Another day, another extra inning win against the team in second place. It wasn’t pretty and involved some unexpected bullpen strategy, but the Yanks persevered in eleven innings, 8-4. They’re now 8.5 games ahead of Tampa Bay in the division.
Now, to the takeaways:
Is it just me, or did Judge’s first inning homer look like a jam-shot? I was pretty stunned to see that ball carry over the right field fence. But maybe I shouldn’t have been; it’s Judge after all. He makes everything look so easy.
Really wasn’t expecting that one to settle in the seats off the bat, folks. But I’m not complaining. It’s funny how what actually was a 104.1 MPH rocket off the bat didn’t look like much on TV.
That dinger was a “welcome to the big leagues” moment for Brendan McKay. He’s not used to facing someone who inside-out an inner half cutter over the opposite field wall. Those guys don’t exist in Triple-A (unless they’re rehabbing).
Just like we all expected: the 9-spot delivers in the clutch. Mike Tauchman got the nod in left field to start tonight, much to everyone’s chagrin. After he grounded into a double play in his first opportunity, I was prepared for a takeaway about keeping him around instead of recalling Clint Frazier. Nonetheless, Tauchman delivered a two-run single later on to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead at the time. It wasn’t exactly a hotshot; it had an xBA of .240, but it got the job done.
Later, in the eighth inning, Hicks pinch hit for Tauchman and took over the nine hole. The Yankees had just surrendered the lead (more on that in a second), but Hicks tied it up with a homer to right field against Emilio Pagan.
Aaron Boone’s bullpen management was unconventional. Here are some of the decisions Aaron Boone made tonight that made it look like tonight was a “lose the battle to win the war” game:
- After Masahiro Tanaka threw 90 pitches in six innings, Boone allowed him to start the seventh. He even let Tanaka face three hitters.
- He relieved Tanaka with Nestor Cortes. At the time, it was 3-2 Yankees with runners on the corners and one out. Kevin Kiermaier gave Tampa Bay the lead with a two-run single.
- Cortes pitched the eighth inning of a tie game.
- David Hale pitched the ninth and tenth innings of a tie game.
Now, take a look at the bullpen’s recent workload:
After yesterday, it seemed like Chapman was getting the night off. I had expected Zack Britton to enter when Cortes did since a double play was in order. But in all likelihood, Britton was designated to be tonight’s closer with Chapman unavailable. Still, there’s a strong argument that the seventh inning was tonight’s save situation.
Ultimately, Chapman warmed up extra innings and actually came in to close it out an inning later. All that makes Boone’s decision making in the seventh peculiar. Was Britton the one actually not available? He had only thrown 16 pitches in the last three days, which doesn’t seem strenuous. Just strange. I did not expect to see Chapman after he threw 29 pitches yesterday.
Masahiro Tanaka’s pitched better than his line looks. Four runs in six and a third innings isn’t usually a good start, but two of those runs came around as Cortes’s inherited runners, as you’ve read by now. I’m not saying Tanaka was great or anything, but perhaps a more rested bullpen would have had his day over after six innings and two runs allowed.
Anyway, Tanaka’s biggest issue tonight, as usual, was keeping the ball in the park. He allowed solo homers to Nathaniel Lowe (first of his career) and Mike Zunino. Lowe’s came against a four-seamer while Zunino launched a hanging slider.
Once again, Tanaka did not have a feel for his splitter. Only 14 of his 101 pitches were splitters. Instead, he primarily used his four-seamer and slider. None of the splits he threw generated a whiff. It’s amazing that we’re now in July and he’s still searching for the split. At the same time, it’s impressive that his ERA is 3.86 without his signature pitch.
Winning in extras again. This offense is too good to be held back for long, even with the swath of injuries suffered. Holding them to four runs in ten innings was a nice effort for the Rays, but their luck ran out in the 11th. Aaron Judge greeted Ryne Stanek’s first pitch like so:
It looked like Stanek would be able to keep the game within one, but with two outs, the Yankees staged a rally. Gleyber Torres singled and Gio Urshela doubled, which brought up Brett Gardner:
This one reminds me of the winner Gardy hit at Wrigley field a few years ago. I think it’s his exuberance around the bases that immediately reminded me of it. Take a look for yourself at today’s:
…and the one against the Cubs:
Chapman did not look sharp again. First and foremost, as you can probably guess from earlier, I’m surprised Chapman pitched in this game. His performance was pretty convincing that he probably could have used a day off.
Boone tried to let Hale close out the four run lead, but with two on and one out, he went to his closer. Chapman struck out Guillermo Heredia to get to two outs, but walked Travis D’Arnaud to load the bases and bring up the tying run, Tommy Pham. Of course, Chapman throws three straight balls risking walking in a run. But fortunately, Pham lined out on a 3-1 pitch to end the game.
The two sides are back in action tomorrow at 4:10pm. Have a good night!