The Indians came into the Bronx and gave the Yankees a shellacking in Thursday’s series opener, finishing with a 19-5 victory. It got weird. Princeton ace Mike Ford pitched.
Still, the loss only drops the Yankees to just 13-3 in August, so keep that in perspective.
Now to the takeaways on bad pitching, questionable defensive decisions, position player pitching and life as a whole.
1. The Opener isn’t a salve that solve all rotation problems
Going into tonight, the Yankees were 12-1 in opener games. However, a big part of that was them scoring over seven runs a game in those matchups and making things easy on their pitchers. It wasn’t all Chad Green and sunshine.
Facing a formidable Indians lineup, Green immediately got into trouble with the first three batters reaching bases. After striking out Yasiel Puig, he couldn’t put away the red-hot Jose Ramirez and gave him a 3-2 fastball in his wheelhouse. Even in the upper-90s, the fastball couldn’t miss Ramirez’s bat for a grand slam (side note: Read the previews!).
Jason Kipnis took him deep on a fastball left over the middle of the plate in the next AB, finishing off Green’s night. One batter retired, five runs in. The opener at its worst.
Green was bound to have an outing like this, but it’s frightening all the same considering there have been rumblings about using him as an opener in the postseason. The Indians are a potential first-round opponent and this should make the Yankees hesitant to pursue this strategy, or at least more apt to pick the right matchup. Your postseason life shouldn’t come down to a bullpen game when it’s really easy for one of your top guys to have an off night and sink everything (see: 2018 Athletics).
2. Loaisiga isn’t quite ready for primetime
Jonathan Loaisiga relieved Green and wasn’t much better. He gave up a two-run homer to Roberto Perez three batters into his outing to hand Cleveland a 7-0 lead and surrendered a two-run shot to Ramirez an inning later.
Now, Ramirez is as hot as just about any non-Urshela player in baseball and Perez has plenty of power, but it was a disappointing return from the IL for Loaisiga. Despite having the stuff to excel in a short or long relief role, he hasn’t done that yet in New York.
He’s shown glimpses as he did tonight. Around a Yasiel Puig single and Ramirez’s homer in the second inning, he struck out the side, then fanned the slugging Franmil Reyes in the third. He got multiple swings and misses on each of his fastball, changeup and curveball. In total, he got 13 whiffs on his 56 total pitches.
However, six of the eight balls put in play against him were hit at least 93 mph, including a 113.3 mph single by Puig. Loaisiga supplies some of the power there with his velocity. Furthermore, the Yankees could have eased him back in by having him face the Orioles instead of Cleveland. Still, it’s fair to expect more when a pitcher has stuff this good, even as a 24-year-old rookie
3. Hey, at least Gary and Didi are locked in
In 123 games this season, the Yankees haven’t been shutout once. That’s still pretty cool.
With an Urshela RBI single four batters into the bottom of the first, the Bombers extended that streak, though a bases-loaded chance to get back into the game lined out into Ramirez’s glove. Ugh.
With the deficit already astronomical, Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez still put in some work. Gregorius had a three-hit game, though one should have been an obvious error on Santana at first base. The other two were smacked over 100 mph, not leaving much up to luck.
With no one on in the fifth inning, Didi smashed a home run to right field so well that Puig didn’t even bother turning and moving. Love those kinds of blasts. It’s the second time Gregorius has taken Plutko deep this season.
Meanwhile, Sanchez hit his second in as many days on a line to left-center field.
It was a 116 mph blast. Yo. After a couple of shaky games following his home run in Toronto, he looks back in a groove. Almost good enough to be Romine’s backup /ducks
4. Hey Aaron Judge, please don’t dive for balls in a 10-run game
With the Yankees down 12-2 in the sixth inning, Kipnis hit a looper towards right-center. Aaron Judge made the decision to make an all-out dive and had the ball in his glove until his wrist bent back on impact with the ground and the ball popped out.
Judge spent the rest of the inning lightly flexing his wrist, though he stayed in the game and made his next at-bat. Still, he has to be smarter. He already had (has?) an oblique injury this season and has had injury-related slumps in each of his previous seasons.
We all want hustle but to a logical point. There has to be a point where you take into account the score (and maybe the 10-game lead in the division) and avoid a potential serious injury. It looks like Judge did avoid one, but he didn’t even make the catch. I’d rather the Indians get an easy double in a 10-run game than have the most important batter in the lineup out because he dove for a ball.
5. Keep calm and carry on
When the Yankees win a bunch of games in a row, even against the Orioles, it can feel like they’re unbeatable. When they lose in a blowout, the end is nigh. Let them play another couple games in this series, heck let them play the next week, before making judgments. For now, this is just one bad game.
To that point, the Yankees still are tied for the best record in baseball with the Dodgers and hold a two-game lead over the Astros in the American League. Reality might be a tire fire always and all of us will die eventually, but the Yankees are OK right now, and we can hold onto that. Also, Mike Ford pitched!
Mike Ford might just be the first ever Ivy Leaguer to be a….— Cut4 (@Cut4) August 16, 2019
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6. Mike Ford pitched is my season highlight and Leftovers
- F*** YES. When I was a freshman at Penn, Mike Ford was the senior star for Princeton, both a slugging first baseman and ace starting pitcher. He was Ivy League Player and Pitcher of the Year. Tonight, he was the team’s position player pitcher in the eighth inning. Position player pitching has lost its luster for me, yet I’ve been waiting his entire professional career for this.
- Was he good? No. He signed as a position player after all. He gave up three straight base hits before a three-run homer to Greg Allen and a solo shot to Carlos Santana.
- However, he recovered in the ninth inning by pitching in slo-mo and getting Roberto Perez to strikeout. His smile made me smile. 19-5 or whatever, that was fun.
- Before Ford, Chance Adams wore this one for 3.2 innings, allowing 10 hits and three walks, giving up five runs. His ERA is 7.48 in the Majors and he’ll likely go down for a fresher arm tomorrow.
- Gleyber Torres homered in the eighth off Tyler Naquin’s glove. DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela each had two singles, Sanchez had his dinger and Didi his three-hit night. Beyond that, it was a Gardner walk and Ford HBP for the offense.
The Yankees look to forget this game when Masahiro Tanaka (8-6, 4.64 ERA) faces rookie Adam Civale (1-1, 1.00). It’ll be another 7:05 p.m. start, this time on WPIX 11 and WFAN and WADO.