Saturday, September 9, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Texas Rangers 9/9

Now that I am done ranting about Aaron Judge and the hate he is receiving for his second-half slump let’s get back to baseball. The New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers are just about ready to kick off the second game of their three-game weekend set inside Globe Life Park at Arlington with a pitching matchup that screams Comeback Player of the Year. Both starting pitchers this afternoon, Luis Severino for the Yankees and Andrew Cashner for the Rangers, bounced back in 2017 after struggling in 2016 giving the fans of each team a feel-good story to follow all year long. The game this afternoon will be played at 1:05 pm ET and can be seen on FOX. 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, and go Yankees!

Prediction: Yankees win 8-3

Battle of Little Bighorn II, Texas-Style...

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press
Rangers 11, Yankees 5...

It felt like the Battle of Little Bighorn but unfortunately the Yankees were Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry Regiment. I had hoped the momentum from Thursday's win over the Baltimore Orioles would carry over to Friday night in Texas.  Yeah, right. The Yankees were unable to hold a lead against the Rangers and then were overwhelmed in defeat.

The game started right when the Yankees broke through with multiple runs in the top of the 2nd inning.  It can be argued that they should have scored more runs in the inning but still, you'd think a 4-0 lead with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound represented good odds.  

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press

The inning started with Matt Holliday's single up the middle to center field.  Didi Gregorius reached base on a fielder's choice but a throwing error (flip wide of second) by Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor failed to force Holliday at second so two runners on and no outs. Chase Headley lined a single to right and the bases were loaded.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to right just over the head of a leaping Odor and Holliday scored the game's first run. Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch (left front foot) from Rangers starter Martin Perez which brought Gregorius home to score.  After a coaching visit to the mound, Perez struck out Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge. Gary Sanchez, in his first game back after the three-game suspension, hit a single to left through the hole at short.  Headley and Ellsbury both came home to score, but Todd Frazier was tagged out at third to end the inning.  4-0, Yankees.  

Credit:  Associated Press

In the bottom of the 2nd, Masahiro Tanaka fell behind lead-off hitter Nomar Mazara on a 3-1 count. Mazara found the pitch he wanted and sent it high into the second deck in right. Tanaka was able to retire the next three hitters, the last two by strikeout.  

On to the 3rd.  Starlin Castro reached base on a fielding error by third baseman Joey Gallo when the ball glanced off his glove into left field.  Matt Holliday hit into a double play which was unfortunate because Didi Gregorius followed with his 21st home run (a high fly to right).  The solo home run is a new career high for Didi.  The Yankees were up, 5-1.  

From there, the Rangers started to chip away.  In the bottom of the 3rd, Robinson Chirinos hit a one-out single to center past a diving Didi Gregorius.  Delino DeShields doubled down the left field line into the corner, scoring Chirinos.  After Shin-Soo Choo lined out to center for the second out, with DeShields moving to third, Elvis Andrus doubled down the left field line, a high hop over Todd Frazier's glove, to score DeShields.  A wild pitch advanced Andrus to third, but Tanaka was able to strike out Nomar Mazara to end the inning.  Yankees still led, 5-3. 

The Yankees had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 4th inning but Starlin Castro popped out to second baseman Rougned Odor in shallow right to waste a huge opportunity.  

After the Yankees went down quietly in the top of the 5th, the Rangers struck hard. Rougned Odor got it started with a single to right. Robinson Chirinos doubled down the left line, scoring Odor from first. It was a one-run game.  Delino DeShields singled to left, moving Chirinos to third. With Shin-Soo Choo at the plate, a wild pitch by Masahiro Tanaka (low pitch that got under El Gary's glove) freed Chirinos to come home and score the tying run. Choo doubled  to left on a high fly that Brett Gardner almost caught but he "heard" the wall. DeShields moved to third. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough of Tanaka and made the switch to bring in Tommy Kahnle.  Elvis Andrus greeted Kahnle with a single to right, scoring both DeShields and Chirinos.  Starlin Castro tried diving for the ball but came up just short. The Rangers had taken a 7-5 lead.  Kahnle induced Nomar Mazara to hit into a double play, but a single to center by Carlos Gomez ended his latest appearance. Chasen Shreve came in and struck out Joey Gallo to finally end the painful inning.

While the Yankees were unable to get anything going offensively against Martin Perez and the Texas bullpen, the Rangers struck again in the bottom of the 7th inning to put the game away.  It was the kill shot to Custer's head.  With Caleb Smith taking over for Shreve, Shin-Soo Choo singled to left. While Elvis Andrus was batting, Smith threw a wild pitch that bounced in the dirt past Gary Sanchez and Choo advanced to second. Andrus subsequently walked. Nomar Mazara's hard single to  the right field wall loaded the bases, bringing an end to Smith's stay. Ben Heller entered the game in relief of Smith and the Rangers inserted pinch-runner Jared Hoying at first for Mazara. Carlos Gomez hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Choo.  With Joey Gallo batting, Heller threw the second wild pitch of the inning (smh) and Andrus moved to third, beating the throw from Gary Sanchez.  Gallo's single to right scored Andrus.  Hoying moved to second. Heller got the second out of the inning when he struck out Mike Napoli. However, Rougned Odor's bases-clearing triple to right increased the Rangers' lead to 11-5.  Heller's subsequent walk of Robinson Chirinos ended his unsuccessful appearance. Bryan Mitchell came in to finally end the inning, but the bloody massacre had been completed.  

The Yankees went down meekly from there, including three strikeouts in the top of the 9th, sending the Rangers into celebration on the field.  

Credit:  Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

This was a very ugly loss. It had started to feel that Masahiro Tanaka was back on track after his struggles earlier in the season but this game reopened doubts.   It was the kind of game that makes one hope that Tanaka opts out of his contract at the end of the year.  But of course the bullpen did him no favors, nor did the team's hitters. Michael Kay made a good observation about why Joe Girardi would go with second tier relievers when the game was still tight. I wondered the same thing when they brought in Caleb Smith who was followed by Ben Heller when Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson were rested and ready in the pen.  

Sadly, the Boston Red Sox throttled the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-3, to increase their lead in the AL East to 4 1/2 games. The Yankees (75-65) maintained their 4 1/2 game edge over the Baltimore Orioles. The O's were the latest victim of the Cleveland Indian's winning streak which now stands at 16 games (MLB's longest streak since 2002). The Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-5, to move within 1 1/2 games of the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.   

Odds & Ends...

As a result of Hurricane Irma, the Yankees' series with the Tampa Bay Rays this week (Monday through Wednesday) will be played at Citi Field in Queens instead of Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL. There had been speculation that the games would be played in Chicago but it makes sense to use the Mets' turf since the Rays are currently in Boston and most of he players are traveling with their families due to the impending storm in Florida. Lucas Duda at home in Citi Field...has a certain ring of deja vu to it.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Austin Romine's original two-game suspension for the Motor City Brawl has been reduced to one game (last night).  I am glad the suspensions are behind us. Erik Kratz, thanks for riding the bench and please don't let the door hit you on the way out.

The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders evened their play-off series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at one with a 4-2 victory last night. Chance Adams was the winner.  He pitched five innings, allowing five hits and two runs.  He walked too many (four) but struck out five. The hitting stars were Miguel Andujar (3-for-5 with two doubles and a RBI) and Mason Williams (2-for-4 with three runs scored). Game 3 is tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  Brady Lail (6-5, 5.17 ERA) gets the start for the RailRiders.

The Double A Trenton Thunder pulled off a rare feat when Justus Sheffield and Taylor Widener combined for a no-hitter to beat the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in Game 3 of their play-off series. The Thunder lead the Eastern Division Championship Series, 2 games to 1.

Have a great Saturday!  I'm hoping y'all get a win down deepinaharta Texas! Go Yankees!

My Thoughts on Aaron Judge, The “Worst Player in MLB” Right Now

Back on July 20th an admittedly tongue-in-cheek article was posted with the title “Aaron Judge has become the worst player in baseball.” This article was posted seven games into the second half and barely a week after Judge had put on a show at the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby bringing home the title to the American League and to the Bronx. The article was done with a bit of sarcasm, and I can appreciate that as I tend to do that a lot in my own writing, but now some people out there, so-called fans, are all over Judge because of his second-half slump. Here are my thoughts on that for all the haters out there, and the supporters as well.

First and foremost Judge was never the type of hitter to hit like he was in the first half and was due a natural regression. Anyone who thought Judge was going to chase down Barry Bonds’ single season home run record while flirting with the .400 mark or even a high .300 batting average is not only crazy but they also didn’t pay attention to Judge while at Fresno State or throughout his minor league career with the Yankees. Judge is not without his faults, I admit that, and he has been and always has been a better hitter than the .183/.350/.355 hitter in the second half but there may be a few reasons why he has struggled so mightily.

Do you believe in the whole thought process that the Home Run Derby is cursed and it tends to mess with the winner’s swing for the remainder of the season? I don’t personally, not with the number of coaches and hitting instructors in the league, but I don’t believe in the Madden curse either. Some do though and I would never completely discredit their opinion or thoughts on the matter. There’s definitely some evidence if you want to cherry pick stats and such but nothing is 100% and you can’t predict baseball so I’ll leave that theory at that.

Judge had a .426 BABIP and a 41.7 HR/FB rate before the All-Star break showing that an obvious, and steep, regression was due for the Yankees slugger. Also factor in that Judge is seeing less fastballs, more sliders (23.9 of the time Judge is seeing a slider which is up from 20.3 % in the first half), less strikes and has been chasing more pitches you can see why Judge may be struggling. Judge is only seeing 38.3 % of the pitches thrown to him actually in the strike zone in the second half while his chase percentage is up to 30.1% in the second half. Judge is seeing less strikes and is trying to do more by chasing bad pitches off the plate, that’s a rookie mistake. There’s that word again, rookie. 25-year old rookie at that.

Many, no one more loud that Bryan Hoch though, are also speculating that Judge has an apparent shoulder injury that he is playing through and hiding from the media. In a report by Hoch it was stated that Judge has been repeatedly receiving extra treatment on his left shoulder since the beginning of August. Giving a slugger a shoulder injury can explain opening up too early on his swing, swinging and missing more which his stats say that he is, and not making as solid contact as he was in the first half. The injury theory may actually be the most valid and feasible theory of them all and knowing Judge like I think I know Judge I can see a lot of Derek Jeter in him. Judge is not going to want to come off the field and Judge is not going to want to tell the media that his shoulder is the reason for his struggles.

In closing, just chill. Judge is who Judge is. The Yankees are here due in large part to what Judge has done this season and specifically in the first half. This is a team game and it takes all 25, not just the man wearing the #99 Yankees jersey. Let’s remember that and let’s keep that in perspective before we start putting our opinions out there because it has boggled my mind to see some of the hate and condescending tones on Twitter and such regarding Judge and his recent performance. This kid is a rookie and the hardest thing to do in the world is to hit a Major League pitch. If you guys and girls can do better than by all means, have at it. I’d love to see the Yankees win a few more games. If not…. Shhhhhhh. Thanks for reading!

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Texas Rangers 9/9

The New York Yankees keep on chugging along today as the team makes the trip back to Globe Life Park at Arlington for the second of a three-game weekend set between the two clubs. The Yankees and Rangers will be showcased nationally for all to see this afternoon after playing well into the night last night in Arlington. In the words of Joe Girardi, that’s not what you want. Especially in September. Both clubs will have to power through it though because that’s what you do during September baseball, especially if you’re in the middle of a playoff chase. The Yankees will send arguably their best pitcher in Luis Severino to the mound this afternoon looking to take another step towards a postseason berth while the Rangers will counter with Andrew Cashner. Enjoy the game!

Severino was absolutely dominant in his last start against the Boston Red Sox at a time when the Yankees absolutely needed a gem. Severino allowed just one unearned run on two hits in six innings of work in an eventual 9-2 victory for the Yankees in the Bronx. Severino didn’t walk anyone and only took 87 pitches in the start that included nine strikeouts.

Cashner was impressive as well in his last start, albeit against the Atlanta Braves, allowing just two earned runs in a victory for the Rangers. Cashner has been great since July 5 allowing just 19 earned runs in 65.1 innings pitched which has been huge for the playoff hopeful Rangers.

The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside Globe Life Park at Arlington and can be seen on FOX. I am pretty sure when the games are nationally broadcast on FOX that even MLB TV is blocked out but I cannot confirm that 100% at this time. If it is though you can always follow along with the game in your cars and on the radio by tuning into the WFAN broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

Enjoy the game, keep the good times rolling, need a win and get a win. Go Yankees!

So it Seems…. Please Stay Safe from Irma

Good morning everyone and welcome to the weekend. Another Saturday, another game, another series and another step towards the postseason. How lucky are we to be alive right now, regardless of everything we have going on in the world or in our own lives. Life is a true blessing and it’s just that much sweeter when you’re a Yankees fan. Yeah, I’m bias and yeah, I’m sarcastic, but I am also passionate and there’s always a little bit of truth in all humor. Anyway, I said all that to say this. Enjoy your day. You’re alive, you’re a Yankees fan and our team takes one step closer to returning to the postseason this afternoon in Arlington.

Also I want everyone reading this to stay safe from Hurricane Irma. Life is precious and stubbornness, courage or whatever you want to call it is not worth your life. Be safe and make sure your friends, family and loved ones are safe. You’re all in my thoughts and prayers. Stay well.

Especially you. HEY YOU. I loves you. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/9: Jeter Passes Ruth

As we all know Derek Jeter currently sits at the top of many Yankees records including the all-time hits list for New York but Jeter moved into second place on that very list on this day in 2008. Jeter passed the Yankees legend Babe Ruth on the list with his 2,874th hit of his career, a first inning single in a Yankees 7-1 victory on the road. At the time the only player ahead of Jeter on the Yankees all-time hit list was Lou Gehrig with his 2,721 hits.

Also on this day in 1998 surprisingly the New York Yankees clinched the AL East division crown when they increased their lead over the second place Boston Red Sox to 20.5 games. The Yankees would set an American League record in 1998 with a 114-48 record but I think clinching the division on September 9th may be more impressive.

Finally on this day in 1961 the M&M boys Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle passed another set of Yankees teammates in the MLB record books. On this day Maris hit his 56th home run of the season and when you combine that with Mantle's 52 the Yankees teammates held the record for the most single season home runs by a pair of teammates with 108. The M&M boys passed the 1927 Yankees teammates and legends Babe Ruth (60) and Lou Gehrig(47) for the MLB record.