Well, that could have gone better. For the first time in a month, the Yankees have lost back-to-back games, losing 4-3 to the lowly Toronto Blue Jays. Can’t win them all, I guess.
Anyway, let’s get right into tonight’s takeaways and put this one behind us as soon as we can.
1. Masahiro Tanaka Couldn’t Catch a Break: Tonight was not Masahiro Tanaka’s finest night, though he started out just fine. In fact, he looked sharp and effective through 4 innings. I admit it, after Clint Frazier (more on him in a moment) spotted Tanaka a 2-0 lead, I felt comfortable. Shows what I know, as Masahiro completely unraveled in the 5th inning, allowing 2 home runs and 4 runs total. It was all Toronto, a horrific offense (they came into tonight hitting .218/.285/.375!), got going all night.
But I gotta say, home plate umpire Ángel Hernández did Tanaka absolutely no favors in that inning. None at all. Look at this:
And then look at this:
I mean, come on. Those pitches aren’t borderline. They’re right down the middle. How a Major League umpire can call those balls (and I’m being gracious and ignoring pitch 1 in the second graphic) is truly beyond me. I’m not one for robot umps, but that is embarrassing. Inning- and game-changing stuff.
But in any case, Tanaka has to work through that and be better against a bad lineup, and he just wasn’t able to do it. Oh well. All told, 6 innings, 6 hits, 4 ER, 2 K, 2 BB and 2 HR for Tanaka, who now owns a 3-5 record on the season.
2. Clint Frazier Reminds Fans That He’s Good, Actually: What a few days for Clint Frazier. I’m not going to spend any time talking about the drama surrounding him and the media other than to say it’s dumb. Capital-D Dumb. It was dumb of Frazier, but the whole episode has been an embarrassing display for the media, as well. Not a good look for anyone.
In any case, all eyes were on Clint tonight. He struck out in his first AB, came up to the plate for the second time and did this:
That was his 11th home run of the season in 150 at-bats, which is about a 40 home run pace over a full, 550 at-bat season. He might be bad out in right field, and he had what will probably go down as the worst night of his career on Sunday, but he’s producing at the plate. He was at .272/.319/.517 coming into the game. For a 24-year-old who missed all of 2018 with injuries, that’s good. Very good, in fact. We would all do well to remember that amid the noise.
3. Can Aaron Hicks Get It Going?: A welcome sight out of Aaron Hicks tonight. He was 2-4 with a double and a home run, and he looked much more comfortable at the plate overall. That’s a much-needed good night at the plate for Hicks, who has really struggled since coming back of the IL.
He was hitting .204/.302/.259 in 63 at-bats before tonight’s game. That’s a small sample size and Hicks missed a lot of time getting healthy (he got hurt basically right after his extension), so I’m not too worried about him, but he’s an important part of this team. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Hicks.
4. The Trip to the Minors That Saved Chad Green’s Season?: Wow, does Chad Green look better. Derek touched on this last week but it does seem like Green made real, tangible improvements when he was sent to AAA a few weeks ago. He’s been much, much better since returning from that brief stint.
Tonight, he set the Jays down 1-2-3 in the 8th inning, recording two strikeouts. Better yet, his average fastball velocity was 97, and he topped out at 98. He looks closer to the Green of old. The bullpen has been a monster, but it would be even better if Green continues on this trajectory. A good sign.
Tomorrow, the Yankees will try to even the series against the Blue Jays in the second of this three game set. James Paxton (3-2, 2.81 ERA) will square off against Trent Thorton (1-4, 4.53 ERA). First pitch will be at 7:07. Have a good night, everyone.