Embed from Getty Images

It’s hard to win a game when the pitching staff issues nine walks in six innings. It’s also hard to win when the offense can only muster one run. That’s what happened to the Yankees this evening as they fell to the Rays, 5-3. The two sides split today’s doubleheader, leaving the Yankees in need of a win tomorrow to salvage a series split.

The loss stinks, but the bigger story is Gianarlo Stanton’s health. More on this below, but Mike Ford pinch hit for Stanton in the sixth inning of this one. It’s possible that Giancarlo hurt himself while running the bases in the fourth. We’ll pass along more information as it’s available.

A King without control

Michael King is still looking for a modicum of consistency early in his career. Once again, we saw him at his best and at his worst in this outing, which happened to be his first big league start. He had made two relief appearances earlier this season. Against the Nationals, he gave up 4 runs in 3 1/3, but all but one of those runs came in his final frame of work. Last week against Boston, King made just two mistakes in 3 2/3 innings — both solo homers. No other baserunners otherwise. Tonight was more of the same.

Perhaps King was a little too amped up in the first inning considering it was his debut as a starter. After Austin Meadows led off with a double, King recorded two quick outs. But from there, things broke down. The 25 year-old rookie walked the next three batters in a row to force in a run before finally getting out of further trouble. Although was around the zone, but couldn’t find it. The bigger problem, at least to me, is that he couldn’t get his sinker down. To wit:

That points to a guy being a little too excited for his first start.

King rebounded after a rough first. He struck out the side in the second and at one point had retired nine in a row, which had brought him to an out away from finishing four innings. That’s when he ran into trouble with the base on balls once again. King walked the next two hitters and Aaron Boone decided that was enough. In came Luis Avilán, who allowed two to score on a bloop single by Meadows. It wasn’t a bad pitch at all…

…but Meadows fisted it into shallow left field for the two-run knock. The 65.4 MPH single gave the Rays a 3-1 lead. Avilán got out of further trouble, which closed King’s line at: 3 2/3 innings, 1 hit, 3 runs, 5 walks, and 4 strikeouts. Another game of hot and cold for King.

Bats go quiet and things get ugly

The Yankees didn’t get anyone into scoring position until the fourth inning of this one. Ryan Thompson and Diego Castillo held their own in the early going, though the Yankees finally broke through in that fourth frame. After a one out walk by Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit strung together back-to-back singles to score a run. At the time, the Voit RBI tied this one at 1. However, it was bittersweet because Torres tried to go first-to-third but was hosed for the second out of the frame.

That baserunning blunder effectively killed the rally against Peter Fairbanks. In the next frame, the Yanks went down quietly vs. Andrew Kittredge, 1-2-3.

Struggles aside, the Yankees bench grew more and more frustrated with the umpiring crew in this one. DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela were recipients of some chin music in this one, and the Yankees clearly were not happy. At the minimum, the bench clearly wanted some sort of warning to protect the Yankees’ hitters. That didn’t come, and after the top of the fifth, ejections came. Both Aaron Boone and Marcus Thames were sent packing.

That wasn’t the end of the Yankees’ tribulations with the umps, however. But first, let’s get to potentially more significant news. In the sixth, with the Yankees down 5-1, Mike Ford pinch hit for Giancarlo Stanton with runners on first and second and nobody out against southpaw Jalen Beeks. YES later showed replays of Stanton running the bases apparently grimacing after sliding into second base. Meredith Marakovits reported that he left with a tight left hamstring. Not great!

Now, about that Ford at-bat. This is where the Yankees had beef with home plate umpire Vic Carapazza again. Or should I say, Carapazza antagonized the Yankees.

After Carapazza rung up Ford on a couple of close pitches, he seemingly barked and followed Ford back to the dugout. Not pretty, though cooler heads prevailed. After that, Gleyber bounced into an inning ending double play to effectively end any chance for a comeback. Torres was having a nice doubleheader up until that point.

Leftovers

  • Comeback foiled: the Yankees tried to muster a rally in the seventh, but (literally) came up just short. DJ LeMahieu plated two runs with an RBI single against Jalen Beeks. That brought up Aaron Judge, and in came Rays’ relief ace Nick Anderson. He hit a 391 foot flyout to end the game. Just missed it.
  • Albert Abreu made his big league debut tonight serving as the roster’s 29th man for the doubleheader. As he’s known to do, Abreu struggled with control in 1 1/3 innings. He gave up 3 hits, 2 runs, and 2 walks on 41 pitches. He also struck out 2. Abreu did flash some nasty stuff, however. His fastball touched 98 and his slider had a ton of movement.
  • Ben Heller made his second appearance of the season in a clean sixth inning.
  • Aroldis Chapman threw his second bullpen today in Scranton. He’s expected to face hitters in the coming days.
  • Erik Kratz maintained his 1.000/1.000/1.500 lifetime batting line with the Yankees’ since 2017 through one plate appearance today. Kratz walked against Castillo, but was finally put away by Kittredge to end his run. In the seventh, Kratz doubled down the right field line.

One more game left in this series as the Yankees hope to salvage a split in this series. It’s a matinee tomorrow featuring James Paxton and Charlie Morton. Hopefully we see a better version of Paxton tomorrow.