Well … yeah, that was bad.

I had a completely different Takeaways bit written until about 11:42PM Eastern time, when it became clear that Aroldis Chapman did not have his best stuff.  Despite leading from the jump, the Yankees dropped the series finale to the Minnesota Twins 7-5 as Chapman gave up two two-run home runs without getting a single out in the bottom of the ninth to blow a two run lead for the first time this season.

I was looking forward to getting the Joe Biden “Minnesota” GIF up on this blog for the third time this week, but I guess it’s less apt now.  To the takeaways:

Chapman’s velocity was not encouraging. I’m going to spend as little time on Chapman as possible here, because we all saw what we saw. I will say that he was sitting 95-97 today on his four-seamer instead of the 99-100 we’ve seen from him for much of the season, and it’s like those few miles per hour on his fastball make an entirely different pitcher. Hopefully it was just an off-night and not a sign of anything structural.

The offense did enough.  Gleyber Torres went 3-for-5 today and continued his hot streak.  Over the first 10 days of June, Torres is hitting .387 (12 for 31) with more RBI (4) than strikeouts (3).  The Yankees got multi-hit performances today from Torres, Gio Urshela, Miguel Andujar, and DJ LeMahieu.  The Yankees lineup was constructed to have multiple guys who could carry you on any given day, and that’s exactly what happened today.  Urshela, especially, pounded the ball all evening, hitting a home run and a triple and making hard contact on a few of his outs.  Giancarlo Stanton, although he only got one hit on the day, made the most of it by demolishing a 422 foot, 107 mile per hour bomb to put the Yankees up by three in the first inning.  To find a negative, the team was only 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, indicating that their situational hitting is still an issue, but you’d be hard pressed to really pin this loss on the offense.

Mike King could have been worse.  Mike King, who has slotted into the fifth spot in the rotation over the past few weeks, showed flashes of good stuff but was mostly mediocre.  He struggled to locate, walking three batters and throwing 69 pitches over 3.2 innings.  He wound up surrendering two runs on his final line.

Aside from Chapman, the bullpen gutted it out. The Yankees were in position to win going into the bottom of the ninth because of a gritty combined performance from the middle relievers. Lucas Luetge was called on to finish King’s fourth inning, and after hitting Jorge Polanco with a pitch he struck out Josh Donaldson on a nasty cutter.

There were several situations throughout the evening where it seemed like the game could have gotten away from the Yankees, but the bullpen did a good job of bailing the team out in key spots.  Jonathan Loaisiga relieved Luetge with one out in the fifth and two runners on, and got a pop-up and a groundout to prevent a Twins rally.  Similarly, Chad Green came in for a shaky Wandy Peralta in the 7th after Peralta allowed a run on a Nick Gordon single and a Nelson Cruz double, and struck out Miguel Sano, who has 12 home runs this year, on a 3-2 curveball to preserve the lead. Had Chapman been able to hold on, the bullpen would have been one of the great stories of this game.

Gary contributed on all sides. Gary Sanchez continued to make good contact, lacing a hard single in the 6th.  He is hitting .323 since May 29 with 3 doubles and 5 RBI.  His season average, which has been below .200 for much of this season, is up to .218.  His biggest contribution to this game, however, was on the basepaths two batters later.  After a single by Andujar, Chris Gittens hit into what easily could have been a rally-killing double play, but Sanchez distracted Donaldson at third base by doing what can best be described as a little “can you catch me” dance.  This appeared to take Donaldson out of double-play mode as he chased Sanchez out of the baseline to record just one out, and that play led directly to a run as DJ LeMahieu singled home Andujar with two outs in the inning.  Even with the unfortunate outcome of the game, it’s nice to see the Yankees making heads-up plays on the basepaths instead of just directly running into outs.

Leftovers:

  • Loaisiga pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, which constituted his tenth appearance of the season where he pitched more than 1.1 innings and gave up no runs.
  • After tripling in the first inning, Gio Urshela got thrown out at home on a would-be wild pitch, proving that even in Minnesota the team can’t help but get thrown out on the basepaths.
  • Gittens came this close to having his first major league hit be a two-run home run.  In the top of the fourth inning, Gittens hit what was originally called a home run that would have made it a 6-1 ballgame, but after significant on-field confusion ensued (which was echoed by John Sterling in the radio booth) it was unfortunately, but correctly, ruled a foul ball.  Gittens is still seeking his first major league hit.
  • Green’s uneventful eighth inning was assisted by an excellent outfield play from Andujar, who played Gilberto Celestino’s would-be double off the wall and fired a great throw to second base for the final out. 
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