It wasn’t the most conventional but considering how the homestand started and the ever-mounting injuries, they’ll take it. By virtue of winning three of four from the Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees earned their second consecutive series victory and finished the homestand with a 6-3 ledger.
Call it a letdown, call it what you will but it sure was lethargic. Solid starting pitching and defense went to waste as the lineup made Homer Bailey look like vintage Kevin Appier. The result was a 6-1 loss.
Rocking his large gold chained necklace, Domingo German essentially gave New York what J.A. Happ provided the night before and then some. There were a few early hiccups but German was dialed in otherwise.
Consecutive doubles and trading spaces by Adalberto Mondesi and Alex Gordon made for a 1-0 Royals advantage in the first frame. Kansas City regained the lead at 2-1 with a Jorge Soler solo shot to left in the second stanza. A Ryan O’Hearn homer to left-center increased the Royals lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning.
German worked six strong, yielding three runs on six hits, fanning nine with zero walks.
The Yankees flashed some fine defense in the fifth frame. Aaron Judge sprawled all out and robbed Billy Hamilton of a hit with a diving catch in right. On a Whit Merrifield bunt, German made a solid play to cut down the speedster at first base. Following a Mondesi hit, Wade made a sparkling play at second base to retire Gordon.
The Yankees recorded four hits and Clint Frazier had half of them. The other two came by virtue of consecutive one-out singles by Judge and Luke Voit in the first frame. A sacrifice fly by Gleyber Torres to center provided the lone run.
DATA DRIVEN RELIEF?
New York was still within a bloop and a blast and had a mostly rested bullpen. Zack Britton hadn’t pitched in three days but for some reason wasn’t brought in until the deficit climbed to three runs. If you’re higher in the pecking order, wouldn’t a two-run game constitute a higher leverage situation?
Instead, Jonathan Holder was knocked around in the seventh and responsible for two runs on three hits and only retired one batter.
The Yankees needed a stopper start out of CC Sabathia and their power hitting to punch back and got both. In the end, it was a bounce-back 6-2 victory.
It wasn’t completely smooth on the bump or in the field but Sabathia got the job done. The veteran lefty worked into an out of trouble in the third inning. After a leadoff walk to Martin Maldonado, Terrance Gore reached on a bunt single and advanced to second after an errant throw to first base by Sabathia. Yet, the next batter, Merrifield flew out to Frazier in right and on the fly Frazier cut down Maldonado at the plate. However, Billy Hamilton would reach on a Voit error to keep the inning alive. A single to right by Mondesi would give the Royals a 1-0 advantage. It could’ve been worse but after loading the bases by walking Hunter Dozier, Kyle Higoshioka fielded a tapped force out by Gordon, by stepping on home plate.
That would be the lone blemish for Sabathia, who went five frames, giving up the one unearned run, three hits, four walks, fanning five.
The Bronx Bombers would bounce back in the home half against Jakob Junis. Following a one-out single by Wade, Brett Gardner rocked his fifth home run of the campaign to center, providing New York with a 2-1 lead.
Aside from Dozier and Gordon trading places for a run with two consecutive doubles in the sixth stanza against Luis Cessa, the bullpen between Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, and Zack Britton, it was three scoreless frames with zero hits.
New York continued the onslaught into the fourth inning. Mike Ford led off the inning with a walk. Romine lined a one-out double to left. What followed was two consecutive clouts by Tauchman and DJ LeMahieu. Both were deposited into (say it with me altogether now) the right-field seats and the Yankees increased the lead to 6-0. LeMahieu’s was his first in pinstripes.
Perhaps Torres should’ve followed suit with his teammates and homered to right. In the third inning, the Yankees shortstop had a three-run homer taken away through no fault of his own. The drive to left was initially ruled a home run on the field but the video replay office called Torres out on fan interference. One could certainly argue the trajectory of the ball was headed into the stands and the fan interfering didn’t touch Gordon’s glove until it crossed the plane and even if a fan didn’t touch his glove, there’s no guarantee Gordon makes the catch. Plus, if you’re going to make it a judgment call and play the theoretical game, the runner on second base likely tags up and advances to third base if Gordon does come down with the ball. A livid Aaron Boone wound up getting run from the game in the aftermath.
Gordon’s glove looks like it’s breaking the plane of the wall. Ball made contact with the heal of the fans palm BEYOND the glove.
Masahiro Tanaka wielded a wonderful bounce-back outing. Looking like an ace again, Tanaka tossed seven strong, whiffing seven, walking three, yielding four hits and an obligatory solo home run to Merrifield in the sixth for the lone run he allowed.
While the Yankees would tack on two more runs in the sixth and one in the seventh, a sixth-inning single to right by Judge was a painful one and you didn’t need to be much of a lip reader to figure that out. Judge had to exit the game and was taken to the hospital for an MRI.
From smooth sailing to unmitigated disaster to walk-off euphoria. This one was much more stressful than it needed to be but the end result was a grind it out, 7-6 victory.
JAMES PAX A PUNCH
For the second consecutive outing, James Paxton was dialed in. The Big Maple was working his fastball up and away and breaking balls down and inside. Paxton rang up a dirty dozen strikeouts on the Royals in his six-plus frames of work. Before being picked up by Kahnle in the seventh, Paxton’s final line was six innings, three hits, one walk, 12 K’s and zero runs. The lethal lefty joined David Cone (1998) as the second Yankee with 12+ K’s in consecutive starts. Plus, Paxton accompanied Clayton Kershaw (2015) and Roger Clemens (1987) as the only pitchers with back to back outings of 12 K’s, one walk or less and zero earned runs.
Sending him home was the ensuing batter Romine with an RBI-single back up the box.
BIG FLY FRAZIER
Back at it in the fifth, the Bronx Bombers lengthened their lead.
Voit reached base for 32 consecutive games with a base hit to left. Gardner followed with a single of his own to center. Frazier delivered the big blow by blasting a three-run bomb above the left-field bullpen. Frazier’s bash tied him for the team lead with six home runs. That dude is scary good.
For the second time in the series, there was some kind of perplexing usage when it came to Britton. The Yankees had Britton warming up in the seventh with a 5-0 lead but chose not to use him in a high leverage spot in the eighth, even though he’s allegedly higher in the pecking order than Green or Ottavino. One could certainly argue Ottavino has been more trustworthy and a bigger strikeout pitcher to this point but Green has been way off in the early going. Either way, neither Green nor Ottavino executed in holding the lead.
Green loaded the bases and was pulled for Ottavino. Ottavino allowed a two-run single to right by Mondesi. Gordon sent the equalizer into the stands in right with a three-run shot. The ensuing batter Hunter Dozier gave the Royals a 6-5 advantage with a homer to right-center.
After a pair of scoreless frames by Chapman and Britton, the pinstripes pulled it out in the tenth. With Jake Diekman on, Tauchman and Urshela coaxed a pair of consecutive free passes. Pinch-hitter Thairo Estrada was summoned for his first at-bat (hey no pressure kid) and laid down a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt against ex-Yankee Ian Kennedy.
The ensuing batter Romine came through with the game-winning single to center.