What’s Happening in Baseball – July 8, 2021

Happy Friday, everyone!

For my “What’s Happening in Baseball” entry for today, I present Daniel Camarena of the San Diego Padres. Camarena is a native San Diegan, who made his major league debut with his hometown team, after ten seasons in the minor leagues.

Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 2011 Amateur Draft, Daniel toiled in the minor leagues for seven years. Eventually Camarena left as a minor league free agent. He bounced around several other organizations until the Yankees brought him back in 2019. The Yankees needed an extra arm, and got the call, but never appeared in the game. His MLB debut had to wait, and he returned the next day to their Triple-A team in Scranton – Wilkes Barre.

Here is video of Camarena I captured in Buffalo during one of his starts with the RailRiders when they played the Buffalo Bisons in June, 2019. Sahlen Field received massive upgrades in 2020 and ’21, becoming the temporary home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

At the end of August, the Yankees cut Camarena loose and he signed with the Padres on February 13, 2020. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the minor leagues, leaving only “alternate sites” for MLB teams in 2020. I’ll be happy if I never hear the term alternate site for the rest of my life.

Minor League Baseball is back this year, and Camarena performed well for the El Paso Chihuahuas. Across ten appearances, he pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 45.2 innings. Finally, Daniel made his MLB debut on June 19 with 2.2 innings against Cincinnati, in a game the Padres won, 7-5.

Last night, he made his second appearance a very memorable one – but for reasons no one saw coming. Summoned in the top of the 4th inning after the Washington Nationals battered Padres starter Yu Darvish for six runs in three innings, the Nats tallied a couple more runs off Camarena, taking a 8-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, the Padres let Daniel hit for himself. After all, Manager Jayce Tingler figured they were going to need some length with many innings for the bullpen to cover.

Camarena walked to the plate with the bases loaded against Nationals ace Max Scherzer, and history unveiled itself.

In addition, his brother and other family members were in the house to see it live.

It’s nice to see good things happen to good people. See ya next time! 😎⚾

What’s Happening in Baseball – July 6, 2021

I’m going to try something different here at The Titanium Spine. I thought I would do a handful of game recaps from the previous day, with highlights and analysis. For too long, I have leaned heavily on Yankees coverage, and I want to involve other teams. I want to expand my audience to fans of all teams, even minor league affiliates.

Let’s get started!

  • Red Sox at Angels – Clearly, the Shohei Ohtani show was in full swing in Anaheim in a 5-3 Angels victory. The All Star pitcher and hitter was on display, with seven innings of two-run ball on the mound. In addition, Ohtani smoked an RBI double off Nathan Eovaldi (9-5). The Angels scored three runs in the bottom of the first. Undoubtedly, the early lead set up Ohtani (4-1) and he settled in. David Fletcher went 4-4, while C Max Stassi added three hits. Raisel Iglesias locked down his 17th save for the Angels.

  • Phillies at Cubs – The wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field last night, and that usually makes for some wild contests. In 1979, these two teams had a game for the ages that resulted in a 23-22 Phillies win. Likewise, the Phillies won 15-10 last night, battering Chicago starter Jake Arrieta (5-9) to the tune of 7 runs over 1.2 innings. Arrieta left the ball up a lot in . As a consequence, Andrew McCutchen got Philly started with a grand slam in the top of the first inning. Bryce Harper had a five hit night, while Jean Segura added four hits of his own. In true Phillies fashion, their bullpen let the Cubs back in the game. Because their bullpen has been so awful, I hope Joe Girardi has a good supply of Pepto Bismol.

  • White Sox at Twins – Although the White Sox only had three hits, it was enough to get by in a 4-1 win over Minnesota. Carlos Rodon, fresh off being named to the American League All Star team, reeled-off six innings of one-run ball with eight K’s. Rodón (7-3) and José Berrios (7-3) matched up in a pitcher’s duel, with the latter pitching seven innings – the only blemish a two-run single to Chicago catcher Zack Collins in the second inning. Finally, in the bottom of the 9th, White Sox CF Billy Hamilton made the catch of the season, robbing Max Kepler of extra bases. Most certainly, you’ll see a lot of this highlight.

  • Yankees at Mariners – The Yankees have gone through a horrendous stretch, winning just 13 of their past 35 games. The team hit the road for a pair of series in Seattle and Houston, hoping to shake the funk. Apparently, the players meeting Aaron Judge called last week did some good. The Bronx Bombers got off to a good start, pounding Mariners starter Justus Sheffield (5-8) for six runs in 1.2 innings. Giancarlo Stanton hit a missile for a three-run bomb, and Luke Voit got off the schnide with a 5-hit night. Every Yankee in the lineup scored at least once, and eight of nine had at least one hit. Jameson Taillon (4-4) had his best start in Pinstripes, with seven innings of four-hit ball. He struck out nine.

So, I hope everyone enjoyed. I am looking forward to more recaps and highlights going forward. Have a great day! 😎⚾

Yankees Progress Report – 60 Games

When we left off after the Yankees 50 game report, the team was playing much better. The offense was still lagging but they were getting good pitching and just enough offense to win seven of their ten games from May 17 through the 27th. To quote a worn-out cliché from manager Aaron Boone, it looked like the Yankees were turning the corner.

Fast forward another ten games later, and the team is back where they were three weeks ago, treading water and playing barely over .500 ball. The Yankees played three games against the Tigers in Detroit and got swept. They returned home to play a four-game set against the Rays, which they split, followed by three games at home against the Boston Red Sox. In any case, it ended in a demoralizing sweep in front of the Yankee Stadium faithful.

Let’s go over the carnage.

The offense – let’s just say it was offensive. To save the aggravation of re-living it, I’ll just summarize. Yankees hitters need to be better. When they weren’t striking out, which was often, they were hitting into double plays. When they weren’t hitting into double plays, they were making dumb outs on the base-paths. And that’s only when they were finding ways to get on base. 

Yankees beat-writer Sweeny Murti summed it up well.

Honestly, it’s been painful. To save space, I’ll just say that Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela are really the only hitters that are performing as expected. The rest are spinning their wheels in the mud. 

Pitching – the rotation and pitching staff as a whole suffered a tremendous blow when Corey Kluber went on the injured list. He left his start against the Blue Jays after three innings on May 25. Just six days prior, he pitched a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers in Arlington. Diagnosed as a shoulder strain, Kluber has reportedly sought 2nd and 3rd opinions.  Kluber played catch on June 4 and felt good, which is encouraging.

Gerrit Cole was roughed up at home against the Rays on June 3, giving up five runs in five innings. Uncharacteristically, a pair of lead-off walks in the 4th and 5th innings ended up scoring. Additionally, his spin-rates were down, which made some ask if he was curtailing his supposed use of sticky substances in the wake of MLB’s announcement that they are going start randomly checking pitchers for illegal use.

The bullpen is beginning to show signs of wear, with Chad Green and Justin Wilson suffering poor recent outings. Green let in four runs against the Red Sox while recording just a pair of outs in a 7-3 loss on June 5. Wilson was walked off in the 10th inning in Detroit on May 28, when Robbie Grossman hit a two run shot. In essence, Wilson should have been out of the inning with a save and a Yankees win. Home plate umpire Vic Carapazza had other ideas. According to MLB Gameday, Wilson hit his spot which should have been called strike three. Carapazza called it a ball.

Murphy’s law took over and Grossman ended the game on the very next pitch. 

To be sure, it was a tough 10-game stretch, with the Yankees losing five out of seven at home. The Yankees started an eight game road trip with an 8-4 win against the Twins, with the offense looking much more like themselves. By and large, it’s a good head start for the next ten game stretch. Like YES Network broadcaster David Cone says, “Home runs are a great deodorant”. So is winning!

See ya next time!

Yankees Progress Report – 50 Games

It feels like I just published the New York Yankees 40 game report, but here we are again to cover the team’s first fifty games. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? 

It is fun when the team is winning, and the Yankees have done this quite a bit lately. Their record sits at 29-21 after a 5-10 start. They continued their road trip into Texas, dropping the first game of a four-game set on Monday, May 18. Gerrit Cole struggled, allowing five runs to the Rangers in a 5-2 loss. Jameson Taillon struggled the next night. His teammates spotted him five runs, but the Rangers got to him for four runs in just 4.1 innings. The Yankees went on to win, 7-4.

The following night, Corey Kluber was dialed in from the beginning. The offense scored just a pair of runs, but that was all he needed. Kluber looked like his Cy Young self, mastering the Rangers on his way to a no-hitter. He breezed through 101 pitches, 71 of them for strikes. After getting 14 outs the night before, Kluber gave the bullpen a needed night off.

 

The rest of the rotation followed Kluber’s lead, pitching a total of 37 scoreless innings before allowing another run. Domingo Germán and Jordan Montgomery each hurled seven scoreless innings, with Monty notching a career-high eleven strikeouts against the Chicago White Sox on Friday, May 21. The next night, Cole returned to form with seven scoreless of his own, frustrating Chicago hitters to the tune of seven punch-outs and only four hits.

Taillon redeemed himself a bit on Sunday, May 23 with five scoreless innings against the same White Sox. Trouble came after an off day, when Kluber left his start against the Toronto Blue Jays after just three innings. He reported his arm feeling heavy and unable to get really loose. An MRI showed a slight strain, but nothing truly serious.

With the starters going deep into games, it gave the Yankees bullpen a needed breather.  Aroldis Chapman had the nerve to be human and give up a run on May 23, but it didn’t matter in the end as the team won. He now has a 0.47 ERA to go with 11 saves and a 2-0 record. 

Jonathan Loáisiga has struggled a bit in his last four appearances. He only allowed one run, but allowed a few hits and just isn’t quite as dominating. His stuff is so good, though. He and Chapman, along with Chad Green have formed a really good set ’em up and shut ’em down bullpen squad. 

More good news, as Zack Britton (right elbow surgery) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment tomorrow with Double-A Somerset.

On the other side of the ball, the Yankees offense has been up and down. Aaron Judge has caught fire at the right time, hitting .434 with 6 HR and 11 RBI in his last 15 starts. Last night, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Blue Jays, he smoked a blast to center that doinked off the windows above Monument Park.

Gleyber Torres came back after a battle with COVID-19, and promptly raked. He recorded 11 hits in 18 at bats against Texas and Chicago. However, Gleyber didn’t record a hit against the Blue Jays in all three games. Luke Voit, who made his season debut on May 11, went back on the injured list with a strained oblique muscle. He struggled in his time back with the Yankees, hitting .182 with just one home run. Voit will be out until some time in July.

Gio Urshela is cooling off a bit, but still managed seven hits in 32 at bats and 5 RBI over the past ten games. Gary Sánchez is never going to hit well, I think that’s a given at this point. But he did hit a needed home run last night, a solo blast in the 3rd inning off Robbie Ray. He added another hit in the 6th inning. We’ll take what we can get from Gary.

And I need to show some love to Tyler Wade. He’s been getting more playing time, out of necessity with the team being banged up. He has two hits in ten at bats, but made a really good running catch in the 9th inning of Corey Kluber‘s no-hitter. This is relevant because Wade has hardly played any outfield in his career. He discussed it in the postgame Zoom room with Yankees beat writers.

Last but not least, Giancarlo Stanton makes his return tonight after recovering from a quad strain. He last played on May 13.

The Yankees begin a three game set in Detroit for a weekend series against the Tigers before returning home next week for a pair of important series against the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. Both teams are currently ahead of the Yankees in the AL East.

Early Candidates for the American League Cy Young Award

We are a third of the way through the MLB season, baseball’s top pitchers are separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Some of the usual cast of characters are pitching as expected, and there are a couple of surprises as well.

Today we will look at early contenders for the American League Cy Young Award.

Gerrit Cole – The $324 million dollar ace of the New York Yankees is doing his thing. His numbers (6-2, 1.81 ERA) are as you would expect. Cole struck out ten or more five times, and struck out 59 hitters without issuing a walk. The Cy Young odds have been updated and it looks like Cole is now -125 favorite to take home the award.

John Means – Means opened eyes across the baseball world on May 5, when he pitched a no-hitter against the Mariners in Seattle. But those who have watched the big, strapping lefty for some time shouldn’t be surprised. He’s leading the AL in ERA with 1.79, and would be among the league leaders if he had more run support from his Orioles teammates.

Kyle Gibson – Some folks reading this are probably saying, “WHO?” The 33 year old Gibson has toiled in relative obscurity in Minnesota for most of his career, before coming to the Rangers prior to the 2020 season. He entered this season with a career 69-74 record and ERA over 4.50, but seems to have finally put it together. Gibson has a 3-0 record and 2.24 ERA in ten starts, including a 1.50 ERA in his last nine outings. Like John Means, he should have a lot more wins if he had run support.

Hyun-Jin Ryu – Ryu has been one of baseball’s top pitchers since coming to the majors in 2013 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Prior to the 2020 season, he signed a four year contract with Toronto to be their ace. He hasn’t disappointed. Ryu posted a 2.69 ERA across a dozen starts in the abbreviated season last year. He has carried it over this year, fashioning a 2.53 earned run average. The stuff is there for him to win, the biggest obstacle has been staying healthy long-term.

Tyler Glasnow – Before he was traded to the Rays from Pittsburgh, it was hard to tell where Glasnow’s career was headed. The 6’8″ righty had trouble with mechanics and keeping everything in-line. The raw stuff was there, but no one know where the ball was going when it left his hand. After the trade in Summer 2018, Kevin Cash and the Rays put him right into the starting rotation. A switch flipped on when Glasnow began working with respected pitching coach Kyle Snyder. The Rays coach is also a big man and a former pitcher. The 27 year old Glasnow (4-2, 2.57 ERA) is pitching deep into games, averaging 12.6 K’s per nine innings. 

In a later installment, we will break down starters who could battle for the Cy Young in the senior circuit.

 

What a week for this Baseball-holic!

When the calendar flipped to 2021 leaving 2020 behind, I had a feeling things would get better. After COVID-19 ravaged our lives, everyone looks ahead to the normalcy that COVID took from us. That better life includes a full season of baseball after Major League Baseball played only sixty games in 2020. Consequently, Minor League Baseball didn’t play a game, as the season was cancelled completely.

On Tuesday, May 18, Tigers pitcher Spencer Turnbull pitched MLB’s fifth no-hitter of the young 2021 season. The 28 year old righty held the Mariners hitless in a 117 pitch masterpiece. Two years ago, Turnbull suffered through a 3-17 season, but owns a 2.88 ERA this year. Meanwhile, Seattle has been no hit twice this year after Orioles lefty John Means mastered them exactly one week before.

In addition to Turnbull’s effort, the next evening Corey Kluber locked in from the beginning. The Klubot had every weapon in his arsenal working. Coupled with his marksman control, he carved his way through the Texas Rangers, for a no-no in a tidy 101 pitch effort in a 2-0 New York Yankees win.

With that, MLB has six no-hitters less than two months into the season. If you include Madison Bumgarner‘s seven inning performance in Atlanta, there’s seven (yes, it should count).

Friday night, the Yankees turned a triple-play in the top of the 9th inning, snuffing out a White Sox rally. The game was tied at one apiece, and swung the momentum in the Yankees’ favor. They won on a walk-off hit by Gleyber Torres, giving the Yankees 21 wins in their last 30 games.

On a personal level, I took in a few minor league games in Rochester, where I live. In light of the cancelled minor league season, the Rochester Red Wings played in their home ballpark, Frontier Field, for the first time in 624 days. They hosted the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Yankees Triple-A affiliate.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders CF Estevan Florial steps in as Rochester’s Ben Braymer checks his fielders before first pitch. It had been 624 days since the last Red Wings game was played at Frontier Field. (Author’s photo)

 

It’s an incredible feeling to have Minor League Baseball back. Please support your local minor league team. So much fun at an affordable price. See ya next time! 😎

Yankees 40 Game Report

The New York Yankees and Major League Baseball are through forty games, roughly the first quarter of the 2021 season. After starting out 5-10, the Yankees have won 17 of their last 25 games. The bats have warmed along with the weather, and the team has gotten good pitching more often than not.

In this installment of “Yankees xx Game Report”, we’re going to cover games 32 through 40. We got a little off kilter the last couple times, and I want to get back on track covering games by full ten game increments. So let’s get started!

The Yankees won all three series against the Nationals, Rays, and Baltimore Orioles, for a 6-3 record in those games. Yankees fans tend to be a greedy bunch (in a GOOD WAY), so there was some disappointment when the team failed to complete the sweeps against Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

  • Pitching

Gerrit Cole started only one game during this span of games, but he made it a beauty. On May 12, the unquestioned rotation leader delivered eight scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and a dozen punchies. He threw 73 strikes over 106 pitches.

Jordan Montgomery has been uneven, and his two most recent starts has been more of the same. Six innings of one-run ball in Tampa on May 11, and yesterday he went just three innings (76 pitches) and let in five runs in Baltimore. On the season, Monty is sporting an ERA of 4.75 and hasn’t gone past six innings in his eight starts. 

Corey Kluber has also made eight starts in 2021. His first four starts were less than impressive, but I will chalk it up to rustiness after pitching one inning last year. The Klubot locked it in since, reeling off 26.1 (7 ER) innings reminiscent of his Cy Young years. The Yankees won all four starts, and Kluber has lowered his season ERA to 3.48.

Domingo Germán pitched well in his two starts against the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees won both games and Germán got his team to the seventh inning each time (3 runs over 12.1 total innings). He’s throwing strikes and seems to be back to form after missing all of 2020 under suspension for his role in a domestic abuse incident.

Jameson Taillon, the Yankees fifth starter and newest addition to the rotation, has struggled. He missed most of the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Many pitchers who have had this surgery say command is the last thing to return to normal, so this isn’t unexpected. The stuff is there, as Taillon has struck out 43 in his 33.1 innings. What’s hurt Jamo is not being able to put hitters away, resulting in getting into deep counts and raising his pitch totals. Taillon also seems to have one bad inning where things start to go sideways. Patience is going to be key, but I believe it will be rewarded in the long run. For now, Taillon sports a 5.40 ERA and a record of 1-3.

As for the bullpen, the guys are still getting the job done. Aroldis Chapman has converted all nine save opportunities, striking out 31 in his 15 innings and allowing only one unearned run. Jonathan Loaísiga has two saves of his own, filling in when Chapman was unavailable while touching 100 mph. Chad Green has been dependable, while lefties Lucas Luetge, Justin Wilson and Wandy Peralta have been excellent. On the injury front, Zack Britton is throwing simulated games with Triple-A Scranton, and should be ready to begin a rehab assignment any day now.

**UPDATE** Yankees clubhouse reporter Meredith Marakovits reports Britton has some “general soreness” after the simulated game. The plan was to have him make a rehab appearance with Somerset on Wednesday, but will push that back for now.

  • Position Players 

Aaron Judge is getting hot, and it’s coming at a great time. In the Baltimore series, Judge swung his gavel to the tune of six hits and 4 HR’s in ten at bats. He’s 13-29 with five bombs over the past nine games. With Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton hitting the injured list, the Yankees need him. 

Luke Voit is back after finishing a week-long rehab assignment with Scranton Wilkes-Barre. It took a few days for him to get going, but Voit drove home a pair of runs in Baltimore while collecting four hits in nine AB’s.

Gio Urshela returned he sat out a few games with a sore knee. He’s back to hitting the ball (7-22 – .318) and being his dependable self, including a clutch three-run HR in Baltimore that proved to be the winning runs.

After DJ LeMahieu carried the Yankees in 2019 and 2020, we became used to him raking like a man-possessed. He’s not hitting .350, but he’s been extremely dependable. On the season, LeMahieu’s slash-line is .272/.364/.364. Over the past nine games, it’s .286/.375/.457 – which is more indicative of the hitter he is.

Gleyber Torres has been out since May 11 after testing positive for COVID-19. The diagnosis came at a tough time, as Gleyber was starting to hit after a slow start to the season. Torres was 13 for his last 43, including his first home run of the year on Mother’s Day. The Yankees are hoping he will be back soon.

In the catching department, Kyle Higashioka and Gary Sánchez are holding their own. They each have five home-runs, but are also hitting under .200. I can live with it, as long as the guys are handling the pitching staff and defense.

And I have to give Tyler Wade some love. When Torres went down, Wade stepped in with six starts at shortstop. He has 5 hits in his 16 at bats, and drew a pair of walks. Everyone seems to hate on the guy, myself included at times. He deserves credit for some good at bats.

It’s hard to believe we’re a quarter of the way through the 2021 season. The Yankees play four games in Texas against the Rangers before heading back to the Bronx to face the White Sox and Blue Jays.

Yankees need more from bench players

In today’s world of professional baseball, no player is going to play every game of every season. Players like Cal Ripken, Jr., who famously played 2,632 consecutive games for the Baltimore Orioles, wouldn’t set such records for durability today. Studies have shown resting players periodically is more beneficial for teams, because they are fresher after a day off. “Load management” is a thing in MLB, minor league baseball, and other sports as well.

When the New York Yankees tweeted out their lineup for yesterday’s game against Tampa Bay Rays, I didn’t have a good feeling.

Let’s finish this series?

I was hoping for “Let’s sweep the series”. The Rays started a soft-tossing lefty in Rich Hill, so I didn’t expect to see Mike Ford and Brett Gardner, who bat left handed. Aaron Hicks (sore wrist) and Luke Voit (that load management thing) weren’t able to go, necessitating the lineup changes. Let’s just say it didn’t go well. The 41 year old Hill pitched into the seventh inning, holding the Bombers to three hits.

I understand keeping players fresh, but that lineup was a white flag more than two hours before first pitch. The results were predictable. Mike Ford and Brett Gardner are hitting .095 and .192, respectively. Clint Frazier has a .141 average and is an automatic out.

If this is how the Yankees are going to get through the season, then they need players who will produce off the bench. As tough as the AL East is, every loss matters. The Yankees didn’t compete last night. I’m not saying they weren’t trying, of course they were. However, it wasn’t competitive.

There was a point in the game where Ford came to the plate vs. Hill in the top of the 6th inning. Runners on 1st and 3rd with one out. The game was in reach, only 4-0 at that point. In this case, it’s a perfect time for Voit to pinch hit, right? Nope! Manager Aaron Boone kept Ford in there, and what does he do? He grounded into an inning-ending double play and “Yankees Twitter” lost their collective minds. The Rays went on to blow the game open in the bottom of the 6th with a 3-run blast from Randy Arozarena.

Although the Yankees ended up winning the series from the Rays, which is big in it’s own right. I just thought it was a good opportunity to keep their foot on the gas and sweep the series. That lineup told me the Yankees were content to just win the series. Thus, that 9-0 loss washed away every good feeling I had about the first two Yankees wins. The team needs more than what the likes of Mike Ford, Clint Frazier and other bench players are providing.

If Clint doesn’t get himself going, he could find himself back in Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. On the other hand, Estevan Florial, already on the Yankees 40-man roster, was promoted from Double-A Somerset to Scranton. He’s knocking on the door. 

Posted in MLB

Yankees Ten Game Report – Games 22-31

The New York Yankees have blown through another ten game chunk of the 2021 season, so here we are again. The Bronx Bombers finished series vs. the Orioles, Tigers, and those lovable Houston Astros. The Yankees split a four-game set with the O’s, swept three against the Detroit and took two of three against Houston. All in all, they won seven of ten, so things are looking up in the Bronx.

Often the object of Yankees fans’ wrath, no one has been hotter than Giancarlo Stanton the past two weeks. His numbers for the past twelve games are mind-numbing. His slash line – .481/.509/.904 for an OPS of 1.413. Over that span, Stanton has gone 25-52, with 6 HR and 4 doubles. He sent another missile into the Yankees bullpen yesterday.

Aaron Judge isn’t hitting at the same clip as Stanton (I mean, who can?), but he contributed three home runs of his own to go with ten RBI over the past ten games. By the same token, he played in nine of those games. Staying healthy is important.

Speaking of health, there’s cause for concern. Third baseman Gio Urshela came up gimpy in yesterday’s series finale against the Astros. Gio banged up his knee in on a diving play late in the game. The team is awaiting results of an MRI as of this writing. The timing is unfortunate, as Urshela went 12 for his last 33 AB’s while bringing home seven baserunners.

Second baseman Rougned Odor was fortunate to not have any structural damage in his left knee after a scary home plate collision with Astros catcher Martín Maldonado. Still, Odor went on the 10 day IL.

Gleyber Torres has picked up the pace over these three series. He has 10 hits in his last 30 AB’s, with three doubles and seven RBI. Even better, he walked five times and only struck out three. His at bats have been quality. No HR’s yet, but this approach is better. Really, Gleyber doesn’t need to be a power bat. This is good.

Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber each delivered a pair of strong starts. Kluber especially opened eyes with a dominating performance against the Tigers. In that game, he gave eight innings of two-hit shutout ball, punching tickets for ten Detroit hitters. Domingo Germán shut out the Orioles over seven innings and gave five effective innings vs. the Astros (2.25 ERA, 12 IP). In the second game, Jordan Montgomery ground out six innings of three-run ball against Houston, not having his best stuff. At the same time, he’s growing as a pitcher, and those games are character builders.

The bullpen has been lights out, and Aroldis Chapman is putting up video game numbers. Over his eleven appearances (11 innings), the Yankees closer has allowed five baserunners (two hits, 3 BB) and struck out 26. His FIP is -0.81 (yes, MINUS).

Chad Green has done his job well, but the Astros got to him yesterday with Jose Altuve hitting a three-run HR that was the difference in the game. These things happen. We don’t like it, but “that’s baseball, Suzyn”. Just have to turn the page and move on.

Darren O’Day went on the injured list with a right rotator cuff strain, necessitating Michael King‘s return from Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. From the left side, Lucas Luetge and newcomer Wandy Peralta (obtained from the Giants for OF Mike Tauchman) have done the job. Justin Wilson has not pitched well in his return to the team, with an overall ERA of 7.04 – and 16.88 over his past three games. To be honest, the Yankees need more from him.

But reinforcements are coming. Luke Voit played a pair of games in Syracuse for Triple-A Scranton, scorching the ball. Him and Miguel Andújar had quite the game on May 6 against the Triple-A Mets.

Voit was expected to play again in Syracuse last night, but when I scanned the field during batting practice, he was noticeably absent. Of course, given the uncertainty for the injury to Urshela, I suspect he was scratched and is on his way to New York. However, we’re still waiting for official word.

Andújar DID play last night for and only went 4-5 with a pair of home-runs in a 17-11 win for the RailRiders. There was some confusion last night, after he was moved mid-game from first base to third. This created a false alarm, thinking he may have been pulled. He’s making his own case for a return to the Yankees.

So that’s it for this Yankees Ten Game Report. The Bombers are looking better, more like the team we expect to see. See ya next time! 😎👋🏽

**UPDATE**

Luke Voit was not recalled from his rehab assignment, and yesterday was a scheduled day off as part of the plan. However, Miguel Andújar was called up after his big performance in Syracuse.

 

Higashioka Seizing his Opportunity

Yesterday afternoon, New York Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch of MLB.com sent a tweet saying Aaron Boone is giving more playing time to catcher Kyle Higashioka.

Given Gary Sánchez’s trouble making contact at bat and spotty defense behind the plate, it’s easy to understand why. But make no mistake, Higashioka has earned the right to play more. His hitting stats are the best on the team, by far. Going into tonight’s game against the Orioles, Higgy’s slash-line is .320/.414/,880. His OPS (1.294) is over 400 points higher than Aaron Judge (.885), who has the second highest.

On the defensive side of the ball, the 31 year old Higashioka has proven to be dependable behind the plate. When he is catching, Yankees Twitter is a much calmer place to be during the game. It’s no secret Gerrit Cole likes working with Higgy, who knew Gerrit when both were being scouted by David Keith in 2008 for the Yankees. Sánchez caught Cole on Opening Day, and hasn’t done so since. It’s interesting to note the Yankees have a record of 5-3 in games Higashioka started behind the plate, and the team is 5-12 in games Gary Sánchez started. That’s not all on Gary, but I believe there’s certainly more comfort on days Higgy catches.

It’s been a long road for Higashioka, who’s been with the Yankees his entire career. He spent a lot of years riding buses in the minor leagues, climbing each rung of the ladder. I got a close up look at Higgy when the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders played the Buffalo Bisons on Opening Day 2019.

(Kyle Higashioka signing a few autographs before first pitch in Buffalo on April 4, 2019)

 

No doubt, Higashioka has earned his way over the years. With so many bonus babies being fast-tracked to the majors, it’s rewarding to see someone like Kyle succeed and thrive.

 

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