Sunday, June 4, 2023

Aaron Judge Breaks Dodger Stadium...


Aaron Judge (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

The Captain makes Game-Saving Catch…

Aaron Judge is known for his monstrous home runs, and he added another one to his collection on Saturday evening, but his stellar defensive play was front and center in the eighth inning when he made a running catch into the right-field bullpen door. The hit by the Dodgers’ JD Martinez looked like it had extra bases on it, with a runner, Max Muncy, at first base. The Yankees were nursing a two-run lead and momentum had appeared to shift to the Dodgers after Gerrit Cole had prematurely exited the game. Yet, Aaron Judge had other ideas, and he caught the Martinez hard-hit fly as he pummeled into the bullpen door, causing it to fly open. Thankfully, Judge was not hurt in the play. 

In a twist of irony, despite the catch, and the immediate relay of the ball back to the infield, Muncy was awarded second base when the umpires ruled that Judge had left the field of play. The Dodgers need to build a stronger, safer wall.  Judge should not have been penalized for making a tremendous catch when a feeble door lost its encounter with the 6’7”, 282-lb superstar. Fortunately, Muncy was stranded, and the shift in momentum stalled for the Dodgers.   

Most importantly, aside from Judge avoiding injury, the Yankees prevailed, 6-3, to even the three-game series at one game apiece.  After Judge’s heroic play, the two earlier home runs by Jake Bauers seemed like an afterthought. 

Jake Bauers (Photo Credit: Ashley Landis/AP)

Judge added a home run of his own (19 home runs for the season), a solo shot in the sixth inning. Owaldo Cabrera recalled earlier in the day after the brief demotion to Triple-A when Greg Allen was placed on the Injured List, also homered in the ninth inning which gave the Yankees an important insurance run. Cabrera was not in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre long enough to “find” himself so I will just go with the thought that he shook the hand of the red-hot Oswald Peraza and channeled some of Peraza’s magic to himself.  Unfortunately, Greg Allen is hurt (hip flexor injury), but I am hopeful Cabrera can rebound from the struggles that had sent him back to the Minors.  The home run is a start.

There was a concern when Manager Aaron Boone pulled Gerrit Cole after six innings and only eighty pitches. The Yankees were up, 5-1, clearly in control when he departed. Wandy Peralta replaced Cole at the top of the seventh inning and was unable to record an out. A single, a triple that scored a run, and a walk ended his brief appearance. Michael King gave up a single, which scored another run charged against Peralta.  Fortunately, King settled down and held the Dodgers in check for the next two innings. After a dropped third strike, a throwing error by catcher Jose Trevino allowed Max Muncy to reach first base to start the bottom of the eighth inning. After being awarded second base because Judge punished the bullpen door and his large foot that stepped off the field of play. Muncy made it as far as third, but King struck out Miguel Vargas to end the threat.

Despite an annoying walk by Mookie Betts, Clay Holmes pitched a scoreless ninth inning to put the game in the win column for the Yankees. Cole’s early departure was blamed on leg cramps which is certainly better news than a potential injury. The Yankees cannot afford to lose Cole (7-0) at the top of the rotation, particularly after Luis Severino’s pathetic performance on Friday night. Peralta’s performance, like Sevy’s, was disturbing. Maybe he had flashbacks from his days as a San Francisco Giant while pitching in Dodger Stadium. Hopefully, reliability and consistency are Peralta’s friends next time out.   

Two home runs by Jake Bauers on Saturday after two home runs by Josh Donaldson on Friday night. I wonder who will hit two home runs for the Yankees today.  Assuming he is back in the lineup, I will go with the sentimental choice, Giancarlo Stanton, a native Angelino. But realistically, let Anthony Rizzo be that guy. 

The Yankees (35-25) are six games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East and only two games away from the Baltimore Orioles.  The Rays split a doubleheader with the Boston Red Sox yesterday. I find myself pulling for the Red Sox to win today, which is always odd. The Yankees will see the Red Sox next weekend.  As thrilling as it is to see the Yankees-Dodgers rivalry renewed, there is still no greater rivalry than Yankees-Red Sox even if the Red Sox are not the team they once were.

The Injuries

The Yankees received a shot in the arm when Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, and Tommy Kahnle were activated this week, but they lost two more players to the Injured List yesterday. As referenced above, Greg Allen was placed on the Injured List after suffering a hip flexor injury in Friday night’s game. Allen’s ill-timed injury was a flashback to last year when the Yankees lost Andrew Benintendi just when it seemed he was making a difference with his outfield role, only to be lost.  Allen filled in admirably for the injured Harrison Bader and had been a threat on the basepaths.  As great as Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been with the roles he has been asked to play, Allen is a better centerfielder.  Hopefully, Bader will be back soon.  The Yankees travel to St Louis at the end of the month, and he should be motivated to play in front of his former fans. 

The other player added to the Injured List was reliever Ryan Weber. Weber has quietly excelled in his lower-leverage bullpen role. After being taken out of Friday night’s game with an elbow/forearm issue, he has been placed on the IL and will not pitch for the next couple of weeks. Best case, he is back after some rest. Worst case, he is gone for the season with Tommy John surgery looming on the horizon.  Here is hoping for the former.  Nick Ramirez was recalled taking Weber’s spot on the active roster. 

He may be a starting pitcher for a rival, but I am saddened to see Chris Sale is dealing with shoulder inflammation. When healthy, Sale has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Unfortunately for him, good health has not been kind to him in recent years. I always operate under the assumption that to be the best, you must beat the best, so I prefer Sale on the pitching mound and not in a medical unit.  It will be a week before Sale gets a diagnosis. For his sake, I hope it is best case scenario.  Former Yank Corey Kluber was activated from the paternity list to take Sale’s place on the roster, and he will presumably slide back into the rotation after a recent performance-related demotion to the bullpen. 

Former Yanks

Former Yankees were in the news the week.

The biggest was the decision by Aaron Hicks to stay in the American League East.  He signed with the Baltimore Orioles after they lost their elite centerfielder, Cedric Mullins, to injury. Hicks was 2-for-2 in his Orioles debut (before departing with muscle cramps) and he made a highlight reel catch for the O’s last night. I wish Hicks the best. I am glad he is no longer a Yankee, but if he can find success at Camden Yards, good for him. There is a bit of irony in failing with the third-place team in the AL East, only to find a new home higher in the standings.  

Aaron Hicks (Photo Credit: AP)

Former Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez signed with the San Diego Padres following his release by the cross-town Mets.  El Gary should have a better opportunity with the Padres given they have less healthy and available (and less talented) catching than the Mets.  I did find it odd that Gary chose to wear 99 on his Padres jersey. He had worn 33 with the Mets.  It is kind of funny that two former Yankees who wore 24 in Pinstripes (Sanchez and Matt Carpenter) are forced to wear different numbers because another former Yank (Rougned Odor) is wearing the number.  If memory serves correctly, Odor was 12 in New York. Carpenter is wearing 14 for the Padres. 

Gary Sanchez (Photo Credit: El Nacional)

Former Yankees reliever Lucas Luetge was designated for assignment by the Atlanta Braves, and he remains in limbo pending his release or trade.  I am not seeking a reunion. His numbers in Atlanta do not inspire confidence he can be the pitcher of old. Instead, he is just an old pitcher.  I had just seen that one of the minor leaguers acquired in the Luetge trade, second baseman Caleb Durbin, all 5’6” of him, had earned a promotion to Double-A. Durbin leads the Yankees organization in stolen bases and plays with Dustin Pedroia-like intensity. I am not expecting him to reach the Majors, but crazier things have happened.

I was quietly hoping Luke Voit’s time in Milwaukee would prove fruitful. Beer City seemed like the ideal place for the husky Midwestern first baseman with the football mentality. However, his time ended when the Brewers released him this week after he had been designated for assignment. It has been a tough road for Voit since the Yankees traded him to San Diego. Hopefully, he can find success at his next stop. Like Luetge, I have no desire to see Voit’s return to Pinstripes. I liked him as a Yankee, but I did not like his glove at first base and the team has too many designated hitters as it is. If he can no longer hit, where is his value?  A strong presence in the clubhouse? As great a guy as he may be, better fits, guys who can bring value on the field, can be found elsewhere.

The weather in Los Angeles is supposed to be beautiful today. Mid-seventies, lots of sun. It seems like a tremendous day for a Yankees victory. 

As always, Go Yankees!

1 comment:

  1. Stadiums can accommodate thousands to hundreds of thousands of spectators, depending on their size and design.


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