Well, that was just terrific, wasn’t it? The Yankees took the second game of the doubleheader 5-1, completing the day’s sweep of the Rays. They improve to 62-33 on the season and extend their lead over the Rays to 8 games. It’s 10 in the loss column, if you were wondering. The Yankees and Rays don’t play again until September 24. The Yankees are in the best position to win their division since 2012, and I am here for it.
I am not one to say that any random game in July is a “must-win” or even bigger than the next night, but you know what? Screw that. This was a big one, and the Yankees did the job. The Yankees took 3 out of 4 against Tampa Bay, and they were a single strike away from sweeping this series overall. They’ve looked like the better team against Tampa Bay all season, and the standings reflect it. Things are very good in the Bronx right now.
Let’s get right into the takeaways.
1. Chad Green Bent, But Did Not Break: Good grief has Chad Green been good since returning from his Triple-A demotion earlier this year. I mean, check out his stats since returning on May 12: 2-1, 1.93 ERA (2.36 FIP) with 39 K (33.6% K%) to only 3 BB (2.5%). That is pretty good if you ask me! He has been just phenomenal, and it is fantastic to see him regaining his old form. I’ll be honest: I wasn’t so sure this would happen.
Tonight was a weird one for Chad. It started out awful, with a single, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch to open the game. Just like that, and the Rays had the bases loaded and no outs. Except…Chad Green did his best 2017 Wild Card impression:
And got out of his own jam. He struck out Yandy Díaz, induced a pop-up to short by Kevin Keirmaier, and struck out Willy Adames. It was wonderful, and I do think it sent a charge through the team. The game very well could have hinged on how that inning went, and Green shut the door right in the Rays’ faces. Check it out:
2. Luke Voit Looks Like He’s Turning the Corner: It’s no secret that Voit has struggled since returning from his injury, often looking lost at the plate. Coming into today, he .188/.278/.188 (31 wRC+) in what was a tiny sample size (only 18 PA). It takes time to regain timing–MLB pitching is brutal–and there was never anything to worry about here. But it’s still nice to see a player as important as Voit get his sea legs back, isn’t it?
With the Yanks down 1-0 in the bottom of the 5th and Morton looking deadly, Voit decided to do this:
That one went 419 feet and left the bat at 106 mph. That’s a no-doubter. It was his first home run since June 14 against the White Sox, if you can believe it. He also hammered another ball in the 6th inning (more on that one in a minute), which was a lineout to first. According to Statcast, that ball lands for a hit 61% of the time. Unfortunate, but you don’t have to squint very hard to see him turning the corner.
He added a walk in the 8th, going 1-3 on the day. He’s hitting .275.387.492 (134 wRC+) in 2019, and he was still acquired for Gio Gallegos and Chasen Shreve. Brian Cashman, guys.
3. It’s Fun Watching The Rays Meltdown: That was a nice 6th inning, wasn’t it? It all got started with an Austin Romine double, if you can believe that. After a Gardner ground out, Judge and Encarnación both drew walks, which brought up Didi…but not before Morton balked in a run. Balked in a run! To be fair, this one was on Mike Zunino, because he called for time and stood up as Morton was delivering home, so Morton stopped in his delivery. Except that he was never granted time, which is a balk. That gave the Yankees the lead.
Didi, who really need it, then hit a 2-run single through the right-side of the infield to give the Yankees a bigger lead. A few batters later, after Morton was removed, Mike Tauchman drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 5-1.
You know, you just KNOW, that there were Rays fans watching this inning sitting at home just infuriated. There are very few things in baseball more infuriating than watching your team walk and balk their way into a big deficit, and that’s doubly true in a massive division game. It’s very enjoyable on the other side, though. Very enjoyable indeed.
4. The Yankee Bullpen is Up To Par: Another opener, another win. The Yankees are now 9-0 in Chad Green’s starts this year, but this one was about much more than just Green. The entire bullpen did the job tonight. Here are all of the lines, broken up by pitcher:
- Chad Green: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K
- Nestor Cortes Jr.: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 2 K
- Luis Cessa: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
- Adam Ottavino: 1.1 IP, zeros, 2 K
A few too many walks in there, sure, but the Yankees got through a double-header against the 2nd place team in the division today and really only needed 3.1 IP combined from their A relievers today, and they only allowed 3 runs in 18 innings. That is enough to get the damn job done, right there.
The Yankees will take on the Colorado Rockies tomorrow night at the Stadium. J.A. Happ (7-5, 4.93 ERA) will take on Kyle Freeland (2-6, 7.39 ERA). The game will start at 7:05 pm. Enjoy the rest of your night, everyone. I don’t think that will be too hard, if you’re anything like me.