That’s much more like it. The Yankees bounced back from those yucky back-to-back losses to the Orioles over the weekend to pick up a 3-1 win over the Tigers in Monday night’s series opener. All they had to do was sacrifice Giancarlo Stanton (biceps) and Miguel Andujar (shoulder) to the injury gods.
Dingers & Errors
Last season, in his first healthy season in several years, Tyson Ross held righties to a .172/.250/.315 (.243 wOBA) batting line. Lefties? They hit .292/.381/.467 (.368 wOBA) against him. That platoon split played out Monday night:
- RHB vs. Ross: 1-for-11 (.091) and three strikeouts
- LHB vs. Ross: 3-for-8 (.375) and one strikeout
That one right-handed hit was Gary Sanchez’s second inning solo home run to center field to open the scoring. Gary has gone deep in back-to-back games for the first time since hitting a home run in three straight games in August 2017. Only two other righties managed to hit the ball out of the infield against Ross: Luke Voit lined out to right and Gleyber Torres flew out to right.
The left-handed batters picked up the slack. After Voit drew a two-out walk in the third inning, Greg Bird looped a single to left field, and Christin Stewart muffed it. Took his eye off the ball, it clanked off his glove, and it got by him. That allowed Voit to chug all the way around from first base to score. I thought he was going to be out at the plate by about 25 feet. Instead, he slid in safely and the Yankees took a 2-0 lead.
Brett Gardner had two of those three left-handed hits against Ross. He snuck a ground ball through the infield to start the first inning with a single, though that didn’t lead to anything. In the fifth Gardner tomahawked a mistake fastball into the home bullpen for a solo home run and a 3-1 lead. Ross was leaving spinners up in the zone all night and Sanchez and Gardner parked two of them over the fence.
German Walks The Tight Rope
Against a better offense, Domingo German does not get through five innings with one unearned run on the board. The Tigers are rebuilding and their lineup outside Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera is pretty terrible, and that helped German avoid the big inning Monday night. He walked five in those five innings, and he also got away with several mistake pitches in the heart of the plate. Look it:
A more fearsome lineup probably turns some of those foul balls and swings and misses out over the plate into balls in play. But, the Tigers are not a more fearsome lineup, so German was able to give the Yankees five innings, and the results are the only thing that matters. Not hypothetical performances against hypothetical lineups. German is the sixth starter and I’ll take five innings and one run from my sixth starter each time out.
German’s outing would’ve been scoreless had Gleyber Torres not alligator-armed a throw from Sanchez at second base. The runners took off on a pitch in the dirt and Sanchez’s throw was right there. The runner slid into the tag! Torres whiffed on the throw though, so the ball sailed into center field and the runner came around from second to score with two outs. Gleyber has to at least keep that on the infield to stop the runner at third. Alas.
As always, German’s stuff was just filthy Monday night. Fastball sat 94.3 mph and topped out at 96.3 mph while running all over the place, the breaking ball had tremendous bite, and he also threw a few changeups with serious fade. Stuff has never been a question with German. It is exciting. Command and sometimes basic strike-throwing has proved elusive, however. Domingo doesn’t always know where the ball is going, hence the five walks.
The final line: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 7 K on 79 pitches. The Tigers missed with 16 of their 34 swings. Nearly half. Those 16 swings and misses are 11th most by any pitcher in a game in the early going this season, and nine of the ten guys with more threw at least 88 pitches in their outing. Strikes were an issue on a cold night. The results were not. One run and five innings is just what the Yankees needed.
Four Relievers For Four Innings
I love that Aaron Boone used Adam Ottavino against Castellanos and Cabrera. Ottavino has been hell on righties since the start of last season. When the other team has two great right-handed hitters back-to-back in the lineup, Ottavino should be matched up against them in a close game. That meant holding him back until the eighth inning on Monday and not sticking to some paint-by-numbers bullpen approach.
Using Ottavino against Castellanos and Cabrera was a smart move … and then Ottavino walked them on ten total pitches to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. Niko Goodrum, a switch-hitter, scorched a line drive to right that Aaron Judge managed to catch on a dive without breaking his wrist.
Chad Green went 1-2-3 in the sixth, Zack Britton pitched around a one-out double in the seventh, and Aroldis Chapman needed all of seven pitches to close the door in the ninth. In case you’re wondering, Chapman’s fastball sat 97.0 mph and topped out at 98.3 mph. Ottavino made things interesting with the two walks. Otherwise the bullpen was nails.
Only five hits for the Yankees. Gardner had a single and a homer, Sanchez had a homer, Judge had a double, and Bird has his single Stewart muffed in left field. Judge, Voit, Sanchez, and DJ LeMahieu each drew a walk. Aside from the two solo homers and the Bird single/Stewart error, there wasn’t much action in this one.
With German starting, every player on the Opening Day roster has appeared in a game except one: Austin Romine. I think he’ll catch the afternoon game Wednesday after the night game Tuesday.
The fifth game of the season and the second game of the series. It’ll be Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Zimmermann on Tuesday night. That’s another 6:35pm ET start.