Game 138: Gardner hands the keys to Ford to ignite victory

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It’s hard to feel good before any game JA Happ starts this season, but today, he veteran southpaw stepped up. He threw six shutout innings, and though Sean Manaea and the Oakland bullpen matched zeroes to that point, the Yankees were resilient. The B-list relievers put the Bombers in the hold, but it was nothing the offense couldn’t overcome (in walkoff fashion). After losing four straight to the A’s to start the regular season, they finished off the last two victorious, including this one, 5-4.

JA leaves everyone feeling Happy. Heck of a performance by Happ this afternoon. He threw six one-hit innings, didn’t allow a run, and struck out five. His only real blemish was four walks. Here are the last two times he completed six innings of work:

  • 7/30 vs. Arizona
  • 6/6 vs. Toronto

This A’s club hit Happ pretty hard two starts ago, so it’s nice to see him rebound today. He did two things really well: command his fastball and induce soft contact.

That’s a lot of blue and light red, including two clutch double plays to end the first and second innings. The latter helped him escape a jam with runners on the corners and no one out. In sum, Oakland’s batted balls average 82.7 miles per hour, much lower than Happ’s season mark of 88.9.

Even though the southpaw handed out four free passes, he still had quite good location on his fastball:

He pretty comfortably attacked away from a righty’s perspective all day. 62 of his 98 pitches were four-seamers, which came in at an average of 92.5 MPH, his third highest average velocity game for him on the year. Oakland couldn’t seem to square up Happ’s heater; they whiff 8 times and fouled off 16 against it.

For all the good Happ did, he came very close to unraveling in the fith. After walking the first two hitters of the frame, he struck out Jurickson Profar looking and induced Sheldon Neuse and Josh Phegley to fly out. It took 29 pitches to do so, leaving him at 89 overall, so it seemed like the end of his day.

Alas, Happ returned to the mound for the sixth. Didn’t seem like a great idea, especially when it was against Oakland’s top of the order for the third time. Nonetheless, Happ delivered a nine pitch 1-2-3 inning to finish the day.

Boone’s decision to go to September callup relievers proves costly. There’ll surely be some frustration about Boone’s decision to pitch Ryan Dull in the seventh once Happ departed. When Dull entered, there was no score. After recording the first out with ease, he promptly loaded the bases for Sheldon Neuse:

That was Neuse’s first career hit, a go-ahead two-run double. Later, Josh Phegley dribbled an RBI groundout to first base to make it 3-zip. Initiallly, it didn’t look like a run would score on the grounder as Profar held up at third while Luke Voit retrieved it. Once Voit flipped to Dull covering first, Profar broke home to make it 3-0.

In the eighth, Boone went to Chance Adams. The 25 year-old righty made one big mistake: he hung a curveball to Matt Olson, who hit a classic left-handed hitter short porch homer to increase Oakland’s lead to 4-0.

Who else could Boone have gone to?

(Fangraphs)

We know the Yankees don’t like to throw pitchers three games in a row, so count out Cory Gearrin and Tommy Kahnle. Even though Zack Britton said he was available pregame, I’m sure the Yankees wanted to be careful with his calf cramp. Adam Ottavino threw 22 pitches yesterday, but considering he pitched the ninth inning, he could have came in before any of the September call up relievers. Especially since Oakland had their best hitters up when Dull came in.

The offense had no answer for Oakland through seven frames. Sean Manaea, Yusmeiro Petit, and Jake Diekman blanked the Yankees for seven innings. Manaea was particularly impressive in his first game since last summer after undergoing shoulder surgery. He was perfect through three innings and wound up allowing just one hit while walking three and striking out five.

The only real scare the Yankees had against Manaea was the first at-bat of the game. DJ LeMahieu put a charge into one to dead center which died.

The Yankees also threatened in the fifth and loaded the bases with three walks vs. Manaea. But, Matt Olson robbed Mike Tauchman of a hit with a diving playing to end the frame. Tauchman’s batted ball had an expected batting average of .440.

You can’t hold this lineup down for long. Don’t ever count this Yankees team out of any game. This offense is way too good for a four run deficit to be safe. In the eighth, Mike Tauchman walked against Diekman, who was pulled for Lou Trevino. LeMahieu singled and Aaron Judge walked to load things up with nobody out to make Gleyber Torres the tying run. He hit a sac fly that cut the deficit to 4-1. That kept the Yankees streak of at least one run scored in every game dating back to July 1, 2018 alive. It’s the second longest streak ever, only mid-1931 to mid-1933 Yankees went longer.

After the sac fly, Oakland decided to go to closer Liam Hendriks for a five out save. Gary Sánchez popped out in foul territory on a nice play by Olson (again), leaving it up to Didi Gregorius with two outs and runners on second and third. Didi ripped a rocket on one hop to shortstop Marcus Semien, but it was too difficult to handle and went into center field. Two runs scored and the Yankees were down just one. Hendriks escaped further trouble in the eighth. But in the ninth, the Yankees wasted absolutely no time to tie it and win it.


Brett Gardner is awesome, folks. He was a hero once again. And what a moment for Mike Ford, huh? He’s been fantastic lately. He certainly made the most of his pinch-hit opportunity in place of Clint Frazier.

Leftovers:

  • Clint Frazier return to big league action for the first time since June 16th. He went 0 for 2 with a walk. In his first at bat, he scalded a 108 MPH groundout against Sean Manaea.
  • Luis Severino threw one inning and 33 pitches for Scranton. He was pulled after the second inning’s leadoff hitter, Andy Burns, homered. Sevy had allowed a run in the first inning too, which resulted in a final line of: one inning, three hits, two runs, two strikeouts, and one homer. Severino threw his fastball between 94 and 96 MPH.
  • Edwin Encarnación went 1 for 3 with a single and hit by pitch. He was hit by a breaking ball and laughed it off, so nothing to worry about there.

The Yankees are back in action tomorrow afternoon on Labor Day. It’s a 1:05pm start vs. the Texas Rangers. Have a good rest of your Sunday!

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10 Comments

  1. Today’s win was really unexpected after Dull came into the game-it’s difficult to believe what the Yankees see in him. At the same time, however, this team just grinds away and has so much talent it’s tough to keep them down. A friend of mine (Rays fan) texted me after Gardner’s bomb and wanted to watch the rest of the game (I live near Tampa)-I told him to put on TBS but it might not be much longer before the game is over, he saw TWO pitches and texted ‘WOW’ lol

  2. Wire Fan

    Like it when Gardy is aggressive earlier in the count. Anecdotally he seems to do this more late in games and catches pitchers off guard. Early in games he can be pretty passive and take pitches right down the middle until he gets to two strikes (this is particularly frustrating when he is 2-0 or 3-1 and just takes a fastball down the middle to “work the count”). Maybe he is just playing the long con?

    Thought Ford was a clear 40 man casualty this off-season, but he might be playing his way into a depth piece. Either that or a guy Cashman trades for some non-40 man prospects? He’s passed a healthy Bird (if such a thing exists) on the depth chart, no?

    • lightSABR

      Yeah, I think Bird’s done. The amount of money and service time he’s accrued for the number of games he’s played is really quite impressive. Most people would have been cut a long time ago.

  3. dasit

    my favorite part of ford’s home run is chapman spiking the ball in the bullpen

  4. William D Hudgins

    A relievers obviously top notch – B relievers pretty bad –

    • CountryClub

      Those weren’t even their B relievers. More like C-

      • lightSABR

        I don’t know. Seems like there’s grade inflation on this team. They have five A relievers.

  5. BillyMartinVanBuren Boys

    Didn’t even read the article yet but scrolled all the way down here to tell you that is an A++++++++ title!!!!

  6. CountryClub

    This team is so much fun. Home field is important. But, they won’t burn the team out trying to get it. Expect more games like today when it comes to the pitching decisions. 1st start of ST for Sevy. Results don’t really matter.

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