Game 151: Don’t Let Them Clinch Tonight

The Yankees look to push back the Red Sox celebration as long as they can, as they look to take the first two of three from Boston on Wednesday. Luis Severino, who left his last outing after just 83 pitches with two outs in the sixth inning, looks to get over a significant bump in his season. He’s given up a 6.43 ERA in 11 starts since July 12. His counterpart is frequent Yankee opponent David Price. Price has a 1.56 ERA and five wins in nine starts since the All-Star break. But, he’s 0-5 with a 10.44 ERA in five Yankee Stadium starts since joining the Red Sox. One of these streaks will have to give, and the Yankees are hoping for the latter.

Pre-Game Notes:

  • Austin Romine was unavailable off the bench because of a sore neck. He reported feeling better today, and will be available off the bench.
  • Aroldis Chapman has been activated from the disabled list after missing 28 days with tendinitis in his left knee.

Red Sox Lineup:

  1. Mookie Betts – DH
  2. Andrew Benintendi – LF
  3. J.D. Martinez – RF
  4. Xander Bogaerts – SS
  5. Mitch Moreland – 1B
  6. Ian Kinsler – 2B
  7. Eduardo Núñez – 3B
  8. Sandy León – C
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr. – CF

Red Sox 2, Yankees 3: Walker’s 10th Homer the Difference-Maker

No clinch for Boston.

THE BRONX – Neil Walker crushed his 10th homer of the year off Ryan Brasier to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning Tuesday, en route to the first Yankee win over Boston since July 1.

The bridge to dominant closer Craig Kimbrel has been sketchy all year for Alex Cora‘s Red Sox, though their 103 wins would say otherwise. Nathan Eovaldi was masterful for six innings, allowing two hits in six shutout innings before being pulled with just 83 pitches. Brandon Workman entered to start the seventh and walked both Aaron Hicks and Gary Sánchez (with Miguel Andújar popping up on a likely ball 4 in between).

Cora went to Brasier, and Aaron Boone elected to stick with Walker at the plate and Sánchez on first. This time, Boone won. Walker smoked a 3-2 slider into the second deck at Yankee Stadium, and he knew it. As he left the batter’s box, he pointed to the Yankees dugout. The Yankee offense finally got a jolt.

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David Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth inning, which included some uncharacteristically lackadaisical defense from Aaron Hicks. J.D. Martinez doubled into the gap, and the ball got past Hicks. The center-fielder jogged after the ball, and simply tossed it to the cut-off man while Martinez motored into third. Robertson induced two fly balls to render the issue moot.

But, bad defense was the theme of the ninth inning as Zach Britton was brought in to close. Brandon Phillips was thrown out 2-3 on a strikeout to start the frame, and then things got frustrating. Adeiny Hechavarría, who replaced Andújar for defense, threw a 5-4-3 double-play ball away by throwing it to the arm side of Gleyber Torres (which was unfairly ruled an E4). Sam Travis then hit a tapper back to Britton, and he threw a sinker on a potential 1-4-3 double-play ball into center field. That allowed Brock Holt, who walked, to score. But, two pitches later, they finally got it right. Ian Kinsler hit a ground ball back to Britton, and they finally got the 1-4-3 needed to push a Red Sox clinch celebration back at least another 24 hours.

Britton understood the magnitude of the situation, as he was given an opportunity to atone for the mistake he committed. One play after throwing the ball into center field, he was able to throw a strike to Torres that allowed him to record his sixth save on the season. The difference? A return to the fundamentals of throwing a baseball:

“The balls were wet,” Britton said. “So after the error that I made, I just thought, if I find the other one, I’ve really got to find the four seams and make a good throw to second and make sure we got one out.”

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Not to be lost in Tuesday’s big win was the performance of J.A. Happ. The veteran delivered another quality start, allowing an unearned run (because of a Sánchez passed ball) on four hits and three walks. He recorded six strikeouts, and 65% of his 102 pitches were strikes. In the third inning, Kinsler singled, moved to second on a phantom balk call (seriously, it’s hard to see), and scored on a Martinez sacrifice fly after moving to third on the passed ball.


Aaron Judge got through his first full game since July 26 without a setback. He went 0-for-4, hitting the ball hard three times before getting rung up on a questionable check-swing call in his final at-bat.

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Judge, of course, was not originally supposed to start Tuesday. But, the six-hour delay in start time allowed him to hit in another simulated game, and convince the Yankees decision-makers that he was ready to go.

“I just voiced my opinion. A lot,” Judge said after the game. “I think they got tired of me telling them I wanted to be playing. So they finally said let’s put him in there and see what happens.”

Game 150: Judge Returns

Red Sox Lineup:

  1. Ian Kinsler – 2B
  2. Steve Pearce – 1B
  3. J.D. Martinez – RF
  4. Xander Bogaerts – SS
  5. Eduardo Núñez – DH
  6. Brandon Phillips – 3B
  7. Brock Holt – LF
  8. Christian Vázquez – C
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr. – CF

Yanks Select Sheffield; Recall Germán; Transfer Frazier to 60-Day DL

More bullpen reinforcements, including the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect.

Yankees fans will finally get a glimpse of the future, as the team selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield on Tuesday morning. The team also recalled righty Domingo Germán in the same transaction. The Yankees clearly think both arms could help the team now that the RailRiders have been eliminated from the Triple-A playoffs.

Justus Sheffield, the Yankees No. 1 prospect, took a big step forward in the Yankees system in 2018, going 6-6 with a 2.48 ERA in 21 games (he entered in the second inning June 27 to allow A.J. Cole to have a rehab start) before being moved to the bullpen. The bullpen move was definitely not performance-based, but likely a way to simultaneously limit his innings and prepare him for a role at the big-league level. He owned a 2.45 ERA in 7⅓ innings across four regular season outings as a reliever. In three playoff outings, he posted a 3.60 ERA across five innings.

Domingo Germán appeared in 19 games for the Yanks, with 13 of them starts. He had an overall 5.68 ERA in 82⅓ innings, though his 3.52 ERA in relief clearly eclipses the 6.18 mark as a starter. He was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after a disastrous outing against the Mets on July 20, allowing four runs in just 3⅔ innings. A week later, he was placed on the MiLB disabled list with biceps tendinitis and ulnaritis. He spent a month on the DL before returning to rehab in the Gulf Coast and Florida State leagues – pitching to a 6.14 ERA in 7⅓ innings. In two playoff starts with Triple-A, Germán went 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA.

To clear a 40-man spot for Sheffield, Clint Frazier was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. It’s an unfortunately lost season for Frazier, who came to the Yankees alongside Sheffield from Cleveland in the 2016 Andrew Miller trade. The 24-year-old appeared in just 69 games combined between the majors and minors because of concussion issues. Frazier had started a rehab assignment with Tampa on August 12, and then did not play again until August 30. He went 2-for-5 in those two games, and was set to join Double-A Trenton in the Eastern League playoffs before the concussion symptoms returned. Across all levels, he finished the season batting .298/.387/.531 with 11 home runs and 26 RBIs.

It remains to be seen with the next step is for the outfielder, since he has too much service time to be assigned to the Arizona Fall League. I’d have to imagine he’ll play some winter ball in the Caribbean to make up for lost games. Yankees fans have to be hoping he’ll be back to his old self by next February.

Yankees 7, Twins 2: Kraken Awakes in Series-Opening Win

The Yankee backstop collects three of the Yanks’ 11 hits in a big win.

MINNEAPOLIS, MI – Gary Sánchez‘s bat got going in a big way Monday night in Minnesota, as he collected three hits and scored two runs in a big 7-to-2 Yankee win.

The Oakland Athletics sat idle, so the Yankee lead in the Wild Card grew to three games. The game was a pitching duel through the sixth inning, with J.A. Happ and Kyle Gibson matching zeroes until El Gary stepped to the dish with two outs. Sánchez was robbed in his previous at-bat, thanks to a fantastic play by Twins third baseman Gregorio Petit.

Sánchez fouled off a few tough pitches down in the zone, and then crushed a 2-2 sinker that was out of the zone 460 feet into the third deck at Target Field. It was his second homer since returning from rehab September 1, and his 16th overall on the 2018 season.

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In a nightmare season, Sánchez’s bat showed a sign of life that could be crucial down the stretch. His three hits were the most he’d had in one game since he had four against the Royals on May 19. The Yankee lineup becomes so much stronger if he can maintain something like the .263/.333/.632 (156 wRC+) line of his past five games.

The Yankee offense got a big boost in the top of the seventh, where they scored six runs. That allowed Aaron Boone and Co. to lift Happ after just 91 pitches and six shutout innings. Luis Cessa allowed the two runs in two mop-up innings, and Jonathan Holder pitched a perfect ninth to nail down the win.

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Brett Gardner contributed a multi-hit game from the No. 9 slot, and he’s been a bit hotter of late – .280/.333/.320 (81 wRC+) since September 3. The Yankees worked 10 walks, with three going to Andrew McCutchen and two-a-piece for Aaron Hicks and Greg Bird. Bird was the only starter who did not record a hit. Miguel Andújar, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres, and McCutchen each recorded RBIs as well.

What’s Next:

Sonny Gray, who owns a 1.83 ERA in 19⅔ innings (six games, one start) since his bullpen demotion, returns to the rotation for a spot-start. The Twins will employ the “opener” tactic, sending Tyler Duffey to the mound.

Game 144: Trio in the Twin Cities

The Yankees kick off a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins tonight, sending lefty J.A. Happ to the hill.

Happ got a no-decision his last time out, but pitched quite well. He allowed just one run on two hits Tuesday in Oakland. He’s the owner of a 5-0 record and 3.10 ERA since his trade from Toronto to the Yankees.

Happ’s opponent is Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson. Gibson has been the Twins’ best qualified starter this season in terms of ERA (3.74), though his 7-12 record is nowhere near as pretty. The righty gave up four runs (two earned) his last time out a week ago against Houston on four hits, one walk and five strikeouts.


Pregame Notes:

  • NOT A DRILL: Aaron Judge took five rounds of batting practice on the field today, “without the hint of pain,” per George A. King III of the New York Post. It’s a huge step to see the big fella taking live BP, and here’s to hoping he can sneak into the RailRiders lineup as they chase the Governor’s Cup.
  • Speaking of the Triple-A playoffs, ex-Yankees righty Giovanny Gallegos (traded to St. Louis) had a pinch-hit walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning after the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds ran out of position players. You can’t predict baseball, Suzyn.
  • Luke Voit has some back stiffness, and will sit in favor of Greg Bird tonight. Aaron Boone said Voit’s issue is not serious and that he’ll be available off the bench.
  • Sonny Gray gets the spot-start tomorrow as the Yankees push everyone back a day. The October 3 Wild Card game looms large as the season starts to wrap up, and this is a move to have either Luis Severino or Masahiro Tanaka lined up for that evening.

Twins Lineup:

(italics denotes ex-Yankees)
  1. Joe Mauer – 1B
  2. Jorge Polanco – SS
  3. Logan Forsythe – 2B
  4. Robbie Grossman – RF
  5. Mitch Garver – C
  6. Willians Astudillo – DH
  7. Jake Cave – CF
  8. Johnny Field – LF
  9. Gregorio Petit – 3B

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