Let’s forget about this one. Behind bad everything, the Yankees lost 11-7 to the Phillies. The score makes it look a little closer than it really was, though the Yankees did have the tying run on deck in the final inning. The seven game win streak is now over and the Yankees are 8-2. Thank goodness this one only had to go seven innings. To the recap before the final game of this doubleheader.
Enough’s enough with Happ
Looking back, it’s a minor miracle that it took until the third inning for the Phillies to score any runs against JA Happ. His command was absolutely dreadful this afternoon, and it’s not like he has the stuff to get away with it. His final line: three innings, three hits, four runs, six (!!!) walks, and one strikeout.
We got our first sign of the bad Happ in the first inning. After a quick two outs to start the game, he proceeded to walk Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto. Jean Segura then popped out to end the threat. Happ worked out of more trouble in the second. After Phil Gosselin doubled with one out, Happ retired the next two hitters to escape. Although, he needed a little help from Miguel Andújar. Miggy, in his first game at third base this year, made a diving catch to rob Kyle Garlick of an RBI single.
Happ’s luck ran out in the third. After a four pitch leadoff walk to Andrew McCutchen, Happ recovered to get to 0-2 against Bryce Harper. Except, he did this on the 0-2:
Middle-in 89 MPH fastball to Harper? Yeah, that’s what’s gonna happen. That dinger made it 3-2 Yanks. The next hitter, Realmuto, walked on five pitches to continue the rally. Then, Segura hit a bloop single in shallow center, and thanks to an odd throwing error by DJ LeMahieu, runners moved to second and third with no one out. Happ’s control really went by the wayside thereafter. He walked Scott Kingery on five pitches and subsequently threw four straight balls to Gosselin to walk in a run and make it 3-all. Happ did retire the next two batters, but one more run came in to score on Roman Quinn’s RBI groundout. When the inning was all said and done, it was 4-3 Phillies and the end of Happ’s night.
Six walks tells you all you need to know about Happ’s location today, but let’s illustrate anyway. Look at this brutal pitch plot:
Yikes. There’s not much in the strike zone! That’s now two straight clunkers for Happ to start the year. And coming off a rough 2019, I just can’t imagine allowing him to start another game for a little while. With an expanded postseason and no reason to want the southpaw’s 2021 vesting option to kick in, why keep doing this? Throwing Clarke Schmidt or Michael King out there could be worse, in theory, but how much of a risk would it be? I think we know what Happ is at this point. It’s time to move on. Maybe he can take over the Luis Avilán role.
What’s up with Gleyber?
This probably merits a post on its own, but Gleyber Torres has been really off to start the season. Entering today, Torres had a .179/.258/.286 (59 wRC+) batting line. Point being: he had a huge opportunity to bust out of it in the first inning. He came up in the first with the bases loaded and no one out. Check out this fastball he got to hit:
I don’t care that Wheeler threw it 97 MPH. A fastball like that right down the middle should be crushed. Instead, Torres bounced into a 6-4-3 double play. It scored a run to put the Yanks ahead 1-0, but it also let Wheeler (and Jean Segura, who made an error earlier) off the hook.
In his next at-bat, Torres grounded to short on another high fastball. And to round out his day at the plate, he struck out on a heater way up and out of the zone. He seemed to carry his offense out into the field too. He was a bit slow to turn a couple of potential double plays later.
As frustrating his day was, it’s not time to freak out. Everyone goes through slumps, even 23 year-old wunderkinds.
Nelson and his defense let this one get away
Nick Nelson was awfully impressive in his debut. He blanked Boston over three innings over the weekend, but today, he wore it. Nelson entered in the fifth with the Yankees down 4-3. By the time he departed, it was 11-3. He didn’t get a ton of help from his defense, but he also really scuffled.
In the fifth, Nelson gave up a solo shot to Realmuto. Not great, but it also didn’t seem like a huge deal at the time. But in the sixth, things really unraveled. Single, single, walk, and a Rhys Hoskins RBI single brought it to 6-3. Cue the circus for the next at-bat:
You have to catch that ball. The floodgates really opened from there and Nelson was mercifully yanked. The other frustrating part was that not many balls were hit out of the infield: Didi Gregorius had an infield single and the Phils beat out to potential ground ball double plays in the frame.
A four run seventh forced Phillies’ closer Hector Neris into this one. I guess if there’s any solace in this one, it’s that Joe Girardi probably won’t be able to go to his closer in the nightcap.
Girardi brought in Austin Davis to relieve Wheeler to close out what looked like a laugher. Instead, Mike Tauchman and Brett Gardner singled around a Higashioka pop-up. That brought pinch-hitter Thairo Estrada to the plate (in favor of DJ LeMahieu, who was 3-for-3 and up to .459 on the season). Thairo delivered a seemingly innocuous single to make the score 11-4. Up came Aaron Judge, however:
Bam. 11-7. Things got interesting, especially because Aaron Hicks and Tyler Wade hit back-to-back singles to keep the rally going. Up came Mike Ford, who didn’t have too good of an at-bat. After he swung at a couple of pitches that would have been ball four (though one was a check swing that inexplicably wasn’t checked by the third base ump), Ángel Hernández rung him up for the second out. Take a look, folks:
The orange dot right off the inner edge of the plate was strike called strike three. Too close to take? Maybe, but it’s also not a strike! Ah, that’s everyone’s favorite umpire. Ford was pissed and third base coach Phil Nevin got ejected. The Yankees dugout was seething. I can’t blame them, but Ford also got a little too aggressive in this at-bat with the count 3-1.
After that, Girardi summoned Neris. He got Miguel Andújar to fly out to fairly deep right to end it. It only took one pitch, but maybe it will force him out of the nightcap.
- Bryce Harper left this game early. The team trainer looked at him after the fielder’s choice/error Higashioka made, but Harper stayed in at the time. He didn’t come back out for the bottom half of the inning. We’ll see if he’s available for the second game. (Meghan Montemurro)
- Brett Gardner’s answer for Phil Hughes? Another dinger, this time of the pulled variety. His third homer of the year gave the Yankees a 3-0 advantage in the second inning. It was one of the few well struck balls against Wheeler today.
- Happ’s second inning strikeout of Roman Quinn was the lefty’s 1,500th career punchout.
- I failed to mention this in the game thread, but Luis Cessa is back on the roster (positive for COVID-19). The Yankees optioned Brooks Kriske to the alternate site in Scranton to make room. Cessa entered with this one way out of hand in the sixth inning for his first outing of the season.
- Aroldis Chapman has or will throw a bullpen today. Aaron Boone doesn’t expect him back anytime soon. (Bryan Hoch)
- Chris Iannetta will remain in the organization. He was sent outright to Scranton after he was designated for assignment in advance of Masahiro Tanaka’s first start.