Yankees 4, Red Sox 1: Victory snatched from jaws of defeat in 16 innings

It took forever and it wasn’t always fun to watch, but damn does it feel good. The Yankees were three outs away from yet another disheartening loss Saturday afternoon, but a few hours later, they were celebrating a 4-1 win over the Red Sox. It only took 16 innings. And, amazingly, it was only their second longest win of the season in terms of innings played. They had that 18-inning win at Wrigley Field.

(Rich Gagnon/Getty)
(Rich Gagnon/Getty)

Eight Innings of Pain
There’s nothing quite like facing Chris Sale to make a team struggling as much as the Yankees feel even worse about things. Sale toyed with the Yankees all afternoon, holding them to three hits and two walks in 7.2 scoreless innings. He struck out 13 and he was ahead of hitters all day. Seventeen of the 29 batters he faced saw a first pitch strike and 12 of those 29 saw an 0-2 count. How are you supposed to hit like that? Against a guy like Sale, no less?

The Yankees did have some chances against Sale. Brett Gardner started the game with a leadoff walk but never advanced as far as second base. Starlin Castro didn’t budge following his leadoff double in the second. Gary Sanchez stood and watched the final out after his two-out double into the third. That’s about it. Sale retired 15 of the final 18 batters he faced, and one of the baserunners reached on an error by third baseman Tzu-Wei Lin.

The last best chance against Sale came in the eighth inning, when his pitch count was over 100. Gardner blooped a single into shallow right field, bringing Sanchez to the plate as the go-ahead run. Sanchez doubled earlier in the game too. Sale struck him out though. Alas. Red Sox manager John Farrell went to closer Craig Kimbrel for the four-out save. Aaron Judge put together a great ten-pitch at-bat, including five straight two-strike foul balls, before lining out to right field to end the eighth inning. So it goes.

(Rich Gagnon/Getty)
(Rich Gagnon/Getty)

Toe to Toe with the Best
On most days seven innings of one run ball would be good enough to win, even with the Yankees bullpen. On Saturday, it was enough to put Luis Severino on the hook for a loss. Severino allowed that one run on a Mitch Moreland sac fly in the third inning. The Red Sox had the bases loaded with one out that inning and Severino escaped with minimal damage. His final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K and 114 pitches.

The most impressive thing about Severino’s start is that he did that without his best pitch. The slider wasn’t really cooperating Saturday afternoon. It was real short for whatever reason, almost like a cutter. Just one of those days, I guess. Severino relied on his fastball primarily, and mixed in the slider and changeup occasionally. Last year a bad slider day turned into a disaster start. Now it’s seven innings and one run. What a year for Sevy.

Extra Innings
I’m not going to lie, when the top of the ninth started, I was already writing a blurb about the no shutout streak being over. Instead, the Yankees are still the only team in baseball not to be shutout this season. Matt Holliday knotted things up 1-1 with a long leadoff home run against Kimbrel in that ninth inning. The fastball was as middle-middle and middle-middle gets:

matt-holliday-craig-kimbrel

That was pretty awesome. Castro, the next batter, then reached on an error by Xander Bogaerts, and pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury immediately stole second. Runner on second with no outs! Strikeout, strikeout, strikeout. Yuck. I really can’t explain Didi Gregorius pinch-hitting for Clint Frazier that inning either. Gregorius has been struggling and Frazier turned around a Corey Knebel heater for a walk-off home run last weekend. He can had handle velocity an Gregorius was coming off the bench cold against Kimbrel.

Well, whatever. To extra innings they went. Adam Warren bailed out Chasen Shreve, who allowed back-to-back leadoff singles, in the tenth. The Yankees wasted a free baserunner when Holliday was not called for interference in the 11th. It was a weird play. Holliday was on first and for some reason he retreated to the bag on Ellsbury’s 3-6-3 double play ball. Moreland couldn’t catch the return throw because Holliday was in the way. Textbook interference. They didn’t call it and the Red Sox played the rest of the game under protest. Very weird.

(The protest won’t be upheld. First of all, protests are almost never upheld, and besides, that play had no impact on the final score. The Red Sox got out of the inning without Ellsbury advancing beyond first base.)

In the 11th, Jonathan Holder pitched around a leadoff single and wild pitch. Ronald Torreyes managed to bunt into a 5-4-3 double play in the 12th. Holder went three up, three down in the 12th and 13th. Ellsbury drew a walk and Chase Headley singled to start the 14th, then none of the next three batters hit the ball out of the infield. Aroldis Chapman walked the first batter he faced on four pitches in the 14th but escaped. No swings and misses among his 12 pitches.

It wasn’t until the 16th inning — 16th inning! — that the Yankees broke through. Red Sox fifth starter Doug Fister was in his third inning of work at that point, and the first four batters reached base. Ellsbury doubled off the Green Monster, Headley singled to center, Gregorius singled to right to score Ellsbury, then Austin Romine singled to right to score Headley. The Yankees got a third run that inning on Sanchez’s sac fly. The Red Sox intentionally walked Gardner to load the bases for Sanchez and Judge. That won’t happen often.

Anyway, a 4-1 lead was built, and it was glorious. Ben Heller, the last guy in the bullpen, went back out for his second inning of work, and retired the BoSox with a stress free 1-2-3 inning to seal the win. Man, major props to the bullpen. All seven relievers pitched and here’s the result: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Hell yeah. Holder (three innings) and Heller (two innings) did the real heavy lifting. The Yankees are a Chapman blown save away from winning the first two games of this series. Alas.

(Rich Gagnon/Getty)
(Rich Gagnon/Getty)

Leftovers
Welcome back, Starlin Castro. He went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in his first game back from the DL. I thought the double was going to be a triple off the bat, but fresh off a hamstring strain? And leading off the second inning? No reason to push it. Starlin also make an insane tag on Dustin Pedroia’s stolen base attempt in the eighth. Sanchez’s throw was sailing wide, but Castro reached out, caught the ball, then swung his arm around to tag Pedroia. It was amazing. Nice to have Castro back.

It took until the 13th inning, but Judge’s on-base streak has reached 41 starts. That dates back to May 26th and it is longest such streak in baseball this season. (Judge did come off the bench and fail to reach base in his only at-bat on one occasion during that streak.) Judge went 0-for-6 with two walks in the game and he still doesn’t have a hit since the All-Star break. He’ll be fine though. He’s hit a bunch of balls hard.

The top six hitters in the starting lineup all reached base at least twice. Frazier and Garrett Cooper both went 0-for-3 before being removed for a pinch-hitter in that ninth inning. Torreyes went 0-for-6 overall, but did get a sac bunt down in the 16th, which set up the Gardner intentional walk and Sanchez sac fly. Not a good series for Toe overall.

And finally, seriously, give it up to the bullpen. They’ve thrown 14 innings the last two days and Chapman’s ninth inning Friday night was the only stinker. Dellin Betances is starting to look like Dellin Betances again. Now it’s time to get Aroldis back on track.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Red Sox will wrap up this series with a doubleheader Sunday. It’ll be CC Sabathia, not Bryan Mitchell in the first game. The Yankees made the change following Saturday’s game, presumably because they need Sabathia to soak up some innings. Sabathia will be opposed by Rick Porcello in the day game (1pm ET), then it’ll be Masahiro Tanaka and David Price in the night game (8pm ET). Sixteen innings Saturday, a doubleheader Sunday, then a flight to Minnesota. Busy few days for the Yankees.

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4: You’re not going to believe this, but the bullpen blew it

Can we just go back to the All-Star break? What a crappy way to start the second half. The bullpen blew yet another game and have a new entry into the Worst Loss of the Year race. The Red Sox won Friday’s series opener 5-4 on a walk-off walk. Lovely. The Yankees have lost 19 of their last 26 games and that record matches the eye test. Sell sell sell.

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

Montgomery Burns (Up His Pitch Count)
It was clear from the start Jordan Montgomery did not have it Friday night. He fell behind the first batter 3-0 and walked the second batter. Montgomery was behind in the count all night long. He threw a first pitch strike to only eight of the 21 batters he faced, and seven of those 21 batters saw a three-ball count. Montgomery’s pitches by inning: 29, 26, 17, 24. Goodness.

Amazingly, Montgomery allowed only three runs in his four innings of work. He stranded two runners in the first, two runners in the second, and the bases loaded in the third. Two of the three runs he allowed came on Hanley Ramirez’s two-run home run in the third, and the other came on a Dustin Pedroia ground ball single in the fourth. The final line: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, and 96 pitches. Easily the worst start of Montgomery’s brief big league career.

Four Runs Ain’t Enough
The Yankees had two leads in this game. They drew first blood in the third inning, when Gary Sanchez plated Chase Headley with a single to left. Headley reached on a leadoff single, then went first-to-third on Ronald Torreyes‘ single. Two innings later Headley started another rally with a leadoff double. He came around to score on Brett Gardner‘s single, and Gardner came around to score on Sanchez’s long two-run home run over the Green Monster. That turned the 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Hooray!

Unfortunately, the offense did nothing after the Sanchez home run. Literally nothing. Not one baserunner. They went 14 up and 14 down to end the game. The Yankees have generally been really good at tacking on runs this season, but not Friday night. Coulda used some insurance runs there, guys. Like, a lot of insurance runs. The wrap-around 8-9-1-2 portion of the lineup went 6-for-13 (.462) with a walk. The rest of the lineup went 0-for-19 with a walk.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Death by Bullpen
You know, for a while there, it seemed like the bullpen would have a good night. Chad Green replaced Montgomery and threw fire for two innings, striking out five of the six batters he faced. How good has Green been out of the bullpen this season? Adam Warren pitched around a pair of two-out hits in the seventh, then Dellin Betances struck out the side in the eighth. He also hit a batter, but hey, three strikeouts! Still love ya, Dellin.

Everything fell apart in the ninth and, to be fair, it wasn’t all Aroldis Chapman‘s fault. Hardly. Mookie Betts and Pedroia started the inning with back-to-back infield singles, then they pulled off a double steal uncontested. Sanchez had no chance to throw either guy out. Chapman wasn’t really paying attention to the runners and they got huge leads. The tying run scored when Xander Bogaerts hit a grounder that Torreyes booted. I’m pretty sure the run would have scored anyway, but Torreyes didn’t even get an out on the play.

With runners on corners and no outs, Joe Girardi had Chapman intentionally walk Ramirez to load the bases and create the force at any base. It also gave Chapman zero margin for error. Five pitches later, the game was over. Chapman walked Benintendi with the bases loaded for the walk-off loss. I’d be more annoyed if you couldn’t see it coming a mile away. Aroldis threw 23 pitches and only eleven strikes, and no, the intentional walk doesn’t count against his pitch count.

The biggest problem here is one swing and miss among 23 pitches. One. Chapman’s swing and miss rate has dropped from 18.6% last year to 14.1% this year — that’s still really good! — and on his fastball specifically, his whiffs-per-swing rate has fallen from 41.0% in 2015 to 32.8% in 2016 to 26.9% in 2017. Chapman got hosed on some weak grounders Friday. The Yankees also didn’t give this guy $86M to get weak grounders. He has not been the same overpowering Aroldis Chapman this year. Not even close.

You guys are still cool. (Presswire)
You guys are still cool. (Presswire)

Leftovers
Welcome back, Matt Holliday. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a first pitch 3-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out in the third. He’s had better days at the plate. Sanchez had two hits including the homer. He ended the first half in a pretty brutal slump, remember. I guess the Home Run Derby fixed his swing. Odds we hear that narrative? Not good.

Rough day for Torreyes despite his third inning single. He committed two errors — he bobbled the grounder in the ninth, and in the fourth he straight up dropped the flip from Didi Gregorius at the second base bag on a potential 6-4-3 double play. Yeesh. Oh, and he struck out on a pitch over his head. Hurry back soon, Starlin Castro. Torreyes is best enjoyed in moderation.

And finally, welcome to the big leagues, Garrett Cooper. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts like Holliday. Unlike Holliday, he did not ground into a double play the one time he put the ball in play.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, head over to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have a Bullpen Workload page. If you’re interested in postseason odds, I recommend FanGraphs. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Saturday afternoon for the second game of this four games in three days series. All-Stars Luis Severino and Chris Sale will be on the mound. That’ll be fun. That game has a 4pm ET start time, so I guess that means it’s a FOX broadcast.

Cano’s home run gives AL a 2-1 win in the 2017 All-Star Game

Those socks tho. (Presswire)
Those socks tho. (Presswire)

Once again, the American League has proven it is the superior and more enjoyable league. The AL won the 2017 All-Star Game at Marlins Park on Tuesday night thanks to Robinson Cano‘s tenth inning home run against Wade Davis. The final score was 2-1. Cano hit the homer and was named MVP. Andrew Miller got the save. Ex-Yankees all over the place.

With the win, the AL has tied up the all-time All-Star Game series at 43-43-2. Both leagues have scored exactly 361 runs too. Freaky. The AL has won each of the last five All-Star Games and 17 of the last 21 overall. Total dominance. Here’s video of the Cano home run:

Man do I miss watching that guy’s swing on a daily basis. I still have nothing but love for Robbie.

As for the Yankees, Aaron Judge started the game in right field and went 0-for-3 before being removed. He struck out against Max Scherzer, grounded out again Carlos Martinez, and flew out against Alex Wood. Judge didn’t have to make any tough plays in the field. He made it out in one piece and that’s all that matters.

Dellin Betances threw the third inning for the AL and danced in and out of danger. His inning went single (Zack Cozart), strikeout (Charlie Blackmon), strikeout (Giancarlo Stanton), walk (Bryce Harper), walk (Buster Posey), ground out (Daniel Murphy). Luis Severino did not pitch in the game. He said he was slated to pitch the 11th had the game continued. Lame, but I guess he could use the rest.

It wasn’t until the sixth inning that Gary Sanchez came off the bench to replace Salvador Perez. He grounded out against Brad Hand and struck out against Kenley Jansen. (Future Yankee?) Yonder Alonso was on second base with one out in a 1-1 game that at-bat. Womp womp. Not a great day for the Yankees, but whatever. Who cares?

Here is the box score and video highlights. Now that the All-Star Game is over, every team in the league will have Wednesday and Thursday off. The Yankees begin the second half Friday night at Fenway Park for the first game of a four games in three days series with the Red Sox. Going right back into the fire, eh? Enjoy the rest of the All-Star break.

Wasted chances send Yankees to 5-3 loss to Brewers


Source: FanGraphs
The Yankees were able to squeeze in one last frustrating loss before the All-Star break. Thanks for that, guys. The offense left a small army of runners on base in Sunday afternoon’s 5-3 loss to the Brewers. The Yankees are now 0-7-1 in their last eight series. That is: bad. It’s Sunday, so I’m going to take the easy way out with a bullet point recap:

  • Early Deficit: Masahiro Tanaka has pitched pretty darn well the last month or so, but his home run troubles returned Sunday, and they put the Yankees in an early 4-0 hole. Travis Shaw clubbed a long three-run home run into the right field bleachers in the first inning, then Stephen Vogt tacked on a solo shot in the second. Tanaka couldn’t make it out of the fifth and finished the afternoon having allowed five runs on six hits and one walk in 4.1 innings. Hopefully this was just a blip and Tanaka can built on those last few good starts in the second half.
  • Back In The Game: The Yankees made things interesting in the fourth and cut Milwaukee’s lead to 4-3. A single (Jacoby Ellsbury), a stolen base, another single (Chase Headley), and a homer (Clint Frazier) accounted for those three runs. Frazier can really hit, eh? Also, props to the bullpen. Chasen Shreve allowed one of Tanaka’s inherited runners to score, otherwise five relievers (Shreve, Adam Warren, Tyler Webb, Chad Green, Aroldis Chapman) combined for 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. They gave the offense a chance.
  • Blown Opportunities: The last few innings were the mother of all RISPFAILs. The Yankees had the tying run on base in each of the last five innings and the go-ahead run on base in the sixth, seventh, and eighth. Leadoff single and walk in the sixth? Wasted. One-out single and two-out walk in the seventh? Wasted. Two-out strikeout/wild pitch and walk in the eighth? Wasted. Wasted wasted wasted. The Yankees went 1-for-16 (.063) with runners in scoring position. Dude.
  • Leftovers: Headley narrowly missed a go-ahead three-run home run in the sixth inning. It sailed maybe a foot foul down the right field line. The umpires originally called it a homer and Headley trotted around the bases. It was overturned on replay. Alas … two hits for Headley and one each for everyone in the starting lineup except Didi Gregorius and Ji-Man ChoiBrett Gardner stole two bases and Ellsbury had one. This was the sixth game with at least three steals by the Yankees this season. Felt like the first.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. The Yankees are now scattering for the All-Star break — Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Starlin Castro, Luis Severino, and Dellin Betances will be at the All-Star Game (Judge and Sanchez are in the Home Run Derby) — and will reconvene at Fenway Park for the start of the second half on Friday. Enjoy the break, guys. Come back and kick butt.

Yankees 5, Brewers 3: Frazier’s walk-off homer saves the day


Source: FanGraphs

Things weren’t looking too good the first seven or eight innings Saturday afternoon. The offense was pretty lifeless against Brewers finesse lefty Brent Suter. Then the Fighting Spirit kicked in, and the bats woke up against the Milwaukee bullpen. Clint Frazier turned a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 win with one swing of the bat. The Yankees really needed a win like that. We all did. It’s a Saturday, so let’s recap this game with bullet points:

  • Sevy Settles Down: It took the Brewers five batters to build a 3-0 lead. Domingo Santana poked an opposite field three-run home run into the short porch one batter after Travis Shaw was allegedly grazed by a pitch. Replays were inconclusive at best. After that tough first inning, Luis Severino settled down beautifully and fired six scoreless innings. He struck out ten. Severino’s final line: 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 10 K. Tough first inning. Everything after that was great.
  • Quiet Bats: It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Yankees registered a hit and it wasn’t until the seventh that they got on the board. Suter lulled them to sleep with 88 mph fastballs all afternoon. Frustrating. A ground rule double (Chase Headley), a single (Jacoby Ellsbury), and an error (Suter) plated the first run. Suter threw away a pickoff throw. The Brewers are so bad defensively. So, so bad. Frazier followed with a triple to bring the Yankees to within 3-2. Signs of life!
  • Battle of the Bullpens: The Yankees won a battle of the bullpens! That hasn’t happened much lately. Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman finally looked like Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. Six up, six down, five strikeouts. Thanks for that, guys. The ninth inning rally was pretty straightforward. All-Star closer Corey Knebel walked Didi Gregorius and Ellsbury, then left a 97 mph fastball middle-middle to Frazier. Frazier legendary-bat-speed-ed the hell out of it into the left field seats for a walk-off homer. Awesome. Just awesome. Here’s the video.
  • Leftovers: Frazier went 3-for-4 and was a double short of the cycle. He drove in four of his team’s five runs. The rest of the Yankees went 3-for-27 (.111) … Frazier is the first Yankee with triples in back-to-back games since Robinson Cano in 2011 … Aaron Judge and Ellsbury both had a single and a walk … Brett Gardner and Gary Sanchez both went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. We also have a Bullpen Workload page. This series and the first half of the season comes to an end Sunday afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka and Jimmy Nelson are the scheduled starting pitchers. Maybe the Yankees will give us one last win before the All-Star break. That’d be cool.

Minor League Update: I have neither the time nor the energy for a full DotF tonight. Sorry. Here are the box scores. Peruse at your leisure. Matt Holliday is scheduled to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton tonight.

Brewers 9, Yankees 4: Bullpen has a good night, allows only seven runs

Things just keep getting worse. Friday night’s series opener with the Brewers was competitive for about six innings. Then the Yankees’ bullpen did its thing, and that was that. The final score was 9-4. The Yankees are 6-17 in their last 23 games and are now tied for the second wildcard spot. What a midseason collapse.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Drunk In The Field
Wow are the Brewers bad defensively. They rank statistically near the bottom of the league defensively and it showed in the first four innings. Five errors in four innings! Two of them contributed to three runs. Didi Gregorius ripped a one-out single to right field in the second that Domingo Santana played into a triple. He misplayed the hop, the ball got by him, and Gregorius made it to third. Clint Frazier drove in him with a sac fly for a quick 1-0 lead.

Then, in the fourth, Gregorius reached when Jonathan Villar bobbled a ground ball to second base. Ji-Man Choi made Villar and the Brewers pay with a two-run home run two batters later. In between the Frazier sac fly and the Choi homer, Santana committed another error when he got turned around on Austin Romine‘s fly ball, and Villar was also charged with an error because he was unable to knock down Aaron Judge‘s liner up the middle. Lots and lots of free baserunners. Only three runs as a result of the errors, however.

You're still cool with me, Monty. (Presswire)
You’re still cool with me, Monty. (Presswire)

Monty In The Rain
I was a bit surprised Joe Girardi brought Jordan Montgomery back out for the fifth inning after a 51-minute rain delay. I’m sure Montgomery was throwing down in the batting cage and whatever, but it just seemed like enough time had passed, and he wouldn’t pushed a young pitcher like that. Then again, the bullpen has been so bad lately, I don’t blame Girardi for wanting to squeeze as many outs from his start as possible.

Montgomery did his “wiggle in and out of jams” act in the first few innings, though, to his credit, not too many of the seven hits he allowed were hard-hit. His two biggest mistakes came in the same inning. Montgomery left a pitch up to Ryan Braun leading off the fourth, which Braun hammered into the left-center field gap for a double. Then, two batters later, Montgomery lost an eight-pitch battle to Jesus Aguilar when he left a slider up, a pitch Aguilar promptly depositing into the short porch for a two-run home run and 2-1 Brewers lead.

After the rain delay, Montgomery lasted three batters. A diving catch by Frazier and two singles later, Montgomery was out of the game. He went back out to face three batters and throw 12 pitchers. Tyler Webb came out of the bullpen to escape that jam with a line drive double play. Montgomery’s final line: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K and 74 pitches. This was only his second walk-less outing in 16 starts.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

A Lopsided Battle Of The Bullpens
One team brought their strikeout heavy top pitching prospect out of the bullpen. The other tried to squeeze two innings from Tyler Clippard. That’s the story of the game right there. One team has the best arms in the organization on the big league roster and the other is putzing around with journeymen and fringe prospects. The bullpen has been a disaster for weeks now and yet the same personnel remains.

In the sixth, Webb and Clippard teamed up to blow the 4-2 lead. Webb allowed a walk and a double to put runners on second and third, and Clippard allowed both runners to score on a wild pitch and a sac fly. The game got out of hand in the seventh. Clippard remained in the game and the inning went fly out, walk, walk, fly out, intentional walk, grand slam. Amazing. Aguilar already had a homer and a long sac fly in the game. Girardi intentionally walked the bases loaded so a fatigued Clippard to could face him, and Aguilar hit the grand slam. Bad pitching, bad decisions.

The final line on the bullpen: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 1 K. Webb, Clippard, Chasen Shreve, Luis Cessa. Josh Hader, the aforementioned top pitching prospect the Brewers brought out of the bullpen, struck out seven in three innings. He allowed one run on one hit and two walks. The run came on an Judge solo homer. That has more to do with Judge being awesome than Hader being bad. Hader blew the Yankees away. It’s too bad the Yankees don’t have any young arms who might be able to do that.

Remember when the Yankees had fun? (Presswire)
Remember when the Yankees had fun? (Presswire)

Leftovers
How about some good news? Judge’s home run was his 30th (31st*) of the season, the most ever by a Yankees rookie. The most ever! Do you know who’s played for this franchise? There are still 78 games to play this year too. Judge is only the second rookie in baseball history to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star break. Mark McGwire hit 33 before the break in 1987. He set the rookie record with 49 homers that season.

Now, the bad stuff: Chase Headley went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, a walk, and a double play hitting second in front of Judge. Not Girardi’s finest lineup decision. Just let Judge hit second. I know he doesn’t fit the typical No. 2 hitter profile, but the alternative is squeezing a bad hitter between him and Brett Gardner. No. Just no. Gardner drew four walks in the game, by the way. Would have been cool to have Judge hitting right behind him.

Four total hits for the offense: Judge’s homer, Choi’s homer, Didi’s single, and a Frazier triple. Frazier is still looking for his first big league single. He has a double, a triple, and a homer already. Choi and Headley each drew one walk and Gardner had four. Those are all the baserunners.

And finally, Choi is the first player to go deep in each of his first two games with the Yankees since … Judge last year. Between Triple-A and MLB, Choi has hit eight home runs in his last 13 games. He hit two homers in his first 45 games of the season.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Brewers will continue this three-game series with the middle game Saturday afternoon. That’s a 1pm ET start. All-Star Luis Severino and non-All-Star Brent Suter are the scheduled starting pitchers. The Yankees won’t be home until July 25th after this weekend, so if you want to catch a game before the All-Star break and long road trip, RAB Tickets can get you into the ballpark.

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 6: Bullpen spoils a great comeback

The slump is getting dangerously close to a full-fledged collapse. The Yankees dropped Wednesday’s series finale 7-6 to the Blue Jays and are now 6-16 in their last 22 games. At one point they were 15 games over .500. Now they’re five. At one point they were four games up in the AL East. Now they could be a half-game back of the second wildcard spot before their next game depending what the Rays, Twins, and Royals do between now and then. Just fast forward to the All-Star break already.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Small Mike
Impressively terrible outing for Michael Pineda, who retired only eight of 18 batters faced, and allowed five runs in three innings plus two batters. He allowed homers to three of the final seven batters he faced, including back-to-back shots by Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales, and the first opposite field home run of Kevin Pillar’s career. Pineda gave up one homer on a fastball (Pillar), one on a slider (Morales), and one on a changeup (Morales). Amazing. His final line: 3 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K and 65 pitches.

At this point, it’s crystal clear the Pineda we saw at the start of the season was not in fact a new Pineda. He’s still the same old Michael Pineda. Unpredictable, occasionally great, mostly mediocre. He just happened to have one of his “oh man is he turning it around?” streaks at the start of the season, so everyone kinda got their hopes up. April baseball is full of lies, man. In his last seven starts Pineda has allowed 29 runs (25 earned) on 53 hits (nine homers) and nine walks in 36.2 innings. Thanks for coming.

The Comeback
It all started with an Aaron Judge home run. Of course it did. But this home run tied a record. Judge’s fourth inning two-run shot was his 29th* homer of the season, tying the franchise’s single-season home run record among rookies. Joe DiMaggio hit 29 in 1936. It’s July 5th. The Yankees still have 79 games to play, and already Judge has hit as many home runs as any rookie in franchise history. Wild.

(* I still haven’t forgotten about that stupid triple. Wednesday’s home run should have been Judge’s 30th of the season.)

The home run brought the Yankees to within 5-2 and and it gave them some life. That was actually their first hit of the afternoon. The fifth inning is when the offense finally broke out and took the lead. A lot happened that inning, so let’s annotate the play-by-play.

yankees-vs-blue-jays-play-by-play

(1) Welcome to the Yankees, Ji-Man Choi. Tough to make a better first impression than clobbering a 457-foot dinger in your second at-bat. That was the third longest home run by a Yankee this season and the longest by a Yankees left-handed batter since Statcast became a thing in 2015. No joke. Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran … none of those dudes hit a longer homer from the left side of the plate. Ji-Man is a He-Man, as John Sterling said. That got the Yankees to within one.

(2) To me, the Brett Gardner walk was the “okay, time to take out Marco Estrada” moment. He wasn’t locating, his pitch count was sitting at 96, and Judge was about to see him for the third time. With two men on base and after hitting a long home runs his last time up, no less. There should have been warning bells going off, no? That seems like a “time for a new pitcher” moment. But no, John Gibbons stuck with Estrada. And kept sticking with him.

(3) The most amazing part of Judge’s season is his batting average. Hitting 29 homers before the All-Star break is remarkable, it really is, but I would have guessed he’d hit 29 homers before the break rather than hit .330-something before the break eight days a week and twice on Sundays. And yet, it’s not luck. I mean, sure, there’s probably some good luck in that .423 BABIP, but it’s not all luck. Judge hits rockets all over the fields. He hit a rocket to right field to load the bases in that fifth inning.

(4) Gary Sanchez against Estrada coming into the game: 4-for-8 with four home runs. And Gibbons still stuck with him. Amazing. He got away with it too, because Sanchez got under a 2-2 changeup and popped up in foul territory behind the third base. Yuck. Sanchez with the bases loaded against a struggling pitcher? Sign me up. Estrada (and Gibbons) got away with it though. Gary did hit a foul ball about 400 feet earlier in the bat. Too bad he couldn’t straighten it out.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

(5) As good as he’s been this season, Didi Gregorius has hit a bit of a rough patch lately, coming into the game in a 4-for-21 (.190 skid). Fortunately Gibbons stuck with the struggling Estrada — he was trying to get Estrada through the inning to get him a win, right? had to be — and Estrada’s 108th and final pitch was a fastball up in the zone, which Gregorius tomahawked into right field for a two-run go-ahead single. The Yankees put five runs on the board in one full turn through the lineup spanning the fourth and fifth innings.

Also, on that Gregorius single, third base coach Joe Espada was waving Judge home, but Judge recognized the Blue Jays executed a pretty good set of relay throws, so he held up. He would have been toast at the plate. Chase Headley didn’t come through with another two-out hit there, but still. At least he had a chance to hit. Judge would have been thrown out by a mile had he not stopped at third.

Death By Bullpen
Asking the bullpen to hold a one-run lead for four innings was a tall order. That one-run lead vanished in the seventh, when Chad Green served up a leadoff home run to Russell Martin. Sigh. Green’s been pretty awesome this year so it’s tough to complain about him. Given how things have been going though, that home run felt pretty crushing.

The Yankees did get their leadoff man on base in the bottom of the seventh — Tyler Wade drew a walk against Aaron Loup, a funky lefty — then they went into small ball mode for some reason. Gardner bunted Wade to second, the Blue Jays intentionally walked Judge, then Sanchez struck out and Gregorius flew out to end the inning. Two things about that inning:

  1. Why not have Wade steal? He was 24-for-28 in steal attempts in Triple-A. The catcher, Miguel Montero, is 1-for-31 throwing out basestealers this year. 1-for-31! He was literally designated for assignment by the Cubs last week because he is so bad at throwing that he blamed the pitcher.
  2. Why is Gardner bunting anyway? He squared around four times and finally got the bunt down with two strikes. After the game Girardi said he was bunting for a hit, which is so silly I refuse to believe it’s true. The element of surprise was long gone. Either Girardi is covering for himself or Gardner. At some point someone in the dugout has to tell Gardner to stop trying to bunt, right? You know they’re going to walk Judge if you get the bunt down. Swing away. Geez.

The Yankees played for one run that inning and got none, which is what they deserved. Playing for one run in Yankee Stadium with the middle of the order coming up is pretty ridiculous. Besides, the bullpen has been so bad lately. Did they really think one run would be enough to win? What a terrible, awful, no good inning. Just swing the stupid bat.

Anyway, with the score tied 6-6, Girardi went to Dellin Betances in the eight inning. His inning: walk, walk, walk, strikeout, walk to force in the winning run. At one point Betances threw ten straight balls. It was pretty clear he didn’t have it when he fell behind 2-0 to the third batter, and he probably should have been out of the game there. A little proactivity would be cool. Adam Warren came in and escaped the jam to hold the Blue Jays to just the one run, not that it really mattered.

More like BB-etances amirite? (Presswire)
More like BB-etances amirite? (Presswire)

For Dellin, he now has an 8.6 BB/9 and a 21.1% walk rate on the season. He’s walked eleven of the last 22 batters he faced and hit another with a pitch. That walk rate is completely and totally unacceptable for a late-inning reliever. The Yankees have to get Betances out of the eighth inning until he’s right. Girardi can be loyal to a fault. He sticks with his guys longer than he probably should. That must change. They can’t use Dellin in close games when he’s pitching like this.

Leftovers
The Yankees only had six hits on the day. Two by Judge and one each by Gardner, Gregorius, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Choi. They did draw six walks though. Two by Gardner, two Austin Romine, and one each by Judge and Wade. Six runs is usually enough. Not when your starter goes three innings and your bullpen is an untrustworthy as it gets.

Not sure what else to add here, so I’ll close with this: the Yankees are the first team in MLB history to use two South Korean born position players in a season. Choi joins Rob Refsnyder. (Refsnyder was born in South Korea and adopted by an American family as an infant.)

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, then back to ESPN for the updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
An off-day, finally. The Yankees have off Thursday — I think we can all use a little break from this team — and will be back at Friday night, with the first of three against the Brewers. Jordan Montgomery and splitter specialist Junior Guerra will be on the mound for that interleague matchup. There are only three games remaining before the All-Star break. RAB Tickets can get you in the door to any of ’em.