Archives for posts with tag: Sawx

Tonight I will live blog as David Ortiz takes his last swings against the Yankees. I will do my best to fight through the tears, of joy, as one of the most feared/loathed Yankee killers says a much-anticipated goodbye.

Thankfully both sides still have something to play for as the AL East winning Sawx are competing for home advantage in the playoffs and the Yanks are playing the Sawx – motivation enough.

See you after the 1st inning!

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I have to admit, things were getting exciting. After a week that saw the Yanks energized by a 7-game win streak the Bronx Bombers have now crashed back to reality thanks to losing two out of three to the visiting LA Dodgers and dropping three in a row to the rival Sawx with a series sweep possible after tonight’s contest. Leave it the Boston Red Sox to make a statement this week about who the AL East champ should be. Truth be told to, the Yanks were playing above their talent and the Sawx have been nice enough to provide a much needed reality check.

Thursday night’s 7-5 loss which saw the Sawx rally for 5 runs in 9th inning, with four runs charged to “relief ace” Dellin Betances, was a defining moment for both clubs. For the Sawx, it was a reminder of just how intimidating their lineup is and that no lead is insurmountable. For the Yanks, it was another example of going to the bullpen well once too often as well as not being capable of putting opponents away, as best exemplified by the 12 runners left on base. I know that no closer is perfect, not even the great soon to HOFer Mariano Rivera, but if your closer can’t protect a three-run lead in the 9th inning of a September game, your team shouldn’t be playing in October.

On the bright side, this year’s Yankees are still six games over .500 and still capable of another winning season. Not exactly the consolation prize you want, but sometimes you take what you can get. Gary Sanchez continues to carry the team on his back and garner serious AL Rookie of the Year talk with 15 HRs and 29 RBIs in just 40 games played. Masahiro Tanaka is pitching like the ace the Yanks signed in 2014 with a 2.97 ERA as he approaches 200 IP for the season. And the recent signing of Billy Butler has been a much needed shot in the arm with Billy, also known as “Country Breakfast,” going 3 for 7 with a HR and 4 RBIs in his first three games. I do not see him as a long term acquisition but if he wants to use the last two weeks of the season as an audition for the rest of the AL, he can just keep slugging away.

Mathematically the Yanks playoff hopes aren’t over. But as they currently stand at 3.4% I think we can pronounce those hopes dead. It’s been quite the rollercoaster season and with the two weeks left anything is possible…..with the exception of a playoff berth.

The youth movement in the Bronx is continuing to pay winning dividends. The New York Yankees have won seven games in a row and show no signs of slowing down as they play themselves back into serious playoff contention. Not only are they jockeying for position in the Wild Card standings, where they are currently one game out of the 2nd spot, but are now only three games back of the rival Sawx in the race for the AL East. Yep, this is the same team that held an early “Back to School” sale at the trade deadline. And the result? A record of 24-13 and a month long display of what the future may hold in the Bronx.

After a ten game homerless streak where more than a few commentators starting squawking about Kevin Maas, Gary Sanchez returned to early August form with HRs in each of the last two games. The big hitting catcher also pulled a Kelly Leak when he whacked an intentional ball to deep left center, which was good enough to merit a sacrifice fly. Seriously, good luck pitching around this guy. Brian McCann seems to have adjusted to his new role as DH and back-up catcher with a .313 week highlighted by 3 HRs. McCann should easily eclipse the 20 HR mark for the ninth straight season with one more blast. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are back to early season form hitting .391 and .318, respectively, over the last week. Gardner in particular saved Tuesday night’s 7-6 win against the Blue Jays when he tracked down Justin Smoak’s line drive to end the game. And Tyler Austin is making a serious case to be the Yankees new full-time first baseman. Next spring, he will have to complete with Greg Bird, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery that has sidelined him this year, but Austin is garnering plenty of favor after Thursday night’s game winning HR over the Rays. At the very least, Austin should be the new 4th OF with Aaron Hicks now thankfully dispensable.

Despite my reservations, Masahiro Tanaka continues to impress as the much needed Yankee ace. Tanaka has won two games during the current win streak and has lowered his ERA to just above 3.00. Most importantly, he has proved to very effective against the explosive line up of the Toronto Blue Jays. Over three starts this season, he has a 2.60 ERA which will be counted on again as the Yanks have one more trip planned north of the border. Bryan Mitchell’s first start of the year was fruitful as he held the aforementioned Jays scoreless over five innings. And while Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are having their recurring struggles, Joe Girardi is having no issues using his newly expanded September bullpen to get outs. Luis Severino has blossomed in his new middle relief role. Tommy Layne and Chasen Shreve have found success in their recent outings. And even Blake Parker came up big when he found himself in the unfamiliar role of having to get Dellin Betances out of a jam in Tuesday night’s heart-attack inducing 9th inning. Despite the hiccup, Betances should be fine especially with fellow relief ace Tyler Clippard along for back-up.

Another September and the Yankees are playing meaningful baseball. More importantly, they are hot at the right time and not stumbling to the finish line. Not sure they will challenge the 2007 Colorado Rockies 21-1 run but the Yankees are finding many ways to win with a new hero almost every night. There’s plenty of baseball and plenty of hope left in the season.

At the start of the season I had the Yankees winning the AL East. Call me a fanatic, call me delusional, I just saw something special happening this year. And it turns that I may just be right, about the special part, not the division. After going into sell mode at the trade deadline, a tactic that no Yankee fan or front office rep has ever been familiar with, the Yankees are slowly but surely moving in the right direction for future championship runs, and playing actual winning baseball in the meantime. After unloading Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova, the Yanks are flush with prospects. And the recent/timely release A-Roid means Aaron Judge his finally getting his shot this year. It’s an exciting time to be a Yankee fan.

The Yankees have won 7 of their last 10, which includes winning two of three from the contending Sawx and back-to-back wins over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yanks are back to a season-high four games over .500 and while they still lack the pitching for a serious AL East run they are currently giving fans a glimpse of the future. Gary Sanchez has gotten off to a .278 start in his career including a mammoth HR at Fenway that highlighted a 4-hit night. I do hope the Yanks hold onto Brian McCann so that Sanchez has a chance to develop behind the plate, with two years left on McCann’s deal. Yesterday’s 8-4 win was highlighted by Tyler Austin and the previously mentioned Aaron Judge both making the MLB debuts and both homering in their first at-bats, going back to back no less. I’m not saying we need to start the coronation of the next Core Four but I also wouldn’t be too hasty to write off any of these young hopefuls as the next Kevin Maas or Shane Spencer.

This new young trio of everyday Yankees are being aided in their early playing days by other young, more seasoned players like Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius. Castro seems to be in the midst of another hot streak with HRs in the last two games as well as 13 RBIs in 12 August games. And with the departure of Carlos Beltran, Didi Gregorius is now the most talented and MVP-worthy star the Yanks have. Hard to believe that just a year ago he was being doubted as he stepped into the shoes of a legend, now he’s flashing 5-tool potential and should garner serious All-Star consideration next year.

As far as pitching no word if any of the recently acquired prospects will be developed or be used as trade bait for traded targets like Chris Sale. In the meantime, last year’s phenom Luis Severino continues to show some progress. After returning from an extended minor league assignment, Severino responded with 8 1/3 scoreless innings over three relief appearances. Unfortunately, this was followed up by a 5-run outing courtesy of the Boston Red Sox. Severino may best be served working out of the bullpen for the short term. Speaking of the bullpen, the recent acquisition of former Yankee prospect Tyler Clippard and re-acquisition of Adam Warren have made up for the losses of Miler and Chapman. Not exactly No Runs DMC but they’ve been more than effective getting the ball to the new closer Dellin Betances.

There’s still plenty of baseball left and while I don’t see the Yanks making a playoff run I am encouraged by seeing young talent getting a chance to play. In the coming weeks, I will speak on A-Roid as well as the imminent departures of Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. In the meantime, I’m feeling something I haven’t felt in a while as a Yankee fan: hope. It’s hope for a winning season, hope for a winning future, hope for a return to championship form. Like I said, it’s an exciting time to be a Yankee fan.

I did expect this year’s Boston Red Sox to be an improvement on the squads that have finished in last place, three of the last four years. But I didn’t see a complete upgrade coming. The Sawx enter the 2nd half at 49-38, battling the Toronto Blue Jays in the quest to take down the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles. After a shaky June where the team went 10-16, Sawx Nation went into panic mode. Thankfully, the Sawx found a way to prevail and finished the 1st half with a four game win streak. I still think the Sawx are over performing based on their below league average pitching, but with the best offense in baseball, the team may have just enough juice to reach October and make another championship run.

As the Sawx offense goes, so goes the Sawx. This year’s team is on pace for over 900 runs and they show no sign of slowing down. It all starts with the new generation of Killer B’s in Beantown: Betts, Bogaerts, and Bradley, Jr. This trio of young superstars are all showing 5-tool potential and were justly rewarded with starting spots on this year’s AL All Star squad. Both Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts flirted with extended hitting streaks earlier this season and Mookie Betts will garner the serious MVP consideration I mentioned at the end of last year. Travis Shaw was the right choice to man 3B over Pablo Sandoval and has responded with a .464 slugging pct. Dustin Pedroia continues to be a staple in the lineup, both at the plate and in the field. And while Hanley Ramirez is not playing like $20 milllion/year free agent the Sawx signed in late 2014, he has taken to 1B, is staying healthy and looks primed to return to 2013 form.

And yet this year seems to be all about “Big Papi” David Ortiz. Not only is he being celebrated for his final season in the bigs but he is being lauded for his MVP-type production at the plate. Big Papi currently leads the team in the triple crown categories (not unlike an aging Carlos Beltran in the Bronx). There has been talk about trying to coax the Sawx DH into another season and yet I have to wonder how much of his production is based on knowing this is the last go-ahead and feeling the need to leave everything on the field. I will miss his competitive spirit but not his production in this rivalry.

The Sawx pitching has seen better days, which is surprising considering the Powerball-sized contract that lured David Price to Fenway. The former Cy Young award winner, who has succeeded in Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Toronto may need more time to adjust to his new surroundings based on his 1st half 4.34 ERA. I doubt his ills will last for long, I only hope Sawx fans have the patience. On the bright side, Rick Porcello seems to have found his footing in his 2nd year in Boston and Steven Wright is the surprise ace of the staff with his Knuckleball infused 2.78 ERA. The question is who will or can step up next? Clay Buchholz? Joe Kelly? Eduardo Rodriguez? The signing of Drew Pomeranz maybe an answer but not THE answer. Despite 1st half success in San Diego, Pomeranz has shown Buchholz-like inconsistency in his brief career and may need a handful of starts to re-adjust to the AL.

As for the bullpen, the loss of Craig Kimbrel may be hastened by the recent signing of Brad Zigler. But the recent DL stint of Junichi Tazawa may be more troubling considering the pressure added to an already struggling, and aging, Koji Uehara. The Sawx will definitely be in the market for bullpen help at the deadline. I only pray that help doesn’t come from the Bronx……unless Dave Dombrowski wants to continue his history of emptying the farm system cupboards.

The Sawx have started the 2nd half right with back-to-back wins over the Yanks. Tonight I will live blog my first game of the season in the hopes that Yanks can salvage something from this series. Feel free to join in my baseball watching….and imminent pain.

After taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays last weekend, the Yanks looked primed to start June off with some swagger. Sadly, the Bronx Bombers started this week by getting embarrassingly swept by the Toronto Blue Jays, while being outscored 15-3. Things looked a tad more promising when they used their Thursday off-day to beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 in a make-up game from April. And they have split the last two games with the upstart Baltimore Orioles, with the offense scoring 14 runs in the two contests. The Yanks are searching for consistency the same way Sarah Palin is searching for relevance.

The Yankee offense is still sputtering towards the bottom of the league standings, currently ranking 26th. And yet, there are positives to be found. A healthy Jacoby Ellsbury hit .320 in May and leads the team with 12 SBs, including his 2nd steal of home this season in last night’s win at Camden Yards. Brett Gardner’s .225 average may not garner him a 2nd consecutive All-Star selection but at least he’s still getting on base at a team-leading .351 clip. Starlin Castro continues to be hot and cold (.385 so far in June) but with a .254 average is eons beyond last year’s 2B manned by Stephen Drew, who seemed to be allergic to pinstripes. May has also been kind to Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius who hit .298 and .287 respectively. The team’s best hitter continues to be Carlos Beltran who is off to a .318 start in June and the less said about his defense the better. And even A-Roid is showing infinitesimal strides with a .300 start to June. I’m guessing Joe Girardi will continue to find excuses to bench A-Roid in favor of the more DH-suited Beltran if necessary.

Brian McCann has cooled off considerably after his surprising .262 April. Despite his recent struggles he still hit 4 HRs in May and is still on pace for another 20 HR season, which is all the Yanks need from their backstop. And the recent DL addition of Mark Teixeira may be a mercy killing. Tex was hoping to finagle his final contracted year in pinstripes into another 2-3 year stay in the Bronx but has just been hobbled by more of the same injuries that has made his stay in NY continually frustrating. At .180 and only 3 HRs maybe it’s time for a change right now. The Yanks called by Chris Parmelee as a stop-gap measure and yet the answer may be Rob Refsnyder. The highly-touted Yankee prospect has seen time at 2B, 3B, RF, and now 1B. It may be a small sample size but hitting .294 while slugging.529 in six games is a huge upgrade.

The Yankee starting pitching continues to be an effective patchwork job with Masahiro Tanaka leading the way with a 2.78 ERA and the rejuvenated C.C. Sabathia not far behind at 2.86. Nathan Eovaldi continues to have issues with lineups the 3rd time around, as shown in Friday night’s loss. Ivan Nova has shown a little wear allowing 9 ERs in his last two six inning outings. But the bright spot may be Michael Pineda who finally showed a spark by holding a formidable Detroit Tiger lineup to only one run over 5 1/3 innings. Not exactly a quality start but baby steps.

The bullpen continues to be Joe Girardi’s most prized possession even if it’s showing signs of vulnerability. The Unholy Trinity (like it?) of Dellin Betances-Andrew Miller-Aroldis Chapman has yet to implode but hasn’t been as intimidating as it seems. Betances in particular has been the weak link in the chain allowing 4 ERs in his last three innings of work. And Chapman made Thurdsay’s win against the Tigers more interesting than it needed to be. Thankfully, he was rescued by a highlight-worthy double play courtesy of Sir Didi and Super Starlin.

Here in June the Yanks stand at 26-29 and 4th place in the AL East. If the Yanks are going to make a move it’s now or not. At some point I do feel the Sawx and O’s will fall back to earth as teams cannot rely on offense alone. I do hope the addition and Refsnyder and potential revival of Pineda will be enough.

Yes, I expected the Boston Red Sox to improve on last year. How could they not? But I did not expect such an explosive start out of the gate. Here in mid-May, the Boston Red Sox have announced, with authority, their intention to win the AL East. As we speak they sit one game out of 1st place from the truly surprising Baltimore Orioles. Not sure how long this ride will last, but don’t be surprised if the Sawx can ride this early wave into October.

The Sawx are riding high for one reason: the best offense in the game. Scoring a lot runs will cure a lot of ills and this year’s BoSox are looking a lot like last year’s Yanks: best offense, average pitching. Just about everyone is contributing, including new Yankee-killer, Jackie Bradley, Jr. After a slow first few weeks, JBJ is hitting .336 for season, helped in no small part by his .474 clip against the Yanks in six meetings. The only reason he is not leading the team in hitting is because Xander Bogaerts is off to a slightly hotter start at .340. Mookie Betts continues to develop his 5-tool potential in RF with 7 SBs to go with his 6 HRs. Travis Shaw has paid off John Farrell’s faith as the new starting 3B by slugging .567. Hanley Ramirez isn’t slugging like the Hanley of old but has embraced his new job at 1B and showing some surprising aptitude. Dustin Pedroia is healthy and back to All-Star form. And 40-year-old David Ortiz is hitting like, well, 39-year-old David Ortiz. With a robust .695 slugging pct. and team-leading 33 RBIs, the fans of Boston may want a say in Big Papi’s impending retirement.

On the pitching side, the biggest surprise is that $217 million acquisition David Price is not the ace. After a few good early showings, Price has been touched up repeatedly with his ERA sitting at 6.00. The Yanks have played their part with back-to-back 6 run outputs against the former Cy Young winner. Fortunately, 4 year/$82.5 million Rick Porcello is finally pitching like the stud the Sawx acquired from the Detroit Tigers last season. Porcello is off to a 6-1 start with a 3.11 ERA and earning every penny of the extension that many questioned last year. Also in the running for staff ace is Steven Wright (not to be confused with the Boston-area deadpan comic). Despite a 3-3 record (indicative of a lack of the run support) the 31-year-old knuckleballer has a starting rotation best ERA of 2.36. Sawx fans may be seeing a second-coming of Fenway perennial Tim Wakefield. And on the downside are the continuing struggles of Clay Buchholz. Currently pitching to an ERA north of 6.00, Buchholz can’t seem to return his 2013 form, or at very least, last year’s 3.26 ERA form. I wonder at what point John Farrell decides to send him to the bullpen, especially with the imminent return of Eduardo Rodriguez.

As for the bullpen, the Sawx have found their own formula. Their three headed beast consists of Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel. Despite a few early hiccups from Kimbrel, things seem to be back on track. The bullpen is rounded out by Matt Barnes, Tommy Layne, and Robbie Ross, Jr. who are all pitching sub 3.50 ERA baseball.

Overall, the Sawx are looking good. Of course scoring lots of runs makes you look good, in much the same way that Mickey Rooney once remarked, “Money makes you handsomer.” The Sawx, aside from a few starting pitching issues, seem to be in mid-season form. Not sure how much longer the Orioles can keep up their charade. The Sawx, to me, are the real deal. And the Yankees will have their hands full all year long. Let the trash talk commence.