The Yankees are still in hot pursuit of the A.L. East crown, but the Red Sox’s extra-inning escapes against the Rays, Orioles and Blue Jays in recent weeks have kept the Yankees from catching up. They have gone 14-4 in their last 18 games and gained only 1.5 games on Boston. Unless the Red Sox go like 3-7, and the Yanks keep winning, they will host the American League Wild Card Game.
Therefore, it’s time to look at the two likely potential opponents for the Wild Card Game: the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins. The Yankees are 4-2 this season against the Twins and 2-4 against the Angels. While these are very different teams from past iterations of the Angels and Twins that the Yankees faced in the postseason, those records certainly mirror recent history between each franchise.
So which team is a better matchup for the Yankees in a one-game scenario? We’ve seen the case for why the Yankees would want to face the Twins this week. With Minnesota visiting the stadium, the Bombers were able to beat both of their top starters — Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios — while holding the Twins’ hot lineup at bay. Budding star Byron Buxton went 0 for 10 with a walk and was a non-factor in the series. Miguel Sano is still on the DL and he provides their biggest power source.
Perhaps the best reason to face the Twins is their bullpen. The Yankees got into the bullpen quickly against Berrios, who has significant home-road splits and therefore may not be the choice for the wild card game. Rookie Trevor Hildenberger has been their best reliever in recent weeks, but the rest of the bullpen is highly beatable. Matt Belisle is their closer and has converted just 7 of 12 save opportunities. The Yanks slapped them around in the just completed 3 game sweep.
Why would you want to face the Angels? Pitching, pitching, pitching. This team doesn’t have a clear starter for a one-game playoff, let alone a staff that you could see an easy path through nine innings. Three of their best starters — J.C. Ramirez, Matt Shoemaker and Alex Meyer — are out for the year. Their closer, Huston Street, threw four innings this year and is out for the season.
In the middle of the Angel lineup is Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Pujols still bats in the middle of the lineup despite batting just .242 and is an enormous negative on the basepaths. Teams have begun using extreme shifts to limit him further. The more he bats in the middle of the order, the worse things go for the Angels. But, lets not forget Trout. He’s like having a right-handed hitting Mickey Mantle for a one-game playoff. The guy can dominate a game both at the plate and in the field. Scary.
My take? While Twins look to be a more complete roster, I’d rather not face Mike Trout and co. in a one-game playoff. It’s kind of irrational because one player can’t beat you unless you let him. And in a five- or seven-game series, I feel like the better overall roster is a bigger advantage. Yet in a one-game series, having the best player on either side could be magnified, particularly if that player can do what Trout does. The Bombers have the best lineup, the best starting pitcher — perhaps the top four starting pitchers — and the best bullpen of any wild-card contender. However, anything can happen in a one-game playoff.
Then there’s the outside chance that Boston stumbles in their last 10. Ready for a miracle?
What did we learn from the Giants’ 24-10 loss to the Lions on Monday night? Mostly that right now the Giants look like a bad football team. You can joke that perhaps the current Giants wanted to honor the 2007 championship team by matching their 0-2 start from that season, but nothing we saw Monday night was remotely funny. Actually, it was a disgrace.
It marks the first time in franchise history that the Giants have lost their first two games by 14 or more points. No team has won a Super Bowl after such a start, and only two of 32 to do that under the current playoff format (since 1990) even bounced back and made the playoffs.
There were many failures last night and last Sunday. The biggest failure is Eric Flowers and the offensive line. Yes, the Giants' offensive line has been bad as a whole, and yes, Flowers is not the only issue, but numero uno IS Flowers. McAdoo needs to act like a head coach and do the obvious and yank the 2015 ninth-overall pick before something disastrous happens, like quarterback Eli Manning not getting up from one of those hits he's miraculously always weathered. The Giants have made it clear there is no real "help" for Flowers in their dysfunctional offensive scheme via chipping backs or tight end assistance, so why keep pretending it's going to get better?
While most of the criticism was on the Giants' poor offensive line play, McAdoo was also critical of Eli after the game. Manning is standing behind a completely ineffectual offensive line and throwing to players that are dropping passes. At what point does the finger get pointed at the coach? Eli made a mistake, possibly one that came because he was worried about getting sacked for the nth time on a blitz he saw. He was trying to get his offense reset with the new audible and he ran out of time... terrible but somewhat understandable. The sideline could have called timeout, they didn’t. McAdoo has shown time after time that he has no clue how to manage a game, but he's gonna stand up there and rip his quarterback for botching the game and not being in tune with situational football?
Between their 0-2 record, Beckham's ankle injury, a clueless head coach and the team's lousy offensive line, it's hard to imagine how the 2017 season could've started worse for the Giants. Someone needs to buy McAdoo a mirror, then he and Reece can stand in front of it and see what we all see.
Baltimore pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, who came in with an 11.42 ERA against the Yankees in three appearances this season, somehow turned into Corey Kluber, racking up 10 strikeouts, making the chances of the Yankees catching the Red Sox slimmer and slimmer. The Bombers missed an opportunity to gain ground on the Red Sox, who lost to the Rays, and remained 3 games behind the division leaders
With just 13 games remaining, time is running out on the Yankees. And now they need to deal with the Twins. Like the Yankees, they are ahead of schedule in a rebuilding scenario, winning just enough with a bunch of young players to turn this season into a run at the postseason. You may not know many of the names, but they can put runs on the board. They scored 13 on Sunday against the Blue Jays, and they're leading the American League with over six runs per game since Aug. 1st - despite star slugger Miguel Sano being out the last three weeks with a leg injury.
The Yankees need to win this series, to maintain their lead in the Wild Card. The reward is hosting THAT game against, you guessed it, these same Twins who currently have a 2 game lead over the Angels who have a chance if the Yankees were to sweep.
While never admitting that the goal is setting up his pitching for THAT game, Joe Giardi will not let the Twins see Luis Severino. The Yankee ace's regular turn to pitch is Wednesday, the final game of this three-game series, but Joe is pushing Severino's next turn back to Friday in Toronto, as he continues to use a six-man rotation for a second straight turn. The primary motivation is making sure Severino is lined up to pitch in the THAT game against the Twins or even the Angels.
Is it impossible to catch the Sox? Of course not, but the reality is getting ready for Oct. 3 at home in a one-and-done situation against an opponent to be determined.
While the chances of the Yankees catching the Red Sox are low with only 16 games left, the prize is big because should they win the top wild card spot and win that game, the reward would be the red hot Cleveland Indians. Winning the division gives them a series against the Astros and If I have a choice, I’m packing my bags for Texas instead of Ohio.
There’s nothing like facing Orioles pitching to keep those hopes alive. The Bombers hammered the Orioles on Thursday night, in the first game of their four-game series. The final score was 13-5, and it was only that close because some September call-up relievers made a mess of things late. Unfortunately, the Red Sox also won, but the Baby Bombers were on fire.
The Baby Bombers I’m talking about are Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Judge and Sanchez went deep in consecutive at-bats in Thursday's win, and the back-to-back homers turned out to be milestone blasts, respectively, for the Yankees' homegrown young sluggers.
Judge clubbed three-run shots in the fourth and sixth innings for a career-high six RBI -- and an AL-best 43 homers for his rookie year -- with the latter eclipsing Curtis Granderson's mark for the most home runs at home by a Yankee (27) since the new Stadium opened in 2009. He now has 11 home runs, 24 RBI and a whopping 1.781 OPS in just 16 games against Baltimore this season, essentially comprising a quarter of his overall power production (43 homers, 96 RBI).
Sanchez hit his 31st of the season (85 rbi’s). That marks the most by a Yankee in one season for a player whose primary position is catcher, eclipsing the previous franchise mark shared by Yogi Berra (twice) and Jorge Posada.
Rediscovering his stroke after a prolonged second-half slump, Judge along with Sanchez give us hope that just maybe the Yankees can catch the Red Sox and send them to Texas. Too bad they don’t play the Orioles for the next 16 games.
The best possible beginning to the NFL season was the Patriots getting waxed by the Chiefs last Thursday night. Don’t you agree?
All of the problems from 2016, when the Giants offense averaged less than 20 points per game and failed to reach that mark in their last 6 contests, are still evident. Three points is an embarrassing output for any NFL team, let alone one that believes it is a Super Bowl contender.
Yankees win 3 in a row. Have to think Betances, Robertson and Green are all unavailable tonight. They're going to need Gray to go 7 and then I guess they'll turn it over to Kahnle and Chapman for the 8th & 9th. Of course, if the yanks want to win by 10, that'll be fine too.
The U.S. Open has to take a hard look at the way it schedules its night program by next year. Because the idea that three matches ending at 2 in the morning at this Open is good for business is dumber than a bag of rocks.
Eli Manning completed only four passes targeted more than 10 yards down the field on Sunday night. There were too many short throws on third down that had no hope of getting first downs, and a couple of missed opportunities due to off-target throws when the line did give him a chance. And then there was the forgotten Brandon Marshall.
Jacoby Ellsbury set the all-time MLB record last night… in drawing catcher’s interference. In the 4th inning, he swung at a full-count pitch that went foul but his bat nicked the catcher’s mitt. That, by definition, was catcher’s interference and the 30th of Ellsbury’s career. He surpassed Pete Rose’s record as the king of the category in the ML history. I’d prefer he had passed Pete’s 4,256 hits record.
A month ago, who would have predicted in September that the Indians would go more than almost 3 weeks without losing and that the Dodgers would go nearly that long without winning?
Before I start…I am a Giants fan, and yes, I picked the Cowboys to win the division. Here’s why. Either you blindly ignore the numbers and reality or accept the reality and hope a few things go in our favor.
The Cowboys went 13-3 to take the NFC East last season. All three of their regular-season losses came within the division, including both games to the 11-5 Giants. It won’t be that easy this season for both teams.
There's no doubt the Cowboys and Giants took advantage of favorable schedules last season to inflate their records, combining for 24 wins. But facing both the NFC and AFC West as well as each other, both teams will roll back a bit. Their schedule is brutal this season, with games in Oakland, Denver, Arizona and San Francisco, they will face many miles on the road.
The 2016 Giants' spending on defensive improvements paid off with a much-improved unit that went from weak to often dominant. The familiar defensive line strength returned with Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon, and the secondary became elite with Janoris Jenkins flanking young superstar Landon Collins, and let’s not forget JPP.
But the two other things critical to recent New York rings let the team down: the power running and Eli Manning. There's hope, with Paul Perkins' promotion plus the additions of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram, that the offense will discover the gear needed to push to the top. The Giants are bound to have some big ups, but they still will hit some similar snags. The O line is still a huge question mark (left tackle, right guard), as is the play of Eli. Then of course, there is the Odell circus. This is not to say the offense won’t be better, but there ARE question marks.
Sunday’s game is a big one. They must stop Elliot who will play because the NFL wants huge ratings on its first Sunday night game. Their defensive line has to win in the trenches against the best O line in football. Big blue has to have a running game, and Eli has to have protection and he has to spread it out, as Beckham (he WILL play) will be doubled all game long. Marshall and Engram should be the options. If the Giants win, then just maybe they can take the division, if they lose, then best case scenario is a season split which leads me to believe they finish 11-5, behind Dallas’s 12-4. Either way, I’m a Giants fan and hoping they go 16-0.
The 2017 season opens tonight when the New England Patriots raise the franchise's fifth championship banner before hosting the Kansas City Chiefs. How will the new season shake out? Well here’s my take. Dive in below:
East North South West
Patriots Steelers Titans Raiders
Dolphins Ravens Texans Chiefs
Bills Bengals Colts Broncos
Jets Browns Jaguars Chargers
East North South West
Cowboys Packers Falcons Seahawks
Giants Lions Buccaneers Cardinals
Eagles Vikings Panthers Rams
Redskins Lions Saints 49ers
AFC Championship: Patriots over Raiders
NFC Championship: Seahawks over Packers
Superbowl Patriots over Seahawks
Ok, go easy on the bashing...LOL
Im a huge fan of rookie Aaron Judge. Judge, whose offensive slump since the All-Star Break is well-documented, took his struggles with him to right field. Now he’s a .166 hitter with a 41% strikeout rate (August stats) who also makes mistakes on defense. Whether a shoulder injury is bothering him or not, the big slugger needs a break. Girardi’s best move is to give Judge a few days off and let him regroup for the playoff push. Yes, Judge would probably help the Yankees most by sitting on the bench. Time for a right field platoon.
While Judge began struggling in July, his power and on-base stats for the month (7 HR, .847 OPS) remained strong enough to keep him hitting third in the lineup every night. In August, the situation became dire. Judge posted a .663 OPS with 32 SO in 80 plate appearances (18 G). That figure equals two strikeouts in every five at-bats, which is the worst in baseball over that span.
The power disappeared as well. After notching at least 7 HR per month, Judge managed 3 HR and 5 RBI through the first three weeks of the month. Worst of all, his numbers continued declining as the weeks passed. After August 8 (including six games against Boston), Judge hit .149 with a .641 OPS and a 39% strikeout rate. We can’t see how trotting him out every night will help him exit this funk.
During what was likely the roughest week of Judge’s career, we saw mistakes become a part of his game in right field. The first came during what looked like a blowout at Citi Field. With the Yankees leading 7-0 in the seventh and looking to complete a four-game sweep of the Mets at Citi, Judge dropped a fly ball in right field for a two-base error. Luis Severino, who had mowed down the Mets lineup to that point, gave up two singles and left the game leading 7-1. A few days later in Boston, Judge made a mental mistake that allowed Mookie Betts to take third base on a popup to right. Judge simply didn’t take him seriously and lobbed the ball in, sacrificing the base. Girardi later acknowledged he might be bringing his struggles with him onto the field. If that’s the case, Judge legitimately needs a break.
After what I thought was a ridiculous amount of time for the obvious, Joe Giardi finally moved him out of the 3 hole. Things haven’t changed much, This past weekend against the Mariners, in 12 Abs, he had 1 hit, he struck out 5 times, with no RBIs and zero home runs.
While the Yankees will need Judge playing well to make any noise in the postseason, they need to get there first. There are four games against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Labor Day weekend, winning that series gives them a clear path to winning the AL East. Currently, they are just 2.5 games out. The question is: Will the Yankees go down that path? They showed the commitment to winning in the demotion of Chapman. Now they need their best option in right field every day. Right now, I hate to say, it’s probably not Aaron Judge.
So Gary Sanchez hits another home run and the next time he’s up, all hell breaks lose. This one had many guilty parties, especially the umpiring crew who opened the door for one of the ugliest games in recent history, if not the most embarrassing game of the season, definitely the stupidest. The Yankees lost Thursday’s series finale 10-6 to the Tigers, and the two teams got into a beanball war. Who cares about the postseason race when you can stoop to the level of a fourth place team? Not like the Yankees have anything to lose. Five Yankees were ejected and chances are suspensions are coming as well. Hard to think of a worse possible outcome. A true lose-lose affair. Everyone was to blame here, everyone, especially the umpires who never took control.
If you remember back to when these two teams played in Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago, there was a bit of a beanball war in the first game of the series. The Yankees plunked Mikei Mahtook twice in the game, unintentionally, and Michael Fulmer retaliated by hitting Jacoby Ellsbury in the hip. And that was that. They played two more games in the series and nothing else happening.
Fast forward to yesterday. Fulmer plunked Sanchez in the fifth inning, right in the hip, and I thought it was unintentional (at first). No warning from the home plate umpire. The Yankees had a man on base and Fulmer was missing way off the plate. It looked like a pitch got away from him. The umpires had to be aware of the last series they played. Yet, nothing was said. The dugouts empty.
Then in the sixth, Tommy Kahnle retaliated by throwing behind Miguel Cabrera. Kahnle was immediately ejected, and Girardi stormed out of the dugout because warnings hadn’t been issued after Fulmer hit Sanchez. Girardi was tossed too. A few minutes passed as Aroldis Chapman warms up. Cabrera gets in Austine Romine’s face, words were exchanged and he pushes Romine....benches empty again..Romine and Cabrera were both ejected. Romine cursed at the umpiring crew and left the field in a rage. And to make matters worse Sanchez is seen throwing punches at Cabrera who’s on the ground. Bad move Gary. He’s gonna miss sometime for sure.
Tensions escalated again in the seventh after James McCann was hit in the head by a 98 mph fastball from Dellin Betances leading off the inning in a tie game. No way it was intentional, but he’s tossed as he should have been. Bench coach Rob Thompson comes out to argue and is ejected. Both benches emptied and words were exchanged, but no punches were thrown this time around.
In the eighth, Alex Wilson hit Todd Frazier, causing the benches to clear for a third time. Brett Gardner was hot and appeared to be going at Brad Ausmus. Wilson was ejected. The Yankees lose and await suspensions. The umpires lost control of the game, yet will only get a hand slap.
Baseball’s biggest officiating issue is the lack of public accountability. Im sure yesterdays crew will receive a report documenting how poorly they performed. I understand that umpires don’t want to be publicly criticized…no one does. However, they work a very well-paid, public position, and their counterparts in the NBA and NFL are publicly corrected when they perform poorly. By refusing to ever publicly acknowledge when an umpire or crew has a bad day, gives a public perception that MLB doesn’t care about the performance or is willing to do anything to improve it.
"The Angel Hernandez solidarity tribute" was laughable if not embarrassing. These guys just don't understand that if anyone was as bad as they are on a daily basis they would lose their job, but they know their powerful union is behind them. Yesterday’s performance is just another example of complete and total incompetence which is on full display nightly. Something has to change. Rob Manfred should make it a priority.
So Odell gets nailed in a preseason game and has what could be a leg injury. The hit was low but legal and Odell was able to walk off the field under his own power. But in typical Beckham fashion, with cameras following him into the locker room after he walked off the field and as soon as he got into the tunnel near the locker room he dropped to his knees as if in severe pain. Odell being Odell.
For the first ever the Little League Classic between the Pirates and Cardinals was played in Williamsport, PA on Sunday night. The kids played earlier in the day and then went over to the local minor league park to watch. The game included a pre game ceremony with all the little leaguers involved. Very cool!
Fox had several changes in store for its 2017 NFL broadcast lineup, including the debut of Jay Cutler on the network’s No. 2 team. Obviously, those plans changed when Cutler decided that he didn’t want to be a retired NFL quarterback just yet and signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins. Another former player with no broadcast experience, almost getting a position with a top broadcast team, yet Phil goes to the CBS studio, not a booth where he belongs.
So now Derek Jeter is set up to become Boss Jeter in Miami, a long way from the field at Yankee Stadium. The captain of the most famous team in American professional sports now gets his chance to run a team of his own in South Florida. It’s a long way from shortstop at the Stadium, and a lot more than money on the line.
Ezekiel Elliott said on social media Friday night that he strongly disagrees with the league’s decision to suspend him for 6 games. You can imagine how strongly his ex-girlfriend must have disagreed with getting bounced around by Elliott, which the NFL clearly believes she was.
So Joe Giardi finally relinquished his “Aaron Judge bats third” stance. He moves Judge down one spot to 4th. Judge, who entered Tuesday hitting .169 since the All-Star break, singled and walked three times, and his strikeout streak ended when Jacoby Ellsbury was sent up to pinch-hit for him in the seventh inning. Girardi said he did not have the streak in mind when he made the decision. Yeahrite!
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It's a somewhat tongue in cheek OPINIONATED sports blog that promises to cover baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and any other stupid, and absurd STORY related to sports.