The Yankees have won five in a row and I am enjoying the hell out of this little winning streak. They bested the Orioles 3-1 (box score) and improved to 26-21 on the season. We have now officially graduated from the Orioles scoreboard watching portion of the season and move to the Blue Jays scoreboard watching portion of the season. We are moving on up in the world, friends.
Let’s get right to the takeaways, shall we?
1. J.A. Happ Does Enough Yet Again: J.A. Happ has managed to turn his season around and become a pretty dependable starting pitcher for the Yanks this season. I’m not saying that I’m confident when he’s on the mound. But I’m definitely not as anxious about it as I was for most of 2019 or 2020. Today was not the easiest start of Happ’s career, but it was definitely enough to get the job done. Here’s his pitch plot, which basically tells the story:
He attacked the zone (71% strike rate), keeping his four-seamer up in the zone and his sinker, change, and slider mostly down in the zone. That’s a recipe for success for Happ on most days. Here was my favorite induced swing of the day:
It was not all sunshine and roses, though. Here’s a swing from noted Happ killer Renato Nuñez:
That was really the only blow against Happ on the day, though that took some slick defense and a bit of Orioles magic, honestly. He ran into some trouble in the 5th inning, which was his last. The Orioles started off the inning with a double and a single, which put runners on first and third with nobody out. Here’s what happened next:
That is some good defense from DJ LeMahieu and a nice throw from Higashioka to nab Ruiz at third. And a nice strikeout from Happ, of course, but woof. What the hell were the Orioles doing in that half inning? Not that I care. But yikes.
All in all, it was another good start from Happ. It’s been a good stretch for him. Here are his last five starts, including today:
- Today (vs BAL): 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 5 K, 0 BB
- September 8 (@ TOR): 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 10 K, 2 BB
- September 3 (@ NYM): 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
- August 29 (vs NYM): 7.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K
- August 16 (vs BOS): 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 3 K
That’s 2 ER or less in 4 of his last 5 starts, which will get the job done. Happ is a back-end option at this point, so he doesn’t need to do much but keep the Yanks in every game he starts. Recently, he’s been doing more than that, and I hope he can keep it up.
2. Offensive Struggles, Yet Again: Until there were two outs in the 8th inning, the Yankees managed just 3 runs in the last 17.2 innings against the Orioles. They looked pretty hapless at times. A lot of people were understandably groaning at the black hole that was the bottom third of the Yankee lineup today – Higgy/Estrada/Wade – and sure enough, it was ugly, as they went 1-9 on the day (including a PH from Mike Ford). The one hit was a big one though. I’m going to provide video just so you can believe it:
That’s right. Tyler Wade was made in the shade today. That tied the game at 1, which is where the score stayed until the 8th inning. In large part, the score stayed where it was because of a lackluster bottom of the 4th inning in which the Yanks stranded the bases loaded.
After Aaron Hicks led off with a flyout, Clint Frazier and Miguel Andújar both singled before Gary Sánchez worked another good walk. That brought up Higashioka and Estrada, who both popped up weakly. That was that and it continued the Yankees’ recent weeks-long struggle with RISP. For now.
3. Gleyber Day in the Bronx: The bottom of the 8th inning was a very good inning. Ten out of ten. Would absolutely watch it again. After both DJLM and Voit grounded out, the Yankees decided to stage a little two-out rally. It began with Aaron Hicks, who singled, and continued with a Clint Frazier single. The Yankees then pinch-hit Gleyber Torres for Brett Gardner (who pinch-ran for Andújar earlier in the game), and Glasses Gleyber™ immediately did this:
It’s just so beautiful. Folks, we love Gleyber Torres. We really do. That made it 3-1 Yankees and it really was a huge hit. The Yanks had already used their big bullpen arms – and also Adam Ottavino – and I wouldn’t have wanted to play another extra-innings game. This hit made that concern irrelevant, and Gleyber deserves the credit. It’s a huge hit.
4. The Bullpen Minus Adam Ottavino Looks Great: The Yankee pen again did the job today, though Adam Ottavino still doesn’t look right. More on that in a second, though. Here is the bullpen breakdown for the day:
- Adam Ottavino: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB
- Jonathan Holder: 0.1 IP, zeros
- Chad Green: 1.0, zeros, 2 K
- Zack Britton: 1.0 IP, zeros
- Aroldis Chapman: 1.0 IP, zeros, 2 K
It was another dominant day for the pen after yesterday’s great performance and it is great to see. The Yanks’ pitching has honestly been great lately. But I do have to say that I’m concerned about Ottavino. The man has 3 walks and 5 hits in his last 0.2 IP including today and he couldn’t complete the inning against the Orioles. Aaron Boone correctly removed him and turned to Jonathan Holder in the 6th. It was the right move and it’s a sign of where Ottavino is recently. Let’s hope he can turn it around. He’s an important piece.
Everyone else is great, though. It’s a great sign.
- Clint Frazier Shines: Hey look, another two-hit day for Clint Frazier. You just have to love what that man has done recently. He is determined to never go back to Scranton, and I love it.
- So Does Miguel Andújar: Miggy Mantle has absolutely found his stroke. He added two hits to his line today and it is a delight to see. It’s becoming clear that Andújar needs to play every single day or at least as often as possible. It’s impossible to deny.
- Dillon Tate Sighting: Hey look, Dillon Tate. He took the loss in this one even though he looked pretty good in the 7th. Tate, you probably remember, came to the Yanks in the Beltran trade with Texas in 2016 and was shipped to Baltimore for Zack Britton in 2018.
The Yankees are off tomorrow and for once, they earned it. They’ve won five in a row and this off day is going to be especially easy to enjoy. Be sure to enjoy the rest of your Sunday, too.