The Yankees have lost 7 games in 2020 so far and 4 of them have been to the Rays. That is very annoying to me. Oh well. What are you going to do except go get ’em tomorrow? At least Gerrit Cole is on the mound for that one. This is why they signed the guy, after all.
The Yanks dropped this one 6-3 (box score) and fall to 16-7 on the year. It was just not their night from the get-go. If you’re still with me after all that, let’s get to tonight’s takeaways.
1. Tanaka Tuesday Goes Awry: Masahiro Tanaka has absolutely owned the Rays recently, including a stellar start against them down in the Trop last weekend. All good things must come to an end, as they say. That was certainly the case tonight. It didn’t seem like it at the start, though. Look at this splitter Tanaka snapped off against Austin Meadows in the first:
That is the kind of thing you want to see from Tanaka, who really relies on that splitter to be effective. But it didn’t last. One batter later, he surrendered a 404-foot out to red-hot Brandon Lowe and he was playing with fire for the rest of the night. Tanaka induced absolutely no soft contact all night:
Which is what tends to happen when you leave all of your breaking pitches here:
There’s not a whole lot more to add to this, really. It was actually the worst Tanaka has ever looked by hard-hit percentage, if you can believe that. (I can believe that.) To be fair, Tanaka made some good pitches – he did get 9 whiffs on 27 swings on his splitter/slider combo – but far too many bad ones. Not a good recipe, especially not when you groove a fastball to the opposing team’s scorching hot hitter with two on:
Yeesh. The Rays would score three other runs against Tanaka. One came on a single by weak-hitting Michael Perez, one on a passed ball (more on that below), and one on a solo shot by Austin Meadows that ended Tanaka’s night to lead off the 5th. Speaking of, that was a weird pull by Aaron Boone, I thought – why send him back out there at all if you pull him right away? Whatever. Doesn’t matter.
All in all, Tanaka surrendered 6 runs on on 8 hits (2 HR) in 4+ innings of work. This GIF about sums up Tanaka’s performance and the entire night, really:
2. The Bullpen Does the Job: As bad as Tanaka was, the bullpen was good tonight. And by “bullpen”, I mean Nick Nelson and Luis Cessa. They were the only two relievers Aaron Boone needed tonight. Here are their respective lines:
- Nick Nelson: 3.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 L
- Luis Cessa: 2.0 IP, zeros, 3 K
Nelson again flashed some impressive stuff – he touched 98 – and got some good results on his change. He had a nice outing, and I again think the Yankees should keep giving him chances. He’s been very, very good in 2 of his 3 appearances so far. He seems to have the stuff, to boot.
Cessa, too, was really, really good. Check out this slider:
That slider got 4 whiffs on 7 swings tonight as Cessa threw 2 perfect innings. All told, the Yanks pen did the damn job. They held the Rays to just two baserunners in 5 innings of work. After Tanaka struggled, Nelson and Cessa did everything they could to give the Yankee offense a chance to get back in the game. Can’t ask for much more than that.
3. The Kraken Giveth, The Kraken Taketh Away: So, about that other run the Rays scored off Tanaka. It was a particularly ugly passed ball for Sánchez, who just whiffed on it:
Yeah. I defend Gary Sánchez but that is an inexcusable mistake and it cost a run. It made a 4-0 game a 5-0 game, which is a huge difference. Despite the fact that Gary’s framing has been much better this year, the passed balls are up again. The Gary discourse will never, ever stop. That’s what this means.
To that point, he made up for it in the next half inning with his stick:
That one went 419 feet and was Gary’s 5th homer of the young season. It continues a trend for Gary, who this year is all or nothing. Of his 9 hits, 5 have left the yard. All told, Gary is hitting .138/.253/.385 (74 wRC+) on the season. Tonight was the ultimate Gary night, eh?
4. Luke Voit Continues to Amaze: Luke Voit was amped up to hit lead-off tonight, and it showed. Voit drew an 8-pitch walk to open up the game against Blake Snell. He then immediately took second on a ball in the dirt, too. Play the part, my man. Play the part. At this point, my love for Luke Voit probably borderlines on parody for regular readers, so I’ll spare you his stats since joining the Yankees. Just trust me that they’re insanely good (he has a 141 wRC+).
That skill was on display again tonight. With the score 6-1 in the bottom of the 5th and in a 1-2 count, Voit did this:
On a 1-2 pitch! You love to see it. Voit is up to .284/.351/.657 (168 wRC+) on the season and is absolutely raking right now during an 8-game hit streak. Remember, my man carried the Yankees while the team was hurt last season. Unfortunately, he didn’t do it that the 7th inning…
5. The Yankees Waste the 7th Inning: …when the Yankees really wasted an opportunity. Against one of the many Rays’ relief aces in Diego Castillo, Mike Tauchman worked a walk and Clint Frazier followed up with a single. After a Miguel Andújar swinging bunt to advance the runners, pinch hitter Mike Ford was hit in the foot to load the bases. (Too bad, too – if it didn’t hit him, the Yanks score a run on a wild pitch. Alas.)
That brought up Luke Voit with one out. Just like Aaron Boone drew it up, right? Put your best hitters at the top of the lineup and see what happens. Anyway, what happened wasn’t really great. Castillo was all over the place, but he made 2 excellent pitches when it really counted:
The first of those nasty pitches was the slider to the right of the orange sinker there. It was on a 2-1 count and it was nasty. He got Voit to swing right over it. The second was the last one, which is the one that caught the bottom of the zone there. He snapped that one off with 3-2 to strike Voit out looking. Gio Urshela came up. He swung at this pitch on 2-1:
And did this:
The Yankees didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities in this game, but this was one and they came up empty. Gah. Just not their night. (To wit, Tauchman also walked to lead off the 9th, but was doubled-off when Clint Frazier hit a scorcher right at 3B. Again, it was just not their night.)
- Middle of Order Woes: The Yanks got absolutely nothing from their 2, 3, and 4 hitters tonight (Urshela/Hicks/Torres). The trio went 0-12 with a walk, which is the exact opposite of setting the table. Interestingly, the Rays used a four-man outfield against Torres in the 8th:
- Andujar Gets a Knock: It may have been a bloop, but Miguel Andújar got a much-needed single in the 3rd inning tonight. He was visibly relieved when he got to first base and he definitely deserved to be. But baseball is cruel. When he hit a 94-mph rope later in the game, it was right at Austin Meadows.
- Aaron Hicks: Sure, Hicks did absolutely nothing at the plate. But he did do this defensively, at least. So that was cool:
- Clint Joins in on the Fun: Speaking of cool defensive plays, check this one out from Clint Frazier. (The Rays reviewed this but the call was upheld.)
The Yanks and Rays will meet again tomorrow night in the Bronx for the second of this three-game set. Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.04 ERA) will take the hill for the Rays against Gerrit Cole (4-0, 2.76 ERA) at 7:05 pm EDT. Have a good night, everyone.