Game 27: Yankees Lose Fifth in a Row, Fall to Atlanta 2-1

The Yankees and Braves played the second game of their doubleheader tonight. They lost it 2-1 (box score) for their 5th consecutive loss. They fall to 16-11 on the season. I’ll get to the game itself in a second. But first, the context.

That this game happened at all is notable for two reasons. First, the Yankees barely play baseball games these days. Second, and much more importantly, there is a wave of athlete activism underway right now that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It all started in the NBA, where Bucks players led a strike during the playoffs that then spread to the rest of the league – and to several baseball teams, as well. Baseball teams protesting like this for racial justice is borderline unfathomable to me, frankly.

This all started happening at the end of the first Yanks game, which Derek covered here. There was about an hour between the end of that game and the start of this one. I was really hoping that the Yankees would join in on the protest. They don’t just call the South Bronx home. They are an unparalleled power in American sports with unmatched global and national visibility. The organization had a chance to stand in solidarity with their colleagues and, in doing so, send a very important message. They chose not to act on that chance.

To be fair, this all happened very fast, much of it when the players were physically on the field, and we don’t know what the conversations were like behind the scenes. I am not going to pretend it was an easy choice. From my vantage point, though, choosing to play tonight was a huge missed opportunity for the most powerful sports franchise in America.

Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s get to tonight’s takeaways.

1. Tanaka Time in Atlanta: God, do I love watching Masahiro Tanaka pitch, especially when he’s on. Tonight was the anthesis of his last start against the Rays in that series we all want to forget. He was dominant, pitching 5 shutout innings of 3-hit ball. Tanaka walked none and struck out four and threw 44 of his 66 pitches (66%) for strikes. Boone pulled Tanaka an inning earlier than I expected given the pitch count, but I’m cool with it because it was just a 1-run cushion and boy did the Yankees need a win. I understood going to the pen (I’ll get to that later) even if it didn’t work out.

But I’ll admit it was a shame to not get to see more of this:

Tanaka’s slider was especially nasty this evening, generating 8 whiffs on 20 swings (40%). Those 8 swings made up 72% of the 11 whiffs against him, which is why he used it 33% of the time. He remaining usage was his splitter (16%), fastball (14%), and curve (3%).

He was only in trouble in the 3rd, when there were two and two out following singles by John Camargo and Ronald Acuña Jr. He got Dansby Swanson to ground out, though, so it was no harm, no foul. Overall, a masterful performance from

2. Hey, Look – A Lead: The Yankees took the lead in the 5th inning of this one on a Tyler Wade sacrifice fly. There was obviously no offensive action in game 1 of the doubleheader and very little in this game up to this point. In fact, the Yankees had just two hits – singles from Miguel Andújar and Aaron Judge – going into the 5th inning. That changed with a second Miggy single and an Erik Kratz double to lead off the inning, which put runners on second and third.

Thairo Estrada immediately struck out. To be fair, though, it was on this pitch:

That was at no point a strike. Alas, it doesn’t matter, as Tyler Wade drove in a run by doing this:

He lifted the first pitch he saw the opposite direction and drove Andújar in. It’s not the sexiest run the Yankees have ever scored, but a run is a run, and the Yankees badly needed that one. I’ll take it. Aaron Hicks then grounded out, which was less cool. All in all, the Yanks had second and third on and only managed to score one run. Would that come back to bite them?

3. The Bullpen Doesn’t Get It Done: Yes, of course it would. But I can’t get too worked up about it. Aaron Boone turned to Chad Green with a 1-run lead in the bottom of the 8th 6th inning, which is the right move every single time. Green is dominant and the Braves had the top of their lineup up. It makes sense and you want to do it every single time.

It didn’t work, though. Green – who’d allowed just two hits in his brilliant 2020 so far – gave up a two-out single to Dansby Swanson and then let served up this fastball to Freddie Freeman, who is way too good for this:

There’s no video right now, but it was a 402-foot homer to the opposite field. Just like that, a 1-0 lead was gone and it was a 2-1 deficit. Again, Boone will take some grief here, but he shouldn’t. Tanaka was rolling but you go to your pen at that point in the game. I get it. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work. And besides, Freeman is a hell of a hitter. Perhaps the offense could have scored more than one run!

Leftovers

  • Aaron Judge Returns…Kinda: Judge made his triumphant return this evening and even had a hard-hit single! But then he was removed in the bottom of the 6th inning. It was a one-run game and Judge plays great defense, so I doubt it was “precautionary” or “for defense.” They do not deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point. I hope he’s fine – why play if you’re only healthy enough to play 5 innings? – but I am bracing myself for more bad news. (Update 9:26 pm: I was right. Judge is hurt again. More to come on this in the morning.)
  • Miggy With Two Hits: Here’s a positive note to end on. Miguel Andújar had two base hits. Hey look, I’m trying, okay?

The Yankees are off tomorrow as they return to the Bronx for a doubleheader against the Mets. Enjoy your night, everyone.

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8 Comments

  1. Alex

    Agree with you on the fact that the Yankees should’ve shown sat out last night as well. Disappointed that the Yankees (and the MLB as a whole) did not follow suit with the Bucks and NBA in postponing last night’s games. Would have also meant one less game having to roll out this atrocious lineup and obviously with no game last night, Aaron Judge doesn’t get injured yet again.

    Speaking of Judge, it is becoming absurd how frequently he misses time. Woody Allen is a terrible human being but his quote that “eighty percent of success is showing up” rings true. So while Judge is a terrific player when on the field, he’s never actually on the field. Just like hitting and fielding, staying on the field is a skill. Plenty of things about Derek Jeter’s career were underappreciated but perhaps nothing more than his consistent durability. He played his way through many injuries and kept himself in terrific baseball shape through his mid-late 30s. I just cannot see how you can even consider giving Judge a long-term extension unless it is something that is very team-friendly.

  2. Jim

    Your point is misguided in my opinion! Where are the protests for the slain police officers?

  3. Do we not have any status on Stanton?? I haven’t seen anything from Boone on his progress or when he’s expected back. Unless I missed something

  4. This Year

    Maybe wait for the facts before wishing for the Yankees to forfeit a game. Apparently the guy had a knife from reports this evening. Not sure about that, but if you are going to wander off into SJW territory, at least wait for the facts.

  5. Wire Fan

    Absolutely hate the preprogrammed bullpen usage that Boone and the analytics group do before each game. It is one thing to have a general plan, but you can’t be a slave to it. It burned them several times against TB, and it burned them tonight.

    Tanaka could have had a perfect game going with 15K’s and they still would have gone Green and Chapman… Because that was clearly the pre-game plan.

    66 pitches and 3 baserunners allowed… Better get him out of there. I’d almost understand giving the ball to Chapman in the 7th(9th), but if your starter is dealing with a low pitch count, what is the rush to remove him?

  6. Alex

    When is Cashman going to start being questioned about this team? Boone is getting a lot of heat right now and deservedly so but this is roster, like the team’s coaches, scouts, and player development personnel are on Cashman. Despite having a payroll in the vicinity of $250 million, Cashman has failed to even build a team that is competitive with the Rays and continues to assemble really underwhelming player development programs, particularly on the pitching side. Hopefully Hal is asking some serious questions because this is quite embarrassing.

  7. Gerreddardit Cole

    And as I’ve been saying for years this entire medical and training staff need to be let go. I know people love jolly ol’ Stevie Donahue but he doesn’t get these players ready to play. Ever heard of stretching? Warm up? Stevie’s not in good shape himself and is a dinosaur with antiquated methods. Time to move on. And the same for Dr. Ahmad. Did he even evaluate Judge’s calf? Enough is enough. And Boone needs to tell all these big guys just to jog, or even walk, around the bases. Maybe next year Manfred will let us use designated runners and we can get 74 year old Dad to run for Judge and Stanton.

  8. Gerreddardit Cole

    Boone’s gotta go and Judge’s gotta go, Bobby. I’m tired of Boone treating these starters like babies. Cole even yelled at him for it one game and he’s still making the same dumb mistakes. Tanaka shoulda finished that ballgame. Had he gotten into trouble then you go to the relievers. You never never never take out a dominant starter after 66 pitches unless he’s injured. Boone’s gotta be fired at season’s end if he doesnt win the World Series, and at this rate we won’t even make the expanded postseason.

    And Judge cannot be re-signed to a long term deal. He reminds me of Strasburg. Great talent but just can’t stay healthy. And this was after he heard for a week that Judge was healthy and begged them not to put him on the IL. No you weren’t healthy! Why does everyone always have to lie all the time?

    And I’m with you on the racial protests. I was hoping we would join the boycott so we wouldn’t keep losing games. Our only way out of this mess Boone has created seems to be cancelling the season and I’m all for it.

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