Game 95: one step forward, three steps back

How many “it’s not what you wants” can we get in a single season?  Feels like a lot this year.  Of the last three Yankees losses, two of them have featured absolutely soul-crushing WPA charts, tonight included.  The Yankees were one out away from taking an important series opener against the first-place Red Sox, but wound up falling 5-4 in 10 innings.

In 2021, it has seemed like every time the Yankees have gotten some serious momentum going or have run into a bit of a winning streak, they drop a completely winnable game like this and take the air out of everyone’s sails.  Given that the team is still throwing out what amounts to the AAA lineup, a few hard losses might be expected, but this one still hurts.

To the takeaways –

Montgomery solid again. Jordan Montgomery has quietly been really solid this year, even if he doesn’t have much of a record to show for it.  Today, he went 5.2 innings, gave up no runs and only three hits, striking out 6 and lowering his season ERA to 3.96 in a no-decision.  He relied heavily on his curveball, getting 5 of his 6 strikeouts on that pitch, and induced mostly soft contact – the average exit velocity on the Red Sox’ balls in play against Montgomery was only 90.4 mph.

Montgomery mostly cruised through this start; he got himself into a little bit of trouble in the third inning as he loaded the bases on a couple of singles and a walk but got out of it unscathed.  He sat through a 50-minute rain delay in the top of the 5th, and then came out for the bottom of the inning and retired the side in order with two strikeouts.  He showed a lot of poise and resiliency today and is turning into the important piece that the Yankees expected he would be after his stellar rookie year in 2017.  

Once again, he did not get much run support from his team, although the one run the Yankees scored with him on the mound was the first run of support he’s gotten since June 15.

Return of small-ball. The second-half Yankees seem to be trying to rectify some of the frustrations of the first half by being more aggressive in moving on the bases and manufacturing runs.  Better late than never, I suppose.  The Yankees stole two bases today – coming into tonight, the team was second to last in the majors in stolen bases with 26, but 6 have been recorded in the 5 games since the All-Star break (mostly courtesy of Greg Allen, but it seems to be contagious).  The Yankees’ 8th inning was an example of this brand of small ball. After DJ LeMahieu walked to lead off the inning, he stole second; Brett Gardner then worked a 9-pitch walk to put runners on first and second.  Giancarlo Stanton blooped a single to left to score LeMahieu and give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.  Rougned Odor then laid down a textbook sacrifice bunt, setting the stage for Gleyber Torres’ deep sac fly to cap the Yankees’ mini-rally. 

It didn’t wind up being enough, but the concepts of “taking the extra base” and “moving runners” are good things to take away from even the worst ballgames.  Hopefully once the Yankees’ A-lineup returns, they can retain some of the ethic of “making things happen” that seemed to be lacking in the first half.

Otherwise, a quiet offense. The Yankees offense scattered only 4 hits over 10 innings today, and despite improbably turning those 4 hits into runs were only 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.  Even as the team seems to be improving on base-to-base fundamentals, they still need to get hits when the opportunities arise if they want to make a late-season run.

The bullpen was enough, until it wasn’t.  It’s easy to dunk on Aaron Boone for his bullpen management this year, and his decisions the past few days have garnered their share of eyebrow-raises from me.  However, even as confused as I was when he brought in Sal Romano to make his Yankees’ debut in a 1-0 game in the 6th inning when Montgomery had only thrown 83 pitches, Romano got the job done, throwing two-thirds of a scoreless inning.

Lucas Luetge relieved him in the seventh and gave up the lead, but didn’t do a bad job either – the run was unearned, courtesy of a Tyler Wade error on what should have been an inning-ending double play, and the contact against him was mostly soft and on the ground.  Luis Cessa inherited a 3-1 lead and threw a brilliant eighth, needing only five pitches to retire the side in order.

Chad Green came on in the ninth to try to nail down what looked to be an easy win, but as great as Green has frequently been this year, he was not on his A-game tonight.  After a quick strikeout of Christian Vazquez, he allowed back-to-back singles to Alex Verdugo and Bobby Dalbec.  He got pinch-hitter Kevin Plawecki to line out to left for the second out, but grooved a fastball to Enrique Hernández, who doubled in two runs to tie the game.  He got the third out without allowing another run, but it was definitely a deflating inning.

Brooks was here. It wasn’t good.  Kriske deserves his own mini-recap of shame today, as he came in in the 10th hoping to nail down a belated victory.  The Yankees had a one-run lead courtesy of Manfredball and a Brett Gardner sac fly; however, Kriske opened the inning by throwing two wild pitches to allow Devers, the Red Sox’ ghost runner, to score before you could even get your hopes up.  He then walked Xander Bogaerts and threw two more wild pitches, sending Bogaerts to third.  He briefly rallied to strike out J.D. Martinez, but then gave up a game-ending sacrifice fly to Hunter Renfroe.

The four wild pitches (all thrown before recording an out) were the most ever in a single extra inning (via @StatsbySTATS).

Leftovers:

  • Tonight was Greg Allen’s first hitless game since he was recalled by the Yankees following the All Star break.
  • DJ LeMahieu is 4-for-4 in stolen bases this year and has not been caught stealing since 2019.
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2 Comments

  1. boone is an awful in game manager. he does what the analytics tell him to but he has zero ability to read a game or player. As soon as something happens that goes against what the analytics say, everything falls apart. Cessa was DEALING and has been one of our best relivers since 2020. what is the logic in taking him out when you’re already resting guys for tomorrow and your ace is scheduled to start? he went batter to batter for monty, why not luis or romero? I turned off the game as soon as kriske unleashed the first wild pitch that advanced devers to third. i felt like turning it off as soon as i saw kriske was pitching. i know 3 batter rule and everything but the only reason kriske was in that spot to begin with was because of how mismanaged the bullpen was before that. at this point they win games DESPITE boone, not because of. it’s a shame because they are fun to watch, even when people are injured or have covid. boone makes them unwatchable.

  2. Dani

    I don’t even know what to say anymore. This has to be the most frustrating season of this century. Pls, pls, pls don’t buy at the deadline.

    On the bright side at least the farm has a year for the ages.

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