If we’ve learned one thing from 2021, it’s that the Yankees will never, ever let us breathe. In the first game of this split double-header against the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees once again took it down to the wire to secure a 5-3 win in seven innings and pull within one game of the Red Sox in the AL East and Wild Card standings. To the takeaways –
Monty’s back. Jordan Montgomery made his first start off the COVID IL today and was solid, if a bit rusty. His final line was unspectacular – 4.2 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 6 strikeouts – but overall his stuff was pretty good over 78 pitches. He threw 78 pitches and got 17 whiffs, mostly on his changeup and curve. His fastball topped out in the high 93s, which is about where his average velocity sits this season, and stayed collected in the face of a few jams. It certainly wasn’t an easy afternoon, as he allowed multiple baserunners in the first, third, and fifth innings, but kept the Yankees in the game until he was pulled down 3-2 in the 5th.
If you asked Montgomery, he’d probably say he wants the 0-2 pitch to Xander Bogaerts in the 5th that he lined for a two-run, two-out single inning back, as well as the 3-2 hanger to Christian Vazquez in the 5th that he hit for a leadoff home run, but overall he got the job done. Notably, his offense scored five runs behind him for the first time since June 15.
Patience and clutch hits make the difference. The Yankees, who are known this year for stressful innings and leaving runners on base, did what they had to do when they had opportunities offensively this afternoon. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs as a Luke Voit hit-by-pitch and singles by Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade were sandwiched around lineouts by Joey Gallo and Gary Sanchez; Bronx native Andrew Velazquez then came through with a two-run single to put the Yankees up 2-0. Nice moment for the Fordham Prep Class of 2012 grad, getting his first two RBIs of the year in a critical moment in a rivalry game.
After Bogaerts’ third-inning single and Vazquez’s fifth-inning home run put the Yankees in a 3-2 hole, the offense went to work in the bottom of the fifth against the Boston bullpen. Alex Cora, doing his best Aaron Boone impression, made some pretty inexplicable pitching decisions today, including pulling starter Tanner Houck after only four innings and 58 pitches when he had been pretty effective against the Yankees’ lineup in the first part of the game. Reliever Garrett Whitlock walked Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge before being pulled with one out so that lefty Josh Taylor could face lefty Joey Gallo. Gallo walked, loading the bases and setting the stage for Voit to bloop a two-run single into center field, putting the Yankees back on top 4-3. Giancarlo Stanton followed with a 116.3 mph single, scoring Gallo to cap the Yankees rally at 5-3.
After watching most of this season with a righty-heavy (or exclusively right-handed) lineup, having Gallo as a lefty middle-of-the-order bat has made a difference regardless of his performance, as it forces opposing managers to make matchup moves they wouldn’t have had to earlier in the season. The Yankees were able to capitalize on that today for another anecdotal point on the importance of balance in the lineup.
Lasagna supremacy. Jonathan Loaisiga came on for a two-inning save today after being rested yesterday. He threw an 8-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth inning before coming back out to nail down the game.
Given that this is a Yankees win in 2021, however, there had to be some late-inning drama. Loaisiga loaded the bases with nobody out, allowing back-to-back-to-back singles to Kyle Schwarber, Vazquez, and Alex Verdugo. With the stadium’s blood pressure rising, he induced a lineout to left by Travis Shaw, but then fell behind Enrique Hernandez 3-0 before throwing a few 99+ sinkers by the righty and getting him to swing through a high curveball for the second out. Loaisiga then struck out Hunter Renfroe on four pitches to end the game and secure his 5th save of the year. As we say at the end of almost every game these days, exhale.
- Tyler Wade picked up two more hits today in two at-bats, and is now hitting .452 since July 30.
- Albert Abreu appears to be working his way into Boone’s circle of trust, as he was called on to finish the 5th inning in tight game and wound up picking up the win.
- The Yankees are 15 games over .500 for the first time this season.