What a freaking game. It took just one swing — Giancarlo Stanton’s mammoth grand slam in the eighth — to wipe out all of the frustrations from earlier in this one. From getting shut down by Nick Pivetta to another failed contact play to another double play, the offense was awfully quiet after yesterday’s outburst. Stanton changed that in a heartbeat and the Yankees won a thriller, 5-3. There’s still one more to play in Boston tomorrow, and here are the Wild Card standings at this very moment:
As such, tomorrow will be the biggest game of the season (yet again). Finish the sweep and go to Toronto atop the Wild Card standings (Boston holds the tiebreaker). Is that too much to ask?
While Stanton is the hero tonight, the pitching staff did another brilliant job. Nestor Cortes did his thing and the bullpen, highlighted by Luis Severino’s second appearance of the year, kept the game within reach. More on Stanton, Severino, and others in the takeaways after the jump.
I don’t want to hear another word about Giancarlo Stanton. He’s gonna get booed again because…well…you know. Fans are fickle, especially in the Bronx. Come next April when he strikes out four times in a game the boo birds will return, regardless of how many big home runs he hits. I think back to his huge second half in 2018, his homer against Zack Greinke in the 2019 ALCS, all of his long balls last postseason, and his incredible second half this year that’s helped keep this team alive. The man steps up in big spots time and time again, and tonight was no different:
That anyone ever boos this guy is hilarious.
Anyway, the offense couldn’t get anything going all night against Nick Pivetta and Boston’s bullpen, including a few missed opportunities. I mentioned the contact play faux pas in the intro (which I have more on shortly) and other blown scoring chances. But this time? Nope. Stanton didn’t waste any time making a 2-1 deficit a 5-2 advantage. And it was a vintage Stantonian blast, might I add.
Coming into tonight’s game, Stanton had a .310/.361/.621 (163 wRC+) batting line with 16 homers since August 3rd. Entering that day? 16 homers in 356 plate appearances (and a 120 wRC+). He’s been absolutely red hot when the team has needed him the most.
The Yankees have a new bullpen weapon in Luis Severino. There’s never a bad time to add a bullpen monster, but sheesh, Sevy has a chance to be lethal in relief over the next week and postseason. With Zack Britton and Darren O’Day done for the year and still some uncertainty about Jonathan Loaisiga (though he should return next week), Severino may have just emerged as another high leverage arm for Aaron Boone.
Today he threw all three of his pitches — fastball, slider, and changeup — with aplomb. Most relievers need just two pitches to be successful. Three is either unnecessary or a luxury. For Severino, it’s a luxury and a nightmare for opposing hitters.
Severino blanked Boston in the seventh and eighth innings, and though he worked relatively hard to do so (37 pitches), he struck out four and allowed just one baserunner via walk. He picked up 7 whiffs on 16 swings. Xander Bogaerts did take Sevy to the warning track on one batted ball, but it may have looked worse than it really was because of how close the Green Monster is.
Keep in mind that Severino did this in the team’s biggest game yet. He kept a one run deficit in place and picked up his first major league win since 2019. If this was a test, he passed it with flying colors. Keep putting him in high leverage spots and good things should continue to happen. He’s got the stuff to do it, and he certainly has been fired up about his success so far. You love to see it.
I hate the contact play. The Yankees struggled against Nick Pivetta in this one, but finally got to the Boston bullpen in the sixth. The Sox’ starter exited with runners on second and third with one out, and in came Hansel Robles to face Aaron Judge. The score was 2-0 Boston at the time, but quickly became 2-1 when Robles threw a wild pitch upon entrance. That left Brett Gardner on third with one out and Judge still hitting with the heart of the order behind him.
In a scene that we’ve seen too many times this year, the Yankees ran into an out at home plate immediately after the wild pitch. Judge bounced to third and Gardner tried to score on the much-maligned contact play. He was thrown out.
Yankees: 22nd out at home this season. Most in MLB— New York Yankees Stats (@nyyankeesstats) September 25, 2021
I’ll talk about Judge’s at-bat in a minute — it was bad — but you can’t run the contact play in this situation. Again, the heart of the order is up. Give them as many chances as possible with RISP. Two, Robles just threw a wild pitch! I don’t care that Gardner is fast and Boston’s infield defense is lackluster. Even if Judge fails, you still have Rizzo up next.
Now, about Judge’s groundout. He’s had an amazing season and made some great defensive plays tonight, but that at-bat was a killer. Especially when you see where the 1-0 pitch was:
Blah. Thankfully, that didn’t ruin the night for the team or Judge, because…
Aaron Judge is a complete player. Obviously didn’t like what he did against Robles in the sixth, but he made a positive impact in this game nonetheless. He made a couple of nice plays in right field, including this:
And even though he didn’t get the job done at the plate in the sixth, he prolonged a two out rally in the eighth that led to Stanton’s grand slam. He knocked out Tanner Houck after he drew a walk and spit on some tough sliders down-and-away:
The box score may not look so great for Judge (0-for-3 with a walk and run scored), but it’s easy to see how special of a player he is in games like this. He can do more than just launch massive home runs. Yes, I’m sure he’d like that sixth inning at-bat back, but all things considered, he was vital to tonight’s victory.
- I initially had a longer takeaway about tipping my cap to Nick Pivetta, but obviously things changed late in this one. Yes, it was incredibly frustrating to not hit Pivetta after the team vanquished noted Yankee-killer Nathan Eovaldi yesterday. Pivetta came into today’s start with a 7.32 ERA in his last five starts, which includes the August 18th game that the Yankees knocked him out in the second inning. That said, if you took a look at Pivetta’s pitch plot tonight, you’d see a guy who was in command of everything. He had added velocity on his fastball too.
- Aroldis Chapman gave up a solo homer and allowed the tying run to come to the plate in the ninth, but fortunately held on for the save.
- Nestor Cortes did a really nice job twice going through Boston’s order twice. He gave up two runs across 4.1 innings and struck out four. One of those two runs came across when Michael King threw a wild pitch to allow an inherited runner to score. King, by the way, looked pretty good otherwise. He fanned two batters in 1.1 frames.
- DJ LeMahieu didn’t play because of a groin and/or hip issue. Rougned Odor started in his place and went 0-for-3, though one of his flyouts would have been a home run in literally every other major league ballpark.
The Yankees can complete a sweep of the Red Sox tomorrow night in Boston. A win puts the Yankees cleanly in the top Wild Card spot over Boston. Jordan Montgomery (6-6, 3.55 ERA) will take on Eduardo Rodríguez (11-8, 4.97 ERA). See you then.