Game 126: Yanks’ Rally Falls Short, But Go 15-4 in 19-Game in 17 Day Stretch

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Gah. The Yankees made it close but were ultimately felled by Cleveland 8-4. The offense struggled to get it going against Clevinger, and a late 9th inning rally wasn’t enough to cover the early deficit. Still, the Yankees are 15-4 in their last 19 games, because of course they are, and retain the league’s best record. Things sure are good around here, today’s loss aside. If you want it, here is today’s box score.

Let’s get right into today’s takeaways.

1. Not CC’s Finest Return: Barring an unlikely playoff start against Cleveland, today was CC Sabathia’s final start against his long-time team, and it was, unfortunately, one to forget for the big man. Here was his final line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 5 K. Just 37 of his 67 (55%) of his pitches found the strike zone, though it is worth noting that he induced 26 swings and generated 9 swings-and-misses, which is good for an impressive 35% whiff-per-swing rate. That is a positive to take from his first start back for sure. As usual, here is the strike zone plot:

He hitting every quadrant, as is typical of him at this stage of his career, but CC clearly left a few too many pitches right over the heart of the plate and was also way too far out of the zone a lot. Let’s chalk it up to rust, okay? Sounds good.

CC held Cleveland scoreless in the first in large part thanks to more good defense from Didi Gregorius and Gio Urshela (again, shows you the value of stats like UZR). Check it out, beginning with Gregorious’ nice grab to rob Lindor of a hit to start the game:

And then a good charging play from Gio to stop a run at the plate after a throwing error from Sánchez:

Good defense couldn’t stop the big blow that came in the 2nd inning, and it created a hole from which the Yankees couldn’t ever climb. After two consecutive singles and a sac bunt to open the inning, Cleveland’s first run scored on a fielder’s choice:

And then CC allowed this 3-run blast to Mike Freeman, who had himself a nice 3-4 day:

Good defense and some timely Ks helped CC prevent a worse start, and like I said above, I think there was some rust in his first start back. Regardless of how effective he is, though, I think it’s going to be a whole hell of a lot of fun watching CC pitch in the last few games of his career. The Yanks have a huge lead, so we should all just take some time to appreciate CC while he’s still playing. He’s one of the best free agent signings in team history, has been the very definition of a clubhouse leader, and helped guide the Yanks to their most recent championship. Nothing but love for CC the rest of the way.

I’ll leave you with a nice strikeout from CC, because as I said, nothing but love:

2. Not-So-Nasty Nestor: Nestor Cortes has been extremely fun to follow this year–I just love how he mixes up his arm angles so obviously, it’s just cool–and he’s had some good success, too. Today was not one of those days. Cortes was tagged for 2 runs in 2.1 IP, allowing 5 hits (1 HR), issuing one walk, and generating only 2 strikeouts. The homer came to Lindor, who is one of my favorite non-Yankees in the league. Here’s the video, and while close, the call was upheld upon a challenge:

He would give up another run on a single to Oscar Mercado in the 5th, and he was unable to keep the Yankees in the game. There’s a big difference between 4-0 and 6-0, especially considering the 9th inning rally, but it is what it is. The Yankee bullpen, from the Scranton shuffle to the big names, has done a fantastic job of giving the Yankee offense a chance to make a comeback all year, so you can’t get too mad about this at all. It happens, especially against a team that’s as talented as Cleveland. Oh well.

3. The Offense Is Dominated By Clevinger: Yeesh, did Mike Clevinger look unhittable or what? The Yankee offense was mesmerized by him all afternoon, generating just 3 hits and 2 walks in his 5 innings while striking out 10 times. Clevinger was confident and attacked the zone all day. I mean, look at this:

That’s a real “here is my best stuff, come and hit it” graph right there, folks. And the Yankees couldn’t hit it. Clevinger generated 13 whiffs on 39 swings (33%) which is more than enough to get the job done. It also means the Yankees were aggressive right back to Clevinger’s approach. They just couldn’t get the job done today.

Well, you can’t say that they never put up a fight. A Gardner double (our man remains red hot despite the drama) and Ford walk gave the Yanks a chance in the second, but that rally ended on a 93 mph lineout from Tauchman.

Oh well. Other teams are allowed to have good players too, unfortunately. Not much we can do about it. Here’s a video of all the strikeouts, if you care:

4. Aaron Judge Has Awoken: I wrote after Fridays’ game that Judge was starting to look like Judge again, as he got some good results and really hit the ball hard. That trend continued today, and I think we’re at the point where we’re seeing him emerge from his brutal slump. He went 2-5 with an RBI today, crushing a 104 mph single off Clevinger, hitting another ball 101.6 mph that didn’t result in a hit, and smashing a double to left in the 9th to bring the score to 8-4. He did strike out twice more, but that is the Aaron Judge we all expect to see.

You know how I said his slump is ending? It’s because of this. Check out the exit velocities on Judge’s last 6 balls put in play:

  • Single: 105.0 mph
  • Lineout: 103.2 mph
  • Double: 91.8 mph
  • Single: 104.9 mph
  • Lineout: 103.2 mph
  • Double: 91.8 mph

Yeah, that’s an average exit velocity of 99.98 mph in his last 6 balls put in play. I think we’re in the clear, guys. I know he came into today hitting just .207/.352/.328 (85 wRC+) with just 4 extra-base hits (no homers) in 71 plate appearances in August, but the underlying metrics suggest the results are going to change fast. He’ll be mashing homers soon. You can just feel it.

The 9th inning at-bat, for what it’s worth, was classic Judge. Six pitches, a full-count, and a double laced to the wall in left field. Check it out:

That 6th pitch was a 95 mph fastball in on his hands, and he turned on it for the double. Yeah, that’s the Aaron Judge we all know and love right there. There are a lot of things that are exciting about this Yankees squad, but Judge coming out of his slump sure has to be one of the most exciting. I can’t wait to watch him carry the Yanks for a few weeks. It rules when he does that.

Leftovers

  • 9th Inning Comeback Falls Just Short: Man, the 2019 Yankees never quit, do they? Down 8-2 in the 9th, the Yanks scored two more and had the tying run on deck with 2 outs, because of course they did. Gleyber was hit by a pitch (he’s fine) and Tauchman, who had a nice day with little to show for it, recorded a single. That was followed up by the Judge at-bat I highlighted above, but a Gregorius strikeout and long Urshela fly out ended the rally. Oh well. This, plus the good defense highlighted throughout, is the mark of a good team. I expect them to win every game (don’t you?), they usually do, and they make it interesting most times when they do lose. What a team. What a season.
  • A Brutal Stretch Comes to An End: Speaking of, remember that vicious 19 game in 17 day stretch the Yanks started a few weeks ago? Well, it’s over now, and the Yankees officially went 15-4. That’s the 2019 Yankees in a nutshell right there. That gives them a nice cushion for their upcoming West Coast trip. How can you not love this team?
  • Luis Severino’s Return is Imminent: Here is some more good news: Luis Severino threw off a mound against live hitters today, and he felt “great.” That’s according to Bryan Hoch. He threw 16 pitches to 3 hitters, and should be heading to Tampa now to throw another sim game and then begin a MiLB rehab stint. You can look for Severino in DoTF soon, which absolutely rules. Come back soon, Luis. We need you.
  • Dellin Betances, too: Betances is a bit behind Severino, but he, too, is heading to Tampa to continue his rehab, per Hoch. He also threw off a mound today and is “close” to seeing live hitters. While he’s behind, his rebab will likely be shorter. Either way, we can expect to see them both soon. That’s awesome.
  • Luke Voit, As Well: Finally, Hoch reports that Luke Voit will begin an assignment with Triple-A Scranton this week, setting him up to return for the August 30 homestand following the West Coast trip. That’s great timing, honestly. Let’s give all of the rehabbing hitters a full month to recover and get back into a groove, shall we?

Up Next

Nothing! Well, a much-deserved off-day, actually. The Yanks are off for the first time in more than 2 weeks before heading to the West Coast for a 12-game stretch against Oakland, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Despite the late starts, we’ll have you covered with takeaways (although potentially abbreviated) each night, as usual.

We’ll see you on Tuesday night at 10:07, when Domingo Germán (16-2, 3.96 ERA) takes on Oakland’s Homer Bailey (10-8, 5.22 ERA) in the Coliseum. You can catch the game on ESPN nationally, YES locally, and WFAN for the radio broadcast. Enjoy your Sunday night, everyone.

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3 Comments

  1. RetroRob

    Can’t argue with 15-4 over 17 days, including a split against a strong Indians club. I would have signed up for that 2 1/2 weeks back without question.

    Also, as I noted prior, CC looked very sharp in his third inning of work. He likely needed to knock the rust off. Let’s hope that carriers forward to his next start.

  2. madrugador

    Intellectually I understand that planning to only have your back end pitching staff available for a game and then losing is only one loss. Emotionally, it feels like the Yankees never intended to win on Thursday or Today. Good teams lose ~60 games a year so planning to lose one to win the others makes sense and maybe that is how the game is played but if a team is going to engage in a competitive contest they should try their best to win it.

    • CountryClub

      If the Yankees scored some runs, and they did have chances, you would have seen Green and Ottavino. But, you’re right overall. They can’t treat every reg season game like it’s game 7. They worked hard to build the big lead they have and now they get to enjoy some of those benefits the lead affords them.

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