Game 76: Yankees outlast the Astros

That wasn’t the prettiest or easiest of victories, but I’m not complaining. The Yankees blew a couple of leads in the middle innings but managed to regain an advantage against one of baseball’s best relievers. And, despite walking the ballpark, the Yankees’ bullpen held on for dear life in the 7-5 win.

(Fangraphs)

On to the takeaways:

It could have been better, yet it could have been worse for Masahiro Tanaka. By my count, Tanaka generated merely two swings-and-misses all night (both vs. José Altuve). He wasn’t fooling anyone: he allowed 8 hits, including a two-run dinger to Josh Reddick that tied the ballgame.

Still, Tanaka persevered. Sure, the Astros bats have been a bit cold offensively of late, but the righty still had to wiggle out of a handful of jams. We’re still waiting for some more consistency from him, unfortunately. I miss his vintage splitter.

I’ll take six innings of two run ball anytime, but Tanaka was fortunate to do so tonight. Houston failed time and time again to come through with runners on base despite having no issues with making contact and hitting the ball hard.

It took a while, but the Yankees finally got to Wade Miley. DJ LeMahieu led off tonight’s game with a four pitch walk, which was promising and had me salivating for a crooked number to start the game. Alas, Aaron Judge grounded into a double play on a 2-0 count (six straight balls to start the game) to kill that notion. From there, it seemed like the Yankees couldn’t do a thing against Miley.

The lefty had faced the minimum into the fourth inning until Jake Marisnick dropped a fly ball with two outs. It was no matter, as Miley got Giancarlo Stanton to line out to escape. Miley was painting (just off) the corners all night, and home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez was calling strikes just off the plate in lock step. Hey, credit to Miley for capitalizing. Doesn’t hurt that his batterymate, Max Stassi, is a pretty great framer.

The Yankees finally broke through in the fifth; Gio Urshela hit a two-run dinger to the short porch to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Gio just keeps pulling me back in:

I guess the third time (through the order) is a charm. In the sixth, the top of the order knocked Miley out of the ballgame. Eventually, Stanton singled in two off reliever Will Harris, bringing Miley’s line to five innings and four runs allowed to close his book. As good as the southpaw looked, his line was pretty unspectacular in the end.

Jonathan Hold-on to your butt’s-er strikes again. The seventh inning started innocently enough: Holder retired the first two batters he faced before allowing back-to-back singles ahead of rookie Yordan Álvarez. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Holder threw the 21 year-old an absolute meatball.

Yeah, that one’s not coming back. A flat low 80s changeup is just about the fattest pitch you can get, and Álvarez did not miss. The rookie has been a monster the Astros. Say, that lefty swing of his would like mighty nice at Yankee Stadium, huh?

Anyway, Boone kind of had to use Holder today. Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, and Aroldis Chapman have all thrown back-to-back days. Adam Ottavino threw 19 pitches yesterday. Chad Green had just one day of rest after 33 pitches in his opener. Frankly, Holder needed to close out that inning after he retired the first two.

This is how good the Yankees’ lineup is: Ryan Pressly doubled his runs allowed total in one night. Just about any lead has been safe for Houston with Pressly on the mound. He entered the seventh inning with a 5-4 lead with Urshela, Austin Romine, and LeMahieu coming to the plate. He retired Urshela on three pitches to start – this was going to be easy, right? But Romine, of all people, took Pressly deep to tie it up at 5.

But that wasn’t all: LeMahieu singled and Judge reached on catcher’s interference, setting up for Luke Voit and Giancarlo Stanton. Ultimately, it was Stanton who delivered the big hit, which was virtually a carbon copy of his two-run single earlier in the game.

All told, Pressly’s three runs allowed brought his full season total to six and raised his ERA from 0.81 to 1.57. Yeah, this offense will wear down just about anybody. And Gleyber Torres and Gary Sánchez had the night off!

Guys, Giancarlo Stanton is good. I know I don’t really need to say this, but I feel like doing so anyway. He had a big game tonight, driving in four runs in a couple of important spots. Did you know that Stanton hits the ball very hard?

Yep. Anyone who thought the Yankees did need Stanton should hang their head in shame, as Bobby so aptly put a couple weeks ago.

Leftovers:

  • The ninth inning just had to be difficult, didn’t it? Britton got the save opportunity because Chapman was unavailable. Zack walked three (including an intentional walk), but wiggled out of it for the save.
  • Aaron Judge threw an absolute laser from the right field corner to nail Max Stassi going for a double. His throwing motion is so free and easy, but the ball shoots out like a cannon.
  • The Yankees probably need to acquire another reliever. That might come in the way of Chad Green, who did warm up in the ninth, but the Yankees have mostly avoided him since he’s joined the rotation as an opener. Once Domingo German returns, Green should rejoin the bullpen. Still, another arm would be nice, especially with the timing of Dellin Betances’s return uncertain.

Tomorrow is Old Timers’ Day! The festivities begin at 11:30 in the morning. After that, first pitch for the finale of the four game set vs. Houston is scheduled for 2:05pm. Let’s get greedy – how about a four game sweep?

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7 Comments

  1. overseasyankeefan

    Why does Green need to pitch more than 2 innings every 5 days? In Girardi’s era, Green was mainly used as a multiple-inning guy with multiple-day rests. His role was more often than not morphed into a one-inning guy due to various reasons in 2018. This year, Green was ineffective and demoted before setting himself into a more defined role as the roster is currently constructed. It is understandably bothering to see relievers warming up but not used in a game. That is hardly new though. Girardi did it a lot and Boone has had his fair share, too. As a game unfolds, the potential run(s) on the base(s) would dictate the bullpen usage. Watching a game live & seeing a mop-up guy couldn’t get the job done so a high(er)-leverage reliever has to go pitch is never what you want.

  2. “Anyway, Boone kind of had to use Holder today. Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, and Aroldis Chapman have all thrown back-to-back days”

    This isn’t true. Only kahnle and Chapman have pitched in back to back games. Britton and ottavino only pitches yesterday. There was no excuse to go to holder

    • Derek Albin

      Oops yes you’re right about Britton. That said, Britton did throw 23 pitches yesterday which is a lot. Clearly Boone waited to use him for the save.

      What would you have preferred in the seventh?

      • Anyone of ottavino/Britton/green I would’ve been okay with. All 3 guys were available to pitch tonight, as evidenced by green warming up, so I would’ve gone to them before needing to go holder. It would be nice to get them off, but a 4-2 game, with the top of the Astros order due up isn’t the time for holder unless it’s absolutely necessary. Luckily we ended up winning and it was a moot point

        • overseasyankeefan

          Green was basically the last resort (like before the last out in the 9th tonight) because he will be needed again as an opener. He just threw 33 pitches on the 20th…

          • Green should have pitched last night. He needs to be pitching more than 2 innings every 5 days. Boone is still a poor pen tactician. Green’s performance since Girardi leaving supports this view.

            Nothing bothers me more than having relievers warm up and not used in a game. In the past week, Boone had Ottavino and Kahnle warm up in a 12-1 blowout and didn’t use either as well as had all 4 primary relievers warm up in a 10-6 game, deploying Kahnle and Chapman. So in the past 4 games, Ottavino has warmed up or pitched. This is poor management.

    • overseasyankeefan

      It is true that Boone had to use Holder in the 7th because clearly the plan was to use Ottavino and Britton in the 8th & 9th. With the bullpen usage in the past two days, no one was available except *sighing* Cessa and Holder. The bullpen has been (and will be) clearly short because Chad Green is used as the designated opener before German returns. Btw, Yankees’ defense was obviously a big contributor to the win tonight (and thanks to Astros’ few sloppy plays! :D).

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