That’s more like it!
For much of the afternoon, it looked like another annoying afternoon in the Bronx, but the Yankees rode some clutch late-inning hitting to even the series with the Oakland Athletics, showing signs of continued life in a hard-fought, 7-5 win. At times it wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. The Yankees have now won four of their last five games, all of the wins in that stretch of the come-from-behind variety. On to the takeaways:
German struggles. Domingo German has been one of the Yankees’ most consistent, solid pitchers this season, but struggled mightily last weekend in Philadelphia and was once again not his best self today. He showed flashes of brilliance, striking out the side in the second inning and recording 6 strikeouts total in just 4 innings. He had great movement on his breaking pitches this afternoon but struggled to command his fastball and wound up being chased from the game with nobody out in the 5th after surrendering four runs, including two home runs. German has now surrendered 14 home runs in 69.0 innings.
Nestor Cortes makes his way into the circle of trust. Nestor Cortes Jr. was tasked with cleaning up a starting pitcher’s bad day for the second time in a week and responded brilliantly. He inherited a first-and-third, nobody out situation from German in the 5th with the Yankees down 4-1, and got two strikeouts and a popup to hold the A’s scoreless. He finished the day with three innings where he surrendered no runs, just one hit, and struck out three. Great day for him.
The bats heat up. As has been discussed ad nauseum, the Yankees’ primary issue thus far in 2021 has been that the people who are supposed to be reliable hitters have been less than reliable. The team got production from up and down the lineup, especially from guys whose bats they really need to get going. Aaron Judge, who has been in a funk of late, got two hits; Gary Sanchez hit a monster home run to close the gap to 4-2 in the 6th inning; and Clint Frazier, who has mostly been relegated to the bench recently, hit two hard doubles. It would be really great to see him get on a roll.
The early innings featured a lot of missed opportunities, but the “clutch” started to come through in the 7th. After Frazier doubled to lead off the inning, it appeared as though the Yankees would once again be unable to capitalize on the opportunity as Brett Gardner struck out and DJ LeMahieu grounded out; however, Sanchez took a two-out walk to chase starter Chris Bassit from the game, and Judge and Giancarlo Stanton hit back-to-back singles to tie the game.
The Yankees broke it open a little bit in the 8th after Gio Urshela, who also recorded two hits today, led off the inning with a go-ahead home run. After walks to Chris Gittens and Frazier, Gardner demonstrated the elusive solid fundamentals by putting down a well-executed sac bunt to move the runners, and LeMahieu came through with a big hit to put the team up by three and cap the Yankees’ scoring at 7.
Chapman’s weird inning. The top of the ninth was a lot more stressful than it needed to be. Chapman overall looked pretty good, and his velocity was back to its peak after dipping last week. With one out, he walked Mark Canha on borderline pitches that could have been strikes; Aaron Boone had some words in response for home plate umpire Sean Barber and got thrown out. After the walk, Chapman induced a fly out to Judge and then what looked to be a game-ending ground ball behind first base, but he dropped the ball covering first, raising the blood pressure of a fanbase as the tying run came to the plate. He gave up a run on a single to Ramon Laureano before settling down to strike out Matt Chapman on three pitches, the last of which was clocked at 103 miles per hour. Weird inning, but no harm, no foul.
- Tony Kemp is a pain in the butt. After his go-ahead home run yesterday, he hit another home run in the first this afternoon to put the A’s up early, and robbed Judge of a base hit in the bottom of the first. Annoying.
- Chad Green threw a fantastic eighth inning, striking out the side on 13 pitches.
- In the 2nd inning, Urshela hit a double play grounder where it appeared as though the bat shattered and shards of wood flew into his eye, hindering his ability to run out the play. Scary moment, but Gio was back on the field in the top of the inning and certainly seemed healthy enough for some late inning heroics.
- Directly after driving in a few big insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, LeMahieu got picked off first base, proving that even when they win the Yankees can’t help but make dumb outs on the basepaths.