Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ALCS Game Five Thread: New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros

Is it commuting time? Or is it baseball time? The world may never know for sure but the Bronx is faced with that very question tonight as it is already game time between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Game Five of the American League Championship Series, here we go. The New York Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound tonight looking to put another “W” in the win column for the Yankees at home this postseason while the Astros have other plans with Dallas Keuchel back on a Yankee Stadium mound. The game will be played at 5:00 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on FOX Sports One.

Follow us on Twitter by following @GreedyStripes and enjoy the game. Need a win against a guy the team has never even scored against in the postseason, easy peazy so get a win. Go Yankees!

Prediction: Yankees win 4-1

ALCS Game Five Preview: New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros

The New York Yankees have been one of the best teams at home here in 2017 during not only the regular season but in the postseason as well. New York must protect its house one more time this evening as the Houston Astros and the Yankees play Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. Home field advantage has been a huge thing for most teams throughout this postseason and I have a feeling it will continue to be huge for especially the Yankees tonight in the Bronx as the team needs another win before heading back to Houston for Game 6, because there WILL be a Game 6. Write it down. The Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound tonight looking to pitch as well or better than he did in Game One of the series while the Astros will counter with an old thorn in the Yankees side in Dallas Keuchel.

Tanaka matched Keuchel for much of their Game One matchup in this American League Championship series but it was not enough in a tough loss for New York. Tanaka has pitched marvelously in his last two playoff starts though which is a great sign for the New York Yankees going forward who need another great start tonight from him in the Bronx.

Keuchel pitched seven shutout innings in that Game One victory for Houston including ten strikeouts. Keuchel also shutout the Yankees for six innings in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game which means, and maybe this is just Optimistic Dan speaking here, that New York is due to run into a few and scratch a few runs across the board here tonight. I just hope they are enough for a victory.

The game will be played at 5:00 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on Fox Sports One. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio, because come on guys… 5:00 in the afternoon on a Wednesday in the middle of a work week… what the hell were you thinking MLB schedule makers? by tuning into either WFAN with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman or by tuning into ESPN Radio. Bold prediction time, if the Yankees win tonight against Keuchel the team will 100% win the series so need a win, shock the world and get a win. Go Yankees!

How to Judge a Four-Run Deficit...

Credit:  Andrew Savulich-NJ Advance Media for
American League Championship Series
Yankees 6, Astros 4...
Series tied, 2-2

The 2017 Yankees seem to thrive in the face of adversity. Down by four runs and facing a potential 3-1 disadvantage in the ALCS, the young Baby Bombers rose up and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.  

The game was expected to be a pitching duel between Sonny Gray and Lance McCullers, Jr but then again, with the exception of Monday night's game, every game has featured stellar starting pitching. Former Yankee Carlos Beltran picked up the game's first hit when he doubled to the right field wall off Yankees starter Sonny Gray with two outs in the second inning. Fortunately, he didn't get to experience third base but the early goings of the game saw a few runners left stranded. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

I knew that Lance McCullers, Jr was going to be tough on the Yankees. Despite his inconsistent year, he has generally been very strong when facing his dad's old club.  

The bottom of the 4th brought an interesting play albeit with no runs for the Yankees. Aaron Judge walked to start the inning for the Yanks. With one out, Gary Sanchez flied out to right. On El Gary's fly, Judge was running with the pitch. He turned after running past second and ran back to first after realizing the ball had been caught but was called out as he slid back into the bag. The Yankees challenged the play which confirmed Judge's foot had reached the base before the ball, however, when Judge was at second and passed the bag, he did not re-step on the bag on his way back to first. As the Astros prepared to throw to second as a follow-up to the challenge play at first, Judge made the break for second. The Astros threw Judge out on the play but, technically, he was out for that "misstep", ending the inning. A lesson learned for the big guy.

Credit:  Michael Ciaglo-Houston Chronicle
Poor Sonny Gray. The guy never gets any run support and Tuesday was no exception. The game entered the sixth inning still scoreless for both teams.  After Gray walked George Springer, Gray's former Oakland teammate Josh Reddick reached base on catcher's interference by Austin Romine (much to Romine's chagrin). Despite allowing only one hit up to that point, Manager Joe Girardi made the decision to pull Gray one pitch into the next at-bat (Jose Altuve), a ball in the dirt, and replaced him with David Robertson.  

Credit:  Michael Ciaglo-Houston Chronicle
D-Rob walked Altuve which loaded the bases with no outs. After striking out Carlos Correa for the first out, Yuli Gurriel cleared the bases with a double down the line, just inches past the glove of the diving Todd Frazier at third, to the left field corner. Brett Gardner threw the ball in to Didi Gregorius and the Yankees were able to catch Gurriel between second and third for an out. Alex Bregman subsequently grounded out to third to end the inning for the Astros, but they had taken a 3-0 lead.

Chad Green replaced Robertson in the top of the 7th inning. He struck out former Yankee Carlos Beltran for the first out, but then gave up a double to right center by Marwin Gonzalez. Brian McCann hit a grounder to second baseman Starlin Castro in shallow right but the ball ate up Castro for an error, allowing McCann to safely reach base. Gonzalez scored on the play to increase Houston's lead to 4-0. George Springer hit a grounder to third that Todd Frazier turned for a double play, second to first, to avoid further damage and send the game to the bottom of the 7th.

Trailing by four runs with Lance McCullers, Jr pitching a shutout, Aaron Judge stepped to the plate. Judge hammered McCullers' first pitch over the wall in center field into Monument Park for a home run.  The Yankees were on the board.

Credit:  Howard Simmons-New York Daily News
The Astros still held a 4-1 lead, but McCullers was finished. The Astros brought in Chris Devenski to face Didi Gregorius.  Didi tripled to the left-center field wall. Gary Sanchez was next and he hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Didi. The Yankees had closed the deficit to two runs.  Greg Bird walked to finish Devenski's stay and Joe Musgrove came in to retire Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks. Still, the Yankees had chipped away and their bats were starting to show signs of life.

After three up-three down for Chad Green in the top of the 8th, the Yankees got to business in the bottom of the inning. Todd Frazier singled to left to get things started. Chase Headley, pinch-hitting for Austin Romine, singled to left in the gap, moving Frazier to third.  Headley took second on the throw in from the outfield, after stumbling between first and second. He was able to make it to second ahead of the throw after cut-off man Carlos Correa had thrown the ball to first. 

Credit:  Andrew Savulich-New York Daily News
The Astros pulled Musgrove to bring in their closer, Ken Giles. Brett Gardner hit a grounder to second baseman Jose Altuve who threw to first for the out but Frazier scored to make it a one-run game. Headley moved to third, and was replaced by pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury. Aaron Judge doubled to left off the wall to score Ellsbury and the game was tied at 4. Didi Gregorius singled to left, a roller under the glove of shortsop Carlos Correa, with Judge advancing to third. It set up Gary Sanchez's double to the wall in right center to score both Judge and Gregorius. The Yankees had captured the lead, 6-4. 

Credit:  Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
After Ken Giles intentionally walked Greg Bird, he was pulled and replaced by Luke Gregerson. Starlin Castro worked a walk to load the bases but the Yankees were unable to capitalize when Aaron Hicks hit a slow grounder toward first allowing the Astros to get the force out of Sanchez at home and Todd Frazier grounded out to third.

On to the 9th inning and the awaiting arm of Aroldis Chapman. Chapman struck out fellow Cuban Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman for the first two outs. With Carlos Beltran due up, the Astros sent in pinch-hitter Evan Gattis to hit. I personally would have stayed with Beltran but Astros manager A.J. Hinch had different ideas. It didn't pay off for him as Gattis lofted a fly to left for the final out. The Yankees had overcome a four-run deficit to win the game and tie the ALCS at two games apiece. The Yankees win! Woohoo!

Chad Green (1-0) was the winner, while Aroldis Chapman earned the save.  Ken Giles (0-1) took the loss for the Astros.

The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by former Yankee great Paul O'Neill with Ronald Torreyes catching. O'Neill looks like he could still take a few hacks at home plate or at the very least, overturn a water cooler or two.

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images
Credit Aaron Judge. His home run changed the offensive temperature from very cold to very hot. It was the tandem of Judge and Didi Gregorius that set the pace for the Yankees to score six unanswered runs. Very nice to see Gary Sanchez join the action after an 0-for-13 skid in the ALCS. 

Credit:  Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle
The two errors by Starlin Castro on what appeared to be two fairly simple grounders was not fun to watch.  

There were complaints prior to the game about Joe Girardi's decision to have Austin Romine catch Sonny Gray with Gary Sanchez sliding to DH. I had no issue with the move. In the limited sample size since Gray joined the Yankees at the trading deadline, his ERA with Romine has been significantly better (3 starts, 1.45 ERA) than when El Gary is behind the plate (8 starts, 4.63 ERA). Among Matt Holliday, Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley, there's no doubt that Headley deserves the next start at DH. I am disappointed see Holliday's Yankee career end on the bench but the simple truth is that he has not hit since returning from the DL after his bout with the Epstein-Barr Virus. I know that to get hits, you need at-bats, but the Baseball Gods have not smiled upon Holliday in the second half. It would still be cool if he could get a crucial pinch-hit at some point before the Pinstripes become a distant memory for him.

It was a very solid performance by Sonny Gray and is certainly a tremendous preview of coming attractions for the 2018 season (if not the remainder of the 2017 post-season).  

Credit:  Andrew Mills-NJ Advance Media for
By winning, the Yankees have guaranteed that the series will head back to Houston for Game 6. Hopefully, they can win today to make it a much sweeter plane flight to Texas. The challenge is difficult with Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander slated for the mound over the next two games.  However, the 2017 Yankees have beaten Chris Sale and Corey Kluber and they tend to excel when their backs are to the wall.  Win or lose, you can be assured that the Yankees will never, ever quit.  

Have a great Wednesday! Let's just get a win today. Only one win. Thumbs down, let's do this! Go Yankees!

So it Seems… I’ve Been Quiet and Now I’m Explaining

Good morning everyone and Happy Wednesday. It has been a bit quiet on the blog here lately and for that I apologize. The last time we really spoke I described how work was getting busy, well work got busy. When work started to slow down I got sick. I don’t get sick very often but when I do, usually once or twice a year, I generally tend to get really, really sick. I had a fever for over five days straight and that was with taking ibuprofen every four hours or as often as I could stand it. As I finally started to get better now my baby is starting to get sick, ugh.

First I want to thank you for all your patience with the blog. I am not going anywhere, we are not going anywhere and we will continue to push on, together. I then want to thank my beautiful love, Kari, for taking care of me as I have been sick. You’re the best baby. Oh, and I’m sorry I got you sick. Ugh again. I guess it’s time to return that taking care of you favor, huh? I’ll do it happily, because I love you.

Have a great day everyone, except for Dallas Keuchel. Screw that guy. I love you all, especially you. HEY YOU. Have a great day and I hope you’re feeling a little better this morning.

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/18: Mr. October

Reggie Jackson was brought in by owner George Steinbrenner to propel the Yankees to their first World Series title in what felt like forever, and that he did. On this day in 1977 Reggie hit three home runs on three consecutive pitches in the World Series in the clinching game of the Yankees 21st World Series title. The nickname Mr. October stuck immediately as he had hit a home run in his last at bat of the previous game as well making for four consecutive home runs across two games.

Also on this day in 1960 a mere five days after losing the World Series to Bill Mazeroski and the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 7 of the World Series manager Casey Stengel was fired. The Yankees cited the fact that Stengel was too old to manage in which Stengel replied “I’ll never make the mistake of being 70 again.”