Game 34: Yanks Walk it Off Again, Dispatch Nats 3-2

That will do. The Yankees improved to 18-16 on the season after walking off the Nationals for the second time in two days. Nothing beats a good walk off, amirite? Anyway, the Yanks bounced back from the brutal loss on Friday to win the series against the Nats. Love to see it.

Let’s get right to today’s takeaways.

1. Domingo Germán Pitches Well, But Not Well Enough: A big blow in the 7th spoiled what was otherwise a tremendous outing from Domingo Germán. All told, Germán threw 6.1 IP of 2-run ball, allowing just 5 hits against 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. Two of those hits – and both of the runs – came in his 6th and final inning of work. He’d really mowed through them otherwise. Alas, Germán, who has always had something of a home run problem, was bit by the long ball again. This location:

Turned into this outcome:

Obliterated. Anyway, I want to focus on this pitch for a second because it was really revealing of Germán’s day overall. Despite his success, he could not use his fastball almost at all. He threw just 18 of them on the day, good for 23% of his offerings, and they were all over the place. Look at this plot, coupled with his sinker:

That’s a lot of fastballs and sinkers over the heart of the plate or not even close to the zone. None of them were really located down, nor were any higher than the zone, which is where you want to live. (To be fair, he did dot the inside part of the plate a bit, especially toward the end.) Still, neither fastball was not really working for him. Batters missed the offerings just twice.

Everything else, however, was working – or, at least, it was working better.

Still a few too many curves up in the zone, but considering that he had to work backwards, I’m okay with it. He needed to get the pitch over the plate in order for it to be effective. He threw this combo 60% of the time today and got 7 whiffs. Still not a ton, but better.

All in all, though, a pretty nice outing for Germán without his best stuff. He’s been pitching much better since he was recalled from the Alternate Site on April 22, allowing 7 runs in 24.1 innings of work against 24 strikeouts and 4 walks. That will get the job done from the 5th starter, I’d say.

2. The Offense Misses Many Opportunities: The Schwarber home run was frustrating because it really shouldn’t have mattered that much. The Yankees had a ton of opportunities in this one to open this game up and score some runs, but they didn’t take them in the first 8 innings. In fact, they had traffic on the bases in every inning except the 4th. It felt like an early-season game, honestly. Still, the Yanks did put some numbers on the board.

The first came via Aaron Hicks, who is continuing his hot streak and getting his season line back to respectability:

Overall, he was 1-4 with a walk and he’s gotten his season line up to .198/.301/.340 (86 wRC+). The parentheses, coupled with that line, tell you all you need to know about the state of offense across the league right now. Anyway, Hicks made it a 1-0 game. It would stay that way until Gleyber Torres came up in the 6th and did something he hadn’t done in a very long time: hit a home run. And it wasn’t a cheapie! Check it out:

I will confess that I’ve been a little anxious about Gleyber’s complete lack of power lately. Coming into that at-bat, Gleyber had just 16 extra-base hits (3 HR, 13 2B) in his last 254 plate appearances dating back to last year. I think it would be foolish not to be at least a little bit worried. Anyway, the point here is that this was nice to see. Gleyber has probably been pressing to remove that goose egg, so hopefully this unlocks a little bit of his power.

Otherwise, though, it was slim pickings through 8 for the Yanks. Their best shot came in the bottom of the 7th, when they had 1st and 2nd and one out for Giancarlo Stanton…who promptly grounded into a double play. Gah.

They also had a chance in the bottom of the 8th, after an Aaron Hicks walk (that itself followed a brutal foul ball off his shin) and intentional pass to Mike Ford set Clint Frazier up to the plate with two on and two out. As you can guess, nothing happened. He popped up. Gah x2.

3. Aroldis Chapman Continues to Dominate: The Yankees’ closer remains absolutely lights out. He threw the 9th inning today, and, even though he allowed a hit, needed just 11 pitches to retire the side anyway. He had a strikeout, too, obviously. As he does. Anyway, I bring all of this up because of Boone’s very aggressive use of Wandy Peralta in the bottom of the 8th.

Look, Peralta has been good and I’m not saying otherwise. I don’t think it’s been a mistake to use him. But, with that said, Boone turned to Peralta to face Juan Soto with two out and one on in the 8th inning. That is very possibly the highest leverage situation in the game. At the time, I thought that the Yanks were keeping Chapman for extra innings, if it got there. (I’m not sure that’s the right choice, either, but that’s a story for another day.)

Suffice to say, I was surprised to see Chapman come out for the 9th. I would have used him to face Soto and then the 9th, but whatever. We know the Yanks are going to be super conservative with the pen and there’s really no need for a 4-out appearance right now. And besides, Peralta got the out anyway (on just 1 pitch!). Just thought it was odd, is all.

4. Walking It Off In Style: Man, the Yankees absolutely own Brad Hand. I almost feel bad. I don’t, but I almost do. Hand immediately walked defensive replacement Tyler Wade on four straight pitches – that’s a “retire immediately” moment to me – to put the winning run on base. Pinch hitter Aaron Judge came up and worked a walk before DJ LeMahieu grounded to third, but beat out the double play. That put runners on first and third for Giancarlo Stanton, who was without a hit in this series.

Big G came up to the plate 0-2 on the day, but he did work two walks. It wasn’t easy to see why. Even counting the 9th inning, this was his pitch plot on the day:

The Nats wanted absolutely nothing to do with him, and Giancarlo missed the two mistakes they made (the two fastballs over the plate). But he made Hand pay in the 9th, lacing a 2-strike single to left that walked off the game.

That, obviously, was the second walk off in a row for the Yanks. Folks, you love to see it – and you love to see Giancarlo having a season like this. I’m all for him continuing to win games and go on ridiculous tears, even if it was an otherwise hitless series overall.

Leftovers

  • Brutal Game for Gary Sánchez: That was a brutal game for Gary, once again. It is painful to watch and it makes me sad. Even though he worked a few decent at-bats, he was 0-3 with 3 K and a walk today. Brutal. I really want him to turn it around, but it’s tough to watch him hit right now.
  • Bottom of the Order Black Holes: The top four hitters (DJ LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Gleyber Torres) accounted for 4 of the Yanks’ 5 hits today – and all 3 of their RBI. Hitters 5-9 went 1-14 with 7 strikeouts. The only bright spot was a grounds rule double by Brett Gardner and the fact that they worked 6 walks. Still, brutal.
  • Mike King Does the Job: Mike King has been truly excellent this year so far, and that continued today. It took him 13 pitches to work 1.1 innings, even though he gave up two hits. It was the type of performance that will probably land him back at the Alternate Site.
  • Defensive Replacement Woes: I am sick of the immediate defensive replacement strategy from the Yankees. Today, it was putting Wade in for Andújar in the 8th of a tie game, and many other days it’s a replacement for Clint Frazier. I don’t know. Something about it in tie games just rubs me wrong. Even though Wade inexplicably worked a walk in the 9th, I want Andújar hitting there every time.

The Yankees are off tomorrow as they travel to Tampa to take on the Rays (yet again). They’ll be back in action on Tuesday for the start of a three-game set. Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone.

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9 Comments

  1. DZB

    Thinking about when to use Chapman at home in a tie game going into the 9th, I can see the logic of holding him out to the 10th. Obviously there is no save opportunity (though who really cares about the stats of the ‘save’!), so that is not part of the equation. In the 9th you have a bases empty situation that favors the pitcher and you need to get to the bottom of the inning to potentially win, but have to do so in unfavorable conditions. In the 10th you have to deal with a runner in scoring position with no outs, which favors the offense, which means that a dominant strikeout pitcher could shift that balance back a bit. Manage to strand that runner and your team has a really high likelihood of winning in the bottom of the inning. So you could argue that using your second or third best option at the top of the 9th and potentially Chapman in the top of the 10th is smart.

    • Bobby

      Yes, agreed – I do think there are situations in which it would make sense to save the high-K, best reliever for extras. That’s especially true if you have Chad Green/Jonathan Loaisiga etc. ready to throw the 9th, but I don’t think the Yanks were planning to use them yesterday, so it probably made sense to use Chapman in the 9th and hope to walk it off.

  2. DZB

    It’s sort of sad that Gary doesn’t have an option remaining since I feel like he could actually benefit from a release of pressure and some time to get his swing worked out. He has a positive fWAR (and a 99 wRC+), which one could argue means he is a perfectly reasonable BUC, but we obviously all think of him as the guy who stormed to 100 HR at a historic pace.

  3. Terry from LA

    It is hard for me to understand how you suddenly cannot hit a middling fastball. It’s almost like Knoblach not being able to throw from second base. Just inexplicable. Very sad.

  4. Smurfy

    On Gleyber, he became taken with his power, back when Sanchez was also slugging. It was a downfall, in that he forgot that knack for doing what was needed at the time. Yesterday, he almost forgot, as he swung too anxiously, but rolled a fortunate nubber.

    King did a job that will not be dismissed. So I say.

  5. Gerreddardit Cole

    It was the best win of the season, Bobby. German was fine. He’s been a good starter this year. Gary needs to sit 4/5 games and preferably 5/5. He just can’t hit a fastball anymore. Higgy hit another dinger yesterday off a Cy Young and has proven he can hit. Voit needs to return Tuesday and give us a legitimate cleanup hitter to protect Stanton and Judge. If Gio returns we’ll have a real MLB lineup again. And Odor will return in a week to get Wade off the roster. And I don’t mind Boone using Peralta for Soto in the 8th. You can’t use your closer for 4 outs in May in a tie game. October, yes. May, no. Now keep it going in Tampa, that House of Horrors.

  6. Sanchez is no longer a ‘talent’-If you can’t hit belt high, middle in fastballs you can’t play in the bigs, period, and he swings through virtually every one of them and has been doing so since 2019.

    He missed or fouled off a multiple cookies today, to the point where even O’Neill is talking about it.

  7. novymir

    Sanchez keeps pulling off the ball. His 2017 double to right center in ALCS is a distant memory.

    Now, he can’t catch up to fastballs anymore. Don’t listen to Yankees support. Are eyes tell the story

  8. Idaho Nuke

    I was the biggest Gary supporter when the season started. I think his time is running out. I don’t know what is wrong with him. The talent is obviously there, but he is beyond awful. I would be surprised if he finished the season with the Yankees.

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