Game 112: What the hell was that?

Good morning, and happy Tuesday, folks. The Yankees played a ridiculous baseball game last night, winning 8-6 in a five-hour, 11-inning affair. With the Rays and Sox both off, the Yanks gained a half-game over both. This one was a ridiculous game for many reasons – not the least of which because it was another nail-biting, close game – but because it ended past 1 am.

I stayed up and watched the entire game, of course, but I’ll admit to being too gassed to write up a coherent analysis of the game at that hour. So I took notes and finished it this morning. That’s why they’re a bit late today, but don’t blame me. Blame the bullpen, which blew four consecutive saves in a game the Yankees won anyway. To the takeaways!

Jameson Taillon has fully turned it around. It’s not really a surprises anymore, but Jameson Taillon turned in yet another dominant performance for the Yanks tonight. The dude has completely flipped the script on his season. Including tonight, Taillon has a 1.25 ERA since July, which is enough to make him the best pitcher in baseball over that stretch. Put another way, his ERA was 5.43 on June 29. Today, after this start, it’s 3.82. I’d say that’s pretty good!

Anyway, Taillon threw 6+ today, allowing one unearned run (more on that in a minute) against 4 hits, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts. His pitch plot this evening tells the tale of that resurgence:

Fastballs up, changeups, sliders, and curveballs down. Keeping the curveball down in particular has been a big difference in his performance overall, and we can see it tonight. Interestingly, Taillon didn’t really have swing-and-miss stuff – he got just 8 whiffs on 43 swings, or 19% – but it didn’t really matter. He got outs and worked deep into the game, which is not nothing. As Lindsey Adler noted on Twitter, Taillon has been healthy and made every single start this season.

That’s not nothing! We preached patience with Taillon all season, but that only mattered if he stayed healthy and made his starts. He has, and the results have now been here for over a month. The Yankees are better for it, as he looks like the legit playoff #2 starter that the Yankees thought they traded for back in January.

The offense started slow, then turned it around. I have been enjoying New Taillon as much as the next guy, but I’ll be the first to admit that his performances won’t matter all that much if the offense can’t score for him. Taillon got virtually no run support, save a 7th inning, 2-out single from Luke Voit (more on him in a moment) that plated a run. Razor thin margins and constant high-leverage situations put extreme stress on the starters and bullpen alike. We’re now over 100 games into the 2021 season and still having this conversation, which is concerning to me. This seemed like another one of Those Games.

And yet the Yankees inexplicably scored 8 runs in this game – 100% of which came after the 6th inning. Here is the scoring breakdown:

  • 7th inning: Luke Voit single w/ 2 outs to score Joey Gallo
  • 8th inning: Aaron Judge single w/ 2 outs to score Tyler Wade
  • 9th inning: Luke Voit solo homer w/ 2 outs
  • 10th inning: Kyle Higashioka sac fly to plate Andrew Velazquez; Brett Gardner single to score Tyler Wade
  • 11th inning: DJ LeMahieu double to score Joey Gallo, Brett Gardner single with two outs to score DJ LeMahieu and Tyler Wade

There was some weirdness with the Judge single – Brett Gardner was thrown out at 3rd on the play, which was both smart defense from Dyson and bad base running – and Gardner single in the 11th – it took a weird hop, hit Royals shortstop Nicky Lopez in the face, and got away from him, plating two – but there was a lot to like here.

The Yanks actually came through with two outs. In fact, 5 of the teams 8 runs (63%) came with two outs, all in a high-leverage situation late in the game. That’s pretty damn good right there. Given what came in the bottom halfs of the innings, well it was a breath of fresh air. We’ve been collectively complaining about the offense, and we should be. Last night, though, the team came through when it mattered most and delivered a victory – often snatching it from the jaws of defeat.

It’s good that the Yankees didn’t trade Luke Voit. When the Yankees traded for Anthony Rizzo, most of us thought that spelled the end of Luke Voit’s run in pinstripes. That includes me, even though I’ve written extensively against the idea. Jack Curry reported it, which means that it was a very real conversation.(I’m not sure Curry has ever had a wrong source about the Yanks, and would wager his source is Brian Cashman himself.)

Anyway, I’m glad they didn’t. That’s not just because their ideal lineup when fully healthy includes Voit, either. It’s because Voit, who has a 138 wRC+ since joining the Yankees in 2018, is a dominant offensive player who can singlehandedly win the team games in 2021. That’s the point of all of this, after all. We saw it several times last night.

First, in the 7th inning, Voit overcame a bad call for the Yankees on a play at the plate. (More on that in a second.) His hit was solid and came on the 4th pitch of an at-bat in which Voit looked poised and collected:

It was a hanging sinker and Voit didn’t miss it. That made the score 1-0 and it got the Yankees on the board with two outs. It was a huge hit. And then, in the 9th, after two straight blown saves and an umpire show, Voit came up with two outs in a tie game. He drilled the third pitch of the at-bat, a sinker belt-high on the outside part of the plate, to the opposite field for a home run:

Huge, huge hits, those were. Voit is a hell of a player, and I’m glad he’s still around. The Yanks can use him.

The ump show is ridiculous. This will be a short one, but it was inevitable. The umpire show in Major League Baseball is getting out of control. I think it actually led to last night’s late game. First, let’s start in the top of the 7th inning. With Judge on third with one out, DJ LeMahieu hit a weak grounder in front of the plate. Judge was “thrown out” at the plate despite being visibly safe – and it was upheld after a challenge. To the video:

Now, perhaps, as Ryan Ruocco noted on the broadcast, Judge’s leg pops up before touching the plate. I don’t think so, though. Even in the still above, it seems pretty clear to me that the tag was too high on Judge’s leg and that he clearly touched home first. In any case, Judge was ruled out – the 17th out the Yankees have made at home this season. Infuriating.

And then, in the bottom half of the frame, Jonathan Loaisiga “balked”, which led to a runner advancing to third – and subsequently scoring on a sac fly. Here is the video of that “infraction.”

Look, by the letter of the law, that’s probably a balk. (Although I maintain that nobody actually knows what a balk is.) But I fully agree with something David Cone said on the broadcast: there was absolutely zero intent from Loaisiga to deceive the runner there. He was obviously stepping off to reset. I would say this if it benefited the Yankees, too, by the way. I think it’s awful. Nobody comes to watch the umpires arbitrarily decide when to call an obscure, out-of-the-spirit call in a big spot. And yet it happens with some regularity. In this case, it resulted in not one but two runs against the Yankees, as Judge was called out and the balk led to a run. Annoying.

I don’t even know what to say about the bullpen. The Yankees blew saves in the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th inning last night. That is the first and only time a baseball team has done that since 1900. Utterly, utterly ridiculous. Baseball! You never know what your’e going to get. Until Wandy Peralta entered the game, in fact, every single reliever the Yankees used blew a save. I mean, look at this:

It was a bad job by literally everyone. Here is a very quick breakdown:

  • Jonathan Loaisiga: 2 walks, a balk, and a sac fly to allow 1 run
  • Chad Green: a one-out single to tie the game in the 8th
  • Zack Britton: a two-out single to tie the game in the 9th after a walk
  • Clay Holmes: a sac fly and a two-out single after a walk to tie the game in the 10th

Even Peralta didn’t inspire confidence. He allowed two two-out singles in the 11th and I was certain he’d give up a back-breaking walk off homer to blow the game. But he didn’t.

Anyway, this was a bullpen performance loaded with walks, two-out hits, and a balk. Absolutely infuriating. Nobody looked good here, least of all the managing by Aaron Boone. (Yes, I know he was thrown out in the 7th inning. This is also 2021, and we have an invention called “texting” by which people can share their thoughts electronically from a distance.)

I do want to bring up the 8th inning specifically, because I think it was egregious. Loaisiga had nothing in the 7th. It was visible right away. Still, they elected to send him back out there in the 8th, when he promptly gave up a single and a walk. Remember, this is a one-run game. You’d think you’d go to your groundball extraordinaire here, right? Or even one of them? Nope. They went to Chad Green, who I love but wasn’t right for that situation.

I truly believe they held Britton for the 9th because he’s the “closer” with Chapman out. Inexcusable. It really is. The Yankees desperately needed a grounder and they went to a struggling Green, who blew the game, over their groundball inducing closer, who should theoretically get the highest-leverage innings in a game. It was a baffling decision in a series of baffling in-game managerial decisions these days.

Leftovers

  • It was another nice night for Brett Gardner, who logged two hits and 3 RBI from the leadoff spot. Gardner, who absolutely rules and I judge you for hating, is playing his best ball of the season right now. Keep it up, Brett. I like feeling nostalgic.
  • DJ LeMahieu also looked very, very solid in this one. He had a double, a triple, and two RBI. He even managed to hit the ball into the air a few times. Imagine that.
  • Is it an exaggeration to say that was the best game of Tyler Wade’s career? I legitimately don’t think it is. Wade is a terrible hitter, but he logged two very good at-bats in extra innings. He worked the count twice and delivered two very big hits for the Yankees. Kudos to Wade, who takes a lot of flack around these parts.
  • It’s a joy to listen to Ryan Ruocco call the games. The Ruocco/Cone production is the best combination the YES Network has, in my opinion, and I wish we got to hear more of it. Alas.

The Yanks and Royals will play another one tonight at 8:10 pm ET. Nasty Nestor Cortes (0-0, 2.15 ERA) will take on Daniel Lynch (2-3, 6.00) ERA in what will hopefully be a shorter, more pleasant affair. Have a good day, everyone. See you later.

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13 Comments

  1. TCF16

    That was an incredible game but I actually have one random take away. After watching Andrew Velazquez play short it’s just so absolutely clear that unfortunately, Gleyber is not and will never be a real short stop. The confidence, precision and crispness that Velazquez displayed was far above Gleyber‘s ability. Time to move him to 2B permanently.

    • You sir, are correct. It’s quite obvious now that Gleyber is not really a shortstop. He either needs to move to second (which complicates things with DJLM) or he needs to be traded in the off season. The free agent SS class is a good one so maybe sign one of them.

    • MikeD

      My concern with Gleyber moving forward is I don’t know if he has any strong defensive position. That means he had best rediscover his bat; otherwise, he’s not worth keeping as a regular longterm. I don’t mean he has to hit 38 HRs (although that would be nice), but he better become a much higher average hitter with at least mid-teens HRs, or a .270/.360/.460 hitter with 20+ HR power. A .250 hitter struggling to hit 10 HRs with sketchy defense is not a long-term solution for a team aspiring to remain in the first division. Fans can focus on hitters like Stanton all they want, but the real problem with the Yankees is the collapse of Gleyber Torres as a star player at such a young age.

  2. Bman

    Ryan Ruocco, seriously you like listening to him? It is torture!!!! He sounds like a kid broadcasting his high schools games on public access. He never shuts up and constantly wants us to know how much knows or how much he looked up on google! Just let Cone and O’Neill call the game alone.

  3. Joewhar

    I completely agree with your comment on Ruocco and Cone. They are excellent. Michael Kay has had a great run but in my opinion he is past his expiration date.

  4. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    It was the best win of the season, Bobby. That’s what it was. And it’s just your typical Ryan Rucco game. They gritted and gutted out a win. These were the games they were losing earlier this season. The lineup is still a great concern. Even with all of the firepower out of the lineup they should be able to hit at least one of these 5 and 6 ERA starters. Tallion has been brilliant all year. He’s our ace. He’s healthy, he’s vaccinated, he was a heck of a pick up by Cash. Wade was a pesky little hitter last night. They need to find more ways to get him in the lineup even with Gleyber and Gio return, if they return. If they don’t I feel good with Wade as our starting 3B. Voit is finally back on track. When Rizzo does return they need to get Voit’s bat in the lineup at DH. Put Judge or Gallo in CF, Stanton in RF. Or get a bag of balls and have Voit take grounders at 3B.

    Nestor against a soft tossing lefty with a 6 ERA tonight, so that means another 1-0 nail biter in the 8th.

    • wendellx

      This schtick is getting old.

      • It’s the Mike Axisa troll account, he needs to eat an extra calzone before posting this garbage.

        • MikeD

          There is a less-than-zero chance Mike A. is Eddard. Not his sense of humor, nor does he have the time or inclination.

      • Joewhar

        Part of my daily comedic readings.

  5. It was great that the Yanks pulled this one out, but the fact that they were evenly matched with the KC Royals does not particularly augur well.

    • Scully

      They had Rizzo, Sanchez, Torres, and Chapman all missing from the lineup. That’s why they were evenly matched.

  6. DZB

    These are the sorts of wins they need to have a legit shot at making the playoffs. Not pretty, but far more inspired than they were earlier in the season. They really need several players to ‘step up’ to cover this difficult period with so many guys on the shelf. If they can get past this period in okay shape, they could go on an even better run down the stretch with Gleyber, Gio, Rizzo, Kluber, Cole, Chapman, German, Sanchez, and Severino back on the roster (wow, and maybe I even forgot someone notable!).

    As an added bonus, wins in the next three games means they gain a game on one of the teams ahead of them (with Boston playing Tampa). What a great opportunity (though the White Sox scare me, though they lose a home game having to play in a corn field on Thursday).

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