As I said yesterday, may every game be against the Orioles. The Yankees beat the Orioles 4-3 yesterday, and while the game was much closer than it needed to be, a win is a win – and the Yankees need every one of those that they can get right now. There is a three-way virtual tie in the Wild Card race between Boston, Toronto, and New York, so we are in absolutely no position to complain about a win.
With that said, let’s get right to the takeaways, shall we?
Nasty Nestor is the Story of the Season. Let’s just take a minute to appreciate Nestor Cortes, who is the 2021 Story of the Season. It has been so decreed, just now, by me. How could he not be? Nestor, ridiculously, has a 2.70 ERA (3.80 FIP) in 73 innings pitched this season for the Yankees. He’s getting strikeouts (25.8%), not walking anyone (7.1%), and is doing it on the ridiculous success of his fastball. And I mean ridiculous success of that pitch. He uses it 42% of the time – a full 20 percentage points more than the next most frequent pitch – and it has a .189 batting average against. The quality of contact is exceptional, too: batters *should* have a .181 batting average. Ridiculous.
All of this is to say that Nestor was once again dominant last night, throwing 6.1 innings of 3 hit, 1-run, 2-walk, 11 strikeout ball. The only blemish on his line was a 6th inning home run. And, true to form, he did it with his trademark release point variance:
Incredible. It really is. I liked Nestor a bit in 2019 and thought he had a better performance than his line, but this is just absurd. Who could have honestly predicted this? We’re at the point now where, if the Yanks hold on to a spot and win the Wild Card, they have to actually consider starting Cortes in the Division Series. Baseball is incredible.
A Quiet Day at the Yard: Prior to the bottom of the 8th inning, this was honestly a pretty boring game. Gio Urshela had a 2-run home run in the 3rd inning, which was all of the Yanks’ offense before the 9th.
The big guys at the top of the order were non-existent. LeMahieu, Judge, Rizzo, and Stanton went a combined 1-18 with 4 strikeouts. Not really going to cut it on most days. The Gio homer was all we had, in large part due to this absurdly impressive catch:
That came in the second inning, and holy crap. That’s all you can say. I thought for sure Gary had a homer there, but Mullins had other plans. You just gotta tip your cap to that.
Anyway, point is that this was a quiet game minus two homers. Until it very much wasn’t.
Is Chad Green Broken? This deserves its own, in-depth post, but it’s worth asking. What’s happened to Chad Green? He just looks completely cooked out there. Now, I’m one of the most pro-Chad Green fans you’ll ever meet. I think he’s fantastic, and honestly underrated. He has been very bad lately though, and he’s been stung by the HR over and over and over again. It happened again last night in the 8th inning, when Green surrendered a 2-run home run to Austin Hayes. Hayes also tagged Cortes, so he was the entire offense for the Orioles. Annoying!
Still, I think it’s worth being concerned about Green. I think his struggles are due to the fact that the Yankees leaned on him to an almost impossible degree early in the season. He’s just completely out of gas. The bad news is that the Yanks can’t really afford *not* to use him. The bullpen is empty and the games matter. So I’m not really sure what to do there.
Now, this 8th inning was also hurt by Gleyber, who bobbled a ball at second and just threw to first – without trying to get a double play at all. I am almost certain he could have turned it into a double play, but he didn’t even try. That gave the Orioles another out and the HR followed. It was not good. Gleyber is someone else who really just needs to press the reset button.
Brett Gardner Forever. The 9th inning, though, was one to remember. After a Luke Voit walk and Gleyber single, Brett Gardner came up to the plate. Gardner, as you surely know, has been red hot: he’s hitting .305/.379/.525 (147 wRC+) since August 20. His annual dead cat bounce is here again. Sure enough, he delivered with the most baseball of baseball hits to give the Yankees the lead:
Incredible. I absolutely adore Gardner, and I’m not sure how other Yankee fans don’t. He definitely shouldn’t have as big of a role on the team as he does – injuries will do that – but he’s a solid leader, a dependable player, and the longest-tenured Yankee. I have nothing but love for Brett Gardner.
Anyway, I also want to shout Gleyber out here. Our man has been taking a lot of heat lately, and for good reason, but this was a great read on the basepaths. This was a debate on Twitter, but I think it’s worth giving him credit here. He made a great read and was super aggressive and it led to an extra Yankee run. Gleyber giveth, Gleyber taketh away, I guess. I’m not complaining though. That was a nice play and he deserves some credit. (It would have been a brutal way to end the game, had he gotten doubled off, but he didn’t. So who cares?)
- A nice clean 9th inning for Aroldis Chapman, who needed one of those. He has now pitched 3 days in a row, though, so that’s something to watch.
- In addition to the plays noted above, Gleyber Torres had two hits last night, and he needed them. Let’s hope he gets and stays hot down the stretch.
- Brett Gardner was 3-4 with 2 RBI. I just wrote him a love letter, but I’ll say it again: Brett Gardner forever.
- The bottom of the lineup, between Gardner and Gio Urshela, went 4-8 with 2 R and 4 RBI. Way to pick up the lackluster big boys last night. Gio also made a very nice play at shortstop.
The Yankees will go for the sweep tonight against the Orioles. It’s a 5pm game and the Yankees need to win it. Jordan Montgomery (5-6, 3.71 ERA) will take on Chris Ellis (1-0, 2.08 ERA) in that one. Enjoy your day, everyone. See you later.