field. After Aaron Judge flied out to center (a warning track fly that drew awes from the crowd), Gary Sanchez doubled to deep right into the corner with Gardner holding up at third. Didi Gregorius hit a grounder to first for the second out, but Gardy scored on the play. Sanchez moved to third. Unfortunately, he was left stranded when Matt Holliday struck out. Yankees were up, 1-0.

As Sabathia made his way through the Royals lineup in vintage 2009 fashion, the Yankees struck again in a big way in the bottom of the 3rd. Royals starter Jake Junis gave Brett Gardner a free pass on five pitches with one out. Aaron Judge came to the plate and demolished a Junis pitch into the right field stands to increase the Yankees' lead to 3-0. The home run was Judge's 49th of the year, tying the MLB Rookie Record held by Mark McGwire (set in 1987).  

While Sabathia was holding the Royals scoreless, the Yankees got on the board again in the bottom of the 6th. Didi Gregorius hit a one-out single to left on a short hop to left fielder Melky Cabrera. He came around to score on a double to the left field wall by Matt Holliday. Didi didn't have to stand on second base very long as Greg Bird followed with a home run to the second deck in right. The Yankees had increased their lead to 6-0.  

As great as Sabathia was pitching (three hits over six scoreless innings), I thought bringing him out for the 7th inning might be pushing our luck. Eric Hosmer led off with a single to left just over the glove of Didi Gregorius. Salvador Perez made it a 6-2 game with a home run to left. I thought surely Joe Girardi would make a move at that point but he didn't. With CC's 80th pitch, the bat of Mike Moustakas said "big mistake", homering to right to cut the deficit to three runs. 

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

Finally, Girardi made the move and ended Sabathia's day. As great as CC can be at times, he is no longer more than a 5-6 inning guy. I know, it's easy to second guess but I just don't trust Sabathia past the 6th inning anymore. Plus, with the plethora of arms in the pen, it's not really necessary.  Chad Green entered the game. He walked the first batter he faced, Jorge Bonifacio. Alcides Escobar hit a fielder's choice to short, forcing Bonifacio out at second. Escobar was too quick for the Yankees to turn the double play. Green struck out Paulo Orlando for the second out and was finally able to end the inning when he got Whit Merrifield to ground out to second in an 8-pitch at-bat. It was a tough inning for Yankees pitching but fortunately the Yankees were able to hold the Royals after the back-to-back homers.

With Trevor Cahill on the mound, Ronald Torreyes led off the bottom of the 7th with a single that dropped into center field. Brett Gardner momentarily dampened spirits when he hit into a double play at second. Very close play at first as it looked like Gardy may have beat the throw, but the Yankees did not challenge. But no fear, Aaron Judge stepped up and broke the tie with McGwire for the MLB Rookie HR Record when he blasted Cahill's offering into the left field seats for his 50th home run. Gary Sanchez wasted no time, jumping all over Cahill's first pitch, to deposit another ball, a bullet, into the left field seats for consecutive home runs. The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases on a single and two walks, but Todd Frazier grounded into a force out at third to end the inning. Still, the Yankees had increased their lead to 8-3.

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

With no offense to Dellin Betances, I love having David Robertson in the 8th inning to set up Aroldis Chapman. He came in and struck out the side to push the game to the bottom of the 8th. I get fired up watching D-Rob pitch and the way he runs off the field when the inning is over. I enjoyed him replacing Mariano Rivera as the team's closer a few years back and I enjoy him now in whatever role he can be afforded as long as he's on the field pitching.  

In the bottom of the 8th, Ronald Torreyes hit a one-out double to right, a ball that dropped in between a crowd of Royals. A throwing error by the right fielder, Jorge Bonifacio (ball got past Alcides Escobar at second), allowed Toe to advance to third. Last time, Brett Gardner hit into a double play to erase Toe. This time, Gardy doubled down the right field line to make it a 9-3 game. Aaron Judge walked (I wouldn't have thrown him anything to hit either) and he left the game to an ovation when he was replaced at first base by pinch-runner Clint Frazier. Gary Sanchez singled to left on a line drive to load the bases and there was still only one out. Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring Gardy, to keep the bases full of Yanks. Matt Holliday lofted a fly ball to right, deep enough to score Clint Frazier on the sacrifice. Greg Bird finally brought the inning to a close when he popped out to third, but the Yankees had increased their lead to 11-3.

Actually, this probably would have been a great spot to bring in Dellin Betances but Girardi opted to go with Tommy Kahnle. A good choice but I'd really like to see Betances continuing work out of his funk and an 8-run lead would have been good placement for him. Kahnle walked a batter but it was otherwise a quiet inning as the Royals went down without advancing the runner. The Yankees win!

The Royals can probably have t-shirts made up that say "I went to NYC for one day and all I got was a butt-kicking". I am sure that all things considered, they wish they had ended this series back in May. The loss most likely ended any aspirations the Royals held for the second Wild Card slot.  

The Yankees (87-69) picked up a game on the Boston Red Sox although it is probably too little, too.  The Toronto Blue Jays, fresh off a series win over the Yankees last weekend, defeated Boston, 6-4 yesterday.  The Yankees trail the Sox by four games with six to play.  The Yankees lead the Wild Card standings by five games.  

It was a great start by CC Sabathia despite the Perez-Moustakas freight train he ran into by overstaying his welcome. With the win (his 236th career victory), Sabathia improved his season record to 13-5. 

Credit:  Robert Sabo

The bullpen trio of Green, Robertson and Kahnle held the Royals hitless (and scoreless) for nine outs while compiling six strikeouts. A job well done! 

I don't know about you, but I am kinda thinking this Judge guy has a chance to be something special. Seriously, this has to be one of the greatest Rookie seasons that I've ever experienced. Obviously, my view is a little Pinstriped tainted but Judge has put his name among the All-Time Greats. With an organization as deep in tradition and history as the Yankees, that's very, very hard to do.

Thumbs down, Guys! This was a wonderful win!

Next Up:  Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY...

The march toward the conclusion of the regular season and the Wild Card game that awaits the Yankees will continue tonight with the division foe Rays coming to town. There was a time when the Rays were battling the Yankees for the Wild Card but at this point, the Rays are just playing out the string to get a jump start on their October vacation plans. They can certainly play the role of spoiler as the Yankees attempt to drive to home field advantage for next week's Wild Card game.  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

Rays:  Blake Snell (4-6, 4.01 ERA)
Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06 ERA)

Rays:  Matt Andriese (5-4, 4.44 ERA)
Yankees:  Luis Severino (13-6, 3.03 ERA)

Rays:  Alex Cobb (12-10, 3.66 ERA)
Yankees:  Sonny Gray (10-11, 3.31 ERA)

This should be Severino's final tune-up before the Wild Card game.  Hopefully he's more effective than he was last time out. 

Is Alex Cobb a preview of coming attractions? He's a free agent this off-season and his name has been linked to the Yankees as a possibility.  

Odds & Ends...

Given the surprising success of the Yankees this year, it's hard to imagine a scenario where the Yankees do not re-sign both Manager Joe Girardi and General Manager Brian Cashman. 

Cashman has done a tremendous job in rebuilding the Yankees and setting them up for success for years to come. But with no offense to Cashman, he isn't the sole reason for the success.  Other people, including Damon Oppenheimer, Jean Afterman, Gary Denbo and others have played significant roles. Is it time for a new GM? Alex Anthopoulos has been my personal favorite for the job, but I wish I had realized how great Mike Hazen was. The former Red Sox GM has transformed the Arizona Diamondbacks into a team that could catapult themselves over the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers into the World Series. Who's the next Mike Hazen-in-waiting? I have mixed feelings about Cashman. I have long respected the guy but I wonder if it is time for new blood. With the loss of the late Gene Michael's voice in the organization, Cashman is one of the last links to the old regime led by George Steinbrenner. I don't know the answer to this question and I certainly won't be disappointed if Hal Steinbrenner signs Cashman to a new long-term deal. Inevitably, I trust young Steinbrenner to do the right thing...whatever that may be.  

Girardi is not as easy for me. I've never been a big Girardi guy but it's not like I feel he is the wrong man for the job. There's no doubt that I'd prefer someone like Terry Francona and my personal homer pick, Don Mattingly. But Francona won't be leaving Cleveland anytime soon and Mattingly is currently unavailable (as he awaits the arrival of his new boss in Miami, Derek Jeter). Nothing against Al Pedrique or Tony Pena, but I don't really think either guy would be an improvement over Girardi. For the lack of better available candidates, I am probably for re-signing Girardi to a new 3 to 5 year contract.  

Have a great Tuesday! Let's have our way with the Rays. Go Yankees!

Comparing Aaron Judge’s 2017 Season to Mark McGwire’s 1987 Season

No two men in the history of Major League Baseball have hit more home runs as a rookie than the Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge and former Oakland Athletics slugger Mark McGwire. McGwire held the single-season record for home runs by a rookie since the 1987 season but Aaron Judge has put out an all-out assault on the record here in 2017 which got me thinking, how do the two seasons compare statistically? I mean I get that it was an entirely different game back in the late-80’s and who knows when McGwire really started doing steroids, PED’s or any sort of other enhancements but let’s just take these stats for what they are and compare them like apples to apples. Because why? Because why not, it’s interesting and because you may learn something here in the process. That’s why, now enjoy.

Judge- 2017:
Standard Batting

McGwire – 1987:
Standard Batting

Congratulations to Aaron Judge on passing McGwire for the single-season home run record for a rookie. All rise and all stats courtesy of Baseball Reference. 

So it Seems… Don’t Be Content w/ the Wild Card

Good morning everyone, I hope everyone reading this is safe, happy and well this morning. Over the weekend as we all saw and witnessed the New York Yankees clinched their first playoff appearance since the 2015 AL Wild Card Game, a loss to Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros, with a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees players celebrated inside the Rogers Centre clubhouse, and they should have, after clinching the spot but I truly hope the team isn’t about to get complacent now that the playoffs are a guarantee in the Bronx. I truly hope this team is not content with the Wild Card and I truly hope this team still has that pesky Boston Red Sox team lined up down their sights no matter what the standings and mathematicians say.

Don’t get me wrong I am ecstatic to see the Yankees in the postseason in 2017, I’m a fan and I predicted it to happen when many didn’t, but I go back to the word complacent. I don’t want to see the Yankees getting complacent now that they are in the postseason. This isn’t the time to let up, not even a little bit, but this is the time to push harder than you have all season long. Not always does the best team necessarily win their respective pennants and the World Series but sometimes it is merely the hottest or deepest team at that time, let that be the Yankees here in 2017.

I will fall short of saying World Series or bust for this team but I have to admit I’ll be a little disappointed if the team has to settle for a Wild Card berth, and a lot disappointed if they don’t win the Wild Card Playoff round. I would personally use that disappointment and play like I have a chip on my shoulder but hey, that’s just me. Enjoy the day everyone and let’s start off another series win tonight in the Bronx against the Tampa Bay Rays. Go Yankees!

And hey you, don’t think I could ever forget about you. I loves you!!!

This Day in New York Yankees History 9/26: Roger Maris #60 in '61

Also on this day in 1961 Roger Maris tied Babe Ruth for the single season home run record with his 60th home run of the season. Maris accomplished the feat in his 159th game of the season. Ruth’s record came in his 154th game of the season which was the reason for the asterisk that was behind the record for so many years.

Finally on this day in 1954 Yankees manager Casey Stengel fielded a new look lineup on the final game of the season as New York was eight games behind Cleveland for the pennant. Yogi Berra played third base without an error, Mickey Mantle played shortstop with any miscues, and Moose Skowron made one error at second base.