What a finish! The Yankees snuck past the A’s this afternoon at Yankee Stadium, 2-1. It took some clutch hitting from Gary Sánchez (who else?) and an incredible triple play to bail out a shaky Aroldis Chapman in the ninth to win this one. That’s right, the Yankees turned a game-ending triple play, as you can see in the video above, to win this one.
We’re running out of superlatives to describe Gary Sánchez. Seriously, how many recent takeaways have featured the Yankees’ catcher of late? Rightfully so, of course. He’s been brilliant over the last three weeks or so and had the biggest hit of today’s game.
That go-ahead two-run double wasn’t the catcher’s only hit to right field today, by the way. In fact, both of his doubles against Sean Manaea were to the right-center field gap. Sánchez is very pull-happy, so when you see him going to right field, you know he’s absolutely locked in. Those kind of hits are vintage Gary, the player we saw when he first came up in 2016 and 2017.
Manaea looked pretty damn terrific today, making Gary’s performance even better. Before the Yankees knocked him out in that sixth inning, he had struck out 11 batters and allowed just a couple of hits (the earlier Gary double and a DJ LeMahieu double). Manaea literally threw only fastballs (72 of 98 pitches, 20 whiffs) and changeups (26 pitches, 4 whiffs) all day and had the Yankees off balance. Except against Gary, of course.
Coming into today’s game, Sánchez had a .328/.397/.689 (191 wRC+) with six homers in his last 68 plate appearances (since May 27th). Today’s two-hit game brought up his season line to .237/.340/.480 (125 wRC+) in 200 plate appearances on the nose.
Gary’s always going to have his fair share of detractors, even during spurts like this. I’ve seen more than a few comments along the lines of: “just wait until he is horrible again soon” or “he does this every year and it’s always a mirage”. Maybe that will be the case, but instead of still griping about Gary, how about we all enjoy this terrific run? It’s been badly needed during a time that the team is still in search mode as a whole.
Jordan Montgomery was pretty good against everyone not named Matt Olson. This was a good, albeit somewhat odd performance for the Yankees’ starter. The reason I say odd is because Montgomery has been death to left handed hitters this season, and yet, the one guy he had a really hard time against this afternoon was lefty first baseman Matt Olson. He went 2-for-3 against Monty with a homer.
Entering today’s game, left handed hitters were batting .115/.179/.115 against Montgomery in 2021. That’s dominant. Olson doesn’t have a discernible split in 2021, though historically he’s fared worse against southpaws. So naturally, he hit this bomb in the first inning:
That was a 1-0 meatball. Olson nearly made Monty pay again on this hanger too:
Fortunately, he just got under it. A slightly better swing there would have made it a 4-0 ballgame, perhaps leaving today with a much different feel. Olson did get the last laugh, knocking Montgomery out of the game with a single in the sixth, but things clearly could have been much worse.
Now, Montgomery looked very good against the rest of Oakland’s lineup. Only three other A’s reached base against him across 5.1 innings while also striking out six time.
Monty’s best pitch today was his changeup. He picked up a career-best 11 whiffs on 18 swings (61 percent). He also allowed an average 79.7 MPH exit velocity against the pitch this afternoon. Against a righty-heavy lineup like Oakland’s (Olson was the lone lefty in the starting lineup), having an effective changeup is crucial.
Things worked out, but why did Lucas Luetge get the eight inning? And don’t get me wrong, Luetge has been terrific this season. But were Chad Green and Zack Britton not available? And if so, why?
Green threw 13 pitches yesterday and 23 on Thursday. Britton hasn’t pitched at all since Thursday (12 pitches). Both ostensibly should have been usable today from a recent workload perspective. Yet, neither warmed up.
Maybe Boone just wanted to avoid going back-to-back days for Green, but it’s not like he hasn’t done that already this season (four times). He’s also gone to Green three times in four days once before.
Perhaps this was a matchup thing. Olson was due up third, and even though Britton is also a lefty, Luetge is a bit more of a traditional left-on-left guy in comparison to the sinkerballing Britton. Even so, this is the age of the three batter minimum.
In any case, Luetge worked around Matt Chapman’s one out triple, including a huge strikeout of Olson. It’s still a bit disconcerting to not see Britton get loose, though. If Boone didn’t want to go to Green back-to-back, fine. But to not see Britton at all was odd. Further, when Aroldis Chapman got into trouble in the ninth, Wandy Peralta and Luis Cessa warmed up. No Britton in sight. I’m sure we’ll hear more in the postgame.
- Ho hum, another excellent outing for Jonathan Loaisiga. He held Oakland scoreless over 1.2 innings and also stranded two runners he inherited from Montgomery. The righty’s ERA is now a sparkling 1.63.
- DJ LeMahieu’s double was the only non-Sánchez hit for the Yankees in this game.
- So, about that triple play to end the game. It’s the third triple play the team has turned this season, which ties a MLB record. The 2021 Yankees are the 12th team to do it. Still a little more than half the season remains to set the record.
With today’s win, the Yankees are up to 38-33 on the season. Boston is currently losing to the Royals, so the Yankees could be 4.5 games back of the Red Sox before day’s end. And if Tampa Bay loses again, they’ll be just four games up on the Bombers. As for what’s next: the Yankees are off tomorrow and return on Tuesday for a three game series against Kansas City. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.