Yankees

Why Yankees’ Miguel Andujar has gone from red hot to struggle city

Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar has cooled down significantly since his blistering start. Manager Aaron Boone diagnoses why. Watch video NEW YORK — Miguel Andujar wasn’t going to look like prime Manny Ramirez forever. At some point, he’d struggle, the way any player might, particularly a 23-year-old in his first extended big-league look. Yankees manager Aaron Boone thinks he knows what’s up with Andujar at the plate. He talked about it before Friday’s game against the A’s at Yankee Stadium, the start of their three-game set. Part of it, Boone said, is that teams are “pitching him a little tougher.” It’s also that his violent swing, with all its moving parts — from the Gary Sheffield-like bat wave to the hitch in his hands to his leg kick — has gotten a bit funky,” Boone said. Sanchez is trying to reconnect with Gray “I think there is some of the ebb and flow of a season of hitting and those things are going to kind of happen,” the manager said. “I think Miggy — without getting too wonky with it — when he’s in sync with how he loads with his bat and everything, when that’s on point, he’s electric offensively. “So I think sometimes maybe that gets a little out of whack. What I’ve seen though, through this, when he’s not on fire like he was or hitting all the extra base hits, I’m still seeing a lot of really competitive at-bats. I’m seeing him with still the ability to lay off pitches outside the zone that they’re trying to get him to chase as a young player, making that adjustment to him.” Andujar has seen his batting average drop from .300 through his first 20 games to .271, or a 29-point fall, come Friday. Over his last 10 games, he’s hit .211 with a .441 OPS — no extra-base hits. After hitting three homers from April 17 through April 23, he’s hit none. Since going 2-for-5 vs. the Indians on Saturday, he’s got three hits in 18 at-bats. Andujar became the Yankees’ starting third baseman when Brandon Drury hit the disabled list April 6 with headaches and blurred vision, the result of a tendon issue in his neck. Drury’s 20-day minor-league rehab assignment is set to end Tuesday, but Boone was non-committal when asked if he could be healthy enough to return to the majors by then. “I like the compete and the adjustability (Andujar) seems to be making when it’s not necessarily clicking,” Boone said. “He’s having competitive at-bats, so that gives me hope that when it does click back in, there will be another stretch where he starts to drive it.” Brendan Kuty may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrendanKutyNJ. Find NJ.com Yankees on Facebook.

Yankees

How Yankees’ Gary Sanchez is quietly trying to reconnect with Sonny Gray

Yankees starter Sonny Gray doesn’t want to throw to Gary Sanchez, but Sanchez is trying to learn from Gray’s connection with Austin Romine. Watch video NEW YORK — Who knows when Gary Sanchez will catch Sonny Gray next.  At some point, though, it’s going to happen. And it might be a necessity for the Yankees in the playoffs — especially if manager Aaron Boone wants to use his strongest lineup. So Sanchez has been trying to better understand Gray from not behind the plate, but the dugout. “Just because I’m not catching doesn’t mean I’m not learning something that might help me in the future with him,” he said recently, via team translator Marlon Abreu. What we’ve learned from hot Yankees For the fourth straight outing, Gray will most likely pair with backup Austin Romine, who has become his personal catcher at his request, when the Yankees face the A’s at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. Sanchez said he will be watching how Gray and Romine interact. “I am paying attention to the games,” Sanchez said. “I’m seeing how he’s pitching, the tempo they’re using.” Sanchez added that he’s seen a different Gray with his backup catching him. “Definitely,” Sanchez said. “He’s attacking the hitters. He’s throwing more strikes. Less bases on balls. If you walk too many people, you put yourself in a tough situation where a single, and they can score the run, as we all know. But I think that’s the main difference.” Sanchez added that Gray has moved away from a fastball that had more movement to a straight heater. Gray has said he wants Romine to catch him over Sanchez, a 2017 All-Star, because he has a better connection with the backup. “I trust that guy completely, knowing whatever he puts down, shake your head yes and throw it with conviction,” Gray said Saturday. No other Yankees pitchers have expressed concern over throwing to Sanchez, who as of Thursday was tied for the league lead in passed balls with the White Sox’s Omar Narvaez with six. Nobody else had five. Sanchez tied for the league lead in passed balls with 13 in 2017 and it was such a big problem that then-manager Joe Girardi benched him for two games in the summer over it and Sanchez spent the offseason trying to lose weight and improve his flexibility to get better at blocking. With Romine behind the plate, Gray has gone six innings and given up two runs in each of his last two starts. Romine caught three of Gray’s first five starts. Over the span, Gray was terrible, posting a 7.71 ERA. He’s since dropped it to 6.00. Sanchez said he’s fine with Gray pitching to Romine if it’s what’s best for the Yankees. Still, he wants to figure out how to get on the same Romine is with Gray. Sanchez added that he doesn’t think it will be a problem when he finally has to catch Gray, though this time apart will make things more difficult. “Of course, when you go for a long time without catching somebody, it’s hard to catch that person,” Sanchez said. He added, “I think it’s just about getting ready to catch him. It won’t be a problem.” Brendan Kuty may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrendanKutyNJ. Find NJ.com Yankees on Facebook.

Yankees

What Yankees’ Tyler Austin was thinking facing Red Sox’s Joe Kelly first time since brawl

Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin and Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly brawled back on April 11, 2018 (4/11/18) at Fenway Park in Boston, Mass. Things were much calmer on Thursday, May 10, 2018 (5/10/18), when the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 5-4, to avoid a three-game sweep. Watch video NEW YORK — A not-so-long awaited second confrontation between Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin and Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly went down Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. Sole possession of first place was on the line this time when the two main culprits from last month’s bench-clearing brawl at Fenway Park went to battle. Yankees takeaways from night J-Lo, A-Rod witness streak-ending loss “I thought I’d be a little more anxious,” Austin said. “I was actually really calm.” It was almost eventful again, as there was a brief rush for Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez and the rest of the crowd of 46,899 that didn’t leave during a 55-minute rain delay in the fifth inning. With the Red Sox up a run in the eighth, Austin came close to hitting a two-run homer on a flyball to deep left field facing Kelly. A few minutes later, the Yankees’ eight-game winning streak and their historic 17-1 run ended with a 5-4 loss that left the rivals dead even for the top spot in the AL East. “I just missed it,” Austin said. Austin insisted his mind didn’t think back to April 11 before or during his at-bat against Kelly. “Not even a little bit,” he said. “I was just trying to square a ball up.” A day shy of a month earlier, Austin charged the mound after being hit by Kelly, who was sending a message for a hard slide into second base earlier in the game. Both threw punches during a brawl that soon included many others, and it led to punishment from Major League Baseball, a four-game suspension for Austin and six-game suspension for Kelly. This week’s series was the first for the Yankees and Red Sox since April, and before it ended, Austin and Kelly would meet again. Kelly entered in the seventh while the Yankees were scoring four times to make it a 4-4 game, and it was his wild pitch that brought in Brett Gardner from third with the tying run. The next inning, J.D. Martinez homered off Dellin Betances to put the Red Sox back on top, then Kelly went back out to pitch the bottom of the eighth. Austin came up after Kelly walked leadoff hitter Gary Sanchez to face his new rival for the second time as a big leaguer … and, to the best of his recollection, for the second time ever. “I think so,” Austin said. “Maybe in the minor leagues, but I don’t recall.” Kelly’s first pitch was a 98-mph fastball to Austin, who went for it and hit a flyball to deep left that ignited a brief roar from the crowd. Off the bat, Austin’s hopes weren’t up. “I hit it off the (bat) label a little bit,” he said. “It was a good pitch. I was jammed. I immediately knew that I just missed it.” Randy Miller may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RandyJMiller. Find NJ.com on Facebook.    

Yankees

Does Yankees’ Aaron Judge think fans interfered on Red Sox’s deciding home run?

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez hit a eighth-inning home run that Aaron Judge just missed at the right-field wall Thursday, May 10, 2018 (5/10/18) at Yankee Stadium. The home run gave Boston a 5-4 win in the final game of a three-game series against the Yankees. Watch video NEW YORK — Yankee Stadium security booted the fan who caught J.D. Martinez‘s home run that put the Red Sox ahead for good. Maybe they shouldn’t have. “There (was) no interference,” Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge told reporters after a 5-4 loss to Boston on Thursday night. Takeaways from Yankees’ loss to Sox Judge leaped at the wall to catch Martinez’s high fly off reliever Dellin Betances to start the eighth inning. Two fans converged near Judge’s outstretched glove and snared it. That gave Boston their final lead. It broke the Yankees’ eight-game winning streak and pushed the Red Sox back into a tie with the Yankees first place in the American League East. Both teams are 26-11. It was difficult to tell via replay if the fans had touched Judge at any point. Judge said he thought what they did was fine. “Interference, I mean, once it goes past that imaginary line right there above the wall, it’s fair game for them,” he said. He added, “If I get in a better position to make the play — that last 5 feet, the ball kind of faded toward my right and I just missed it.” Yankees manager Aaron Boone was asked if Judge told him whether the fans interfered. “No,” Boone said. I’ll say again, no. The way (Judge) acted, he felt like he didn’t quite get over there. I’ll talk to him some more. I didn’t sense that.” The home run came off Betances, who was working his second inning. The right-field corner is marked at 314 feet. The ball may have traveled 315 feet. According to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, Statcast said Martinez’s fly ball had a 28 percent chance of even being a hit, let alone a home run. “It’s probably not a home run in any (other) park but it’s a home run today,” Betances said. Brendan Kuty may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrendanKutyNJ. Find NJ.com Yankees on Facebook.  

Yankees

How close was Eduardo Nunez to reunion with Yankees?

The Yankees reached out to Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez about a potential return to New York as a free agent over the winter. Watch video NEW YORK — The Yankees expressed interest in a reunion with infielder Eduardo Nunez over the winter. Nunez, who was a free agent, heard from his former team, but a potential return to the Bronx never got beyond that point. “My agent called me, they had interest in bringing me back to New York,” Nunez told NJ Advance Media. “But that wasn’t in my plan.” Nunez re-signed with the Boston Red Sox on Feb. 16, inking a one-year deal worth $6 million. Nunez originally went to Boston in a deal just before the 2017 trade deadline. The San Francisco Giants sent him east in exchange for minor-league pitchers Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos. The Yankees eventually signed Neil Walker to bolster their infield depth. Nunez broke into MLB with the Yankees, playing 270 games over the course of four seasons from 2010 through 2013. He played three seasons with the Minnesota Twins before joining the Giants in 2016. While a Yankees reunion was never truly in the cards, Nunez said he still loves coming back to New York. “A lot of family here. A lot of friends.,” he said. “My brother lives here, and it’s a great city.” Nunez started all three games of this week’s series against the Yankees, and he scored both Boston runs in a 3-2 Yankees win on Tuesday. 14 Yankees observations Over the course of his career, Nunez has seen both sides of the Boston-New York rivalry. With the teams currently sporting the best two records in baseball, he expected an intense series, even though it’s still May. “We knew they were going to be like that,” he said. “We expected every game was going to be close, with the talent both teams have. We’re very similar teams. We both have great teams. We both have competitive players, and it’s really fun. I’ve been on both sides and I appreciate that.” Chris Ryan may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.