Game 119: Gain ground on … someone

Judge is like a cartoon giant. (Presswire)
Judge is like a cartoon giant. (Presswire)

The Yankees may have long postseason odds, but until they’re mathematically eliminated, they’re still in the race and every game means something. There’s still seven weeks and a lot of head-to-head games to go.

Tonight’s game is a chance for the Yankees to gain ground on … someone. Right now the Orioles and Blue Jays are tied atop the division and the Red Sox, the second wildcard team, are one game back. The Yankees are playing the Jays while the O’s and BoSox meet in Baltimore. A win tonight means the Yanks gain a game on the Jays and whoever loses the Orioles-Red Sox game. That’s kinda big. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. SS Didi Gregorius
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. DH Brian McCann
  7. C Gary Sanchez
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. LF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Michael Pineda

Yet another hot and humid day in New York. There have been too many of these lately. It was raining earlier this afternoon and there’s more rain in the forecast later this evening, which is generally not good. Hopefully nothing that interferes with the game too much. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Rotation Update: No surprise here, but Chad Green and Luis Cessa are in the rotation going forward, Joe Girardi announced. Cessa is replacing Luis Severino, who was sent down following Sunday’s start.

Injury Update: In case you missed it earlier, Nathan Eovaldi will have surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon and a partially torn ligament. He did some serious damage to his elbow. Never pitch, kids.

Game 118: Beat the Blue Jays

Why yes, I did already buy a 99 JUDGE shirt. (Presswire)
Why yes, I did already buy a 99 JUDGE shirt. (Presswire)

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: the Yankees are 6-16 against the Blue Jays since last year’s trade deadline, including 2-8 at Yankee Stadium. They’ve been outscored 100-68 in the 22 total games. This is not a rivalry. It’s been thorough domination by Toronto. The Yankees have won just twice in nine tries against the Blue Jays this season, and if they’re going to have any chance of making the playoffs, that trend has to be reversed right now, starting tonight. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. SS Didi Gregorius
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. DH Brian McCann
  7. C Gary Sanchez
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. LF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Chad Green

Thankfully it has cooled down a bit in New York, meaning it was only about 90 degrees and humid today rather than 100 degrees and super humid like it was over the weekend. There is some light rain in the forecast throughout the night, but the really heavy stuff isn’t supposed to come down until the wee hours of the morning. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES.

Game 117: Mariano Rivera Day

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

This has been a pretty fun weekend, hasn’t it? Friday night was Alex Rodriguez‘s farewell game, and then yesterday there was the 1996 World Series team reunion and the debuts of Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge. That was an awful lot of great stuff to pack into a 24-hour window.

Today, the fun continues with Mariano Rivera Day. The Yankees have already retired No. 42 — they did that in Mo’s honor back in 2013 — and today they’re dedicating a Monument Park plaque in his honor. Needless to say, Rivera is very deserving. He’s the greatest reliever in baseball history and was a key member of five World Series teams.

From what I’ve seen, the ceremony is going to begin sometime between 12pm ET and 12:40pm ET, which is a pretty big window. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to start at 1:25pm ET, so I’m guessing the ceremony will start closer to 12:40pm ET. The Yankees never seem to start these things on time anyway. YES will carry the ceremony, as always.

Once that’s done, the Yankees will play the finale of this three-game series with the Rays. New York is looking to complete the sweep and win their fifth straight game today. If they’re going to make a run at a postseason spot, they need to put together more extended winning streaks like this. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Aaron Hicks
  3. SS Didi Gregorius
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. DH Brian McCann
  6. C Gary Sanchez
  7. 1B Tyler Austin
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Severino

It is again incredibly hot in New York today, though at least there are some clouds in the sky, so every so often we’re gifted some shade. Like I said, today’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:25pm ET. It’ll be broadcast on YES. Enjoy the ceremony and the game.

Injury Update: Brett Gardner (ankle) is going to be out a few days. He’s still feeling it after being hit by that pitch in his first at-bat Friday night. Doesn’t sound like a DL situation.

Game 116: A Fun Day in the Bronx

Aug 12, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA;  New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez (13) reacts from the dugout as shortstop Didi Gregorius (18) and first baseman Mark Teixeira (not pictured) score during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
(Presswire)

Holy cow is today a busy day in Yankeeland. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s going on today:

  1. Both Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin were called up and are making their MLB debuts.
  2. The Yankees are playing their first game in the post-Alex Rodriguez era.
  3. The Yankees are holding their 1996 World Series team reunion ceremony.

I am sad to see A-Rod go. I really am. At least he got a nice send-off last night. It was better and warmer than I thought it would be. The Yankees turned the page fairly quickly though, and are going all-in on this youth movement. Judge and Austin join Gary Sanchez in today’s lineup. That’s fun.

As for the 1996 World Series reunion, well that’s really awesome too. That was my first championship team as a fan and they’ll always be special to me. Pretty cool that Judge and Austin get the experience that during their first day in the big leagues. The Yankees are showing these kids what it’s all about in the Bronx.

The 1996 Yankees ceremony is going to begin around 12pm ET or so. YES will carry the whole thing, I’m certain. Today’s game will then begin a little after 1pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Here’s the Rays’ lineup and here’s the Yankees’ lineup:

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

It’s about a billion degrees outside with 5,000% percent humidity, according to my rough estimates. It is not a pleasant day to be outside. Hooray for air conditioning. If you’re going to sweat it out at the ballpark, at least it promises to be a fun day to be a Yankee fan. Enjoy the day, folks.

Roster Moves: To get Judge and Austin on the roster, A-Rod was unconditionally released (sad face) and Ben Heller was optioned to Triple-A Scranton. He’ll be back soon. Conor Mullee (elbow surgery) was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear the other 40-man roster spot.

Game 115: Goodbye, Al

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

I still remember exactly where I was when I found out the Yankees acquired Alex Rodriguez. There aren’t many baseball moments I remember vividly, but that’s one of them. I was still in college and I was out at dinner with the girl I was dating at the time. We were at Applebee’s (classy!) and one of the televisions at the bar was on ESPN. The trade scrolled across the ticker. That’s how I found out A-Rod was a Yankee. (I’m pretty sure I’ve told that story before.)

Now, more than 12 eventful years and 1,500 games later, the A-Rod era is coming to an end. Alex will play his final game as a Yankee tonight — likely the final game of his career as well — after winning one World Series, two MVPs, and more regular season games than I care to count in pinstripes. This past calendar year is the first time Alex was something less than immensely productive as a Yankee.

This is a bittersweet day. A-Rod is one of my all-time favorite players and I’m sad to see him go. At the same time, he’s at the end of the line, and the Yankees are better off without him going forward. This goodbye had a chance to get really ugly. I wouldn’t call the last few days pleasant, but things have gone about as well as we could have hoped. Rodriguez is getting something of a grand send-off today.

The Yankees do indeed have a pre-game ceremony planned. They asked fans to be in their seats at 6:50pm ET, and tonight’s game is not scheduled to start until 7:35pm ET. I would be surprised if the Yankees announced they are retiring No. 13 — they haven’t even announced they’re retiring No. 2 yet — or giving Alex a plaque in Monument Park, but who knows. I’m sure it’ll be fun either way.

After the ceremony, the Yankees will play the first of three games against the Rays. A-Rod played his first ever game as a Yankee against the (Devil) Rays, you know. That was back in 2004, during that two-game trip to Japan. He went 1-for-4 with a double. That was a long, long time ago. Here is tonight’s Rays’ lineup and tonight’s Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 2B Starlin Castro
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    LHP CC Sabathia

The weather in New York positively sucks today. It is disgustingly hot and humid, and there’s some rain in the forecast pretty much all night. Hopefully it holds off for A-Rod’s final game the way it did for Derek Jeter‘s final game two years ago. The game will air on YES locally and FOX nationally. Enjoy.

Ellsbury’s double gives Yankees a 4-2 win over Red Sox

For the first time in more than two weeks — since the series in Houston — the Yankees have won back-to-back games. They rallied from behind to beat the Red Sox in the final road game of Alex Rodriguez‘s career Thursday night. The final score was 4-2. That was a good game. I enjoyed it.

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

Pineda’s Tight Rope
That was a good start from Michael Pineda even though it didn’t feel like a good start. He put eleven runners on base in six innings and really had to wiggle out of some jams, but the important thing is he did wiggle out of those jams en route to holding the Red Sox to two runs in six innings. A well-timed double play and a few clutch strikeouts helped Pineda along the way.

The BoSox scored their two runs with two outs, because of course. Two-out runs are Pineda’s thing. The first run came in the first inning. David Ortiz ground-rule doubled and Hanley Ramirez singled him in. Ortiz and the Red Sox had zero regard for Jacoby Ellsbury‘s arm. It was a hard hit single to center and they sent Ortiz home anyway — remember, he was hobbled after hitting that foul ball off his shin last night — and he beat it out easily. Blah.

The second run scored in the fifth inning. Xander Bogaerts blooped a one-out single and Hanley drove him in with a two-out double into the gap. That gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead. Pineda struck out three and got nine of his other 15 outs on the infield. Was it the prettiest outing? No. Not at all. Pineda’s outings are rarely pretty. But, at the end of the day, two runs in six innings against the best offense in baseball is pretty good. Nice work, Big Mike.

Come From Behind, Again
The Yankees put a hurting on Boston’s bullpen Wednesday night, and they did it again in this game. They scored their first run of the night in the third inning on Austin Romine‘s long solo homer — did you realize he has four homers this year? where have I been — which I’m pretty sure cleared the Green Monster and left the ballpark entirely. If it didn’t, it came damn close. Romine really laid into that Eduardo Rodriguez fastball.

It wasn’t until the eighth inning, after Rodriguez was out of the game, that the Yankees scored again. The Red Sox were nursing their 2-1 lead, and Gary Sanchez started the rally by running over Hanley at first base. I’m not joking. He hit a grounder that Dustin Pedroia ranged far to his right to grab, but his throw short-hopped Ramirez and more or less pushed him backwards into Sanchez’s path.

Gary Sanchez Hanley Ramirez

Hanley was on the ground for a few minutes in obvious pain. He stayed in the game but only briefly; he was lifted for a pinch-hitter the next half-inning. Ramirez told reporters after the game he was a) kneed in the thigh, and b) felt something in his lower back on the fall. The back was the reason he was on writhing in pain.

Anyway, that play gave the Yankees a leadoff baserunner. Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner followed with singles to load the bases with one out. The Yankees were in business against funky submariner Brad Ziegler. A fly ball would have tied the game, and Ellsbury did indeed get that fly ball, but it did more than tie the game. Rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi appeared to lose it in the lights and let a catchable ball sail over his head for a two-run double. The play was originally called a sac fly and an error, but nah. They changed it to a double later.

That double turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead, then, naturally, it came down to A-Rod. It always comes downs to A-Rod. The Red Sox intentionally walked Chase Headley to load the bases with one out for Alex because they didn’t think he could do damage. I don’t blame them. Rodriguez hasn’t done much of anything since last year. Sure enough, A-Rod managed to hit the ball this far …

Alex Rodriguez1

… which was just far enough to score Gardner from third. A younger A-Rod beats that little nubber out for an infield single. The current version of A-Rod had to settle for an RBI fielder’s choice. Hey, it got the run in! That gave the Yankees an always appreciated insurance run and a 4-2 lead. Sanchez running over Hanley and Benintendi doing whatever the hell he did were the keys to that inning.

Nine Outs From Glory
Welcome back to the big leagues, Luis Cessa. He picked up his first second career win with two innings of no effs given relief. Six up, six down against the 1-6 hitters with one ball out of the infield. Cessa struck out two and Joe Girardi let him stay in for the eighth inning with a two-run lead and the bullpen gassed. It was no problem. Heck of a job by Cessa. He really shoved for those two innings. I wonder if he starts Monday in place of Nathan Eovaldi?

Dellin Betances came in for the ninth and things got a little interesting, as they tend to do in Fenway Park. Sandy friggin’ Leon doubled with one out to bring the tying run to the plate. So annoying. A wild pitch moved Leon to third, and a walk to Benintendi put the tying run on base. Betances then rebounded to strike out Pedroia and Bogaerts to end the game. All three outs were strikeouts, and each one was more embarrassing than the last. Dellin made those guys look foolish.

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

Leftovers
The 3-4-5 hitters went a combined 0-for-11 with a walk and three strikeouts. The rest of the lineup went 7-for-22 (.318). The top and bottom of the order really picked up the guys in the middle. Romine (homer, walk) and Hicks (two singles) were the only Yankees to reach base twice. The eight and nine hitters. Go figure.

How about Sanchez’s arm? Good gravy does that kid have a rocket. He threw Jackie Bradley Jr. out trying to steal by a mile in the fourth inning. It wasn’t even close. Sanchez has thrown out three of five basestealers since coming up — the two successful steals came with Betances on the mound, and Dellin can’t control the running game at all — plus two others on wild pitches. He is: good.

Hicks ran into a brutal double play in the third. He was on first, Gardner hit a soft little humpback line drive to Pedroia at second, and Hicks wandered way too far off the base, so he couldn’t get back in time. The Yankees’ baserunning was really bad this entire series. Really, really bad.

And finally, the Yankees are now 58-56 on the season, and thanks to this win, they’re only 3.5 games back of a wildcard spot. They haven’t been this close to a postseason berth since July 28th. The last time they were this close before that was July 3rd. Nothing better to do the rest of the season than make a run for it, right? Right.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees (58-56) have a better record than the Mets (57-57) and that pleases me. Feels right, you know? Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the very fun win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The final game of A-Rod’s career is next. That’s a bummer. The Yankees are going home to start a three-game series with the Rays. They’re going to hold a special ceremony for Alex prior to Friday’s series opener. That’ll be neat. CC Sabathia and Chris Archer are the scheduled starters for that one. RAB Tickets can still get you in the door if you want to see A-Rod play one last time.

Game 114: The Opposite of a Farewell Tour

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

What’s the opposite of a farewell tour? A good riddance tour? Whatever it is, Alex Rodriguez is going through it right now. He is playing the final road game of his career tonight — Alex played his first ever MLB game at Fenway Park, so everything is coming full circle — and he’s in the lineup in a move that seething with obligation. A-Rod is also batting cleanup because the Yankees are #TryingToWin. Whatever. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. 3B Chase Headley
  4. DH Alex Rodriguez
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. C Gary Sanchez
  8. 1B Austin Romine
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Michael Pineda

Not a bad night for baseball in Boston. A little cloudy, but there’s no rain in the forecast. Nothing substantial, anyway. Tonight’s game is going to begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy hearing A-Rod booed by a road crowd for the final time.

Roster Moves: In case you missed it earlier, Luis Cessa and Ben Heller were called up and Nick Goody and Rob Refsnyder were sent down. The Yankees needed fresh arms after blowing through their bullpen last night.