As the New York Yankees enter the final stretch of the regular season tied with the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card standings, they need all the help they can get to make it into October.
And while they have been suffering from key injuries in their pitching, most notably starter Jameson Taillon and reliever Jonathan Loaisiga, they have also been getting soldiers back. Corey Kluber recently returned from a shoulder injury that took months to heal, and Clarke Schmidt overcame an elbow issue that took away most of his season.
At this point, another Yankees’ pitcher is close to making a return to the Bronx. Domingo German, who has been out with right shoulder inflammation since July 31, made his first rehab appearance on Tuesday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees are happy with the early results
The night was a success for him, considering the extended absence. He was on the mound for two innings and allowed a couple of hits (both singles) and no runs. He struck out four hitters in the impressive outing, and used 25 pitches (16 of them for strikes).
The Yankees still don’t know whether to use German as a starter or as a reliever. In any case, the first priority is to make sure he is healthy and ready to handle MLB hitters.
In 18 starts this season, the Yankees’ right-hander is 4-5 with a 4.45 ERA in 21 games.
Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone had stated before he took the mound last night that he wanted to see him go through the outing unscathed, and then he would make decisions regarding his immediate future.
“We’ll see how it goes for him tonight,” said Boone according to MLB.com. “See how he responds; at that point, make a decision. But we expect him to be back with us sooner rather than later.”
The New York Yankees overcame the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, taking another big step forward and hopefully securing a Wild-Card spot. Currently, the Yankees are in a three-way tie with the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox for the final spot in the WC, and with two more games against Baltimore coming up, they have a great opportunity to tally on a few wins. Currently, Boston is taking all the Seattle Mariners, and after having won on Tuesday, they will be eyeing a second consecutive win over Marco Gonzalez, who hosts a 4.03 ERA this season.
Thankfully, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole looked phenomenal in his return after suffering a slight hamstring injury last week. Over 5.0 innings, Cole allowed four hits and just one run, striking out seven batters over 108 pitches. This season, Cole hosts a 2.75 ERA, representing one of the best starters in baseball.
“Every win is big, obviously,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “This is the fun time of the year. This is where you want to be, chasing October baseball. It’s good to get this first one here, especially after they took two out of three from us at our place.”
With everything boiling down as the season winds to an end, the infield is going through somewhat of a shift. Regular second baseman DJ LeMahieu has been moved to the hot corner and Gio Urshela has shifted over to shortstop. The Yankees were forced to make a move due to Gleyber Torres’s problems at SS, but it seems they are following him to second base when he fumbled a potential double play in the bottom of the sixth inning against Baltimore. His continuous errors have become a serious issue for the Bombers, resulting in a change.
The Yankees feel strongly enough about Torres’s hitting that they refuse to put him on the bench, and rightfully so. Gleyber’s traditional spot is second base, to begin with, so he should see more success with a bit of continuity, and Urshela at shortstop makes plenty of sense with LeMahieu’s versatility.
In addition to the defensive changes, one player who as been standing out as slugger Aaron Judge, who has a .292 average this season. Judge has 8 hits, 4 HRs, and 9 RBIs over his last 25 at-bats.
The New York Knicks made it a priority to upgrade the point guard position this off-season, which included letting former draft pick Frank Ntilikina hit the streets in free agency. Ntilikina, who has been looking for a new home the past few weeks, is expected to sign with the Dallas Mavericks, according to Marc Stein.
The Mavericks have emerged as the likely next destination for former Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina, league sources say.
The Mavericks were expected to draft Ntilikina back in 2017 but ended up going No. 8 to the Knicks, so Dallas selected Dennis Smith Jr. at No. 9. Interestingly, both players ended up playing for New York in a limited fashion, and both are considered massive busts.
During his time with the Knicks, Ntilikina averaged a measly 5.5 points, 2.7 assists, and shot 36.6% from the field. He secured a 42.9% effective field-goal percentage, showcasing almost no offensive production during his four years with the team.
However, Frank has always been known for his quality defense, averaging 0.8 steals despite playing in just 19.5 minutes per contest. For a Dallas team that clearly had their eyes set on him back in 2017, taking a chance on the 22-year-old could end up being a good move. A change of scenery might help him tap into some undeveloped parts of his game, but the Knicks will move forward with rookies Miles McBride and veterans Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose.
Speaking of McBride, the West Virginia stand-out recently signed a deal to become an endorsed athlete with Nike. While the contract details have not been released just yet, he will undoubtedly be earning a pretty penny on the side with this endorsement.
McBride showed out during Summer League play with the Knicks this off-season, averaging 27.7 minutes over six games. McBride posted 15.2 points on 53.2% shooting from the field and 50% shooting from three-point range, attempting 6.0 shots from range per game. He also shot 87.5% from the free-throw line and tallied 3.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds.
The Knicks are expecting big things out of the rookie, but it will be difficult for him to find playing time this season unless injuries allow him the opportunity.
The New York Yankees entered last night’s game with the Baltimore Orioles with an urgency to win over a team they should win over. The Yankees have a relatively easy next 9 games with the O’s, the Indians, and the Rangers. These are all games the Yankees should win before facing a difficult end of the season against the Red Sox, Jays, and Rays. They need to at least win these 3 upcoming series to stay in contention for a wild-card berth. Last night they took the first step toward that goal by besting the Orioles 7-2.
Gerrit Cole wasn’t great, but it didn’t matter
New York Yankee ace Gerrit Cole’s night did not start well. Cole had the luxury of first stepping to the mound with a two-run lead, but he almost blew it. Cedrick Mullins faced Cole and doubled to the left-field wall. Ryan Mountcastle popped out to first. Anthony Santander ground out, but Mullins advanced. Trey Mancini, with two outs and a man on third, walked. Austin Hays walked to load the bases. Ramon Urias struck out to get Cole out of a bases-loaded jam. New York Yankees 2 Orioles 0.
It was evident from the start that Cole did not have his best stuff working. After the first inning, Cole was pretty much what a Yankee ace is supposed to be. Cole managed five innings of shaky ball, giving up just one run, walking three while striking out seven Oriole’s batters. He lowered his ERA and got the win in the game. The only thing he didn’t accomplish was helping out the bullpen by going deep into the game. He had 108 pitches, 62 for strikes in his 5 innings of work.
The real Yankee pitching hero of the night was Michael King. With Cole only going 5 innings, it might have taken four or five relievers from an already overworked bullpen to close out the game. But King came in and pitched a brilliant three innings in relief, not allowing a single hit. Some might question why Aaron Boone did not allow King to close out the game as he was a stretched-out reliever with only 47 pitches. Boone brought in Sal Romano, who only lasted one out, giving up a run on two hits, requiring Boone to bring in Aroldis Chapman to close out the game.
Home runs power the Yankees
1-2-3-4-5, count ’em five home runs power the Yankees to a win in the first game of a 3 game set against the Baltimore Orioles. Aaron Judge started the power assault with a two-run homer in the first inning, driving in DJ LeMahieu. The third inning was devastating for Orioles’ starter Alexander Wells. Giancarlo Stanton stepped to the mound and crushed one into the left-field stands, scoring another two runs. To add insult to injury, Luke Voit then got a solo back-to-back shot, putting Wells into a five-run hole.
But the New York Yankees were not done. In the eighth inning, Joey Gallo got his 34th homer of the season. Finally, in the top of the ninth, DJ LeMahieu deposited a long ball into the left-field stands for his 10th homer of the season and giving the Yankees nine players with double-digit home runs.
Torres moved, but the same result
The New York Yankees rearranged the entire infield for one player, Gleyber Torres. The main reason was to relieve stress on Torres that they thought his excessive errors at short might be affecting his poor hitting behind the plate. Manager Boone even announced that the change would be for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, the experiment didn’t work. Torres possibly made his worst performance error at his new position when he bobbled an easy double-play ball.
Torres’s move to second also meant that Gold Glover DJ LeMahieu was moved off of second base to the hot corner. That move caused stellar third baseman Gio Urshela to move to shortstop. Both of these players proved earlier that they could handle their new positions. In the remaining days of the season, we will have to see how this experiment works out, but it didn’t look good for Torres last night.
Notes: Sal Romano earlier yesterday was awarded a Major League contract from the Yankees. The contract was worth $583K after earning just $47K in 2020. Luckily for the Yankees, the contract is for only one year. Last night on the first night of that contract Boone called him out to close the game, he pitched horribly lasting only 1/3 of an inning, requiring Chapman to close out the game.
Tonight the Yankees will face off with the Orioles in game two at Camden Yards. Nestor Cortes Jr. will be on the mound for the Yankees and John Means for the Orioles. The 7:05 pm EDT game will be televised on the YES Network and MASN.
Reeling from several injuries from their opener, the road ahead gets no easier for the New York Jets, who face an angry Patriots squad.
What: New England Patriots (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1)
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
If one were scripting the Robert Saleh era for the big screen, the subplot of his Jets opening up their MetLife Stadium slate and harkening the return of fans against the hated Patriots would likely be rejected for its lack of subtlety. Nonetheless, it’s what the powers-that-be at the NFL asked for.
There would be no better way to welcome supporters back and kick off the Saleh era on the right note than ending several dubious streaks against New England. The Patriots haven’t lost at MetLife Stadium since 2015. Their last regulation loss on Route 3 came in MetLife’s current parking lot, then known as Giants Stadium, in 2009. Overall, the Patriots have won ten straight against the Jets. Even New England’s struggles in year one A.B. (After Brady) weren’t enough for the Jets to steal a victory, though they needed every inch of clock to win the November showing in the Garden State.
One of the attainable goals for the modern Gang Green should be to earn a showcase victory or two, a throat-clearing gesture that would warn the football world that this isn’t your father’s Jets, your older brother’s Jets…heck, your twin brother’s Jets. Finally flipping the script on this one-sided rivalry would certainly be one way to do that, especially with green fans walking through MetLife’s turnstiles for a meaningful game for the first time since December 2019.
But circumstances aren’t tilted in the Jets’ favor: the 2021 NFL season is only a week old, but the Jets have suffered at least a month’s worth of medically-induced calamities, one that that has turned their injury ledger into the top of a depth chart. Everyone knew that Carl Lawson and Jarrad Davis wouldn’t be ready to go for the return to East Rutherford but the kickoff contest in Carolina erased Mekhi Becton, Lamarcus Joyner, and Blake Cashman, each of whom landed on injured reserve. Another fallen starter, linebacker Jamien Sherwood, avoided major catastrophe, but will still miss New England’s visit.
The makeshift Jets deserve a lot of credit for what happened in Carolina, particularly in a second half won by a 14-3 margin. Alas, in what’s set to become a recurring theme in 2021, many of the green victories won’t be seen on the scoreboard. Asking this ragtag group, one that has already had to seek sizable help from abroad, to not only exorcise some bad Boston-based juju but to conquer a Bill Belichick-led team that’s no doubt still peeved over dropping a winnable divisional contest is too much at this point.
Patriots 24, Jets 17
The Jets’ future fell just short to their past Sunday, as Sam Darnold and the Panthers came away victorious in a 19-14 final. While they didn’t get the win, there are some positives to be taken away regarding the offense that should have them excited for the home opener against the Patriots this weekend.
For starters, Zach Wilson looked poised, collected, and exciting. He made those eye-popping throws that fans rave about, most notably ones that were caught by Corey Davis for a touchdown and a potential deep-gain that was dropped by Elijah Moore. The downside of seeing him make those throws? They almost all came after horrible blocking and breakdowns by the offensive line.
The offensive line needs to hold up better against New England, a task made all the more difficult now that Mekhi Becton is out. The offensive line should play better throughout, though, and won’t be the deciding factor: that burden instead falls to the defense.
The young secondary played well in Week 1 and the Patriots’ receivers aren’t as lethal as they were in years past, so that should be encouraging. However, the Jets are going to have to bring more pressure against Mac Jones and make him uncomfortable because if they don’t, he’ll dissect the defense. If that happens, game over.
The biggest thing the Jets’ defense has to do, though, is what they didn’t do against Carolina: they allowed 93 receiving yards to Panther running backs (namely Christian McCaffrey). The Patriots have James White, who had six catches in Week 1’s loss to Miami. Linebackers will need to make watching the running backs, even during passing plays, a priority.
The Jets will have their work cut out for them against a team that has, putting it nicely, had their number for the last decade-plus. With defensive injuries to linebackers Blake Cashman and Jamien Sherwood and safety Lamarcus Joyner, they’re thin. The offense will play better but the defense will seemingly have some difficulty.
Patriots 27, Jets 21
The Jets dropped Sunday’s opener to the Panthers in a 19-14 outing. Gang Green came out of the gates with a first half that could be described as abysmal at best. Blockers failed to protect Zach Wilson, who had little to no time in the pocket. The defense was worn out as the Panthers controlled the time of possession throughout the first half.
In the second half, though, we saw a different team. The offensive line still struggled, but the team finished the game with momentum. Heading into Sunday, the Jets’ two largest challenges will be the offensive line and containing tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. The Jets’ defense should have a chance to capitalize on the inexperienced Mac Jones, especially if the secondary can replicate Sunday’s second half performance. Ultimately, I foresee a tight game that ends with the Patriots narrowly etching out the win.
Just over 48 hours have passed since the Chicago Bears‘ week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Rams and with the Bears now looking ahead to week 2, Chicago must figure out what went wrong against the Rams. On the surface, the Bears’ offensive gameplan included short, quick passes designed to get the ball out of quarterback Andy Dalton’s hands in just under 2.5 seconds.
Throughout the evening, the Bears’ offensive line did create solid running lanes for running back David Montgomery. The real reason the Bears left Los Angeles winless is due to the passing attack. Despite throwing 38 times, Dalton completed just 27 passes, with only one pass of 10+ yards being completed.
“I think just the kind of way this defense plays, they limit the big play and they make you just kind of move the ball down the field,” Dalton said via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “I mean you see the drives that we scored on, I mean I don’t know how many plays they were but you had to keep finding ways to get first downs and keep moving the ball all the way down the field. You’re not going to get very many explosives against this team.”
Further dissecting the Rams gameplan, limiting big plays means that wide receiver Darnell Mooney’s speed was accounted for by the Rams defense on every play. Wide receiver Allen Robinson was followed by Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey on multiple plays, limiting Robinson’s impact.
Essentially, as a result of the Rams deciding to defend the deep passing game, Los Angeles was content with giving the Bears quick, underneath throws because Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris knew that players like cornerback Jalen Ramsey were instinctive enough to breakdown what the Bears would be running.
Moving forward, for Chicago’s gameplans to work, the Bears will need to ensure that playcalls don’t look very predictable. Furthermore, allowing Dalton to hit deep passes via play-action could also go a long way towards opening up the Bears’ offense and maximizing talents fo players such as Mooney and Robinson.
The New York Giants are preparing to take on the Washington Football Team in Week 2 on Thursday evening. After a disappointing loss in Week 1 to the Denver Broncos, head coach Joe Judge and Co. are looking to bounce back with a strong performance, especially on defense.
Fortunately for the Giants, Washington lost starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick due to a hip injury, placing him on injured reserve. They will feature Taylor Heinicke as his replacement on Thursday, as the backup attempted 15 passes, completing 11 for 112 yards and a score after Fitzpatrick went down.
Heinicke presents himself as a mobile quarterback who is capable of maneuvering in the pocket and making intelligent throws. While his arm talent is subpar, he has solid accuracy in the short/intermediate range, making him a threat if the Giants play soft zone coverage.
Washington will likely rely heavily on running back Antonio Gibson to shoulder the majority of the load, but Heinicke looked fearless against Los Angeles, so the Giants will have to scare him straight if they want to take advantage of his inexperience.
Last week against Denver, the Giants tried to play more man-coverage, which is a bit different than their zone coverage scheme they deployed in 2020, which worked quite well. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has roots in Cover-1, which relies on man-coverage and allows the defense to blitz more effectively, getting after the quarterback.
Bridgewater was able to maneuver in the pocket and get the ball out quickly to his big targets, like tight end Noah Fant. Washington similarly has a big TE in Logan Thomas, who hauled three receptions for 30 yards last week, including a touchdown on a jump ball in man-coverage.
What to expect from the New York Giants’ defense against Washington’s offense:
Expect to see plenty of short screens to Gibson and the wide receivers, including crossing routes and underneath concepts. This will likely be a West Coast-style unit for Washington moving forward until Fitzpatrick returns, so expect the ball to come out quickly and the Giants to be limiting yardage between the sticks.
For the Giants’ defense, the mantra of the game will be to get off the field on third down. Expect Washington to use all of their available plays. The Giants gave up three 4th down conversions and 24 first downs, including seven on 3rd down in Week 1. Looking over at Washington, they converted just three 3rd downs and one 4th down conversion on one attempt.
Overall, this is a favorable matchup for the Giants, who should look to blitz Heinicke early and often to keep him flustered and off-balance. This will ultimately allow them to disguise some coverages in the secondary and create mistakes as he tries to find his receivers in traffic. The interior defensive line must have a solid performance, and with Washington’s line mostly looking good against the Chargers, it won’t be an easy task. They should look to target rookie right tackle Samuel Cosmi in pass protection. He allowed a sack, two hurries, and four pressures against Los Angeles in the loss.