The Yankees held a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth, but the White Sox tied it up four batters later and defeated the Bombers, 5-4, to start the four-game set. J.A. Happ and Adam Ottavino each gave up a costly homer while the New York bats fell silent late.
1. An UnHappy Inning
Heading into this start, J.A. Happ had won his last five decisions and had a 3.57 ERA over 58 innings since he last faced the White Sox. That’s not amazing, but he’s been living up to his contract.
Yet, on Thursday night, Happ was felled once again by the South Siders, this time mostly over the span of four batters.
We’ll get to the carnage in a second, but Happ shut down the White Sox for three innings. He allowed a baserunner in the first and second and received the rare 3-6-4 double play to assist him in the latter frame.
With two outs in the fourth, he issued eight straight balls, loading the bases and putting himself in danger. It’s funny because he was throwing harder than he had all season, just didn’t have his command. https://twitter.com/DBITLefty/status/1139345272583204864
Happ would escape the bases-loaded jam with a pop out, but he wouldn’t stop the bleeding an inning later. Another walk, a single served the other way and a hard double set the stage for Tim Anderson.
Told y’all in the preview: Anderson had a homer off all of the Yankees’ presumed starters for this series and Happ gave him a ball over the heart of the plate at the knees. The future All-Star shortstop took it deep to center.
Happ got through the rest of the inning unscathed. Still, he issued a season-high four walks and simply didn’t have control when needed. It was reminiscent of his start in Kansas City, where he held the opposition scoreless before allowing a sigh-inducing three-run homer.
He has now allowed 17 homers this season. It’s Not What You Want.
2. Eleven Pitches and a Homer
Tommy Kahnle followed Happ with a scoreless frame. He’s rebounded well from Sunday’s meltdown.
Adam Ottavino hasn’t quite gotten over it.
Ottovino came in to face the top of the lineup and was greeted with the at-bat of the night by Leury Garcia. The right-hander gave Garcia the kitchen sink and some nasty sliders over the course of the at-bat and time-after-time, he fouled the ball away, working the count to 3-2. It all led to this.
The at-bat was truly unreal, but Ottavino left a hanging slider.
Otto left 11th pitch of the AB, a 3-2 count, right over the heart of the plate
Ottavino struck out Anderson, but he left hangers to Jose Abreu and James McCann as well. Abreu burned him with a double while McCann worked a walk. Ultimately, Jonathan Holder had to get the final out of the inning to hold the game at 5-4.
That makes it two home runs in as many games for Ottavino, who hadn’t given up a run for 18 straight outings. Every reliever goes through a slump, so hopefully he can nix this one quickly.
3. Didi, Gleyber and Gardy
The Yankees scored two runs in both the second and fourth innings, and the aforementioned trio were at the heart of both rallies.
In the second, Didi Gregorius lined a single to right before Gleyber Torres took the ball up the box. It looked a lot like 2018, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence: With the Yankees getting healthy, Torres can sit towards the bottom of the lineup and doesn’t have to do too much. He doesn’t have to hit for power.
Brett Gardner grounded into a fielder’s choice before Ivan Nova uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Didi. Gardner would score on a Clint Frazier single and that was that.
Two innings later, Torres again hit a LeMahieu-esque single, this time with two outs. Gardner then continued his power surge with his 11th of the season and third in his last four games.
Gardy now has 11 home runs in 249 plate appearances after hitting 12 in 609 a year ago. Part of that is being moved out of the leadoff hole and some of it is health. Either way, it’s good to see the Gardner of 2017 just before an outfield infusion can give him rest and keep the veteran fresh.
In those two innings, the Bombers took advantage of Ivan Nova’s wildness. Like Happ, he didn’t have his normal command. He walked the first batter he faced in the game despite coming in with a six percent walk rate. Would have been nice for the Yankees to do more damage against him.Embed from Getty Images
- Clint Frazier went 2-for-4 with two singles through the left side. The five-through-eight hitters (Didi, Gleyber, Gardner and Frazier) went 8-for-15 with a homer, 3 RBI, 1 BB and two strikeouts. Everyone else went 1-for-20 with a walk and 10 strikeouts.
- The Yankees mustered just two singles against the White Sox’s bullpen, which didn’t include normal closer Alex Colome. Colome threw 39 pitches on Tuesday and was unavailable.
- In his stead, Aaron Bummer picked up his first career save. He’s been strong this year. Meanwhile, Kelvin Herrera has not, yet the veteran struck out Luke Voit, Gary Sanchez and Torres around a Gregorius single.
- I really need to mention the 3-6-4 double play again. Torres instinctively knew to get the first base bag while shifted over. I had never seen that before and Sam Miller didn’t even think of it in his ranking of the assorted double plays last year.
The Yankees’ task doesn’t get any easier Friday as they face Chicago’s breakout ace Lucas Giolito (9-1, 2.28 ERA) with CC Sabathia (3-3, 3.96) going for his 250th career win. That’ll be another 8:10 p.m. start on PIX 11.