In the name of being transparent, this is what I wrote before the ninth inning:
This one ranks as one of the more excruciating losses of the year. After a pretty listless first half of the game, the Yankees turned it up in the 8th inning to take the lead after being down by as many as six runs at one point. Despite the impressive fight, the pinstripes lost tonight’s game and the series to the Minnesota Twins by a score of 11-10.
Now, this game ranks as one of the most exciting wins of the season. That was f’n awesome. This was one of the most entertaining and emotionally draining games of the year. There were a lot of home runs, historical performances, awful bullpen pitching, terrible bullpen management and one of the best catches you will ever see.
The Yankees somehow won the game 14-12 over the Twins. They are 65-35 and have a ten game lead in the AL East. A lot of things happened so let’s try to capture some of them in the takeaways.
P.S. It’s super late and that game was draining so I apologize for any poor grammar or typos.
1.Holy Comeback: If we’re being honest, this game should have been an easy victory for the Twins. Minnesota was up 8-2. Then they were up 9-5. At one point the Yankees only had a 9.1% chance of winning the game. It was such a laugher that old friend Phil Hughes had this to say about it:
This feels like a Twins team that’s had enough of getting owned by the Yanks— Phil Hughes (@PJHughes45) July 24, 2019
In all fairness to Phil, the Twins were putting it on the Yankees for most of the game. They had good at bats and Kyle Gibson persevered enough to keep his team ahead in the game. It appeared the Twins were going to take the game and the series.
And then the 8th inning took place. With two men on base and no one out, Mike Tauchman stepped up to the plate:
Hey the YES Network Cameraman, be less rude, please? pic.twitter.com/Lzo0dvjf27— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) July 24, 2019
This cut the lead to 9-6. After an out from Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge stepped up to the plate and hit a bomb to right center field that would’ve been a home run in any park except for Target Field where they have a very tall wall. Two runs scored on the double from Judge and the Yankees were down 9-8.
A few batters later, the red hot Didi Gregorius stepped up and delivered what appeared to be the hit of the night:
Didi finished the game with 7 RBIs and five hits. He was fantastic and one of the heroes of the game. After going through a rough patch, he’s picked a great time to return to vintage form. So of course after putting together this huge comeback the vaunted Yankees bullpen would hold it down right?
2.NOPE: This doesn’t need any context:
Instead of going to Adam Ottavino or Chad Green (more on this later), Boone turned to Zack Britton. Logically it makes sense. Balls were flying out of the park the last two nights so why not turn to your ground ball pitcher to combat that. It obviously didn’t work. As has been the case way too many times this year, Britton’s sinker was ineffective and led to a hard hit ball in the air. This moment was pretty deflating. The Yankees fought real hard to come back and their bullpen just cost them a loss right?
3. NOPE PART TWO: After getting two quick outs, Taylor Rogers faced Mike Tauchman. Earlier today, Bobby wrote a fantastic piece on the outfielder. With more and more playing time, he is showing his worth to the team. In what may be the most important at bat of his Yankees career, Tauchman earned a crucial walk. Given the circumstances, you could make a strong case that he had the at bat of the night. That walk led to one of the biggest moments of the game:
That ball was crushed. Here is some data on the big home run:
This immediately catapults towards the top of the list for biggest home runs of the year. It is the definition of clutch and surely meant a victory for the Yankees. Right?
4. NOPE PART THREE: This was one of the worst relief outings of Aroldis Chapman’s Yankees career. There have been some duds, but this one was actually impressive considering how bad he looked. He didn’t have control of anything. There wasn’t one person on planet Earth who knew where the ball was going once it left his hand. We know Aroldis had no clue. Just take a look at this chart:
That thing is ugly as hell. I’m pretty sure some of those strikes were gifts from the home plate umpire who did not have a good game at all.
Chapman loaded the bases on three walks. I don’t remember the Twins even swinging at some of the pitches. It was truly a poor outing. The Twins tied it up on a Nelson Cruz sac fly that looked like it was going to be a walk off when he first hit it. Miraculously, Chapman got out of the self-imposed jam and we went to extra innings.
5. One More Comeback: Following Didi’s fifth hit of the night and a single from Austin Romine, Gleyber Torres stepped up to the plate with one out and a 3-0 count:
Gleyber Torres is 22 years old. He’s batting .294/.360/.513/.873. If that isn’t impressive enough, take a look at this stat from friend of the blog Katie Sharp:
He is so confident at the plate right now that he will swing 3-0 in a huge situation and get the job done. It is a privilege to watch this young man play baseball and grow before our eyes. He is a superstar in the making.
6. The Catch Of The Year: After the Chapman debacle in the ninth, it was comforting to see Adam Ottavino on the mound for the tenth. He struck out Miguel Sano for the first out. And in a performance that was totally appropriate for this game, Ottavino completely fell apart. Ottavino walked Marwin Gonzalez, Luis Arraez and Mitch Garver. There was a force out sandwiched in between the walks, but it took a fantastic play from Didi and Gleyber to get it. Finally, Aaron Boone made a pitching change and brought in Chad Greene.
So with the bases loaded, Max Kepler stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded:
Considering the context, is there a better catch in all of Major League Baseball this year? This was phenomenal. Aaron Hicks saved the Yankees from defeat with his bat and with his glove. If that ball gets by him the Yankees lose on a walk off. Here is some info on the catch from Coley Harvey:
This was a special play from a special team. It is especially sweet for Hicks as he did it against the team who shipped him off for JR Murphy. This was a fantastic way to end a hard fought victory against a very good opponent.
7. Another Starter Struggles: Does anybody remember who started this game for the Yankees? The only reason I remember is because I wrote this takeaway literally in the fifth inning. Thankfully it still applies despite all the craziness late in the game.
Domingo Germán did not have it tonight. It was reasonable to expect Domingo to pick CC up after the latter’s rough start last night. Alas, that was not the case. Tonight’s starter couldn’t command any of his pitches. The biggest culprit was his fastball. Domingo had trouble locating it and his secondary stuff suffered as a result. The change up allowed him to get into the fourth inning, but that began to fail him as well. He was able to keep the game relatively close until this happened:
Out of 32 fastballs, Germán recorded one (!) swinging strike. Out of his 82 total pitches, six of them earned swinging strikes. The average pitch velocity on his fastball was 94.3mph. The average exit velocity on his fastball was 99.5. When you’re missing location and not missing bats, you’re going to get hit hard and that is exactly what happened tonight.
Here is Domingo’s balls and strike chart:
A quick look at this and you get a clear idea of how ineffective Germán was tonight. You could make a very strong case that Aaron Boone should’ve gone to the bullpen in the middle of the 4th inning. It was clear all night that Domingo wasn’t at his best. Boone was really slow with the hook and it cost them.
8. Boone’s Bullpen Mismanagement: Aaron Boone has done a great job this year. He should be Manager of the Year. There aren’t many managers who could not only keep his team afloat, but have his team thrive given all the adversity this season. With that said, Boone still has a tough time making in game adjustments when things don’t go according to plan.
The first questionable decision was with Zack Britton in the 8th inning. As I stated earlier going to a ground ball pitcher in a game where the ball is flying out of the ballpark makes sense. The problem is Britton’s sinker has been inconsistent and he doesn’t miss many bats. That isn’t the best recipe against a home run hitting team. Ottavino or Green were probably better options at that time, but Boone clearly went with his 8th inning guy simply because it was the 8th inning.
The more egregious bullpen management came in the 9th inning. It was painfully obvious from the first two batters that Chapman had no idea where the ball was going. The second walk should’ve been the time Boone made the call to the bullpen to warm someone up. I totally understand showing faith in your closer, but your team also fought from six runs down to take the lead. Instead of preparing for the worst, Boone just let the inning play out without any urgency. Chapman unraveled so fast that there was a point in the inning where there was no point to warm anybody up because the game could end on one pitch. It was mind boggling to not see the dugout seek out an alternative during the inning.
Aaron Boone has improved this year. I don’t think there is any doubt about that. The bullpen management is still a concern moving forward. Plans are great to have until the game starts. The game dictates decisions and adjustments have to be made. You could make the case he should’ve had a quicker hook for Germán in the 4th inning. Let’s hope something like this doesn’t happen in the playoffs.
9. Gary Isn’t Scary: We’re all well aware of Gary Sanchez’s struggles in July. In his last 28 days, he’s hitting .118/.200/.191/.391. I’m a huge Gary fan, but that is awful. Of course when you’re scuffling, big moments have a tendency to find you. This was the case in the third inning when Gary had the bases loaded and two outs. The count was full largely due to a terrible strike call by the umpire. On the final pitch of the at bat, Gary was out front of a breaking ball and he popped out to short. When it’s going bad for Gary it goes real bad.
There is talk that he may be playing hurt and that could certainly be the case, but there is a clear timing issue with him at the moment. Recently Gary spoke on his struggles:
There were some good pitches in the zone that I usually connect. Right now, either I’ve been fouling those off or just missing those. But we’ve got to keep working. Keep working and find a way to get back on track.Gary Sanchez
During his slump, Gary’s ground ball rate has shot up while his exit velocity has dipped. I’m clearly not a professional hitting coach, but these two results are pretty clear indications of poor timing. When you think of the swing, bat path is a major component for success. If you’re late with your timing, you are creating an inefficient bat path. The upper half has to speed up to compensate for a late foot strike and as a result the barrel comes in and out of the zone quickly. You can learn more about the relationship between bat path and timing here. By the way, the coach in that video is Casey Smith. He’s the personal hitting coach for one DJ LeMahieu.
Gary’s first at bat tonight is a pretty clear example of this. He hit a cue shot off the end of the bat that trickled up the first base line. These types of cue shots happen when the barrel is cut off from the hitting zone. There could be other mechanical issues going on that we won’t see, but timing is clearly a problem. Gary knows it and the data is backing it up.
Unfortunately, Gary won’t be able to correct this issue for the near future. Aaron Boone announced that Gary suffered a groin injury and will have a MRI tomorrow. There is a strong possibility Sanchez will be placed on the IL. What a rough month for Yo Soy Gary.
Here are some tweets that sum up the game of the year so far in the 2019 season.
The Yankee and Twins will have the rubber match of this highly entertaining series tomorrow night at 8pm. It will be J.A. Happ against Jake Odorizzi. I’m sure we’re going to get a pitchers duel for game three. Ok, we probably won’t get that, but baseball is weird. Enjoy your night or morning depending on when you read this.