Yankee Sluggers Have Been Here, just Not as Quickly as the Judge; A Good Day for the Young Yankees and their Young Fans

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, May 4.

Judgment Day came early for the Blue Jays last night, as the Yankees’ sensational rookie Aaron Judge launched his 13th home run in 26 games en route to an 8-6 win. Judge, who turned 25 a week ago yesterday now leads the majors with 13 home runs in 26 games played. The Yankees have been known for great sluggers going back to Babe Ruth, but nobody as young as Judge hit 13 home runs this early. Last summer Gary Sanchez was the league’s sensation.  This year it needed to be Judge, since Sanchez has been on the DL and, even if he comes back tomorrow as scheduled who knows how effective he’ll be. Greg Bird and Tyler Austin who were also expected to hit well are both on the DL.  Before going on, Bird’s average was around .100.  Judge’s booming bat has taken up the slack and then some.

Last night (again) the Yankees’ bats had to bail out CC Sabathia.  After a few good outings he’s been lit up his last 3 outings, this time by a poor Jays’ team.   Yankee fans are more than a little CC-Sick.  He’s been to A.A.,  and should seriously consider seeing an  MD or joining the AARP.  The Jays pounded him for 4 first-inning runs, which would have led past Yankee teams to mail in the game as a lost cause.  Not this year’s Yankees. Matt Holliday hit his 300th career home run with two men on in the home first inning to make it a game at 4-3.  Sabathia returned the favor by promptly giving up two more runs in the second inning.   In the third however the Judge’s gavel fell launching a 2-run home run some 435 feet into Monument Park making it 6-5.  Even with Judge’s help, Sabathia did not last the fifth inning.  The Jays were poised to bury the Yankees in the fifth.  A walk and a single chased Sabathia and brought Adam Warren from the bull pen.  I’ve listened to games where Warren has given up some brutal rallies of his own but this time he was on top of his game, retiring all 3 Jays’ hitters he faced with two men on.  It took a 3-run rally in the 7th for the Yankees to turn the game in their favor permanently. Chris carter, known for his own long-ball capability hit an RBI single to tie the game, followed by an RBI single from Didi Gregorius, in his first week of action since being injured in the World Baseball Classic. The win went to Dellin Betances with the save, his 6th of the year going to Aroldis Chapman.

Yesterday’s column was never written because I went to the AA Yankees game, my first of the season, though I live just a long fly ball from the park.  It was Education Day at the park in Trenton.  The Trenton Thunder faced the AA Nationals’ team the Harrisburg Senators. Both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez have put in their time with Trenton on their way to Yankee Stadium and nobody knows which of the Thunder we saw will be seen on 161st Street in the Bronx. more than 5800 people crammed the stadium, most of them children on their class trip.  Some had come as far as 50 miles for the event.  Most minor league teams play morning games on a Wednesday or Thursday. Today it’s the turn of Scranton, the AAA Yankees. In fact, Gary Sanchez who’s in AAA on rehab has already singled as I write this.   In April, May and June these are usually called “Education Day” games, in July and August “Camp Day” games when busloads of campers pack the stadium, eat hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn, and mostly do anything else but watch the game.  My brother-in-law and I were two of the few adult fans present who were  not chaperoning a herd of kids. Both teams were leaving town after the game so it was played at a rapid pace.  The Senators couldn’t get out of neutral against Thunder starter Domingo German who picked up his first win.  The Thunder did all their damage in a 6-run 4th inning on their way to a 6-0 win. German struck out 9 men in 6 innings and now has a 2.30 ERA in spite of a 1–3 record.  His only difficulty was in the 4th when the Senators loaded the bases but he pitched his way out.  He was followed to the hill by righthander Colton Brewer who worked 2 shutout innings.  Things got hairy in the 9th when J.P. Feyereisen walked the first two men he saw but he got out of trouble and closed out the game.  Following the game I had the pleasure of meeting 7 of the Thunder pitchers, 2 being German and Brewer.  Can you imagine, say meeting Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen after the game?  It can still happen in the minor leagues, especially if the players don’t emerge until all the school buses have gone.

There are plenty of major league games this afternoon to go along with the morning and afternoon minor league games scheduled.  The earliest big league game features the Reds hosting the Pirates at 12:30. The Pirates’ Ivan Nova has performed so well the Yankees have to be kicking themselves for giving him away last year. Against the Reds it’s unlikely Nova will revert to the Nova the Yankees knew and unloaded. They got two guys who are neither in AA or AAA in what could be the most one-sided trade since the Denny McClain trade from Detroit to Washington.  The Nationals host the Diamondbacks at 1 PM today in Washington. Braden Shipley who opened the year at AAA Reno gets the start.  Shelby Miller, after two horrible years is now facing Tommy John surgery and the 18-month recovery that entails. Shipley doesn’t get an easy opponent for his first MLB start of the year, as he faces Max Scherzer. At 25, Shipley’s no rookie.  He put up a 4-5 record on last year’s D-Backs’ squad. The Indians and Tigers square off at 1 PM in Detroit.  At the same hour, the A’s face the first-place-yes, the first place-Twins in Minnesota.  The Twins got off to a horrific start that led to a brutal 2016 season with neither Miguel Sano nor Byron Buxton hitting the ball.  This year they’re both hitting, and while the Twins can’t last in the same division with the Indians, they’re a lot more fun to watch than last year’s version. At 2 PM the Astros go for a 4-game sweep of the Rangers in Arlington.  The Rangers took 15 of 19 from last year’s Astros. The White Sox face the Royals in Kansas City at 2:15. The Phillies play their only afternoon game of a  4-game series against the Cubs at 2:20.  The Padres host the Rockies at 3:40 Eastern time. Under the lights the Orioles play the last game of a tumultuous 4-game series in Boston.  Last night their starter Kevin Gausman was ejected from the game in the second for hitting Xander Bogaerts after both teams had been warned before the game about any further incidents.  Monday Adam Jones, the Orioles’ star center fielder was subjected to racist taunts and had a bag of  peanuts thrown at him.  Tuesday Chris Sale threw a pitch behind the Orioles’ Manny Machado.  In the 2017 watered-down game, instead of that just being considered part of the game Sale could end up fined or suspended. The O’s will just be glad to get out of Boston after tonight.  The only late game will feature the Mariners hosting the Angels.

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