So, let’s start with the good news: Chase Whitley looked like an ace out there. He’s definitely earned more trust with that gem. Okay, time for bad news: pretty much everything else that happened after he left. The Yankees had a chance to extend the winning streak to four and nail the first game of the series in the Rogers Centre, but the painful eighth inning got in the way and New York lost 3-1. For now, just be happy that we are still in the first place. Can’t win them all.
Chase the ace:
Whitley tossed seven scoreless innings, gave up six hits, no walks and struck out six. That’s a great line and yet it still doesn’t feel like it doesn’t do justice on how well he pitched tonight. He hit corners, lured hitters, changed speeds and made some great hitters look silly.
Only major blunder from Chase tonight came from the third inning. With one out, Ezequiel Carrera tried to bunt for a base hit. Whitley picked up the ball but did not get a complete grip and threw it way off target. Carrera advanced to third. Fortunately, Whitley got Devon Travis to strike out swinging and Josh Donaldson to ground out to end the inning. Phew.
It’s only been two ML starts for Whitley this season but he’s shown the ability to strike out hitters (11 K’s in 12 IP) and throw strikes (only 1 walk allowed). Definitely don’t expect him to maintain this sub-1.00 ERA but two sharp outings against division rivals is encouraging.
The eighth inning of doom:
Chase Whitley was mostly a reliever in minors. He did not adapt to a regular starting role until last year and needless to say, I don’t think it was a horrible decision to pull him after 90 pitches thrown, especially with the caliber of bullpen the Yankees have. Joe Girardi put in Chris Martin, who has essentially put himself into the Circle of Trust this season.
Martin got the reigning AL Rookie of the Month Devon Travis to ground out. Josh Donaldson followed that up with a single and so did Jose Bautista. With the cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion coming up, Girardi sub’d in Dellin Betances. On the first pitch curveball that the slugger did not particularly hit well … the ball dropped in front of Brett Gardner by the left field line for a fair ball and a run scored. Just last night, a David Ortiz line drive with bases loaded sucked right into the center fielder’s glove, and tonight, a blooper by Encarnacion falls right by the line and becomes a game-tying double. Go figure.
Former Yankee Russell Martin came in to pinch hit. With the count full, the catcher hit a hard grounder down the line that Chase Headley somehow caught. Headley’s throw, however, eluded Garrett Jones’s glove as the first baseman couldn’t handle the hard bouncer in front of him. Two more Jays runs scored. 3-1 Toronto. Sigh. Mark Teixeira definitely would have handled that throw better but I don’t think it was an easy throw to cleanly scoop.
Carlos Beltran went 1-for-3 but he did hit the ball hard on all three at-bats. He also hit a leadoff double in the seventh inning that got the only Yankee scoring going. I do have to mention that the only pitcher he faced tonight was R.A. Dickey, who is not exactly an overpowering guy, but Beltran’s bat seemed to show some life since the Red Sox series, which is good.
Brett Gardner walked twice but his six-game hitting streak came to an end as he also went 0-for-2. Jacoby Ellsbury did not go 4-for-4 tonight but he did get a hit so it’s 1-for-4 instead. Unlike last night, tonight’s game went by quite quickly but then again, I would definitely trade the faster pace of game for some more Yankee runs.
Box Scores, WPA, Standings:
The series continues at Toronto tomorrow. #BigMike goes against Marco Estrada, who gave up tons of homers last year (1.73 HR/9). Hope there’s another winning streak starting soon.