Game 153: The Late-Inning Defensive Replacement Catcher Who Saved the Season

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.

Leftovers

  • 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.

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8 Comments

  1. Kevin

    If Sanchez is still on the team next year it should be as a backup, based on merit. THAT won’t happen, team is too cheap. Gary has over ninety pitches get past him this season, most in baseball. I don’t understand what happened to Sanchez. He looks like a man who never sleeps, and plays like it. He’s situationaly unaware with with a bat in his hand, or with the glove. I defended him for a long time, but it’s clear that he will never be a winning ballplayer, at least with the Yankees. He needs a change of scenery.

  2. I think Sanchez and Higgy have comparable value. They’re both low-average guys with power. Gary hits for a slightly better average (lol), and has a better arm, but Higgy’s a much better defensive player.

  3. Frankie Ho-Tep

    Sanchez is hitting .192/.265/.383 over his last 36 games. It’s hard to understate what a privilege it is to have that kind of a weapon down the stretch of a playoff hunt. HE IS STILL GARY!!

    If the Yankees had any brains left in that front office, they’d extent this man tomorrow. No, forget tomorrow… TODAY. That kind of production doesn’t grow on trees.

  4. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    I thought it was the best win of the season, Bobby. But let’s not be ridiculous, Gary coming in late did not save the season. They scored 4 runs in the 8th and already had a 5-3 lead when Gary hit that HR. And it was Higgy’s 2 run double that got us back in the ballgame in position to win. Gary had a great throw to throw out a runner but even if that guy comes around to score they still win. I don’t get how that saved the season but oh well. I’ve never seen such ardent undying love for one man and I’m a Trump supporter. Wade is a hell of a weapon on the base paths. DJ had the worst AB I ever saw when Wade got to 3rd. Such bad situational hitting. I wish we could put DJ down in the order and put Gardy at leadoff. At least he sees pitches and works counts. I think Boone needs to stop finding playing time for Voit. He ain’t doing anything at the plate and is even worse with the glove. Just play Rizzo, Gallo, Stanton, Gardy and Judge. That’s your best lineup.

    We need to win at least 2/3 of these next 3 series to have a chance. Jays play Minnesota so you know they won’t lose. We’ll be lucky if the Twins take one. People say the Rays will have nothing to play for that last series. I think they have everything to play for. Cash and the Rays hate the Yankees and will do everything they can to make sure we don’t get in the postseason.

  5. This headline is such a bunch of crap it’s beyond words.

    Sanchez is what he is-a 200 hitter (at best) with some power who is below average behind the plate.

    So he threw someone out on a steal, big deal-he’s at 19% for the season, below league average, while making enough bad defensive plays recently at critical points in games to put the Yankees in a hole. How many throws to 1st has he bounced in the dirt recently and only good plays by Rizzo saved errors?

    His HR added two runs that weren’t needed, they had already taken the lead and tacked on an extra run. The actual key hit in the game last night was Higashioka’s double to score the 1st 2 runs, it was looking like they would never score and lose another game in the same manner as many others this season.

    I’m a Yankees fan and don’t root against any player, it was a good win last night and I hope they squeeze into the playoffs, where anything can happen.

    It’s really difficult to take a writer seriously when the bias is so overwhelming. Sanchez hit .147 last year, if that wasn’t enough to punch his ticket out of town then I don’t know what is. Until he is gone, though, he’s a Yankee although, IMO, not a very valuable one.

    • JFB

      We are all entitled to our own opinions. No need to be mean, though. There is no place, in a community of connoisseurs like this one, for comments like “It’s really difficult to take a writer seriously when the bias is so overwhelming.”

      • Jack H.

        I don’t agree with the person who wrote the original post, but I’m not sure this is all that “mean.” Sure, a little snarky and critical, but in the internet and social media age this almost qualifies as cuddly. And I LOVE this blog (my favorite on the web) and writer.

      • It’s not mean at all, it’s to the point and what I believe.

        The headline is inaccurate and very biased towards Sanchez, just like every column on this site when he has the occasional good game.

        Let him hit the game winning HR in an end of the season game that puts the Yankees in the playoffs, then it would be appropriate, not for an add-on home run when the real key hit was by the guy who was in the starting lineup instead of him.

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