Well, you can’t win them all. And if you’re the 2021 Yankees, you almost certainly cannot the third game of a series in which you’ve already won the first two. It’s just impossible. Anyway, the Yankees fell to the Mariners 4-0 on Thursday. They logged just one hit in the loss and were generally dominated all day.
Anyway, let’s get to the takeaways, despite the fact there’s not a whole lot to say about this one.
1. The Yankees Need to Stop Allowing the Other Team to Score First: I’ll admit that this can be filed under the “obvious” category, but it is still stark. The Yankees are 15-29 when they allow the opposition to score the first run of the game. That means they are 29-13 when they do score first. It also means that the other team scores first in 51% of the Yankees games this year. That is not going to cut it, nor is it what you’d expect from an offense as good as the Yankees. They should score early and often.
Again, this is obvious – scoring first puts you ahead, which is good – but the implications are so far stark. Scoring first also allows the Yankees to utilize their superior bullpen with a lead, and on and on. The benefits are many. There is a reason that Aaron Judge has talked about this so much of late. Anyway, I bring this up because the Yankees, as you probably could have guessed, did not score first today. That leads to the next takeaway.
2. One Day, I’ll Get to Stop Mildly Praising Jordan Montgomery: You’re probably shocked to hear this, but Jordan Montgomery battled and fought his way to a start that was probably better than it seems at first blush. Overall, Gumby allowed 4 hits in 6.2 innings of work with 9 strikeouts against just 2 walks. That’s a damn fine performance! It also undersells how unlikely it seemed.
Three of those four hits occurred in the first two innings of the game – and they resulted in three runs, because two of them were home runs. It is basically a case study in why “too many home runs” is a dumb take. The big lefty was pretty good today, but he was bit by the homer bug and it was enough to cost him the game. This despite the fact that his curveball had a 43% whiff-per-swing rate, that he threw a ton of strikes, and generally did what he does.
Anyway, this all connects to the previous takeaway, because Montgomery has been something of a slow starter all year. He’s allowed 11 runs in the first inning in 17 starts. That is bad! It’s more than half of his starts – 65%, to be exact – and almost always means that the team begins in a hole when he’s on the mound. Honestly, this is probably holding Monty back as a starter. I feel like I cover most of his starts these days, and nearly every one of them includes a takeaway that more or less says “Jordan Montgomery was good but should have been better” or “Jordan Montgomery was actually better than his line.”
If he can make an adjustment to avoid this outcome – perhaps throwing hotter bullpens, or changing his game plan – then that will go a long way in helping him take the next step. So too will avoiding pitch plots that look like this:
That’s too much over the heart of the plate. The rest is good, though.
3. A Good Offense Can Only Do So Much: The Yankee offense has actually been coming alive lately. They’ve looked significantly better than they did in the first two months of the season in June and July. That’s particularly true on this road trip. That said, the bats did not show up today – or, perhaps more accurately, they were shut the hell down by Logan Gilbert. Look at this:
That is beautiful stuff. It was a true two-pitch performance all day from Gilbert. But hey – when you’re throwing 95 on average (he touched 98), a high fastball, slider low and away approach will work. It will especially work on the Yankees offense, too. That is basically kryptonite to those bats.
In any case, Gilbert’s slider had ridiculous spin and elicited 11 whiffs on 19 swings for a 58% whiff-per-swing rate. Pretty damn dominant right there, especially since most of these were out of the zone. Really deceptive stuff.
I know we’re supposed to be grouchy about the Yankees offense all of the time, but I can’t muster it today. They just got shut down by a pitcher who was locked in. Gilbert retired 18 in a row to end the game, and while he got just 8 strikeouts in 7 innings, the Yankees had an expected batting average of just .165. Sometimes, you just tip your cap to the opposition.
- A Good Piece of Hitting: Giancarlo Stanton had a nice double in the first. It was a laser, and it was pulled. That lead John Flaherty to call it a “good piece of hitting”, which may be the first time in human history someone has ever uttered those words about a pulled hit. Kudos to John. This was the only hit of the day for the Yanks.
- Brutal Day Otherwise: A brutal day offensively otherwise. Every starter struck out at least once, sans Gary Sánchez, and nobody really put up any semblance of a fight.
- Bullpen, Bullpen: Justin Wilson relieved Montgomery and recorded his out. Wandy Peralta finished the game, though he did allow a home run to make it 4-0. Not a sparkling performance, but whatever. This game was long over by then.
The Yankees continue their road trip when they travel to Houston tomorrow. They’ll face Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 3.70 ERA) with a TBD starter at 8:10 pm ET in the stadium named after a children’s drink. Enjoy your night, everyone, and try to stay dry. See you for DoTF in a few hours.