Step. On. Boston’s. Throat. The Yankees pushed their advantage on the rival Red Sox to 10 games with a hard-fought victory Saturday that had all the trappings of a classic Yanks-Sox game.
Let’s hit the highlights:
1. Gary remains scary
With the game tied at three in the fifth inning, Gary Sanchez came to the plate with two outs and a man on. In many ways, the fate of the game stood on his shoulders: Aaron Boone had Luis Cessa warming for a tie game and Tommy Kahnle warming if they took the lead. That’s plenty incentive to score!
After falling behind 0-2, Sanchez got the count to 2-2 against Rick Porcello. On a slider off the outside corner, the Kraken unleashed the ball, just getting enough of it and driving it to right field.
It almost seemed like he poked it to right, yet he hit it 102.1 mph. That’s 2019 Gary for you.
He already has 18 home runs, which is as many as he hit all of last season. Health makes plenty of difference, as does his approach at the plate. Fly balls are a great thing at Yankee Stadium, particularly when you hit them as hard as he does. Best Catcher in Baseball.
Side note: He tried to pick a runner off second again tonight. He’s got confidence in his arm again after some early-season throwing errors.
2. Wearing down Domingo
No offense to the Twins and Rays, but this was Domingo German’s toughest assignment of the year. He doesn’t get an ‘A’, but this was somewhere in the ‘Cs’, nowhere near failing. He held his own, but Boston is such a tough lineup to navigate. Aaron Boone spoke postgame about the Red Sox wearing down the right-hander.
He navigated the first inning well enough with two strikeouts and a walk, yet he already had 20 pitches. He then had to grind through the second inning before giving up a two-out single to Sandy Leon. Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt and Leon each had two hits, most of which were hard-hit, against German, though they were mostly the only ones to get to him.
Outside of those three getting hits in the second, German got three swinging strikeouts. He’d add another two around a J.D. Martinez ground out in the third, his only quick inning.
And then Boston took him out in the third. Bogaerts hit a no-doubt dinger to left before Holt homered and Michael Chavis walked (more on Chavis at the end). He struck out Jackie Bradley Jr., but Leon got to him again. He ended his night by getting Betts to pop out, with the MVP going 0-for-3 against him.
Overall, German battled well. He got eight of his 11 outs via strikeout, all swinging, and threw 54 of 87 pitches for strikes. He had 21 swinging strikes if you include foul tips. That’s outstanding, even if six were just JBJ looking lost. It just a ton of foul balls to get to those swinging strikes, and then a few well-placed hits. Eight baserunners, most of which were stranded.
3. Green & the Gang
One cannot talk about this game without talking about Chad Green, and not just because Green was the winning pitcher. Green saved this game in the middle innings.
German left two men on for Green in the fourth and the reliever quickly got Andrew Benintendi to line out to center. He’d give up hits to Martinez and Bogaerts, putting second and third with one out in the fifth.
But Green beared down. He struck out Holt and then Chavis on fastballs and kept the game tied.
From there, the Yankees went to the big guns. Kahnle got the first two outs of the sixth. After two guys got on for Martinez, Boone went to Ottavino. He clearly wants Otto facing J.D. in any big spot and he was right to do so as he got him waving for a strikeout.
Holder nailed down the seventh, Britton the eighth, walking Eduardo Nunez (?) before getting an easy double play off Christian Vazquez.
4. Hold on to your butts
Chapman had a bit of a close call in the ninth inning. His fastball was in the mid-to-upper 90s, clearly not quite at full tilt while pitching in his second straight game.
But his command was about as bad as it’s been all season. He walked Mookie Betts on five pitches and quickly fell behind Benintendi 2-0. He used his slider as a get-me-over pitch for strike one, then tried it again. It almost worked! However, Benintendi got the ball into the hole on the right side and boom, first and second, none out, Martinez at the plate with a chance to win it.
Chapman tried his fastball one more time, another ball, before going to his safety valve; The slider served him well. Martinez hit an easy grounder to Gleyber Torres, who turned the 6-4-3 double play. Rafael Devers grounded out on a slider on the next pitch and there’s your ballgame. Phew!
It’s funny: This was about as bad as Chapman’s looked all year, but he got through it all the same. His slider looks like a real pitch this season, not just a toy to play with like it’s been in the past. That could help sustain his career.
5. All of the singles!
Similar to the rally against Chris Sale on Friday night, the Yankees put together a string of hits instead of a home run against Porcello in the second inning.
Torres led off the second with a near homer, settling for a single after admiring the ball perhaps a little too much out of the box. JBJ fielded the ball well off the right-center wall anyway, so a single may have been it.
Kendrys Morales hit his first of three singles through the shift, though it would have been a double for anyone else. He is sloooooooooooow. With one out and two men on, what did Boston have to look forward to?
GIOSTORM! Gio Urshela came through yet again. An RBI single tied the score at one. Two batters later, it was D.J. LeMahieu with a two-run single with the bases loaded. Can those two do anything wrong with runners in scoring position? Maybe, but not right there. Gary’s homer made the difference tonight, but some clutch singles in the second inning loom large as well.
6. Stray observations and Sunday’s bullpen
- Clint Frazier was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. Right smack on the elbow. He was removed in the top of the inning partially for defensive purposes, but he had x-rays and they were clean. Should be OK.
- I raved about Chavis in the series preview, but the Yankees may have the book on him. On his first two strikeouts, German and Green fed him a steady diet of high fastballs and he was rarely able to lay off. Wonder if that’s the hole in Chavis’ approach that pitchers can exploit right now? Britton, of course, went with low sinkers, but that’s just Zack with a K’s normal.
- Boone absolutely dominated tonight. Perhaps not a perfect game, but he made all the right calls. Kahnle and Holder against the bottom of the lineup, Ottavino for Martinez, going to Green early with the game on the line in the fourth inning.
- That being said, there isn’t a whole lot left in the tank for Sunday. The Bombers need to get to David Price early. With Nestor Cortes optioned for CC Sabathia, they’ll have David Hale and Cessa as bullpen arms. Beyond them, ¯_(ツ)_/¯. Holder can probably go one. Ottavino may have an inning or a batter since he only threw five pitches today, but he’s thrown in three of four.
- All of Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton and Chapman have thrown in back-to-back games. That’s good! You want to go for wins when you have a lead against your rival. Even with Monday’s off-day, at least the latter three should be off limits.
- Now for your moment of zen: Adam Ottavino and his wife with Sesame Street characters.
To close out the series, the Yankees and Red Sox meet on Sunday Night Baseball (7:05 p.m. this season). It’ll be CC Sabathia returning from the IL to face David Price.