All you need to know about Yankees’ toughest stretch of 2018

The final weekend in April and the beginning of May will feel a whole lot like October for the New York Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers kick off a 13-game stretch Friday night in Anaheim that will see them play the four teams — the Angels and Astros on the road, followed by the Indians and Red Sox at home — they’re most likely to meet in the playoffs … if they get there, that is.

Will they survive relatively unscathed? Here’s what you need to know as the boys in pinstripes, riding a six-game winning streak, enter the toughest part of their regular-season schedule.

Another Bout with Trout: Mike Trout has performed very well in 34 career games against the Yankees. He’s a career .325 hitter against the Bronx Bombers, and his .627 slugging percentage against them is his highest against any AL team.

It’s a small sample size, but the Red Sox are one of the few teams Stanton has actually had success against this season. He went 7-for-12 (.583) in the three-game series against the Red Sox from April 10-12.

Judge also hit well against the Red Sox in that series (6-for-11 with a HR), but he hasn’t enjoyed the rivalry overall: He’s 17-for-84 (.202), with three home runs, 16 walks and 32 strikeouts.

After Bruce’s decisive drive to center field off former Mets farmhand Matt Bowman (0-1) with two outs, the Cardinals claimed he missed first base and challenged. A 56-second replay review confirmed Bruce touched the bag, and the NL East-leading Mets (15-6) closed it out for their 10th comeback victory of the season.

“We were all like, what’s going on? And Jay was like, why are they challenging that? I stepped right on the middle of the bag,” Callaway said. “So that was interesting.”

There was no doubt in Bruce’s mind that he touched them all.

“I’ve hit a few home runs in my career and I’ve never even gotten close to missing that base,” Bruce said. “That would be a new low for me.”

Cespedes also has been slumping — he started the night hitting .195. But his homer off starter Luke Weaver tied it 4-all in the fifth. The drive traveled an estimated 463 feet to left field, the third-longest by an opposing player in the history of Busch Stadium III.

“He was losing the strike zone with the fastball so I was focusing on catching the changeup,” Cespedes said through a translator. “I caught it and I hit it.”

Bruce’s eighth-inning single sent Todd Frazier from first to third before Adrian Gonzalez tied it at 5 with a sacrifice fly.

Mets starter Zack Wheeler lasted a season-low four innings and gave up four runs. Former ace Matt Harvey allowed a run over two innings in his first relief appearance since being demoted to the bullpen.jets_142



NBA fines Markieff Morris $15K for comments toward official

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris was fined $15,000 by the NBA on Sunday for “inappropriate comments” toward an official Friday night.

Morris made the comments when he was ejected as he received his second technical foul with 4:11 left in the first quarter of Friday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards lost the game 103-97.

Morris has received 13 technical fouls this season.

Rockies: CF Charlie Blackmon was back in the starting lineup after missing Sunday’s game with a back injury. He was taken out of Saturday night’s game in the 10th inning because of back spasms. “I’m glad it cleared up quickly,” Blackmon said earlier Monday. “One game (off) here and there is sometimes a necessity.” … RHP Jeff Hoffman, on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, is slated to make his first rehab start Tuesday for Class A Lancaster.

Padres: Rookie LHP Joey Lucchesi (0-0) is slated to make his first career start on the road.

Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson (0-0) pitched six scoreless innings in his previous outing against the Padres, though he came away with a no-decision.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what Mitchell does and I’m really going to use everything I learned from Alex [Smith] to help him out.

It’s interesting to hear a coach speak of learning from a player, no matter how seasoned he might be. What’s even more intriguing is that Smith, often unfairly the butt of jokes made by those who never appreciated his achievements, could offer such lessons to a play-caller.

I was completely caught off guard by this. I’ve never in any way done anything to try to intentionally cheat the game.

I’ve taken the same supplements for the last seven or eight years and never had any issues, been tested numerous times over the years while taking the same stuff. Unfortunately, this is some of the things that happen when you take supplements. I’ve never tested positive for steroids or HGH. This is not one of those situations. It ended up being an estrogen blocker that triggered a positive test for me.buccaneers_074



Su’a Cravens glad to be’where somebody wanted me’

After Su’a Cravens’ 2017 season derailed by injury and personal issues, it was initially difficult to see how the dynamic safety would reclaim his promise as a potential rising NFL star.

That pessimistic outlook might have faded a little bit this week when the Denver Broncos signalled their faith in Cravens by acquiring him in a trade with the Washington Redskins.

It’s tough to tell which direction Prescott’s career is heading, and top receiver Dez Bryant’s future is up in the air. That’s why the Cowboys probably shouldn’t be viewed as a top-10 team at this juncture, but there’s a lot of room for them to either sink or swim in 2018.

In 2017, the Seattle Seahawks were a nine-win team that ranked in the middle of the pack (14th) at Football Outsiders in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) and weren’t hit particularly hard by injuries in what was an injury-filled season across the NFL. Remove Richard Sherman, Jimmy Graham, Sheldon Richardson, Paul Richardson and DeShawn Shead from that roster and what do you get

Trouble, even with a magician at quarterback.

In addition to lacking talent along the offensive line, in the offensive backfield and in the receiving corps, the Seahawks now lack depth on both sides of the ball. Without Russell Wilson, they’d be a bad team. With Wilson, they’re still probably kicking off a miniature rebuild.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston’s career has yet to take off, but the 2015 No. 1 overall pick saw most of his rate-based statistics improve in 2017, and he has a lot of support entering his fourth season. patriots_153-223x223



What is WAR good for, anyway?

As it turns out, evaluating player value and comparing production among MLB players.

No, I’m not talking about the violence and weapons kind of WAR, I’m talking about Wins Above Replacement.

“I can tell you, I’m going to work hard, and I’m just going to keep playing hard. My goal is to finish in the majors,” Jimenez told Sporting News. “If I’m a star, I know I’m going to finish in the majors.”

Asked when Jimenez might get his first crack at the majors, Hahn acknowledges that, despite being 21 and having made only 73 plate appearances above High-A, he could very well force his way into the White Sox outfield this summer.

“The good ones have a way of changing your timeline,” Hahn said. “And it’s not going to shock me if at some point over the summer if Eloy forces our hand, and we’re going to have to wind up being a little more aggressive.”

In a small sample size vacuum, Cousins doesn’t *look* eight figures better than Keenum was last season. The former Vikings quarterback completed more of his passes, had a lower turnover rate, and provided a higher approximate value (according to Pro Football Reference) than his replacement.

While Cousins worked with a lesser supporting cast, he was forced into a more conservative game plan last fall. His average yards per pass was just 7.6, barely higher than the 7.4 Keenum recorded in a season that began, like with Bradford before him, by focusing on short, accurate passes to help build his momentum as a starter. But in 2016, that figure was up to 8.1 yards more accurately reflecting the value Cousins provides with the right tools.

The Chiefs didn’t wait until the offseason to make their move, agreeing to a deal to trade Smith to Washington for a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. ravens_149