Results tagged ‘ Paul Molitor ’

Yanks’ trip smoothing out after ‘rocky’ start

After the disappointment of getting swept in a two-game series at Denver, the Yankees are on the verge of trumping that with a four-game sweep at Minneapolis. They are three-quarters of the way there with very impressive victories over the Twins heading into a Father’s Day finale Sunday with Nathan Eovaldi opposing Minnesota’s Ervin Santana.

Friday night, the Yankees struck early with four first-inning runs on the way to an 8-2 victory behind Masahiro Tanaka (4-2), who was sharp as a tack (one run, seven hits, no walks, five strikeouts) over eight innings. Carlos Beltran, who missed both games against the Rockies, whacked a two-run home run in that first inning to stop a 0-for-12 slump.

Beltran added another two-run homer at a more clutch moment Saturday. The opposite-field blow to left off righthander Kevin Jepsen tied the score with one down in the eighth inning. The Yankees continued their comeback against the Twins’ ragged bullpen with three runs in the ninth, then had to hold their breath somewhat when Aroldis Chapman gave up back-to-back homers to Eduardo Escobar and pinch hitter Kurt Suzuki to survive, 7-6.

Give Suzuki credit. He fouled off four consecutive 102-mph fastballs from Chapman before connecting on yet another 102-mph heater. But most of the credit Saturday went to the Yankees, who had fallen into a 4-0 hole against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco, who had a four-hit shutout working through six innings.

Leading off the seventh, Beltran got one of his rare leg hits these days with a dribbler to the left side on which Eduardo Nunez could not make a bare-handed play. Alex Rodriguez, who had a three-homer game at Target Field in late July last year, followed with a drive to right off a 1-2 fastball for his eighth home run of the season and career No. 695.

The Yankees got two more hits that inning but pushed across no more runs. With one out in the eighth, another infield single, this time by Brett Gardner, preceded a home run, Beltran’s 18th of the season. Gardner had been hitless in his previous 14 at-bats and was 1-for-15 on the trip.

Lefthander Fernando Abad, who was having a fine season out of the bullpen until the Yankees came to town, got the last out of the eighth, which turned out to be the only one he would get in the game. He began the ninth with a walk to Chase Headley. You could always hear the uh-oh coming out of Twins manager Paul Molitor’s mouth in the dugout.

Didi Gregorius, who has broken a 1-1 score with a three-run home run off a first-pitch fastball from Abad Thursday night, dropped down a beauty of a bunt for a single. After a Juan Centeno passed ball advanced the runners, Rob Refsnyder was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Righthander Ryan Pressly came on and struck out pinch hitter Starlin Castro but fell into a full count with Jacoby Ellsbury and had to come in with a fastball which Ellsbury knocked into right-center for a two-run single. A wild pitch by Pressly moved crucial as it turned out. It moved Refsnyder to third from where he scored on a fly ball by Gardner. That run proved vital when Chapman gave up the two homers after he had struck out the first two batters.

So it was a shaky 13th save for Chapman that preserved the winning decision for Andrew Miller (4-0), who had shut down Minnesota with two strikeouts in the eighth. Anthony Swarzak also played a big part in the game with a 1 2/3 hitless innings of two-strikeout relief.

The Yankees’ late rallies took Michael Pineda off the hook. The righthander had another of his weird games where he was overpowering (nine strikeouts) but unable to pick up key third outs of innings. Three of the Twins’ four runs off Pineda in 5 1/3 innings were scored after two were out on an RBI single by Escobar in the second and a two-run homer by Korean slugger Byung Ho Park in the fourth. An error by Pineda in the sixth led to a run on a sacrifice fly by Park.

With 55 hits, including a dozen Saturday, the Yankees are averaging 11 hits per game on the trip. Beltran and Gregorius had three hits apiece Saturday. Beltran has homered in six of his past 13 games, eight of 19 and 13 of 36. Gregorius has had a huge trip with 10-for-20 (.500), two homers, six runs and nine RBI. The bunt single off Abad increased Didi’s batting average against left-handed pitching to .383 in 60 at-bats. He is hitting .287 overall.

Headley, who could not get off the Interstate for the first two months, has his average up to .260 while batting .471 in 17 at-bats on the trip and .417 in his seven-game hitting streak. Now if only the Yankees could get Brian McCann re-started. The catcher took an 0-for-4 collar Saturday, is hitless in his past 12 at-bats and in a 4-for-32 (.125) rut that has shrunken his season average to .207.

Didi no longer an easy out against lefties

Opposing managers should be thinking twice about now about bringing in left-handed relievers to face Didi Gregorius. The book on the shortstop a year ago when he joined the Yankees was that he struggled against left-handed pitching. Gregorius has reversed that this season and because of that the Yankees were able to end their four-game losing streak Thursday night with a 4-1 victory over the Twins.

Twins manager Paul Molitor, who has already suffered plenty with his 20-46 club, made the old-book move in the seventh inning by replacing starter Kyle Gibson with lefthander Fernando Abad to face Gregorius with runners on second and third and one out in a 1-1 game.

One pitch later, Molitor came to regret his move. Gregorius got all of the first-pitch fastball for a three-run home run in the middle of the right field stands. The timing could not have been better since manager Joe Girardi could go with Formula A out of the bullpen, using Dellin Betances in the seventh (no runs, one hit, one strikeout), Andrew Miller in the eighth (no runs, no hits, two strikeouts) and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth (no runs, no hits, one strikeout, 12th save). The Yankees are 9-0 when all three of those relievers appear in the same game.

Gregorius is batting .368 in 57 at-bats against left-handed pitching, the highest average of any left-handed hitter in the major leagues, but until Thursday night he had not hit for much power. Only three of his 21 hits off lefties were for extra bases, all doubles. His sixth home run of the year was his first off a southpaw.

The timing of Gregorius’ homer was also beneficial to CC Sabathia, who was able to get the winning decision that improved his record to 5-4 with a 2.20 ERA. It did not come easy for Sabathia, who pitched with runners on base in four of his six innings. The Twins stranded nine runners with only two hits in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position against him.

One of those hits was a two-out, RBI single by former teammate Eduardo Nunez that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Sabathia had worked out of jams in the first and second innings and did so again in the fifth even after he lost a double play on a reverse of an umpiring call.

Meanwhile, Gibson, who entered the game with a 10.72 career ERA against the Yankees, pitched to the minimum number of batters through five innings. The Yankees had two hits, but the runners were erased. Alex Rodriguez erased himself by getting thrown out at second trying to stretch, and Chase Headley was out on the front end of a double play the Twins turned against Ike Davis.

Gibson started coming apart in the sixth, but the Yankees did not take full advantage of it. They loaded the bases with none out on a single by Gregorius, a double by Headley and a four-pitch walk to Davis. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to center, but only one run scored. Brett Gardner then popped out to second, and Carlos Beltran, back in the lineup after a sore left knee kept him out of the two-game series at Denver, grounded into a double play.

The Yankees kept putting runners on base in the seventh. Rodriguez led off with an infield single, and Brian McCann walked. Starlin Castro sacrificed the runners up a base each before Molitor made the fatal move for a lefty reliever to face Gregorius, one Yankees hitter who is enjoying this trip (.545 with two home runs and seven RBI in 11 at-bats).

Sabathia kept his hot streak in place. Over his past seven starts, he is 4-2 with a 0.82 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 44 innings. In seven starts on the road this season, CC is 4-2 with a 2.14 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 42 innings. In his past 14 starts against the Twins, Sabathia is 10-1 with a 2.66 ERA.

Then again, Target Field has been a friendly venue for the Yankees. They are 17-5 in the Minneapolis yard that opened in 2010.

Extra-inning game goes Yanks’ way for a change

Extra-inning games have not been a Yankees strength this year despite their excellent bullpen. Before Monday night, they had a 2-7 record after regulation, including 1-5 at Yankee Stadium. Thanks in part to former Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez, the Bombers pulled out an 8-7, 10-inning victory over the Twins, who had 16 hits in the game.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi expected Monday night to be a bullpen game with Bryan Mitchell starting, but it became that literally after the righthander was knocked out of the game in the second inning with a liner hit by Nunez that struck him in the face and left him with a broken nose.

Girardi used seven relievers to get through the game with the last three — Adam Warren, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller — doing their customary first-rate work to control the swing-happy Twins.

The Yankees had squandered a 3-0, first-inning lead achieved on Brian McCann’s 21st home run but came back from a 7-5 deficit in the sixth on a two-run homer by Carlos Beltran (No. 13), who has gotten quite a few big hits lately, including a game-winning, three-run blast last Friday night at Toronto.

McCann had a huge night for the Yankees with three hits and five RBI. He also threw out three runners attempting to steal second base. Mac put the Yankees ahead, 5-4, in the third with a two-run single, but solo home runs by Aaron Hicks in the fourth off Caleb Cotham and Trevor Plouffe in the fifth of Chasen Shreve moved the Twins in front again, and they added another run in the sixth on a two-out, RBI single by Plouffe off Justin Wilson.

Once the Yankees tied it at 7, the bullpen limited Minnesota to one hit over the final four innings, including retiring the last six Twins batters in succession, four on strikeouts.

Twins closer Glen Perkins came on in the 10th and gave up a leadoff double to rookie Greg Bird, who had entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch runner for Mark Teixeira, who came out of the game with a bruised left shin the result of fouling a ball off it (x-rays were negative).

McCann continued his hot night with a double off the glove of left fielder Eddie Rosario. Bird had to hold up to see if the ball would be caught and was stopped at third base. Brendan Ryan ran for him after Beltran was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Twins manager Paul Molitor inserted Eduardo Escobar in place of right fielder Torii Hunter and stationed him as part of a five-man infield. Chase Headley hit a hard grounder that Nunez failed to handle cleanly. He threw to first base, even though a throw home was the only chance to keep the game alive for Minnesota. Ryan crossed the plate without a challenge.

The victory increased the Yankees’ lead in the American League East to one game over the Blue Jays, who were not scheduled, and stayed four games up on the Orioles, who won their fourth in a row at home against the Athletics.

CC incident incidental to rotation change

Bryan Mitchell starting Monday night instead of CC Sabathia had nothing to do with the lefthander getting into a shouting match on the streets of Toronto during the Yankees’ recent series there. A videotape of the incident made the Internet rounds Monday, but Sabathia was not involved in the brawl that ensued soon after the pitcher was shoved into a taxicab by a cousin and left the scene.

“I think I was definitely lucky the other night that I had friends to push me in the cab, that cared enough to get me out of that situation,” Sabathia told reporters before Monday night’s game. “It was a bad decision on my part.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the decision to start Mitchell and push back everyone in the rotation one day was made after Sunday’s game and had nothing to do with Sabathia’s exchange of harsh words with hecklers in Toronto. Girardi told Mitchell of the change on the charter flight back to New York. Twins manager Paul Molitor confirmed this Monday night when he said his club was notified of the change late Sunday night.

Girardi told reporters before Monday night’s game that he was not even aware of the Sabathia incident until Monday afternoon. The skipper also said that players have to be more careful now than ever before because with the preponderance of cell phones today there is really no such thing as privacy anymore.

Yankees 1-hit Orioles on gem by Pineda

On nights like Monday, you wonder where the Yankees could be this year if they had Michael Pineda the whole season. The righthander, who missed 86 games because of a shoulder injury, was close to perfect for 7 1/3 innings Monday night as the Yankees got their final home series off to a good start with a 5-0 victory over the Orioles.

Pineda gave up only one hit, a one-out single in the fifth inning to J.J. Hardy, and allowed only one other base runner on a walk with one out in the eighth to his last batter. Shawn Kelley, Rich Hill and David Phelps finished up the one-hitter for Pineda, who earned his first victory since Aug. 25 at Kansas City. He was 0-3 with a no-decision over his past four starts despite pitching to a 2.49 ERA. His ERA for the season is 1.93.

Derek Jeter continued his hot final home stand with a double and three runs batted in that raised his career total to 1,307, which tied him with Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for 109th place on the all-time list. The Captain is 9-for-20 (.450) on the home stand with three doubles, one home run and six RBI.

Also climbing up a career list was Ichiro Suzuki, whose infield single in the seventh was his 2,840th hit in the major leagues, which tied him with Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer for 47th place on the all-time list.

The Yankees set a franchise mark for players used with rookie Jose Pirela serving as the designated hitter batting ninth. He tripled in his first major-league at-bat and got his first RBI in the big leagues as well in the third and scored on a groundout by Jeter. Pirela singled in the fifth and scored on Jeter’s two-run double. Pirela was the 57th player the Yankees have had on their 25-man roster this year, the most in club history. They used 56 players in 2013.

They could add to the total since they claimed outfielder Eury Perez off waivers from the Nationals. In 67 games combined with Triple-A Syracuse, Class A Potomac and the Class A Gulf Coast League Nationals, the right-handed batter hit .310 with 36 runs, 14 doubles, two home runs and 15 RBI in 242 at-bats. Perez has appeared in 22 career major-league games with the Nationals (2012-13) and batted .154 with four runs and four stolen bases in 13 at-bats.

Chase Headley added to the scoring with a home run in the seventh, his 12th of the season and fifth since joining the Yankees.

Yankees’ bats turn cold again

After seemingly breaking out of their offensive malaise with 13 runs total in their victories against the Twins Thursday night and Friday, the Yankees returned to meager production Saturday and went into extra innings.

They were actually fortunate to push the game that far because the one run they scored might have been a gift. Surely the winning run for the Twins in their 2-1, 11-inning victory was just that. A throwing error by Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli trying for an inning-ending double play sent Josh Winningham home from second base with the deciding run.

Before Cervelli’s wild throw, it appeared that Matt Thornton had worked out of the bases-loaded jam. Minnesota filled the bags on a pinch double off the right field wall by Chris Colabello, a one-out intentional walk to Winningham and when Oswaldo Arcia was hit by a pitch for the third time in his past six plate appearances.

Trevor Plouffe followed with a dribbler in front of the mound that was pounced on by Thornton, who made an underhand toss to Cervelli for a forceout. Cervelli turned to throw to first base, but his peg sailed over Mark Teixeira and down the right field line as Winningham trotted home.

Cervelli had not been in the original lineup but turned out to be a central figure in the game. Brian McCann was supposed to be the starting catcher and batting third but was scratched because of persistent pain in his left foot. X-rays were negative, but McCann is in a day-to-day situation.

One day after collecting eight extra-base hits, all seven of the Yankees’ hits were singles. Their run was scored with a measure of luck. With two out in the fifth inning, Ichiro Suzuki stole second base. Or did he?

Video replays appeared to indicate that Suzuki was tagged in the chest by shortstop Eduardo Escobar before reaching the bag. Yet the Twins did not call for a review. Manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected from the game earlier, so maybe there was a mixup in the dugout.

The Yankees took advantage of the break. Ichiro moved up to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a single to left field by Cervelli.

David Phelps was making that run look mighty large the way he was pitching. The righthander retired 11 batters in a row until Willingham ended the stretch leading off the seventh by driving a 1-1 fastball off the second deck in left field for his eighth home run.

That tied the score and took Twins starter Yohan Pino off the hook. The late-blooming (30) rookie righthander held the Yankees to three hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings to keep pace with Phelps. Over his past five starts, Phelps is 2-0 with three no-decisions and a 3.16 ERA in that span covering 31 1/3 innings to lower his season ERA from 4.56 to 4.01.

The Twins did not do very well reviewing umpires’ calls. They did not challenge the Ichiro steal. In the 10th inning, they disputed an out call at second base after Sam Fuld had been picked off first only to have it verified by a video review.

The Yankees got a runner in scoring position in the top of the 10th when Derek Jeter singled to right with two out. That stopped a 0-for-14 slump for the Captain, whose 3,397th career hit was also his 2,539th single. Jeet stole second base but was stranded as Brian Roberts, who had four extra-base hits Friday, grounded out.

Before the game, Jeter received a nice parting gift from the Twins. Second baseman Brian Dozier presented DJ with the last second base bag used at the old Metrodome. Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, now a Twins coach, on behalf of the organization gave Jeter a $10,000 donation to his Turn2 Foundation. A year ago, the Twins came up with the cleverest gift Mariano Rivera received in his farewell tour, a rocking chair made of bats broken by Mo’s legendary cut fastball.

Yankees take control in first inning

It was a positive sign for the Yankees to break out of the gate early Sunday. They had been pushed around in first innings to the tune of 7-2 in the first five games of the season. Sunday at Toronto, they gave CC Sabathia a 3-0 lead before he took the mound even though they had only one hit in the first inning.

That hit was a two-out, two-run double by Kelly Johnson that climaxed a rally fueled by two walks and a hit batter off Drew Hutchison, who had pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a winning first start last week.

The Blue Jays answered back with a run in the bottom of the first on a leadoff home run by Melky Cabrera, the third homer of the series for the former Yankees outfielder. Sabathia had given up four runs in the first inning in his Opening Day start last week at Houston.

Derek Jeter made history with a leadoff single in the third inning. It was career hit No. 3,319 for DJ, who tied Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for eighth place on the all-time list. Jeter moved past Molitor with a single in the fourth for No. 3,320.

“To have the most hits for the most prestigious franchise in professional sports is pretty special,” Molitor told me back in 2011 when Jeter reached 3,000 hits. “Getting 3,000 hits is as much a product of longevity as ability. If Derek stays healthy, he has a good chance to rack up a lot more hits.”

Rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte has multi-hit games in each of his first three career starts to become the first Yankees player to accomplish the feat since Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio from May 3-6, 1936 (also three games), according to the Elias Sport Bureau. Solarte entered play leading the Yankees in hits (7), doubles (3), extra-base hits (3), RBI (4), on-base percentage (.600), slugging percentage (.769) and OPS (1.369).

Solarte picked up his fourth double and fifth RBI of the season with one out in the fourth and then scored on the Yankees’ first home run of the season. Brett Gardner ended the drought with a drive to right off a 3-2 pitch that chased Hutchison.

After rain delay, Yankees rain down hits and runs

It was Phil Hughes’ misfortune to have to come out of Monday’s game at Yankee Stadium due to a 1-hour, 53-minute rain delay. That was the only misfortune suffered by the Yankees. They got a head start on making up for being swept by the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field last month by trouncing Chicago, 9-1, in the opener of a three-game series.

One day after losing to the Orioles because of Baltimore’s seven-run seventh inning, the Yanks constructed an eight-run fourth inning. The beneficiary instead of Hughes was David Huff, the lefthander who has pitched so well in relief since his Aug. 15 call-up from Triple A Scranton.

Hughes, who is winless in 10 starts since July 2, would have loved all that run support against his 4-13 record. What starter wouldn’t? For a career middle-innings reliever such as Huff, the eight-run bulge felt just as satisfying. Hughes was actually on the winning side of the ledger at the time the game was stopped with one out in the Chicago second and the Yankees leading, 1-0. Because of the duration of the delay, Hughes did not return to the mound with his teammates.

White Sox reliever Dylan Axelrod was not as lucky as Huff. The Yankees sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth in scoring eight runs (six earned), all charged to his record, although he was removed after the 10th batter. Robinson Cano was the only Yankees batter that inning who did not reach base. Cano had his hand in the victory with a couple of dazzling, back-to-the-infield grabs, one of which resulted in a double play.

The Yanks’ rally was aided by two White Sox errors and two walks but was fueled primarily by seven hits – doubles by Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano and singles by Vernon Wells, Mark Reynolds, Austin Romine and Derek Jeter. In essence, it was a team effort. The Yanks scored as many runs that inning as they did in the three games combined in Chicago last month.

Huff, who is in his second tour with the Yankees this season, had a 14 1/3-inning scoreless streak ended when he gave up Paul Konerko’s 10th home run with one out in the seventh. Huff, 29, is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings since his return Aug. 16 that has lowered his season ERA from 13.50 to 3.32.

The Yankees picked up Huff back in May off waivers from the Indians. After a four-game stint with the Yanks that month, Huff ended up being outrighted to Scranton where he was 1-6 despite a 3.84 ERA. He has pitched so well the past two weeks that Huff might even be considered for a start down the line.

It was also good to see Jeter run with authority when the Yankees scored their first run, off White Sox starter Jose Quintana. For the third consecutive game, Gardner led off with a double. He scored on a ground single between shortstop and third base by Jeter, who alertly took second when left fielder Alejandro De Aza bobbled the ball. DJ also crossed to third on Cano’s flyout to right field but was stranded there.

Jeter’s hit in the fourth inning was career No. 3,313, which tied him with Eddie Collins for ninth place on the all-time list and is six behind another Hall of Famer at No. 8, Paul Molitor.

The big lead allowed manager Joe Girardi to get some new people into the game. Pitcher Cesar Cabral and catcher J.R. Murphy made their major-league debuts. Cabral pitched a shutout inning of relief and Murphy, pinch hitting for Cano in the eighth, beat out an infield single for his first big-league hit.

Their appearances brought the total of players used by the Yankees this season to 52, a franchise record.

Yankee doodles on the Fourth of July

The Yankees, who played Tampa Bay for the first time on July 4, entered play Wednesday with a 28-28 record on Independence Day in the expansion era (since 1961). The Yankees had lost their past three road games on the Fourth of July and seven of the past nine.

They played on the road on the Fourth of July for the second straight year, the first time they have done that in consecutive seasons since 1996 and ‘97. The Yankees will not play at home on Memorial Day (May 28), July 4 or Labor Day (Sept. 6) in the same season for the first time since 2006.

The Yankees have posted winning records in the month of July in each of the past 19 seasons (1993-2011). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marks the longest winning stretch of Julys in major league history. The previous record was 15, held by the Pirates from 1899 to 1913.

Elias also reported that Derek Jeter became only the third major league player in the past 80 years to get his 100th hit of a season before the Fourth of July, in his age group (38 or older) on that date of the year. The others were Paul Molitor with 110 hits at age 39 for the Twins in 1996 and Pete Rose with 100 hits at age 38 for the Phillies in 1979.

The Yankees have long been associated with the Fourth of July. Lou Gehrig delivered his famous farewell speech July 4, 1939 at Yankee Stadium. Other major events in Yankees history on the Fourth of July were Mickey Mantle’s 300th career home run in 1962, Dave Righetti’s no-hitter against the Red Sox in 1983 and Phil Niekro’s 3,000th career strikeout in 1984. Independence Day was also the birthday of former owner George Steinbrenner and current radio voice John Sterling.

Grandy nominated for Hank Aaron Award

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will decide whether Curtis Granderson is the American League Most Valuable Player or not, but Yankees fans can have a big say about whether the center fielder should win the Hank Aaron Award as the AL’s top offensive player.

Granderson is the Yankees’ nominee for the award that was established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record, a mark that now belongs to Barry Bonds. Log on to Yankees.com or MLB.com to register your vote.

For the second consecutive year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron himself will join fans in voting for the award. Aaron added new Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar and another all-time great second baseman, Joe Morgan, to this year’s panel to join holdovers Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams and Robin Yount.

Granderson had a spectacular year for the Yankees, batting .262 and becoming the first player in major league history to get at least 40 home runs, 10 triples and 25 stolen bases in the same year. Curtis led the majors in runs (136), ranked second in home runs (41) and extra base hits (81) and third in RBI (119) and total bases (332). He was the first player this season to get to 100 runs and 100 RBI and did so in his first 126 games.

Yankees players who previously won the Hank Aaron Award were Derek Jeter in 2006 and 2009 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007. A-Rod also won two twice when he was with the Rangers, in 2001 and 2003. Andruw Jones, currently with the Yankees, was the National League winner in 2005 when he was with the Braves.

Winners of the 2011 Hank Aaron Award will be announced during the World Series. It would be terrific if Curtis could pick up the award while the Yanks were in the Series. It’s up to you, fans.

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