Make it 1-7 vs. Tampa Bay this season. The Yankees fell to the Rays 5-3 this evening. The loss drops the Yankees to 4.5 games back in the division with not much time left. Not good. Here are the takeaways:
Gerrit Cole is still trying to figure things out. Another not so good outing for the Yankees’ ace tonight. In five innings, Cole struck out seven but allowed four runs on eight hits, four walks, and a hit batter. Two of those hits left the ballpark. Similar to his previous outing against Atlanta, the Rays made a ton of loud contact against Cole.
That’s a lot of dark red, though a lot of it came in the first inning. The big blows were homers by Ji-Man Choi and Kevin Kiermaier. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Cole has given up a dinger in every start this season.
Tonight, it was quite evident that Cole’s command was lacking. Four walks and a hit batter tells that story pretty clearly. It’s also worth pointing out Cole’s had a hard time finding the zone with anything other than his fastball this season:
Mentioned this after Cole's last start, but I can't help but wonder if Cole's inability to throw anything other than his fastball in the zone this year is a driving factor to the hard contact. pic.twitter.com/J2GxNKrwR4— Views from 314ft (@ViewsFrom314ft) August 31, 2020
Perhaps it’s no surprise that eight of the ten hard hit balls against Cole came against his fastball. Granted, he throws his fastball more than any other pitch (51 percent tonight), but still. If opponents don’t believe you can drop a breaker or a changeup in the zone, they’re going to wait to hit the fastball. That’s pretty much what happened tonight. Katie Sharp noted that Cole’s 98.9 MPH exit velocity against his fastball was the highest against the pitch since 2015.
As to why Cole’s having a hard time, for instance, dropping a curveball in the zone? That’s hard to say.
Gerrit was able to get some sliders and changeups in the zone tonight, but the former wasn’t located very well. You can see a lot of yellow dots in the heart of the zone. Choi’s homer was on a hanging slider, by the way. Now, as for his changeup: it actually seemed to be his best offering tonight: Of the 13 he threw, Rays hitters swung 8 times and whiffed on 6. None were put into play.
Hopefully Cole can straighten things out come his next time out. He’s in line to face Baltimore on Sunday.
This lineup never stood a chance against Tyler Glasnow. We’ve said this before recently, but we’ll say it again: Luke Voit and Clint Frazier aren’t enough to carry this offense. And that’s no disrespect to those two, who have been excellent. It’s just that two good hitters don’t make a lineup.
Tyler Glasnow straight up dominated. He struck out nine batters in six innings and took a no-hitter into the ninth before DJ LeMahieu’s infield single. Granted, he did it against a very depleted lineup:
- DJ LeMahieu: Just returned from thumb injury, jury is out if there are any lingering effects.
- Luke Voit: No concerns here.
- Mike Ford: Raked last year and had big Statcast metrics to validate results. But this year, tons of ground balls (50 percent, up from 39.1 last year) and hitting .170/.250/.358 entering tonight.
- Clint Frazier: No concerns here.
- Gio Urshela: Entering tonight, he was hitting .139/.235/.295 in last 51 plate appearances after a hot start. Could it be related to the bone spur in his elbow that kept him out for part of the weekend?
- Mike Tauchman: Where has the pop gone? .077 ISO after a .227 mark last year.
- Gary Sánchez: Grand slam yesterday aside, season-long slump continues.
- Jordy Mercer: lol
- Brett Gardner: At .176/.305/.353, is the 37 year-old finally done?
Meanwhile, we have to hope that Aaron Hicks’s calf cramps are nothing more than that. But even when he has played, his batting line has been OBP driven. He’s hitting a ton of ground balls (1.88 per every fly ball).
Look, no one is expecting this team to hit like it would with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres. But sheesh, the Next Man Up hasn’t carried over this year and there are a number of other health/slump/depth related issues to worry about. It’s befuddling that they didn’t add at least one bat at the deadline.
However, this lineup did show some life against Tampa Bay’s bullpen. The Yankees may have a few relievers on the shelf right now, but nothing quite like what the Rays are dealing with. Nick Anderson, José Alvarado, Jalen Beeks, Chaz Roe, Colin Poche, and Andrew Kittredge are all out. That’s absurd.
So to no surprise, the Yankees finally mustered some offense once Kevin Cash summoned his bullpen in the seventh inning. Urshela opened the scoring with an opposite field homer off Édgar García, which made it 5-1 at the time.
The good hitting off García continued in the eighth. After LeMahieu hit a leadoff single, Voit did this:
That’s Voit’s 13th homer of the year, tied for the league lead. How impressive has he been? Keep in mind that he’s banged up too. He’s noticeably hobbled as he rounded the bases. He’s dealing with “foot stuff”, as Aaron Boone mentioned last week.
Cash went to hard throwing Peter Fairbanks after the homer. Ford lined out for the first out of the inning, but Clint singled to bring the tying run to the plate in Urshela. Unfortunately, Gio struck out and after him, Tauchman popped out to end the threat.
In the ninth, the Rays were able to turn to one of their remaining top-notch relievers in Diego Castillo. But aside from a seeing-eye ground ball single through the shift for pinch hitter Aaron Hicks, Castillo shut things down to close it out for the 5-3 final.
- I guess it was no big deal after all, but there was a scary moment in this one for Gary Sánchez. He took a foul ball off his right hand in the second inning, and it got him good. After getting checking out, he stayed in the game. I’m sure Aaron Boone will be asked about it in the postgame.
- Miguel Yajure’s did a nice job in his big league debut. I didn’t expect him to pitch the ninth when the Yankees closed the gap to 5-3, but it worked out. In all, Yajure pitched three scoreless and hitless innings, though he walked three in doing so. The 22 year-old righty also struck out two batters. He’s the first player to wear number 89 in MLB, by the way.
The Yankees really need to find a way to win both of the next two games if they have any aspirations for a division title. Unfortunately, with the way this lineup looks, it’s getting difficult to imagine. Thank goodness for expanded playoffs this year, though it’s starting to look like the Yankees may have to hold off the Blue Jays now too. Anyway, the Yanks and Rays are back at it tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. EDT. Have a good night.