Now that’s more like it. The Yankees locked in their first win against the Blue Jays of the season, winning tonight’s game 6-1. This wasn’t the prettiest series for the Yanks, but it’s nice to salvage the last game of the series before heading to Cleveland this weekend. The Yankees improve to 39-22 and will remain in first place in the American League East.
Let’s get right into the takeaways from tonight’s fun, easy win.
1. J.A. Happ Looks Like 2018 J.A. Happ Again: A lot of Yankee fans have expressed frustration with J.A. Happ this year, especially after a rough start to the season. But here’s the thing: Happ has been much, much better of late. He owned a 3.88 ERA in his last 9 starts coming into tonight. Here are his last 5 starts, including tonight:
- 6/6 against Toronto: 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 4 K, 0 BB, 1 HR
- 5/31 against Boston: 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 5 K, 2 BB, 1HR
- 5/25 against Kansas City: 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 10 K, 0 BB, 1 HR
- 5/20 against Baltimore: 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 9 H, 3 K, 1 BB, 2 HR
- 5/15 against Baltimore: 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 3 K, 0 BB, 2 HR
Happ has been much better, even if he just can’t seem to beat Baltimore. (Seriously, what the hell is up with that?) But in any case, Happ is starting to look more like the guy we expected him to be this year. He’s still surrendering far too many home runs, though. Hopefully, he can get that under control (his 2.13 HR/9 coming into tonight, plus another homer tonight, just isn’t going to cut it), but even if not, what he’s done recently has been more than enough. The American League average ERA is 4.49, after all.
As for tonight, it was nice that Aaron Boone was able to ride Happ a bit, allowing him to go 7 innings and almost give the big bullpen arms a breather in a game the Yanks won. Imagine that. Great performance from Happ. Another one in five days, please.
2. Aaron Hicks is Finding His Sea Legs Again: That’s another extra-base hit for Hicks tonight, as he did this:
That made it 3 extra-base hits in his last 5 at-bats for Hicks, including two that were hit to the sticks. That’s a very good sign. He’s looked much better this past week, hitting .267/.353/.533 in the 7 days coming into tonight, and added on to it with a 2-5 performance and 3 RBI. He’s up to .238/.329/.397 (94 wRC+) on the season. Let’s keep that line going in the right direction, Aaron. I like what we’ve seen recently, so I expect that to happen.
3. DJ LeMahieu is Incredible: What more can you say about DJ LeMahieu? The guy has been just incredible this year. Incredible defense all over the infield as expected, and jeez is he hitting. He went 3-5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI tonight (more hits with runners in scoring position of course) and he now owns a .323/.371/.480 (127 wRC+) line on the season.
What a tremendous signing this has been. DJ “It’s French for The Mahieu” has really captured the hearts of Yankee fans after a turbulent period after the signing, and it’s easy to see why. From our friend Katie Sharp:
Just ridiculous. This can’t keep up, right? No way. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts and hope that DJLM continues to keep proving us all wrong.
4. Gio Urshela Plans on Making it Tough On Aaron Boone: Didi Gregorius is set to return tomorrow (hooray!) so of course, Gio Urshela had to do this:
He’s batting .323/.368/.468 (122 wRC+) in 174 plate appearances for New York. He’s looked more human of late (.278/.263/.333 in his last 7 games, which is a far cry from how he looked two weeks ago) but the dude has been downright incredible. And he’s been hitting the ball hard. Look at this:
He is comfortably above average in Exit Velocity (75th percentile), Hard Hit % (64th percentile), xWOBA (76th percentile), xSLG (68th percentile) and xBA (98th percentile). That will do. He’s determined to make the playing time shuffle even more difficult on Aaron Boone that it otherwise would have been, in other words. I welcome it. The more good players, the merrier, obviously.
5. Chad Green Couldn’t Slam The Door Shut: An annoying 9th inning was annoying. After a clean, classic Chad Green 8th inning, he ran into trouble in the 9th. A pop up that the normally tremendous on defense Urshela didn’t get to (did he think Maybin called him off? That’s what I think), a seeing-eye ground ball, and a good ol’ base hit loaded the bases with no outs in the 9th.
That meant Boone needed to go to Chapman. That was the right call, as Chapman quickly induced a double play and a line out to end the game. It’s a little frustrating that this one got to the point where they had to use Chapman at all (the Yanks led 6-0 at one point) because the Blue Jays offense is so friggin’ terrible, but whatever. A win is a win, and this was a good one.
Please know that I didn’t forget that the Ghost of Kendrys Morales inexplicably hit 5th tonight after inexplicably hitting 4th last night. I did not forget it. It is awful and I don’t understand why the Yanks keep giving him playing time at all, let alone giving him prime time batting order slots. I don’t get it. Hopefully this situation resolves itself tomorrow when Didi is called up.
The Yankees (39-22) will take on the Cleveland Indians (31-31) tomorrow night. By the way, I just have to say: I really, really love that Cleveland’s arrogance and cheap behavior last offseason is blowing up in their face. I love it so much. Let’s hope the Yanks continue to pile on this weekend.
Domingo Germán (9-1, 3.66 ERA) will take the hill against Zach Plesac (01, 1.46 ERA) tomorrow night at 7:05 pm EST.
Have a good night, everyone.