The Yankees had a chance to clinch the AL East in CC Sabathia’s final start at Yankee Stadium, but they RISP-failed and had an ugly sixth inning en route to a 3-2 loss to the Angels. Aaron Judge homered while Adam Ottavino took the loss (Box Score).
Here are the takeaways:
1. Ottavino and the infield meltdown
The sixth inning did the Yankees in as Adam Ottavino allowed a run for the fourth consecutive outing with the Yankees tied 2-2 going into the deciding frame.
It started with a line-drive double by Michael Hermosillo, the seven-hitter, and Ottavino then gave up a hard hit grounder to Luke Voit. The grounder glanced off Voit’s glove but right to DJ LeMahieu backing up. However, Ottavino didn’t cover first base in time and no outs were made.
The next batter hit a slow grounder to Voit, who faked home to avoid a run, but then didn’t back up and tag first base, loading the bases. Ottavino recovered to force a short flyout from Andrelton Simmons and brought up the all-time leader in double plays, Albert Pujols.
Pujols hit a nubber back to Ottavino, who did his best Dellin Betances fielding impression and threw it to the backstop.
That ended Ottavino’s night with the Angels taking the decisive 3-2 lead, but Tommy Kahnle relieved him and struck out the Kole Calhoun and Kevan Smith on seven pitches total.
Ottavino is struggling right now. Sure, this was an unearned run and there were three soft-hit balls. But he isn’t getting the swings and misses he needs in recent outings (just one on 19 pitches this game and none on his slider) and hitters are on his offspeed stuff. His velocity is fine, so he just needs to pitch through this slump a little. Ideally, he’d get a nice 3-4 run lead to protect Thursday or Friday.
2. One last time for CC in the Bronx*
Sabathia toed the rubber for the final time in the Bronx. He was immediately greeted with a bunt single — Why don’t more players do that against him? — but he worked his way out of a mini-jam with some weak grounders and pop ups. He then followed it up by striking out the side in the second inning.
However, the third inning was a slog. After fanning the No. 9 hitter, he allowed five straight batters to reach base. A few were bloop hits, but there were some harder hits and a walk in between. He just can’t get through the order a second time anymore, even against a weak Angels team.
With two runs in and the bases loaded, he got Brian Goodwin to pop out. Aaron Boone quickly relieved him and Sabathia exited to an emotional standing ovation as his teammates mobbed him outside the dugout.
In all, CC allowed two runs on five hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings. That is not only CC’s last start in the Bronx, but probably his last career start. If he makes the postseason roster, it’ll probably be as a reliever.
*in the regular season.
2a. German with an uneventful piggyback
Domingo Germán came into a bases-loaded jam in the third inning and promptly threw three balls. Behind 3-0 in the count, he stayed calm and came back to force a ground out from Taylor Ward.
He’d finish the fourth and fifth innings with little fanfare, allowing three baserunners and striking out two. His velocity was steady in the low-to-mid 90s and he got six swings and misses on 44 pitches.
This was another preview of Germán’s potential postseason role and he’s yet to allow a run in 6 1/3 innings as a piggyback reliever in the last week.
3. Nothing but Judge
Just one of those nights offensively. The Yankees faced Dillon Peters, a soft-tossing lefty with a high-spin curveball. Peters had a simple method for attacking the Yankees: High fastballs and low curveballs to mess with the Yankees’ sight lines.
For the most part, it worked. He had runners on in every inning and that bit him in the third inning when Aaron Judge absolutely demolished a ball for a two-run shot.
But with a runner on second and none out in the second, third and fourth, Peters was able to strand the runner without further damage as the Yankees went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Luke Bard relieved him in the fifth inning and went nine-up, nine-down over the next three frames. The Yankees didn’t muster much of anything against Daniel’s brother, a former Rule 5 pick.
Relievers Ty Buttrey and Hansel Robles allowed just one baserunner between the two of them to close the game. Ultimately, the Yankees’ chances laid in the early innings as they went 1-for-16 over the final five frames.
4. Giancarlo Back
In just his 10th game of the year, Stanton led off the second inning against Peters and fell behind 0-2. The second pitch was a curveball that was a little low.
Instead of flailing at another curve in the dirt, Stanton laid off two tough ones, fouled back a high fastball, and got his pitch on 2-2. He lined it for a double 106.6 mph into the left-center field gap. You actually love to see it.
In his next at-bat, he hit a 113.4 mph grounder up the middle into a shift, or else it would have scored a run. He struck out against Bard in his final at-bat and was lifted after six innings.
Stanton only had one real chance in the field when Albert Pujols hit a single off Sabathia with men on first and second. As David Fletcher sprinted around third, Stanton fired a one-hopper to Kyle Higashioka. If Higgy had held on to the ball, it would have been an assist in the nick of time. Instead, it went as an RBI single, though it was a good looking play from Giancarlo.
5. Bullpen fine outside of Otto
Though Ottavino had a rough outing, his counterparts in the bullpen kept the game close.
I already mentioned Kahnle’s Houdini act. After Kahnle came Green, who walked and hit consecutive batters. However, he bookended them with three strikeouts, overpowering the Angels’ batters.
After him, Zack Britton kept on dominating. He struck out two, one on his only slider of the night, and now has his ERA under 2.00. He’s allowed one run since July 23 in Minnesota. It coincides with a rise in his slider, though his sinker did most of the damage tonight. Here’s video of his slider anyway.
And finally, Luis Cessa handled the ninth inning. He gave up a single, turned a nice double play — remember, he’s a former infielder — and struck out Justin Bour. Audition for October?
Aroldis Chapman, by the way, hasn’t pitched since Sept. 12 and has just 1 2/3 innings in September. There haven’t been many save opportunities, but I have to imagine he’s rusty.
- The Angels intentionally walked Gio Urshela before his at-bat began in the second inning. There was Stanton on second and two outs, so the Angels wanted to get to Higashioka. Considering this game means nothing for Anaheim, this confused me to no end. Why not let your guy attack Urshela?
- Pujols stole second base off German and is now 12-for-12 since 2015. That’s just fun.
- DJ LeMahieu singled, walked and scored a run. His average is up to .329 and remains second in the batting title race. Torres and Stanton each doubled while Judge had a homer. Gardner singled twice. That was it for baserunners.
- The Yankees are sticking around the clubhouse to watch the end of the Rays game. If the Rays lose to the Dodgers, the Yankees clinch the division. They’re tied 3-3 as time of publishing, and I’ll have a separate post if the division is over tonight.
- Houston leads the Rangers, which puts the Yankees in a tough spot in the homefield advantage race as the ‘Stros already have the tiebreaker.
The Yankees close out the series with another 6:35 p.m. start against the Angels on Thursday. Masahiro Tanaka (10-8, 4.60 ERA) was moved up to take this start against southpaw Andrew Heaney (4-5, 4.76).