Woof, things were looking bleak there for a second. Giancarlo Stanton stepped up, though, and saved what looked like it would be an impossibly frustrating loss. The Yankees beat the Orioles 4-3 on Friday night, and thank god for it. They’ve now won 2 in a row since dropping 4 in a row after winning 13 in a row.
Let’s get right to tonight’s takeaways, shall we?
Once Again, It’s Nasty Nestor’s World. How can you not love Nestor Cortes? Our man threw 5.2 brilliant innings again tonight, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 7 and allowed a solo home run in the 6th inning. He elicited a 37% whiff-per-swing rate, mostly from his dominant fastball (38%), and slider (45%). Here is his pitch plot:
This is something of a weird plot – there are a lot of sliders up – but whatever. I’m not here to harsh on Nestor’s mellow. The dude is just so fun and I am absolutely loving every start of his throughout this entire season. Again, look at his ridiculously varied release points:
I really do just love watching this guy pitch. The above chart is a big reason why. One thing that will be interesting to watch moving forward is what his role will be if the Yanks escape the Wild Card Game. Does he deserve a spot in the playoff rotation? That seems like an insane question, but I really do think we have to be asking that right now. He’s been that good. Baseball. What a sport.
The Bullpen Was Good, Sort Of: I say this because there is no debate that the bullpen was good tonight. They pitched 5.1 innings of 2-run, 4 hit ball. They walked 3 and struck out 7 in that span, too. That’s a good performance by any metric. At the same time, the context matters too.
When Aaron Boone turned it over to the pen, the Yankees had a 2-1 lead against the lowly Orioles. It was set up for Jonathan Loaisiga, Chad Green, and Aroldis Chapman to get the final 10 outs. Just like you drew it up. And that didn’t happen. Loaisiga surrendered a game-tying HR in the 7th inning, which would be the last run of the game before Manfred Ball took effect in the 10th.
Look, it was the first HR off Loaisiga since May 7. The dude has been absolute nails, and it is ridiculous to be mad at him. But that was just a particularly annoying time for that homer is all. The rest of the bullpen, though, was really dominant – including and especially Aroldis Chapman, who struck out the side around a walk. Love to see that.
The Offense is Bleak: The additional context around the Loaisiga frustration is the fact that the offense was completely lifeless all night. They were able to do absolutely nothing and only had 4 hits through the first 9 innings of this one. Against the Orioles! And it was basically the A-lineup, too. Just so frustrating.
The bottom of the lineup did absolutely nothing. Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Rougned Odor, and Gary Sánchez went a combined 1-15 with 6 strikeouts and one walk. Brutal stuff. They often looked overpowered by the Orioles.
The top of the order was better – LeMahieu, Judge, and Rizzo each had a hit – but not far from perfect. They at least hit the ball hard, though. And DJ LeMahieu drove in 2 runs. The first of those was a sac fly that plated Odor. The second was a game-tying RBI single in the 10th:
Still, this was a bleak offensive performance. Hard to get too mad given how dominant they’ve all been lately. But still, not pretty to watch.
Except for Giancarlo Stanton, Who Saved the Day: Of course, I left someone out here. Giancarlo Stanton! Our man is absolutely locked the hell in out there He hit three balls extremely hard in this one. One was a lineout to center field. Here was the other:
The man has the easiest 430-foot power you’ll ever see. I’m convinced of that. And here was the second of those, which won the game in the 11th inning:
Okay, so I gotta ask: did anyone else’s heart stop on Judge’s slide there? I think I saw my life flash before my eyes there. Anyway, Stanton has been exceptional lately. He also made a game-saving throw with 1 out in the top of the 11th, where he threw home to keep Trey Mancini at 3rd. He would not score, which set him up to do that in the leadoff spot in the bottom half. Thank you, Giancarlo. You are a saint.
Coming into tonight, Giancarlo was hitting .382/.371/.882 in his last 35 PA since August 21. He has 5 HR in that span. Tonight’s performance added to all of those figures, and it’s a joy to watch. There’s nobody like him when he’s on.
- Rougned Odor has been absolutely brutal of late. Coming into tonight, Rougie was hitting just .151/.255/.279 (46 wRC+) in his last 100 plate appearances dating back to August 1. His 0-3 performance tonight will not help matters.
- Welcome back, Gleyber Torres. While he didn’t log a hit, he did hit two balls hard and into the air. I’ll take it. Nice to have him back.
- A nice pinch-running appearance for Tyler Wade, who showed his value as the last guy on the Yankees. He scored on the LeMahieu hit highlighted above after pinch-running for Odor. It worked, and it’s a real skill.
- Joey Gallo has been awful as a Yankee. Including tonight, he’s 15-for-112 (.134) as a Yankee. Yikes.
The Yanks and Orioles will play again tomorrow. That will be the second of a three game set. Jordan Montgomery (5-5, 3.52 ERA) will take on Chris Ellis (1-0, 3.09 ERA) in that one. The game will take place at 1:05 pm. Let’s hope the Yankees can pull it out, and perhaps a bit more easily than they did today. Enjoy your night, everyone.