Some home cooking coupled with a series against the Chicago White Sox sounded like a perfect recipe to get the New York Yankees back on track. The first BP Crew outing and the return of CC Sabathia did seem to lift their spirits. However, in the end, it was another series loss and marked the first time the pinstripes have lost three consecutive home series to start the season since Don Mattingly was a rookie in 1982. Yes, the injuries are plenty but the lack of execution continues to be perplexing.
Yes, the Yankees added Gary Sanchez to the injured list before the game. Yes, Dellin Betances’ return date was pushed back. Yes, the Yankees should’ve put away the White Sox anyhow. Nope, they did not. An ugly rain-shortened affair resulted in a 9-6 loss to the hapless ChiSox, who came into this contest having dropped five straight games.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
Somewhere over the yonder, some guy named Patrick Corbin was whiffing 11 Pittsburgh Pirates. Meanwhile, in the boogie down, J.A. Happ was getting his lunch handed to him by the pale hose. Happ couldn’t locate, left the ball up and out over the plate and couldn’t put away Chicago hitters. So far for Happ, three starts, two against the Orioles and one against the White Sox, one can’t help but wonder what he’s going to do against a mediocre team?
During the first frame, a first-pitch 89.5 mph fastball left up to Leury Garcia, was wrapped to left-center for a leadoff double. Following two consecutive strikeouts, Happ yielded an opposite field RBI-single to left by Yonder Alonso.
In the fourth frame, Happ recorded two outs around two walks but the free passes would haunt him. However, another pitch left in the same spot to Garcia led to a two-run double to right.
It didn’t get any better in the fifth frame. Jose Abreu set the table with a single to center. The ensuing batter Alonso hammered a two-run homer to right-center. Yoan Moncada followed with a single to left and that was all for Happ. After Jonathan Holder yielded a home run to center by Eloy Jimenez, Happ’s ledger was officially complete with four frames, nine hits, six runs, two walks, and five strikeouts.
LINEUP KEEPS BATTLING
Even with a compromised lineup, the pinstripes did their fair share of smacking around Lucas Giolito. During the first inning, the offense bounced back with Aaron Judge reaching on a throwing error by shortstop Tim Anderson. Following two consecutive free passes to Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres, and a strikeout by Greg Bird, the red-hot DJ LeMahieu lined a two-run single to right to provide New York with a 2-1 advantage.
The Yankees would double that from the bottom of the order in the second stanza. Clint Frazier walked and Gio Urshela doubled to center. An Austin Romine two-run single back up the box increased the pinstripes lead to 3-1.
A bullet sacrifice fly to left by Judge made it 4-1 Yankees.
Brett Gardner, who didn’t hit his third home run until May 29 last season, got the Yankees a run back in the fourth frame by clocking a solo shot to right off a full-count fastball from Giolito.
Trailing in the sixth, the usual and not so usual suspects were instrumental in keeping the line moving to get the Yankees back into the game. A LeMahieu walk and Frazier sizzling single to right would chase Giolito. Facing Jose Ruiz, Urshela pulled New York back within one at 7-6 with an RBI-single to center.
Again, perhaps the most disappointing aspect of these losses is you can’t pin them on the obvious injuries. The lineup mustered six runs. Happ is supposed to be a linchpin in the rotation. Holder isn’t supposed to be some Triple-A rando, nor is Chad Green, who surrendered consecutive longballs to Jimenez and James McCann in the seventh inning. These guys need to figure it out.
The BP Crew was on-hand for the first outing of 2019 and like clockwork, the Yankees won 4-0 and Judge smacked a home run. Also helpful was the return (you mean guys actually come off the injured list?) of CC Sabathia.
The big man was back in the big ballpark in the Bronx. The larger than life lefty was a huge presence in pinstripes. Sabathia stymied the south siders with five scoreless frames of one-hit ball, fanning three. In the process, Sabathia became the first pitcher in major league history to throw at least five scoreless frames with one or fewer hits and zero walks in consecutive starts. In one outing, Sabathia has double the amount of 1-2-3 innings as Happ (4-2). Welcome back, big guy!
Cruising into the seventh inning was old friend Ivan Nova and it was “Nova time” for the White Sox. Yet drastic times call for drastic measures and the Yankees finally broke through.
Torres set the table and chased Nova with a single to right. Facing Jace Fry, Greg Bird reached on a fielder’s choice and error by second baseman Yolmer Sanchez. Facing new reliever Ryan Burr, Clint Frazier loaded the bases with a line drive single to right.
Pinch-hitting for Mike Tauchman, Luke Voit looped an RBI-single to shallow center.
It was finally a smooth and flawless outing for the bullpen. Domingo German pulled a reverse opener and fanned four in two scoreless frames. Zack Britton whiffed one in one scoreless frame. Aroldis Chapman, welcome back to the 2019 campaign, was touching triple digits on the radar gun and struck out one to finish off the White Sox.
They say momentum is only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher. Well, Masahiro Tanaka was on, until he wasn’t. Plus, the Yankees offense wasn’t anything to write home about either. This marked New York’s eighth loss after holding a lead, tied for the worst in the majors with the Kansas City Royals. It all added up to a 5-2 loss.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Starting on a positive note in the early going against Carlos Rodon were, of course, Voit and Judge. During the first frame, Judge coaxed a one-out walk and with two down Voit banged an RBI-double to right. Voit extended his on-base streak to 26 games.
In the third inning, Mike Tauchman drew a free pass and advanced to second on a Rodon wild pitch. With one down Judge plated Tauchman with an RBI-single to right, doubling the Yankees advantage to 2-0.
Control and not yielding the longball with runners on base had been keys to Tanaka’s early success. In his first 18.1 frames of work, this season Tanaka only allowed one home run and two bases on balls. Such was not the case on Sunday. After fanning six through the first three frames, the wheels came off in the fourth as the Chisox threw up a crooked number.
A Moncada single, Abreu double and consecutive free passes to Alonso and Jimenez set the stage for Tim Anderson. Anderson made Tanaka pay by cranking an 0-1 splitter into the right-field seats to make it 4-2 White Sox.
During the fifth frame, Tanaka allowed the White Sox to load the bases again and was lifted following a walk to Moncada. With Luis Cessa on, it could’ve been worse if not for a nice catch on the track by Judge to rob Abreu of extra bases and hold Chicago to one run on the sacrifice fly.
Tanaka’s final line was four-plus innings, five runs, three walks, and six strikeouts.