Game 131: Yankees drop controversial heartbreaker in Los Angeles

(Fangraphs)

The Yankees lost to the Dodgers, 2-1, as they left the bases loaded in the ninth inning in a controversial finish. Aaron Judge hit a solo home run while CC Sabathia gave up a two-run shot to Justin Turner.

The Yankees fall to 84-47 while the Dodgers improve to 86-45 (Box Score).

I don’t have time for full takeaways, so here are the three big moments in the game:

1. Ninth-inning madness

The Yankees trailed by one going into the ninth inning and had to face Kenley Jansen. Didi Gregorius struck out trying to bunt against the shift before Gleyber Torres singled. Brett Gardner reached on an infield single that the first baseman, Matt Beaty, misplayed and Gardner slid into first as the ball was overthrown, though Torres didn’t advance.

Then everything exploded. Gio Urshela hit a slow grounder to Turner at third base and he tried to get the force out at second. Gardner was called out at second and also took out second baseman Max Muncy, who went down in pain. After a brief pause, Torres began trotting home to potentially score the tying run.

But all of that was wrong. Gardner was safe, beating Muncy to the bag. That would be overturned on review. Furthermore, home plate umpire Gabe Morales had called time with Jansen signaling for it, sending Torres back to third. The signal for time came while Torres was still stationary near third, though it wasn’t granted until Torres was scampering home.

I legitimately don’t know the answer as to whether an umpire can call time in that situation. He shouldn’t have regardless. Should Aaron Boone have put the game under protest? Is it a misapplication of the rules to the point where it would even matter? I don’t know. Torres should have scored, and that’s incredibly frustrating.

Update: Ughhhh to this quote

After both managers arguing the call, Jansen recovered to strike out Mike Tauchman and Gary Sanchez to end the game. The former All-Star looked beatable and then he regained his old form in the critical instant.

For Torres, he would have scored if time wasn’t called. However, he also made multiple baserunning mistakes in the game, getting doubled up on a flyout and then not reaching third after Beaty threw the ball past Jansen. If he goes for third base, the entire ninth inning is different. Also, Gregorius squandered a 3-2 count with a poor bunt that was close to being a bunt double. Even with the umpiring, it was a frustrating inning for other reasons.

2. Aaron Judge is all the way back

Aaron Judge homered for the third time on the road trip, obliterating a fastball down the middle of the plate from starter Tony Gonsolin. He hit it way past the center-field wall.

That was the first time he’s homered in back-to-back games this season.

Not quite the bomb from Tuesday, nor was it off a name-brand pitcher like yesterday. But holy heck is Judge good and people should stop asking for him to drop in the order or being benched. Please.

3. CC’s Lone Mistake

Sabathia had a strong first two innings and then ran into trouble with the pitcher leading off the third. Gonsolin hit a grounder off Sabathia’s leg, earning a hit when it bounced towards third. CC stayed in and looked unscathed, striking out A.J. Pollock for the next out.

However, he left a 2-0 cutter over the heart of the plate to Turner for the decisive home run.

The next two players would reach base, the latter on what was charitably ruled a hit by Cody Bellinger but should have been a Torres error (Gleyber is great, but this wasn’t his best game). Sabathia stabilized and got a short flyout and a strikeout. He’d last just four innings (he was pinch hit for, but Boone said he would have removed him anyway at 78 pitches), but it still was a major step from his last outing.

In the bullpen, Cory Gearrin made his NYY debut, getting two outs before Chad Green gave the team two innings. Adam Ottavino got one batter and Zack Britton tossed a scoreless eighth. Great bullpen work.

4. Leftovers

  • Torres finished with two singles while Romine and Gardner each had one in addition to Judge’s homer. That’s it for the Yankees’ five hits. Gardner also was robbed of a double by Cody Bellinger.
  • Relievers Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez shut down the Yankees to set up for Jansen.

The Yankees and Dodgers play their rubber match on Sunday Night Baseball. That’s 7 p.m. on ESPN. Domingo German (16-3, 4.15 ERA) pitches against future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw (13-2, 2.71).

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7 Comments

  1. Wire Fan

    Someone needs to teach Torres how to run the bases. At this point it is a coaching issue – you have to give him a red light on the bases (do not steal) and if that Gardner DP was a hit and run (on an 0-1 count, that seems like an odd call), then it is 100% on coaches for calling a hit and run with such a terrible baserunner. He is now tied with Luke Voit for the team lead of 7 outs on the bases. Torres also has 2 caught stealings for a team leading total of 9 outs via baserunning.

    And when your #3 hitter is trying a 3-1 bunt (on what looked like ball 4, no less!) and doubling down on that stupidity with a 3-2 bunt, it might be time to consider why the hell he is batting 3rd. Didi had 6 pitches in that AB, only 1 of which was actually in the strike zone. If he was trying so hard to get on base at all costs, how about not swinging or bunting at balls? It seems like the only reason he is hitting 3rd is “he is left handed”; on most days he has either the 2nd or 3rd worst OPS in the lineup.

    On the plus side the pitching has been sharp the last 2 games. The Turner HR was just 96mph off the bat (not much for a HR ball) and is a long flyout much of the time.

    • RetroRob

      Bernie Wiliams never learned to be a good base runner either. Some players have better instincts than others.

      • CountryClub

        Yeah, Torres was a bad baserunner in the minors too. I agree, seems like he just doesn’t have the feel for it.

  2. BigDavey88

    What actually happens when a game is under protest? Has anything ever come of it? What would the best outcome be, that they remove the result of the game?

    • Steven Tydings

      If the game is under protest, MLB (likely Joe Torre mostly) reviews the circumstances and decides whether to uphold the protest. The most famous protest upheld is the Pine Tar Game in 1983. There have only been 15 ever, most recent in 2014. https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/after-first-upheld-protest-since-1986-giants-to-finish-game-with-cubs/

      And if they upheld this particular one, they would resume the game with Torres having scored and men on first and second, one out for Mike Tauchman. The previous result (Yankees loss to Dodgers) would be removed until completion of game.

  3. CountryClub

    Rough game for Torres (even with the 2 hits) and Gary. Sanchez left 5 men on base in 3 innings. Torres had the base running mistakes and the error (that was called a hit) that forced CC to throw all those pitches in the 3rd. But, it happens. Thing is, yanks will need to win games like that in the playoffs. Would have been nice if they could have pulled today’s game out.

    • Wire Fan

      The extra pitches and the extra hitters that bat (which turns the lineup over more quickly) are the real hidden cost of errors – especially for starting pitchers. I think CC threw an extra 11 pitches that inning, and also was 2 batters closer to the dreaded “3rd time through the order”. That Torres misplay likely shaved an inning off his outing.

      Same thing goes for the boneheaded baserunning. An out on the base is at least one less batter the opposing starter has to face, fewer pitches thrown, and a slower turnover of the lineup to guys like LeMahieu and Judge.

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