I’m sick over Judge’s oblique injury. Those can last forever and given all the other players who’ve gone lame, the Yankees are in real trouble. Judge was just coming into his own this season with yet another homer in yesterday’s game against KC. He’s been swinging the bat really well, so one swing and suddenly he’s out? What is it with these guys? Do we have to smother them in bubble wrap? I’m upset and I’m mad!
It’s not that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the Yankees’ 8-0 beatdown of the Red Sox last night, but watching Sale look utterly lost on the mound was puzzling. He’s 0-4 this season and the Sox’s “ace” hasn’t been very ace-like. He says he doesn’t know why. Usually, players are hurt when they suddenly forget how to pitch and don’t want to say anything or they get paid a ton of money and start feeling the pressure of their big contracts. But Sale always seemed immune to all that. Oh well. Not my problem.
On our end, James Paxton pitched like….the former Chris Sale! He was brilliant and whatever nerves he felt going into his first Yankees-Red Sox contest must have settled down. No longer tipping his pitches, he owned their offense. I’d love to see him maintain that kind of dominance throughout the season.
The hitters feasted on Red Sox pitching, even guys like Tauchman, and it was fun.
I was sorry to read about Greg Bird yesterday and his latest malady, but as talented as he is, he’s just too injury prone and I’m afraid we’ve seen the last of him in pinstripes.
Also sad – and this has nothing to do with baseball – my local hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, had the best record in hockey by far this season and yet they were swept last night in the playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets, whoever they are. I honestly don’t know how these things happen but I’ve seen it time and time again: teams suddenly go cold. Weird.
I don’t know which aspect of the Yankees’ failure at Minute Maid Park offends me more: Paxton’s ineffectiveness (with Seattle he knew how to pitch against the Astros, so how come he didn’t have his “good stuff” last night?), Kahnle’s ineffectiveness (has he ever been good?), Gleybar’s error (there have been way too much errors by this team) or the fact that the offense mounted a comeback that fell short.
In any case, the series was an abysmal failure. I would be less bummed if it were simply about missing our injured players. But Paxton was supposed to be a mainstay of our starting rotation and he’s been disappointing so far. I hope he’s not yet another talented guy who can’t pitch in pinstripes.
Also, I don’t know why Boone keeps Gardner batting first in the lineup. Does he really get on base that often? Or would Gleybar be a better choice?
Happ will be on the mound tonight against the White Sox. Boone said the Yankees are “turning a corner” and that they need to “tighten things up.” We’ll see. My mantra is: “It’s still early. It’s still early. It’s still early.”
Yesterday was a Janer, as we call it when an offense hits 10 or more runs in a victory. The score against the O’s was 15-3 – my kind of game. No stress. No nonsense. Just homer after homer. Clint Frazier is fulfilling the mantra of “guys will step up with all the injuries.” And Gary Sanchez is making up for all his defensive woes (except I still get mad when he makes errors). The boys needed a game like yesterday’s to at least boost their confidence after a dismal first week or so. Torres, in particular, has to feel good about the way he’s contributing. And all the offense has to alleviate some of the pressure on Judge to be the strong man.
Tonight’s matchup of Tanaka vs. Verlander should be a good one.
I’m back and so was Judge yesterday!
I turned on the TV (we get ESPN here in FL but no YES, except on MLB.TV) and watched the pre-game ceremonies, and my heart skipped as if there was a big present under my tree at Christmas. There’s nothing better than Yankee Stadium on a sunny Opening Day — especially when they win in decisive fashion.
The Orioles aren’t the O’s of old — I didn’t recognize a single player except Chris Davis — but I focused on our guys. It was fun to see Mo throwing a cutter for the first pitch, making it look as effortless as ever. And when Tanaka took the mound I was full of confidence. He may not be our official ace, but he sure looks like it at times. And then came the Judge-Stanton-Voit combo and BOOM. I was glad Bird homered later in the game, and I think having both Voit and Bird in the lineup is brilliant. But one of these days, Boone will have to choose between them for first base — like when he wants to DH other players — and it’ll be a sad day.
Meanwhile, the only negative for me is using Gardner to lead off. I know Hicks will probably lead off when he’s back, but Gardner isn’t high-percentage enough in terms of getting on base. I’d almost rather see Gleybar kick things off.
But mostly I wanted to get back on this blog, greet anyone who’s reading and cheer the Yankees on. The blog at this point in its long life doesn’t have enough readers to keep it going, so I doubt it’ll go back to being a regular diary of Yankee doings. Let’s see how it goes.
“I was out,” Gleyber Torres said, flatly, and the replay confirmed what he knew. Steve Pearce kept his foot on first base. A furious comeback fell short in the bottom of the ninth, Craig Kimbrel held on, and the Yankees’ season expired with a 4-3 loss in Game 4 of the American League division series. That makes nine seasons in a row without a championship, and another Red Sox celebration on Yankee ground.
“That’s the one team that you don’t want to lose to,” said Brett Gardner, the veteran Yankees outfielder. “We hate losing to them, and we love beating them. They just had our number this year. They have a great team, and we just weren’t able to do enough to overcome them.”
Until the frantic finish, the standout moment of the rivals’ first postseason duel in 14 years was more comedic than dramatic: the Yankees’ backup catcher, Austin Romine, allowing a home run to Boston’s Brock Holt on Monday for the first cycle in playoff history. As a lingering image from this series, it will not inspire screenplays.
The Red Sox are onto bigger things — an A.L. Championship Series date with the Houston Astros, the defending World Series champions, starting Saturday night at Fenway Park. The Yankees will scatter for the winter, with 100 regular-season victories to keep them warm. But how much did they really improve?
This lopsided series aside, the rivalry is hot again because the Yankees so clearly measure themselves against the Red Sox, even more than in the recent past. The rest of the division cannot keep up. The Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles are rebuilding, and the Tampa Bay Rays are plucky and dangerous, but not a superpower.
The Red Sox are. They backed up their franchise-record 108 victories by pushing aside the Yankees and exposing the limits of their vaunted offense. The Yankees led the majors in homers last season, added Giancarlo Stanton in a trade, and promptly set a major league record for homers this season, with 267.
But just like the team whose record they broke — the 1997 Seattle Mariners — the Yankees went bust in the division series, confounded by a solid pitching staff. Except for their Game 2 outburst against a rattled David Price, the Yankees were punchless when it mattered most.
“One of their goals in this series was to keep us in the ballpark, and then coming in here, where we’re so good at that, they were able to do it,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said. “Credit to them for being able to hold us down.”
It was the first time since early April that the Yankees had failed to hit a homer in consecutive games at Yankee Stadium.
“We have to keep them in the ballpark — that’s the most important thing,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora had said before the series, and he was right.
The Yankees had the pitching talent to make a deep postseason run, despite a poor showing in this series. But they hit only .249 this season, the worst average among baseball’s 10 playoff teams. If they did not hit a homer, they often struggled for hits. Red Sox starters Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello combined for 12 innings at Yankee Stadium, allowing only nine hits and two runs to thwart the Yankees’ plan.
“Obviously our goal in this series was to try to get into that bullpen as soon as possible,” Gardner said. “When a guy like Porcello and Eovaldi gives them that length, it’s kind of hard to do.”
The Yankees were 4 for 26 with runners in scoring position in the series and hit .214 overall. Batting average was an overrated statistic for years, mainly because it obscured other factors crucial to run production. Now, perhaps, it is undervalued.
Since the A.L. adopted the designated hitter in 1973, the Yankees have hit for a lower batting average than .249 just three times: in 1990, when they lost 95 games, and in 2013 and 2014, when they missed the playoffs.
Each of the top seven teams in batting average this season won at least 90 games. It sounds so simple to say, but hits remain really important — and this is where the Yankees and the Red Sox wildly diverged. Last season, the Yankees had two more hits than the Red Sox. This season, the Red Sox had 135 more hits than the Yankees.
The Yankees’ pitchers trailed only Houston’s staff in strikeouts, but their hitters whiffed too often, a trait that good pitchers often exploit in October. The Yankees ranked ninth in the major leagues in strikeouts by their hitters, while the Red Sox’ offense ranked 26th. And Boston had almost twice as many stolen bases as the Yankees — 125 to 63.
“Last night I had one home run, but we really scored 16 runs without hitting the long ball,” Holt said, drenched in bubbly in the joyous Red Sox clubhouse on Tuesday night. “But we’ve got guys that can leave at any time, and we’ve got guys that run the bases. We can beat you in a lot of ways. It’s a fun offense to be a part of.”
It sure seems that way. The Red Sox hit .268 this season — nine points better than the next-closest team in the majors, the Cleveland Indians. Boston finished ninth in homers but scored the most runs.
“If you’re a starter facing their lineup, you face them three times without giving up a run, you’ve done something amazing, because they usually chip away and score runs on you,” Yankees reliever David Robertson said. “They grind out at-bats, foul balls off, get on second base and just cause havoc. If you’re not on top of your game, they can put up the runs on you real quick.”
The Yankees had a fine season, to be sure. Miguel Andujar and Torres confirmed the Yankees’ hopes for them; they are, indeed, high-impact young stars. In Boone’s first season as manager, the team improved by nine wins.
Trouble is, in Cora’s first season as manager, the Red Sox improved by 15 wins. Their high-impact young stars — Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts — are further along in their primes, and all under team control for next season, too.
And while Stanton led the Yankees in home runs (38), runs batted in (100) and games played (158) while hitting .266, Boston’s new slugger, J.D. Martinez, was better. He led the majors in total bases and nearly won the Triple Crown.
“We can hit the ball out of the ballpark, which is better than it was last year, power-wise,” said Dave Dombrowski, Boston’s president of baseball operations. “But we make contact, guys can run the bases, we’re athletic, and we’re a good defensive club. I think it’s important to go that way.”
The Red Sox have their flaws. The Yankees built a deeper bullpen, even though Boone seemed strangely hesitant to use it early in Games 3 and 4. Cora used Porcello in relief in Game 1 and Chris Sale in relief in Game 4; he might be able to survive the postseason that way, but it will not be easy.
In any case, his team — like the Astros — has earned the chance. The Red Sox ran away with the division, even with Sale limited down the stretch. Dombrowski fortified the roster with trades for Pearce, starter Nathan Eovaldi and second baseman Ian Kinsler. His counterpart with the Astros, Jeff Luhnow, added an ace last winter in Gerrit Cole, and power relievers this summer in Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna.
The Yankees’ general manager, Brian Cashman, made a series of pivotal in-season moves, trading for J.A. Happ, Zach Britton and Luke Voit. But the foundation of his team was simply not strong enough to find more than one way to beat the Red Sox.
Just as they did in the regular season, the Yankees had more strikeouts than hits in the series. Their only win came on the strength of three towering homers in Game 2 at Fenway. The Red Sox could not have been surprised. If they kept the Yankees in the ballpark, they knew they could win — and that is just what they did.
Question: How many seconds will it take for Red Sox fans to chant “Yankees suck?”
I don’t like Fenway Park. It’s cramped and weird. And whenever the Yankees play there, I have flashbacks to the tragic losses instead of the triumphant wins. I need an attitude adjustment.
For this important series – still excited that we made it through the WC to the ALDS – I vow to think positively, to remind myself of our power hitters and our superlative (when “on”) starters and relievers, to remember that Chris Sale hasn’t been lights out lately and might be more vulnerable than in past outings, to note that Boston’s bullpen isn’t as good as ours, to tell myself that while the Sox have had a layoff waiting for the WC to be resolved, they might be a bit rusty and the Yankees are on a roll with true momentum. And finally I will tell myself that Happ has a great record against the Sox.
I will also breathe deeply throughout the day to prepare myself for tonight’s game. I fervently wish it wasn’t TBS that was televising the series – they’re really, profoundly awful – but I’m grateful the Yankees are in it.
Let’s get this!
Done! The Yankees secured the WC home field advantage last night in the opener at Fenway. Whew. I was worried about them having to fly out to Oakland, but now they’ll play the winner-take-all contest on Wednesday night at 8pm ET in the comfy confines of the Stadium with its even comfier short porch in right field.
What’s more, they hit enough homers last night – including Judge’s first after his too-long stint on the DL – to set a record for homers in a single season. Hoorah. Hitting them against the Red Sox last night only made the Janer – yes, they scored 11 runs – that much sweeter.
But now the nerves set in. Wednesday night will be a pressure cooker. Who will pitch? I vote for Happ to start. Severino is my second choice and Tanaka is third. I think Happ has been the most consistent of the three, last night’s grand slam to Pearce notwithstanding. I just hope the relievers will bring their A game.
I’m not happy that Sanchez and his tendency to allow passed balls will be catching, but I guess if he brings a hot bat it’ll be OK. Didi seemed to manage his wrist brace well enough last night, but between now and Wednesday everybody needs to stay healthy. Boone will rest the starting players and use subs this weekend, which will help. But personally, if somebody’s hot I think he should keep playing to maintain the momentum and not get rusty.
So, another season, another postseason. I just hope it lasts more than one game :)
Didi’s headfirst slide into home plate won Saturday’s game against the O’s. It also cost us his services, most likely for the WC game. When I read that the Yanks not only lost the finale of that series yesterday but also announced that Didi’s slide caused torn cartilage in his right wrist, all I could say was, “A kick in the gut.” That’s what it felt like. He’s the lynchpin of the infield and in the lineup. Sure, Gleybar can move to shortstop or Hechavaria can start there, but there’s no replacing Didi at such an important time. Boone said they’re giving him a cortisone shot to see if it alleviates the pain/inflammation enough that he can still play. I’m doubtful. Torn cartilage hurts and usually requires surgery.
But onward. I’ll be at the Trop tonight for the start of the series against the pesky Rays. Obviously, I’d like to see a win.
The Yankees tried to sweep the Red Sox and avoid letting them clinch the AL East on our soil, but they couldn’t manage a win in the finale. So be it.
There were some positives to take away from this series.
Severino pitched well – better than he has in ages. Happ continues to dominate the Red Sox and provide an overall consistent arm in the rotation. Luke Voit continues to mash and infuse the team with tons of energy, making Bird a distant memory. Andujar may have his shortcomings on defense, but he can hit, really hit. Stanton’s grand slam last night broke him out of his slump. And, of course, Judge is back in the lineup; he may not have found his stroke yet, but he’s getting there.
On the negative side, Gary Sanchez. Period. Please can we trade him? What good is he to this team? If he were hitting a ton, I’d say OK, maybe he can DH now and then. But he hasn’t hit for real, not in a long time. And his defense is atrocious. As Kaat said last night on MLB Network, pitchers don’t want to throw to a guy they can’t trust and Boone would be well served to use Romine in a one-game playoff. Another negative? Tanaka. I would not use him to start a one-game playoff at Yankee Stadium. He gives up too many early runs. The shaky bullpen. Honestly, every time Betances takes the mound, I worry. Ditto: Chad Green. Chapman is back but let’s see how he does after the layoff. And Sheffield may or may not play a role in important situations.
With the A’s freaky 21-run win over the Angels yesterday, we’re only a whisper in front of them in the WC standings. This thing could go down to the wire.
I’ll be at the Monday night game when they open the series against the Rays – Section 1, Row Q at the Trop. I’ll try to will them to victory, but this race is on them.
That’s all that separates the Yankees from the Oakland A’s right now in the Wild Card race. Why? Because the Yankees dropped the last two games to the Twins – the Twins! – and nearly got no-hit in the process.
This situation is making me very nervous. Oakland always has a way of getting hot late in the season and the Yankees? I honestly don’t know what to say. Severino pitched well last night, so that was a positive. But to use Sonny Gray as a spot starter the night before and Tommy Kaenle in relief were disastrous decisions.
The return of Gary Sanchez hasn’t exactly turned the team’s offense around, and at this point the absence of Judge, while it looms large, isn’t the reason for the team’s inability to win games. The problem is a combination of flaws. They’re just not playing well and it’s the wrong time for a collapse.
What’s especially disheartening is that they began the season so gloriously, giving us so much hope, providing such great entertainment. It was fun to win games, remember?
I think Boone needs to find a way to rally the troops….before it’s too late.
OK, this has gotten scary. Severino had another meltdown last night in Oakland as the Yankees dropped the series finale. Clearly, he is not the same pitcher who won all those games and was considered our ace. Is he hurt? Is it late-season fatigue? Is it mechanical?
What’s scary is that it doesn’t matter what the reason is, because in a one-game Wild Card winner-take-all playoff game, he is NOT the guy to pitch. So the Yankees are left to figure out which starter would pitch. Right now, I’d consider Happ of all people our ace. Tanaka gives up too many home run balls and CC is inconsistent and only gives us a few innings and Lynn has been pretty awful overall.
The point is I would have thought Larry Rothschild and the Yankees brain trust would have figured out what’s ailing Severino by now, and they haven’t. Very, very disappointing.
P.S. Gary Sanchez is still a terrible catcher. No change there.
I’m happy about this. As I commented to Leo yesterday, Judge isn’t coming back this season (my guess), and the Yankees knew it. So they acquired OF Andrew McCutchen from the Giants and while he isn’t 20 anymore, he’s still a three-time All Star with pop in his bat — and said to be one of the really good guys in baseball. If the trade (for minor leaguers) comes through by the end of the day, he’ll be eligible for the postseason roster.
After last night’s debacle against Detroit, it would be nice to get a new closer too, since Chapman may or may not be back. Betances is NOT a closer!
It seems the Yankees have a new Shelley Duncan, a kid who came up to provide reinforcements late in the season and not only hits home runs but is built like a linebacker and exudes a joyfulness around his new teammates that’s infectious. Luke Voit was a pickup from the Cardinals, and now he’s made it to the Bronx. Well, his first stop was Camden Yards against the O’s, a series that resulted in a delicious sweep. With Bird just not delivering at first base on a consistent basis, it’s nice to have Voit as an option there. (Poor Bird. He has such a sweet swing, but alas he just can’t get on a roll.)
With the core group of hitters sidelined (Judge, Didi, Sanchez), it’s been guys like Walker, Andujar, Hicks, Torres and Romine who’ve stepped up to keep the Yankees closer to the Red Sox than I ever imagined. Six games! That’s all that separate the two teams at the moment.
Last night’s ESPN finale against the hapless O’s was the perfect time for Severino to show his old flashes of brilliance. And Happ has made me nothing but happy.
But optimism aside, if we’re really going to contend for the division or even for home advantage in the Wild Card spot, we need Chapman back. We need Judge. We need the Sanchez who gets hits and doesn’t make pitchers nervous with his tendency to allow passed balls. We need Didi in the lineup and at short.
And we need to keep beating the teams we should beat, the way we did with the O’s. Next up are the White Sox, a team we should thrash. Let’s hope.
I haven’t posted in a while — under the weather combined with summer doldrums — but I was heartened by the sweep of Toronto and last night’s extra-inning win over the Marlins.
What I’m troubled by is the multitude of injuries the Yankees are sustaining. I know it’s the time of year when players get banged up, but now Chapman’s knee pain was bad enough for him to take himself out of the game and seek an MRI; Robertson’s shoulder is aching; Didi hurt his foot on a weird play; Judge is no closer to testing his fractured wrist by swinging a bat; and Sanchez is still out. CC is said to be returning soon, but I’m sure there are other casualties I’m forgetting. How this team can limp through to the end of the season like this beats me. I just want everybody healthy so we can chalk up wins against teams like the Marlins, let alone our division rivals.
These are trying times for Boone and the organization. I hope they can weather them.
A four-game sweep is especially sweet, but honestly the White Sox aren’t a very good team and if the Yankees hadn’t swept them I would have been really pissed off. (Why, oh why, couldn’t we have swept the Red Sox. Sob.)
Lance Lynn was a nice surprise, taking Sonny Gray’s spot in the rotation, and Gray did a nice job in relief filling in for Lynn.
Severino, while not dominant, pitched much better in his start last night. None of the pitchers has gone particularly deep into games, but that’s what bullpens are for. Which brings me to Chapman. I hope he enjoyed his night off last night, because we’ll need him down the stretch. He looked wretched the other night.
Good for Stanton on his first grand slam as a Yankee. And Andujar, despite his fielding woes, has hit well.
Texas is another team the Yanks should beat. We’ll see……
The Yankees were clinging to life as division hopefuls even before they went to Boston for the crucial four-game series. But now? After a four-game sweep, during which they lost in a zillion different excruciating ways, those hopes were flushed down the drain. It’s sad, because they began the season so powerfully and were so entertaining to watch. Now? They’ll be lucky if they can secure a Wild Card spot.
Would Judge have made a difference? Can one guy decide the fortunes of an entire team? Certainly, losing him was a blow, but honestly? The team was vulnerable on many levels. Sonny Gray was a problem. CC ran out of gas, as he often does at this time of the season. Severino slumped. Tanaka stepped up, but then J.A. Happ came down with hoof and mouth – I mean, hand, foot and mouth – disease, for God’s sake.
And then there was the defense. The Yankees have been playing sloppy, sloppy baseball. Chalk it up to young kids still learning the fundamentals at the big-league level or assign blame to the coaching staff for not being tough enough in pre-game drills. It doesn’t matter at this point.
The offense? It died in Boston. Just disappeared. Yes, Judge wasn’t in the lineup, but where were the others? AWOL.
And finally, there’s Aaron Boone in his rookie season as a manager. Would someone more seasoned have rallied this team, cracked the whip, fired them up to play better? His post-game comments never inspired much confidence in me. But then I wasn’t a fan of Cashman picking him in the first place.
So here we are. Does this team have anything left? Can they go on a tear and reel off a bunch of wins as teams do when they’re on a hot streak? Or are they done? The next month will tell us everything, but one thing we already know: the Red Sox outplayed and out-classed the Yankees in every way possible this weekend. And it pains me to say it.