Sunday, September 3, 2017

2016 Article Revisit: Is This 1995 All Over Again? It May Be!

This article was written right at one year ago to the date asking the question of whether the 2016 version of the New York Yankees were like the 1995 Yankees who not only made the postseason as the Wild Card but also helped sparked a dynasty. As we sit here in 2017 asking the question of whether this version of the Yankees can be like the 1996 Yankees I thought now would be a good time to revisit this article and see just how much of a fortune teller I really am. Enjoy the article and what's left of this long weekend.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Is This 1995 All Over Again? It May Be!

Image result for 1995 yankees

The New York Yankees just got done celebrating and honoring the 1996 edition of the Bronx Bombers that defied the odds all the way to the World Series last month and this month they could do some more honoring if the cards fall in the right place. See that 1996 team would have been nothing, strong words I know but they are my opinion only, without that 1995 season that scrapped and clawed its way to the first ever Wild Card spot in MLB and the American League. It was the push, the drive, the experience and some kid named Derek Jeter (Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera were on the Yankees in 1995) that led the 1996 Yankees to the World Series championship. It was youth, hunger and fire and we are seeing a lot of similarities in the team we see on the field today to that 1995 team. Could it be de ja vu all over again?

The 1995 Yankees were under the .500 mark at the All-Star break and many had suspicions of their first baseman Don Mattingly hanging it up at seasons end. Now while the Yankees were doing well heading into the break and hovering around the .500 mark the team was not meeting or exceeding expectations which led to a sell off of veterans and a youth movement in the Bronx. Mark Teixeira announced his retirement at season’s end and Alex Rodriguez rode off into the sunset as well but despite all the roster moves and “losses” the Yankees have continued to get better as the season has gone along. Just like the 1995 Yankees did.

The 1995 Yankees entered September five games out of the Wild Card with 32 games remaining but Buck Showalter and company were up to the task. The Yankees won 25 of their remaining 32 games that month and clinched the Wild Card with 24-year old Andy Pettitte leading the pitching staff along with key veterans and an absolute ton of youth.

The Yankees probability of making the postseason were low that season and the team simply refused to quit and refused to lie down without a fight. They slugged their way, clawed their way and pitched their way to the postseason much like these Yankees today led by Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius and so many others are doing today. I’m not saying they will run the gauntlet and come out on the other side again in 2016 much like they did in 1995 but I have a feeling manager Joe Girardi and his crew won’t go down without at least letting the other 19 teams (slight exaggeration) in the AL East and 2nd Wild Card hunts know that they’ve been in a fight.

Let’s go boys, let’s get this done.

The Holliday Weekend...

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Red Sox 1...

Matt Holliday gets great credit for the win with his three-run homer, but admittedly, this game was about Masahiro Tanaka as the Yankees took down the Sox in the third game of their four game series. Luis Severino may be the trendy new choice as staff ace but Tanaka is showing that he is still the master.  From the first pitch (a called strike), you could tell that Tanaka had his pitches working. I was listening to the NESN broadcasters during the game and they marveled all game at how Tanaka was keeping his pitches down.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

The Yankees got on the board first when Chase Headley hit a high fly to left for solo home run in the bottom of the 2nd off Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz. After the Headley home run, the Yankees loaded the bases but they were left stranded when Aaron Hicks grounded out to second on a bullet that was stopped by second baseman Tzu-Wei Lin. His throw to first easily beat Hicks.

Meanwhile, Tanaka was dealing. The Red Sox didn't pick up their first hit until the top of the 4th when Andrew Benintendi led off with a single to right center.  

The Red Sox briefly tied the game in the top of the 6th. The pesky Eduardo Nunez led off with a beautiful swing that drove the ball to left field.  Brett Gardner played the ball of the wall but Nunez slid into second ahead of the throw for a double. Andrew Benintendi hit a grounder to second and was thrown out at first, but Nunez moved to third.  With Mookie Betts at the plate, a Tanaka pitch hit the dirt and ricocheted off Gary Sanchez's glove. Nunez came flying home ahead of Tanaka who was covering. Game tied, 1-1. The Yankees prevented any further damage when Didi Gregorius made a great diving catch for the second out and Aaron Hicks tracked down a fly ball running to the wall for the final out.  

In the bottom of the 6th, Drew Pomeranz walked Didi Gregorius on a full count. Chase Headley lined a single to center and Didi slid headfirst into third ahead of the throw from Jackie Bradley, Jr. Runners safe at the corners.  Matt Holliday came up and crushed a Pomeranz pitch with a high fly into the left field stands.  Andrew Benintendi just stood and watched the ball sail into the crowd for the three-run bomb.  4-1, Yankees.  

Credit:  Robert Sabo

The Yankees added an insurance run in the bottom of the 7th against Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman. Jacoby Ellsbury, who had replaced Aaron Hicks at the top of the inning, roped a shot into left center field. Andrew Benintendi retrieved the ball but overthrew his first cut-off man.  It allowed the couple seconds that Ellsbury needed to safely slide into third for a triple.  Gary Sanchez followed with a grounder between second and third. Eduardo Nunez was going to his right and Rafael Devers went in front of him, moving to his left.  The ball glanced off Devers' glove and rolled into left field. Ellsbury scored on the play.

Masahiro Tanaka came back out for the top of the 8th, but he was pulled by Joe Girardi after the lead-off hitter, Tzu-Wei Lin, singled through the hole into right field.  David Robertson replaced Masa and recorded two quick outs.  Lin moved into scoring position when Didi Gregorius made a bare-handed grab  on a grounder by Mookie Betts but held the ball knowing he couldn't beat Betts to first. Fortunately, Mitch Moreland grounded to Gregorius for a force out at second to end the threat.

Dellin Betances took over for D-Rob in the 9th.  Unlike his last outing, there was no drama this time. After it appeared that Gary Sanchez had caught a pop up  by Hanley Ramirez behind the backstop for the first out, the call was overruled when it was determined the ball had hit the netting.  It didn't matter...Betances struck out Ramirez and the next two batters to end the game.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (72-63) pulled back to within 4 1/2 games of the Red Sox with the win. They maintained their one-game edge over the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card Standings.  The Twins absolutely destroyed the Kansas City Royals, 17-0.  The Yankees did increase their lead over the third place Baltimore Orioles to 3 1/2 games.  The O's fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2.  

Masahiro Tanaka (11-10) got the win with his seven innings of work.  He held the Red Sox to five hits, two walks and one run.  He only struck out three, but the most important stat...he didn't allow any home runs. Nice job by Dellin Betances to strike out the side in the 9th.  Matt Holliday was clearly the hitting star with the massive home run but both Chase Headley and Gary Sanchez were 3-for-4 in the game. Plus, Headley had the homer that gave the Yankees an early lead. 

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Ronald Torreyes, subbing for Starlin Castro, was hitless in three at-bats for his 25th birthday. Castro missed Saturday's game after undergoing a root canal in the morning following the loss of an artificial front tooth sometime Friday night. Despite the lack of hits, Toe made his plays in the field, including his tag of Rafael Devers who had attempted to steal second in the 5th inning.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

Aaron Hicks left the game after the sixth inning due to tightness in his left oblique (the opposite side of prior injury that landed him on the DL earlier in the season). He'll undergo a MRI to determine the extent of the injury. Hicks apparently felt the tightness while making the running catch of the high fly to center by Hanley Ramirez  to end the top of the 6th. The injury will most likely reinsert Jacoby Ellsbury as a prominent part of the starting lineup. Clint Frazier was in Trenton doing some light work with the Thunder but he has yet to begin a rehab assignment so he's not an immediate option.

Odds & Ends...

The suspension appeals have been heard for both Miguel Cabrera and Alex Wilson for their part in the recent Yankees-Tigers brawl. Both players saw a game shaved off their respective penalties. Cabrera will sit out six games instead of seven, while Wilson takes a 3-day rest (instead of four). Hopefully, it is a sign that Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine will receive the benefit of a one-game reduction when the results of their appeals are announced. Cabrera may have gotten the longest penalty but there's no doubt the cost is much greater for the Yankees given they have something to play for this month.

Have a great Sunday! The Yanks can take the series win today against AL Cy Young frontrunner Chris Sale. They'll need to bring their "A" game.  Go Yankees!

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/3: MLB Instant Replay Is Born

It took until the 2008 season for Major League Baseball to listen to the screams and get instant replay and wouldn't you know it, Alex Rodriguez was in the middle of the first controversy with replay. A Rod hit a towering fly ball that bounced off the Tropicana Field catwalk behind the foul pole in left field that was immediately called a home run. The Rays catcher Dioner Navarro disputed the call and two minutes and fifteen seconds later the umpires upheld the call on the field.

Also on this day in 1961 Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle become the first pair of teammates to each hit 50 home runs in a single season. Mantle hit his 50th against the Detroit Tigers in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game at 5-5. Mantle finished the 1956 season with 52 home runs as well so this was his second 50 home run season.

Finally on this day in 1947 the Yankees beat the Red Sox 11-2 by hitting 18 hits in the game, all singles. Joe DiMaggio and Tommy Henrich led the barrage at Fenway Park with four hits each in the Yankees victory.