Game 15: I Hope You Did Something Else Today

If you are reading this, I’m sorry. It probably means that you, like me, care a lot about the New York Yankees. And it probably means you watched them limp to a 4-2 loss today to Tampa Bay. It’s their fifth consecutive loss, dropping them to 5-10 overall. They got swept by Tampa Bay in the Bronx. It is bleak right now.

It won’t last forever but good lord is it frustrating to be a Yankee fan right now. Let’s get to today’s takeaways, for some reason.

1. Sloppy is as Sloppy Does: The Yankees are inexplicably sloppy. This is not an overreaction to 15 games, either. It’s been true since 2018. They play sloppy baseball even when things are going well, most notably with lazy defense on routine plays. It’s a different person each game, too, so there’s not one person to blame. It’s been really bad in 2021. Today was just another example, and it came in the third inning. Here is the breakdown of events:

  • Mike Zunino single
  • Kevin Kiermaier single*
  • Yandy Díaz single**
  • Austin Meadows strikeout
  • Manuel Margot sacrifice fly***
  • Brandon Lowe strikeout

On its face, that doesn’t seem to be that bad. The Rays strung together some hits and made a good pitcher pay, right? Wrong. It was bad and it was made significantly worse by horrendous and inexplicable defense. I marked the offending plays with asterisks. Now let’s go through those.

Here is the Kevin Kiermaier single, if you want to call it that.

What the hell is this? Honestly. First, it looks like Hicks thinks he can catch this, which makes sense – it was a looped, lazy fly ball. Here is some photo evidence:

Looks routine. Except, approximately half a second later, the ball landed several feet in front of Hicks, short hopping him:

Hicks was clearly not prepared for this or in a position to field it clearly. It’s pretty clear that something bad is about to happen based on that alone, and, sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. Hicks bobbled the ball not once, but twice, which is best exemplified by this screengrab because it highlights the next bad part….

…because you can see Gleyber Torres pointing toward second, telling his teammate to throw the ball there. Mike Zunino, a slow-ass catcher, was obviously stuck in the middle on the play here. Because it was unclear if Hicks going to catch it or not, a clean play would have resulted in him being thrown out easily at second. Instead, the bobble prevented that chance. It meant there were runners on first and second with nobody out instead of on first with one person out.

Now, let’s make matters worse, shall we? Here is the very next play:

This one doesn’t necessarily merit a full frame-by-frame look. It’s just a bad play. It also had consequences, though: it allowed Kiermaier to get to third base with nobody out. Obviously, that gives the Rays two chances to get him home on an out. As someone reading this blog, I am confident you can guess what happened next. That’s right: the Rays scored on an out. It also had a baffling defensive decision. Here is that one:

Horrendous. What is Clint doing there? Again, this allows a Rays runner to advance. Hicks is obviously the man who will take most of the blame here, and he should – the Rays scored twice as a direct result of his defense. But Clint had a role to play, too, by making Cole pitch with runners in scoring position.

He threw 23 pitches in the inning, 20 of which followed the leadoff single, making them high-stress pitches. Cole gave this game everything he had but lazy defense from the Yankees once again cost them. This about says it all:

2. The Yankees Don’t Deserve Gerrit Cole: The Yankees, at least so far throughout 2021, do not deserve Gerrit Cole. That should be obvious from the above, but let’s go a layer deeper here. The man is disgustingly good at pitching. In 2021, he’s decided to just make his changeup – previously his 4th best pitch – and dominate with it:

He used his changeup 17% of the time today and got 6 whiffs on 10 swings. It continues a trend in which Cole relies heavily on the pitch in 2021. The rest of the arsenal was working for him today too, as he induced a 33% whiff rate against the Rays. A 2-strike HBP in the 2nd – it was a slider that just got the foot of the batter – and the 3rd inning added pitches to the final line, but this was a great performance from Cole today.

I say this because Boone correctly tried to steal an inning from him in the 7th when he had 98 pitches, but it backfired. Cole gave up back-to-back hits including a double to Tsutsugo (owner of a proud .187 MLB batting average) to give up a run and break the tie in the 7th. Cole will say that he should have gotten them out, and it’s true. But it’s also true that his defense failed him today and made the early innings more stressful.

Still, even with the 7th, Cole’s line is more than enough to win a game. In fact, if any other Yankee pitcher went 6.1 IP with 5 H, 10 K, and and 3 R (2 ER), we’d probably call it the best non-Cole performance of the season. That should be enough for the Yankees to win at home. Alas, it is not. But here is a fun fact, at least:

3. The Offense is Capital L-Lost: God, the Yankees are absolutely lost at the plate right now. They’re just lost and there’s no other way to put it. I noted a trend before the game, and it’s that the team just cannot hit middle-middle pitches.

They did not pass the test or step up. Aaron Judge is the key culprit, as exemplified by this at-bat in the first:

Inexplicable. It really is. But it’s not just him. There are a number of statistics I could list out right now – Judge’s last 30 at-bats, Torres’ entire season, Hicks’ stats as a LHB, and on and on and on – that would help illustrate this point in fine detail. They are not necessary. The only chart you need to see is right here. Be warned. It is ugly.

That physically hurts to look at. The only thing more painful is watching this happen, batter-by-batter, inning-by-inning, knowing what is going to happen before it does. The good news is that it won’t last forever, because it can’t. The Yankees are good offensively and this is hilariously awful stuff, so it’ll break eventually. But man is it brutal to watch right now.

Leftovers

  • Gleyber Torres is Struggling: The Aarons Hicks and Judge got a lot of the attention above, but woof does Gleyber Torres look bad. He looks bad defensively and he looks bad at the plate. I’m sure he’ll turn it around, but it has not been a smooth early-going for the Yankee shortstop.
  • Giancarlo has a Nice Game: It was a decent game at the plate for Giancarlo Stanton. He worked a nice walk in the 6th after falling behind in the count 0-2 and hit a laser beam of a home run to give the Yankees their first lead since Wednesday. (Not his fault it didn’t last!) Here is the video of the home run:
  • At Least We Have DJLM: The Yankees’ other run came courtesy of a two-out DJLM single. He totally bailed out Clint Frazier and Rougned Odor, too. It followed an Urshela lead-off double that the Yankees came dangerously close to blowing. Alas, we have DJLM. Thank god for that.
  • The Bullpen Can’t be Perfect Forever: Chad Green and Darren O’Day did a fine job for the Yanks today, pitching 2.2 innings for the Bombers, but O’Day did give up a two-out HR in the 9th to make it 4-2 Rays. That’s going to happen occasionally. It is completely unsustainable to expect the bullpen to be perfect each time they pitch. The offense is going to have to hit.

The Yankees are off tomorrow. They’ll be back in action on Tuesday against Atlanta in the Bronx. That game will be at 6:35 pm on YES and WFAN. Try to enjoy the rest of your afternoon, everyone.

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16 Comments

  1. madrugador

    This was a high risk high reward pitching staff when Cashman put it together. Cole is pitching as expected but if you thought Kluber or a two time TJS pitcher were going to bring success, you were deluded. I expect the offense to come around and the defense to be less horrible but thus is not a WS team.

  2. dasit

    lack of fans is definitely not helping but man this team is boring
    i miss didi and tanaka

  3. Jim

    Fire Boonie tonight. Back up the truck. Trade Odor for Wade, at least he can play SS and hustle. Send Gleyber to the NL. Probably hafta eat Hicks’ salary. Do it. Florial hits righties better anyway.

  4. Eduardo

    Another snoozefest. Most boring Yankee team in as long as I can remember. I appreciate the explitives after striking out as they watch balls down the middle and swing and miss but they need to do a little more to pretend like they care. If you keep saying things will eventually get better I’m sure you are right but give it a break…whatever makes it easier to watch I guess.

  5. Alex

    Hicks is just a lazy player. He got paid and doesn’t give a damn anymore. That doesn’t take away from the fact though that Cashman was a fool to ever give an oft-injured 4th outfielder 7 years/$70 million.

    If Hal had any backbone, he’d be telling Cashman to empty out his office as we speak. The man deserves to lose his job. No other GM who consistently has $200+ million payrolls would be able to survive this.

    • Hicks’ contract was a baffling decision at the time. What would he get on the open market? 1×6? 2×15? He really looks terrible. Those plays he missed today should be routine for a high schooler. He’s our 3 hitter? Oh my, has Cashman screwed this up worse than I imagined.

  6. Marc

    What happened to the Manager Evaluation Survey?

    • Gerreddardit Cole

      YES probably made them take it down. Ratings would be negative infinity.

  7. BringBackGirardi

    No excuse for lifeless, lazy and bad fundamental play. Most of that is on Boone, he has consistently gotten less out of more … they won 100 games despite him, not because of him .

  8. I’m aware that batting average isn’t everything and this is not an excuse because the Yankee offense is terrible right now. But offense is down dramatically in MLB. The 30 team average is around .235 and the Yankees are hitting .210 after today’s game. We’re also tied for 17th in team homers with 16. Slugging is supposed to be a strength. Our BABIP is .259 with the league average at .285. I’d like to hope for regression to the mean, but maybe we just aren’t as good as we thought we were.

  9. Zach

    The constant refrain of “it won’t last forever” misses the point. Maybe the team won’t be this bad forever, but as long as Hal and Cashman are in charge, nothing important is changing. Boone is obviously clueless and can’t manage the team, but he’s ultimately just a puppet of the front office. Even if he’s fired after the Yankees miss the playoffs, the next “manager” will be no different. Not to mention Cashman himself is one of the worst GMs in the game. This offseason was the perfect example of that. All the while, Hal will keep making the conscious choice to intentionally penny-pinch and assemble a sub-par roster each year. Ownership clearly assumes fans are gullible enough not to see through this cynical game, and sadly that’s probably right.

    Over the last decade, the Yankees organization has become defined by carelessness and a total disregard for winning. All that matters is profit margin and being just good enough to sell tickets. Occasionally this strategy will lead to a good regular season, but it will never win a championship. Unless the team is sold, this culture of failure will last forever. That is why fans are so frustrated. Ultimately, if the team itself doesn’t care, why should you?

  10. Gerreddardit Cole

    I agree with Jason, Bobby. I’m tired of all the cliche excuses “it’s only April and these games don’t matter” or “they’ll hit because they always have” and the new one is “we’re just a tick off.” Yeah, and I’m just a tick off from winning the NYC Marathon.

    There has to be wholesale changes tomorrow, Derek. Thames is doing nothing and should be the first sacrificial lamb. Hicks should be traded for a bucket of warm covid spit. Bruce knows a sinking ship when he sees one and that’s why he’s retiring. I wish Boone would follow his lead. I’ve seen even less fire from Boone this year and I suspect it’s because of the pacemaker. He’s following doctor’s orders but that’s not fair to the club. Hal needs to call up Buck Showalter immediately and beg him to take over this dumpster fire. Buck is the only one that can give this club the discipline it needs and it would allow him to come full circle in his career.

    Deivi Garcia and Mike King should both be up here in the starting rotation. If you’re only going to win 1 out of 3 games you’re about a 65 win club so might as well get a look at the kids. I’d start calling around to contending clubs and ask if they want Chapman, O’Day and Judge. This just isn’t a very good team and should be blown to smithereens. Sox, Jays and Rays are all better and the Os might be too.

  11. Steve

    Can’t wait for the Luxury Tax Reset parade this November.

  12. Jason

    I’m getting tired of hearing “it wont last forever” when we know it will come back in October. Hal’s mandate, Cashman’s arrogance, Boone’s incompetence, and this team’s false bravado are not going to lead to a championship.
    Guess we should start hanging banners for “winning seasons” not championships going forward.

    • Maartin

      It’s cute you think these losers are playing October baseball.

      • Jason

        They have the talent to do so, but not win it all.

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