For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Yankees looked very much like a team of injury replacements Thursday night. A seemingly comfortable 4-0 lead quickly vanished in the middle innings and turned into an 11-5 loss. The winning streak was going to end eventually. Seeing it end like that smarts.
Building A Four-Run Lead
The Yankees really worked Trevor Cahill hard Thursday. Ninety-three pitches in four innings plus three batters, and by my unofficial count, he threw 70 of those 93 pitches with a runner on base. The Yankees had Cahill working from the stretch all night. His final line: 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 HR. They scored four runs against Cahill in four very different ways.
The First Run: Speed Kills. Tyler Wade created his team’s first run with his legs. He beat out an infield single to start the third inning, bringing DJ LeMahieu up to the plate. Wade stole second on the first pitch, stole third on the second pitch, and scored on LeMahieu’s single back up the middle on the third pitch. Efficient! Between his final at-bat Wednesday night and his first at-bat Thursday night, that was a hell-raising two-at-bat stretch for Wade.
The Second Run: The Long Ball. Not a whole lot to say about this one. Cahill hung a curveball to Gio Urshela and Urshela did not miss it. Solo home run to left field. First home run of the season and the ninth of his MLB career. Wade and Urshela gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead through four innings.
The Third Run: The Gift Run. Luke Voit and Brett Gardner opened the fifth inning with back-to-back singles, then Gary Sanchez worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases with no outs, ending Cahill’s night. Reliever Justin Anderson and catcher Jonathan Lucroy gifted the Yankees their third run when Anderson bounced a breaking ball and it snuck through Lucroy’s legs and went to the backstop. It was scored a wild pitch but looked more like a passed ball to me. Lucroy was squared up perfectly but still let it get through his legs. Whatever.
The Fourth Run: The Nice Piece of Hitting. The
passed ball wild pitch scored a run and also moved the runners up to second and third with one out. Gleyber Torres battled Anderson for six pitches, then lined a two-strike single over the second baseman’s head to give the Yankees a 4-0. It was low enough that Sanchez had to freeze at second base to make sure it wasn’t caught, though I’m not sure he would’ve scored on that hit anyway. Love Gary, but he is not fleet of foot. Although he was not on the mound, the third and fourth runs were changed to Cahill.
The Wheels Come Off
This went from another very good Masahiro Tanaka start to tied at four real quick. Quick as in five batters. Tanaka retired eleven of the first 14 batters he faced, then, in the fifth inning, he went single, homer, ground out, single, homer. Just like that, the lead was gone. Lucroy poked a ground ball single up the middle, then Tommy La Stella ambushed an elevated fastball for a two-run homer. Luis Rengifo shot a ground ball single up the middle, then Kole Calhoun put a hanging splitter in the bleachers. Fell apart quick.
After retiring eleven of the first 14 batters he faced, six of the final eleven batters Tanaka faced reached base. In the sixth inning he walked Goodwin with one out and La Stella with two outs, ending his night. Tanaka has now walked three batters in three consecutive starts for the first time in his big league career. Those sixth inning walks eventually came around to score (more on that in a bit) though the homers were the problem. Tanaka let the bottom of the order beat him in that fifth inning.
Tanaka’s line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 HR on 89 pitches. One swing-and-miss, and it came on his 83rd pitch. The Angels have the lowest strikeout (16.1%) and swing-and-miss (7.4%) rates in baseball, and it showed. (The Angels are also a pretty good reminder that more contact doesn’t automatically equal better results. They went into the game 21st in runs per game and their non-Mike Trouts were hitting .229/.294/.378. But I digress.)
Death By Bullpen
I just do not understand why Jonathan Holder is consistently seeing such high-leverage situations. Two on with two outs in the sixth inning of a tie game? Get someone in there who can overpower the hitter and get an out without a ball being put in play. That is not Holder. The bullpen leverage leaderboard:
- Aroldis Chapman: 1.75
- Adam Ottavino: 1.54
- Jonathan Holder: 1.43
- Zack Britton: 1.19
Those are the right two guys at the top! But Holder third? Goodness. He replaced Tanaka and immediately got crossed up with Sanchez, allowing the runners to move to second and third. Holder then left a two-strike 92 mph fastball up in the zone to David Fletcher, and Fletcher pulled it through the left side for a two-run single and a 6-4 lead. Holder trying to throw a fastball by a hitter is adorable.
But wait! The bullpen weirdness didn’t end there. Stephen Tarpley was brought in to face the top of the lineup in the seventh inning. He walked the first two batters, then Joe Harvey put gas on the fire. Andrelton Simmons pulled a single to left to score one run and Urshela let Wade’s throw back to the infield get under his glove and scoot away, allowing the second run to score. Mike Tauchman misplayed a bloop single into a bases-clearing triple and that was all she wrote.
Holder allowed the two inherited runners to score in the sixth inning and Tarpley and Harvey conspired to allow five more runs in the seventh. Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, and Adam Ottavino did not pitch Tuesday or Wednesday, yet they were nowhere to be found in the sixth inning of a tie game (or the seventh inning down two). Good news though! Kahnle pitched with the Yankees down six in the eighth inning. Impossibly stupid. I have a headache now.
Two walks and a single loaded the bases against the extremely broken Cody Allen in the eighth inning. Had the 2-3-4 hitters up too. The Yankees weren’t going to get a better chance to make it ballgame than that. Voit struck out, Gardner drew a bases loaded walk to force in a run, and Sanchez flew out. Nine hits and seven walks. The Yankees had plenty of baserunners, but they went 3-for-15 (.200) with runners in scoring position. (Kinda weird it was ignored they hit .270/.372/.446 with runners in scoring position during 8-1 stretch.)
The Yankees ran wild on Lucroy all series. They stole five bases in this game — it was their first five-steal game since September 2013 — and nine in the series. In nine attempts too. Also, all things considered, the Yankees handled Trout well in the four games. He went 2-for-12 (.167) with seven walks and three strikeouts. Only scored two runs too, so the walks didn’t bite them. Many of them were of the unintentional intentional variety.
And finally, Voit’s MLB leading on-base streak is now up to 36 games. It is the longest by a Yankee since Derek Jeter also had a 36-gamer spanning 2012-13. The last Yankees with an on-base streak longer than Voit’s (and Jeter’s)? Mark Teixeira. He had a 42-game streak in 2010.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, head over to MLB.com. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. Here is our Bullpen Workload page and here’s the loss probability graph:
Interleague play! Pitchers hitting! Routine baseball decisions people call strategy! The Yankees have a three-game series with the Giants next. It is their first trip to San Francisco since 2007 and only their second trip to San Francisco during interleague play. Huh. Didn’t realize that. James Paxton vs. Madison Bumgarner will be the pitching matchup Friday night. That is a 10:15pm ET start.