In a game that featured more fireworks in the dugout than on the field, the Yankees take the matinee of today’s doubleheader. Behind a young pitcher maturing in front of our eyes, clutch hitting from Gio Urshela and the fire of Aaron Boone, the Yankees won 6-2. Their record stands at 61-33 and they currently have a seven game lead in the AL East. Let’s get to the takeaways.
1. A Rough Day Behind The Plate: The performances from the home plate umpires this year are underwhelming at best. The application and execution of the strike zone has been erratic all season. This is not specific to Yankee games. It is a problem throughout all of baseball. Today’s matinee was no exception.
The home plate umpire was Brennan Miller. This is his first year in the big leagues and today was only his fifth time behind the plate calling balls and strikes. Brennan did not get off to a good start. The problems began in the top of the first inning with this pitch:
This is a strike. Germán was struggling all inning to find his control and when he did execute he wasn’t rewarded for it. Here is a graphic of Miller’s balls and strikes through the first couple innings:
The strike zone felt more egregious in the moment. Both teams were unhappy with the calls. Of course some of this is trying to break in a new umpire, but the gripes were legitimate. MLB needs to address the performance of their umpires sooner than later. At the very least there needs to be more public accountability for performance. A home plate umpire shouldn’t have both teams on edge two innings into the game. Speaking of being on edge…
2.I Feel Bad For Ya: Aaron Boone’s ejection in the second inning is going to be one of the more memorable moments from this season. He probably created the slogan of the 2019 season when he dressed Brennan Miller down following his ejection.
For those that missed it, Brett Gardner was struck out on a questionable strike on the inside corner. Gardner wasn’t happy walking back to the dugout and neither was Boone. Both men let the umpire have it. On the very next pitch to DJ LeMahieu, Miller made another questionable strike call. This time it was a pitch on the outside corner. And this is what happened next (there are a couple naughty words in the video):
All of this is incredible. It was honestly more entertaining than the game. We have Gardner doing excavation in the dugout with the bat. Aaron Hicks is trying his best to not crack up at Gardy. There is DJLM sternly, but politely telling the umpire his zone is trash. Boone hammers the home plate umpire while also giving his team one of the best compliments you can give it. And it ends with an incredible ovation from Gardner when Boone walks off. In a year with some awesome moments, this shoots close to the top. Also, this image is hilarious:
There is a lot of talk about Aaron Boone being a player’s manager. We see glimpses of that, but often those relationships are built behind the scenes. We witnessed a rare moment where a manager went all out for his team and Gardner’s response captured how the team feels about Boone. This is a moment that brings a tight group even closer and it was fantastic to see. A lot of us have our issues with Boone’s in game management, but nobody can deny his commitment to his guys. We also have a new rallying cry and probably new t-shirts on the way.
3.Germán Rebounds For A Nice Start: The game did not get off to a good start for Domingo Germán. He gave up back to back home runs to Austin Meadows and Yandy Diáz to start the game off. Domingo really struggled to control his arsenal in the first inning. His fastball was missing spots and his curveball lacked bite. Following the back to back home runs German gave up a single and then was able to get a double play to calm things down. There was still concern though as every ball hit that inning was hit hard. Fortunately, Germán got out of the inning without any more damage.
From the second inning on, Domingo was a completely different pitcher. His curveball, the pitch that gave him so much trouble in the first inning, became his most reliable pitch for the rest of the game. Throwing 30 curves out of his 90 pitches, 21 went for strikes. He was able to get 17 swings and 5 misses. This is factoring in his atrocious start to the game.
This is one of Germán’s most impressive starts of the year. The numbers may not show it, but it was a big step forward in his maturation as a pitcher. He showed poise in not letting the first inning define his start. It was also important that he gave some length in the first game of the double header. Outside of Tommy Kahnle, the Yankees were able to save their big relievers for the second game. He finished his day with a line of 6IP, 4H, 2ER, 2BB and 5K. It was a really nice start by the kid.
4. Gio Again: It feels like every time I write the takeaways from a game Gio Urshela comes up big. He did it again today. Down 2-0 early in the game, Urshela stepped up to the plate for his first at bat of the game:
Urshela would add a two out RBI double later on in the game and end his day going 3 for 4. He is currently hitting .301/.350/.470/.820 with a 116 OPS+. He has more RBIs this year than he did for his entire career. We’re at the point now where we should expect Gio to be a solid contributor for the rest of the year. He is definitely giving off Scott Brosius vibes. He probably won’t end up with the same numbers from Brosius’ 1998 season, but the roles on the team are similar. We should give credit to Brian Cashman for identifying him as a player to pursue, but the majority of the credit does to Gio himself. He’s clearly worked hard and it’s paying off.
With the win this evening, the Yankees guarantee a split of this big four game series. Of course, they will try to sweep the doubleheader, but it will be tough against Charlie Morton. Enjoy the second game everyone.