Game 97: Yankees Keep Rolling, Dismiss Rockies 11-5

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The Yankees just keep on rolling, defeating the Rockies 11-5 on an extremely hot Bronx afternoon. This team is just so incredibly fun, isn’t it? I love watching them. The 2017 season was a lot of fun, too, but this feels like the most fun and obviously talented Yankees team they’ve had since 2009. I know that there’s a long way to go, but that’s certainly how it feels right now. Let’s just hope they keep it up.

Anyway, the Yankees improve to 64-33 and their lead in the division will remain at 9 games at least. They’re 14-0-1 in their last 15 home series. Things are good in the Bronx, and I absolutely love it.

Let’s get right to the takeaways.

1. From Masterful Masahiro to WTF, Tanaka?: That was a super weird start for Masahiro Tanaka right there. Through 5 innings, Tanaka looked absolutely unhittable. As good as he’s looked all year, really. It seemed like one of the games where he was in complete control. I mean, look:

  • 1st 5 innings: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 BB, 2 K, 47 pitches
  • 6th inning: 1.0 IP 5 H, 5 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, 38 pitches (batted around)

Yeesh. Talk about a difference. We’ll get to the sixth in the second, so let’s start with the good stuff: Tanaka looked like vintage Tanaka there for a minute. He didn’t have swing-and-miss stuff (13% whiffs-per-swing rate) at all, but he did have his splitter: he generated 7 ground balls to first this afternoon, which is classic Tanaka. And check out Tanaka’s usage today, per Brooks Baseball:

  • Slider: 32
  • Splitter: 32
  • Four-Seam Fastball: 17
  • Sinker: 3
  • Curveball: 1

One real positive from this? Tanaka clearly had a feel for his split, using it as much as his slider this year. He’s been struggling to control his trademark pitch (perhaps due to the new baseball), but today, it worked: of the 32 sinkers, batters swung at 22, 12 were put into play, and only 1 was a single. Batters were clearly inspired to swing at the pitch, which dove at the last minute. That’s Tanaka at his best. That’s what I’m talking about right there.

*John Sterling voice* Howevah, the wheels really came off for Masahiro in the 6th. At one point, 6 straight Rockies reached base, and that included 5 hits and a walk. One of those batters was the ridiculously good Nolan Arenado, who did this:

2. The Yankees Will Wear You Down: Jonny wrote this morning about how the Yankee offense really was made up of a bunch of savages, and the team really backed him up today, didn’t they? The Rockies started Antonio Senzatela today, and the Yankees did not give him a warm welcome to the Bronx. DJ LeMahieu singled to start off the game and Aaron Judge ripped a double into the left-center field gap to give the Yanks a 1-0 lead before fans could find their seats. Here’s the video:

Judge absolutely turned on that pitch (111.4 mph) off the bat, and that’s just something he’s going to do. Check out pitch 5 in this at-bat, which was a 90 mph fastball:

Yeah, Judge is going to pound that one. The Yankees didn’t score again in the 1st (Judge was thrown out at home on an Encarnación ground ball to short) but made Senzatela throw 24 pitches. The next inning would be even better.

The Yankees really flexed their muscles in the 2nd frame, and it all began with a Gregorius double (more on him in a moment), and he was brought home on a throwing error by Senzatela after a Gleyber single:

Romine would drive Torres in, who took 2nd on the error:

After a Gardner K and a hilarious Romine stolen base, DJLM and Judge would both walk, further demonstrating the Yankees trademark patience. That loaded the bases for Aaron Hicks, who finally delivered a hit with the bases loaded:

And the red-hot Encarnación would add another big hit to his recent slate of productivity, drilling a double down the 3B line and taking Senzatela out of the game:

That made it 6-0 Yankees, and it took 61 pitches for Senzatela to record 4 outs. It’s not really hard to see why. Check out the strike zone plot:

That is a lot of pitches right over the middle of the plate, and if you check out the key on the right-hand side, you’ll see that the Yanks really were aggressive. They laid off the pitches out of the zone and swung at the stuff over the heart of the plate. Exactly what you want to see, and it’s yet another reminder of just how dangerous the Yankee offense is. There are no soft spots, and they’re still missing Giancarlo Stanton. Amazing.

3. Is Didi Gregorius Turning the Corner?: It’s not much of a secret that Didi Gregorius has not been quite the same since returning from his injury. Much like with other injured Yanks, it’s not a cause for concern: it’s inevitable, and even more so for Didi given the severity of his injury. Even still, Didi is only hitting .263/.287/.415 (81 wRC+) since coming back. It’s not what’s expected.

That being said, though, I think there’s some evidence that Didi is starting to turn the corner offensively (defensively he’s been the same old Didi, which is to say very good). Since hitting that awesome grand slam against the Rays last week, Didi is hitting .384 (5-13) with a double, a homer, and 7 RBI. That will do.

He even drew a walk on Tuesday, which is something he’s only done 4 times–4!–since rejoining the Yanks. Didi isn’t the most patient hitter in the world (his 8.4% BB% last year was 4 percentage points higher than it was in 2017), so I think it’s fair to say he’s seeing the ball well right now.

Hopefully, Gregorius can keep up the offensive momentum and continue to get stronger. Gregorius is a beloved personality in the clubhouse and a stellar defender, and it sure would be awesome to return to form at the plate, too. There are some signs he’s doing just that, and I love it. Let’s make the Yankees as dangerous as possible, please.

4. Another Nice Night for the Bullpen: 3 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, and 3 strikeouts from both Tommy Kahnle and David Hale today. Hale has been very good, probably meriting its own post, and Kahnle’s 2019 renaissance continues. That’s what you like to see: after Tanaka fell apart a bit, the Yankees turned to their very deep bullpen to shut the door. The Rockies threatened to make this one a game, but the Yankees bullpen wasn’t having it. Beautiful.

Leftovers

  • Mike Tauchman: Did you realize that Mike Tauchman is hitting .244/.336/.439. (105 wRC+) with a 12% BB%? I didn’t, and while that’s not exactly MVP-level production, it’s pretty serviceable from the 4th outfielder. I highlighted his good defense and run creation last night, and he did something similar again today. He replaced Judge mid-way through the game, when it still looked like a laugher (Judge is totally fine), and his first at-bat came with runners on the corners and nobody out. He hit what seemed to be a tailor-made double-play ball to SS Trevor Story, but instead beat out the play, earning an RBI. That made it 10-0 Yankees. He would later score from first on an Edwin Encarnación (who remains red hot) single. That’s another example of creating a run. Here is video for both:
  • DJ LeMahieu: Ho, hum, another 3-hit night for DJLM. What can we even say about DJ anymore? He has just been unbelievable since joining the Yankees. He’s hitting .334/.380/.509 (134 wRC+) on the season with 13 home runs and 67 RBI. Incredible. Today, he added another 3-hit performance to the ledger, also drawing a walk, scoring 2 runs, and making several very impressive plays at 1st (he slide over to 1st after Voit was removed, Urshela was slotted in at 3B). What a stud. What an absolute stud. Give Brian Cashman every award.
  • Gleyber RISP: It’s no secret at this point that Gleyber Torres is an absolute stud, and the still-22-year-old phenom is hitting .298/.365/.520 (130 wRC+) with 19 home runs on the season. He’s been incredible, and today he had 3 hits. Well, Katie Sharp peeled the numbers, as she does, and found that Gleyber has been crushing the ball when he bats with runners in scoring position. It’s yet another reason to fawn over Gleyber, so I figured I’d share it here, too. Check it out:
  • Voit Takes it to the Face: Very scary moment today in the 4th inning, when Luke Voit took a fastball directly to the face (or maybe it grazed his shoulder and ricocheted into his chin). It was a very scary moment, though Voit remained in the game as a baserunner. He was later removed, which made sense because it was 9-0 at the time, it’s 100 degrees, and he took a fastball to the face. Anyway, Voit underwent tests and came back fine, with no concussions or anything. Very good. That’s a scary moment, right there. Here’s the video, if you want to see the play yourself:

Up Next

The Yankees and Rockies will meet again tomorrow at 1:05 pm for the final game of this three-game set in the Bronx. It’s going to be another scorcher tomorrow, folks. James Paxton (5-4, 3.94 ERA) will take the ball for New York against German Márquez (8-5, 5.12 ERA) for Colorado. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon, everyone, and stay cool out there.

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4 Comments

  1. Wire Fan

    Former Rockies on display this series: LeMahieu, Ottavino, Tauchman, Hale (spent a little over a year in COL), Kahnle (2 years in COL early on). That’s 20% of the 25 man.

    Looking for the next NinjaCash move? Find someone the Rockies have soured on or don’t want to pay.

    On a serious note, I do wonder if they would part with some of their pitching? Jon Gray has two more years of control after this year. They clearly need OF help… Frazier? Or Florial? (with maybe some small pieces on either side to balance it out)

  2. Yanks look great. Tapia, Desmond and especially Dahl are the worst defensive outfield I can remember.

  3. Raza

    Random observation but Tanaka topped out at 95.7 mph today and I believe that was with his final pitch. Almost 4-5 mph higher than his usual 4-seam velocity.

    Love this team!

    • RetroRob

      Not uncommon for pitchers velocity to peak on really hot days. I suspect we might have seen Chapman hit 103-104 today if he was used.

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