Remember when the Mariners were 13-2? Me neither. The wheels really fell off for them this year, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Yankees took advantage of the bad opponent, riding a big 2nd inning to a 5-4 victory. Aroldis Chapman came on in the 9th inning and locked down the save, preserving the win. Here is the box score as the Yankees improve to 86-47 on the season. They retain their huge AL East lead, as you know.
Also, before today’s game, I noted on Twitter that the Yankees had 20+ HR from every lineup slot except the 9-hole, so of course number 9 hitter Mike Ford went out there and mashed two HR to make it official. The Yankees are now the first team to have done this in consecutive seasons after becoming the first team in MLB history to do so last year. And they did it in August. They have a shot to get 30 (!) HR from each lineup if they stay hot. Unlikely, but not impossible.
Anyway, it’s 1 am in New York and I have work in the morning, so let’s get right to the takeaways.
1. A Mediocre Night for J.A. Happ: Look, was it a mediocre night? I don’t know. He gave up 3 ER in 5 IP to the lowly-Mariners, and he walked 3 of them. And yet Happ surrendered just 2 H and retired 7 batters by strikeout, so it wasn’t all bad. But, Happ being Happ, one of those hits was a big home run. Here is the video:
That one was a 3-run bomb to Dylan Moore, who is hitting just .207/.304/.402 (92 wRC+) on the season. That’s just what J.A. Happ is into these days. Here is the Yankees’ 2019 Home Run Leaderboard, for those keeping track at home:
- Gleyber Torres: 33
- J.A. Happ: 31
- Gary Sánchez: 29
- Domingo Germán: 28
- CC Sabathia: 22
As an old friend used to say…that is not what you want! Good grief. That is a lot of home runs. Listen, Happ is a good pitcher. He is the subject of some significant wrath these days, and I get it, but the man had a 3.44 (125 ERA+) across 3 seasons in the AL East, the majority of which he had to face both NYY and BOS. Hopefully, the non-juiced ball in 2020 will help him out, but who knows. He should also throw fewer fastballs, in my opinion.
Anyway, there was a new approach from Happ tonight, first noticed by Friend of the Blog™ Lucas Apostoleris:
He threw 2 more curveballs, which made it 5 on the night. Weird. I said before that Happ should throw fewer fastballs, so maybe this is the start of something? I’ll have to look into it more soon, but for now this is just going to get labeled Something to Watch™. I’m still going with a mediocre start, by the way. I’m in a generous mood. Here was the strike zone plot:
2. Gleyber Torres, Still Just 22: I’m sure you all know this by now, but it bears repeating: Gleyber Torres is 22-years-old. That’s it. And yet our man is still hitting .288/.353/.554 (133 wRC+) after his 1-4 night tonight. That also included this, which was his 33rd home run of the 2019 season:
That one left the bat at 108+ mph and traveled 438 feet to dead center, which is the very definition of power. Remember when Gleyber was supposed to be a 10-15 homer guy? So much for that. On a related note, check out the AL HR Leaderboard:
- Mike Trout, LAA: 42
- Jorge Soler, KCR: 36
- Max Kepler, MIN: 35
- Gleyber Torres, NYY: 33
- Nelson Cruz, SEA: 33
Our guy, who is 22-years-old, is 4th in the American League in HR as a middle infielder. Now, I know the baseballs are juiced and all that, and that really does matter. But you also just gotta tip your cap to Gleyber Torres, who just continues to improve in nearly every element of his game. He has most notably cut down on his strikeout rate, which now sits at 20.3% this year compared to 25.2% last year.
It’s pretty wild to me how quickly he became one of the Yankees’ best hitters. Gleyber Torres is going to be on the Yankees for a long time, and that’s as exciting a prospect as I can remember in some time because, again, he is just 22-years-old.
3. Mike Is Built Ford Tough: What more is there to say about the Yankees’ depth this season? The 27-year-old 1B has ably filled in for Edwin Encarnación, hitting .232/.330/.516 (115 wRC+) with 8 home runs in just over 100 plate appearances. It seems that crushing an all-time legend like Clayton Kershaw is good for the confidence, so Ford added two more home runs to the tally tonight, both of which traveled 399 feet. Here is the first, which was his 7th of the season:
And here was the second, which was his 8th:
Both big flies came off Malone (more on him below), which is interesting because Milone is a lefty. Before tonight, Ford came into the game hitting .438/.500/1.188 (322 wRC+) with 4 HR in 18 plate appearances, which is a tiny sample, so tiny as to be minuscule, but it’s worth noting.
Anyway, that’s now 6 homers off lefty pitchers for Ford, who is giving the Yankees some much-needed lefty-on-lefty pop. It’ll be worth tracking how Ford does against southpaws going forward, in any case.
4. High-Leverage Nasty Nestor: After some weirdness in the bottom of the 6th with Cory Gearrin (more on that below), Boone turned to Nasty Nestor Cortes Jr. with one out and runners on 1st and 2nd in a 2-run game…and Nestor rewarded him (mostly). He got Omar Nervaez to pop up to Torres at short and induced a weak fly ball to Judge from Jake Fraley to escape the jam and preserve the lead.
In the 7th, though, he ran into some trouble. Specifically, he ran into Mallex Smith, who did this:
But all things considered, that’s a solo home run. It’s not the end of the world, even if it’s not ideal. Cortes recovered, and his ultimate line was 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K. On the season, Nestor has 54 K in 55 IP, but also has 20 walks and 11 HR allowed. He’s been a relatively mixed bag, but I have to admit that I love watching him pitch.
Anyway, taht was an appearance that could have gone much differently, but instead, Cortes kept the Yankees in the lead and passed the game on to the big relievers in Kahnle and Chapman. That’s the name of the game for a guy like Cortes.
- Tommy Milone, (Former) Yankee Killer: Remember when soft-tossing lefties like Tommy Milone were the kiss of death for the Yankees? Me too. Tommy Milone probably wishes he does, too. Coming into tonight, Milone owned a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 IP against the Bombers in his career (though the Yanks had won some games against him despite it). Tonight, though, it was all Yanks. The Yanks tagged him for 5 runs in 3.0 innings. They slugged 3 HR off him (you saw them above). Great stuff, guys.
- Balkin’ Cory Gearrin: Pretty weird scenario in the bottom of the 6th. First of all, going to Gearrin there–it was a relatively high-leverage spot in a 2-run game–is just another example of the Yankees not using guys on 3 consecutive days. Anyway, Gearrin does a weird double toe-tap thing from the stretch that became an issue in the 6th. With a guy on 1st, the umpires stopped the game to warn Gearrin, evidently, Boone came out to discuss, and he threw some warm-up (?) pitches in the middle of the inning. All to avoid a balk, which of course he then did a few pitches later. It seemed to really get with Gearrin, too, who walked Seager after the balk. He would recover to strikeout Tom Murphy and Boone took him out, but yeah. That was a weird one.
- Tommy Kahnle is So Good: After all that with the no three-days-in-a-row rule, the Yankees still managed to turn this game over to Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman with a 1-run lead going into the 8th inning. Kahnle even got to face Seattle’s 3-4-5 hitters. That’s pretty much just how you drew it up. Anyway, Kahnle retired Nola on a disgusting changeup (I have a post in the works on the pitch, which is just filthy), retired Seager on a weak grounder to short, and retired Murphy on a series of even more disgusting changeups. He is striking out nearly 14 men per 9 (37%) and has a 2.77 ERA in 52 innings pitched this season. He’s been unreal.
- Rakin’ Romine: Everyone’s favorite backup catcher Austin Romine has done it again, with 1-4 night. He’s now up to .270/.292/.410 (81 wRC+) somehow, in large part thanks to a .338/.362/.585 (144 wRC+) line in about 70 plate appearances since the All-Star Break. Tonight, his 1 hit drove in Mike Tauchman (nice baserunning), and the video is here, so check it out:
- Small Ball Aaron Judge: After a weekend with a power display, we saw a little bit of small ball Aaron Judge tonight. In the 4-run 2nd inning, in which the Yankees batted around, Judge beat out a soft grounder off LHP Tommy Milone and then promptly stole second base. You just can’t predict baseball, Suzyn (but seriously, just is so much more than a simple power hitter).
- Let Brett Bang Celebration Continues: Seems like the “Let Brett Bang” celebration is going to be one that sticks, huh? It’s been going on since the ejection last week, and it feels like the sort of thing this team is just going to run with. I personally enjoy this kind of thing, and plus this one is just objectively hilarious. I mean:
The Yanks will continue their West Coast trip tomorrow night for the second of this three-game set against Seattle. Masahiro Tanaka (9-7, 4.68 ERA) will take on Yusei Kikuchi (5-8, 5.19 ERA) in another 10:10 pm start. I’ll be up with you, and we’ll have you covered every step of the way. Enjoy the rest of your night, everyone, and be sure to enjoy your extra cup of coffee tomorrow morning.