Wednesday, August 23, 2017

August, Again, Belongs To Yankees' Gary Sanchez

While we have all been trying to solve the Aaron Judge Dilemma, another player has quietly put together an August for the ages.

Well, maybe it's just an August like his last one. Although, that one was for the ages, wasn't it? Gary Sanchez reminded us all last night that he was the best player in baseball exactly one year ago. Sanchez went 3-6 with 2HR, 4RBI and two runs scored. He also did an excellent job with Masahiro Tanaka, who came right off the disabled list and took charge. A rare laugher for the Yankees, 13-4.

So what about the Aaron Judge Dilemma? It's over. I guess. I wouldn't be surprised if Judge started a new K streak tonight. But let's not think about that right now. Maybe going 1-1 with 3BB and two runs scored was a sign of things to come. 

Joe Girardi swore up and down that he didn't have Jacoby Ellsbury pinch hit for Judge because of the streak, but we all know that was part of the reason. It doesn't really matter, though, does it? He had four at-bats and showed the good plate discipline he's shown most of the season. And, like Girardi said, it wasn't like he was sitting on his average and not playing.

Speaking of Girardi, he finally gave in and moved Judge down in the order. Except I thought "moving Judge down" meant fifth or sixth. Batting cleanup doesn't really sound impactful, but I guess it was, wasn't it?

Sevy tonight. Let's win the series!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Aaron Judge Biggest Negative Of Boston Series Loss

After Friday's devastating loss, it was hard for most Yankees fans to believe that their team could win even one game in the latest Red Sox series. But, win one game they did. However, there weren't too many other positives to point to. The negatives far outweigh them.

The biggest negative (the one people are talking about most, anyway) was and is Aaron Judge. Judge almost made it through yesterday's game without striking out. It would have snapped his record single-season consecutive-game K streak. It might have turned some of the attention away from him for a while. No such luck.

After the game, Judge stood near his locker wearing a huge ice wrap on his left shoulder. In response to reporters' questions about it he said the shoulder, "doesn't bother me at all." Really? Then why was it being iced?

Of course, it is possible that there is nothing at all seriously wrong with Judge's shoulder. Position players do wear ice wraps on their shoulders after games sometimes. It's just hard not to think the worst knowing how bad Judge has been since the All Star Break.

During that same talk with the press, Judge admitted, "I'm not getting the job done."  Also, in response, seemingly, to calls for him to be dropped in the order, he insisted, "I want to be there. I'm a three hitter, I'm the middle of the order. I've got to be that guy for the team." He concluded, "It's a little disappointing not to get the job done, but nothing you can do about it. You can't pout, you can't cry. You've just got to keep working and moving on."

So, why hasn't Judge been dropped in the order?  In response to another fan's question about it, WFAN's Sweeney Murti offered this theory:
I think Joe Girardi has choices now (Gregorius and Headley, for example). But, we all know how stubborn the manager of the Yankees can be. His stubbornness was why it took him so long to remove Aroldis Chapman from the closer job.

Today is an off-day for the Yankees. If I were Girardi, I would also let Judge sit tomorrow for the opener of the Detroit series. We'll see if that happens.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Yankees Sweep of Mets Renews Hope as Red Sox Loom

From where I sit, a four game sweep of the Mets with two at Yankee Stadium and two at Chase Field, does not seem to go far enough to make up for the sting of last Sunday's loss to the Red Sox.

It was nice to see the Yankees sweep the Mets this week, but the game that should stick in the craw of Yankees fans was that nationally televised loss on Sunday Night Baseball. In the 9th inning the Yankees were poised to take two of three from Boston and keep the pressure on the Sox in the AL East race. Now it might seem the wild card is the Yankees post season destination----at best.

Of course, hope springs eternal and all that, because the Yankees resume their rivalry tonight at Fenway Park. Jordan Montgomery, who was rescued from a AAA assignment due to injuries among the Yankees rotation will start tonight. With CC Sabathia returning to start Saturday against Sox ace Chris Sale, expect Montgomery to return to AAA following the game tonight. We'll see you after September 1st, Monty, barring further injuries. Amazingly, a Yankees-Red Sox weekend series will not end with a Sunday Night Baseball showing. This Sunday the game is scheduled for the afternoon with Fenway's famous right field sun field in it's full glory and Sonny Grey on the mound for the Yankees. Following the game the Yankees travel to Detroit with a day off Monday, which the players might enjoy by watching a partial eclipse of the sun in Michigan.

Rather than inundate you with clichés and puns it might be better to insert a Yogi-ism to the discussion. Yankees fans always seem to welcome the wit and wisdom of favorite son (oops, sorry) Yogi Berra. "It ain't over 'til it's over" should always apply. So it is true the Yankees trail the Boston Red Sox by 4 games in the standings but seven of the next 16 Yankees games will involve the Red Sox. Sabathia returns Saturday, Masahiro Tanaka is expected to return in the Detroit series next week. First Baseman Greg Bird is on rehab assignment and Starlin Castro and Matt Holliday are expected to follow perhaps tonight. Rosters expand September 1st and we might see Clint Frazier by then. It might be a reasonably healthy crew ready for the stretch run if all goes well.

Now back to the game. Gary Sanchez got the Yankees started off right, blasting a three run home run in the first inning giving the Yankees a lead. Later, Sanchez singled in two more runs giving the Yankee catcher 5 RBI's for the night. Luis Severino, who was terrible in his last start against Boston, was solid in this start. The Yankees plan with a 7-1 lead was to spare the many aces of the bullpen to finish the game. Chasen Shreve did his part replacing Severino with one out in the seventh and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. All Bryan Mitchell needed to do was get the final three outs and the Yankees had their sweep. The Yankees did in fact get the sweep, but Mitchell got nobody out. Four batters into his appearance, Mitchell had given up four runs all scoring on a Curtis Granderson grand slam. Dellin Betances, free of his pre-All Star game yips, retired the final three batters in order to seal the 7-5 win. Whew!! We didn't need another game like the Boston game on Sunday. Come to think of it, maybe Mitchell will be the one headed to AAA.

But here come the Red Sox at Fenway tonight. The Yankees did what they had to do with the Mets. It's Yankees over the Mets for  the New York bragging rights this year. Now all we need is the Yankees to do likewise with the Red Sox  in the final seven games they meet in the regular season.

Luis Severino was the winning pitcher and won for only the 10th time this year. Severino has pitched much better than ten wins, with a solid 3.18 ERA in 150 innings of work in 24 starts.

Aaron Judge was 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts on the night. Doesn't seem his second half slump has been fixed just yet.

On a personal note, I am celebrating a birthday this weekend. Because I am silly enough to do it, with the help of Retrosheet, I looked up every game the Yankees played on my birthday since the day I was born. On that day, the Yankees were in Philadelphia playing the Athletics (See, I told you I was old.). The Yankees lineup that day was  Carey 3B, Collins 1B, Mantle CF, Berra C, Noren RF, Woodling LF, Coleman 2B, Miranda SS and Lopat P, and the game was won by the Yankees  8-5. Johnny Sain earned the save, an unofficial statistic in 1954. Mantle went 4 for 5 with 4 RBI.

Overall on my birthday, the Yankees have a record of 34 wins and 21 losses with  nine seasons where a game was not scheduled or was postponed (1994 strike included). Only once did the Yankees play a doubleheader on my birthday. That was in 1988  and the Yankees split with Seattle.  I did get to see one Yankees game in person on my birthday, in 2005 in Chicago. The Yankees won 3-2. beating that season's champion White Sox 3-2, with Mariano Rivera getting the save.

Now Yankees,  please give Boston what you  gave the Mets this week.