The Yankees didn’t show up today. Not the starting pitcher, not the manager, and not the offense. As a result, the Rays stomped the Yankees, 12-2. Let’s not waste any more time and get right to the takeaways:
Jordan Montgomery was awful, so Aaron Boone decided to throw gasoline on the fire. It took the manager way, way too long to recognize that his starter did not have it today. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Boone left Montgomery in long enough to completely ruin the team’s odds of coming back to win this game. It’s one thing to try to overcome a 3-1 deficit. But once it got to 7-1? It was curtains.
As the top of the Rays order came up for a second time in the third inning, it was imperative that Boone had someone warming and ready in the bullpen. Game 161 with a playoff spot not yet clinched isn’t a time to push a starter. And yet, here we were. Wander Franco led off the third inning with a single, and realistically, that should have been the end of Monty’s day with Nelson Cruz, Yandy Díaz, and Brandon Lowe coming up. Of course, no one in the bullpen was ready, there was no attempt to stall to hurry someone to warm up, and once Lowe’s turn came around, he put this out of reach:
That was his second three-run homer of the day against Montgomery, and Lowe hit one more homer for good measure later.
The Yankees still has something like a 30 percent chance to win the game when the third inning started. But once Boone waited too long to yank Montgomery, Lowe effectively ended the game.
Boone’s complete lack of situational awareness was embarrassing here. Everyone could tell Montgomery did not have it. He didn’t have good control, as evidenced by three walks, and anytime he was in the zone, Tampa pounced. These exit velocities should have been telling:
Now, as much as Boone exacerbated things, Montgomery isn’t blameless either. What an atrocious performance in a huge game. I’ve been a big advocate for Montgomery, and he had a very good regular season, but today was incredibly disappointing. I know we can point to Game 4 of the ALDS last year as a big game performance, but that increasingly feels like an exception.
But wait, there’s more Boone to discuss. Burning Michael King was pretty awful too. As many said on Twitter during the game, this would have been a perfect spot for Domingo Germán to soak up innings. But of course, Boone had already used him in a one run game yesterday, thereby rendering Germán unavailable today.
I really don’t care how good Boone may be at managing a clubhouse (and is he really? I guess we may never know). He constantly gets outwitted or is too slow to act. The hiring was perplexing at the outset, and four seasons later, we haven’t seen the fruits of his labor. If his name wasn’t “Boone”, he would have never gotten the job in the first place. Please, Yankees, move on from him this winter no matter what happens the rest of the way.
The offense goes silent once again. Anthony Rizzo’s solo homer in response to the Rays three-run first felt like a good indication that the bats wouldn’t go down quietly, but unfortunately, that’s what wound up happening. The Yankees tallied just four hits and three walks and never really threatened to make things interesting. Sure, they could have made it a four run deficit after Gio Urshela’s RBI triple cut the Rays lead to 7-2, but Brett Gardner and Gary Sánchez couldn’t get him in.
Speaking of Gardner and Sánchez, the bottom of the lineup was a black hole today, and that carried to the very top of the order too. Brett, Gary, Andrew Velazquez, and Gleyber Torres combined to go 0-for-14 with a walk (Sánchez) out of the 7-8-9-1 spots. Abysmal. Meanwhile, Torres got some blowback for not reaching first base on a strikeout that went to the backstop. It certainly wasn’t pretty even if the game was already out of reach.
OK, so now what? At the very minimum, the Yankees season won’t end tomorrow. They’ve already guaranteed a Game 163, but they can avoid that altogether by winning tomorrow’s game against the Rays. How? Even if the Blue Jays and Mariners win today and tomorrow, they can’t top the Yankees record if the Bombers win. So, at the very least, the Yankees don’t have to rely on help to make the playoffs still.
However, by dropping these two games to Tampa Bay, home field advantage in the Wild Card game is still up for grabs. And assuming Boston tops Washington today, the Red Sox will be in total control of determining HFA. A Red Sox win today ties them in the standings with the Yankees, and they have the tiebreaker over New York.
If the Yankees lose tomorrow, it’s very possible that they’ll play a tiebreaker on Monday against Seattle or Toronto. Even worse, things could end in a three-way tie.
It’s all a big mess, folks. The Yankees really shot themselves in the foot over the past two days, to say the least. There’s still no starter announced for tomorrow’s game. Gerrit Cole could go on three-days rest to try to put things to bed. Or, they could look to save him for Game 163 or the Wild Card game. We shall see.
- Lucas Luetge (3.0 IP), King (0.1 IP), and Joely Rodríguez (3.0 IP) mopped this one up. All figure to be unavailable tomorrow, though really not having King is the one guy that hurts.
- I’m pretty tired of the Rays constantly beating up on the Yankees. On one of the R2C2 podcast episodes released this week, CC Sabathia mentioned how much the team didn’t respond well to playing Tampa Bay when he was still around. Sure seems like that’s still the case.
- Ken Singleton announced today that he will retire after tomorrow’s game. He’s always been one of my favorites in the booth and I don’t think I know of one person who didn’t enjoy his work. And how could anyone not like Singleton? He’ll be sorely missed next year and beyond.
The Yankees will try to clinch a playoff spot once again tomorrow. It’ll be a 3:05pm start. All teams in the league will be playing at the same time, and given where the standings are right now and will all sorts of multi-team ties still in play for the Wild Card game, things should be quite intense tomorrow. Buckle up, everyone.