That was a satisfying win, huh? It’s always good to take game one of a weekend series. What makes this one a little extra sweet is that it came against Red Sox and their ace: Chris Sale. The final score: 4-1 Yanks. On to the takeaways:
We were wrong about DJ LeMahieu, part 7,451,713: I think we’re all running out of nice things to say about LeMahieu. He was a human highlight reel tonight. First, he did this:
Then he tied the game with an RBI double:
And for his final trick, he took Sale deep:
We get it DJ, you’re good!
Happ bends, but doesn’t break: This wasn’t the finest outing of JA Happ’s career, but he hung in there despite difficult first, second, and fifth innings. Even if Boston wasn’t quite able to square Happ up, he wasn’t fooling anyone. The lefty needed 24 pitches to get out of the first frame, including an eleven pitch walk to Andrew Benintendi. Then, in the second, Rafael Devers unloaded a moonshot to put the Red Sox on top, 1-0. Had to give up a home run, didn’t he.
Things looked bleak, but Happ actually settled in from there. He retired eight of the next nine hitters he faced, which got him through the fourth. Things got hairy in the fifth and Happ was entering the danger zone: the third time through the order. Núñez led off with a single, and although Happ retired the next two hitters, the top of the order (Mookie Betts) was up with Núñez on second. Three unintentional intentional balls later and then a hand motion put Betts aboard for Benintendi. Fortunately, Happ’s catcher took things into his own hands. More on that in a moment.
All told, you have to sign up for five innings of one run ball when Happ pitches. It wasn’t pretty, but it was enough.
Gary Sánchez’s defense has flown under the radar: Understandably, offense is Sánchez’s calling card. His highlights tend to be dingers, but not this evening. Rather, his big moment was his snap throw to second that picked off Eduardo Núñez to end the fifth. Not only was it an incredible throw, but it also got the Yankees out of a big jam. It took the bat out of Benintendi’s hands with two on and two out with the score 3-1. Look at this thing:
That was a laser. Gary’s arm strength is well known by now, but it’s always a joy to see him unfurl the cannon.
Entering tonight Gary Sanchez was tied with Jorge Alfaro for 1st in @statcast Arm Strength among MLB catchers (88.2 mph)— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) June 1, 2019
Hasn’t his defense flown under the radar this season? Michael Kay and David Cone mentioned this on the broadcast and I have to agree. He had a few weird throws very early this year, but has been fine otherwise.
As always, passed balls are the main concern for Gary. In case you haven’t noticed, we haven’t heard much grumbling about that this season. That’s a good thing: my theory is that the less you hear about a catcher’s defense, the better. For the record, he has four passed balls after recording 18 last season. Interestingly, defensive metrics don’t like him this year, but it’s too soon to draw any conclusions from that just yet.
This is the bullpen we envisioned: Mike Axisa had a good bit about Aaron Boone’s bullpen usage on his Patreon today. In short: he’s done a great job getting the most out of Adam Ottavino. Number zero has the highest game entrance leverage index of the relief corps, and his clean outing tonight was in another important situation. The rest of the bullpen did it’s thing, too. Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman all posted zeroes to seal the deal. The ‘pen’s line: four innings, two hits, one walk, four strikeouts, no runs.
The win tonight put the Yankees 8.5 games ahead of Boston. And, since Tampa Bay fell to Minnesota, the Bombers gained a little breathing room from the Rays (1.5 games).
The Yankees can take the series from Boston with a win tomorrow night. It’s a 7:15pm first pitch on FOX. Domingo German and Rick Porcello will square off.