It’s too bad the Yankees don’t face the lowly Red Sox again until September. The Yankees completed a four game sweep against Boston at Yankee Stadium to improve to 16-6, 2.5 games ahead of the Rays in the division. Meanwhile, the Red Sox depart at 6-17 and their season all but over. The final in this one: 6-3.
Rain halts Jordan Montgomery’s best start of the season. A one hour and 23 minute rain delay cost Monty a chance to get a win in this one. The delay came with two outs in the fourth, which turned out to be the end of Montgomery’s evening. In sum, the lefty threw 3 2/3 innings, struck out four, and allowed just one run (that he probably shouldn’t have, more on that below). Montgomery had just about everything working. He was throwing hard, missing bats, locating his pitches, and generating a lot of weak contact.
It sure looks like the lefty’s velocity uptick is here to stay. Montgomery averaged 92.9 MPH on his fastball and topped out at 94.1 on the evening. His sinker sat 92.7 and touched 93.8. That’s not overpowering in today’s sense, but it’s very good for Monty. Considering how well he spotted his pitches today, that velo really did him wonders.
Save for a couple sinkers down the middle (both taken for strikes), Monty lived on the edges this evening. That’ll do.
Monty also had good feel for his curve and changeup in this one, which worked well off his fastball/sinker. He got nine whiffs on 27 swings, and when the Red Sox did make contact, it wasn’t well struck. Boston’s average exit velocity was a paltry 77.8 MPH on the evening.
That’s a lot of blue. Soft contact has become Montgomery’s forte this year, by the way. Entering tonight:
- Exit Velocity: 96th percentile
- Hard Hit %: 68th percentile
- Barrel %: 74th percentile
That’s great stuff. Even with a little more hump on his fastball this season, Montgomery isn’t going to be a strikeout pitcher. He’ll need to limit hard contact to maintain success, and so far, so good. I just wish we got to see him go a little deeper in this one.
Nerdy stuff aside, Montgomery really got into a groove after the Torres error in the first. He recorded eleven straight outs thereafter up until back-to-back-to-back singles with two outs in the fourth. Then mother nature came calling.
Bats and B-List relievers keep A-listers fresh for Tampa Bay series. Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, and Zack Britton didn’t have to warm up for this one. That’s big going into an important series against the Rays tomorrow, who were off today and will have a fresh bullpen themselves. Aroldis Chapman wrapped this one up, but he was expected to get into this game regardless of the score. It’s his first game back from the COVID-19 injured list, after all.
The offense took care of business pretty early. Part of it was a self inflicted wound by Boston starter Martín Pérez, though. With two outs in the second, he pegged ninth hitter Tyler Wade. You just can’t let Wade reach base like that and the top of the order made him pay. Hicks ripped a double to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Then came Luke Voit:
That wasn’t his only longball of the day. The first baseman also did this in the fifth:
Those were Voit’s sixth and seventh homers of the year. Thairo Estrada delivered one of his own between those two Voit dingers, by the way.
Aaron Hicks added one for good measure.
Enough about the homer parade, how about the bullpen work of Luis Avilán and Michael King? Avilán came into this one with two on and two out in the fourth as play resumed after the rain delay. He worked out of trouble and then pitched a clean fifth inning. Avilán has been sneaky good thus far: he’s got a 2.25 ERA in eight innings.
King came in after Avilán. It was his first appearance since August 8th, but King didn’t show any rust. He threw three innings, allowed just one run, and struck out two. That one run probably shouldn’t have happened, by the way. Miguel Andújar couldn’t track down what turned into a ground rule RBI double by Alex Verdugo in the sixth. Anyway, King was given the win for this one, his first of his career. Congrats to him.
Again, this was a clutch performance from Avilán, King, and the offense. Aaron Boone should be able to use Green, Ottavino, and Britton often in this upcoming series.
We have to talk about Gleyber Torres’s defense. Although things have started to come around offensively, Gleyber’s defense has been another story this season. In short, it hasn’t been very good. Tonight, Torres made two throwing errors. He now has six on the season, second to Boston’s Rafael Devers who has 8. Gleyber also couldn’t haul in a Christian Vázquez bloop single in the fourth inning that arguably should have been caught.
Tonight’s game started with his first error. Kevin Pillar hit a routine grounder to short, but Torres couldn’t convert it into an out. His throw to first pulled Luke Voit off the bag toward home plate. Per Statcast, that grounder had an expected batting average of .050. Pillar is a good runner, so perhaps that put some pressure on Gleyber to make a good throw. In any case, it’s a play Torres has to make. The good news is that Montgomery worked around that error to pitch a scoreless first, including a 6-4-3 double play turned by Torres and Tyler Wade.
Moving on to the Vázquez single, which cut the Yankees lead to 3-1 at the time. Let’s take a look:
Torres seemed to have a quick first step, but then slowed down and took a circuitous route to the landing spot. He got his glove on it but couldn’t haul it in. Look, I’m not saying that this is an easy play, but it’s one he probably should have made. If you didn’t notice his odd route to the ball on video, you can get a better sense of it from Statcast below:
Statcast also has that batted ball at an expected batting average of .580, but that may be somewhat misleading. Namely, Statcast only considers launch angle and exit velocity. In other words, it treats that blooper’s hit probability the same as if it was hit down the right field line.
Torres wasn’t done there though. He made another throwing error in the top of the top of the fifth inning. This time, it was a grounder off of José Peraza’s bat. Peraza is very fast — 87th percentile in sprint speed — but this was yet another routine grounder that should have been an out.
In fairness to Gleyber, he is just 23 and this is his first (sort of) full season at shortstop at the big league level. I’m a little more willing to give him a pass on the blooper, but he needs to be more consistent on routine plays.
- This was the Yankees’ fourth rain delay of the season. It clocked in at one hour and 23 minutes.
- Interesting game for Miguel Andújar, who’s back with the team with DJ LeMahieu on the injured list. He *just* missed a grand slam in his first at-bat: he hit a 381 foot flyout to end the first inning. Later, he scorched a line drive right at Peraza. Nice to see some good swings from Miggy. Now, for the not so good. I touched on this earlier, but he took an awkward route on a very catchable fly ball hit by Verdugo to left field in the sixth. But instead of hauling it in, it landed for a ground rule double. Andújar is very new to left field, so we’ll cut him some slack here. Mike Tauchman came in as a defensive replacement later.
- To add to Gleyber’s rough night in the field, he also got picked off first base in the seventh inning by Sox catcher Christian Vázquez. At least it didn’t take the defense and baserunning to the plate. He reached base via walk twice tonight.
- Aroldis Chapman looked good in the ninth despite allowing a run. His fastball reached 100 MPH four times.
Up next: the Rays for three games in the Bronx. Should be a good one. See you tomorrow.