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Game 47: A walk-off walk

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The Yankees have now won six straight games with this afternoon’s 5-4 victory over the White Sox. It came in pretty unconventional fashion, but a win’s a win. Aaron Judge’s ninth inning walk-off walk against Liam Hendriks was the difference in this one. It picked up a rough day for the bullpen, including Aroldis Chapman’s first blown save of the season. With that, let’s get to today’s takeaways:

A fastball-heavy approach got Jameson Taillon through Chicago’s lineup a couple times. Taillon threw 80 pitches this afternoon and 54 percent of them were four-seam fastballs (68 percent). That’s much higher than his year-to-date usage, which stood just north of 51 percent entering today. Here’s where Taillon located his heater:

This chart tracks with Matt’s piece from this morning. There were still a few too many fastballs middle-middle or not elevated enough, but it didn’t matter this time around. The White Sox had a difficult time squaring up this pitch this afternoon. Chicago fouled off the four-seamer 12 times and put it in play 10 times at an average exit velocity of 86.6 MPH. They also swung-and-missed on 7 swings (24 percent whiff rate), though that’s a lower whiff rate than Taillon’s season average on the pitch (33 percent).

I don’t think Taillon planned to use his fastball this often today. Rather, it was pretty clear that he had little control of his slider and curveball, which forced him to lean on his four-seamer.

Yeah, that’s way too many breaking balls in the heart of the zone or way off the plate. He just had little to no feel for those pitches this afternoon. It’s no wonder why he picked up just one whiff (against a slider) and 12 total swings against his breaking balls.

I’ll sign up for five shutout innings from Taillon without a second thought, but I don’t think he pitched nearly as well as his line indicates today. I know he has a good fastball when it’s well-located upstairs, but most starting pitchers aren’t going to be successful turning a lineup over with only one pitch. So to some degree, he was a bit fortunate today. I’m sure he’ll have better feel for his secondaries next time out — his curve and slider are good offerings typically.

The Yankees have needed someone other than Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela to step up. Gleyber Torres has done just that. Now, Torres isn’t exactly stinging the ball, but he’s finding holes in the defense and delivering clutch hits left and right since his return from COVID-19. With today’s 3-for-4, he’s now 11-for-18 since coming off the injured list. He’s driven in eight runs too.

Today, he had another big hit. With two on and two outs in the bottom of the first and Dallas Keuchel on the mound, here’s Gleyber getting the job done:

It wasn’t hit hard (81.1 MPH), but it counts the same as any other single. Torres also picked up a 73.5 MPH base hit against Keuchel in the third inning. In his last at-bat, Gleyber ripped a 103.5 MPH single to lead off the eighth inning.

Now, It would be nice to see Torres start scalding the ball more consistently. His average exit velocity is in the third percentile of the league this year. He’s never been a big exit velo guy, but he’s been much more closer to average in prior seasons (never lower than 45th percentile). Ultimately though, I shouldn’t complain too much because he’s picked up this offense of late.

It was just a few days ago that I wrote about how this lineup needed someone else to start chipping in. Well, Gleyber’s answered the call. Perhaps it’s not a typical hot streak in terms of lasers being hit all over the field, but it’s definitely working for the Yanks.

A rare bullpen meltdown. Three of four relievers after Taillon gave up runs today. All came on homers, too. Wandy Peralta, Chad Green, and Aroldis Chapman coughed up the team’s early lead. Jonathan Loaisiga was the only one to get through the day unscathed.

Peralta was first in after Taillon, but didn’t last long. He recorded just one out before a walk and José Abreu homer cut the lead to 3-2.

Green replaced Peralta thereafter and finished the sixth without any further trouble. But in the seventh, Yasmani Grandal got Green.

If only that fan wasn’t in the way. Clint Frazier was displeased after just coming up short of robbing that one. That was the lone damage against Green, but again, the bullpen kept Chicago in this game.

It’s also worth pointing out that Green struck out just one of six hitters today. He hadn’t struck out a batter in his three previous outings, either. That’s pretty strange for Green, who typically puts up high K-rates. He’s at 8.25 K/9 now this season, though he’s never posted a mark below 11.18 as a reliever in his career. He’s been pretty good in spite of that, but it’s something that’s probably worth digging into in a separate article later.

After Loaisiga’s clean eighth, Aroldis Chapman entered to close this one out in the ninth. He entered this afternoon with a 0.00 ERA and was 11-for-11 in save opportunities. You knew that wouldn’t hold up all season, but a blown save always really stinks. Here’s how the White Sox tied it:

Looks like Chapman didn’t elevate that fastball enough, but still, it’s not easy to take a 99 MPH fastball out to the opposite field. Give Andrew Vaughn some credit.

In all, this was an uncharacteristic day for the Yankees’ bullpen. You’re not gonna see this group give up three homers in a game often, if ever again, this season. Hopefully it’s now out of their system.

Thanks, Tony La Russa. As the years have gone on, many managers have started to use their closer in tie games on the road in the ninth inning. But as is painfully obvious, La Russa goes to the beat of his own drum. Rather than go to the dominant Liam Hendriks to start the ninth inning, he brought Aaron Bummer out for a second inning of work. Hendriks eventually got into this one, but not until the bases were loaded with one out for Aaron Judge. Pretty impossible situation to put anyone in, even as good as Hendriks is.

Five pitches later, the game was over. Hendriks couldn’t find the zone and walked Judge to give the Yankees a 5-4 win. The only “strike” was near Judge’s head, which he wound up swinging at while trying to avoid the pitch. Perhaps if Hendriks gets a clean inning to start this one, the game goes to extras. Instead, the Yankees complete the sweep.

I really feel sorry for White Sox fans. You get to watch a really good core of players, but the manager surely has taken plenty of joy out of this season both on and off the field. Today, it was he decision-making that proved costly.

Leftovers

  • The Yankees’ rotation hasn’t allowed a run in its last 35 innings pitched. What a run for this group.
  • The Yankees are now 2-6 in games with an opportunity to complete a sweep.
  • Good to see Clint Frazier back in the lineup and pick up three base hits and two stolen bases. He led off the ninth with a single to get the winning rally going. He badly needs to get going offensively. Hopefully this is a sign of more to come.
  • Gleyber Torres’ caught stealing in the bottom of the eighth inning was pretty costly. Initially called safe, replay review determined he was out trying to steal third base with one out and Miguel Andújar at the plate. He got a great jump, but he’s also not exactly fleet of foot. He would have been a nice insurance run for Chapman, but fortunately, the Yankees won it in the ninth.

The Yankees are off tomorrow before hosting Toronto on Tuesday. Have a great rest of your Sunday, everyone.

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9 Comments

  1. Very, very good comments here! Views from 314 Ft. & its engaged readers know about baseball. A pleasure to read you all!

  2. Gerreddardit Cole

    We thought it was the best win of the season, Derek. Tallion was pretty good. Better than what I expected from him today. And he got retaliation against Mercedes for disrespecting the game. Larussa was grinning ear hole to ear hole. The pen is starting to worry me. Chappy blew it today and needed a triple play on Friday to escape. He may be overworked. Green is always homer prone. Wandy should be the odd man out when Britton returns. He has options and looked terrible today. Clint looked great. We need him to hit and play the OF. Boone is going to run Gardy into the ground playing him every day. To me Judge is the frontrunner for MVP with Stanton’s injury. Maybe Stanton can catch up if he comes back on Tuesday. Great sweep against a good team but now the real work begins against the Jays and red hot Rays. And the Sox loom in early June. That will be the real test.

  3. Mungo

    A few random thoughts, in no particular order…

    1-Is Chapman pulling back on use of his splitter of late as his velocity has ticked up? His appearances seem to be more “classic”-style Chapman recently, meaning throw hard, with the occasional slider for show. He’s been a bit less dominant of late, and it seems related to his pitch usage. We’ve seen him checking out his fingers a few times lately, with the broadcast crew at one point speculating he has a blister, or maybe a broken nail. Maybe the splitter caused that and he’s pulled back on usage. Hopefully not a long-term thing. The splitter as an outpitch makes him totally unhittable. Not taking anything away from Vaughn’s HR. He inside-outed a 99 mph offering for the homer. More a general observation.

    2-Was LaRussa wrong? By the final result he was, but strategically there is a defense. I would have led with Hendricks, but it’s not difficult to see what he was attempting. LaRussa has been a media target since he was announced, and it has little to do with the DUI since he was a media target prior because of his age. One thing I noticed is his moves are scrutinized in a different manner, filtered through a lens of prejudice (read ageism) that you don’t see with other managers. The White Sox have a good pen. Bummer is very good. The decision to stay with him in the 9th, and line up Hendricks for the abomination known as the runner-on-second rule in the 10th, is defensible. Haven’t we even had that discussion here about saving Chapman for those situations? Let’s face it. LaRussa is being held to a different standard that has little to do with baseball. As someone who originated in Chicago, but left there decades ago (I won’t say how many decades!), I do have some childhood friends still there and who are White Sox fans. I wouldn’t feel sorry for them. They actually seem to like LaRussa since he has them in 1st place despite losing two of the best young players in the game. And if Michael Kay is to be believed (I know, I know!), it seems the spiritual leader of the White Sox, Tim Anderson, loves playing for LaRussa, saying he’s the best manager he’s played for. I don’t know if that’s true, but there does seem to be a disconnect out there, and unfortunately I find it for uncomfortable reasons.

    3-Was today Andujar’s final game with the Yankees for a while? If Stanton returns on Tuesday, and with Frazier now back, it seems Andujar might be headed back to Scranton. If so, I hope they play him almost fulltime in LF. Frazier remains enigmatic. If there’s an opening for Andujar, it might only be in LF, so give him as many reps as possible. He’s improved since the last we saw him, but he still needs work out there. The last thing I want is him sitting on the bench and getting one or two starts a week. Play him every day in AAA until he’s needed again.

    4-Last, I’m fine with the way the game played out. I’d rather have a strong game from Taillon and have the bullpen blow it leading to the walkoff, then have Taillion suck and the bullpen lock it down. We know the bullpen is good, but we needed some hope for Taillon. Not sure the increased use of his four-seamer wasn’t by design.

    • Wire Fan

      If stanton comes back it is probably either Andujar or Ford. Wade has earned a spot on the roster and his ability to play CF is also now needed

      I think it should be Ford. When Voit needs rest, Odor plays and DJL to first. Knowing the Yankees they will probably favor the lefty bat on the roster

      And totally agree that people are piling on Larissa. Sure he has made some gaffes this year, but folks seem inclined to find every fault they can. A bit like Dusty Baker.

      • Mungo

        You’re right. Ford is an option, but I suspect the Yankees will be fine with Ford sitting on the bench as opposed to Andujar. We may find out as soon as Tuesday.

    • I agree that Andujar should be playing every day in AAA rather than sitting on the bench. I wonder how he feels about it?

      • kesheck

        I’d bet he’d prefer the big-league pay.

  4. Jason

    Taillon getting the job done against a top 3 hitting team is great progress. Looks like he and Gary might be getting along just fine.

    • Idaho Nuke

      He shouldn’t get too attached. I think this is Sanchez’s last season with them.

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