New York Yankees Recap: Yankee homers win a hard fought game against the Blue Jays

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

With new urgency, tonight, the New York Yankees entered the last game of the Toronto Blue Jays series at Roger’s Center in Toronto with a need to win the rubber game of the series. The Yankees won the first game  7-2 but lost the second game in a 6-5 squeaker. The must-win would allow the Yankees to keep the wild card home field advantage even if the Red Sox win their game with the Orioles. The Yankees relied on Corey Kluber to get the win over the likely Cy Young award winner Robbie Ray. At the end of the night, the Yankee homers powered the way to a 6-2 win in the game.

DJ LeMahieu led off the first inning against Ray and went down on strikes. Anthony Rizzo ground out into the shift. Then, Aaron Judge had a monster home run 455′ into the Roger’s restaurant. Giancarlo Stanton walked. Gleyber Torres flew out to the warning track in  center as the Yankees got on the board first. At the bottom, George Springer led off and singled to no man’s land in center. Marcus Semien hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Vlad Guerrero ground out to short. New York Yankees 1 Blue Jays 0.

Gary Sanchez led off the second by walking. Brett Gardner ground out to second. Gio Urshela was called out on strikes. Kyle Higashioka flew out to the warning track in right. At the bottom, the bothersome Bo Bichette that homered twice last night singled up the middle. Bichette stole second. Teoscar Hernandez flew out to Stanton in left field. Corey Dickerson hit a long one for a double scoring Bichette to tie the game at one. Alejandro Kirk ground out to third. Santiago Espinal flew out to a diving Judge in right, but the Jays tied the game. New York Yankees 1 Toronto Blue Jays 1.

The third inning was led off by LeMahieu, who popped out to shallow center. Rizzo launched one to right for a fly-out. Judge flew out to right-center for three flyouts for Robbie Ray. At the bottom of the inning, Randel Grichuk flew out for the first out. Springer popped out to Torres. Semien singled on a soft line drive. Guerrero struck out on an excellent curveball from Kluber. Game tied at 1.

Giancarlo Stanton led off the fourth inning by grounding out to third Torres ground out up the middle. Sanchez went down swinging. At the bottom, the dangerous Bo Bichette led off by popping out to Urshela. Hernandez went down on strikes. Dickerson got a single on a hit cut-off by Judge. Dickerson stole second. Kirk walked. Espinal with two outs and two on ground out to short to end the inning and leave two on base. The game tied at 1 in the fourth.

The fifth inning was led off by Brett Gardner, who flew out to second. Urshela flew out to right-center. Higahioka struck out to end the half scoreless for the New York Yankees. At the bottom, Randal Grichuk led off by striking out. Springer ground to short for a single. Semiem struck out. Dickerson doubled driving in Springer for a Blue Jays run. Corey Kluber left the game in the fifth, giving up two earned runs, walking one, and striking out 2. Micheal King replaced him to finish out the fifth. Toronto Blue Jays 2 New York Yankees 1.

The sixth inning was huge for the New York Yankees. The inning produced four runs for the Yankees. First, Anthony Rizzo hit the 250th homer of his career. Then, Aaron Judge got his second homer of the game. Then, Gleybor Torres homered. Those homers led to the end of the night for Jay’s pitcher Robbie Ray. Luis Severino pitched a scoreless bottom of the inning. New York Yankees 5 the Toronto Blue Jays 2.

The seventh inning was scoreless for both teams. Anthoney Rizzo led off the eighth inning and struck out swinging. Judge walked. Stanton struck out. Gleyber Torres flew out to center to end the half. At the bottom Bichette against Chad Green singled. Hernandez stuck out swinging. Dickerson struck out swinging. Kirk also struck out with one-on and two outs, giving Green three strikeouts in the inning. New York Yankees 5 Blue Jays 2.

Gary Sanchez led off the ninth inning against Julian Merryweather by striking out looking. Brett Gardner homed for the New York Yankees’ fifth homer of the night. Gio Urshela singled up the middle. Higashioka, with one run in and one on with one out, struck out for the second out of the inning. Tyler Wade struck out to end the half. At the bottom, with last licks on the line for the Toronto Blue Jays Santiago Espinal against closer, Aroldis Chapman singled beyond short. Breyvic Valera pinch-hitting for Randal Crichuk with one on and no outs went down looking on a 99 mph fastball. George Springer, with one out, struck out for Chapman’s 1,000th strikeout. Marcus Semien, with two outs, ground out to Tyler Wade for the final out for the Blue Jays.

The New York Yankees won the rubber game and the series from the Blue Jays, keeping their number one berth in the wild card. The final score was the New York Yankees 6 and the Toronto Blue Jays 2. The winning pitcher was Michael King, and the loser was Robbie Ray.

 

 

 

 

Knicks: Sports injury analyst weighs in on Mitchell Robinson’s slow recovery

mitchell robinson, knicks

With three weeks left before the new NBA season begins, New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has yet to progress to contact drills. His availability on the opening night remains a big question mark.

“There’s really no timetable,” Tom Thibodeau said after Thursday’s practice. “When he’s ready, he’s ready. We talk to the medical people every day. We talk to Mitch to see how he’s doing. I think it’s important for us to have the big picture in mind with him.”

In such a critical season where his future with the team and his next contract are at stake, this is not the ideal situation. But Robinson has grown so much, and he’s smart enough to know that one wrong decision could cost him not just a million. But a truckload.

Robinson, who grew to 280 pounds, can’t wait to flex the muscles he developed in the offseason. But when asked if he’s ready to play on the opening night, Robinson was non-committal.

“As a player, I think so. But I still need to listen to those guys (medical staff). They’ve been through this stuff. So I’m putting all my trust in them. So even if I know I want to go out there and play, I’ll be smart and let them handle it. I’ll just do what they ask,” said the 23-year old center.

The Knicks are eager to see him back on the court to assess how much he’s really worth. But they are also smart enough to know that rushing him to return could help them in the immediate future but could also hurt them in the end. Under Leon Rose’s regime, where patience and prudence reign, the Knicks are content to see Robinson take baby steps than gamble on giant strides.

“Each day, he’s doing a little bit more. He’s still working on his conditioning, doing a little more basketball, doing small parts of practice. There’s a progression to what he’s doing,” Thibodeau said. 

“Eventually, he’ll be cleared to do all the non-contact [drills], and we’ll start with one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three to the point where he can take contact. To go from zero to a hundred doesn’t make any sense. So each step, once he clears, he goes to the next one. He’s making really good progress.”

Robinson has been doing a lot of individual drills — light jogging, handling the ball while sitting on a chair, shooting out of the chair, stationary shooting, form shooting, cardio exercises in the pool and on the bike. Thibodeau also revealed that Robinson has been doing a lot of extra work on the sidelines with Aaron Brooks, the Knicks’ two-way liaison.

“He’s doing a great job in practice with the things he can do. We just want to make sure he’s completely healed. When you’ve been out with that amount of time, he’s got to get his conditioning up to speed. So that’s really the first step. Then once that happens, he’ll be cleared to do more and more in practice,” Thibodeau said.

It has been six months since Robinson underwent surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot. Under normal circumstances, it should have been healed by now. But Jeff Stotts, a certified athletic trainer who runs the in street clothes website, which analyzes sports injuries, believes the Knicks are taking the right approach.

According to Stotts’ database, the average time lost for in-season fifth metatarsal fractures has been 42 games (roughly 10 to 11 weeks). It’s shorter (about 15 games) when the injury occurs during the offseason, which is why Zion Williamson, who suffered the same injury recently, is optimistic he could be ready by the opening night. But the timeline is harder to gauge in Robinson’s case since he sustained the injury in-game late in the season.

“The variability of a metatarsal injury can be pretty high because with these types of injuries, they depend on how the injury occurred and when did the injury occur,” Stotts told Empire Sports Media.

“The problem is if it’s located near the base of the foot in that fifth metatarsal — where the fifth metatarsal bridges the bones of the midfoot to the bones of the pinky toe. If it occurs closer to the midfoot, the blood supply in that area is very low, which is why surgeries are often required. Even if surgeries have been carried out, there’s no guarantee that the bone will heal quickly. It can take some time,” Stotts explained.

Ben Simmons missed his entire rookie season because of the same injury. Brook Lopez sat out 100 games when he was still with the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant only played in 27 games during the 2014-15 season.

“Kevin [Durant] had some complications with his fifth metatarsal when he had this. So you have to take your time to recover. Because if you don’t, the re-injury incident is pretty high. There’s also the potential for complications with the surgical hardware,” Stotts said.

Lopez and Durant had re-surgery. Durant even needed a third surgery. Simmons avoided it after he got a bone marrow injection.

In Robinson’s case, given the available information, Stotts believes the Knicks’ big man is on track to full recovery, but he is not quite there yet. The bone tissue, according to Stotts, heals nicely if it’s given an appropriate amount of time which is the frustrating part of these types of injuries.

“It’s likely the Knicks understand these things and what they’re doing is slow playing his recovery to ensure that [Robinson] doesn’t suffer some setback that’s going to ultimately push back his timeline again,” Stotts said.

If there’s anything good that has come out of this ordeal is that Robinson fell in love with the process of taking care of his body and working out. He said he worked closely with the Knicks conditioning coaches, and his trainer Marcell Scott was always on his ears back home in New Orleans to stay on the right track.

“I just fell in love, and now I can’t stay out of the weight room,” Robinson said. “It’s crazy!”

But being in great shape is not the same as being in game shape, according to Stotts.

When asked if Robinson could be ready by the first or second month of the season, Stotts said that’s a fairly reasonable estimation given what we know about his recovery progress.

While Robinson is out, the Knicks will rely on Nerlens Noel and the 36-year old grizzled veteran Taj Gibson to anchor their defense which finished in the top five last season.

“That’s the great value of having a guy like Taj,” Thibodeau said. “[Taj] has been an elite defender throughout his career, so even though he’s a little older now but he stays ready, he stays in great shape.”

“He’s locked into everything that we’re doing. Whether he’s not in the rotation, he’s just practicing hard with his teammates to help the team in any way he can, and then when you have to plug him in off the bench, he can handle that. If we have to plug him in as a starter, he can handle that. He’s played two positions his entire career. He’s started, he’s come off the bench, he’s finished a lot of games, and so he’s invaluable to us.”

Robinson is eligible to sign a $53 million, four-year extension until the end of the season. But the Knicks are still reluctant to discuss extension until they see how he looks on the court after the injury.

The good news is that a 2016 study revealed that NBA players who suffered the Jones fracture did not display a decrease in performance when they returned.

Lopez, Durant, and Simmons all survived and thrived after the injury. Only Rasheed Wallace — who was 38 and at the tail end of his career in 2013 with the Knicks — was forced to retire because of the same type of injury.

But despite the rosy picture, there’s a variable that might untrack Robinson. Whether he admits it or not, there is the pressure to deliver big on a contract year.

“I’ve been focused on getting back. I don’t worry about the contract and stuff like that. I just want to hoop,” Robinson said. “Whenever [my agent] tells me that this is what [Knicks] are gonna do, then we’ll just talk about it at that time. But as far as right now, I’m just trying to get back to playing.”

The most frustrating part of the timing of the injury is that Robinson had started to get comfortable under Thibodeau’s system.

While their relationship started on the wrong foot, Thibodeau eventually became a fan of Robinson. On Thursday, Thibodeau defended why Robinson’s blocks went down from 2.4 and 2.0 per game in his first two seasons to just 1.5 last season despite playing career-best 27.5 minutes.

“Oftentimes, when we talk about defensive ratings and different measurements, sometimes you may see a guy who’s high in steals, and he gets rated highly because of that, and oftentimes he’s the guy that breaks you down. And the same thing if you just go after blocks all the time and you’re not fulfilling your team responsibilities. Again, your blocks may be high, but you may not be effective in terms of your team defense, pick and roll defense, or whatever it might be,” Thibodeau explained.

“The big thing for us is getting his fouls down, and I think he’s done a great job with that. And there’s still the rim intimidation. Guys are looking to see where he is. So I think his discipline has improved greatly. He’s not recklessly, just flying all over the place. He’s got more discipline to his game, and he’s impacting shots in the paint and the restricted (area) in a very efficient way.”

Robinson cut his fouls down to just 2.8 per game, the lowest in his first three years in the league.

Thibodeau was effusive in his praise, unlike last year’s training camp when he remarked that the big man had a lot of room for improvement regarding professionalism and impacting winning.

This offseason, Robinson did a 360-degree turn — growing physically, emotionally, and mentally.

“The thing I liked about what he did is he maximized the time. In terms of strength and conditioning, whatever it might have been, whether it’s the pool or the bike, but physically he’s matured. So he’s not a young kid anymore. He looks great,” Thibodeau said.

“He’s definitely a lot stronger than he was. He’s put a lot of work in, in terms of watching film and he’s doing all the things that he can do. I think he’s very engaged with his teammates. When he’s on the sidelines, he’s into what’s going on and gets there early with the early group and stays late. He’ll come in at night. So he’s in the building all the time. That’s a big plus.”

With all the pent-up emotions, Robinson’s first game back, though it could come with a minutes restriction, should be a cracker.

“I feel a whole lot stronger. My body feels better,” Robinson said. “I’m just going to see how it goes. I want somebody to hit me in the chest. I want to see how it feels.”

Robinson said he misses the action so much, especially during the playoffs when the Knicks lost to Atlanta Hawks, 4-1, as Clint Capela bullied Noel in the paint.

“I missed it! It’s better to be playing than sitting on the sidelines, obviously,” Robinson said. “Of course, you’re learning a little bit more, but I want to be in the fight, man!”

With so much hype about his growth and his great physique, his return to the court just couldn’t come soon enough.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

UFC booking Sean O’Malley – Raulian Paiva

Sean O'Malley

The Suga Show is returning to the UFC. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report this evening that Sean O’Malley (14-1) has his next date inside the octagon. Suga Sean will be taking on Raulian Paiva (21-3) next.

The fight will take place at UFC 269 on December 11th. In recent days, O’Malley has been teasing that he would be fighting on this card. At one point, he tweeted out hinting that he would be taking on Dominick Cruz.

Earlier today, we found out that Cruz would be taking on Pedro Munhoz at UFC 269. Munhoz was another fighter O’Malley was hinting at fighting. However, he will fight neither and he will get Paiva instead.

Like O’Malley, Paiva earned himself a UFC contract by winning a fight on The Contender Series. However, he would go on to lose his first two fights in the UFC. Granted, they were in the flyweight division and to two of the better fighters in the division.

Paiva moved up to bantamweight for his last fight and took on Kyler Phillips. He had an incredible performance and went on to pick up the win. Now, he’s going to try and ride that momentum into defeating Sean O’Malley.

UFC 269 is now featuring The Suga Show

There is no questioning the fact that Sean O’Malley has an “It” factor about him. When you look at him, look at the way he fights, and listen to the way he talks, the guy can be a superstar for the UFC.

However, he still has to back everything up inside the octagon. O’Malley has been very good during his tenure with the UFC, but he’s still not taking on the best of the best at 135 pounds.

In taking on this fight against Paiva, he’s taking on a top prospect, but not someone near the top. These are the kind of fights that O’Malley has to really put on a show if he wants to be taken serious and get the big names and the big money.

UFC 269 is not going to be an easy night for O’Malley. This will be a tough fight for him just like it was a tough fight for Kyler Phillips. I’m actually really excited about this matchup.

New York Giants: Joe Judge raises eyebrows with criticism of analytics

New York Giants, Joe Judge

For the past half decade, the New York Giants have been accused plenty of times of being an organization stuck in the past. While other franchises have had more success with rebuilds after adopting new strategies and taking a chance on outside personnel, the Giants have largely focused on loyalty to past figures from the team’s history.

One of the most common complaints about the Giants’ current offensive playbook is that many of their passing concepts look like they came from the 90s, and these complaints go all the way up to the teambuilding level where Dave Gettleman has been criticized often for taking a running back with the second pick in the modern NFL.

Those who feel the Giants have underperformed when it comes to modernizing for the times now have something else to criticize, as head coach Joe Judge added onto that trend by dismissing analytics while defending a controversial decision to not go for it on 4th down in Falcons territory in week 3.

In that specific situation, it’s been argued that more analytically adept teams would have weighed the odds and found that going for it is worth the risk. In any case, the decision came back to bite the Giants as they eventually lost the game by a slim margin – an outcome that could have been avoided with a few more points scored by the offense.

“It’s nice to look at the numbers and how they go through the flow of the game, but the analytics change based on the opponent, based on who you have available for the game and how the flow of the game is going, too,” Judge said while defending his decision.

“You can look at a stat sheet all you want. I promise you: If Excel was going to win football games, Bill Gates would be killing it right now.”

The remark about Excel and Bill Gates may rub some the wrong way due to the current state of the Giants. Right now, the Giants appear to be on a downwards trajectory while a number of other teams have turned around bad runs and found success after adopting more modern trends.

In fact, it’s not hard to make an argument that a team owned by Bill Gates would likely put together a more competent front office and coaching staff than what the Giants have now. The Seahawks, after all, are well known for their run of great drafting under the ownership of Microsoft associate Paul Allen, which brought them star players such as Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom secondary.

The Giants largely haven’t been able to get things to work under Dave Gettleman’s old school style. And while Gettleman has said things occasionally about leaning more into analytics, it remains unclear just what impact those efforts have had. While it’s impossible to know exactly what is going on in the front office, it looks from the outside like the Giants frequently lean back on their old-fashioned ways when the time for an important decision comes around.

Unless the Giants can find actual success with their own way of doing things, comments like Judge’s will continue to come off as tone deaf. And many fans will continue to rue the fact that the organization spites the idea of moving forward and handling their rebuild along more modern lines.

Dan Hooker steps in to face Islam Makhachev at UFC 267

Well, Dan Hooker (21-10) is wasting no time getting back into the cage after UFC 266. Just last weekend, Hooker defeated Nasrat Haqparast on the prelims which snapped his two-fight losing streak.

It was a great performance from Hooker who really showed off his wide-range of skills. The fight almost didn’t happen though as Hooker had issues getting a visa to get into the US to fight at UFC 266.

However, the issues were resolved and Hooker fought to victory. We learned last week that Rafael Dos Anjos was potentially going to miss his UFC 267 fight with Islam Makhachev (20-1).

Dos Anjos ended up suffering a knee injury that put the fight in jeopardy. RDA actually had to have surgery but he was still going to try to fight. However, his doctors were going to need to approve it.

Ultimately, the doctors wouldn’t clear him and the UFC was forced to look into other options. They turned right to Hooker and asked if he’d be interested in taking on the dangerous Islam Makhachev. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke the news today that Hooker signed and the fight is on at UFC 267.

UFC 267’s New Lightweight Contest

Islam Makhachev has been looked at as a new boogeyman of the lightweight division. He’s seemingly been avoided by many top guys and he’s actually accused Hooker of dodging him in the past.

Well, at UFC 267, he’s going to get his shot against The Hangman. Makhachev will enter the octagon next month riding an eight-fight win streak. The Khabib protégé has all the looks of a future world champion given his skillset.

Some of his coaches actually believe that he’s the evolution of Khabib. While Khabib would take his opponents down and try to smash them, Makhachev is constantly looking for submissions and he’s more advanced on the feet than Khabib was.

This is going to be a real test to see where Makhachev is in his development. If he can defeat Hooker and make it look easy, he will prove to everyone that he belongs in the UFC title conversation. However, if Hooker wins, he will prove that he’s still one of the very best in the world.

Marlon Moraes continued to fall at UFC 266

In the featured prelim at UFC 266, we saw a bantamweight matchup between “Magic” Marlon Moraes (23-9-1) and Merab Dvalishvili (14-4). Both of these men entered the contest going in completely opposite directions.

Dvalishvili was souring heading into UFC 266 and looked like he was ready to take the next step into serious title contention. Meanwhile, Marlon Moraes has been tail spinning ever since he lost to Henry Cejudo in a battle for the UFC bantamweight championship.

The fight on Saturday couldn’t have started better for Moraes. Moraes was lighting Dvalishvili up with powerful kicks and then he landed vicious shots that had Dvalishvili out on his feet. For a moment, it looked like a Moraes finish was in the bag.

However, Dvalishvili somehow survived and the fight continued at UFC 266. Once Moraes didn’t get the finish, you could actually see the desire and fight inside of him completely leave his body.

After nearly finishing Dvalishvili, Moraes almost got finished by Dvalishvili late in the first round. The rest of the fight was completely dominated by The Machine and Dvalishvili went on to score a second round TKO.

What’s next for Moraes after UFC 266?

Marlon Moraes lost his UFC debut to Raphael Assuncao (27-8). After that loss, he won four straight which included avenging that loss against Assuncao. He also knocked out Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera during that stretch.

Those four wins gave him a UFC title shot against Henry Cejudo. In that fight, Moraes dominated the opening round. However, when it became clear that Cejudo wasn’t going away, Moraes started to break.

Cejudo would go on to stop Moraes in the third round. After that, Moraes got a win over Jose Aldo, however, the majority people thought he lost. Then, he was knocked out in back-to-back fights by Cory Sandhagen and Rob Font.

Those losses led him to UFC 266. Again, Moraes started great, but broke when he couldn’t get the finish. There are spots in Moraes’ fights where he looks like one of the best in the world. However, if his first gameplan doesn’t work, he completely falls apart.

There’s so much talent there, but he’s becoming so predictable. If you can survive the onslaught early, you’re going to finish him more than likely. He has some real soul searching to do ahead of his next UFC fight.

In terms of what’s next, I’m honestly not sure. He’s dropped to tenth in the rankings and the only fight that I can think of that makes sense is Raphael Assuncao again. The two are 1-1 in their series and the trilogy makes a ton of sense.

Now, Assuncao is fighting Ricky Simon in December. Regardless of that result, I think Assuncao should be the fight for Moraes.

Mets’ Taijuan Walker feels “really good” about his season

New York Mets, Taijuan Walker

Taijuan Walker was a last-resort type of signing for the New York Mets. Long focused on landing star pitcher Trevor Bauer, he was sort of a plan B when the ace, currently out for legal reasons and a pending investigation, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But the 29-year-old Walker was a good pitcher for the Mets in 2021, even if his performance dipped considerably in the second half. His 7-11 record and 4.47 ERA (as of Thursday afternoon) are a bit misleading: he was an All-Star selection (and deservedly so), and had a solid 1.18 WHIP.

“Me personally, I thought it was a really good season,” Walker said, per SNY. “I know the numbers don’t look good, especially in the second half, but to be where I was the last three years and make 29 starts, 30 games total, and throw I think 160 innings [159.0 to be exact], I would say that’s a win.

“Obviously, we want to make the playoffs, we want to go deep into the playoffs and win a World Series, but I felt really good about my season. The training staff did a really good job of keeping me healthy and just working with me making sure I was able to go out there every fifth day.”

The Mets were able to keep him in one piece

Health, indeed, was a crucial part of his success. The Mets were able to have him on the mound for 159 innings, which qualifies as a win after injuries derailed his 2018 and 2019 campaigns.

The offseason will be active for the Mets as they try to fill out their rotation amid significant turnover. Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman are going to be free agents, but Walker remains under contract and is expected to be one of the five starting pitchers in 2022.

As for goals, Walker wants one thing: “Just be consistent throughout the whole year,” he said. “Next year, I plan on going 180-plus innings over 30 starts, but being consistent with it, try to go deep into games every time out.”

UFC books Dominick Cruz – Pedro Munhoz

Dominick Cruz

The UFC has finalized a fun matchup in the bantamweight division. MMA Fighting was the first to report yesterday that the promotion had finalized a matchup between former UFC champion Dominick Cruz (23-3) and Pedro Munhoz (19-6, 1 NC).

The matchup will take place at UFC 269 on December 11th. This announcement came as a surprise for a lot of fans. Pedro Munhoz had been leaning towards moving down to the flyweight division after his last fight.

Munhoz was perhaps just a win away from a title shot at 135 back in 2019. He got the win of his career when he knocked out former UFC champion Cody Garbrandt in the first round which set up a fight against Aljamain Sterling.

However, it hasn’t been as smooth sailing for Munhoz after that matchup. Starting with the Sterling fight, Munhoz has gone 1-3 in his last four. The most recent matchup took place at UFC 265 when he took on Jose Aldo.

Aldo outclassed Munhoz on the feet and after the fight was over, Munhoz said he was going to drop to flyweight. However, there’s been a change of plans after he was offered to fight another former UFC champion.

What does UFC 269 mean for Dominick Cruz?

It’s been quite the roller coaster for Dominick Cruz in the UFC. At one point, he was considered to be on the road to being one of the best the sport has ever seen. However, injuries completely derailed his career.

Despite that, he’s still put together a Hall of Fame UFC resume. Cruz returned earlier this year when he took on Casey Kenney at UFC 259. For Cruz, it was the first time that he had fought twice in a 12 month period since back in 2016.

Cruz was able to edge out Kenney by a decision. After he got the win, he made it clear that he wants to continue climbing the ladder, but he didn’t say at what pace. Taking on Pedro Munhoz is a step up, but it’s not jumping to the top of the division.

Should Cruz pick up the win at UFC 269, I would expect a jump. However, if he falls short, that might spell the end of his career. I’m expecting a very game Munhoz which should make for a very fun fight in December.

Yankees: Cole’s fastball was a problem against the Blue Jays

The New York Yankees let a winnable game slip through their hands on Wednesday, when they fell 6-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays and further complicated the AL Wild Card outlook. At the moment, before Thursday’s games, the Bombers are still in the first Wild Card spot with a 90-68 record, but four clubs remain separated by two games.

During last night’s start, the Yankees couldn’t enjoy a quality outing from their ace, Gerrit Cole. Competing to give New York the best possible chance to win and, additionally, for the Cy Young award, the right-hander allowed nine hits and five earned runs in six innings, increasing his ERA to 3.23.

Per MLB.com, the pitcher said he didn’t feel tired, stating that he has plenty left in the tank. In fact, he will likely be needed in a must-win scenario for his next outing: either the Wild Card game or the final day of the campaign.

The Yankees’ ace wasn’t fooling anyone with the heater

It just wasn’t his night. The Yankees’ ace faced perhaps the best offense in baseball and couldn’t miss too many bats with his signature fastball. In fact, the pitch was getting hammered all night long and he allowed five extra base hits with it.

Two of those hits were home runs, by Marcus Semien and Bo Bichette.

“I think we’re running into some really tough teams,” Cole said. “I just was not quite sharp enough today. That’s just the bottom line. I think that I certainly showed the ability to make the pitches that we needed to over the course of the game; I just didn’t make enough of them.”

The Yankees now have a narrow one-game advantage over the Boston Red Sox, the owners of the second Wild Card. The Seattle Mariners and the Blue Jays lurk.

New York and Toronto will play the series finale tonight at Rogers Centre.

“Physically, I think the velocity is in a good spot,” Cole said. “Things have rebounded well since a couple of those injury mishaps. I’m in a good enough spot to make enough good pitches. I’ve just got to make those pitches at the right times.”

“They definitely came out swinging aggressively at the heater,” catcher Kyle Higashioka said. “The first two innings set the tone. After that, we reined it in, but by then, the main damage was pretty much done.”

Yankees News, 9/30: Judge, Stanton join Ruth, Gehrig with awesome record, Gerrit Cole flops when needed most

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays 5-6 on Wednesday evening, giving their opponents a sign of life in the Wild Card. With the Boston Red Sox overcoming the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees sit just one game ahead of Boston for the first place spot in the Wild Card. The Seattle Mariners are 0.5 games from Boston in second place, so winning on Thursday evening is a necessity for a Yankees team they couldn’t find a way with ace Gerrit Cole on the mound.

However, during this exciting streak of wins, sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have been on fire. In fact, they are playing as well as two players from the past that might ring a bell, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

According to Stats by STATS: “the production that Stanton and Judge have collectively posted in August and September is matched by only one other pair in MLB history: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.”

Stats pieced together by Mike Rosenstein of NJ.com:

Stanton in August 2021: 9 HR, 25 RBI

 

Stanton in September 2021: 10 HR, 25 RBI

 

Judge in August 2021: 8 HR, 26 RBI

 

Judge in September 2021: 8 HR, 21 RBI

 

Stanton and Judge total in August and September 2021: 35 HR, 97 RBI

 

Ruth in August 1931: 9 HR, 31 RBI

 

Ruth in September 1931: 9 HR, 22 RBI

 

Gehrig in August 1931: 8 HR, 39 RBI

 

Gehrig in September 1931: 8 HR, 30 RBI

 

Ruth and Gehrig total in August and September 1931: 34 HR, 122 RBI

This is quite an incredible statistic, as the pairing of Stanton and Judge have more homers but far fewer RBIs during a similar time span. Nonetheless, it shows their absolute dominance lately, as Judge hosts a .285 average with 37 homers and 95 RBIs the season. He hasn’t enjoyed a season this lucrative since 2017, but has cut back on his strike-out rate by 5%.

Stanton, on the other hand, features a .276 average with 35 homers and 96 RBIs. Both players have very similar numbers, as Stanton currently has the third-most home runs he’s recorded in a season. Is high is 59 back in 2017, the same year that Judge had his best campaign.

With those two players hitting their stride late in the year, the Yankees need to continue extracting wins, with one more game against Toronto before taking on the Tampa Bay Rays at home to finish off the regular season.

However, the team needs Cole to play better after having a few consecutive poor outings. Over his last three games, Cole has allowed 15 earned runs, five homers, and walked four batters. He’s pitched 17.2 innings during that time span, watching his ERA balloon to 3.23 from 2.75 back on September 14. It is also fair to mention that Cole has pitched upward of 181 innings this year, so fatigue could be setting in late in the season. Hopefully, the Yankees get the postseason version of Cole if they can finish off the season strong.