Game 50: Home run derby

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Another night, another offensive outburst. The Yankees won this one 10-7, though it was a blowout up until Toronto’s ninth inning too-little-too-late rally. The Bronx Bombers are living up to their moniker and you love to see it. They scored 43 runs against the Jays this week to complete a sweep and win their eighth straight. To the takeaways:

The Yankees should keep hitting home runs. That’s it. That’s the tweet takeaway.

For real now: the fourth inning was unbelievable. Five homers in six batters against Toronto righty Chase Anderson. It brought the series total to 18, the most in any three-game span in MLB history (Gary Sánchez brought that total to 19 later). It was also the first time the Yankees had hit five dingers in one inning in franchise history. It’s been done six times before the Yankees, though.

The monster inning quelled any regret about a missed opportunity in the first inning. The Yankees had loaded the bases with no one out, but only scored two runs thereafter. Stanton singled in a run and another scored on a Gleyber double play.

Not much more to add other than hitting homers is good. In case you needed a reminder: hitting too many homers is nonsense. It’s good in the regular season, it’s good in the playoffs, it’s good in your Sunday softball league. Seeing the Yankees do this is encouraging. It’s no coincidence it comes as the team gets closer to full strength.

Dear Giancarlo Stanton, please stay healthy. It absolutely stinks that we haven’t gotten to see the full Stanton experience since 2018. We’ve seen flashes, but inevitably, something has gone awry health-wise over the past two years. We got another flash tonight.

I think last year’s production from the injury replacements made it easier for us to put Giancarlo in the back of our minds when he he went on the injured list this season. At the time, the Yankees were 10-5 and in first place. The injury still stunk, but it didn’t feel like a death knell. Little did we know what would happen later in the month. While absent, Yankees’ designated hitters batted .189/.268/.315 (60 wRC+) in 123 plate appearances. Stanton was hitting .293/.543/.585 (180 wRC+) in 54 plate appearances before he went on the shelf. Lack of offense, not just from the DH spot, was one of the big reasons the team eventually fell to .500 just a little more than a week ago.

Tonight, Stanton reminded us how much he was missed. He went 4-for-5 and one of those four knocks was a homer in the Yankees’ monster fourth.

He’s good.

Hopefully, the team’s plan to gradually work Stanton back into everyday play proves beneficial. Likewise for Stanton’s plan to remain lose between at-bats while DHing.

Save for Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Masahiro Tanaka looked great again. Toronto’s left field went 3-for-3 with two homers against the Yankees number two starter tonight. No one else really had much success against Tanaka, who finished the game with a line of 7 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 5 strikeouts, and no walks. This actually raised his ERA to 3.27, which tells you just how good he’s been.

Only one of Gurriel’s homers was actually a true mistake pitch by Tanaka. He hung a slider on 2-2 that put Toronto on the board in the third inning. The other homer came with the Yankees up 9-2 on a challenge pitch. Tanaka threw a 3-1 fastball and Gurriel didn’t miss.

I’m not saying those Gurriel homers don’t count — they do — but otherwise, Tanaka handled Toronto’s lineup with ease. His slider and splitter were very effective and generated a 30 percent whiff rate combined. Meanwhile, his command was good and allowed him to work 7 innings while throwing just 91 pitches. This starting staff has really given the bullpen some rest of late, which is huge in this final stretch.

Last but not least, let’s talk about a defensive play Tanaka made. In the same inning as Gurriel’s first homer, Toronto threatened for more. After the long ball, the Jays strung together three hits in a row to tie the game at 2. That third hit, Bo Bichette’s RBI single to tie it, ended with Bichette thrown out at second base. Take a look.

You often see the pitcher backing up home plate in this situation, but here, Tanaka cut off Hicks throw. Maybe he had time to react and run back into the infield to cut it off. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a look at his positioning the entire play. He followed it up with a perfect throw to Gleyber for the tag out. This is the type of play that earns Tanaka praise for his glovework.

It was a pretty clutch play at the time. Without the cutoff, Toronto would have had second and third with one out and the score even at two. Instead, Tanaka needed just one out to escape the jam with the tie preserved and he did just that.

Leftovers:
  • Luke Voit’s homer, the third of the back-to-back-to-back shots, was his league leading 20th dinger of the season.
  • Aroldis Chapman picked up a two out save in this one. Jonathan Holder was given the ball up 10-3, but departed with the bases loaded and the score 10-5. Chapman did allow a hit but ultimately closed it out for the W.
  • Nice night for Sánchez, who went 2-for-4 with a double, homer, and no strikeouts. His double was the second-hardest hit ball of this regular season, 117.5 MPH. He can still crush ’em when he makes contact. more please.
  • Tampa Bay swept Baltimore in a doubleheader today. Thanks for nothing, Orioles. The Yankees are 3.5 games back of first place with 9 to play, and a tie won’t cut it as the Rays have the tiebreaker.
  • The White Sox defeated the Twins, which now ties the Yankees and the Twins in the loss column. Minnesota does have a couple more wins than the Yankees though. Point is, the Yanks and Twins are essentially duking out who’ll have home field advantage in the first round. The two teams are on a collision course for the 4/5 seed matchup.

The Yankees are now off to Boston for a three game weekend set. See you all tomorrow.

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4 Comments

  1. Hitting home runs is not the result of swinging for the fences, it’s a matter of putting the barrel on the ball consistently. The Yankees have a roster full of guys who can go yard without swinging for the fences on every AB.

    There’s no such thing as ‘too many home runs’ but there is a ‘thing’ about trying to hit home runs with every swing, that is a recipe for failure. If you need any validation about that just listen to what O’Neill said last night-before being traded to the Yankees he tried to hit with more power with the Reds and both his average AND home runs went down.

    I didn’t check any statistics about swings and misses but it seems to me that there are far less swings and misses now than when they were struggling. Even Sanchez is doing a better job of that and the double he hit last night was probably the best swing he’s taken all year (O’Neill pointed out he’s getting some extension through the contact area instead of bailing out early).

  2. dasit

    gleyber’s tag speed is (almost) as legendary as frazier’s bat speed

  3. CentralScrutinizer

    Holder can’t even be trusted with a 7-run lead and 3 outs to go. One wonders what the ecuse is for his occupying a roster spot.

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