With their hopes for the division all but buried, the Yankees lost a frustratingly winnable game to the frustratingly beatable Baltimore Orioles this afternoon, 4-3. Joey Gallo’s late-inning heroics were not enough to overcome six innings of an offensive blackout and shaky pitching, and the Yankees are now looking at a 7-game deficit in the AL East if the Rays hold their lead against Minnesota today. To the takeaways –
Jordan Montgomery battles. Although he ultimately wound up with a no-decision and surrendering only one run, this one was a struggle for Jordan Montgomery. There was traffic on the bases in almost every inning, so he never really gave himself the opportunity to settle into a groove. In the second inning, he allowed two singles to start the frame before getting three pop-ups to retire the side; in the fourth, he allowed a single to Trey Mancini, a double to Pedro Severino, and threw a wild pitch on a walk to Jorge Mateo to spot the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
He struggled again in the fifth, allowing leadoff singles to Jahmai Jones and Cedric Mullins before striking out Ryan Mountcastle. Austin Hayes hit a weak ground ball to move the runners to second and third, and Montgomery then walked Mancini to load the bases with two outs, marking the end of his day at 4.2 innings. Clay Holmes came on to retire Ramon Urias for the final out, saving Montgomery’s final line at one run on six hits with five strikeouts.
Overall, Montgomery kept his team in the game, and his stuff looked decent as he got 10 whiffs on his curveball and changeup combined. He struggled a bit with command and finishing hitters off, which was evidenced by his approaching 100 pitches in the fifth inning, but against Baltimore this outing really should have been enough to win.
Hard luck offense. The Yankees were no-hit for 6.1 innings today in a game started by an Oriole pitcher playing his fifth major league game, which I think encapsulates how frustrating today’s loss was. It didn’t look like it would go this way in the first inning, as the Yankees hit three balls at 95+ mph within their first four at-bats (including a 113mph lineout by Giancarlo Stanton and a 115mph hit by Aaron Judge that went for a two-base error), but the team wasn’t able to get anything going against Baltimore’s Chris Ellis for the entirety of his five inning start. He allowed three walks and struck out only two, but the Yankees’ only other really hard-hit ball against him was a to-the-wall flyout by Judge in the fourth.
The Yankees finally broke up the no-no in the seventh, at that point down 3-0. Anthony Rizzo started off the inning reaching on an error, Brett Gardner walked to put runners on first and second, and Gary Sanchez flew out in a pinch hit appearance to move Rizzo to third. Gleyber Torres, pinch hitting for Andrew Velazquez, benefitted from a bit of hometown scoring as he picked up the Yankees’ first hit and first RBI of the day as his ground ball was booted by Jones at second base but was scored a single. With the score 3-1 and runners on first and second, Luke Voit pinch hit and grounded into a double play to end the threat.
Gallo’s moment of glory. Once the no-hitter threat was in the rear-view, the Yankees at least made an effort to avoid a loss in the eighth. DJ LeMahieu led off the inning with a squibbed single towards third base, setting the stage for Joey Gallo to crush a much-needed, game-tying home run 375 feet into the right field seats. Much has been made of Gallo’s relative struggles since joining the Yankees – he now has 16 hits in 116 at bats for a .138 average since coming over at the trade deadline and came into the game riding a four-game hitless streak – but this was also his sixth home run since joining the team. A real shame the Yankees couldn’t capitalize on it.
Bullpen blows it. The Yankees’ bullpen did not put forth its best effort this afternoon overall despite several good individual performances. Clay Holmes, who came in to relieve Montgomery in the fifth inning, was excellent, striking out all four batters he faced, and Lucas Luetge threw 1.2 hitless innings. Wandy Peralta and Aroldis Chapman, however, doomed this game for the Yankees.
Peralta came in facing a 1-0 deficit in the top of the 7th and had nothing, giving up back to back doubles to Jones and Mullins to stretch the score to 2-0. He then gave up a rope to Mountcastle, but was saved by an excellent diving play from Andrew Velazquez for the first out. He then induced a weak ground ball back to the mound from Hays, but couldn’t get the throw home in time to get the speedy Mullins trying to score from third, and was then pulled for Luetge having given up four hits and two runs in just one third of an inning.
After the Yankees rallied to tie the game in the 8th, Chapman came on hoping to give his team the chance to walk it off in the bottom of the 9th. Instead, he threw a wild pitch on a third strike to Mountcastle, allowing him to reach first, gave up a single to Hays, and walked Mancini to load the bases with nobody out. Interestingly, Aaron Boone did not appear to have anyone warming up in the bullpen even as Chapman struggled. He settled down to get the next three batters, but gave up a sacrifice fly to Severino to bring the score to 4-3 in favor of the Orioles and ultimately take the loss.
It seems as though the Yankees are going to need to think long and hard about Chapman’s role in the bullpen if they are hoping to make a deep postseason run. There have been times over the past several months that he has shown flashes of dominance, instilling hope that he can get back to form, but overall he has spent much of the 2021 season pitching very poorly. He gave up his first earned run of the season on May 23, and since then he has pitched to a 6.11 ERA over 28 innings. Games like today’s, against teams that the Yankees should dominate, are potentially concerning as we head towards October.
- The Yankees have lost 6 games to the Orioles this year, the most of any Baltimore opponent in the major leagues.
- Clay Holmes now has a 1.36 ERA since joining the Yankees at the trade deadline.