Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Game Preview: New York Yankees “@” Tampa Bay Rays 9/12

The New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays continue to dodge Hurricane Irma and continue their series home away from home inside Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. In this second game of this three-game set the Yankees will send Sonny Gray to the mound looking to take the Yankees one step closer to the postseason while the Rays with their backs against the playoff wall send Blake Snell to the mound looking to prolong the season just a little longer. This is September baseball ladies and gentleman and it’s only going to get better from here.

Gray pitched well in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles holding the Fighting Showalters scoreless for the first time as a Yankee. This game also marked just the second time in his Yankees tenure that Gray held a team to two runs or less in a start.

Snell on the other hand didn’t pitch as well as he had presumably hoped to against the Minnesota Twins in a no-decision. Snell lasted just four innings in the start snapping a career-long streak of five straight starts of 6 innings pitched or longer. No need to start that streak over again tonight, we won’t mind a bit.

The game will be played at 7:10 pm ET inside Citi Field and can be seen on YES Network, MLB Network 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. Also, just as a reminder, the Tampa Bay Rays are considered the home team here this week in Queens despite the games being played in New York. It’s uncommon but not unheard of in the history of Major League Baseball, it just sucks because of the circumstances. Either way you should try to enjoy the game because the Yankees need a win, so get a win. Go Yankees!

Plouffe! The Toddfather Has Spoken...

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
Yankees 5, Rays 1...

A fielding error by Rays third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the 4th inning opened the door for an offensive outburst that was capped by a three-run homer by Todd Frazier. The single inning explosion carried the Yankees to victory over the "home" Tampa Bay Rays in Queens, NY.  

Credit:  Steven Ryan-Getty Images

For three innings, the Yankees couldn't muster a hit off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. Meanwhile, the Rays scratched out a run against the Yanks in the bottom of the 2nd. Lucas Duda, at home at Citi Field and using his old locker, drew a walk to start the inning.  Yankees starter CC Sabathia retired the next two batters and had Adeiny Hechavarria down to two strikes. Hechavarria battled and finally on the 9th pitch of the at-bat tripled to the center field wall, splitting the outfielders, to score Duda with the game's first run.  

Aaron Judge opened the 4th inning with a walk, extending his own MLB record for most walks by a rookie to 108. Gary Sanchez finally got the first hit for the Yankees, a line drive to center. The Yankees had runners at the corners.  Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to right which scored Judge standing up. The game was tied.  Starlin Castro struck out for the second out. Then the magic happened.  Well, maybe not from Trevor Plouffe's perspective. Matt Holliday hit a grounder to third that Plouffe was unable to field (under his glove). As the ball rolled down the left field line, Sanchez scored to give the Yankees the lead and Holliday moved to second on the play. On a full count, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on catcher's interference when his bat hit the catcher's mitt. It was the 30th career catcher's interference for Ellsbury which surpassed Pete Rose for the most all-time. Todd Frazier came to the plate and homered to left off the facing in the second deck to make it 5-1.  The Yankees got two more runners on base when Tyler Austin doubled to the left field wall and Brett Gardner walked. It spelled the end for Jake Odorizzi who went from a no-hitter to a four-run deficit despite only allowing one earned run. Rays reliever Chaz Roe came in and struck out Aaron Judge, who had led off the inning, to end the Yankees' rally.

CC Sabathia was allowing baserunners, giving up two singles in both the third and fourth innings, but had been escaping unscathed.  He got into trouble again in the bottom of the 5th. He walked Peter Bourjos to start the inning. After striking out Kevin Kiermaier on three pitches, Trevor Plouffe singled to center over Sabathia's back with Bourjos moving to second. Manager Joe Girardi opted to take no further chances and pulled Sabathia (avoiding a confrontation with Evan Longoria). The move appeared justified when David Robertson came in and struck out both Longoria and Lucas Duda to end the threat. Sabathia probably wasn't too happy with the early hook, but he had thrown 88 pitches and allowed six hits. It was only a matter of time before the Rays broke through but the D-Rob insurance card paid off. 

Credit:  Andrew Savulich-The New York Daily News

The Rays did have a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 6th with D-Rob still pitching. Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-out ground-rule double which hit the warning track in left and bounced off the back wall. He took third on a passed ball by Gary Sanchez, but was left stranded when Danny Espinosa grounded out to short.

The Yankees got their final hit of the night in the 7th inning when Brett Gardner led off with a single to left. A failed stolen base attempt, a perfect throw from catcher Wilson Ramos to second baseman Danny Espinosa, sent Gardy to the bench.

D-Rob pitched the bottom of the 7th, making this outing the longest in his career (pitching a total of 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief with 4 K's).  

Credit:  Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images

The bottom of the 8th brought out Dellin Betances and it was time to start drinking heavily. Evan Longoria started off with a single that dropped in right field. Betances struck out Lucas Duda for the first out, but then walked Cesar Puello. Aargh! Logan Morrison was up next, pinch-hitting for Wilson Ramos, and I was seeing images of a three-run home run to make it a one-run game. Fortunately, those visions proved false as Betances struck out Morrison. He got Adeiny Hechavarria to fly out, with Aaron Judge running to the wall, for the final out. Whew! That was a hard inning to sit through...

Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th. After a brief pause on my part hoping that Chapman has truly righted the ship, he proceeded to retire the side on ten pitches. It wasn't a save opportunity but the result was the same.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (78-65) picked up a 1/2 game on the idle Boston Red Sox so they now trail by 3 games. The Baltimore Orioles fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3, so the gap between the Yanks and the third-place O's is now 7 1/2 games. The win also increased the Yankees lead in the Wild Card Standings to 4 games.  

David Robertson (8-2) picked up the vulture win with Sabathia's inability to make it through five full innings. The Yankees were outhit by the Rays, 8 to 4, but they obviously made the most of their hits with Todd Frazier's home run leading the way.

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press

Odds & Ends...

The Yankees activated OF Clint Frazier off of the disabled list on Monday. Red Thunder was somewhat underwhelming in his rehab stint with the Trenton Thunder. In 17 at-bats, he had only 2 hits and 10 strikeouts. Here's hoping that his return to the Pinstripes is little more successful. He should slot back into the fourth outfielder role that has been lacking since Aaron Hicks went on the DL.

When Aaron Judge hit his 40th home run, he joined some lofty company. Prior to Judge's home run, the only Yankees to hit 40 home runs at 25 years or younger were Babe Ruth (54, 1920), Lou Gehrig (47, 1927), Joe DiMaggio (46, 1937), and Mickey Mantle (52, 1956). That's a nice group of names to rub shoulders with...

Have a great Tuesday! Seems like a great day for another win! Go Yankees!

Yankees Sign Ronny Rojas… What it Means for Shohei Otani

The New York Yankees are once again flashing some financial muscle on the international market but this time the team is being creative about it. In years past the Yankees have simply thrown money at their problems and for a long time it worked. Since the league has finally caught up financially the team can no longer do that due to financial and draft pick restrictions thrown down by a new set of collective bargaining agreements so New York has found a new way to get who they want on the IFA market. All large market teams get $4.75 million in IFA cap money to spend but the team can trade for an additional 75% of that $4.75 million from other teams, something the Yankees did many times this summer already. Now New York is using that new-found money to sign young players like the 16-year old shortstop Ronny Rojas they signed over the weekend but what does that mean for Shohei Otani?

First things first, Rojas. Rojas was signed to a $1 million contract and the 16-year old becomes the fourth international prospect to join the Yankees since the 2017-2018 signing period opened on July 2nd joining Robert Chirinos, Everson Pereira and Anthony Garcia. Rojas was considered to be the 11th best international prospect in this year’s signing period not including Otani who has yet to enter the fold as a prospect officially. The Yankees announced they would sign Rojas back in July but the team could not officially sign him until recently because Rojas was just 15-years old. The league will not allow an international prospect to sign until his 16th birthday. What does this mean for the Yankees ability to make a run at Otani though?

In all honestly this has no bearing on the Yankees ability to make a serious run at Otani. The Yankees traded for a ton of international spending money this summer in three different trades including the Yefrey Ramirez trade to the Baltimore Orioles and the Sonny Gray trade with the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees still have somewhere in the neighborhood of $3-4 million left to make a run at Otani without going over their allotted pool of money. The problem for New York is teams like the Boston Red Sox have also traded for close to their 75% allotment as well giving the Yankees some stiff competition for the latest Japanese import.

Having Chirinos, Pereira, Garcia and Rojas is great and it gives the Yankees another wave of future reinforcements to develop and look forward to. Having those four and a shot at Otani though almost seems unfair for the rest of the league so here’s to getting greedy, officially signing Rojas and also getting Japan’s Babe Ruth. 

So it Seems…. We Survived the Storm & Bryan Van Dusen is MARRIED!!

Good morning everyone. I hope everyone reading this on this beautiful morning after the storm is okay. I hope your friends, families and loved ones are okay as well. Houses, cars, outside lawn furniture etc. can all be replaced but the people you love and the people that own your heart cannot be replaced so be thankful that we made it. Things may be slow, I am actually writing this in advance a little because I am not sure how much longer I will have power and internet, here on the blog this week but I will be around when I can be. Stay well and here’s to the Yankees as they continue to keep kicking ass all the way to the postseason.

Also I want to take a second to wish my very good friend and co-owner of the blog Bryan Van Dusen a huge congratulations. Bryan married his lovely fiancĂ©, Heather, over the weekend and I couldn’t be happier for the couple. Bryan, you lucked out man. Don’t screw this up, haha. Stay well and I love you guys. I wish you man years of happiness.

And a special good morning to you. Hey you! I loves you. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/12: Bernie Williams Has a Week of a Game

Not much has happened on this day in New York Yankees history surprisingly but Bernie Williams did have a week of it on this day in 1996. Bernie had two home runs and a single as he went on to knock in eight RBI helping the Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers by the score of 12-3.

Other notable happenings on this day in Major League Baseball history was on this day in 1979 the Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski collected his 3,000th hit of his career in a victory over the Yankees in Fenway Park. Also Sammy Sosa became the fourth player in major league history to hit 60 home runs in a single season on this day in 1998 as he joined Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, and Mark McGwire as McGwire and Sosa attacked Maris' single season home run record.