The 2019 Yankees are starting to feel a little too 2013 Yankees-ish to me. On a night in which one-third of the starting lineup wasn’t on the roster a week ago, the Yankees made 2019 Jordan Zimmermann look good, and were held to three runs or less for the third time in the last four games. Tuesday’s final score was 3-1. The Yankees are 2-3 through five games.
Masahiro Bends But Doesn’t Break
In the early innings the Tigers definitely hit a few scary fly balls against Masahiro Tanaka. Fortunately they were all caught for outs on or near the warning track. The cold really helped him Tuesday. The ball wasn’t carrying at all. Tanaka helped himself out as well. He escaped a first-and-third with one outs situation in the first inning with a strikeout and a grounder, and escaped a first-and-third with no outs situation in the fourth. A shallow fly ball and a beautifully turned 1-6-3 double play did the trick.
It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the Tigers got to Tanaka and they needed a little luck to do it. Jeimer Candelario hit a ground ball along the first base line that hit the bag and popped over Luke Voit’s head, and went into right field for a double. What can you do about that? Just a bad luck play. Tanaka leaving a first pitch slider over the plate to the next batter, John Hicks, wasn’t bad luck. It was a bad pitch and a legit double to drive in the tying run.
Tanaka’s final line: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K on 87 pitches. I thought Tanaka had better stuff but worse location than his Opening Day start. The slider and splitter were biting, no doubt about it, but there were a few more pitches left up and out over the plate. For the most part, Tanaka got away with them. He didn’t on the Hicks double and that’s about it. Two starts, two strong outings for Tanaka.
A Taste Of Their Own Medicine
Jordan Zimmermann anti-fastballed the anti-fastball Yankees on Tuesday night. He’s been a 50/50 fastball/breaking ball guy the last few years, but, in his first start of the new season last week, he threw 44 breaking balls and 25 fastballs against the Blue Jays. In this game it was 57 breaking balls and 36 fastballs. Specifically, Zimmermann threw 36 sliders and 21 curveballs. Worked like a charm too.
The Yankees scored one run in 6.2 innings against Zimmermann and, unexpectedly enough, the replacement players got the job done. DJ LeMahieu singled on a ground ball through the left side with one out in the second, then Mike Tauchman poked a ground-rule double into the left field corner. I mentioned Tauchman was an all-fields guy last week. He showed it with that swing. Drove one of those rare Zimmermann fastballs the other way.
Clint Frazier, in his first at-bat of the new season, drove in LeMahieu from third with a productive out. He hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field. Single, double, sac fly. That qualify as a manufactured run? The Yankees had exactly one scoring opportunity against Zimmermann after that. Tyler Wade singled and stole second in the fifth, Aaron Judge was intentionally walked with two outs, and Voit struck out to end the inning. Womp womp.
The Yankees managed six hits in 6.2 innings against Zimmermann and one of the six didn’t leave the infield. That was LeMahieu’s fourth inning infield single to third. He has been living the good BABIP life in the early going. Ten balls in play and six hits. Between all the injuries (and Gary Sanchez sitting) and Zimmermann throwing nothing straight, the Yankees again had a tough time generating offense.
Lost In The Ninth
The good news? Aroldis Chapman hit 99.5 mph in the ninth inning. His velocity’s improving. The bad news? The Tigers jumped on Chapman for two runs. He walked Niko Goodrum with one out, setting up Dustin Peterson for the booming go-ahead double to left field. Peterson’s first career hit. Chapman left a fastball up just enough and Peterson drove it over Tauchman’s head for a 2-1 lead. Jordy Mercer followed with a ground ball single for a 3-1 lead.
Chapman gets saddled with loss but good grief. The offense gave the pitching staff zero margin for error. Five singles, one double, one walk, one hit batsmen, all scattered. The Yankees are without four regulars (Miguel Andujar, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton) and it is really showing. Three runs Monday night, one of which came courtesy of a dopey error by the left fielder, and one run Tuesday night. The lineup is really, really short right now.
Judge (single, walk) and LeMahieu (two singles) reached base twice. Tauchman (ground-rule double), Wade (single), and Austin Romine (single) reached base once. Voit took a pitch to the hand but seems to be okay. The Yankees went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and the big problem there is the three, not the zero. Not nearly enough traffic on the bases. Waiting around for guys to get healthy doesn’t seem like a good idea, but what else can the Yankees do?
Adam Ottavino is just ridiculous. He faced four batters and struck out three. The other grounded out. Ottavino entered into a tie game with a runner on second and two outs in the sixth inning, so that was another fireman situation. Sure seems like the Yankees are using him as their Moment of Truth guy. They want him on the mound in the biggest spots.
And finally, what a complete failure by Aaron Boone in the ninth inning. Down two runs and Tauchman bats while Sanchez ends the game standing on deck waiting to pinch-hit? I know Tauchman doubled earlier in the game and ideally Gary would bat with a man on base, but come the hell on, get your best players in the game when you’re down to your last three outs.
The Yankees and Tigers will wrap up this three-game series Wednesday afternoon. That’s a weird 4:05pm ET start. Jonathan Loaisiga and Matt Boyd are the scheduled starting pitchers. Loaisiga will added to the roster once CC Sabathia goes from the suspended list to the injured list.