Three series at Yankee Stadium, three series losses. The opponents? The Orioles, Tigers, and White Sox. That is truly pathetic and should not be waved off because of the injuries or as baseball being baseball. Some organizational introspection is required. The Yankees continued their rotten start to the season with a 5-2 loss to the ChiSox on Sunday. They have lost nine of their first 15 games for only the second time since 2005 and the first time since 2016. The Yankees sold at the deadline that year.
Masahiro Tanaka’s afternoon unraveled very quickly in the fourth inning. He retired eight of the first ten batters he faced — one of the two baserunners was thrown out trying to steal second — with six strikeouts, and looked to be in total control of the ballgame. When Aaron Judge threw Yoan Moncada out at second trying to stretch a single into a double to start the fourth, it seemed the bad rebuilding White Sox would go away quietly on getaway day.
The Moncada single-turned-out — twice in his first two at-bats he ripped the ball into the right field corner — was both a gift out and a bad sign. Jose Abreu followed with a double to left field, then Tanaka nibbled himself into serious trouble. He got ahead in the count 1-2 on Yonder Alonso and walked him, and got ahead in the count 2-2 on Eloy Jimenez and walked him. Those were only the third and fourth walks of the season for Tanaka.
Tanaka went from being in control of Sunday’s game to having the bases loaded with one out in the blink of an eye. The first four batters of the fourth inning reached base when you include Moncada’s single-turned-out. The fifth batter of the inning, Tim Anderson, cleared the bases and then some with an opposite field grand slam off the top of the wall. The 0-1 splitter was, uh, poorly located:
Yikes. Instead of splitting down, the splitter split from left to right, and right into Anderson’s bat. Tanaka gave up four runs in the fourth inning after allowing four runs (three earned) in his first 21.2 innings of the season. All you need to know about Tanaka’s start is right here:
- First time through the lineup: 2-for-9 (.222) with five strikeouts
- Thereafter: 5-for-8 (.625) with three walks and one strikeout
I thought letting Tanaka face Moncada with runners on the corners and no outs in the fifth inning (later runners at second and third with no outs following a stolen base) was insane given Moncada’s first two at-bats. He crushed two rockets (110.5 mph and 107.6 mph exit velocities) to right field, the small part of the park. There was no rocket this time. Just a walk to load the bases, ending Tanaka’s afternoon.
Tanaka’s final line: 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HR on 81 pitches. Luis Cessa inherited the bases loaded with no outs in the fifth inning and allowed just one run on a sacrifice fly, which, all things considered, is a good outcome. It was a long sacrifice fly that required Judge to make a leaping catch on the warning track, so Cessa got some help. In one afternoon, Tanaka went from a 1.47 ERA (2.55 FIP) to a 3.22 ERA (3.10 FIP) on the season. A return to normalcy.
Two Runs Early … And That’s It
Sunday’s game started well for the Yankees. Tanaka cruised through the first three innings and the Yankees scored one run in the first and one run in the third. Judge drew a walk in the first inning and Luke Voit brought him home with a double into the right-center field gap. Mike Tauchman walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Judge’s single in the third inning to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Things seemed to be going well.
Gleyber Torres followed the Judge single with a single of his own, giving the Yankees a chance to put a dent in the scoreboard in that third inning, but Voit flew out and Clint Frazier grounded out, and that was that. Following the Torres single, Carlos Rodon settled down and retired the final eleven batters he faced. Only four of the eleven managed to hit the ball out of the infield. The righty heavy lineup couldn’t muster much of anything against the lefty.
The Yankees had just two baserunners following the Torres single in the third inning. Gio Urshela drove a single to center field in the seventh inning, then was erased on Kyle Higashioka’s inning-ending double play. Judge reached on Anderson’s throwing error in the eighth, then Torres struck out to end the inning. Nineteen of the final 21 Yankees to bat made outs. Those 21 batters had a 90.2 average exit velocity. Death by soft contact.
I get that Rodon is talented (third overall pick in 2014) and has a pretty wicked slider, but he went into start with a thoroughly mediocre 4.08 ERA (4.56 FIP) in 136.2 innings since returning from shoulder surgery last year. Even with a lineup that has been decimated by injuries, this is getting pretty tedious. The healthy players on the roster are good enough to beat the Orioles and Tigers and White Sox. Instead, they are 3-6 against them at home. Gross.
Cessa faced five batters, Tommy Kahnle faced two batters, Adam Ottavino faced five batters, Joe Harvey faced four batters, and Chad Green faced three batters. Good line for the bullpen: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K. Bringing Cessa in down two runs with the bases loaded and no outs, then bringing Ottavino in down three runs to start an inning, is laugh out loud bad. Which situation demands the team’s best reliever? Well, whatever. This loss isn’t on the bullpen.
The White Sox went 5-for-7 stealings bases. One caught stealing came on a pitchout and the other came on a weird little half-slide when Yolmer Sanchez got caught in-between. At least three of the five stolen bases were uncontested. No throw because the infielder held his ground to play a potential batted ball. Somehow none of the stolen bases led to a run, but still. Can’t be giving away bases like that in a close game. First time the Yankees allowed five steals in a game since 2012.
Voit’s first inning double extended his on-base streak to 26 games, which obviously dates back to last season. That is the second longest active streak in baseball. Who knew? Voit is a distant second behind Tommy Pham’s ongoing 47-game on-base streak. Bryce Harper and J.D. Martinez are tied with the third longest streak at 17 games. Imagine Harper and Voit in the same lineup? What could’ve been.
Another off-day. The Yankees will rest Monday before opening a quick two-game home series against the Red Sox on Tuesday night. James Paxton and Chris Sale are the scheduled starters for the opener. Remember, whatever happens that series will tell you all you need to know about the rest of the year.