Will Yankees’ Brett Gardner be back for the 2022 season?

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees have a lot of decisions to make this off-season, including who will play shortstop and whether or not skipper Aaron Boone will return to the team for the foreseeable future.

While a lot of these decisions are in their hands, one decision that is left up to the player is outfielder Brett Gardner. The veteran signed a two-year, $5.15 million deal this past off-season at 37-years-old, and with the team being knocked out of the postseason early, his decision to return could be even more likely.

The contract has a player option for the 2022 campaign, which would pay him $2.3 million in salary.

“I hope that I’m back next season, but that’s really not on my radar right now,’’ Gardner said after the Wild Card loss to the Red Sox.

“I’m just kind of trying to process all that went on.”

Last season, Gardner hit a career-low .222 with 10 homers and 39 RBIs. His strikeout rate hovered around his 2020 numbers, but his impact has become more defensive than as a quality lefty bat in the lineup.

It is clear that age is making an impact on Gardy’s production and efficiency, but the decision to bring him back is not the Yankees’ favor. Alternatively, they could’ve allocated that money differently, but $2.3 million isn’t anything to get heated over.

It is always good to have a veteran presence and a lefty in case of emergency, but the Yankees can’t continue on starting him and feeling confident about it. The expectation was that Clint Frazier would be the primary starter in 2021, but due to migraines and injury, the Bombers had no choice but to utilize Brett. The loss of Aaron Hicks early on in the year also took a toll.

Luckily, both should be healthy for the 2022 campaign, hopefully mitigating Gardner’s impact.

New York Yankees 10/2: Takeaways as the Yankees lose but reach magic #1

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Santon

The New York Yankees were licking their wounds after a ninth-inning rally failed to save them from losing a game one 4-3 from the Tampa Bay Rays. But at the time, they had no idea that in the middle of the night, they would reduce their magic number to #1. The Seattle Mariners game didn’t start until 10 pm EDT and didn’t end until after 1 am in the east, but by the time they walked off the field, the Mariners had lost the game propelling the Yankees to that magic #1.

Last night’s Yankee/Ray contest was a typically hard-fought game on both team’s part. However, the game never got out of hand to the point that it was lopsided. The Tampa Bay Rays got on the board early, with Nelson Cruz sending one into the New York night. But Giancarlo Stanton blasted an RBI to leave the first inning tied at one apiece. The next seven innings would be scoreless for the Yankees.

After nearly three hours, the game was still close with the Rays having a one-run advantage, then came a very exciting and tense ninth inning for both teams. The Rays tacked on two runs. In the bottom of the inning, with the Yankees behind by three runs, the Yankees’ late rally garnered them two more runs, but it wasn’t enough.

Nasty Nestor still doing his job

Nestor Cortes Jr. took to the mound last night and did what he has been doing ever since the reliever was turned into a starter by necessity. He kept the Yankees in the game. After giving up a homer to Nelson Cruz in the first, he settled down and gave the Yankees almost five innings giving up just one more run while striking out five Rays.

Also, last night Domingo German returned from the IL after not pitching for two months. Boone called in German to pitch the eighth. German pitched a scoreless eighth. He went into the first out of the ninth giving up two earned runs while striking out three. Many fans were asking why Boone didn’t bring closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.

“He’s going to be in some difficult situations,” Boone said. “We’ve got to lean on everyone down there. The walks hurt to knock him out of the game, but I thought overall he threw the ball pretty well.”

“I just felt like, matchup-wise, it was good,” Boone said. “I thought Albert did a good job of getting Arozarena out and then he puts Franco on the ground there. He just found a hole with it.”

If the Yankees come up on the wrong side of things after this series, this decision will be questioned again.

Yankee bats stymied by Tampa pitchers

The New York Yankees, maybe more than some teams, have had a great deal of difficulty hitting off good pitchers, and that’s what they faced last night. At the end of the night, the Yankees only got five hits off Rays pitching until they got to Kittredge in the ninth. But it ended up too little too late. Only Stanton and Gardner had two hits in the game. Five Yankees were hitless.

Yankee magic number is now one

This morning, the New York Yankees sit firmly in the number one berth for home-field advantage in the wild card game by one game. The Red Sox are holding on tight for that second spot after winning their game against the Nationals last night. Toronto also won last night and is one game behind the Red Sox. With the Mariners’ loss early this morning, they will have to win both of their remaining games to stay in contention.

If the Yankees win today, they will be assured of the home-field advantage even if the Red Sox win another one. Today the Yankees face the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05 pm EDT. Jordan Montgomery will be on the mound for the Yankees and Shane Baz for the Rays.

Saturday’s matinee will feature the matchup of veteran Jordan Montgomery against the young Shane Baz. Montgomery is a lefty that is 6-6 with an ERA of 3.49 and 159 strikeouts. “Monty” is the Yankee poster boy for getting little run support in his games. He is coming off two wins against the Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox. He has had only one bad outing this season. It was on September 10th when he gave up seven earned runs in just 3.1 innings of work. The Rays hitters have not been particularly successful of him, but he will have to watch out for Manuel Margot, who in 14 at-bats has a .357 batting average.

Twenty-two-year-old Shane Baz will be a mystery to Yankee hitters as they have not seen him pitch except on video. However, he made his major league debut on September 20th and has won both of his games against the Toronto Blue jays and the Miami Marlins. He has pitched a total of 10.2 innings. In his Toronto game, he gave up two home runs. In his Marlins start, he allowed three hits in his scoreless 5.2 innings.

 

 

New York Yankees Recap: Tampa Bay Rays squeak by the Yankees for game one win

Suppose the last few series weren’t urgent enough or exciting enough for New York Yankee fans. In that case, this weekend, it was upfront and in your face, over the top exciting at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx as the Yankees played their final regular-season series with their rival Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have already clinched the AL East, so basically, they have nothing to lose, but believe it, they won’t let the Yankees off the hook. The Yankees lost the game as a ninth-inning rally failed 4-3.

The Tampa Bay Rays hate the New York Yankees for a variety of reasons. The tensions between these two teams have been building for years. So if you think for one moment that the Rays will roll over and let the Yankees win, think again. They will do anything to shame the Yankees or knock them out of a home-field advantage in the wild card. They may realign their pitching for the postseason, but you can be sure the Rays’ hitters will not let up on Yankee pitching. That pitching tonight saw starter with Nestor Cortes Jr. on the mound facing the Rays’ Shane McClanahan.

The top of the first inning saw Randy Arozarena at the plate against Cortes, he went down on strikes. Wander Franco flew out to Gallo in left. Nelson Cruz homered to the left-field stands. Yanky Diaz flew out to Rizzo in foul territory to end the half with the Rays getting on the board first. In the bottom, Gleyber Torres led off for the Yankees and got a long double to left. Anthony Rizzo flew out to right. Torres advanced on a passed ball. Aaron Judge went down on strikes. Giancarlo Stanton scorched one to right for his 97th RBI of the season, with Torres scoring. Joey Gallo struck out to end the inning tied. New York Yankees 1 Tampa Bay Rays 1.

The second inning was led off by Ji-Man Choi, who struck out.  Manuel Margot reached on a roller to the pitcher. Joey Wendle flew out to a diving Joey Gallo. Francisco Mejia singled in a knockdown by Odor but couldn’t get the out. Kevin Kiermaier singled with Margot scoring, but Mejia was called out trying to reach third for the final out. At the bottom, Gio Urshela led off for the Yankees and ground out softly to second. Brett Gardner singled beyond short. Kyle Higashioka flew out to right. Rougie Odor getting a chance to play grounded out to third. Rays 2 Yankees 1.

The top of the third inning was led off by Arozarena, who went down on strikes. Franco flew out to Gardner in center. Cruz went down on strikes for a 1-2-3 inning for Cortes Jr. At the bottom, Torres ground out to short. Rizzo struck out. Judge chopped out softly to short to end the inning. Rays 2 and Yankees 1.

Yandy Diaz led off the fourth inning by flying out to Gardner in center. Choi struck out swinging. Margot flew out to Gallo in far left for another 1-2-3 inning for Cortes Jr.  At the bottom, Stanton led off against new pitcher Pete Fairbanks struck out swinging. Gallo ground out to second. Urshela singled to left on a ball that couldn’t be handled. Brett Gardner went down on strikes to end the inning. Rays 2 Yankees 1.

The fifth inning was led off by Joey Wendle that ground out to short. Mejia flew out to Judge in right field. Kiermaier tripled to center, and that was the end of the night for Nestor Cortes. Arozarena faced the new Yanke pitcher Clay Holmes and struck out to end the half. Higashiokia led off the bottom by grounding out to short. Odor ground out to short. Torres struck out swinging. Rays 2 Yankees 1.

Wander Franco led off the sixth inning bay ground out to short. Cruz ground out to Torres for the second out. Diaz walked, bringing pitcher Wandy Peralta to face Choi, who struck out to end the half. At the bottom, Anthony Rizzo lined out to first. Judge who has been quiet tonight singled to right-center. Stanton went down on strikes. Gallo flew out to right field to end another scoreless inning. Rays 2 Yankees 1.

Margot, the Yankee killer, led off the seventh inning. He has won four of his worst nightmare. Margot struck out. Mejias singled. Kiermaier walked after being hit by a pitch. Arozarena faced new Yankee pitcher Loaisiga and walked to load the bases with Rays. Franco struck out on a 100 mph fastball to leave the bases loaded with Rays. At the bottom, Urshela led off the bottom by striking out. Gardner ground singled. Higashioka ground out, and Odor struck out to end the inning. Tampa Bay Rays 2 New York Yankees 1.

At the top of the eighth inning, with Domingo German on the mound for the Yankees, Cruz ground out. Diaz singled. Diaz stole second. Choi struck out. Margot stuck out swinging to end the half and strand Diaz. At the bottom, Odor ground out to first. Torres led off the bottom of the eighth by flying out to left. Rizzo struck out swinging to end the inning. Rays 2 Yankees 1.

Joey Wendle led off the ninth facing Domingo German and struck out for German’s third strikeout in a row. Mejia walked. Phillips was brought in to pinch run. Kiermaier walked, knocking German out of the game replaced by Albert Abreu. Randy Arozarena, with two on and one out, reached on a force out with Mijia going to third. Arozarena stole second.  With two on and two outs, Franco got a two-run single for the three-run lead over the Yankees. Cruz flew out to Gardner to end the half.

At the bottom, with the Yankees needing a miracle, Aaron Judge took to the plate and ground out to third. Stanton doubled to left. Stanton stole third. Gallo got a bunt single scoring Stanton. Urshela singled to right field, moving Gallo to second. Tyler Wade was brought in to pinch-run for Urshela. Brett Gardner, with two on and one out, singled to right driving in Gallo. Gary Sanchez, pinch-hitting for Higashioka, struck out for the second out of the inning. Rougie Odor went down on strikes to end the game.

The final score was the Tampa Bay Rays 4 and the New York Yankees 3. The winning pitcher was Luis Head; the loser was Nestor Cortes jr., with the save going to Andrew Kittridge as the Yankees rally in the ninth fell short.

 

 

New York Yankees: Yankees strengthen hold on the wild card with win over the Jays (video)

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

With new urgency, last night, 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 won their game with the Orioles. Which they didn’t; they lost to the Baltimore Orioles, including the series.

The Yankees relied on Corey Kluber to get the win over the likely Cy Young award winner Robbie Ray. Kluber managed to keep the Yankees in the game at the night’s end as the Jay’s best pitcher Ray failed miserably. Five Yankee homers powered the way to a 6-2 win in the game, giving them even more cushion in the wild card race.

Corey Kluber got the job done

The still building up after coming off the IL, and after not pitching for three months, the New York Yankees sent righty Corey Kluber to the mound to at least keep the Yankees in the game against arguably the best AL pitcher Robbie Ray.  Even though Corey Kluber wasn’t at his best, he kept the Yankees in the game; he limited the Jays to just two runs against the energetic young Jays team. He pitched into the fifth inning, giving up seven hits and the two runs.

When Kluber was taken out of the game after 4.2 innings of work, Michael King entered. King finished off the fifth and pitched the sixth, giving up just one hit. Luis Severino, who has been lights out since his return from Tommy John surgery, pitched a hitless seventh. Chad Green, who has been returning to form lately, struck out three in the eighth. Chapman came in for the ninth in a non save situation and allowed one hit while striking out two and securing the 6-2 lead for the Yankees.

Bronx Bombers power their way to another win

The Toronto Blue Jays sent their best pitcher, the likely 2021 Cy Young award-winner, to shut down the Yankees and give them the series win. But the Bronx Bombers were not going to take any of that silliness; they pummeled the lefty with five home runs in the game. All the Yankee runs were via the home run, including the one other hit in the game.

It started in the first inning after DJ LeMahieu struck out and Anthony Rizzo ground out into the shift. Then, Aaron Judge came to the plate and hit a monster 455′ homer into the Roger’s Center left-field stands. He wouldn’t be denied as he hit his second home run in the sixth inning back to back after Anthony Rizzo hit the 250th homer of his career. Then, Gleyber Torres hit his own home run driving Robbie Ray out of the game. Finally, Brett Gardner tacked on an insurance homer in the top of the ninth inning for a 6-2 win that the Jays couldn’t recover from.

Questions with DJ Lemahieu

The New York Yankees are not done with injuries this year. Shortly before last night’s game, it was announced that the first baseman and DH Luke Voit was put on the 10 day IL with a knee injury. After a strikeout Wednesday night, Voit was seen limping off the field. Possibly of even greater consequence Tyler Wade entered the game to take DJ LeMahieu’s last two at-bats. LeMahieu has been suffering from hip and groin problems. The Yankees, in their usual vagueness, wouldn’t comment on how serious it is, other than he would work through it. Being taken out early last night questions that.

Yankees wild card standing

The New York Yankees strengthened their grip on a wild card berth by holding on to the home-field advantage. The Red Sox, who are behind the Yankees, lost their game against the Baltimore Orioles. Next in line was the Seattle Mariners, who were idle yesterday. The situation caused the Mariners and the Red Sox to have identical records two games out. With the loss last night, the Toronto Blue Jays are one game out for a wild card appearance with only three games left in the season.

In other standings, Dusty Bakers’ Houston Astros clinched the AL West for the fourth time in five years and will face the Chicago White Sox. When the Yankees win the wild card game, they will face the Tampa Bay Rays. The winners of those series will play each other in the AL Championship to determine who goes on to play in the World Series.

Notes: I can’t finish this article without giving a shout-out to Bo Bichette who played his heart out in this series. The little guy did everything he could to make the Blue Jays victorious. He had seven hits including two home runs in the series while striking out only twice.

Tonight at 7:05 pm EDT, the New York Yankees start out their final series of the season at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Nasty Nestor Cortes Jr. will be on the mound for the Yankees. The game will be televised on the YES Network, Bally Sports Sun, and on MLBN out of market.

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.

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees 9/18: 3 Major takeaways from a powerful win over the Indians

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

Last night after a disappointing loss to the Baltimore Orioles and falling out of a wild-card berth, the New York Yankees entered a new series with the Cleveland Indians. The Yankees had a new urgency and a mission to get back into wild-card contention; they did that and, in a big way, shutting out the Indians 8-0. The Yankees can take away several positives in the win.

Corey Kluber returning to form?

After not pitching for nearly two years, Corey Kluber got off to a slow start with the Yankees, but gradually got better and better to the point he had a no-hitter, the Yankees first since David Cone’s perfect game 22 years ago. But then Kluber went in the IL with a shoulder strain.

Kluber ended up nursing that shoulder for three months before he returned to the team, missing half of the season. Since his return, he struggled. In his second to the last start, he showed some early improvement. Last night he showed a huge improvement. He looked like an ace, pitching six full innings only allowing 4 hits in his scoreless outing. Last night Kluber showed he could be impactful as a number two starter should the Yankees reach the postseason.

Michael King for two innings and Lucas Luetge were masterful in relief.

The nail-biting disappeared for once

The New York Yankees have been winning games all season long by just a run or two, creating nail-biting win after nail-biting, many not decided until the ninth inning or beyond. The Yankees have won 84 games this season, 72 of them by 1 or two runs.

Last night that changed in a big way; the Yankees shut out the Indians, hitting five home runs in the game; it was the second time in a week that they beat their opponent by five or more runs. This is encouraging as the Yankees are starting to look like the Bronx Bombers again. Last night the hot Brett Gardner homered. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton hit homers. However, Joey Gallo topped them by hitting two long balls. For Gallo, it was his fifth homer in as many games.

Yankees looking forward to the postseason

Last night the Yankees got back a wild card berth as they won big over the Cleveland Indians while the surging Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Minnesota Twins. This is good news but make no mistake about it; the Yankees have much more to do. The first step is getting back the home-field advantage in the wild card. To do that, they must keep winning games. With only fourteen games left in the regular season, they have to win all of their remaining series at least.

The Yankees have reasons to believe this can happen. First, they have found that ace Gerrit Cole is not injured, and the second starter in the rotation, Corey Kluber, seems to be returning to form. Although still inconsistent, there are signs that the Yankee’s powerful lineup is again becoming powerful. Also, on the pitching front, it appears that ex-ace Luis Severino will be ready to be supportive in the bullpen by the postseason. There are also pitching arms Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt who could help shore up a fatigued bullpen. Jonathan Loaisiga is still a question mark.

 

New York Yankees Recap: Bronx Bombers shut out the Indians 8-0

joey gallo, yankees

The New York Yankees had fallen out of a walk card berth and, tonight, entered a new series, with a new urgency to get back into one of those postseason spots. Tonight the Yankees took on the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium with that goal in mind. Corey Kluber took the mound for the Yankees facing the Indians’ Zach Plesac.

In the first inning, Kluber faced Myles Straw; he flew out to Gallo in left. Brad Zimmer struck out when he couldn’t hold up. Jose Ramirez singled and immediately stole second. Franmil Reyes tapped back to Kluber to end the half. At the bottom, DJ LeMahieu led off with a single up the middle. Anthony Rizzo flew out to right. Aaron Judge singled to left, moving DJ to second base. Giancarlo Stanton hit into a 4-3-6 double play to strand two batters. No score.

Bobby Bradley led the second inning, who reached on an E3 when the hit tipped off Rizzo’s glove. Harold Ramirez flew out to Judge, and Judge fired in getting Bradley out at first. Two outs. Owen Miller flew out to center to end the half. In the bottom, Joey Gallo led off by hitting his 36th home run of the season into the second deck in right. Gleyber Torres ground out to second. Gio Urshela ground out to first. Brett Gardner ground out to third base. New York Yankees 1 Indians 0.

Leading off the third inning was Robert Perez, who singled to center field. A pitch hit Andres Gimenez. Straw with two on and no outs struck out. Zimmer flew out to Judge in right with the runners, not challenging Judge. Jose Ramirez lined out to second, assisted by Kluber to end the half. At the bottom, Kyle Higashioka led off by going down on strikes. LeMahieu popped out to second. Rizzo flew out to right to end the inning. Yankees 1 Indians 0.

Franmil Reyes led off the fourth by striking out. Bradley struck out. H. Ramirez singled up the middle. Miller popped out to Rizzo to end the half. Aaron Judge led off the bottom and homered the other way for his 35th of the season. Stanton went down on strikes. Gallo, who homered in the second, flew out to left. Torres stuck out swinging, but the Yankees picked up another run off of Judge’s home run. New York Yankees 2 Indians 0.

The fifth inning was led off by Perez, who worked a walk. Gimenez singled up the middle. Straw with two on and no outs hit into a double play with Perez moving to third. Zimmer ground out to second to end the half stranding Perez at third. Urshela led off the bottom of the fifth by singling up the middle. Gardner went down on three pitches. Higashioka gave one a ride, but it was caught at the right-centerfield wall. LeMahieu ground to first to end the inning. Yankees 2 Indians 0.

Jose Ramirez was at the plate for the sixth inning with Kluber still on the mound and walked. Reyes hit into a double play. Bradley flew out to Gallo to end the half. At the bottom, Rizzo ground out to first. Judge struck out. Stanton tipped back into the catcher’s glove, and that was it for the sixth. Yankees 2 Indians 0.

Harold Ramirez led off the seventh by facing new Yankee pitcher Michael King and went down on strikes. Miller ground out to third. Perez lined out directly to Torres at second. At the bottom, Gallo led off by singling to first. Torres walked. Urshela singled to center field, scoring Joey Gallo for the Yankee’s three run lead. With one in, two on, and no outs, Gardner hit a two-run homer to the short porch at the stadium. Higashioka struck out. LeMahieu ground out to center. Rizzo was out on a slow roller to second. New York Yankees 6 Indians 0.

The eighth inning was led off by Gimenez going down looking. Straw struck out. Zimmer flew out to Gardner, almost having a collision with Gallo. At the bottom, Judge led off by flying out to the warning track in right. Stanton homered into the left-field stands. Then Gallo had a back-to-back home run to right-center into the bullpen. Torres singled to center. Urshela, with still only one out, flew out to center. Gardner walked. Higashioka went down on strikes. New York Yankees 8 and the Cleveland Indians 0.

With the last licks on the line for the Indians in the top of the ninth, the Indian’s best player took to the plate and ground out to Urshela. Reyes flew out to Gallo in left. Yu Chang pinch-hitting for Bradley struck out to give the Yankees the shut out.

The final score was the New York Yankees 8 and the Cleveland Indians 0. The winning pitcher was Corey Kluber, and the loser was Zach Plesac.

 

 

 

New York Yankee Player Profiles: Is veteran Brett Gardner becoming Mr. September?

At the end of the New York Yankees’ 2020 season, many, if not most, Yankee fans felt Brett Gardner’s time with the Yankees was coming to a close. Just days before the start of the 2021 season Gardner still had not been re-signed, but in the final days of the offseason, Gardner and the Yankees came to a deal bringing the 14-year veteran back for yet another year. Most of this was powered by Gardner’s desire to play at least one more year with fans in the stands.

When the Yankees resigned him, the plan was to use him as a versatile bench player. The reality is that he has been anything but that, playing in 124 games to date, mostly due to the need to have him on the field with the many outfield injuries, especially to Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier, causing Gardner to be the teams’ everyday centerfielder. But now, in the postseason run, Gardner has become a must-be in the lineup, hitting .325 in September. For some fleeting reason, Gardner has heated up in September and has helped the Yankees reach the postseason in the last three seasons.

Like the heralded legend Yogi Berra once quipped, “it’s not over till it’s over.” Though never the team’s superstar, Gardner shows us he still has much to give the Yankees, excellent defense, excellent baserunning, and, yes, hitting. Last night in the ninth, Brett Gardner’s bloop single gave the Yankees the win. He went 3 for 4 with 2 singles and a double driving in two of the Yankees 4 runs. Mister September?

When the terms of the Gardner deal were made known, Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported that the contract includes $1.85 million and a $1 million signing bonus in 2021 as well a player and a club option for 2022. Gardner’s player option in 2022 would be worth $2.3 million and would convert to a $7.15 million club option or $1.15 million buyout if it is not exercised. This means we may not be seeing the last of the Yankees’ only holdover from the 2009 World Series winning season, especially if he is a high-impact player for the rest of the 2021 season.

For newer Yankee fans and those not born when he started his career with the Yankees, here is his story and path to the Yankees. After eleven years in the majors with the New York Yankees, Brett Gardner had one of his best seasons in 2019.  He is already the veteran heart and soul of the New York Yankees. For those that think Brett is washed up, he had an above-average season. In 2019 he had 123 hits and 74 runs batted in, his third-best RBI record with the Yankees. He also hit a career-high 28 home runs, making him a power threat. Gardner was clutch in many of his hits. His speed on the bases and in the field was as good as ever.

Fast forward to the 2020 season. Brett’s performance dropped off considerably, as it happened with many players during the shortened coronavirus season. One difference was that it was the last year of his contract, and the New York Yankees would have to decide whether to exercise his $10 million option for the 2021 season. They did not and bought him out for $2.5 million, making him a free agent.

Gardner always said he wanted to come back to the Yankees and retire as a Yankee. After no fans in the stands, Gardner wanted to play another season so his family could see him play again. As the offseason lingered, no offer came from the Yankees. Gardner had to decide whether to investigate other interested teams or if he should retire. Gardner held fast to the idea he could return to the Yankees. Finally, just before spring training, he got an offer from the Yankees that he accepted. After all, he is the defacto captain of the New York Yankees.

At spring training at the George M. Steinbrenner training facility in St. Petersburg, Florida, Gardner was happy as a lark and excited to contribute to the 2021 season. However, this season will be like no other; he will not be in the starting lineup but playing from the bench. Clint Fraziers excellent play last season took his everyday outfield job away and threatened his return to the team.  He is happy for Frazier, but he holds no hard feelings. Although that was the plan with Frazier and Aaron Hicks out of the picture due to injuries, he found himself as an everyday player. At the time of his new contract, he said:

 

 

“Whatever the team needs me to do to help on a daily basis, I’ll be ready. Whatever my role is, I accept it.”

On a farm in Holly Hill, South Carolina, a boy was born to Jerry and Faye Gardner on August 24, 1983. That son was Brett Gardner. Brett grew up on that farm in his Dad’s shadow, a minor league baseball player in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. So it was natural that Brett would play baseball for the local American Legion post and play the game when he attended Holly Hill Academy. When he attended the College of Charleston in 2001, he decided to try out for their baseball team as a walk-on.

He ended up playing 3 years as a starter for the team. In his senior year, he batted .447, tied for the most hits in all of college baseball with 122, established a Cougars record with 85 runs scored, and led the Southern Conference with 38 stolen bases. After his senior year, the Yankees selected Brett in the third round of the draft.

From 2005 to 2006, he played for the New York Penn League and Florida State League. In 2007 he played for the Trenton Thunder; he broke a bone
in his hand but still managed to hit five triples and batted .300 with a
.392 OBP before being promoted to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. On June 30, 2008, Gardner was called up and made his major league debut, batting leadoff and going 0-for-3 with a stolen base.

On September 21, 2008, Gardner scored the final run of Major League Baseball in old Yankee Stadium history as a pinch-runner for Jason Giambi, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Robinson Canó in the seventh inning of an eventual 7–3 win for the Yankees over the Baltimore Orioles.

Brett has spent most of his career in the left outfield and as a leadoff
batter due to his speed and ability to steal bases. When Curtis Granderson suffered an injury in 2013, Brett moved to the center field to excel. Although Brett will never be under consideration for the Hall of Fame, he has certainly excelled with the Yankees winning the Fielding Bible Award in 2010, 2011, and 2017. He was an All-Star in 2015, was AL Stolen base leader in 2011, AL triples leader in 2013, Gold Glove winner in 2016, and earned a World Series Champion ring in 2009.

Brett’s stats have been declining a bit in the last few years as he ages but is still the heart and soul of the New York Yankees. When Brett steps to the plate, he is going to run up pitches for whoever is pitching. He is the most disciplined Yankee at the plate, making contact on 93% of his swings. No player has played harder than Brett, and that continues to this day. Even though he hasn’t been a star in the last few years, he has always heated up toward the end of the season. This year is no different. He is hitting .325 for September.

In 2019 he was instrumental in holding the New York Yankees injury-riddled and ragtag team together just by his presence and work ethic, teaching many minor leaguers playing for the first time in the stadium, what it means to be a Yankee, and inspiring them to play to their
best abilities. His efforts and that of all of the Yankees won them 103 games and a trip to the postseason. He was one of only two players that did not go on the IL.

The New York Yankees signed Brett to a one-year contract with a team option for the 2021 season during the offseason. Not having to worry about a long 162 game season, Brett may have gone full strength from the start and have another excellent season for the Yankees. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as he couldn’t recapture his 2019 season. At the end of the season, his contract was bought out.  Strength was not an issue, but his hitting was; he finished the season playing in all but eleven games. He batted only .228 with five home runs, putting his return to the team in question.

Brett spends the offseason away from New York near his Dad’s 2,600-acre farm. Brett recently talked about spending the shutdown time helping out his Dad. Brett and his wife live in Summerville, South Carolina. Brett and his wife Jessica have two boys, Abraham, born in 2008, and Peter, born in 2010. At age 37, his playing years may be coming to an end, but he will always be remembered as a guy who put everything he had into every game.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

Yankees News: Gleyber Torres responds to losing shortstop job, Nestor Cortes continues to dominate

New York Yankees, Nestor Cortes Jr.

The New York Yankees are currently on a three-game winning streak as they try to retain their spot in the Wild Card. However, both Toronto and Boston emerged victorious on Wednesday, leaving the three teams in a tie at the top of the WC standings.

Both Boston and New York barely emerged victorious, as the Red Sox went into extra innings, eventually beating Seattle 9-4, and the Yankees required a 9th inning single by Brett Gardner to take the lead. However, there are changes and shifts being made to the Yankees team, especially with a lack of starting pitching talent currently available.

Thankfully, one of the team’s most underrated players, Nestor Cortes Jr., pitched 6.1 innings against Baltimore, allowing just three hits and one run, striking out 11 batters. Cortes currently holds a 2.60 ERA and has established himself as a primary starter for the team. The bullpen has struggled at times — Chad Green allowed two hits and two runs over 1.1 innings.

It required a bit of luck to steal a win from Baltimore on Wednesday, as Gardern’s single blooped into shallow left field in the pouring rain, making the play even more problematic.

The Yankees are making moves in the infield:

The Yankees have been experimenting with different combinations in the infield, as they have permanently moved Gleyber Torres back to second base. To supplement that move, the Yankees moved DJ LeMahieu to third base and Gio Urshela to shortstop. Torres admitted that he struggled at SS, and he would do whatever it takes for the team to win more games, even if that means changing positions. He’s made 18 errors this season at arguably the most important infield position, which has hurt the Yankees on multiple occasions.

“Everything for the team,” Torres said before Tuesday night’s game at the Baltimore Orioles. “I didn’t really do a good job at short. I made too many errors and I feel the way we are right now we can’t make any errors. So, I feel really good to move to second and I just want to be part of the team.”

With one more contest against Baltimore on Thursday evening, the Yankees will closely be watching Boston and Toronto, who continue to win as well. Jordan Montgomery will feature on the mound, hosting a 3.71 ERA over 138.1 innings pitched this year. He’s allowed 127 hits and struck out 137 batters. On the other side, Baltimore will start Chris Ellis, who has a 2.08 ERA this season but has only pitched a small sample size of 21.2 innings. This is a must-win game for the Yankees as they prepare to host Cleveland on Friday night.

New York Yankees: 3 Takeaways from the Yankee’s return to winning

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

It’s just one game, but last night the New York Yankees returned to their winning ways, giving glimpses of the 13 game winning streak. From July 4th to the end of August, the Yankees won more games than any baseball team. But then, unexplainably, they just as quickly returned to the team that played the first half of the season, losing 8 games and playing and pitching poorly. But last night, with new urgency, the team rose to the occasion and started what may be another winning streak. It wasn’t easy, but the Yankees pulled out an 8-7 win over their crosstown rival New York Mets.

It was a bit of a roller coaster event in a day and night that baseball, particularly in New York, remembering those lost in the 9/11 attacks on our country. There were ceremonies at Citi Field, and the players of both teams wore FDNY ball caps. In the second inning, the Yankees burst out of the doldrums scoring five runs and looking like they were going to have a laugher. But the Mets clawed back to lead at one point, but the Yankees answered with 3 runs in the eighth for a lead that would hold.

Corey Kluber continues to build for the postseason

Corey Kluber, who had been on the IL for three months, had his third start since his return. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was one more step to him returning to form that saw him pitch the Yankee’s only no-hitter this season.

Kluber went four innings striking out six Mets hitters but giving up four earned runs. However, he showed signs of better control and poise on the mound. Kluber pitched a scoreless first. After the Yankees put five runs on the board in the second. At the bottom, Kluber issued a walk to Javier Baez walked. Jeff McNeil struck out, but Baez stole second. Kevin Pillar got an RBI double driving in the lead-off walk. James McCann tripled driving in Pillar. Taijuan Walker singled, driving Pillar. Villar struck out swinging. Lindor ground out to second. New York Yankees 5 New York Mets 3. Kluber gave up another run in the third inning, a Baez homer.

Lucas Luetge, Chad Green, and Clay Holmes in relief of Kluber, all gave up a run in their inning. Albert Abreu although waking two, didn’t give up a run in the eighth. Aroldis Chapman walked one, gave up a hit, but preserved the Yankee win, getting his 26th save of the season.

The home run is again king

It is often said that when the New York Yankees homer, they win games. It certainly was true last night. Of the 8 runs scored, 7 were scored off the home run. Kyle Higashioka homered driving in two. Brett Gardner homered driving in two. Aaron Judge hit two homers in the game, scoring three.

A tail of two catchers

There are glaring differences in the Yankees’ two catchers. Last night Kyle Higashioka made some excellent plays and called a good game. He also hit a 2 run homer in the second inning. Unfortunately, this was in comparison to Gary Sanchez’s passed balls and boneheaded play at home plate. In the first game that the Yankees lost Sanchez backed off the home plate to allow a run scored instead of blocking the plate.

Higashioka often doesn’t get the praise he deserves. “Higgy” is a professional behind the plate that calls great games and seldom makes errors. He, for the most part, is Gerrit Cole and Cory Kluber’s personal catcher. But still, he doesn’t get a lot of playing time.

Those who support the idea that Sanchez is the Yankees’ catcher of the future always say that, yes, Higashioka is a good catcher, but he is not the power hitter that Sanchez is. If you look a little deeper, that is not true; the fact is that Higashioka is right up there with the best Yankee home run hitters considering at-bats this season. He has 10 long balls in 58 games. Sanchez has 21 in 101 games. Kyle’s drive-in rate is almost identical to Sanchez.  Higgy leads the AL in range factor (putouts + assist per games played).

Except for a few, catchers are notoriously poor hitters with low batting averages and don’t run the bases well. The whole point of this conversation is that Kyle Higasioka is well-focused and is a much better player than many fans would think.  He could be even better if he had more playing time.