Saturday, June 9, 2018

NL MVP Loves Flushing Meadow...

Photo Credit: New York Post (Paul J Bereswill)
Stanton hits 22nd Career Homer at Citi Field…

I should be leading off by saying how instrumental Brett Gardner’s home run off Mets ace Jacob deGrom was to the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Mets or the brilliant job Masahiro Tanaka did after giving up the lead off right field upper deck homer to Brandon Nimmo, but watching Giancarlo Stanton go yard, even if it was just a tack-on run, was a game highlight for me.  

We know Stanton will eventually get hot and start hitting home runs seemingly every day.  Maybe this is the start. His homer was the 22nd of his career at Citi Field. In 109 career games against the Mets, Stanton has 36 home runs and 82 RBIs. It is the most career homers he has against any opponent. The next closest opponent is the team the Yankees face for a two-game series starting Tuesday (the Washington Nationals). Stanton has 34 career homers against the Nats. Then, it’s the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that has lost its best starting pitcher (Chris Archer, injury-DL) and best reliever (Alex Colome, trade to Mariners). It is easy to see how this could be the start of a very hot summer for Giancarlo.   

Brett Gardner, the veteran easily written off by most Yankees fans at the start of the year, provided the hit that powered the victory. With Jacob deGrom pitching like he always does against the Yankees (dominating) and a deadlocked game at 1-1 in the eighth inning, Gardy’s two-run homer off deGrom gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish. On a team filled with big sluggers, Gardner is the unlikely hero but there he is leading by example time and again.  

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)
As for deGrom, I couldn’t help but imagine how he’d look in Pinstripes. Honestly, I do not think the Mets would ever trade their ace to the Yankees but realistically it does make sense. The Mets could garner a boatload of top prospects from their NYC rivals which would help restore some luster in Queens, even if it meant watching deGrom win a World Series championship, or two or three…, with the Yankees.

Credit to Masahiro Tanaka for shaking off the Nimmo dinger to start the game. He got the obligatory home run out of the way early. I am worried that he left the game with hamstring tightness, but before he departed, he did not allow another hit to the Mets and recorded eight strikeouts before his early departure after completing five innings. Not to be confused with Shohei Ohtani at bat, Tanaka reached base in the top of the sixth inning, thanks to an  uncharacteristic fielding error by Mets first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Tanaka worked his way to third with a single by Gleyber Torres and a walk by Brett Gardner. Aaron Judge’s fly to right brought Tanaka running home to score the run to tie the game, but something did seem wrong with his body language as there was no excitement in his face as he walked back to the Yankees dugout. He left the game with what was described as hamstring tightness and will undergo further tests today. Hopefully this is nothing serious. Naturally, the apparent injury brought back memories of Chien-Ming Wang who was never the same after suffering a foot injury in a National League park. I have never been against the lack of a DH in the NL except for the risk to AL pitchers who do not regularly come to the plate with bat in hand. It puts them at an obvious disadvantage and opens the possibility of unnecessary injury.

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)
The Yankees bullpen also gets kudos for keeping the Mets off the board to set the stage for the late game heroics by Gardy and Giancarlo. Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman combined for four innings of three-hit, scoreless relief. Green gave up two hits but struck out two, including an inning-ending strikeout of Devin Mesoraco, to stifle a potential Mets rally. Courtesy of Gardy’s homer to follow the next inning, Green (4-0) picked up the vulture win. For Chapman, it was his 16th save of the season. The Mets had the tying run at the plate when Chappy hit a batter and another reached on an infield hit, but he induced a fly out by slugger Jay Bruce to end the game. Trainer Steve Donahue visited Chapman while he was on the mound but he stayed in the game. He has apparently been dealing with tendonitis in his left knee, although Aaron Boone said after the game it was “no big deal”. I hope not. Chapman, for all his sweatiness, has been fantastic this year. Quietly, I have enjoyed the performances of Betances lately. In his most recent games, Aaron Boone hasn’t tried to squeeze more than an inning out of Betances and it has yielded very good results. So credit to Boonie for making good use of the pen. The Mets, for as miserable as they’ve been at times this year, have the bats to get back into a game in a hurry.

The Yankees (41-18) leaped over the Boston Red Sox (43-21) in the AL East by a half-game with the victory. Chris Sale pitched masterfully against his former club, the Chicago White Sox, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox used Dylan Covey and their bullpen to shutout Boston, 1-0. It was the third consecutive loss for Sale.  Too bad, so sad. Um, not really.

If the Yankees have to pull a spot starter out of the minor leagues, I fully expect Jonathan Loaisiga to get the call. The 23-year-old righty is 6-0 with 2.30 ERA this year with High A-Tampa and Double A-Trenton. The only concern is that he has yet to pitch at the Triple A level. He has a spot on the 40-man roster which gives him an “arm” up on the guys who are not.  Justus Sheffield certainly threw his name into the hat with yesterday’s outstanding performance. He only gave up one hit and two runs (none earned) in six innings of work to help power the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to a 4-3 win over the Louisville Bats in front of a packed house at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Top Sheff did walk three batters and threw a wild pitch but he struck out eight to pick up his first Triple A win this year. There’s no doubt Sheffield will make his Major League debut this year. It is just a matter of whether it will be sooner or later.  

Photo Credit: Todd Hiller
Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors and the Washington Capitals for their championships in the NBA and NHL, respectively. Championships are old hat for the Warriors but it was exciting to see the Capitals win their first, especially for their great player and captain, Alex Ovechkin. Somehow it didn’t seem right for the Las Vegas Golden Knights to win a championship in their inaugural year so I was happy to see the Caps emerge as the Stanley Cup Champions. Plus the Golden Knights had knocked my team (the San Jose Sharks) out of the playoffs so it was sweet revenge.

Today is a new day but a good day to continue the Mets losing streak. Go Domingo German and, as always, Go Yankees!

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