That was the sort of performance that I’m sure Aaron Boone hoped would follow his “the season is on the line” remarks from yesterday. The Yankees easily dispatched the Angels 11-5 on Tuesday night, scoring 10 runs in the first 4 innings of this one. Would that every game could have a win probability chart that looks like this:
That’s what happens when the Yankees go 4-6 with runners-in-scoring position and knock in 7 two-out runs. Seven! Did you know that the Yankees were actually allowed to do that? I didn’t, or I’d forgotten it. Still, let this be a harbinger of things to come, please. The Yankees are 41-38 and they’re riding a one-game winning streak. Let’s keep it up. Now, on to tonight’s takeaways.
1. Jameson Taillon has Been Disappointing: Okay, this was a good game. It really was! But, this being the 2021 Yankees, I have to start with a healthy dose of pessimism: Jameson Taillon has not been great. He really hasn’t been. It’s a bit too early for me to say that I was wrong about him – I thought he’d be good-to-great – but it’s not been super encouraging so far. He’s been very disappointing.
Taillon was very good in his last start against Kansas City. He went 6.1 innings and allowed just 1 run on 5 hits and struck out 6. It was real progress from his previous start in which he allowed 2 runs in 4.2 innings – if you squinted, it looked like he might have turned a corner. Tonight was a real step backwards.
He threw 5.1 innings of 9-hit, 5 run ball. He struck out just 4 batters and walked 1, but was really punished by the home run. Taillon allowed three overall, two of which came off the bat of the absolutely ridiculous Shohei Ohtani. They accounted for all 5 runs against Taillon.
It’s difficult to say that did him in, though. He really didn’t have swing and miss stuff (just a 22% whiff-per-swing rate) and he hung out over the middle of the plate a bit too often:
That’s how you give up 9 hits in 5.1 innings, folks. Oh well. A win is a win, and Taillon got it tonight. On the bright side, tonight was a bit of a rarity for the former Pirate: he lasted into the 6th inning. That was just the third start of the season in which he’s done that. Progress is progress, right?
Still, the Yankees are counting on Taillon to step it up. I would have like to see him build on his very good start last time, but it didn’t happen. Let’s hope next time he will.
2. Aaron Judge is the Yankees’ Best Player…By Far: There’s a lot of chatter out there regarding the Yankees being potential sellers this year, including from Cashman himself. In fanland, at least, that centers around Aaron Judge. Folks, I am here to say that this is a stupid idea. The Yankees desperately, desperately need Aaron Judge. They’d be nothing without him. All of his skills were on display tonight.
His most famous skill, of course, is his prodigious power. Check this out, for crying out loud:
That is a capital-T Terrible pitch, especially with two outs. It’s a middling fastball (92 mph) right down the middle of the plate, thigh high. Heaney was basically begging Judge to hit it a mile to dead center. He obliged. It traveled 434 feet and left the bat at 109. Beautiful stuff there. It made it 5-2, as well. It was a big moment in the game, following up on DJ LeMahieu’s clutch single (more on that in a moment).
Judge is more than a slugger, though: he’s also a very good defender. That was also on display tonight. Check out this play:
Interestingly, that had just a .110 xBA, per Statcast, but Judge covered a lot of ground to get there. I don’t think Statcast accurately captures just how good of a play that way. Judge, man. He’s a hell of a player. It’s flying a bit under the radar, but Judge is hitting .285/.382/.522 (149 wRC+) in 2021 so far. He’s played in 75 games. That’ll do.
3. DJ LeMahieu is DJ LeMahieu Again: Our old pal DJ LeMahieu is looking like DJ LeMahieu again. He is riding a 12-game hitting streak after a 1-5 performance tonight. Better, DJ came into the game hitting .329/.376/.532 (150 wRC+) since June 8. He’s hit in 17 of those 19 games.
Tonight’s hit was a huge reason why he’s so important to the team, too. With the game tied at 2– Taillon’s first HR had the potential to be a backbreaker given the way the season has gone – DJ came up to the plate with two-on and two-out. It’s not a situation in which the Yankees have capitalized much this year. DJ did it tonight. Here’s the video:
That was just a huge, huge hit for the Yankees. It was one they haven’t gotten very often and it allowed Judge to come up. We already saw what he did next. DJ is the trendsetter for the Yankees and they really need him to be good – he’s the key to much of the offense. Tonight was a key example, even though he only got one hit. You could argue, and I would, that this hit won the game for the Yanks.
4. RISP Success is Damn Nice: I said this above in the intro, so I don’t need to get into it again. But I’d be damned if I didn’t say this explicitly: baseball is a hell of a lot more fun when the Yankees get hits with runners in scoring position. They did that tonight from familiar faces: DJ, Judge, Voit, and even Gleyber. It was a very enjoyable watch, wouldn’t you say? It’s why I don’t buy that the 2021 Yankees are inherently not “fun” or that they’re “lifeless.” They’re not. They’re just not performing. A month of games like this and the script will flip. And fast.
- Gleyber Torres’ Good Night: Gleyber’s struggles are no secret, but tonight was a good night for him. He went 2-4 with 2 RBI and a walk. He only had one hard-hit ball, but whatever. Progress is progress. Keep it up, Gleyber. We all miss you.
- Gary Sánchez’s Monster Tear Continues: Gary came into tonight hitting .296/.387/.630 (171 wRC+) since May 29. All he did in tonight’s game was go 2-5 with 2 runs, a double, a HR, and two RBI. This year has been incredibly frustrating, but Gary’s torrid June has been almost impossibly satisfying. I’d love nothing more than for him to stay hot all year.
- Miguel Andújar’s, Too: Another nice night for Miggy Mantle. He went 3-4 with a HR, a double, and a single. Did you know he’s up to a 92 wRC+ on the season? That early season malaise is a distant memory now. Love it.
- Bullpen Magic: Nestor Cortes and Albert Abreu combined to throw 3.2 innings of 1-hit, 4 strikeout ball. They only walked 1 and didn’t allow a run as a unit. That’s great stuff from the back-end of the pen (Cortes has been great though). The Yankees needed that from them. Keep the laughers laughers, please.
The Yankees and Angels will play the third of this four-game set tomorrow night in the Bronx. First pitch is at 7:05 pm, when Domingo Germán (4-5, 4.32 ERA) will take on Shohei Ohtani (3-1, 2.58 ERA). Ohtani will hit for himself. Dude is ridiculous. Anyway, enjoy the rest of your night, everyone. Shouldn’t be too hard.