Those midseason trades are making Brian Cashman look pretty brilliant these days. The new-look, can’t-miss Yankees struck again this evening, this time against a team that actually means something to them in the standings as they beat the Seattle Mariners 5-3 in the Bronx. Joey Gallo had his first True Yankee moment, the Bombers now lead the Mariners by two games in the race for the wild card, and everyone went home happy. To the takeaways:
Nestor not so nasty, but gets the job done. The unexpected delight that has been Nestor Cortes in 2021 continued tonight. He wasn’t quite dominant, but kept the Yankees in it, giving up two runs on five hits over five innings for a no-decision. He worked around a walk and a single to pitch a scoreless first, and then breezed through a 1-2-3 second. The Mariners scored single runs in the third and fourth, courtesy of a sac fly by Mitch Haniger and a Kyle Seager home run that just kind of floated into the right field short porch (with a 42 degree launch angle and a 357-foot distance, the expected batting average on that ball was just .170; chalk it up to bad luck), but Cortes never let any inning get out of hand. He mixed pitches well and kept hitters off-balance as he’s been doing all year. Well-deserved round of applause to him.
Gallo’s greatest hits. While Anthony Rizzo’s hot start in pinstripes has been garnering much of this week’s attention, Joey Gallo (not Callow) showed that he was a marquee acquisition as well tonight. Gallo went 3-for-4 and drove in three of the Yankees’ five runs on two doubles and a clutch late-inning home run. With the Yankees down 3-2 in the bottom of the 7th, Gallo came up after a pair of two-out singles by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton and lofted a high, high home run just over the right field wall. With a 48 degree launch angle, his home run is reportedly tied for the highest by a Yankees hitter since Statcast started tracking in 2015.
Green and Britton not their best selves, but good enough. The bullpen was “good enough” today, but Chad Green and Zack Britton both had a few hiccups. Green, who’s recorded an ERA of 5.40 since the beginning of July, mostly pitched well but gave up a home run to Jarred Kelenic leading off the 7th, which gave the Mariners a 3-2 lead. Britton struggled to locate throughout his 8th inning performance, giving up a leadoff double and an infield single before getting out of the inning on a double play. As the Yankees make a late-season run for the playoffs, both Britton and Green are slated to be major difference-makers in the back end of the bullpen, so getting them back on track will be extremely important to the team’s championship hopes.
Chapman’s troubles continue. Coming into the top of the 9th, Michael Kay remarked on the YES broadcast that Aroldis Chapman’s troubles seemed to be behind him. Tonight’s performance seemed to render that pronouncement a little bit premature, as he definitely struggled with both velocity and location throughout a coronary-inducing inning. Chapman couldn’t locate his fastball at all and maxed out at 98.6mph, well below what we’re used to seeing from him when he’s on.
He led off the inning by inducing a ground ball from Tom Murphy, which was almost an infield single save for a great pick from Rizzo at first. He then walked Kelenic, got a strikeout of Cal Raleigh on a 3-2 pitch (and benefitted from a few eyebrow-raising calls from the home plate umpire), and gave up an odd infield single to J.P. Crawford (in Chapman’s defense, that likely would have been an out if Gleyber Torres’ vision hadn’t been obscured by Kelenic passing in front of him). He threw three balls to Mitch Haniger before giving up a warning-track shot that was reeled in by Gallo to end the game. Chapman could really only locate his slider today, and Haniger was definitely waiting for that pitch – he hit it off the end of the bat just enough to keep it in the park. Exhale.
- Giancarlo Stanton got two hits tonight and now has a three-game multi-hit game streak. Rougned Odor also picked up two hits in two at bats.
- The Yankees are now 59-49, ten games over .500 for the first time this season.