What did we just watch? Seriously, I’m at a loss after watching the ninth inning. The Astros scored six runs off Chad Green (two inherited from Domingo Germán) to walk-off the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees had this game seemingly locked down, especially after Gary Sánchez’s three-run homer made the score 7-2 in the eighth inning. So much for that.
None other than José Altuve delivered the walk-off homer, because who else would? His three-run blast off Green capped Houston’s comeback. What a terrible way to go into the All-Star break. They were on the verge of sweeping the AL’s best team entering a very difficult stretch of schedule following the break. Instead, it’s a gut-wrenching loss.
Chad Green had nothing. Aaron Boone wanted to put things to bed with two on, no one out, and a five run lead, so he went to Green. Perhaps he should have just started the inning clean, but I don’t really blame Boone for letting Germán start the ninth. A five run lead should be safe for any pitcher.
It didn’t take long to realize that Green had nothing. Two hard hit doubles by Chas McCormick and Abraham Toro greeted Green, for one. He had no bite on his curveball. His fastball was all over the place.
Green got zero whiffs on any of his pitches today, which is completely unlike him when he’s at his best. His curveball had six fewer inches of vertical break than usual. Not good. He’s been used a lot lately, so maybe he’s a bit worn out. If that’s the case, Boone needed to have a quick hook, but didn’t. Lucas Luetge was warming up, but it seemed like everything happened too fast for the manager to make a change.
It only took Green 12 pitches to lose this one, and of course it had to be José Altuve, who simply owns the Yankees. There’s no other way to put it.
Scoring seven runs should be enough, but the offense did miss a couple of key opportunities. The Yankees went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position today. A couple of missed opportunities for big innings stand out:
- 1st inning: DJ LeMahieu gets thrown out attempting to go first-to-third on a wild pitch for the first out. The Yankees put on a couple of more baserunners after that, but couldn’t cash in. Can’t help but wonder if they would have put up an early crooked number had LeMahieu not been overly aggressive.
- 5th inning: The Yankees had already scored one run in this frame and had runners on first and third with no one out. They didn’t even need a hit to score again, but instead, Gio Urshela flew out and Tim Locastro and Brett Gardner recorded back-to-back strikeouts.
It’s also worth noting that this team walked 14 times! They reached base 21 times overall. Sigh.
Make no mistake, the Yankees should have never blown a 7-2 lead in the ninth inning. But at the same time, this game could really have been a laugher if the offense just gets one or two more hits with runners on base.
There’s still room for improvement, but Jameson Taillon has pitched better of late. I wrote this takeaway way before this game finished, so it certainly feels hollow to take any solace out of this loss. But it’s worth leaving in nonetheless, I guess.
Since his awful start in Philly on June 12 (0.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB), Taillon has made five starts and allowed 11 runs in 29.1 innings (3.38 ERA). The pitching lines:
- 6/18 (OAK): 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR
- 6/24 (KC): 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 0 HR
- 6/29 (LAA): 5.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 3 HR
- 7/6 (@SEA): 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 0 HR
- 7/11 (@HOU): 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR
Only the start against the Angels was definitively bad, whereas the rest have ranged from good to very good, including today.
In spite of allowing six homers during this stretch, Taillon has done a far better job of limiting hard contact than earlier in the year. Today, Houston’s lineup managed a meager 84.9 MPH average exit velocity against Taillon, even with Kyle Tucker (101.3) and Martín Maldonado (96.5) taking him deep. There was plenty of soft contact today, and there’s clearly been much more of it recently for the righty:
You can really see the dip against his breaking pitches, though his fastball has been better too.
Now, even with less hard contact against Taillon, it’d be nice if he limited the long ball a bit more. Six homers allowed in 29.1 innings is a lot, even if three of those came in one game against the Angels.
It’s taken a while for Taillon to heat up, but hopefully this is a sign of better things coming. The Yankees really need their gamble on him to pay off, especially while Luis Severino and Corey Kluber remain sidelined.
- Tim Locastro hit his first home run as a Yankee. It was an opposite field shot in the top of the fourth inning.
- The Yankees bullpen is going to get worn out if they can’t bring back Aroldis Chapman to something resembling a good pitcher. Green was clearly tired today, and without Jonathan Loaisiga, Green was hung out to dry.