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Gary Sanchez shines, Joe Girardi confounds in a Yankees loss

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Over the weekend I saw a Yankees writer compare Yankees rookies Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez to the “Core Four” Yankees, Jeter/Rivera/Posada/Pettitte. That’s totally reasonable for a couple of guys who have played fewer than 30 games combined. Nope, no one in New York overhypes anything.

Still, hard not to notice that they’re off to nice starts. Particularly Sanchez. The Yankees new catcher is hotter than all get-out to start his major league career, batting .385/.429/.831 with eight homers and 15 RBI in his first 17 games. Last night against the Mariners he hit two bombs. Earlier in the day he was named the American League Player of the Week. That’s pretty darn spiffy. Judge is not slouching either, going eight for his first 33 with a couple of homers.

Despite their early career heroics, the Yankees still have to be confounding their fans a bit. Last night’s game was a study in frustration to be sure. Sanchez’s second homer made it 4-3 Yankees in the sixth inning and Starlin Castro‘s second dinger two batters later made it 5-3. Michael Pineda ran into trouble in the bottom half of the inning, putting two runners on. Still, the Yankees had the lead and, still, it was a winnable game for a team that is at least nominally in the Wild Card race and which Joe Girardi said is “trying to win games.”

So what does Girardi do? After having Tommy Layne pitch to one guy, he calls on Anthony Swarzak to get out of the jam. The same Anthony Swarzak who has the worst ERA in the Yankees bullpen. The same Swarzak who played a big part in blowing a 6-0 lead to Toronto last week. A mop-up guy who can’t even mop up. Why is Joe Girardi using him in that critical spot if the Yankees are trying to win games? Beats the heck out of me. As it was, Swarzak promptly gave up a three-run homer to the first batter he faced, Michael Zunino. The M’s won the game 7-5.

It’s fun to watch young rookies come up to the show and succeed. It’s a real drag to see your bullpen blow leads that your young rookies help give you. What a weird season in New York.

 

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.