Hey, the Yankees beat the Rays in a close game at Yankee Stadium. Who knew that was possible!? They won this one 5-3 in 11 innings to improve to 30-25 on the season. This was a game neither team really wanted to win but the Yankees pulled it out in the end. I’ll take it. Let’s win tomorrow and make it a pattern, guys.
Let’s get right to the takeaways.
1. Domingo Germán Has a Home Run Problem: Domingo Germán is having a pretty solid season. He’s been much better than I expected coming into the year, honestly. (Though, of course, he was quite good in 2019, so perhaps I am being unfair.) Even still, he has himself a bit of a home run problem. Consider this: including tonight, Germán has made 10 starts in 2021. In an astounding five of those, he has allowed two home runs or more. That’s a lot! He’s the only pitcher in baseball to do so, actually. It’s not great.
It’s not a new problem. When he was struggling hard in 2019, he had the same issue. (I wrote about it at the time.) In fact, it’s holding Germán back from taking that next step as a consistent pitcher. He was pretty sharp at times today – his curveball had a 40% whiff-per-swing rate and his changeup had a 57% whiff-per-swing rate – and settled in after a shaky start to the game. He didn’t walk anyone, either, and he surrendered just 3 hits in his 5 innings of work while striking out 5. On those merits alone, this is a pretty good start. Sprinkle in some home runs, though, and it’s less effective, though.
That’s exactly what happened. It started in the 1st, when Austin Meadows (who is quickly rising on my sports hatred list) made Germán pay:
That made it 2-0 nothing Tampa right out of the gate. And then, with a 3-2 lead in the 5th, Germán was again bit by the home run bug. This time, it was Kevin Keirmaier:
Now, let me be fair for a second. Neither one of those were egregious home runs. The pitch to Meadows was a sinker down-and-in that I didn’t think was a bad pitch at all. And the Keirmaier HR had an expected batting average of .150. It was a Yankee Stadium Special.
Still, this is not an abberation. It’s a part of a longer trend for Germán, and it’s not one that is unique to this year. He’s always had above-average HR/FB rates, and this year has been no different – and he’s even allowing more fly balls to boot. Germán is clearly good enough to get by, even with the home run issue. Allowing 3 runs in 5 innings is not bad, nor should it be a huge issue for the Yankees. But given the way the team is going on offense right now, it feels like a huge problem. Let’s hope he can sort it out moving forward. Anyway, here’s his pitch plot for the day:
2. Miguel Andújar’s Turning it Around: I am not quite ready to say that Miguel Andújar has fully turned it around. But I’m also not quite ready to say that Miguel Andújar hasn’t fully turned it around, either. You catch my drift? Let’s break this one down quickly.
Coming into today, Miggy Mantle was 13-for-41 since May 18, which was good for a .317/.317/.415 (105 wRC+) line. Let’s leave the incredible lack of walks to the side for a moment, shall we? The average was good, and Miggy was clearly starting to have better at-bats. (Which is probably a function of getting better at-bats.) The only thing really missing – again, Miggy will never be Luke Voit up there with the patience – was his power.
We’re starting to see that change over the last few games. He homered yesterday and he again led the party today, hitting another ball out over the fence. Both of them were opposite-field blasts too, if that’s your sort of thing. Here’s today’s, which was a right-field Yankee Stadium home run but not a cheapie:
That ball was hit 102 miles-per-hour off the bat the opposite way. That is the Miggy Mantle that we all fell in love with in 2018. I’m encouraged by his recent at-bats, and I think that he can become a solid, consistent lineup presence for the Yankees. I sure hope so, anyway. I’ve always loved rooting for Andújar. Maybe he’ll even draw a walk soon.
3. The Blown Opportunities Have to Stop: God, the Yankees sure do love to blow opportunities, don’t they? They don’t even seem capable of capitalizing when the Rays, who have utterly owned them over the last calendar year, shoot themselves in the foot. Let’s go through two specific situations in this one, starting with an inning in which the Yankees “scored” two runs.
That was the 3rd inning, and it was an inning filled with gifts to the Yankees from the Rays. Just filled with them. It started with a two-out walk to Clint Frazier and was followed by a hometown ruled single by DJ LeMahieu. (It easily could have been an error.) That brought up Rougned Odor, who was hitting second ahead of Aaron Judge. Some guy on Twitter made a whole stink about that being a dumb idea earlier today, and he also made it a point to bring it up in exactly this situation. The dumb person was me, and Odor made me look like an idiot when he laced a single to load the bases.
The Yankees were now cooking with gas. Tyler Glasnow, a notoriously tough pitcher to hit, had lost the zone and Aaron Judge was at the plate. A characteristically good at-bat from Judge followed, and it was 2-1 Rays after a walk. It was soon 2-2 after Glasnow threw a wild pitch to Gio Urshela, too, but the rally ended there. I know it’s a bit unfair to complain about a two-out rally in which the Yankees scored two runs off a pitcher like Glasnow, but ugh. That just felt like one of those situations where the Yankees, when clicking, would absolutely punish a struggling pitcher. They’re not absolutely clicking, though, so they didn’t. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just frustrated.
The other big blown chance in regulation came in the 7th, when Gary Sánchez lined a double to lead off the inning. He ran to third on a Miggy grounder in front of him, though, so the opportunity was immediately squandered. It was the 27th out the Yankees have made on the bases this year. More of the same.
There was another in the 10th, too, after the Yanks held the Rays scoreless in the top half of the inning. The Yanks had runers on the corners for Gio and bases loaded for Gary (Gleyber walked in between them) and did not score.
4. The Yankees’ Bullpen Is Extremely Good: This one can be a short takeaway. The Yankees’ bullpen is incredible. Incredible. It really honestly is and I don’t think the collective we talks about it enough. They pitched 6 innings over 6 innings and this was the collective line: 6.0 IP, 6 BB, 7 K, 0 runs. Sure, 6 walks is bad. It’s definitely not what you want. But no hits will do. And there were only 2 hard-hit balls against them at any point all night, including extra innings. If you want to win an extra innings game, deploying a bullpen like the Yankees should do the trick more often than not.
I’m honestly just impressed with the depth. It feels like virtually every piece is dominant. If the Yankees can score consistently at any point in 2021, they are going to be awfully tough to beat. Big if, though, so far.
5. Clint Frazier Saves the Day: What a game for Clint Frazier. He needed one of these days in the worst possible way, and I am very happy he chose today to get one. He did it on both sides of the ball, too. First came this insanely impressive diving catch, which saved a run (and very likely the game):
And then, of course, he won the game with this missile of a home run in the 11th:
Simply beautiful. It looked like the Yankees were going to squander another chance to win the game. I would have bet that Clint was going to get out there, but he shut me up. (A bonus takeaway: I should never tweet.) Just a huge night for Clint, who was 1-3 with two runs and two walks. Much more like that, please. Clint even being league average would be such a huge plus for this team. Raise the baseline offensive production and things will start to turn around.
- Urshela’s Defense Translates: Quite a night for Gio defensively. He made two sparkling plays at short. Check ’em out:
- Gary’s Arm: Weird night for Gary defensively. He made a sparkling play in the 6th to throw behind a runner on first after a good block, but then he sailed a throw on a stolen base attempt into center field an inning later. Just one of those years so far for Gary.
- DJLM’s Tough Luck: Really thought DJ had a walkoff in the 9th. He hit a scorcher the other way with two outs, but it was right at the 2B. It had an expected BA of .750, for what it’s worth.
The Yanks and Rays will play the third game of this four-game set tomorrow night at 7:05 in the Bronx. Jordan Montgomery (2.1, 4.22 ERA) will take on Shane McClanahan (2-0, 3.29 ERA) in that one. Have a good night, everyone.