Game 42: The Royals, Again

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Once again, the Yankees are playing the Royals, this time in New York rather than Kansas City. The Yankees took two of three from the 2015 World Series champions at Kauffman Stadium last week. Since that series, both teams have lost two of three on the road. The Yankees did so in Tampa Bay, the Royals in Minnesota.

Anyway, this is a pretty important homestand for the Yankees. Important probably isn’t the right word. It’s a good opportunity. That’s better. Seven games against the Royals and Athletics, two of the worst teams in baseball, is a great chance to pad the ol’ win-loss record a bit. One game at a time though. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. CF Aaron Hicks
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    RHP Michael Pineda

It rained in New York much of the day, but the rain has stopped, and there’s none in the forecast the rest of the night. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (ankle) took dry swings today. It was his first time swinging a bat since being placed on the disabled list. Bird is scheduled to hit off a tee and soft toss tomorrow.

HOPE Week: Today was the first day of HOPE Week, one of the best weeks of the year. Several Yankees went to the Bronx Zoo to help benefit the Icla da Silva Foundation, which recruits bone marrow donors. Here are some photos.

Game 41: Sabathia Sunday

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

So the last three games haven’t gone well. Sucks. The good news is there’s another game today, so there’s a chance to get back into the win column. A win today avoids the sweep and sends the Yankees home with a 3-3 road trip. Not great, not awful. Could be worse.

CC Sabathia is on the mound this afternoon and he was very good last time out, though that was against the free-swinging Royals, the worst hitting team in baseball this year. The Rays have some thump, annoyingly. This will be a tough one for Sabathia. I believe in the big man though. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s nice and sunny in St. Petersburg today, and dark and gloomy inside Tropicana Field. First time this series the teams probably wish they could play outside. Alas. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET. YES has the broadcast. Try to enjoy.

Injury Updates: Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) will see a doctor tomorrow for a check up. He went on the disabled list last weekend, and the Yankees said he will be shut down at least two weeks, so a throwing program isn’t imminent … Greg Bird (ankle) continues to increase his running. He could beginning hitting this week.

Roster Update: The Yankees have called up Bryan Mitchell and sent down Gio Gallegos, the team announced. I had a feeling that was coming. They need a fresh long man. Mitchell was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, though he’s only gotten stretched out to 60 pitches or so since being sent down, so he won’t be able to go super long.

Game 40: Getting Tanaka Back On Track

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

For the first time since getting crushed by the Astros last weekend, Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound this afternoon, looking for a solution to his early season woes. There have been some flashes of 2016 Tanaka throughout the season so far, but flashes aren’t enough. The Yankees need him to pitch well pretty much every time out to stay in the AL East race.

Tanaka will have what is almost certainly the best possible lineup the Yankees could field behind him. We could quibble about the batting order and all that, but these nine names represent the best the Yankees have to offer right now. This is the A+ team, basically. Get a win today, then try to win the series tomorrow. Sounds like a plan. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. 1B Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. DH Aaron Judge
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It is cloudy, hot, and humid in St. Petersburg and a cool 72-ish degrees inside Tropicana Field. This afternoon’s game will begin at 4:10pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Turns out Sanchez has a stiff neck, which is why the Yankees didn’t want to use him last night. Obviously he’s feeling better, because he’s in the lineup today. Sanchez took some foul tips to the face mask in Kansas City. I assume those contributed to his neck woes.

Game 39: Back to Tampa

Can't sleep, mascot will eat me. (Presswire)
Can’t sleep, mascot will eat me. (Presswire)

Once again, the Yankees are back in Tampa, their home away from home. Spring Training was extra long this year because of the World Baseball Classic, then the Yankees started the season with a three-game set at Tropicana Field. Now they’re back again for a three-game weekend series. They just can’t escape this place.

Well, anyway, it’s time to win another series. It would have been nice to finish off the sweep of the Royals last night, but what can you do? Sometimes you get beat. The Yankees and Rays have already seen enough of each other this season — this is their third series already — so they’re familiar with each other. Just win the series, baby. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 1B Chris Carter
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Severino

The internet tells me the weather in St. Petersburg is awful. Temperatures in the 90s with humidity north of 80%, and rain. Lots of rain. Good thing they’re playing indoors tonight. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET. You can watch on WPIX. Enjoy the game.

Coaching Staff Update: Joe Girardi is away from the Yankees to attend his daughter’s high school graduation. Bench coach Rob Thomson will manage tonight.

Game 38: A-Rod in the Booth

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For the first time since his (forced) retirement, Alex Rodriguez will be in the broadcast booth tonight. The series finale between the Yankees and Royals will be on FOX Sports 1 tonight, not YES, and A-Rod will be doing color commentary alongside play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt. How cool is that? A-Rod was pretty great doing pregame and postgame analysis during the postseason the last two years. I’m looking forward to hearing him in the booth.

Anyway, on to more pressing matters. The Yankees are looking to complete the sweep of the Royals this evening, and because the Orioles lost earlier today, the Yankees can stretch their AL East lead to 2.5 games. Is it too early to look at the standings? Nah. The Yankees are in first place. Enjoy the hell out of it. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. LF Aaron Hicks
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It is a bit cloudy in Kansas City tonight, though there’s no rain in the forecast. Thank goodness for that. Losing an off-day to go to back to Kansas City for a makeup game would stink. Tonight’s game will begin at 8:15pm ET, and as I mentioned earlier, the game will be on FOX Sports 1, not YES. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (ankle) did some light running today for the first time since being shut down. He didn’t travel with the team and is back in New York. The hope is Bird will be given the thumbs up to resume baseball activities early next week.

Game 37: Battle of the Aces

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)

Who is the more unlikely “ace” between Michael Pineda and Jason Vargas? (It’s obviously Vargas, but bear with me.)

Pineda has already matched last season’s bWAR total in 134.1 fewer innings, and his 3.27 ERA is nearly a run and a half lower than the 4.60 mark he posted between 2015 and 2016. He’s in the top-ten in all of baseball in K%, BB%, and K-BB%, and he is first among Yankees starters in most every metric. It’s telling that his last start – a 6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K effort against the Astros – was viewed as something of a disappointment. This is something that we’ve long known that Pineda is capable of; he simply couldn’t put it together the previous two seasons.

And Vargas – he of the career 4.07 ERA and 97 ERA+ – leads the majors with a ludicrous 1.01 ERA (417 ERA+). He’s 34-years-old, and less than two years removed from Tommy John Surgery … and he’s allowed 0 or 1 run in 6 of his 7 starts. Vargas has done this with a fastball that sits right around 86 MPH, and a 39.7 GB%.

When the season began, nobody would have expected this match-up to be a potential pitcher’s duel – and yet here we are.

Here’s the Royals lineup for this evening. The Yankees will counter with:

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Gary Sanchez, C
  3. Matt Holliday, DH
  4. Starlin Castro, 2B
  5. Aaron Judge, RF
  6. Chase Headley, 3B
  7. Didi Gregorius, SS
  8. Aaron Hicks, CF
  9. Chris Carter, 1B

The first pitch is scheduled for 8:15 PM EST, and the game will be on YES.

Game 36: The Unforgiving Schedule Begins

(Brian Blanco/Getty Images North America)
(Brian Blanco/Getty Images North America)

The Yankees next day off is June 5, which means that they are entering a stretch in which they will play twenty games in twenty days. This was bound to happen at some point, given that they have had eight scheduled days off already (that, and the fact that the schedule gods are cruel) – but that doesn’t make it any less forgiving, particularly with the bullpen already being thinned by Aroldis Chapman heading to the disabled list.

Luckily, the first thirteen games of this stretch come against teams with a combined .440 winning percentage, and a run differential of -68. The Royals are first on the docket, and they’ll trot out this lineup against CC Sabathia. The Yankees lineup for this evening is:

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Gary Sanchez, C
  3. Matt Holliday, DH
  4. Starlin Castro, 2B
  5. Aaron Judge, RF
  6. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  7. Chase Headley, 3B
  8. Didi Gregorius, SS
  9. Chris Carter, 1B

The first pitch is scheduled for 8:15 PM EST, and the game will be on both YES and MLB Network.