Game 93: Offense comes alive in the eighth to beat Rays

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It looked like this one was destined to be another annoying loss to the Rays. No offense and horrific baserunning through seven innings looked like tonight’s culprit, but thankfully, Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius brought the offense back to life. You’ll notice from the upcoming takeaways that Instead of the Bombers’ lead over the Rays falling to four games, it’s back up to six following tonight’s 8-3 victory.

Now, to the takeaways:

Sabathia pitched well enough to win. Six innings and three runs allowed should result in a victory for the Yankees almost every single time. Yet, he departed with the Yankees trailing.

It wasn’t a sterling performance from the lefty, but certainly an acceptable one. He allowed two homers, one to Austin Meadows and another to Yandy Díaz. There could have been a third dinger had Brett Gardner not done this:

In Sabathia’s final inning of work, another run trickled across. With nobody out, Michael Brosseau hit a swinging bunt single. It may look like a line drive in the box score, but Statcast says it had an expected batting average of .080. Tough luck. Right after, Díaz got to Sabathia again, this time an RBI double to make it 3-1 at the time. In another bit of misfortune, the Díaz’s shot didn’t bounce over the wall for a ground rule double, which would have prevented Brosseau from scoring.

Lastly, after Sabathia struck out Avisaíl García to end his night, tensions rose. The two had a bit of a shouting match, benches and bullpens cleared, but nothing else really happened. Of course, Sabathia and the Rays have had a bit of a history since last year. Here’s what went down tonight:

Bad baserunning was the last thing this struggling offense needed. It’s well documented that the Yankees weren’t hitting much of late entering tonight’s game. So of course, when an opportunity arose in the fifth inning, they ran themselves out of it. Didi Gregorius was on second base with one out while Gleyber Torres faced Jalen Beeks. Here’s what happened:

That’s just terrible. There’s no reason for Gregorius to bolt for third on a grounder hit right in front of him, yet he did so anyway. Didi was quickly retired after a brief rundown. But of course, the fun didn’t stop there. Torres (sort of) had the right thing in mind by hoping to get to second base with Gregorius in a rundown, but he strayed way too far off first base. Instead of shuffling back to first once Didi was forced back to second, Torres continued to round the bag and was eventually caught off guard. Ugh.

For all of the great things that Didi and Gleyber do at the plate and in the field, they seem to make a lot of mistakes on the basepaths (Bobby wrote about Torres’s baserunning last month). That was the sixth time Torres has been thrown out on the bases already this season, which ties him for third-most in baseball. Didi has been hosed twice so far.

Nestor Cortes and David Hale in a one-run game? Uhhh…Hale yeah! For some strange reason, Aaron Boone summoned Nestor Cortes for the seventh inning while down one run. Seemed like a good time to bring in one of the team’s better relievers. Alas, Cortes loaded the bases, and with one out, Boone again passed on going to one of his firemen. David Hale came in to face noted Yankees killer Travis d’Arnaud.

So of course, d’Arnaud bounced into a 6-4-3 double play. I’m glad it worked out, but sheesh, Boone played with fire there. He probably won’t have to address it postgame since it worked out, too. When the top of the seventh began, the Yankees had a 31 percent win probability. That’s probably lower odds than one would expect in a one run game, but that doesn’t justify going to a lesser reliever against a division rival creeping up in the rear view mirror.

Finally, the bats come alive! Rays reliever Colin Poche has been striking out everyone this year (40.9 percent), so naturally the Yankees lifeless bats woke up against him in the eighth inning. Just look at the damage done:

Even the two outs put in play were well struck. Hicks just got under one and Kevin Kiermaier was well positioned to steal a hit from LeMahieu. But that’s neither here nor there: the big blows of the inning were by Aaron Judge…

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…and now, Didi Gregorius.

That sure made up for Didi’s baserunning gaffe earlier! Anyway, Judge’s dinger gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead and Gregorius’s grand salami increased the cushion to 8-3. As big as those bombs were in the moment, it’s also good to see Gary Sánchez and Luke Voit contribute. Those two, along with Gregorius, combined for a 0 wRC+ since the All-Star break entering tonight’s affair. Yes, zero.

Leftovers:

  • Edwin Encarnación hit homer after hitting two yesterday. EE also had a single and was intentionally walked in this one. After a rough start in pinstripes, he’s rounding into form.
  • DJ LeMahieu’s solo shot in the sixth was the only other run the Yankees had scored before the eighth inning. DJ hasn’t hit much of late either, but the homer and his lineout in the eighth are hopefully indicative of him getting back in the saddle.
  • Boone tried to finish off the game with Hale in the ninth, but after two baserunners reached, he decided to close things out with Zack Britton. The lefty sinkerballer made it easy; he struck out the only two batters he faced to close it out.

These two sides are back at it tomorrow for the third of four games in the Bronx. It’ll be another 7:05pm start. Have a great night!

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3 Comments

  1. RetroRob

    It’s always interesting to get the audio/video from the opposing side when altercations like tonight happened. The Rays broadcasters showed CC from last year, and tonight, saying it’s “one sided” and they’d like to see the Rays get something back. I guess calling for a retaliation. They completely ignored all the times the Rays hit the Yankees setting CC off last year.

  2. Wire Fan

    I liked how Boone handled the 9th. Rather than let the save situation happen (and give Hale one more baserunner), he didn’t mess around and gave Britton a 2 baserunner cushion before the tying run could come to the plate. Hale got a bit unlucky as the first hit was a weak blooper, but no need to make things potentially dicey for Britton

    I think the Yankees found something in Hale. He apparently tweaked his mechanics this winter (or spring training?) and is throwing a couple of mph’s harder and has a better slider. He could be what the Yankees seem to want Cessa to be – a guy who could pitch multiple innings and keep the game close when the Yankees are trailing.

    If the Yankees end up needing space in the pen I wonder who they would keep as both are out of options. (Cortes has options so I assume he would be first)

    • RetroRob

      Agreed. Hale does look more than serviceable as a major league pitcher at the moment.

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