Well, that sure was a baseball game. The Yankees absolutely destroyed the Blue Jays (box score) 13-3. It was even uglier than the line appears. The Yanks improve to 98-52 on the season and remain ahead of the Astros and Dodgers for home-field advantage in the postseason. Both teams will play later tonight. Keep an eye out on that, if you’re so inclined.
The Yankees had 19 hits and scored a bunch of runs. This one was a laugher. Let’s get right to the takeaways.
1. James Paxton, Game 1 Starter: I believe that James Paxton is reminding everyone why the Yankees traded for him. Today is his 9th consecutive victory (he has not lost since the trade deadline). As I wrote the other day, he should be the Yankees’ Game 1 starter, hands-down, at this point. Here is his line today: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 3 K.
It wasn’t his sharpest performance–he got lucky in the 1st, a 30 pitch inning from which he escaped unscathed because the one hit was hit too hard for a runner to score from 1st–but he got the job done. Here is his strike zone plot:
There’s not a whole lot to say about this one. He wasn’t great but he did not get punished for it. All in all, a fine performance. I’ll take it.
2. Brett Gardner Today, Tomorrow, Forever: Brett Gardner made his Major League debut on June 30, 2008, more than 11 years ago. In his first 620 big league games, played from that debut through the end of the 2013 season, Gardner hit .268/.352/.381 (97 OPS+) with 23 home runs in more than 2200 plate appearances. He actually had more triples (33) than home runs. What a difference a half-decade (and a juiced ball) makes, eh? As we all know, Gardner is having a career year in 2019 despite being asked to play every day–and he is having quite the power surge.
He added to that today, slugging two home runs, a double, and logging 5 RBI. Let’s start with the “double”. Check it out:
Obviously, that’s a seeing-eye ground ball, but it’s a bit misleading to leave it at that. After some bad baserunning earlier in the game, Gardner deftly took the extra-base and set up the team with 2nd and 3rd and nobody out. He also drove in a run. That’ll do.
That wasn’t enough, though. He added his 24th homer of the season, too. Check out the solo blast in the 4th:
That was no cheapie, either, leaving the bat at 99 mph and traveling 412 feet. Good stuff yet again. But that still wasn’t all, because one 412 foot home run just isn’t enough for Gardner anymore. Check it out, this one coming with two on in the 5th inning:
That one also traveled 412 feet and made it 6-0 Yankees. You might be thinking that this was enough excellence from Brett Gardner for one game but I am pleased to tell you, my friend, that you are badly mistaken. He flashed some trademark leather in the bottom half of the inning, making a great leaping catch against the wall that he had to travel to get to:
Statcast says he traveled 126 feet to get there, which feels about right. What a play that is, and what a game for Brett. He went 3-5 on the game, raising his line to .248/.323/.500 (113 wRC+). I love it. For good measure:
3. DJ LeMahieu Still Wants that Batting Crown: DJ LeMahieu has been in a bit of a slump recently. Check it out:
In English, that means he has been struggling. Coming into today’s game, DJ was hitting just .242/.306/.273 (58 wRC+) over the last week, which has gotta be one of his worst weeks of the season. I’m too lazy to look that up (though the above graph kinda supports it) but that is how it feels. There was never really much to worry about though. Good players get into slumps all of the time. They get out of them, too.
DJ started getting out of the funk in the 2nd game of the doubleheader in Detroit. He went 0-6 in the day game, 3-5 in the 2nd game, and 2-6 last night. He added 4 more hits tonight, raising his average to .329 on the season.
DJ is still trailing Chicago’s Tim Anderson for the AL batting crown, but today’s performance should help him close the gap. This will be a fun one to watch as the season winds down. It sure would rule if DJ won the batting crown. It’s amazing nobody has won it in both leagues before. It really is. I think that should stop being true now, though. It is time.
4. Luke Voit is Definitely Healthy: So, remember when Luke Voit was hurt and not looking like himself? Me too. But I think it’s plainly obvious at this point that the big man is feeling it yet again. He was hitting .289/.373/.444 (119 wRC+) in 51 plate appearances since returning from the injury coming into today, but the big question with him was the power. He’d been in a bit of a power funk before unleashing on a ball in Detroit last week.
More of the same today, really, where he absolutely mercilessly murdered a baseball. Check this out:
That thing had a family, man. Good grief. 107 miles-per-hour, 439 feet, etc. etc. Just an absolute bomb. That angle is good, but I just love this view from YES via The Times’ James Wagner:
That is just ridiculous. I could watch that all day, honestly. Anyway, remember when nobody was sure if Voit would be the odd-man-out in playoff lineups? I think those days are gone. Obviously, they’re gone in part because of injury, but even still: Luke Voit leads the team in OBP at .390, has been an offensive force for a year, and is getting his power back. If the Yanks make a run, Voit will be at the heart of it. It’s nice to see him getting back into his normal power-hitting form.
- Gleyber Torres, 40-HR Power: Gleyber Torres is going to hit 40 home runs. It’s insane. Now, it’s also worth noting here that Gleyber left the game with what could have been an injury. He made a nice play in the middle innings, but seemed to have some weird footing on the dumb Toronto turf. He was examined, stayed in the game, and then was removed after the score became 9-1. Hopefully, that was just precautionary due to the blowout (laughs nervously). Everything is fine, right? Right? I mean, he did do this, so it can’t all be bad (laughs even harder):
- Hit Batters: Thairo Estrada and Gleyber Torres were both hit by pitches in this game. So was Lourdes Gurriel. For a few minutes, it seemed like there may be some fireworks. That was quickly dispelled and the only fireworks came from the Yankee bats.
- Bad Baserunning: There was a lot of bad baserunning in this game–from Torres and LeMahieu most notably–but the Yankees crushed the Blue Jays and those mistakes seemed to be mental errors. The kind where they misread a flyball and got caught stranded. I’m only putting this here because it happened and maybe cost the Yanks a few runs? Whatever. The Yanks don’t make these mistakes often and this game was, in the grand scheme of things, pretty pointless. (Cue 500 people on Twitter trying to “teach” me about home-field advantage.)
The Yankees and Blue Jays will meet for the final time of the 2019 season tomorrow afternoon at 1:07 pm in the Rodgers Centre. Jordan Montgomery (read about him here) will make his season debut (!) against T.J. Zeuch (0-0, 5.40 ERA) in Canada. Enjoy the rest of your night, everyone.