Through one third of the season, Rays are trending up while the Yankees’ struggles deepen

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees dropped their fourth game in a row yesterday, against the Tampa Bay Rays, a direct rival, to make things worse. The Bombers have now lost six of their last seven contests, including a weekend sweep in the hands of the Detroit Tigers.

The Rays, on the other hand, are quickly surging, having won 16 of their last 17 games. They look confident, dangerous in the batter’s box, and deep in pitching options.

Yesterday, the Yankees’ offense flopped yet again, scoring only one run, on a Miguel Andujar homer, in the 3-1 loss.

Now, the Yankees are 29-25, already 5.5 games behind the Rays and 3.5 behind the Boston Red Sox. The Bombers will play the latter on the weekend.

“We understand we’re going through a tough time as a team,” Andújar told MLB.com. “It’s one of those things you can go through during the season. The key thing is, I believe in my teammates. I know we’re going to get out of it.”

The Yankees’ ugly offensive struggles

Yankees manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that the offense is “still not where we expect it to be.”

Per Bryan Hoch, the Yankees are 4-for-33 with runners in scoring position in their last seven contests, with only 13 runs scored.

“We want you to feel like it was heavy, it was difficult, it was a lot to get through us,” Boone said. “That hasn’t been the case enough, and that’s what we’ve got to get back to as a group.”

“We know that we’re playing very good teams,” said third baseman Gio Urshela. “But we’ve got a pretty good team. We always stay positive; we’re always fighting every game. Today was a new day, and we fought all day long. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get that win.”

As a team, the Yankees are hitting too many ground balls, which is not an ideal outcome. They have run into quite a few double plays recently, a product of their batted ball tendencies and low speed.

The Bombers will try to get back on track tonight, as Domingo German squares up against Tyler Glasnow.

New York Yankees: Tonight’s game and all the Yankees news in one place

New York Yankees, Domingo German

When the New York Yankees should be winning games and continuing their torrid pace to get to the top of the AL East, they are now doing the opposite, siding further back in the standings losing six of their last seven games.

The Rays have the Yankees’ number

Yesterday in the Bronx, the Tampa Bay Rays showed that they are the better team thus far in the season. The Rays beat the Yankees yet again 3-1. The Yankees are now 3-7 against the Rays this season, and they have to face them 3 more times this week. It always hasn’t been this way. In the 2000s, the Yankees were 114-64; in the 2010s, the Yankees only bested by Rays by 7 games. Now in the 2020s, the Rays have won  18 of 25 games against the New York Yankees.

The simple answer to all of this is that the Rays ARE the better team. They are better organized, better managed, and as a team, more cohesive, and they do it on an $82 million payroll compared to the Yankees’ $210 million. They know the Yankees’ soft spots, and they exploit them, something the Yankees have not been able to take advantage of. The Yankees must find a way to beat the Rays if they don’t want to lose the East to them again this season.

Baseball celebrates Lou Gehrig

Tomorrow June 2nd, all baseball, including the New York Yankees, will celebrate Lou Gehrig Day. The Yankees will do it at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx; they will celebrate his life and his baseball career, one of the best in baseball history.

Wednesday will be Lou Gehrig Day at New York Yankee Stadium, celebrating the great Yankee’s first baseman that died from ALS. The inaugural “Lou Gehrig Day” will be celebrated league-wide this June 2nd. June 2, 1925, began his record-breaking consecutive games streak — 2,130 in total over 14 years — and later, the day the “Iron Horse” died in 1941 at age 37 from “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” The day celebrates his life and baseball career but is also to bring attention to the debilitating disease.

Should Giancarlo Stanton be booed?

New York Yankees fans sometimes have long memories, yet at other times very short memories. Getting off to a somewhat slow start to the season, Giancarlo Stanton showed signs of his 2017 season when he was the NL  MVP. Before going on the IL, he had become the team’s best player carrying the team on his back with the most home runs and most RBI’s.

Fast-forwarding to his return to the team after his stint on the IL, he has been stone cold. He has no hits in 12 plate appearances. Yesterday, after his last at-bat, a strikeout, he was loudly booed at the Stadium. Was it warranted, no it wasn’t?  Stanton’s only problem since he has been with the Yankees is all the injuries. When he is healthy, he performs and will again. Save the boos for those that deserve it.

Boone’s “everything will be fine” shows his complacency

Manager Aaron Boone needs to lead the team with a fervor that leads to winning. Unfortunately, he doesn’t do that. He keeps saying that we have a great team and everything will be fine. What he says behind closed clubhouse doors, I don’t know, but whatever it is, it’s not working. It’s time for some urgency; it’s time to shake up the team and turn things around. The team will only respond as its manager does.

Time to move on from Marcus Thames?

There are calls from fans to remove manager Aaron Boone and hitting coach Marcus Thames. Boone’s contract isn’t up until the end of the year, and he won’t be going anyplace before that. Marcus Thames is another subject; the team, on the whole, is not hitting and causing them to lose game after game. I can’t tell you what Marcus Thames is doing about it, but whatever it is, it’s surely not working. I am usually not in favor of dumping coaches, but this lack of hitting has become a serious situation that doesn’t seem to change.

The good news about Luis Severino

Previous New York Yankees co-ace Luis Severino was 33-14 between 2017 and 2018. Then in 2019, he required Tommy John surgery. Since then, he has been working back to form. There is good news to report; he is close to a return to bolster the starting lineup. He has pitched a three-inning simulated game and will have his first rehab game this coming weekend. It appears that after a few more, he will be ready to return, hopefully shortly before the All-Star break.

Will the Yankees be trading sooner or later?

There is a move the Yankees need to make and make right away. They repair a mistake they made at the beginning of the season, send Mike Ford down, and bring up Chris Gittens to replace him at first base. Gittens is the superior player and hits for power.

The Yankees can no longer go without production from first base, center field, and left field. Bringing up Gittens will solve one of those problems until Luke Voit can return to the team. Leftfield may improve by itself. Both Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar show promise and could improve in the short term.

The big problem now is that the Yankees have no permanent center fielder. Since the trade of Mike Tauchman, they are left with just Brett Gardner and Tyler Wade after it was announced that Aaron Hicks would miss the rest of the season. The answer is a trade, don’t look for a blockbuster type trade that will take them over the luxury tax threshold, but look for a trade to improve the team that may happen before the trade deadline.

Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers could be a good addition to the team. He is basically a right-fielder but has played adequately in center and is a left-handed bat badly needed in the Yankee lineup. This season he is hitting just .216 but with 9 homers and 25 RBI’s, which is better than anything the Yankees have right now and would be a ($6M) low-cost addition.

An even cheaper addition would be Delino DeShields Jr., who was hitting .383 in 12 games at Triple-A, with the Rangers. The Yankee might also want to look at Ketel Marte of the Arizona Diamondbacks for a friendly contract. Marte, the 27-year-old switch hitter, would be a great addition and would only charge $4.8 million toward the tax threshold. Marte has a better batting average (.328) than any Yankee player and is an experienced centerfielder. There are more options out there, including Bryan Reynolds of the Pirates, Starling Marte of the Marlins, or if they want to spend some money, Jackey Bradley Jr., that the Yankees are very familiar with.

Domingo German to face the Ray’s Tyler Glasnow

After losing the Memorial Day matinee to the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday, the New York Yankees will have an uphill battle tonight, winning a game against the Ray’s ace Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow this year has pitched to an ERA of 1.75 against the Yankees. Glasnow will face Domingo German. If German is on, he can be lights out. Even if German is best, he will need the Yankee lineup to support beating Glasnow, and the good hitting Rays will be a challenge.

Glasnow is 42, 2.57 ERA, 98 SO, German is 43, 3.06 ERA, 47 SO. The game will be at Yankee Stadium and broadcast on Bally Sun Sports and in the New York Area on the YES Network.

 

 

 

Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley details Garden incident as beer showers down on bench

Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are currently in the hole three games as they try to claw their way out of a disappointing series against Atlanta Hawks. This is their first playoff appearance since 2013 when Carmelo Anthony was still on the team, and they fell to the Indiana Pacers, courtesy of Paul George.

However, this has been one of the most exciting Knick seasons in recent memory, thanks to All-Star-level play from Julius Randle and the emergence of unexpected talent like Immanuel Quickley and Nerlens Noel. Nonetheless, the postseason is a different beast, and the Knicks are still trying to figure out how to overcome an Atlanta team that seems more aggressive and ready for the moment.

In the meantime, the NBA is going through an interesting string of events as fans return to the stadiums and engage in hostile activity. Ranging from throwing popcorn at Russell Westbrook to a water bottle at Kyrie Irving, The Garden has its fair share of incidents going on behind the scenes.

Rookie Immanuel Quickley detailed a riled up fan throwing beer at the Knicks’ bench:

“[In] Game 2, somebody threw a beer or something, not sure why, not even sure who did it, but it happened,’’ Quickley said. “I guess that’s part of having fans in the game.’’

Quickley is oddly calm about this situation, indicating the fan was just riled up and excited, which played a part in his obvious mistake.

“I’ve seen it happen before, and people are riled up for big games,’’ Quickley said. “I don’t really know what’s going through their head at that moment. I didn’t get a chance to ask them. But they were just riled up and threw a beer.’’

The Knicks have identified the individual and permanently banned him from MSG, along with another fan who spit on Trae Young or attempted to, instead hitting 50 Cent’s girlfriend.

It is very interesting to see the latest string of events and hostile actions taken from fans, as the energy is undoubtedly different after almost a year of watching games from home. People seem to think they are invincible and immune from penalty, but teams around the league are cracking down on fans and starting to showcase consequences. Aside from being permanently banned, a fan over the weekend was arrested for throwing a water bottle at Kyrie Irving and will be sent to trial for assault.

UFC: Zabit Magomedsharipov’s career potentially in jeopardy

Zabit Magomedsharipov, UFC

One of the best featherweights in the UFC might have to call it a career. Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1) has been out of the octagon since November of 2019 and was recently removed from the UFC‘s featherweight rankings.

Magomedsharipov was removed from the rankings due to his inactivity. However, it’s recent health issues that are putting Magomedsharipov’s career in jeopardy. MMA DNA reported over the weekend that Magomedsharipov’s career could be in trouble.

The UFC featherweight’s manager put out a statement regarding the status of his client. You can read the message in it’s entirety below. As you can read, it’s not looking great for the top UFC featherweight.

Prior to his absence from the octagon, Magomedsharipov looked like he was a future champion. Magomedsharipov had all the skills you would need to be a champion from his grappling to his unique striking.

The Dagestan native had gone a perfect 6-0 in the UFC with wins over Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar prior to his lengthy layoff. Magomedsharipov was scheduled to face off against Yair Rodriguez last August. However, that fight fell through when Rodriguez suffered an ankle injury. 

What’s next for Magomedsharipov and the UFC?

For now, the primary concern is getting Magomedsharipov healthy. Magomedsharipov might have to undergo surgery to try and fix some of the issues he’s having and that will give him an idea of if he can resume his UFC career.

Zabit was knocking on the door of a title shot prior to all of this happening. His managers had been stating that he wanted to be next for the title, however, he was behind Max Holloway and Brian Ortega in the pecking order.

Magomedsharipov has long been linked to Yair Rodriguez, but that fight has fallen through every time it was booked. Now, Rodriguez is fighting Max Holloway in what appears to be a UFC title eliminator. 

Obviously, there’s no telling when Magomedsharipov will be able to return. Upon his return, I would give him someone in the top ten, but I wouldn’t rush him right back to the top. It’s going to be a while before we see Zabit challenge for a UFC title if he is able to resume his career.

Report: Yankees could trade for Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer

Could the New York Yankees pursue Max Scherzer in a trade?

The New York Yankees have an opportunity to provide themselves with one of the best starting rotations in baseball. This past off-season, they acquired Corey Kluber and Jamison Taillon, and while the former is performing extremely well despite suffering a shoulder injury that will keep them out for a few weeks, the latter has struggled in his return to baseball.

Prior to the start of the 2021 regular season, both pitchers had featured in less than 36 innings over the past two years, so it was always a tall task for them to return to form and dominate right out of the gate. In all likelihood, Taillon will end up having a solid year by season’s end.

However, you can never have too many quality pitchers, especially since the Yankees’ offense has been abysmal as of late. They have scored only six runs over the last four losses, also representative of their last four games. With the trade deadline coming up in a few weeks, general manager Brian Cashman could look to help his team one way or another.

There’s no question he has the talent on offense to provide sufficient run support, and it only feels like a matter of time before they get in the groove. Pitching is arguably the most important thing during postseason play, so targeting one elite pitcher could be a good move.

Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam reported that the Red Sox could be involved in the Max Scherzer sweepstakes, but a few other options were also listed:

There’d be no shortage of interested teams, including the Yankees, who haven’t won it all in a dozen years. Or the Atlanta Braves,San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox— all of whom could go from serious contenders to prohibitive favorites with the addition of someone like Scherzer.

Scherzer is on the final year of a seven-year contract and is being paid $34 million this season by Washington. The 36-year-old veteran currently hosts a 2.34 ERA, 12.33 strikeouts per nine, and has four wins on the season over 69.1 innings.

While he’s undoubtedly a bit pricey, his influence this season might make the Yankees a legitimate championship-contending team. Again, eventually, the offense will start to provide a bit more support, and it will be essential they have the quality pitching to maintain their momentum. The Yankees also have Luis Severino making a come-back this year, so establishing one of the best starting rotations and baseball would be a major benefit.

New York Jets add DE, ex-49er Ronald Blair (Report)

New York Jets

The latest New York Jets addition spent five seasons in San Francisco, the last four under new head coach Robert Saleh.

When it comes to his first roster as a head coach, things look a little more familiar for New York Jets boss Robert Saleh this week.

Per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Jets have signed former San Francisco 49er Ronald Blair. The Appalachian State alum joined the league as a fifth-round pick in 2016 and has spent the last four seasons under the watch of Saleh, then a defensive coordinator in the Bay Area.

Blair burst on the national football scene by ending his career in Boone with the 2015 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year award (previously won by Demarcus Ware). He earned 88 tackles (including 13 sacks) over his five seasons with the 49ers, partaking in 47 games (2 starts). His best statistical season came in 2018 when he put 36 tackles (10 for a loss, 5.5 sacks).

While Blair has proven himself to be a reliable depth option, injuries have taken over his career. His last NFL regular season action came in November 2019, as he missed both the 49ers’ run to Super Bowl LIV and all of last season after tearing his ACL.

Saleh and the Jets have made a bit of a point to avoid oversaturating the roster with former 49ers, as only reserve receiver Matt Cole has officially joined this season. But Saleh routinely bestowed praise upon Blair during their shared tenure in red and gold, so it was thus no surprise that the Jets had some interest.

“If you like winning, you like Ronnie. If you don’t, you don’t,” Saleh said in September 2019, per Jacob Hutchinson of KNBR. “He’s just a model of consistency…I love Ronnie. I’ve gushed about him up here and I can do it for another 15 minutes if you all like. You guys know how I feel about him.”

“He looked fantastic and he’s looked like that, to me, his entire career, it just goes unnoticed when he’s not the big name, he’s not the big draft pick. But, he’s your lunch pail, gets things done, makes things work, gets people lined up. He does it all. I’m happy we have him. He’s a playmaker. People have never noticed it.”

[[UPDATE: 6/1/21, 8:55 A.M. ET]]: The Jets confirmed the signing of Blair, likewise announcing the waiving of fellow defensive lineman Sharif Finch in a corresponding move.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Giants: One super underrated element Daniel Jones brings to the offense

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants’ offense heavily relies on Daniel Jones taking a significant step forward and 2021, and even though they signed and drafted multiple players to help provide more weapons in the passing game, Jones has a few kinks in his armor he needs to fix.

Ranging from pocket awareness to decision-making, Jones has shown flashes of excellence in short bursts, but injuries have derailed his momentum, and a lack of playmakers/protection in the pocket has also contributed heavily toward his demise.

There is no question that Jones has the athletic abilities to be a fantastic quarterback at the NFL level, including quality arm talent, solid mental processing, and mobility. The problem is, Jones developed something similar to Eli Manning in the past, happy feet. With constant pressure, Jones never felt comfortable in the pocket, and his awareness/timing was thrown off consistently. He has been working this off-season tirelessly to improve his mobility in the pocket and protecting the football with both hands close to his chest.

However, Jones showed us that he brings a unique element to the Giants’ offense that most other quarterbacks aren’t capable of doing. In 2020, Jones reached the fastest speed by any quarterback as a ball carrier since 2018, per Next Gen Stats. This specific run was the longest run by a quarterback who didn’t score on a play since at least 1975.

Of course, this is the infamous run against the Philadelphia Eagles, where he traveled 80 yards before tumbling over himself. The young quarterback hit 21.23 mph on this unforgettable mad dash, hitting a faster top speed than Lamar Jackson, and was just 0.06 mph slower than Tyreek Hill, arguably the fastest player in the NFL.

What does Daniel Jones bring to the New York Giants that’s unique?

So, what is this underrated factor for Daniel Jones? It is none other than the read-option. The Giants must utilize Jone’s athletic superiority in 2021, especially with the additions of Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and the return of Saquon Barkley. Defenses will be preoccupied in the secondary stopping the receivers, so Jones can execute planned runs to perfection without much resistance.

In fact, one of the only positive factors from the Giants’ offense utilize last year was the read-option, as Jones picked up 423 yards and one touchdown, averaging 6.5 yards per attempt. While he did fumble 11 times, most of these occurred in the pocket as a pure passer and not running the football.

With the added element of the option play, the Giants can get creative with their scheme and surprise defenses with different schematics. This is one of the more unique things Jones brings to the football field, the Giants would be foolish not to utilize it moving forward.

Yankees: Good news and bad news as fans boo Giancarlo Stanton in loss to Tampa

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

The New York Yankees have lost four consecutive games as their offense continues to struggle, scoring just six runs during their latest losing streak. Falling to the Tampa Bay Rays in the first game of the series 3-1, even starting pitcher Jamison Taillon indicated he could use a bit more support in the run department.

When fellow players are commenting on the lack of offensive production, you know things are getting serious, as it seems the Yankees have completely hit a wall. Whether it be their players struggling or teams finally figuring out how to pitch around their slew of sluggers, they must find a way to snap their bad luck before skipper Aaron Boone is thrown under the bus.

In fact, the Yankees are playing so poorly, they allowed 41-year-old pitcher Rich Hill to last 5.0 innings, allowing just three hits and throwing zero pitches over 90 mph. It is almost funny how deprived the Yankees are playing, as Taillon also struggled, allowing three runs before handing the ball onto the bullpen.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees:

There’s plenty of negativity to go around for the Bombers, as fans booed Giancarlo Stanton for his performance, striking out twice and lowering his average to .259. Stanton is still working his way back from the groin injury, but the ridiculous number of issues he’s dealt with over the past few years has caused fans to feel disgruntled and hostile.

“He’s been back a couple days. G will be fine,” manager Aaron Boone said. “As long as he’s healthy and starts to get his reps going, he’ll be fine.”

In more positive news, reserve outfielder Miguel Andujar had a solid outing, recording two hits and a run over four at-bats. He now has a .242 average, steadily climbing as he earns more time due to injuries.

“I’ve been consistently getting more at-bats,” Andujar said through an interpreter. “That’s the big difference. I’m seeing more of an opportunity to get in there and play the game.”

The Yankees are currently underway in a seven-game homestead against the Rays and Boston Red Sox, giving them a fantastic opportunity to make up some ground in the AL East. Unfortunately, the team continues to struggle in various categories, as shortstop Gleyber Torres recorded his third error in two days, and the Yankees grounded into a major-league high 52nd double play. Andujar might be the only positive thing to record, but I would argue the bullpen also looked solid, striking out four batters and allowing one hit over the final four innings of the contest.

 

deGrom Dominates, Gets Plenty Of Support in Mets 6-2 Win

The New York Mets received reinforcements from the injured list against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and it helped them support Jacob deGrom in their 6-2 win. deGrom came into his start with an ERA under one, which means all the Mets needed was one run to win. Pete Alonso‘s bat provided plenty of support to support the Mets ace in his first game back from injury.

deGrom may not contain the same power as Shohei Ohtani but makes up for it with his ability to shut down offenses. He pitched six shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out eight to lower his ERA to a spectacular 0.71 ERA. deGrom’s league-leading ERA is the lowest mark heading into June since 1964. Of course, he beat the D’backs with the bat by recording an RBI single to push his average to .450 on the season.

The Mets were once again cautious with deGrom, pulling him from the game after just 70 pitches. Trevor May faltered by allowing two runs and recording just two outs in the seventh inning. Miguel Castro (1.1) and Jeurys Familia (1) settled things down to get the pitching staff through the final 2.1 innings of the game.

Offensive Power Surge

The offense was terrific in their second game against Merrill Kelly this season. Alonso led the way with two hits, including a home run and four runs batted in. Francisco Lindor (single and double) and Dominic Smith (two doubles) showed promise in the power department by driving balls to the opposite field. Billy McKinney added a solo home run, his second straight game with a homer. Kevin Pillar made a triumphant return from his injury by recording a single in his only at-bat.

The Mets winnings streak is at five, and two more games in Arizona allow them to extend it to seven. Their lead in the NL East remains at 3.5 games after the Atlanta Braves defeated the Washington Nationals. On Tuesday, Marcus Stroman takes the ball for the Mets against Caleb Smith, who will make his second start of the season. The first pitch from Chase Field is another 9:40 p.m. ET start.