Thursday, May 10, 2018

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox 5/10

And just like that it is game time once again here in the Bronx as the latest chapter of the rivalry concludes. In the finale of this three-game set between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox the Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the mound to face off with Eduardo Rodriguez for the Red Sox, starting in place of Rick Porcello who was originally slated to start tonight in the Bronx. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on WPIX Channel 11, NESN and MLB Network. You can also follow along with the game on MLB TV, with the MLB At-Bat app and by tuning into the Yankees radio broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WFAN.

Follow us on Twitter, @GreedyStripes, and “Like” us on Facebook, The Greedy Pinstripes, to keep up with us and the team all season long. Enjoy the game, “you just hate to see another Boston loss,” and go Yankees!!

Rafael Palmeiro’s Comeback & Fight Against Steroids

I will be completely honest here, Rafael Palmeiro broke my heart. Why you may ask? Well I have like four-or-five of his rookie cards in mint condition that I was planning on cashing in once he made it to the Hall of Fame, but after an inclusion in the Mitchell Report and a failed test for steroids before the end of his playing days the value of his cards plummeted. Palmeiro will likely never make it into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and I will likely never strike it rich off his Topps Tiffany playing cards, but that won’t stop Palmeiro from fighting back against his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, Palmeiro is taking his fight against steroids so far that at the ripe age of 53-years old he is making a return to professional baseball.

After spending much of his MLB career with the Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles the former MLB first baseman is now headed to the Cleburne Railroaders of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. Rafael will also be joined by his son, 28-year old Patrick Palmeiro, on the Railroaders.

Palmeiro let it be known this winter that he would like to return to Major League Baseball and even went as far as to claim that he could still contribute at the Major League level. Palmeiro asked for an invitation to spring training to prove that and to win a job outright this spring, but no teams were willing to extend the invite leading Palmeiro to play for Cleburne to try and prove that he still has it. Palmeiro also wants to prove that he still has it, and has always had it, without the boost that performance enhancing drugs can give.

Palmeiro was quoted as saying to The Athletic in December:

"Maybe 12 years later, if I can come back and prove I don’t need anything as an older player with an older body, then people might think, OK, maybe he didn’t do anything intentionally."

That sounds great, now it’s time to prove it. Good luck.

Article Revisit: Rooting for Aroldis Chapman

With all the happenings in the MLB world right now, including the Toronto Blue Jay’s closer Robert Osuna’s arrest for domestic violence, I wanted to take a quick second to look back through the Greedy Pinstripes archive and revisit an article that Bryan Van Dusen posted around a year ago today. The article covers weeks of research that Bryan did regarding the domestic violence accusations surrounding Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman and he opined whether the Yankees fans should root for him as he closes out games for out team. It really is a great article and it deserves a second look here on the blog with the recent Osuna news, so enjoy.

It should go without saying that domestic violence is a serious matter. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, which equates to more than 10 million women and men during one year.

On a typical day there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. And among so many other disturbing stats is this one... the precense of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

That brings us to the incident involving Aroldis Chapman in October of 2015. If you'd like to read the police report yourself, here are pictures of it...

I know that pictures on the internet can sometimes be hard to read, especially when a computer novice such as myself is the one posting them, so I'll give you a breakdown of the report...

At about 10:00pm, the night of October 31st, 2015, police were called to the home of Aroldis Chapman. When they arrived Cristina Barnea met them in the driveway, and informed them that her and her boyfriend (Chapman) got into an argument. During the argument Chapman had allegedly pushed her before the argument was broken up by family members. At which point Barnea ran outside, heard "shotgun" blasts, hid in the bushes outside the home, and called the police. It was also advised that her infant child was still inside the residence with Chapman.

After checking guests as they left the house and finding nothing on them, police established a perimeter around the home until Chapman finally exited the house without incident.

It was established at the time that the argument between Barnea and Chapman started because Barnea found something in Chapman's phone that she did not like. Ms. Barnea then went into the bathroom with the phone, while Chapman followed her in there and took the phone back. Barnea then wanted to speak with Chapman in the home's movie theater, which is where she claimed to have been pushed by Chapman. That is when Barnea's brother broke things up, leading to her running outside and hiding.

Barnea's brother also spoke with an officer, saying he did attempt to stop the argument between his sister and Chapman. He did note that while there was arguing happening, he saw no physical violence occur.

Chapman's employed driver also gave a statement, most of which included the same facts listed above. One big difference is that Barnea apparently charged at and tackled Chapman in the theater (which Barnea says did not happen). However, the driver refused to provide a sworn tape recorded statement.

In the report Chapman corroborated the events of that evening, however he had simply used his index and middle finger to push Ms. Barnea on the left shoulder to move her away from him while saying she should not talk to him that way. At that point Barnea fell to the ground and started yelling, prompting her brother to run in, push Chapman to the ground, and along with friends and relatives break up the altercation.

Chapman left the house at that time, and wanted to drive away, but friends did not let him do that. Instead he and a friend sat in Chapman's Land Rover, where he punched the window and lacerated his hand before exiting with a pistol he got out of the glove compartment, and went into the garage. While in the garage he fired the gun "several" times before throwing the gun away. At that point friends took him into his room and locked themselves in.

It should be noted that Chapman, like his driver, refused to give a sworn recorded statement or sign an affidavit of complaint. He did, however, sign a consent to search around the exterior of his garage.

Barnea was spoken to again by officers about the incident, where inconsistencies started popping up. One of them being that Ms. Barnea could not say how she had fallen to the ground, and that Chapman had instead pushed her against the bathroom wall before she had fallen. She then said Chapman had "choked" her by placing his hands around her neck, but that it did not prevent her from breathing. The officers noted that there were no signs of choking on Ms. Barnea

Barnea then said she did not want any further involvement with the incident, and just wanted to collect her belongings and leave. At that point she was allowed to do so, and was advised to call the Davie Police to stand by while she later collecting any other belongings from the home. Barnea then left without further incident.

Finally, officers could not find the gun outside the garage, and were advised that this was because Chapman had actually retrieved the weapon and put it in his Escalade so that nobody else could find it and hurt themselves. Chapman was told doing so hindered the investigation, however it was found that that wasn't his intention and no charges were filed.

In the end it was noted that due to several inconsistencies in Barnea's statement, as well as the statements of others changing several times during the investigation, the case would be forwarded to the State Attorney's Office for review.

While the police report pointed out inconsistencies, I wanted to talk about some of them myself.

The first of those has to do with the number of people that apparently saw the incident. Cristina Barnea, herself, noted that the incident happened in front of "everyone". The police report also noted that there were around 20 guests at the party. However, not one of them corroborated the story that Ms. Barnea gave, nor have they come forward afterward to say Mr. Chapman did anything such as choking her or endangering her or anybody else.

Now, I understand that some people may not wish to testify against a celebrity such as Chapman. Doing so can create all sorts of problems for a person, among those things are unwanted attention from the media, negative comments and attention on social media, and possible unwanted legal battles from said celebrity. However, especially at a time where so many things can be said anonymously while speaking to a journalist "off the record", or on any number of message boards and such on the internet, you would think something incriminating would have been said about Aroldis Chapman. Yet there's been nothing.

Then you have what may be one of the most disturbing things to be noted during the police investigation that night... allegations of choking.

Honestly, that part seems to be total crap.

For starters, Barnea noted in the police report that even though Chapman was "choking" her, she was never unable to breathe. Look, the very definition of choking is to prevent airflow into the lungs. Ms. Barnea clearly used the word "choke" in order to make things sound much worse than they actually were. If anything, Chapman at one point may have touched her throat, but no actual choking actually occurred.

Later on, in a sworn waiver of prosecution to the State Attorney's Office, Ms. Barnea changed her story saying Chapman only "used his fingers to move her away from him, and out of his personal space. She lost her balance and fell to the ground."

Need I say more about this part of the incident?

No? Okay, then I'll just re-post this picture of Cristina Bernea taken shortly after the choking allegation...

Another reason a lot of people are upset about what allegedly happened between Barnea and Chapman is that it happened in front of their infant child. I want to note that this is absolutely not true. The fact is the child was being cared for by Barnea's mother, out of view of the party and the incident. Nothing of the sort was mentioned in the police report, neither. This is just another attempt at people trying to build up the story into more than it actually is.

I also want to say that there is zero evidence that Aroldis fired his gun outside of his home, nor in the direction of anybody. The first part is very important as firing a weapon outside of private property is against Florida law. Furthermore, Aroldis agreed to a search of the exterior of the garage, which tells me he was not trying to hide anything he had done. While he was told he was wrong in removing the gun from the garage, as doing so interfered with a police investigation, Chapman never attempted to hide the fact surrounding his use of the gun from anybody. If any sort of wrong-doing happened during the incident, such as him threatening Barnea or anybody else with the weapon, don't you think that would have been mentioned in the police report? Or don't you think that such a thing would have been brought up during the investigation by the State Attorney? Or like I mentioned earlier, don't you think somebody that was at the party would have said something about gun violence?

I want to point out that Ms. Barnea is not so innocent, either. Look at the following report of her breaking into Chapman's home while he was getting ready to return to Florida after the Reds' season had ended the day before in Pittsburgh.

As I did with the other police report, let me break it down. Ms. Barnea had returned to the house after their relationship ended (which included Barnea voluntarily leaving the house, and using a key she had taken without Chapman's knowledge) and entered the home. And although that is not a completely legal or even morally correct thing to do, Chapman still agreed to allow Barnea to collect her's and their child's things from his house.

The final nail in the coffin of Aroldis Chapman being guilty is this.... they are still together nearly a year and a half later. We're not talking about the guy having a one-night stand with somebody, and that somebody is keeping their mouth shut about a celebrity they slept with. This is clearly a committed relationship. Cristina Barnea was even Chapman's special guest at the World Series this past season.

All of the following information tells me that Chapman and Barnea simply got into an argument the night of the party, and it's highly likely that alcohol helped to escalate a simple argument into an "incident". Things were said and accusations of cheating were made. In response Aroldis got mad, went to his car to talk it out with a friend, wrongly(note the bold font and italics) decided to take his gun from the glove compartment and into his garage, and vented by firing that gun eight times into the wall (accidentally firing one through the window and into an open field). This is not a case of a horrible man doing horrible things.

In fact, I believe that if there was no gun involved, there's a good chance this whole thing would have faded away in a heartbeat. But due to the issues of domestic and gun violence being as big as they are (and for good reason, mind you), along with it involving a high profile celebrity/athlete, the story was jumped on by all sorts of people (media and others) and blown up into something much bigger than it was.

Look at it this way... Aroldis was not arrested and charged with abuse against his wife that needed medical attention, yet Jose Reyes... who is guilty of those things... received a hero's welcome at Citi Field when he returned following his suspension.

Aroldis Chapman was not videotaped punching his wife in a casino elevator, but there are people... even women... who supported Ray Rice after he did just that.

Chapman was not accused of trying to kill his own mother, but Dez Bryant's mother forgave and supported him for doing that.

Chapman was never sentenced to spend any time in jail after being convicted of domestic abuse, however Chad Johnson had the support of at least one of his former Dolphins teammates one that happened to him
To wrap this whole thing up I would like to say the following...

If you think I'm not going to root for Aroldis Chapman when he steps on the mound for the Yankees then you're out of your mind. Domestic violence, whether it's a simple misunderstanding or an incredibly violent act caught on camera, is not acceptable. But to treat Chapman like he's some type of monster that doesn't deserve a chance to redeem himself is downright wrong. I will accept your right to act as you wish towards the man, but don't think for one second that I'm going to agree with it. Actually, if anything, I'll cheer louder to drown out your booing.

Sometimes the Best Trade Is the Trade You Don’t Make

I found something interesting on Twitter yesterday morning that really caught my eye. While I have not been able to find a confirmation of this yet anywhere else the basic premise of the ideology and of this post remains the same, regardless of whether the information is true or not. Sometimes the best trade that you can make in Major League Baseball is the trade that you don’t make. Case in point, the Twitter post that stated that the New York Yankees offered Domingo German to the New York Mets last July in a potential deal for Jay Bruce. We know the Yankees offered the Mets prospects for Bruce’s services, but the group from Queens instead opted to send the left-hander to the Cleveland Indians for cash instead. If this is true… wow, for the Mets.

Let’s just assume this is true and the Yankees did offer German up to the Mets for a half-season of Bruce, the Yankees truly dodged a bullet here. Now, I am not one of these fanatics that are anointing German as the next Nolan Ryan after just on start in the Bronx, albeit a good one that saw him leave after six no-hit innings, but at the same time I have always thought of German as a potential serviceable MLB-caliber starter. Any time you can get a potential and serviceable MLB-caliber starter for two months of an aging veteran that, at the time, you have no intention of keeping you ALWAYS take that over cash considerations. Always. Unless you’re the Mets.

There have been plenty of these instances that can cement the mind set even if German was never offered to the New York Mets. George Steinbrenner and company tried to trade Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte on multiple occasions that we know of, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the club also tried to trade Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter at some point as well. Luis Severino and Aaron Judge were named in trade rumors before, although rumors are just that… rumors, as well as many of the men we see dominating at the Major League level today.

Brian Cashman gets killed for the trades that he loses, and doesn’t get enough praise for the trades that he wins, but what about the trades that he doesn’t make? Those, in time, may be the decisions that will ultimately cement his legacy. Stay tuned.

Waking Up in First Place...

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for (John Munson)
Yankees win latest series with Boston…

We have often heard it in recent days. On April 20th, the Yankees were 7 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East after Boston’s blazing 17-2 start at the beginning of the year. The Yankees, then 9-9, were getting ready to embark on the most brutal stretch of their schedule, struggling to stay above .500, with multiple series ahead against division leaders and winning teams. 

Yet, here we are on May 10th, and the Yankees lead the AL East by one game with the best record in Major League Baseball. I guess I was worried for nothing, thanks to the twenty-five men on the Yankees roster who have contributed to the legendary winning run the team is currently on. Well, make that twenty-four, reliever A.J. Cole has just been along for the ride.

First place, how sweet it is…

It is amazing the last Yankees team to win 17 of 18 games were the 1953 Yankees which included a young Baby Bomber named Mickey Mantle. That’s pretty good company for the 2018 Yankees. I wasn’t alive then but I hear the 1950’s Yankees were pretty good.

The Yankees are spoiling second baseman Gleyber Torres. He’s quickly learning losing is unacceptable in the Bronx, having experienced only one loss in his first seventeen games. The Yankees are supposed to win every day, right?

Last year, it seemed like the Yankees were consistently losing the close games. Yet, this year, no deficit (it seems) has been too much unless we’re playing the lowly Baltimore Orioles. When Red Sox manager Alex Cora brought his closer, Craig Kimbrel, into last night’s game with five outs to go, it did not feel as intimidating as it had in years past. When Brett Gardner laced the triple to recapture the lead for the Yankees, it wasn’t a surprise to me. It felt like this team was going to find a way to victory. The two run homer by Aaron Judge off Kimbrel was icing on the cake. Loved seeing Astros closer Ken Giles blow the recent game against the Yankees, but watching Kimbrel lose was better even if he didn’t slug himself coming off the mound.    

This run won’t last forever (will it?) but I am certainly enjoying it while it lasts. Back in early April, I felt we’d have a good litmus test on the Yankees by May 10th. Well, I’d say they aced the exam and have proven they are among the very best in Major League Baseball. Win or lose today, the team’s accomplishments have far exceeded my expectations. 

Going into the Boston series, I had hoped the Yankees would win at least two of three so that they’d have at least a share of the AL East when the Red Sox headed for the airport. However, with two wins in the bag, let’s “Get Greedy” and go for the sweep! 

I am not going to get too high. It is only mid-May and there’s so much baseball yet to be played before anything is decided. Gleyber Torres, sadly, will one day learn it is indeed possible to lose two or three games (or…yikes!...more) in a row at the MLB level. I am not going to dismiss the Red Sox. They are a very good team that’s not going away. But then again, neither are we. It should be a great summer of baseball ahead. 

I did have to check out Boston newspapers today. The Boston Globe featured the Boston Celtics on their Sports page. The Celtics won their Eastern Conference semi-finals matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers and will advance to the Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. I suppose that’s big news in Boston but it is funny how the Red Sox became a secondary thought in the Globe.    

Credit to Giancarlo Stanton who had two homers in the first game of the Red Sox series and a two-run double yesterday. The best way to stop boos at Yankee Stadium is to show up in a big way against the dreaded Red Sox. Nice job, Giancarlo. This is what you were hired to do.

And for all of you who wanted to cut Neil Walker, ala Chris Carter style, I think he’s given his answer to you. On a team that has featured a different hero almost every night, Walker has been a key ingredient in many of the rallies. I think there’s a much better chance of Tyler Austin finding his way to Scranton, PA than Walker hitting the unemployment line. Sorry Tyler, it’s not you. Walker has simply appeared so graceful at first base even though he is out of position and now his bat is showing why he was an offensive force for the Pirates and Mets.  His veteran leadership meshes well with the team, and I am glad he’s here.

Hopefully CC Sabathia can close out the Red Sox this evening and send them out of town on a three-game losing streak. Since Rick Porcello had to move up his start by a day when Wednesday’s scheduled starter, David Price, returned to Boston for medical tests, Eduardo Rodriguez (3-0, 5.29 ERA) will take the mound later today for Boston.

The Yankees open a three-game set against the Oakland A’s on Friday night for their last home series before a road trip to Washington, Kansas City, and Dallas/Fort Worth. While it is cool Sonny Gray gets the start in the series opener against his former team, the player I will be watching most is former Yankee Dustin Fowler. The A’s called up Fowler yesterday.  I had wondered if he’d make his season debut and first official MLB at-bat against the Yankees, but a pinch-hit appearance yesterday against the Houston Astros gave Fowler the first Major League at-bat that eluded him last year in Chicago when he suffered the devastating knee injury. Pinch-hitting for Mark Canha in the 7th inning (with Houston’s Will Harris on the mound), Fowler lined out to second. So, he’ll come to Yankee Stadium seeking his first Major League hit. While I don’t want the A’s to win (obviously), I hope Fowler gets that hit and draws a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd. He deserves it. A good man who deserves the very best life has to offer. He will always be one of my favorite ex-Yankees.

Photo Credit:  Getty Images 

Gotta admit that it is really fun to be a Yankees fan right now. I know, it’s always fun, but the World seems like a better place when the Greedy Pinstripes are winning.

Go Yankees!   

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox 5/10

Good morning Yankees family and welcome back to the rivalry. Tonight, the latest chapter of the rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox concludes with another superb pitching matchup here in the Bronx. In the finale of the series the Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the mound and his miniscule ERA to square off with Eduardo Rodriguez for the Red Sox. Let’s get to it here in the Bronx.

Sabathia has been amazing this season and continued his dominance over American League hitters last Friday with six shutout innings. Over Sabathia’s last four starts the Yankees veteran left-hander has allowed just one earned run in 23.1 innings of work. Sabathia will look to remain dominant against a Boston team that he has beat in five straight starts dating back to September of 2016.

Rodriguez has been consistently inconsistent since coming off the disabled list just five starts ago. The man they call E-Rod has had a mixed bag of results since his return including three solid starts and wins mixed in with his last two starts where the Red Sox left-hander has allowed five earned runs in each of those starts.

The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on WPIX Channel 11, NESN and MLB Network. You can also follow along with the game on MLB TV, with the MLB At-Bat app and by tuning into the Yankees radio broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WFAN.

Enjoy the game, A-Rod is much better than E-Rod… even today and go Yankees!!

May 9, 2018 Game Recap by David Lippman

May 9, 2018
      I started listening to this game early, and when Masahiro Tanaka gave up the two-run home run to Mitch Moreland in the second, I said, “Time to get dinner, this will be a long night.” I was right. When I came back, the Yankees were ahead, though.
         The most annoying thing about a hitter being in a slump is that he is in a slump when he is most needed to produce. The Yankees have loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth on  a sloppy throw, a walk, and a hit batsman, bringing Gary Sanchez to the plate. Fortunately, he hit the ball. Unfortunately, it is merely a sacrifice fly, so the Yankees are up 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Sanchez must be walking back to the dugout, wondering if he’s succeeded (with the RBI) or failed (with no hit). But it wasn’t enough…the Yankees loaded the bases, but only gained one run. If you load the bases with nobody out, you should score runs. Not good enough.
       Tonight has been an interesting struggle for the pitchers. Rick Porcello has given up walks and doubles, while Masahiro Tanaka has given up two home runs. It’s a wild and woolly game, and I expect that it will be decided by the bullpens.
   Giancarlo Stanton has clearly declared war on the Boston Red Sox…he homered twice against them last night to both fields and doubled in two runs today.
    While the Yankees are struggling to hold their 5-3 lead, the other New York team is trying to hold onto its composure. Their manager, Mickey Callaway, submitted a lineup , and his players batted out of order. The Reds took advantage of this botch. Callaway should not feel too bad: Frank Robinson made the same blunder when he first managed the Indians, as did Joe Schultz in the year he managed the Seattle Pilots, their only year of existence. Robinson’s career suffered temporary embarrassment – Schultz never managed again. The Mets have lost eight of nine, and I have seen the Mets caps disappear when I walk around my city of Newark, replaced by Yankee caps.
       Xander Bogaerts led off the sixth inning with a double to center, which has Chad Green up in the Yankee bullpen. Tanaka has been laboring all game, and he will be gone soon.
      Bogaerts is the fifth native of Aruba to play in the majors, and he has a twin brother, who plays in the Cubs’ system. He speaks four languages: English, Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamento, a Portuguese-based Creole language that is one of the official languages of the Netherlands Antilles.  The Governor of Aruba, acting in his capacity as the “Fount of Honor” for Aruba, made Bogaerts a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau, which presumably comes with a coat of arms. The other Arubans in baseball are Sidney Ponson, Calvin Maduro, Gene Kingsale, and Radhames Dykhoff.
      All this, of course, I am writing while Mitch Moreland hit a grounder to move Bogaerts over to third, which drove Tanaka from the game, and brought in Chad Green to restore order. The Yankees have brought the corners in but not the shortstop and second. The first pitch to Nunes is a 95.5 mph fastball up that becomes a liner to center. Bogaerts trots home, there are two out, and the score is 5-4, Yankees. Once again, the Yankees are in a nail-biter.
     Green now faces third baseman Rafael Devers, batting .263. Doubtless both teams will send in a number of bullpen artists. Devers strikes out on a foul tip, flings his bat on the ground in disgust, and the top of the sixth is over.
      Jacob Ruppert once said that his idea of a fun Yankee game was one where the Yankees got a 12-run lead in the first inning and slowly pulled away. So do I, but they don’t happen very often. This is certainly not one of them, as the Sox have a pretty good bullpen.
      While I write this, I am entertaining one of our two pet birds, Kimmy the Conyure, who comes from Central America. Well, her species does. She’s captive-bred. Her favorite hobby is prowling around me while I type, and preening my skin for imperfections. Her second favorite is to bite my fingers when I try to type.
     Miguel Andujar swings at a Porcello 1-2 pitch for the first out of the bottom of the sixth. He isn’t hitting as many extra-base hits any more. Clearly the “Great American Pitchers Union” that Whitey Ford wrote about five decades ago has kicked in. According to Ford, pitchers on rival teams discuss their mutual enemies between games.
      Porcello, however, hasn’t got the word on Gleyber Torres. Nobody has figured him out yet, as he’s betting .321. Porcello runs up a 3-0 count on the likely Rookie of the Year and Torres raps a single to left field. Watching Torres has been fascinating. He seems completely at ease in the majors – unfazed by major league pitching, able to turn double plays with skill and speed, very calm in the spotlight of New York. Since his arrival, the Yankees have exploded with velocity and force. John Sterling says that he and Didi Gregorius will be the Yankee double-play combination for the next 10 years. I hope so.
       Torres’ single drives out Porcello, and in comes Jeremy Johnson to face the Yankees, and batters are hitting .307 off of him, not a good number for Mr. Johnson. He faces Gritty, Gutty, Brett Gardner, who has had two doubles to break a mammoth slump. Johnson is the only lefthander, so he may be here to face Gardner, and then Carson Smith to face the righthanded Judge and Stanton.
    Johnson also has a 6.00 ERA, which is not something any major league pitcher or manager wants to see, but an opposing hitter does. However, he quickly works a 1-2 count on Gardner. Both pitchers have gone 5.1 innings.
   Gardner fouls off two pitches, and I can hear that canned “Dayo” sound effect the Yankees use for foul balls. I have always been puzzled by that. The next pitch is in the dirt, 2-2. Why do the Yankees do this “dayo” for foul balls? Next is a breaking ball for a 3-2 count.
     Johnson takes his time for the 3-2 pitch and Gardner promptly grounds it to short for a 6-4 force – his speed prevents the double play. Not a very successful at-bat for Gardner. The Red Sox’ pitching coach comes out to convene with Johnson. John Sterling theorizes that Johnson is being told to pitch around Judge and face the slumping Didi. Furthermore, Judge might swing at a pitch off the plate and end the inning. Another chapter from Sterling’s book “Inside Baseball Strategy” is followed by a Sterling pitch for the Hebrew home.
     Johnson works a 1-1 count to Judge after the spot, and the theory works – Judge swings and misses, 1-2. Judge hits the next pitch to right center to end the inning. Sterling should write that book.
     Kimmy the Conyure only says four things: her name, “Bad Bird,” “Hah, hah, hah,” and “B, B, B,” a reference to our dog Bodie, who we often call by saying, “B,B,B.” She screeches “Bad Bird” in my ear as Brock Holt pinch-hits for the catcher to open up the top of the seventh inning. Holt is fresh off the Disabled List. He is 14-43 off of righties, but he pops up the third pitch to Didi for one out, which seems a bit of a waste.
  Up comes Mookie Betts, who is a menace to all things round and spherical. Green quickly works a 1-2 count, then the usual slider in the dirt on 1-2. Chad wants to make his living off the hungriness of Betts, but it’s ball two. Seconds later, it’s ball three, and then Betts drives a screeching liner (they all “screech”) and Gardner, as usual, hustles over and snags it before it hits the ground for the second out.
      Here’s Benintendi, who hits well in Yankee Stadium, has homered earlier, and hits the Yankees extremely well. I wonder which is more relevant – his love of hitting in Yankee Stadium or his love of hitting the Yankees. If it’s the former, perhaps the Yankees should acquire him someday.
    Green works the count to 2-2 with efficiency, and Benintendi leans away from a 95-mph fastball for ball three. Green’s next pitch is low, ball four. The boos roll out. I expect that Green is showing respect for a hitter who uses Yankee Stadium as a dartboard.
       Henley Ramirez is the go-ahead run, and the outfield plays deep. He’s batting .288, with three home runs. Kimmy stands between my hands, preening her own feathers. Green deals the 1-1, at 95 mph, down the middle of the plate. It goes deep to left, into the second deck, and the Red Sox now lead, 6-5. Tanaka and Porcello are off the hook, Chad Green has a blown save, Jeremy Johnson a chance to win, and the Sox have had their third home run of the night. Walks are always fatal. Green puts his hands on his hips and closes his eyes. The fans are roaring – there must be a lot of Red Sox fans in attendance. The homer went 431 feet.
  This inning has become disastrous, and J.D. Martinez comes to bat. Green goes 0-2 and then fires the obligatory 0-2 slider away for a ball, and another one after that. Martinez hits the next pitch into center field for a single, and Larry Rothschild bounces out of the dugout to dispense wisdom to Green. Usually, that consists of “Throw strikes, dammit.”

           Rothschild departs, Bogaerts comes to bat for the honor of Aruba, and Green goes back to work. Chasen Shreve starts warming up in the bullpen. Green goes 1-2 on Bogaerts. Then he strikes out Bogaerts to end the inning, but two batters too late. Everyone rises to honor a veteran and sing “God Bless America” along with the tape of Kate Smith. I actually like Ronan Tynan’s rendition better, which includes the rarely-sung first stanza, but he made an anti-Semitic crack in 2009, and that ended his singing career in a city that has more Jews than all of Israel.
        The Yankees now have nine outs to regain the lead and win the game. Brock Holt departs, and Christian Vazquez comes  on to catch. Johnson is still in, to face the lefthanded Gregorius, and Carson Smith will then face Stanton and the other right-handers. They only need to survive two innings to get to Craig Kimbrel, their ace closer.
      Gregorius hits a 1-0 pitch to left for the first out, and Alex Cora emerges – the pitcher with the 6.00 ERA and .300 opposing batting average has done his job. Carson Smith will come on. Kimmy flies up from my computer keyboard and onto the row of DVDs above for a moment, looks at me quizzically, then flies down again, to preen my hands.
  Smth has a 4.09 ERA, and he is facing Giancarlo Stanton, who has been teeing off against the Red Sox. Smith has given up 11 hits in 14 innings and hitters are batting .250 against him.  So this should be an interesting battle.
   The first pitch is low and inside for ball one. Stanton hits a grounder to short and Bogaerts disposes of Stanton in short order for two outs. Sanchez is next.
   Sterling does the power report from Indian Point Power Plant, which is glowing with pride. Smith works a 2-1 count to Sanchez. Chasen Shreve and David Robertson warm up in the bullpen. Sanchez hits a liner to left for a base hit. Applause all around. Aaron Hicks comes up. He has walked and sacrificed flied, and grounded into a fielder’s choice.
     Hicks has the advantage of being a switch-hitter, but falls behind 1-2. The next pitch is low for 2-2. Smith is slowing down the pace of the game because of the tightness and the next pitch is ball three. But the next pitch is strike three called, and that ends the seventh.
    Lefty Chasen Shreve faces lefty Mitch Moreland to lead off the eighth inning and is quickly 1-1. Jonathan Holder starts getting loose for the Yankees. Shreve goes up to 3-2. He doesn’t challenge hitters – he throws too many pitches. And sure enough, he walks Moreland. Shreve,, as Peter Shaffer’s Emperor Josef says of Mozart in “Amadeus,” is offering “too many notes.”
     Next is Eduardo Nunes, who hurt the Yankees as a Yankee with questionable defense and is now hurting them as a Red Sock with powerful offense. Leadoff walks are fatal, and this one is, too. Nunez rips a line drive down the left field line that puts runners on second and third with nobody out. The Yankees bring the infield up, Rafael Devers comes to bat, and Shreve is in serious trouble.
      I’ve watched Shreve pitch, and I can see him on the radio, a skinny kid with a skinny face. When he had trouble against Cleveland and came out of the game, he stood in the dugout, chewing on a paper cup, held in place by his teeth.
    He works 0-2 on Devers, then the usual outside pitch to make it 1-2. It is very difficult to get out of runners-on-second-and-third-nobody-out situations, but Shreve gets Devers on a swinging strikeout.
    That’s enough for Aaron Boone, who summons Jonathan Holder from the pen. Suzyn Waldman tells us this call is sponsored by “Kars-for-Kids,” which means we’ll hear that ghastly commercial and even more ghastly song. Holder’s ERA is a whopping 6.23, so it’s hard to imagine things getting worse. Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren are both still on the disabled list, sadly.
When Shreve reaches the dugout, he hurls his glove and other kit onto the bench in fury and disgust. Despite the money, or perhaps because of it, today’s ballplayer is as ultra-competitive as those 100 years ago.
   Christian Vazquez comes up, batting .196. A ground ball to the right side or a fly ball scores the run. Next is Mookie Betts. Holder has to pitch to Vazquez or face destruction at the hands of Betts. Holder works the count to 2-2, and strikes him out swinging with the slider.
    With first base open, Boone orders the intentional walk to Betts rather than face him, bringing up Benintendi, who is no improvement from the Yankee point of view. The first pitch to him is a strike. Benintendi has seen Holder twice. Both players are therefore facing scouting reports. The next pitch is a ball. Another ball follows. The “Let’s Go Yankees” chants are replaced by solid booing. Benintendi hits a one-hop liner to Didi, who fires it to first to end the inning. The Red Sox rally is stalled. The Yankees have another chance in the eighth. I hope Shreve feels better.
       Neil Walker and his .191 average leads off the eighth inning against Matt Barnes and his 2.51 ERA. Kimbrel starts warming up to get the two-inning save, if necessary. Barnes starts off with two balls, but then evens the count. Walker lines a ball all the way to the wall, and Walker gets another double. In spite of his .191 batting average, he has been getting timely hits. The Yankees have the tying run on second and nobody out. Up comes Andujar, two of the bottom-of-the-order guys who are making the Yankees go. 47, 000 fans start screaming their heads off as Barnes goes 2-0 on Andujar.
   The Red Sox do not play Andujar to bunt. He grounds the ball to second and moves Walker to third – it’s a sacrifice without the credit. Andujar gets patted on the back as he goes to the dugout. The Sox’ pitching coach goes to the mound for another Geneva Convention – this one to discuss whether or not to intentionally walk Torres and face Gardner. They decide to pitch to Gleyber and move the infield in. The first pitch is high, 1-0. The next pitch is a bouncer in the dirt, 2-0. The fans are yelling “Let’s Go Yankees.” The infielders have their feet on the infield grass. The third pitch is low, 3-0. It’s pretty obvious that the Sox are pitching around Torres, theorizing that Gardner is an easier out on a double play. Torres takes the next pitch for a strike. The last pitch is a breaking ball for ball four. Torres trots down to first. Craig Kimbrel jogs in from the bullpen for a five-out save, sponsored by “Kars for Kids.”
    And that horrible song immediately starts playing. Kimmy screeches at the song in response. She doesn’t like it, either.
     Kimbrel has nine saves, 21 strikeouts, and a 1.23 ERA in 14.2 innings. Gardner comes up, and the first pitch is a ball. So is the second, which puzzles me…Kimbrel is better than that. Kimbrel’s third pitch is low, 3-0. He hasn’t come close to the strike zone. On deck is Judge. Sterling muses on whether Gardner should swing on the 3-0 pitch. Aroldis Chapman is up in the pen for the ninth.
       The next pitch is a 97-mph strike. The 3-1 pitch does not arrive…Kimbrel throws to first to hold Torres. Kimbrel faces Gardner again. Gardner grounds it foul for a full count. Vazquez looks to the signs from the dugout. I am reminded of how John J. McGraw, managing the Giants in the 1920s, personally called every pitch. My computer tells me that the Giants have lost 11-3. They have run out of gas.
   Gardner fouls back the next pitch. Clearly GGBG will try to make this a quality at-bat. Kimbrel is relying on his patented fastball, which is fair. Gardner hits a ball to deep left center, off the left-center field wall, 399 feet away, over Betts’ head…..Walker goes home easily, and Torres slides home head first, ahead of the throw. Gardner steams into third base. The Yankees lead, 7-6.
    Judge comes up next and fouls Kimbrel’s first pitch. Craig is still relying on fastballs. A good major league hitter can hit a fastball…it’s a matter of timing. If you can’t time the incoming heater, you lose. Judge stands in, and the count goes to 1-2. Everyone in Yankee Stadium is on their feet.
   Judge hits a ball to deep center….the ball goes into Monument Park. Gardner trots home. Judge thunders steadily around the bases in his typical fashion. The fans are roaring. The score is now 9-6. The Red Sox’ closer has not blown the save, though…the go-ahead runs are on his predecessor’s tally sheet. But for a certainty, Kimbrel has poured gasoline on the fire.
    The bases are empty now, with one out, and Kimbrel regains his composure to strike out the slumping Gregorius. The home run is Aaron Judge’s ninth of the year. It’s his 65th as a Yankee, putting him in a tie for 58th place on the team’s all-time list with Scott Brosius.
   Kimbrel strikes out Stanton to end the eighth inning, but the mystery is why he was left in after Judge’s shot…he may not be available tomorrow. The Yankees have blasted the Red Sox’ best relief pitchers for four runs in the inning, with a double, a triple, and a mammoth home run. They go to the ninth with a 9-6 lead.
The Sox will send up Ramirez, Martinez, and Bogaerts in the ninth. None of the three are slouches, and Chapman is coming on in a save situation, but with a three-run lead. This will be a test of talent and timing at its very best. Chapman can fire his heat fairly accurately at 100 mph or more. The Red Sox have proven hitters.
Chapman and his 1.69 ERA come on. Chapman wears 54, and I wonder why that number hasn’t been retired for Rich Gossage. Chapman quickly goes 0-2 on Ramirez. Ramirez fouls back the next pitch. Sterling plugs Workmen’s Circle Quality Care, which sponsors save opportunities, whatever that means.
  Chapman’s 0-2 fans Ramirez, swinging. 102 mph. Ramirez could not time that. J.D. Martinez comes up next. Sterling points out that tonight’s overlooked hero is Jonathan Holder, who slammed the Red Sox down in the eighth when they had runners on second and third and one out. He will get the win, deservedly so.
  Chapman works the count on Martinez to 1-2. Just outside, 2-2. Martinez fouls back the next pitch. The Sox refuse to go out…they are determined. Martinez grounds it to first and past Walker. This is doubly annoying, because it puts a Sox runner on and can jar the Yankees’ concentration. The Sox now have the tying run on deck, if Bogaerts gets on. This game is getting too dramatic.
  Chapman gets the count on Bogaerts to 1-2, and takes his time, like most closers. Mariano was just as deliberate and utterly emotionless. I always wanted to be like him. I never could.
    On deck is Mitch Moreland, who homered earlier. Chapman waits as Bogaerts digs back in. Fouled back. I expect the at-bats now will become epic duels. I’ve seen many. Another foul ball, grounded off first. Chapman delivers a slider, and Bogaerts swings ahead of the pitch. Two out. Chapman worked on his slider and change all through spring training, to overcome his deficiencies of last year, and they are paying off.
  Mitch Moreland steps in, with two out. Gary Sanchez goes to the mound to discuss their next move, and umpire Cory Blazer breaks up the chat. It’s interesting how quickly those conventions go. I often wonder what they say.
The first pitch is a strike. The second pitch is way inside and Moreland has to move out of the way. The infield plays back – if Martinez steals second, it’s irrelevant. Moreland fouls off the pitch as Martinez goes, making it 1-2. The Yankees are one pitch away. That last pitch is the longest. I have a book about the 1986 post-season that points out that very subject.
Chapman delivers the 1-2 and strikes out Moreland swinging. The Yankees have gone into first place. They have also taken the series, and come back from being down 2-1 and 6-5 to win the game.
  Suzyn Waldman grabs her star of the game, which is Aaron Judge, for his diving catch and two-run home run. Judge promptly gives credit to Brett Gardner, who got him “fired up.” Humble and modest. It works for Judge. It sounds believable and real. Judge calls Gardner “the leader of the team.” He also calls Walker “incredible for what he’s done for us all year.” And Judge honors Holder. “He went in strong and tough and had command of his pitches.” On being in first: “Gotta keep it rolling. Tomorrow is a new day.” In a few years, Judge will be the Yankee captain.
The numbers are in: a loss for Barnes, a blown save for Kimbrel, a blown save for Green, a win for Holder (1-1), and Chapman’s ninth save.
  Two games against the Red Sox are endless drama, but they do end. This game is over, the Yankees have won, and are now in sole possession of first place and the best record in baseball. But the two teams face off again tomorrow, and the night could end with the teams tied again. We have to continue the fight again.
   The Yankees are sometimes called the “Evil Empire,” and I am reminded of a line by the evil Duke of Gloucester after he has been crowned king in “Richard III,” by William Shakespeare.
  Richard says to his aide, the Duke of Buckingham, “Thus high, by your advice and assistance, is King Richard seated. But shall we wear these glories for a day? Or shall they last and we rejoice in them?”
But that might go over the heads of many baseball fans. Maybe Hall of Famer Stanley Coveleski, who won 297 games in his career said it better, in “The Glory of Their Times” 50 years ago: “The pressure never lets up. Doesn’t matter what you did yesterday. That’s history. It’s tomorrow that counts. So you worry all the time. It never ends. Lord, baseball is a worrying thing.”