With 9 games left in the season, the Yankees are back in playoff position. They dispatched the Rangers 7-3 Wednesday night, scoring 7 unanswered runs and 4 in the 8th inning. It was a great game that got my Yankee energy flowing in full force. Yelling at the TV, talking trash on Twitter, the whole 9 yards. The win meant that the Yankees actually swept a team, and boy did they need to. Even a single loss in this series would have been catastrophic, but they took care of business. Thank god for that.
Anyway, let’s get right to tonight’s takeaways, which I’m actually posting on time. Imagine!
Corey Kluber Couldn’t Replicate the Early Season Magic. We all remember Corey Kluber’s magical night in May, obviously, when he no-hit the Rangers in Arlington. Tonight was not a repeat. Kluber was not all that sharp, allowing 8 hits and 3 runs in 4.1 innings of work. A quick look at his pitch plot shows why:
That’s a lot either off the plate or right down the center. The swing-and-miss areas (high and low) are non existent, and there are a ton of hanging curveballs in there. In fact, Kluber only elicited a whiff on 16 of swings against him, which is not what you want.
There’s not a whole lot more to add here, really. It was a forgettable but not disastrous start from Kluber. I am sure he wishes it were better, but what can you do? Not everyone has it every night.
That Was a Stellar Performance from the Pen. The bullpen, on the other hand, was virtually perfect. Coming on in relief of Kluber in the 5th, the combination of Wandy Peralta, Clay Holmes, Chad Green, and Aroldis Chapman would combine for 4.2 innings of no-hit, no-walk baseball. The only player to reach base against the ‘pen came in the 8th, and he was quickly erased on a misguided stolen base attempt. Much more on that to come.
This was all exactly what the doctor ordered. They came into the game with the score 3-0, and they held the fort. It ultimately allowed the Yankee offense a chance to get back into the game, which is exactly what they did. The offense – and a certain defensive replacement catcher – are the story of the night, but don’t sleep on the bullpen. This win doesn’t happen without them.
A Night of the Dueling Backstops. The story of this one was obviously the Yankee backstops. I was, like many of you I’m sure, infuriated by the decision to not start Gary Sánchez. It’s stupid, in my opinion, to give someone like Corey Kluber a Personal Catcher, which is what the Yankees have done. Especially when Higgy, love him though you might, is just not as good as Gary. But alas, it is what it is. I can’t change it.
So, what did Higgy come out and do tonight? All he did was go 2-3 with a huge, huge 2 RBI double in the 5th inning to close the gap and make it 3-2 Rangers. Here is the video of the play:
He really smacked that one. (He hit a ball pretty hard to dead center in the 3rd inning, too.) I joked on Twitter that Gary would have hit it out, but that was just me being glib. Higgy was great tonight, and he did enough to shut me up, even if he subsequently got thrown out here:
Unfortunately for Higgy, though, Gary did a little more to earn the chatter. Sánchez came in in the 8th inning, after Tyler Wade pinch ran for Higgy in the 7th. Here is what he did on defense, following the error I referenced above:
That’s just beautiful. It’s the stuff of “Don’t Run on Gary” from Twitter days of old. A little late inning defensive replacement at catcher never hurt anyone, did it? That defensive replacement really showed up in the bottom half of the same inning, too. Just look at this majestic home run he drilled to dead center. (See, he would have hit the double out, too.)
It’s a good day to be a Gary Sánchez fan, y’all.
- The whole 8th inning was really great, though. Really just wonderful stuff. Gleyber Torres drilled a double down the line following a Joey Gallo double to give the Yankees the lead, and he would subsequently score on a Gio Urshela hit. It was an especially nice hit for Gleyber, who has been sneaky good lately. (Well, good is a stretch – but serviceable, and certainly much better than he had been earlier in the season.) You just love to see it, horrific at-bat earlier in the game aside.
- The other Yankee run came courtesy of a wild pitch that scored Aaron Judge.
- Tyler Wade came on and stole two bases in the 7th, which was pretty great. The Yankees needed just a fly ball, as Wade stood on third with just one out. DJ LeMahieu had a truly terrible at bat that ended in a strikeout, and Anthony Rizzo flew out. Alas.
- Still some shoddy defense in this one. Gio Urshela and Luke Voit both had bad defensive plays, but neither of them bit the Yankees, thankfully. Still, they gotta tighten than up over the next week.
Well, that’s that. It’s about to be a wild ride. The Yankees will take tomorrow off and then play their 9 remaining games against the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Rays. They’ll kick that off on Friday night in Fenway, when Gerrit Cole (15-8, 3.03 ERA) will take on old friend Nate Eovaldi (10-8, 3.58 ERA). That’ll be a big one. Have a good night, everyone.