Well that was a terrible loss. Up 4-0 after a half inning and 5-2 entering the bottom of the third, the Yankees lost this one, 10-6. Jordan Montgomery couldn’t finish off a number of Orioles in spite of inducing plenty of soft contact, and the Yankees’ offense went down meekly after the first inning. Baltimore scored nine runs with two outs. Frustrating!
Even though this is another series win (and five straight series victories), the Yankees are now 1-6 in games with an opportunity to sweep a series (note: I left out the two-game set against Atlanta as an opportunity in today’s game thread). Sure feels like a lot of these series finale sweep attempt losses have been ugly ones, too. With that, let’s get to the takeaways.
Soft contact wasn’t enough to save Jordan Montgomery from self-inflicted mistakes. Obviously, Montgomery’s pitching line (5 runs in 3 innings) was bad, especially against the lowly Orioles. There were too many baserunners (8) and some control issues (2 walks, 2 wild pitches). And yet, even though all the runs surrendered were earned runs, the Orioles didn’t exactly smack Montgomery around (84.9 MPH EV). That doesn’t absolve Montgomery from today’s performance, of course.
Of Baltimore’s eight hits, three were categorized as Hard Hit (i.e. >95 MPH exit velocity). Two of the hits had xBA of .050 or lower. Both were doubles, the first off Ryan Mountcastle’s bat in the first inning (86.8 MPH EV, .020 xBA) which Clint Frazier probably should have caught (more on that in a bit). The other: Austin Hays’ third inning double (73.1 MPH EV, .050 xBA).
Now, even though there was plenty of not-so-great contact against Montgomery, I wouldn’t argue that he pitched well. Both first inning runs scored after the starter retired the first two batters of the game. Soft hit or not, going walk-double-single-single is extremely frustrating after getting the first two outs with ease. Especially after the lineup gave him a four-spot in the top of the first.
Baltimore’s three-run third inning was more annoying. The aforementioned Hays double started things off, but Montgomery made matters worse thereafter. He threw a wild pitch to let Hays get to third and walked Trey Mancini (for a second time) after getting ahead 1-2. Balls two, three, and four weren’t particularly close to the zone:
Ryan Mountcastle made it 5-3 with a sacrifice fly, but Montgomery rebounded to strike out Pedro Severino for the second out. The rebound was short lived, though. Yet again, he couldn’t finish things off. Maikel Franco drove in a run with a double to make it 5-4 (after a wild pitch moved Mancini to second, by the way). Then, Montgomery got ahead in the count 1-2 vs. Freddy Galvis. But like the Mancini walk, Montgomery couldn’t finish the job and Galvis singled. Once again, the last three pitches of the at-bat were noncompetitive.
By this point, Orioles hitters were finally squaring up Montgomery. Franco’s double had an xBA of .800 even though it was only hit 87.6 MPH off the bat. Galvis’s knock was a rocked (105.7 MPH). And the last out, Pat Valaika, just missed a homer (372 foot fly out). It was pretty clear he was toast at that point.
I’d argue that Montgomery was a tad unlucky in the first inning, but the third inning is more on him. Letting one hitter reach base after a 1-2 count happens on occasion, but allowing that to occur twice in one inning is a recipe for disaster.
So look, it’s nice that Montgomery can induce a lot of soft contact. Sometimes that will help him escape trouble. But he needs to do a better job of finishing off his opponents, particularly against an offense as inept as Baltimore’s. Instead of what looked like a potential laugher, Monty departed with the score 5-5.
Bruce Zimmermann inexplicably shuts down Yankees’ offense. The Yankees scored four runs against Adam Plutko in the first inning and a sweep looked certain. Gary Sánchez and Clint Frazier hit back-to-back dingers to get the offense up and running.
Plutko’s day was over after the first inning. Enter southpaw Bruce Zimmermann, who the Yankees hit hard back in April. He gave up 9 hits and 4 runs against the Yankees on April 27th.
So somehow, Zimmermann faced 20 batters and allowed just three to reach base. The only one to do damage? None other than the red-hot Aaron Judge, who also homered against Zimmermann on the 27th.
Judge aside, this was a pretty pitiful performance offensively after the second inning. Zimmermann came into this game with a 5.40 ERA in 30 innings with a propensity to give up the long ball (7 homers allowed). So naturally, the Yankees couldn’t square the ball up against him (81.1 average EV), including six batted balls lower than 70 MPH. Yuck.
Look, I know this Yankees lineup is missing some key bats in Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and Aaron Hicks. Instead, we’re seeing the likes of Ryan LaMarre and Tyler Wade starting. But that’s really no excuse to go down quietly against a pitcher with these underlying metrics:
Again, it’s not like the Yankees were hitting rockets right at the defenders. Zimmermann had the hitters off-balance all afternoon. Not only did he induce a ton of weak contact, but he also picked up six strikeouts. Simply put, the Yankees’ offense has to do better. Did the Yankees secretly trade Montgomery for Zimmermann today? Because the performances those two gave would have been expected from the opposite pitcher going into this game.
Clint giveth, and Clint taketh away. Hey, it was great to see Clint Frazier go yard after Matt’s in-depth piece on the failings of the Yankees’ left field situation this morning (yes, Clint played right field today but that was because Aaron Judge DH’d).
Unfortunately, Frazier helped give a run back in the bottom half of the first inning. The Mountcastle double, which I mentioned earlier, wasn’t necessarily an easy play to make, but it’s also one that should be made more often than not. Per Statcast, this had a 60 percent catch probability (courtesy of Seth Rothman):
So instead of recording the third out and finishing the inning up 4-0, the Orioles stayed alive to score twice. You can see that he took a bit of a circuitous route too.
Frazier has been pretty bad defensively this season, akin to what we saw earlier in his career and absolutely nothing like last season when he deservedly was a Gold Glove finalist. Some year-over-year defensive stats to consider:
|Outfielder Jump (percentile)||62nd||1st|
|Expected – Actual Catch %||+2||-10|
|Feet covered (feet)||33.8||29.7|
So Frazier has gone from one of the better corner outfielders in 2020 to *the worst* in 2021, per Statcast.
In fairness to Frazier, he made a heck of a diving catch in the 7th inning. We have seen him make some spectacular diving plays this season. But what we’re missing from him is consistency in the outfield corners.
Clint Frazier's catch in the 7th inning had a catch probability of 25%.— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) May 16, 2021
That's a 5-star catch for him. Its the first 5-star catch of his career. https://t.co/O2dvDnF6Qh
Great play aside, if Clint’s defense was more in line (even with some regression) to last season, I probably would have given him a pass for not coming up with Mountcastle’s fly ball. But at this point, the numbers and eye test are telling a not-so-good story. Not even a few highlight reel diving plays can prop up his numbers.
Last year was such a revelation for Frazier, but this season has been nothing short of disappointing. It constantly feels like he’s taking one step forward and two steps back. On Friday, as you may recall, he made a baserunning gaffe after ripping a single to left field. Today, it’s turning a potential third out of an inning into a hit right after Frazier drilled a homer.
- Mike King (two innings, one run) and Lucas Luetge (one inning, no runs) did a fine job in relief of Montgomery.
- Unfortunately, Wandy Peralta finally had a poor showing with the Yankees. The two-run homer he gave up to Maikel Franco in the 8th made this one 8-5.
- Luis Cessa coughed up two more runs in the ninth with the rain coming down hard. It effectively put this one out of reach, if Peralta’s work hadn’t done so already.
- DJ LeMahieu singled in the Yankees’ sixth run of the game in the top of the ninth against César Valdez.
- Judge’s homer was his 12th of the year, tied for the major league lead. It’s also his seventh homer against the Orioles this season. He’s going full 2019 Gleyber vs. the Orioles, huh?
Next up: four with the Rangers in Texas, starting tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, all.