Archives for posts with tag: Tommy Layne

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.

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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.