New York Yankees April Impressions

The New York Yankees would finish April with a 15-8 record, sharing first place in the American League East with the Baltimore Orioles.  The starting pitching has been dominant at times early in the season.  The team also seems to consistently be in every game with a chance to win in the 9th, which we saw again tonight as the team fell to the Orioles in extra innings after tying the game late.  A team that many thought was a year away from playoff contention during a rebuild season seems to be on track for at least a shot at making some noise in October.

There’s not much to say about the pitching other than it’s been pretty solid all around.  Sabathia has given up early runs in his last 2 starts but the bats always seem to keep the game close.  Tanaka seems to be getting better with every start.  Severino and Pineda have been electric.  Jordan Montgomery has pitched well, but the run support hasn’t shown up in his last 2 starts.  The bull pen seems to be holding their ground as well, with nothing to realistically complain about.

One of the major standouts thus far has been rookie right fielder Aaron Judge.  Standing at 6 foot 7 and weighing in at over 280 pounds, he looks like a guy who would be right at home on the football field, but he plays the outfield just as well as anyone, and is an absolute monster at the plate.  During his limited action last year, Judge flashed prodigious home run power, but struck out far too often.  This year, through April he has 10 home runs, 20 RBIs, and is hitting .303 with an OBP of .402.  He is a must see player every time he comes up to bat.  He may just hit a ball over the Yankee Stadium bleachers before the season is over.

The depth on the roster has been impressive thus far with Austin Romine and Ronald Torreyes stepping in for injured starters.  Starting catcher, Gary Sanchez went down with an injury to his bicep early in the month. While many thought this would be a huge setback for the team, Austin Romine stepped up and performed more than admirably in his place batting .314 with 10 RBIs.  Torreyes came in at Short Stop when Didi Gregorius was injured during the World Baseball Classic, and is also batting over .300 with 13 RBIs through April.  As Didi recently was reinserted into the line-up and Sanchez looks to return later next week, quality depth all around the diamond is nice to see.

The baseball season is a long haul, and the Yankees will probably cool down a bit at some point, but something feels different about this team compared to years past.  When down by multiple runs, the players never look to get too down on themselves in the dugout and  late inning success may have them believing that they are never out of a game.  Everyone looks like they are genuinely having fun out there.  Of course, that’s what winning can do for a ball club.  We’ll see if they can keep the ball rolling.  If they do they are likely looking at a 85-90 win season and a shot at the playoffs.

The Yankees will host the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow night for game 1 of a 3 game series.

2017 A Rivalry Reignited, Yankees Defeat Red Sox 3-1

 

After Tuesday night’s game being rained out, the Yankees and Red Sox were finally able to get things going tonight.  Dominant pitching and a few runs were enough for the Yankees to improve to 12-7 on the season as they defeated the Boston Red Sox 3-1.

It just so happens that today was also Yankees rising star Aaron Judge’s birthday, and boy did he have a great game.  Aaron judge came to the plate in the 2nd inning with Starlin Castro on base, and sent the first pitch he saw the opposite way into the bullpen in right field for a 2-run home run.  In the 3rd, he also made a diving catch along the right field foul territory that sent him into the bleachers; shades of Derek Jeter on the mind. He came up with the ball but it took the umpires several minutes to finally rule the play an out.  In the 7th, Judge drew a walk and scored when Greg Bird hit a ball off of the Green Monster for a double.  3 runs would be all the Yankees needed.

Yankees’ pitcher Luis Severino pitched a phenomenal 7 innings giving up only 3 hits, walking 2 batters, and striking out 6.  In the 8th, Dellin Betances was called out of the bull-pen and got things done striking out 2 in a clean inning.  In the 9th, flame thrower Aroldis Chapman came in and struggled throwing over 30 pitches and giving up 1 run in the misty rain.  The Red Sox had the winning run at the plate late but Chapman got out of a dramatic inning with a strikeout to end the game.

The Yankees and Red Sox are back at it tomorrow night.

Yankees Unable to Capitalize on Late Opportunities, Fall to Pirates 2-1

The New York Yankees fell to 11-7 on the year as they lost a close game, 2-1, against the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday afternoon.

Young pitcher Jordan Montgomery pitched well enough to deserve a win, but the run support never showed up.  After giving up two runs early in the game, the Yankees took advantage of three timely double plays in the 4th, 5th, and 6th inning to keep the Pirates off of the board.  In the 7th, relief pitcher Bryan Mitchell loaded the bases but was able to escape unscathed after getting a high pop up, a liner to short, and a strikeout to end the inning.

The Yankees bats were silent until the 7th, when Jacoby Ellsbury hit a home run that landed in the right field bleachers.  In the 8th, Chris Carter reached base on a pinch hit single, and Brett Gardner drew a walk.  Pete Kozma came in as a pinch runner for Carter, who promptly stole 3rd on a ball that got away from Pirates’ Catcher Chris Stewart.  However, no one scored as Chase Headley popped out, and Starlin Castro struck out to end the inning.

There was life again in the Yankees bats in the 9th as they loaded the bases, but again came up short.  With one out, Aaron Judge hit a single to right,  and Matt Holliday drew a pinch hit walk.  Next up, Ronald Torreyes hit a ground ball to Second but the fielder misplayed the ball, likely looking ahead to a potential game winning double play.  The bases were loaded with only one out.  Aaron Hicks then proceeded to strike out on 3 pitches, and Kozma grounded out to end the game.

Things to look for going forward:

Greg Bird Struggles:  After a blazing Spring Training, Greg Bird is batting an abysmal .104 on the season with only 5 hits in 48 at bats.  He connected on several long foul balls this past series, and isn’t looking as lost a the plate as he was earlier in the season, but something isn’t right. If he doesn’t get it turned around over the next three games, maybe he needs to be sent down to AAA to get it sorted out.

There’s No Place Like Home:  Through 9 road games thus far, the Yankees are 3-6 and have yet to win a series away from Yankee Stadium.  Meanwhile at home, an 8-1 record feels very comfortable.

The season is still early.  The Yankees look to regroup against their bitter rival, the Boston Red Sox Tuesday night.

 

Yankees take Series from White Sox with Powerful Bats and Solid Pitching

With Masahiro Tanaka on the mound the Yankees would improve to 10-5 on the season as they defeated the Chicago White Sox 9-1 Wednesday Night.  The Yankees bats were hot, and the pitching was solid as the team bounced back from yesterday’s loss.  The team has now won 9 of it’s last 10 games.

Tanaka, who hasn’t looked his sharpest thus far this season, performed well giving up only 1 run on 6 hits through 7 innings.  He is now 2-1 on the season.  While Tanaka’s stuff wasn’t electric, and he had to grind through several innings and at-bats, you can’t really complain about 1 earned run through 7 with 6 strike-outs.   Tanaka carried his lunch pail to the ball park, made a solid start, and got the W.

After a cold night for the Yankees bats last night, they were screaming hot right out of the gate tonight.  Lead-off man, Brett Gardner, opened the evening with a triple that was misplayed in right-center field.  Red hot Chase Headley came up to bat next and promptly served up a home run into the right-center field bull-pen.  Headley is now hitting .396 on the season.

In the second inning, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird hit back-to-back singles and were driven in shortly after by Austin Romine and Ronald Torreyes.  The White Sox would score their only run of the game in the 4th inning when Tim Anderson scored on a Jose Abreu double.

The flood gates would open in the fifth during a 2-out rally in the bottom of the inning that would net 4 runs across the plate for the Yankees.  Matt Holliday and Jacoby Ellsbury got the ball rolling with a singles to center field.  The next man up, Starlin Castro brought everyone home on a home run that landed in the left field bull pen.  Then, Aaron Judge absolutely destroyed a ball that went sailing 448 feet deep into the night that brought everyone watching to their feet.  His 5th homer of the year.  In the eighth inning, while pinch hitting, Aaron Hicks hit a line drive home run to right putting the Yankees up 9-1.  The team would finish the night with 11 total hits.

The Yankees have tomorrow off, and look to stay hot as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates for a 3 game series beginning Friday night.

Bird Flies the Nest as Yankees Complete Sweep of Cardinals

Over this past weekend, the Yankees were able to continue their roll of consecutive wins against a struggling Cardinals team.  What was a close 4-2 ballgame through 7, opened up after the Yanks put 5 across the plate in the 8th.  The Cardinals would score 1 in the 9th but is wasn’t enough as the Yankees went on to win 9-3.  The Yankees would improve to 8-4, winning 7 in a row, while the Cardinals would fall to 3-9 midway through the first month of the season.

Chase Headley continues to rake, hitting .410, with an OBP of .531.  Aaron Judge lays down the law on any pitch in the strike zone.  He had a Home Run turned into a Triple when a fan in a grimy (possibly lucky) Yankees cap reached up for a ball in the front row of the right field bleachers.  The ball was clearly over the fence but the umpires still blew the call on a replay which took way too long to decide.

After struggling early in the season, the fan favorite Greg Bird finally found his stroke on Sunday night.  Directly after the umpires blew the call on Judge’s HR, Bird sent the next pitch 20 rows deep into the right field bleachers in “take that” fashion.  He would finish the game 3 for 3, with 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 RBIs, & 1 BB.

Yankees pitching continues to impress as Big Mike Pineda went 7 innings giving up 6 hits, but only allowing 2 to cross the plate.

It has been impressive what this Yankees team has been able to put together over the past week especially without starting Catcher, Gary Sanchez, and Shortstop, Didi Gregorius in the lineup.  Brian Cashman’s rebuild may just be paying off 1 year ahead of schedule.