The Yankees staved off defeat in their final at-bat, but Travis d’Arnaud hit a walk-off homer to sink Chad Green and the Bombers, 4-3, on Saturday evening. Oh well.
Let’s get to the takeaways
One Batter Too Many for CC?
CC Sabathia was on a roll today. The Yankees deperately needed length after going deep into their bullpen on consecutive innings and the veteran southpaw gave them exactly that. If the Bombers were told he’d give them seven innings of three-run ball before the game, they’d have taken it for sure.
However, he was one hanging slider away from a superb outing and likely a win. Holding a 2-1 advantage with two outs in the seventh inning, Aaron Boone tried to ride Sabathia after a single by d’Arnaud. On a 1-2 count, CC hung a meatball for rookie Nate Lowe, who didn’t miss and put Tampa up 3-2.
It’s a real shame. This was probably Sabathia’s best start of his final season. He loaded the bases in the second inning and allowed a run, then cruised with sterling command of all his pitches. He got a pair of key double plays with men on to stave off Rays rallies.
From the third to the fifth inning, he threw a total of 22 pitches. That’s it! That included a four-pitch fifth inning.
You can absolutely take issue with Boone going with him against d’Arnaud and Lowe. Tommy Kahnle was warmed up and likely ready to face the next batter if Lowe didn’t put Tampa ahead. Probably not the worst outcome for the Yankees to avoid using their top arms for a day. Still, you can bet Boone and CC will be thinking about that slider.
Aaron Hicks is #Clutch
If it weren’t for the end result, Aaron Hicks would have the Yankees’ most clutch hit of the season. With two outs and no one on in the top of the ninth inning, Hicks came up against rookie left-hander Colin Poche, who came in just for Hicks.
The Rays specifically went to a lefty to face Hicks because he came in with poor numbers against southpaws. A .261/.286/.304 line with no home runs in 49 PAs this season, to be exact.
Hicks paid that no mind. After falling behind 0-2, he took two balls and then deposited a high flyball into the first row of seats in left field, his second game-tying homer in as many days.
Hicks had come through just two innings prior with a go-ahead single with two outs, also against a left-handed reliever in Jose Alvarado. The 3-for-5 day at the plate brought his wRC+ to 106, the first time in a while it’s been above average.
The Winning Dinger
Not much to say here. After getting two quick outs, Chad Green faced d’Arnaud in the bottom of the ninth inning and tried to get a fastball by him. He left it towards the middle of the plate and d’Arnaud drove it just over the wall in right-center field.
Green hadn’t given up a home run since May 19, when he allowed dingers to Kevin Kiermaier and Willy Adames in his first opener appearance.
Adam Ottavino worked around a leadoff single and stolen base in the eighth inning for a scoreless frame. As mentioned earlier, Kahnle warmed up, though he didn’t get into the game. A full day off for the gaggle of other relievers in New York’s bullpen.
- Brett Gardner homered again! He took Blake Snell deep in the second inning for the Yankees’ first run. He’s now homered in consecutive games and has 14 homers a year after hitting just 12. To add to his glory, he walked twice and stole two bases. The Yankees should hoard whatever fountain of youth he’s sipping from in 2019.
- For the first time in a while, the Yankees were felled by RISP-fail. 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, including a costly double play by DJ LeMahieu. Aarons Judge and Hicks failed to come through with the bases loaded and one down in the fifth, a prime chance with Blake Snell on the ropes. Oh well.
- Mike Tauchman went 2-for-3 with a walk. His OPS is up to .722. I know, Clint Frazier, yada yada, but Tauchman does give this team value and he shouldn’t be the punchline to jokes.
- Gary Sanchez went 0-for-4 with four Ks. Edwin Encarnacion went 0-for-4, though he hit a hard line drive with the bases loaded. Both sluggers are slumping right now with Sanchez going 2-for-24 in his last six games.
The Yankees have one final game before the All-Star break with James Paxton (5-3, 4.09 ERA) taking on one of the AL’s Cy Young favorites in Charlie Morton (9-2, 2.36). It’ll be a 1:10 p.m. start on YES Network. Have a good rest of the weekend, everyone!