Tag: Greg Bird

Yankees 7, Cleveland 4: Heroic Hicks 2B Fuels Win

CLEVELAND – What was billed as the ultimate pitchers dual ended up being a battle of bullpen decision making ultimately won by Aaron Boone and the Yankees.

Knowing that his bullpen is his team’s weakest point, Cleveland manager Terry Francona pushes his ace Corey Kluber to throw 114 pitches, while Boone had Luis Severino removed after just 94. The pivotal moment of the game was a clutch double by Aaron Hicks that gave the Yankees a lead they would never relinquish in the eighth inning.

Didi Gregorius led off the inning with a walk, and was in motion on a 3-2 count when Hicks smoked the ball over the head of Cleveland center fielder Greg Allen. Kluber was lifted, and ex-Yankee Óliver Pérez came into face Greg Bird. Hicks barely, and I mean BARELY, stole third and then scored on a sacrifice fly hit by Bird.

Cleveland greeted Severino rudely in the first inning. Francisco Lindor singled, moved to second on a groundout and then scored on a José Ramírez RBI single. Ramírez was then throw out trying to steal second base, but more trouble followed. Edwin Encarnación smacked his 21st homer of the year.

A two-run homer for Brett Gardner tied the game at two in the third, but Cleveland rallied to get another run on a Yonder Alonso single. That lead held for another half inning, when Gregorius yet another home run off Kluber. Bird doubled to score Hicks later in the inning. Gardy homered again in the top of the ninth to ice the game, giving the Yankees a decisive 7-to-4 advantage.


What’s Next

Domingo Germán faces off against Shane Bieber.

Yankees 9, Orioles 0: Stellar Sonny, Big Bats Push Yanks to Split

Six scoreless from Sonny, big hits for Bird and Wade. What could be better?

BALTIMORE – It’s an odd feeling to be celebrating a four-game series split with the worst team in the American League.

And yet, it’s worth celebrating the game for the Yankees where so many positives happen to players that have been mired in bad streaks for so long. Sonny Gray pitched six scoreless innings, and looked as sharp as ever. His velocity hit 95+ mph 13 times, the highest number of times he’s hit that this season. It looked like Austin Romine had him focus solely on sinkers and curveballs, and that might just be what Gray needs.

Greg Bird launched his first career grand slam, as his bat continues to heat up just in time for the All-Star Break. His .250/.407/.550 line over his past six games shows just how good he can be. I’m glad he could bounce back after having the game-winning hit clank off his glove.

Tyler Wade, who began his 2018 season with a 3-for-35 in 13 games, clocked three hits including his first big league homer. The silent treatment he got in the dugout was absolutely priceless. Wade is hitting .444/.444/.889 in six games since being recalled to replace Gleyber Torres.

Giancarlo Stanton collected RBI singles in the first and ninth innings, while Romine cranked home run No. 6 on the season in the seventh inning. Aaron Hicks should’ve been given an RBI infield single, but the Orioles official scorer decided to rule it a fielder’s choice + E1 instead (It was ruled a missed catch error on the pitcher fielding a chopper; something I’ve never seen before).

What’s Next

The battle of the aces. Luis Severino (14-2, 2.12 ERA) faces Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.49 ERA) in a marquee matchup in Cleveland. This is the opener of a four-game set from Progressive Field in Cleveland.

Game 91: Happy Flight

The words are written in huge letters on the whiteboard in the visiting clubhouse in Baltimore:

After last night’s incredibly frustrating walk-off loss to the Orioles, they aim to turn it around and split the series with a win today. Sonny Gray takes the mound tasked with pitching the Yankees to that victory, in what could be the most important outing of his pinstriped tenure. It’s no secret Gray has been awful, and a good start tonight could save him from being traded away as a salary dump before the July 31 deadline. Gray has a 9.00 ERA in his last five starts and needs a good outing against a bad team to make himself look better. In his career, Gray is 4-4 with a 4.64 ERA against the Orioles, and 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA in five career starts at Camden Yards.

On the other side of the pitching matchup is Orioles ace Dylan Bundy. The 25-year-old right-hander carries a 4.08 ERA in 17 starts heading into tonight. Despite all their matchups already this season, the Yankees have yet to face Bundy in 2018. In his career, Bundy is 2-3 with a 5.34 ERA in seven games (five starts) against the Yankees. He got roughed up his last time out July 6 against Minnesota, allowing six runs (five earned) in 3⅓ innings.

Nothing super crazy being done with the Yankees lineup tonight. Didi Gregorius moves back into the No. 3 slot, while Aaron Hicks slides down to No. 5 in the order. Greg Bird, on the heels of a four-RBI night, gets back into the No. 6 slot. Miguel Andújar goes down to No. 7, while Tyler Wade gets the start at second base and bats ninth.


Pre-Game Notes

  • Gary Sánchez and Gleyber Torres are continuing to progress in their respective rehab processes. The Yankees are sending head athletic trainer Steve Donohue to Washington with Torres during the All-Star break so he can keep his rehab regimen up.
  • Lots of trade rumors connecting the Yankees to Orioles INF Manny Machado, with Jon Morosi of MLB.com reporting the Orioles would trade Machado to the Bronx if LHP Justus Sheffield is included in the deal. It’s unclear if Brian Cashman would move Sheffield exclusively for Machado, especially since the team has been linked to LHP Zach Britton as well.

Baltimore Orioles Lineup

  1. Tim Beckham – 3B
  2. Adam Jones – CF
  3. Manny Machado – SS
  4. Mark Trumbo – DH
  5. Jonathan Schoop – 2B
  6. Chris Davis – 1B
  7. Danny Valencia – RF
  8. Joey Rickard – LF
  9. Caleb Joseph – C

Yankees 5, Orioles 6: Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

Another frustrating loss in Baltimore.

BALTIMORE – Dellin Betances has been here before.

September 5, 2017: Manny Machado hits a walk-off home run on a hanging breaking ball from Betances to beat the Yankees.

July 10, 2018: Jonathan Schoop pokes a single off Betances to push the Orioles to a 6-to-5 walk-off win.

Losing twice in a four-game series to the last-place Orioles is beyond frustrating. Doing it while the Red Sox have lost just once in their last 10 games could be the difference between winning the division and suiting up in the Wild Card game.

Betances did not set himself up for success in the bottom of the ninth inning. With the game tied at 5, his 2-2 pitch hit .187-hitter Caleb Joseph to put the winning run the O’s needed on base. After retiring Tim Beckham, Adam Jones doubled into the gap to give them two runners in scoring position with one out. Machado, who already homered twice in the game, was intentionally walked in order to set up the double play with the slower Mark Trumbo due up. Once Trumbo struck out, that brought up Schoop.

On a 1-1 count, Schoop sent a ground ball toward first base that clanked off the glove of first baseman Greg Bird and into right field. That hit pushed the final run across and was the nail in the coffin for the Yankees. It was the first earned run allowed by Betances since a similarly frustrating loss May 23 against the Texas Rangers.

“It’s a play I want to make. That’s the way I classify it,” Bird said. “A big spot there. That’s a play I want to come up with. He put a decent swing on it. It rode up and I didn’t get [the glove] up in time. That’s it.”

The other five runs the Orioles scored came via the aforementioned Machado homers and a two-run double by Joey Rickard. The first Machado shot came on a get-me-over cutter at 89 mph from Masahiro Tanaka. The second blast, off Chad Green, came in a sequence of six consecutive fastballs to a hitter with a .311 batting average against heaters in 2018. For a team whose reputation is to not throw fastballs, they sure got burned by throwing fastballs in predictable situations.

Bird represented most of the Yankees offense, driving in four via a three-run home run in the fifth and sacrifice fly in the seventh. Neil Walker hit an RBI single in the seventh as well to give the Yankees a two-run lead that they ultimately could not hold. Each time they got a lead, Machado homered in the following half-inning to tie the game.

Didi Gregorius was the only Yankee with multiple hits in the game, as he went 3-for-4 with a double. His single in the fifth inning broke up O’s starter Andrew Cashner‘s perfect game.

Overall, Tanaka was disappointing in his return from the disabled list. He was limited to 80 pitches, and as a result, only made it through 4⅓ innings. In that time, he allowed three earned runs on six hits.

“As far as the fourth inning goes, maybe there was some bad luck there,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “What I’m most disappointed in was the fifth inning, that first pitch to Machado. I can’t do that. I have no excuse for that.”

The Yankees have now lost five out of their nine contests with the Orioles so far in 2018.


What’s Next:

Not exactly the most inspiring pitching matchup of all-time. Sonny Gray (5-7, 5.85 ERA), who has a 9.00 ERA in his last five starts, gets another opportunity against Dylan Bundy (6-8, 4.08 ERA).

This will be Gray’s final start of the first half, and if it goes badly, should be his last start in pinstripes. A team with World Series aspirations cannot be held down by a starting pitcher who has given up at least four runs in eight of his starts this season. As good as the Yankees offense is, they can’t be expected to bail Gray out every time he starts.

Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1: Small Ball Wins It

Fans of the sacrifice bunt, rejoice!

With a doubleheader lurking in Baltimore, the last thing the Yankees wanted was an extended extra innings contest in Toronto.

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They managed to limit things to one extra frame in their final game north of the border, thanks to some well-timed small ball in the 10th inning. Jays manager John Gibbons went with setup-man Seung-hwan Oh for two innings in relief of his starter Ryan Borucki, so he switched to closer Tyler Clippard (yes, THAT Tyler Clippard) to pitch the 10th inning.

Clippard’s 2-2 pitch to leadoff hitter Greg Bird hit the Yankee first baseman to start the rally. Aaron Boone immediately subbed Bird out for the speedy Tyler Wade. Austin Romine executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Wade into scoring position. Two pitches later, Brett Gardner lined a single to left field that scored Wade just ahead of the throw from Teoscar Hernández. David Robertson pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th to put another Yankees series victory on ice.

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Both starters performed quite well today, as Domingo Germán recovered from his last start against the Braves. He allowed just one run on a Kendrys Morales solo home run, and struck out five Blue Jays. Borucki showed his skills too, scattering seven hits and allowing just one earned run (Miguel Andújar RBI ground out) through seven innings of work.

Boone was able to squeeze two scoreless innings out of Adam Warren, and one out of Chad Green. Warren almost gave the game to the Blue Jays when Justin Smoak came within mere feet of giving the Blue Jays the lead with a third-deck home run. But, it was just foul and Smoak eventually grounded out to first base.

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Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton each racked up two hits, while Didi Gregorius, Bird and Romine each picked up one.

What’s Next

Two games in Baltimore!  Today’s game going into extra innings was the precise reason the team made a huge fuss about it being originally scheduled for Sunday Night Baseball.

Things get underway at 4:05 p.m. ET tomorrow at Oriole Park, with CC Sabathia (6-3, 3.02 ERA) going up against a yet-to-be-named Baltimore Orioles pitcher. I believe Game 2 is scheduled to begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 1, and will feature Luis Cessa (0-1, 5.00 ERA) against former Yankees farmhand Yefry Ramírez (0-2, 2.51 ERA).

The Orioles (24-65) enter into this series 36.5 games out of first place in the American League East and on a six-game losing streak.

Game 87: Domingo on Domingo

Domingo Germán fittingly gets the Sunday start in today’s rubber game with the Toronto Blue Jays.

It’s been a mixed bag for Domingo Germán since he became a starter. He has an impressive 10.5 strikeouts-per-9 as a starter, but his 1.9 home-runs-per-9 obviously leaves something to be desired. He lasted just 4⅓ innings in his last time out against Atlanta and it felt like he lost focus once the fifth inning began because he had been given a huge lead. His pitches became flat and he simply let the Braves back into the game. Ideally, he gives the team decent length so that the bullpen isn’t taxed heading into tomorrow’s doubleheader in Baltimore.

Ryan Borucki is the man on the mound for the Blue Jays this afternoon. Ranked as the No. 8 prospect in their system by MLB Pipeline, he’s off to a promising start through two outings against Houston and Detroit. He’s allowed two earned runs each time out, pitching six and seven innings against the Astros and Tigers, respectively. Impressively, he has struck out 11 batters compared to just four walks (all in MLB debut vs. Astros). We’ll see how he fares in outing No. 3 against the Yankees offense today.

Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton flip roles today, as the former gets the half-day-off while the latter patrols right field. Miguel Andújar gets his first career start in the cleanup spot. Clint Frazier starts in left field, which slides Brett Gardner to center field. Brandon Drury gets another start at second base, while Greg Bird continues his exile to the bottom of the order. Austin Romine catches Germán.


Some pre-game notes:

  • Aaron Hicks (left leg cramps) is available off the bench today, Aaron Boone told reporters. Hicks had left yesterday’s game in the bottom of the fifth inning.
  • Aroldis Chapman is “feeling better” today after being removed after six pitches because of soreness in his left knee. Chapman has been dealing with tendonitis in that knee all season, so it’s unlikely the lefty pitches this afternoon.

Blue Jays Lineup

  1. Teoscar Hernández – LF
  2. Yangervis Solarte – 3B
  3. Justin Smoak – 1B
  4. Kendrys Morales – DH
  5. Kevin Pillar – CF
  6. Russell Martin – C
  7. Randal Grichuk – RF
  8. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – SS
  9. Devon Travis – 2B

Yankees 8, Blue Jays 5: Happ Fails Audition

In what was billed by many to be a trade audition for Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ for the Yankees, the offense ended up starring.

Happ surrendered back-to-back home runs to the game’s first batters, as Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge greeted him rudely to give the Yankees a quick 2-to-0 advantage. Happ then walked Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks. He managed to strike out Didi Gregorius and Miguel Andújar before allowing a 2-run double to Brandon Drury that just squirted over the head of a leaping Kevin Pillar.

Pillar would exact his revenge in the bottom the second off Luis Severino. After Justin Smoak led off the inning with a single, Pillar ripped a hanging slider over the left field wall for a two-run home run.

The Yankees got back into the scoring column in the following frame. Didi led off with a walk, but the next two hitters failed to advance him into scoring position. The second of which was Kyle Higashioka, who was called out on strikes with an absolutely glacial call by home-plate umpire Lance Barrett. CC Sabathia began to chirp from the dugout, and Barrett was having none of it. He warned Sabathia but gave him approximately three more words before tossing him from the dugout. Aaron Boone came out and attempted to smooth things over but it was clear Sabathia was the victim of a quick trigger.

With the ejection dealt with, Happ then walked Greg Bird. On his way to remove Happ, Jays manager John Gibbons had some words with Barrett. As Jake Petricka began his warmups, Gibbons himself took exception to some of Barrett’s decisions with the strike zone and got himself run as well. The second pitch Petricka threw ended up being rocked into the gap for a two-run triple by Gardner. The Yankee left fielder then scored on a passed ball by Luke Maile, which came on a 97 mph two-seam fastball.

In the bottom of the fourth, Randal Grichuk tagged Severino for a solo shot, marking the first time this season that the Yankees right-hander allowed more than one home run in a single game. The Jays scored again on a sacrifice fly by Pillar in the sixth, and on a garbage time Aledmys Díaz home run in the ninth off Chasen Shreve (more on this debacle later).

The Yankees became concerned in the fifth inning as center fielder Aaron Hicks was replaced in the outfield by Clint Frazier in left, with Gardner moving over to center field. The cause of this was revealed after the game as cramping in his left leg. Hicks should not have any lingering injury but will sit Sunday’s game as a precaution.

In the Yankees’ half of the ninth, Andújar smoked a double (measured at 109.6 mph) to leadoff the inning. Gregorius then followed by poking a single to left to push Andújar across as the final insurance run.

Aroldis Chapman was brought in to record the final three outs of the game, though it was a non-save situation. He only made it through six pitches, when he pulled up lame on his left leg after striking out Grichuk. Boone removed Chapman, who felt soreness in his left knee because of tendinitis that he has been dealing with all season. Shreve, who would have entered the game had the Yankees created a bigger advantage, was summoned to the mound. He worked a ground out from Maile and allowed Díaz’s eighth home run of the season before striking out pinch-hitter Teoscar Hernández to end the game.

Severino was due for an outing where he did not have his best stuff, but luckily the Yankees’ offense was ready to bail him out. The team is now hoping the injury scares for Chapman and Hicks prove to be minor. They now must play nine games in eight days in three cities before the All-Star Break arrives July 16.

What’s Next

Domingo Germán gets the nod in the series finale against the Jays and lefty Ryan Borucki.

This game was the subject of a conflict between the Yankees organization and ESPN, as the latter wanted to televise the game at 8:05 p.m. as their Sunday Night Baseball game of the week. With a doubleheader scheduled the following day in Baltimore, the Yankees cried foul, and even threatened to strip ESPN reporters of their clubhouse credentials. The network later relented, and moved the game into a 1:05 p.m. start time. The national spotlight will now be on the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels Sunday night at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.