The Marlins are celebrating in the Bronx tonight after beating the Yankees 4-3. They clinch their first playoff berth since 2003, when they last celebrated like this…also in the Bronx. The Yankees looked pretty miserable for most of this game. They made error after error, grounded into double play after double play, and ultimately cost themselves the game. They have only two games remaining in the regular season.
Let’s get right to the takeaways. (Fair warning: they get a bit cranky toward the end.)
1. J.A. Happ Gets it Done: Okay, do Yankee fans officially owe J.A. Happ an apology or what? The dude has been so, so effective lately. We all know this already, so there’s no need to rehash it, but what a turnaround this bas been from him. I said that I thought he’d bounce back after what was a horrible 2019, but I definitely did not expect this.
Anyway, I say all of this because Happ was simultaneously lucky tonight wasn’t worse and also grinded his way through a bad five innings to turn in a pretty decent start, all things considered. Happ was not sharp, walking two over his five innings, but limited the Marlins to just 3 hits. Unfortunately, one of those three hits followed both walks…and it was a big one:
That made it 3-0 Marlins with two outs in the 1st inning. It was a huge blow right away in a game the Yankees definitely wanted to win. It was especially frustrating because of the two two-out walks, but what can you do? That’s what happens when you put a pitch here:
And things didn’t look like they’d improve in the second inning. Happ allowed his other two hits – all 3, as well as the two walks and a HBP came in the first 2 innings – to lead off that inning. He got out of it, though, thanks to a sac bunt, a strikeout, and a popup.
Happ was only in trouble once more after a catcher’s interference to lead off the 4th. He gave up a scorcher to Miguel Rojas right after, but was saved by Gio Urshela:
That’s a game-changing play right there. Happ retired the next five batters he faced and finished the 5th inning. He got himself into trouble and paid for it, but all-in-all, it was a better performance than I thought we’d see 6 batters into the game for Miami. Here’s his pitch plot:
2. Sandy Alcantara Keeps the Yankees At Bay: The Yankees looked pretty lifeless against Alcantara all night. He struck out 9 Yanks in 7.1 innings of work, but did allow 8 baserunners on 6 hits and 2 walks. (The Yankees hit into three double plays). But they did manage to score a few runs and chip away at the 3-0 lead in the 3rd inning, even after a double play emptied the bases.
DJ LeMahieu walked and Aaron Judge hit a double – his first extra-base hit since August 11 – to put runners on second and third with two outs for Aaron Hicks. Hicks didn’t quite hit one to the sticks, but he did do this:
To make it 3-2. Huge hit, even if that was all the Yanks got until the 8th inning. More on that in a minute, though. It was an impressive performance from Alcantara, who made the Yankees extremely frustrated all night, though home plate umpire John Tumpane contributed a bit to that, too.
Look at this called strike 3 on Aaron Judge in the first inning. Just look at it:
That is an inexcusable called strike 3 right there. Completely inexcusable. It did lead to a good Aaron Boone outburst, though. He got ejected from the game from the bench. Check it out:
More to come on he home plate ump, too, in the 8th inning.
3. 8th Inning Madness (And Rally): The Yankees got the last laugh in the 8th, but it was not a straightforward affair by any means. They entered the bottom of the inning down 3-2 and Gary Sánchez immediately ripped a single to left. Mike Tauchman replaced him and tried to steal second, which it looked like he did successfully. Except that, after he got there, the umpires huddled and sent him back to first because of this:
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before. Umpire interference resulting in a reversed stolen base. It’s a dumb rule considering how far back he was set up, but whatever. The rule is the rule, even if it is dumb as hell (and it is dumb as hell):
Clint Frazier immediately struck out after that, which was bad, but he did snap his bat over his leg, which was cool:
Fortunately, the Yankees got the last laugh in this one. With two outs, the Marlins brought in Yimi Garcia, who threw the ball away trying to pick Tauchman off. Enter Aaron Judge, who tied the game on an uncharacteristic bloop single. It wasn’t pretty, but hey: a tie game is a tie game.
4. Regulation Bullpen is Dominant: The regulation bullpen was extremely good tonight, and it’s worth being encouraged about how they looked going into the playoffs. The Yankees did not mess around with their usage, which is great. Here is everyone’s respective lines:
- Jonathan Loaisiga: 2.0 IP, zeros, 1 K
- Zack Britton: 1.0 IP, zeroes, 1 K
- Aroldis Chapman: 1.0 IP, zeros, 2 K
Now that is a performance right there. Four innings of work, zero hits, 4 strikeouts and no walks. Sign me the hell up for that next week, please. We even got to see Aroldis Chapman’s shiny new splitter, which is just so fun. I can’t believe he throws a splitter now – he used to have one as a starter with the Reds – and that it’s good. Unbelievable. (It should be split neutral too, as it breaks straight down.)
5. Extra Innings Frustration: The top of the 10th inning sure was frustrating. The Marlins bunted over the runner to third to set up a guy on third with just one out. After a hard hit grounder to short, Torres threw home. This, predictably, led to a rundown that, less predictably, Kyle Higashioka royally screwed up. He ran toward third, never took his mask off, and hit Monte Harrison right in the back. Everyone was safe, and there were runners on first and second with one out instead of a guy on first with two outs. Inexcusable. Truly inexcusable.
This led to a deep sac fly to right field that gave the Marlins a 4-3 lead. I want to stress that this did not have to happen. Correctly handle the rundown and this does not happen. Frustrating!
Anyway, the bottom of the 10th inning was no less frustrating. Gleyber Torres walked to set up first and second with no outs. Kyle Higashioka then popped up a bunt attempted to completely waste a huge at-bat. Again: completely inexcusable. I hate the bunt there – and, newsflash, the Yankees would not have bunted if Gary was up – and they couldn’t even execute it properly. Gah. (Also frustratingly, the Yankees then executed a double steal (!) in the next at-bat. Why bunt at all?)
Cint Frazier walked after the double steal to lead the bases. That brought up DJ LeMahieu, who, as you probably guessed, immediately grounded into a double play. It was just that kind of night for the Yankees. That was that.
- Gary Catcher’s Interference: Another night, another catcher’s interference. Truly amazing. David Cone said it has to do with the stance, which honestly feels right at this point. (Still, as evidenced above, I take him over Higgy 10 out of 10 times.)
- Gary’s Bat Comes to Life: A part of the reason why is because, well, Gary can hit. He smoked two singles today and continues to look like a much better hitter than he did for most of this season. It is important to keep this in mind.
- Sloppy, Sloppy Defense: The Yankees have made 46 errors on the season. Four of them came tonight. This is an extremely worrying thing that the Yankees do. It will likely hurt them in a signficant way if they keep it up in October.
- Stop Hitting into Double Plays: If I were the Yankees, I would simply not hit into double plays. Wild thought!
The Yanks and Marlins will play their second-to-last game of the 2020 season tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 pm ET. Trevor Rogers (1-2, 6.84 ERA) will take on Deivi Garcia (2-2, 4.8 ERA) in that one. Enjoy your night, everyone.