Meh. That was a dud of a game. It’s all the more frustrating because Boston blew a game (to Tampa, but still) and the A’s won, so the Yankees ultimately lost ground today after falling 8-4 to the Royals on Tuesday night. Oh well. You can’t win ’em all, and tonight was definitely not the Yankees’ night – even if they had a 4-3 lead as late as the 6th inning in this one.
Let’s get right to the takeaways so we can forget about this one, okay?
Nasty Nestor has a place in my heart, even on his off days. I don’t have a lot of sound analysis here other than to say that Nestor Cortes rules. He really does. How can you not love this guy?
It doesn’t hurt that he’s been quite good in 2021, either, of course. He certainly wasn’t his best tonight, though. Cortes allowed 7 hits and 5 runs (4 earned) in 5.2 innings of work. He struck out 5 and didn’t walk anyone, which is good at least. A big reason why was because he couldn’t get his fastball working. It was getting hit hard all night.
Coming into tonight’s game, batters were hitting just .111 against the offering, with a .167 slugging. The pitch wasn’t a mirage, either: all of the expected stats tracked with it. It’s been the key to his success – especially since his off-speed and breaking stuff hasn’t commanded excellent results. Tonight, though, fastballs were hit hard. Check it out:
The Royals got 4 hits off the pitch and did some damage otherwise – he did allow 2 home runs, both of which came off the bat of Salvador Pérez (more on him in a second). It was not Cortes’ finest start, in other words, but it happens. You’re not going to be sharp every night. He could have pitched a lot worse, honestly, and I thought he worked his way through a start without his best stuff. Commendable.
The good news is that Cortes pitched deep enough into the game to save the ‘pen a little. The Yanks only used Stephen Ridings (more on him in a second), Joely Rodriguez, and Nick Nelson in this one. From a workload management perspective, it could have been worse.
You can’t let the opponent’s one good hitter beat you. The Yankees lost this game in large part because they couldn’t get Salvador Pérez out. Pérez is one of Kansas City’s only above average hitters, so you just cannot let him beat you. (Last night they inexplicably walked him twice, which is another story.) Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
Cortes served up two pitches to Pérez that were ripe for the crushing. Here is the first one, a hanging slider that the catcher did not miss:
And here was the second, a hanging curve:
Unfortunate locations. The two homers led to three runs, which was the difference in the game.
The Yankees need to tighten up their fundamentals. We’ve said this a million times these days, but the Yankees are really, really sloppy sometimes. They made 4 errors tonight! Two of them were throwing errors by Kyle Higashioka. It wasn’t great.
When Whit Merrifield stole third in the 5th inning in a 3-2 game, Higgy sailed the ball wide right into the outfield. Merrifield scored on the play to tie the game. (The first came in the 2nd inning and it was another throw that sailed wide to the ride on a stolen base attempt by Michael A. Taylor. Look, Gary gets a lot of flack for his defense, but I think it’s time Higgy does, too.) Stephen Ridings also had a throwing error that led to a run in the 7th inning. The last error was a booted grounder by Luke Voit. Not great, again. It was a routine play.
Anyway, let’s recap this quickly: the Yankees gave up 2 HR to the only good hitter for Kansas City and compounded it with 4 errors, 2 of which directly led to runs. That’s 5 runs scored right there, which was enough to lose the game on its own. Oh well. It was just one of those nights.
- To be fair, Kyle Higashioka did stroke a home run in this one too. It was a no-doubt 2-run shot in the 4th, which gave the Yanks the 3-2 lead he immediately squandered in the bottom of the 5th. He did have that going for him, at least, which was nice.
- Here’s something to watch: Stephen Ridings‘ velocity was noticeably down in this one. He maxed out at 96.7 mph, which is way down from his previous few appearances. He wasn’t as sharp either. Let’s just hope this was a blip in the radar and nothing more.
- Look, Nick Nelson has good stuff and he didn’t give up any runs today. I just don’t enjoy watching him pitch – at all, in fact. I hope I end up eating these words one day, because the talent is there.
- DJ LeMahieu had an RBI single, and Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge each had a hit. The other, non-Higgy hit came from Andrew Velazquez, which was his first in a Yankee uniform. The Bronx native would score on a wild pitch. Otherwise, a brutal day. The Yanks walked 5 times but struck out 14. Yikes.
The Yanks and Royals will play the rubber match tomorrow at 2:10 pm before the Yanks head to Iowa for the Field of Dreams game. The Yanks haven’t announced their starter yet, but whoever he is – it’ll be a bullpen game – will take on Brady Singer (3-7, 5.13 ERA). Let’s hope the Yanks look sharper in that one. Enjoy your night, everyone.