Game 125: Gleyber, ejections (?) power Yankees to second straight win

Gleyber. Glasses. Good.

Four homers. Three ejections. Two Gleyber homers. One win. The Yankees had an exciting afternoon that culminated in a 6-5 victory over the Indians on Saturday.

They move to 83-42, a season-high 41 games over .500, and, as of publishing, have MLB’s best record and a 4.0 game lead on the Astros. The magic number to win the division is 28.

Here are the takeaways

1. The Yankees’ middle infield is unreal

Having one powerful middle infielder is great. Having two can carry you for a season. Three? Wow. Gleyber Torres, Didi Gregorius and DJ LeMahieu powered the Yankees’ victory with four solo homers between them as Gleyber launched two.

With the game tied at two in the fourth, Didi and Gleyber went back-to-back. If you watch the video, you can see right fielder Yasiel Puig not even move on them and point at Didi’s moonshot.

And then after the Indians tied the game, LeMahieu took one to the right-field porch. It would have been gone in just five of 30 stadiums, but this is one of those and thems the ground rules. He now has his first 20 home-run season.

And for good measure, Torres went deep again. That’s his MLB-leading seventh multi-homer game this season. I exclaimed “Holy s***” after he hit to no one in particular. Just a monster off the bat.

He leads the Yankees and all MLB middle infielders with 29 home runs. Assuming he finishes the year with more games at short than second base (highly likely at this point), he would become the first Yankees primary shortstop to hit 30 home runs in a season. Fun fact: The Orioles have the most ever with four (Ripken, Tejada, Machado and Hardy).

2. Unfortunately classic Paxton

James Paxton had three straight quality starts to begin August and had looked about as good as he had since his return from a knee injury. However, he came back to earth a bit in Saturday’s start.

The left-hander was off at the start and again gave up first-inning runs. He walked Francisco Lindor as he couldn’t locate his curveball away, a trend in the first inning. That meant batters could key in on inside hard stuff and didn’t have to focus as much on the outer half.

Oscar Mercado doubled and Carlos Santana knocked him in with a two-run single. Paxton issued another walk before settling down, getting Jose Ramirez and holding the Indians to just two.

For about three innings, he cruised. Getting swings and misses over pitches down and in on righties and turning the lineup over the second time through. However, he ran into trouble the third time through, a classic trope for the Yankees’ starters this season.

With two outs in the fifth, Lindor doubled to left and Paxton walked Mercado on four pitches. Mercado is the guy you have to attack in between Cleveland’s top guys.

Paxton then thought he had Santana K’d on a fastball up and in, but it went uncalled. Santana and Puig proceeded to hit singles through the left side to tie the game. Paxton was clearly frustrated with the ump and himself after the inning and expressed it in the dugout.

3. The umpires made themselves felt

After Gleyber’s second homer, Cameron Maybin struck out looking in the sixth inning. The pitch was pretty clearly out of the zone, but home plate ump Ben May thought otherwise.

Maybin had words with May and went into the dugout, but that’s not where things ended. May soon ejected Aaron Boone, who got a few choice words in with May before exiting.

And it didn’t end there. Brett Gardner did his “bash the end of the bat against the top of the dugout” thing and first base umpire Phil Cuzzi came over to the dugout railing to eject him for it. Tossed CC Sabathia as well. You don’t know what CC or Boone said to the umps, but it seemed pretty clear Gardner was just ejected for the bat thing.

The Gardner bat thing is clearly a way of voicing displeasure with the umps — this is his third time doing it — but I’m unsure it’s worthy of ejection. It may be the umps not wanting to get shown up by Gardner. Regardless, Gardy is gonna have to cut it out, even if it shouldn’t be an ejection.

The ejections forced Thairo Estrada into right field, Mike Tauchman to center, Maybin to left and Mike Ford into Gardy’s spot at the first baseman. All of that was done to give Aaron Judge a full day off.

4. The bullpen marches on

Tasked with 1-2 run lead, the Yankees’ big four relievers held up yet again. Adam Ottavino had a 1-2-3 inning and looked about as good as he’s looked in recent weeks. Tommy Kahnle fielded a broken bat perfectly, turned a double play, and was the only guy to get Santana on a strikeout. Kahnle has low-key been the Yankees’ best reliever and is a tremendous part of this season.

Meanwhile, Zack Britton struggled for the second straight evening. Back-to-back hits by Puig and Ramirez put runners on the corners before a pitch got away from Romine. It was a wild pitch, but Romine should have blocked it. A groundout and a walk later, the tying and go-ahead runs were on for Kevin Plawecki.

What did Britton do? He did what he does best, got a weak grounder up the middle that LeMahieu turned two on. End of the Indians’ best threat.

And then Aroldis Chapman went 1-2-3 in extremely impressive fashion. He got Greg Allen looking at 101-mph on the black and ended the outing with a 103.9-mph fastball to Mercado. He’s unscored upon this month, so What’s Wrong with Chapman season is officially closed. https://www.mlb.com/video/oscar-mercado-pops-out-to-first-baseman-mike-ford-in-foul-territory

5.Leftovers

  • The Yankees got their first two runs thanks to attempted steals. In the second, Cameron Maybin was going for second on a Mike Tauchman single, reached third and then scored on a Mercado error. An inning later, Estrada stole second and scored on a LeMahieu single.
  • An 0-for-4 day for Gio Urshela? That’s so weird. He’s now tied with LeMahieu at .338 in the batting title race (though he’s yet to be qualified).
  • Full day off for Judge for the first time in a while. That’s important to keep him fresh, even if he looked great Friday.
  • Kahnle, Britton and Chapman have each pitched two straight days, so they’re likely down tomorrow. That means it’s Ottavino, Green and the long relievers to back up Sabathia.
  • Almost forgot, the Mo ceremony was nice. Had same Andy Pettitte video before his Hall of Fame induction to recap what made Mo great. Joe Torre was there. Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada had videos for Mo. An enjoyable pregame.

The Yankees look for another series victory when Sabathia (5-6, 4.78 ERA) returns to the hill and faces his old team for the last time. Mike Clevinger (7-2, 3.34) goes for Cleveland in a 1:05 p.m. start on YES.

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9 Comments

  1. RetroRob

    #3. The umpires inject themselves into the game

    While I agree moving forward that Gardner will need to stop the bat banging, it’s also quite clear that he was never told to stop it. If he knew that was now an automatic ejection its quite unlikely he’d have done it. The umpires overstepped. These are athletes on the field of competition. The umpires in this game decided they would inject themselves into the game, potentially impacting it That is not what good umpires do. Why does Gardner have to control his emotions, but the umpires are not asked to do the same? Why weren’t the Yankees, Boone and Gardner told making noise, banging the dugout roof is now not allowed and will lead to an automatic ejection? What else is not allowed? A Paul O’Neil water cooler tirade? Maybe the umpires have a right to be upset here. Maybe there’s some untold story. Stand up there and tell the story. The crew chief’s bland statement said nothing. They went into hiding. We did see Boone talking. We did see Gardner talking. We did see May talking. Where was the umpire?

    • RetroRob

      We did see Maybin. May was the one we didn’t hear from!

  2. Wire Fan

    Paxton needs to throw some arm side (outer half to righties) fastballs and cutters, not just the curve. If a batter can see fastball spin, they know the pitch is inner half most of the time.

    Righties are clearly sitting on this and if his command is not perfect it means long counts/walks or hard contact. This is consistent with his early game problems when he is getting a feel for his pitches (and maybe later game issues when he is getting tired?). A few fastballs or cutters on the outer half will keep hitters honest, yet you almost never see Romine or Gary setup this way for a fastball.

  3. CountryClub

    Without flat out saying it, Torre pretty much confirmed that he was ok with Gardy getting tossed last time because of the bat thing. So, although today’s ejection was kind of ridiculous, it wasn’t surprising. As you said in the post, he needs to cut it out. And let’s hope we truly didn’t see judge today because of rest. I’ll feel better if he’s in the lineup tomorrow.

    • RetroRob

      The problem, though, is that Gardner wasn’t ejected the last time because of the bat banging. They ejected him 30 seconds or more later because they thought he said something, which apparently he didn’t. He never should have been ejected for the reason they stated. That’s why Gardner still banged the bat. He didn’t think it was an ejectable offense since it had never happened to him before.

      Now he knows, so he’ll have to stop it. The question, though, is what other secret offenses are the umpires going to create on the fly. Gardner’s been ejected twice now in situations where he’s never argued with the umpire.

      I want to see emotion and passion from the players and the team. I recognize being an umpire isn’t easy. That comes with the territory. The manager goes storming out, you eject him. It’s part of the game. I don’t want umpires injecting themselves into the game and creating the problem. That’s what happened here, or at least it appears that’s what happened here. We’ll never know. The umpires don’t have to stand up and be accountable.

      • CountryClub

        But Torre said a couple days later, at YS, that his ejection was justified and he implied that the bat banging was the reason.

        • RetroRob

          Sure, but the issue begins with the word “implied.” It’s weak because it’s not definitive. Come out and directly say that Gardner was thrown out because he banged his bat and if he does it again, he will be thrown out again. Why is that difficult? Torre was just at Yankee Stadium and met with Boone. Why didn’t he tell him directly behind closed doors if he doesn’t want to make an issue with it in the media? Clearly he didn’t. Boone and Gardner said as much. There was no equivocating on their part. The reason Torre didn’t is because he knows it wasn’t true. Or, the umpire’s initially lied. Torre, as he often is in these spots, was in an awkward situation. There isn’t anything he can do. He can’t overrule the umpire, so he kind of brushed it off and hoped that would be it.

          I agree, moving forward, if Gardner does it again, then I’ll blame him. I can’t here. This is 100% on the umpires. Where was the warning? Why the quick trigger? This is not how umpiring should work, and that’s why Boone, Maybin, CC and Gardner were so direct on this with the media. They know it’s wrong. Fans don’t need to make excuses for the umpires. Hold the accountable.

          The one aspect here that hasn’t been mentioned relates strongly to umpire May being a rookie call up for this series. Sound familiar? The prior ejection also involved a rookie call-up umpire. My guess is the crew chief here, Phil Cuzzi, in his own way was doing exactly what Boone is doing for his players. He has their backs. He’s protecting his umpire May here. He knows the last three situations have involved rookie call-ups, and the prior Boone/Gardner ejection became a national story thanks to Jomboy. The umpires here under Cuzzi decided they would come down extra hard on the Yankees. The umpires were looking to escalate the situation. Bad umpiring.

    • dasit

      it’s probably confirmation bias but it seems like this happens a lot: a player (judge) is slumping, then finally has a good game to build on, then is immediately given a rest day

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