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.
- 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.