Tag: Bo Bichette

Game 149: Yankees suffer walk-off loss in 12 innings

Oh no.

The Yankees squandered a two-run lead to the Blue Jays in the middle innings and lost on a Bo Bichette walk-off home run in the 12th inning against Tyler Lyons. All five Yankee runs scored in the fifth inning, and they were unable to scratch across another run (Box Score).

The Yankees’ lead on the Astros for homefield advantage falls to one game. The magic numbers stay put for now.

Let’s go to the recap

1. A Little Something Extra

After the Yankees and Blue Jays each scored five runs over the first eight innings, the next 3 1/2 innings went pretty quickly. In fact, there was really only one threat to score, and it was the Jays.

In the bottom of the ninth, Aaron Boone turned to Luis Cessa as the long man. He gave up a single to Bichette with one out and then gave up a scorching grounder at Gleyber Torres, but the 22-year-old infielder mishandled it into a single that put runners on the corners for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Luckily, his hard grounder went right at Didi Gregorius on a drawn-in infield, allowing the Bombers to turn two.

The Yankees put a guy on in both the ninth and 10th, but they didn’t advance a runner to second. Meanwhile, the Jays saw a total of 14 pitches in the 10th and 11th.

That all changed with Lyons starting his second inning of work in the 12th, as he gave up the decisive homer to Bichette on a 1-1 hanger over the plate.

2. Five-run Fifth

The Yankees got all of their offense in a six-batter burst to start the fifth inning. Until that point, rookie lefty Anthony Kay held the Yankees at bay. It was a throwback to recent years when it seemed any soft-tossing lefty that the Yankees hadn’t seen before would dominate them. That wasn’t all that true, but a feeling nonetheless.

It was more bloops and dunkers than usual as the Yankees failed to homer. Instead, Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier hit back-to-back bloop doubles to start the frame.

Austin Romine continued with a soft liner single to cut the Jays lead to 3-2 and DJ LeMahieu singled. After a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners, Luke Voit hit a slow grounder to Vladito, who threw to second despite no play there.

Jason Adam came in for relief and threw a wild pitch and gave up a two-run single to Gio Urshela. Like that, the Yankees had a 5-3 lead, though they would squander it.

3. Mediocre Tanaka not Sharp Enough

Masahiro Tanaka had his second straight sub-part start as the veteran righty has been able to take his strides from August into September.

Over five innings, Tanaka gave up eight hits, four runs and one homer, striking out six and walking none. It was a pretty typical start for him in 2019; He got progressively worse and allowed more hard contact as hitters saw him a second and third time.

Tanaka had a seven-pitch first inning, striking out Cavan Biggio and Vlad Jr. on three pitches each. As usual when facing the Jays, Tanaka was greeted with a home run by Randal Grichuk when he hung a splitter on the inside half in the second inning.

He didn’t give up another run until the fourth inning, when he probably should have escaped with limited damage. Tanaka had a man on first with two outs when he missed the outside corner on a 2-2 pitch to Reese McGuire. He responded by trying to get him with a backdoor slider that he clobbered to center for an RBI double.

However, on the next play, he got a grounder up the middle. Gleyber Torres made a nice play with the Jeter-style jump throw, but DJ LeMahieu could pick the ball, letting it get by him to score a run (more on that below).

Tanaka would give up another run in the fifth inning against the top of the lineup, allowing a hard double and single to Bo Bichette and then Biggio. Between the fourth and fifth, he allowed four straight balls of at least 100 mph exit velo. The Jays made him sweat in the later innings.

4. The Best of LeMahieu, the Worst of LeMahieu

DJ LeMahieu had himself another two-hit game, keeping his batting average at .325 with two groundball singles. However, he had a trying night in the field.

In the third inning, he failed to pick a ball on a Torres throw that would have completed a double play. An inning later, he again lost a Torres throw that cost Tanaka a run.

Finally, in the seventh inning, he got the first end of a potential double play with 1st and 2nd, no outs, by throwing to second, but he didn’t cover first, much to the chagrin of Adam Ottavino. That helped lead to the tying run for Toronto.

However, in the sixth inning, LeMahieu saved a run by snagging a line drive down the line for a double play to save Tommy Kahnle.

That’s the thing about LeMahieu at first: He has tremendous range from his experience as a Gold Glove middle infielder, yet he doesn’t have the nuance of first base that comes with extensive reps. The struggles with picking the ball were new, but they need to stay away if he’s going to man first in the postseason.

5. Top Relievers Flinch

The Yankees had a chance to get a formulaic win when Tanaka handed a one-run lead to the bullpen. An inning each from the top four relievers and that’s the ballgame.

Things didn’t quite so smoothly. As mentioned in the LeMahieu point, Kahnle nearly gave up an RBI double, but it turned into a line-drive double play, the same thing he got in the eighth inning Thursday.

Ottavino gave up a single and walk to start his outing. The walk was on a pitch that went around the zone to Bichette and he really wanted the call. It was a ball though. He got a fielder’s choice and then balked to tie the game.

You can see that he didn’t come off the mound to make his pickoff, and it cost him. He got through the rest of the inning unscathed.

Meanwhile, Zack Britton continues to dominate. He got two weak grounders and a strikeout. In his 12 pitches, he mixed in five sliders, a season-high, and got two swings and misses, including the strikeout. I’m a big fan of Britton’s slider, ICYMI.

6. Leftovers

  • Reliever Tim Mayza left after walking Didi Gregorius in the 10th inning. He injured his elbow on his last pitch and was in clear distress afterward.
  • Speaking of Didi, Gregorius walked three times. That’s a career-high and his first multi-walk game of the year.
  • Torres and Voit each had a hit and a walk, while Urshela, Frazier and Brett Gardner each had one hit. Cameron Maybin went 0-for-5 with a caught stealing.

After that extra-inning affair, the Yankees and Blue Jays battle at 3:07 p.m. on Saturday. It’ll be James Paxton (13-6, 3.96 ERA) against Jacob Waguespack (4-4, 4.55) on YES.

Game 116: Winning Streak Ends at 9, Jays Best Yanks 8-2

Embed from Getty Images

Alas, the Yankees could not extend their winning streak to 10 games. They have now lost their first game since the trade deadline. They were defeated by the Blue Jays 8-2 on Friday night, “falling” to 76-40 on the season. As you know, the AL East lead is commanding and the Yankees are fighting for home-field advantage. It’s baseball. Sometimes you lose, but the Yankees don’t really do that.

Let’s get right to the takeaways for this crappy, no good game of baseball.

1. J.A Happ, Home Run Extraordinaire: It’s no secret that J.A. Happ has struggled this year, significantly underperforming even what his harshest offseason critic would have predicted. Yet, if you squinted, you could see some encouraging signs–he’d surrendered fewer than 3 runs in 8 of his last 12 starts, for example. Not great, to be clear. But much closer.

Anyway, tonight was one of his frustrating ones. Coming into tonight, batters were hitting .278/.326/.497 off him–essentially making every batter he faces Andrew Benintendi–and he’s allowed more than 2 home runs per 9 innings pitched. Yeesh. Tonight will make all of those figures worse. Here is his pitch plot:

All over the place, with a lot of balls right down the heart of the plate. J.A., that is not what you want. As you can see, too, there are a lot of balls–only 58 of his 99 pitches (58%) went for strikes. Add all that up, and you get his line from tonight: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 3 HR.

Most frustrating, as usual, was the home runs. He has now allowed 29 (!) home runs on the season. That’s more than any player on the Yankees has hit. That’s right: J.A. Happ has allowed more home runs than any Yankee has hit. I might have to keep track of this going forward. Here is the video of the first two:

The third one was a whole different animal, though. I’ll get to that more in the below section, but the Yankees blew a chance at getting Happ out of the inning not once but twice. It was frustrating. It’s true. Happ then did this:

Which resulted in this:

Bad defense is bad defense, but my man, you have got to be better than that. Completely changed the game, bringing the score to 6-1 from 3-1.

2. Bad, Bad Infield Defense Costs the Yanks: So, about that defense. The weird part about it was that the two blunders came from Gio Urshela and DJ LeMahieu, the two men almost singlehandedly responsible for turning around the Yankees infield defense this year. Here’s what happened.

Happ quickly retired the first two batters, but then allowed a two-out double to old friend Brandon Drury. Happ then threw a wild pitch that got away from Romine, allowing Drury to try for third–which he did, despite Romine’s throw beating him handily. Gio tried to aggressively tag Drury instead of just covering the base with his glove, and Drury did a “swim move” slide that beat the tag. He should have been out, but Gio’s poor tag resulted in the call on the field (out) to be overturned. The inning continued. Check out the video:

Happ then walked Derek Fisher on 5 pitches, setting up runners on the corners and two outs for Jansen (highlighted above). Jansen popped the ball up just off first base, but DJ LeMahieu lost it in the twilight. Again, there is no video but the ball should have been caught. It was not. Happ was understandably exasperated but proceeded to throw a meatball on the next pitch that was absolutely crushed.

Still, extremely annoying. Oh well, I guess–it happens–but it’s frustrating when a pitcher who’s trying to turn around his season has to get 5 outs. I’m not making excuses for Happ, but it is just frustrating. Good news is that these blunders are exceptionally rare for the 2019 Yankees.

3. The Sock Man Continues To, Well, Sock ‘Em: It’s another night, which means that Mike Tauchman hit a home run. It’s true. Our man is unstoppable, and he is on a mission to be the best Mike T. in baseball. I covered Tauchman’s recent run in last night’s takeaways, so check that out for a more detailed analysis. But the TL;DR is this: Tauchman has been so, so good. Basically the best player in the league in recent weeks. After today’s 2-4 performance, he’s now up to .297/.372/.578 (146 wRC+) on the season. Incredible. Here’s the video of his home run:

4. The Blue Jays Core Looks Legit: You know, I said this on Twitter last night, but the Blue Jays really do have some encouraging pieces on their team. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. may not have had the immediate impact that many expected, but I fully expect that dude to rake. You can already see the signs. The recent call ups of Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio also seem to have made a real difference, as Toronto is an above-average offense since the start of July.

We saw Bichette’s impressive power last night, but tonight he made a spectacular catch against Didi Gregorius, for which there is inexplicably no video yet. After the lead was extended to 6-1, the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the 5th following a Valera walk, a LeMahieu double (obviously), and an Urshela walk. Didi Gregorius hit a scorcher up the middle at 97 mph with an expected batting average of .620–only Bichette had other plans. He snagged the ball impressively, ending the Yankees best chance for a comeback of the night.

If the Blue Jays start spending on starting pitching at any point to supplement their budding offensive core, then I think we’d have to watch out for them. Now, the good news (not really, but only from narrow Yankee self-interest) is that GM Mark Shapiro is literally allergic to “spending money”, “paying players”, and “consciously improving a team”, so I’m sure this will go to waste. But it’s something to keep an eye on, for sure. For more context on the state of the Blue Jays’ rebuild, check out this phenomenal meditation on the team and its relationship with its fanbase by Shi Davidi on SportsNet.

Leftovers

  • Rough Night for HP ump Chris Segal: Boy was that a rough night for the home plate ump. Embarrassing, really. It was bad umpiring all around, but it was the top of the 4th that will make its mark. After a close (but not egregious) call that went against Maybin in the top of the 4th, Josh Bard and Aaron Boone all shouted at him. Notably, Brett Gardner did not join in on the fun. He was sitting there, silently. Annoyed, perhaps. But silent. Anyway, without looking, Segal turned and ejected…someone from the game. Turns out it was Gardner, who, again, did not say a word. Absolutely ridiculous. Ruocco and Cone ripped into him during the broadcast, but that was nothing compared to Gardner’s reaction. Check it out:
  • Aaron Judge is Struggling: Jeez, Aaron Judge is struggling, isn’t he? He was supposed to get tonight off, but obviously, Segal had other plans. Judge entered the game for Gardner after the top of the 4th, going 0-2 and not looking right at the plate. He is hitting .164/.292/.273 (42 wRC+) since July 25, and what he is hitting, he is pounding the ball into the ground. I am not worried about Judge at all, and neither should you. Happens to everyone. He’ll be carrying the team soon enough.
  • Nestor Cortes Jr. With A Nice Appearance: A nice appearance for Nestor Cortes Jr. tonight. He replaced Happ in the 6th and threw two scoreless innings, allowing just one walk. That’s a nice appearance, and he gave the Yankees a shot to come back.
  • Kahnle, Not So Much: That was not Kahnle’s night. He walked Vlad Jr. right after nearly hitting him on the first pitch, resulting in a staredown, and never really seemed to be in control. Although he quickly got a double play, he allowed a quick double and a moonshot to Teoscar Martinez, for his second home run of the game. His line: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Check out the video:
  • Built Ford Tough: Even in the losses, the replacement Yankees step up. Tonight it was Mike Ford, who hit a home run to bring the deficit to 6-2. It’s wild how this keeps happening. Here’s the video:

Up Next

The Yankees and Blue Jays will play the third game of this four-game weekend set tomorrow, with Jacob Waguespack (3-1, 4.00 ERA) set to take on a to-be-announced Yankee starter (they’re wisely giving Tanaka an extra day of rest). We’ll keep this updated when they do announce. That game will take place at 3:07 pm at the Rodgers Centre. You can catch it on YES and WFAN, as usual. Have a good night, everyone.

Toronto Blue Jays Series Preview: 8-8 to 8-11, Bo Bichette Edition

Bichette and Gurriel: Hair goals (MLB Gifs)

The Yankees play no opponent more than the Blue Jays down the stretch, beginning with this four-game set north of the border.

Their Story Thus Far

The 47-70 Blue Jays are 29 games back of the Yankees, but they have an exciting young core than helped them take two of three from the Rays this week. Vlad Jr. has begun to rake at the plate while Bo Bichette has run roughshod over opponents in 10 games.

Still, the Jays have flaws, namely on the pitching side. Since they last played the Yankees, their front office dealt away starters Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez as well as relievers Daniel Hudson and Joe Biagini. Their staff is paper thin at the moment.

Right after I wrote my bargain hunting article this morning, the Jays claimed RHP Zack Godley. Toronto is in the market for young pitchers and veteran bounceback candidates.

Injury Report

Left-handed starters Ryan Borucki and Clayton Richard are each on the 10-day IL, as is backup catcher Luke Maile and reliever Nick Kingham. Their 60-day IL is packed with Clay Buchholz, Matt Shoemaker, Elvis Luciano, Ryan Tepera and Devon Travis.

Player Spotlight: Bo Bichette

Bo Bichette has been a Major League player for 10 games. The 21-year-old has a 10-game hitting streak.

A top-10 prospect in all of baseball, he has gone 18-for-44 with four walks and has now doubled in each of his last eight games. He’s also added a trio of home runs. Bichette is hitting .409/.458/.795, which is good for a 226 wRC+. That puts even Mike Tauchman to shame.

A son of MLB slugger Dante Bichette, Bo won’t stay hot forever. He’s played against the Orioles, Royals and injury-plagued Rays staffs thus far, though the Yankees’ pitching staff has been shaky recently as well.

Watching Bichette is a treat. He has an uppercut swing and reminds me of what Fernando Tatis Jr. is doing in San Diego. His only flaw thus far has been defense, where he’s made four errors in eight games in the field.

Don’t Lose Track of Vlad Jr.

In his last 100 plate appearances, Vladito is hitting .337/.390/.565 with five home runs and a 152 wRC+. He struggled in his first few months, but his bat is more than coming around.

(MLB Gifs)

Potential Lineup

  1. Bo Bichette, SS (.409/.458/.795, 226 wRC+)
  2. Cavan Biggio, 2B (.215/.344/.395, 100 wRC+)
  3. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., DH (.277/.350/.550, 127 wRC+)
  4. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B (.274/.346/.457, 113 wRC+)
  5. Randal Grichuk, RF (.240/.296/.432, 90 wRC+)
  6. Justin Smoak, 1B (.208/.351/.404, 104 wRC+)
  7. Derek Fisher, LF (.215/.292/.369, 78 wRC+)
  8. Teoscar Hernandez, CF (.220/.290/.419, 84 wRC+)
  9. Danny Jansen, C (.205/.275/.353, 65 wRC+)

Toronto has a three-man bench: Backup catcher Reese McGuire (3-for-21 this year), utility man Brandon Drury (75 wRC+) and SS Freddy Galvis (95 wRC+).

Pitching Matchups

Thursday (7:07 PM ET) Domingo German (vs. Jays) vs. Thomas Pannone (vs. Yankees)

Pannone comes into play Thursday with a 5.98 ERA in 55.2 IP and has worked as a swingman for the Jays in his second year. The soft-tossing lefty has been squared up more often this season, though he’s getting about 33 percent more strikeouts to make up for it.

Though he sports a fastball that tops out in the low-90s, Pannone utilizes his heater 62.3 percent of the time and lays off of it with his curve and changeup. He typically puts batters away with the four-seamer or curve, the latter which sits in the mid-70s.

Pannone (Baseball Savant)

Friday (7:07 PM ET) J.A. Happ (vs. Jays) vs. Sean Reid-Foley (vs. Yankees)

Reid-Foley is also in his second season and has a 2.49 ERA in six outings, four of which have been starts. However, he’s pitched just 21.2 IP and has walked 14 batters, sporting a similar WHIP and FIP from his mediocre 2018 debut. Still, at just 23 and a former top 100 prospect, he has the chance to be in the Jays rotation for a while as they rebuild.

The right-hander relies on his fastball-slider combination with the slider proving especially effective in his brief MLB career. His fastball averages 92.7 mph. He also features a curve, changeup and sinker.

Reid-Foley (Baseball Savant)

Saturday (3:07 PM ET) Masahiro Tanaka (vs. Jays) vs. Jacob Waguespack (Never faced NYY)

The Jays acquired Waguespack at the 2018 deadline in exchange for left-handed reliever Aaron Loup and the right-hander has given the team good returns through his first 36 MLB innings. Debuting in late May, Waguespack has a four ERA, 4.19 FIP and fine peripherals.

Still, in his small sample thus far, he’s been hit hard (89.8 mph avg exit velo vs. 87.5 mph league average) with a 41.1 percent hard-hit rate. He held the Rays scoreless for six innings in his last start and has back-to-back quality starts.

Waguespack throws four pitches at least 10 percent of the time: A 92.8 mph fastball, 89.5 mph cutter, 78.3 mph curve and 90.6 mph sinker. He also features a slider and a changeup that primarily uses against lefties.

Waguespack (Baseball Savant)

Sunday (1:07 PM ET) Opener SZN vs. Trent Thornton (vs. Yankees)

Since allowing five runs in 3.1 IP to the Yankees on June 26, Thornton has pitched poorly, working to a 9.13 ERA in his last six starts. He’s averaging less than four innings per outing and hasn’t gotten out of the fourth in all but two of the starts. Batters are hitting .337/.378/.567 against him in that time, basically turning opponents into DJ LeMahieu.

Despite not possessing top-of-the-line velocity, Thornton has some of the tools to be a consistent starter for the Jays, namely a high-spin fastball and curve, though he rarely uses the latter. He mostly works off his fastball with a slider and splitter.

The rookie has a 5.55 ERA overall and the Yankees wore him out last time. LeMahieu, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius each have homers off him. Still, even with ugly numbers (19 HR this year), he’s shown flashes of talent.

Thornton (Baseball Savant)

Bullpen Status

Ken Giles allowed two runs while trying to closing out Wednesday’s game. He’s the main veteran left at the back-end of the Jays’ bullpen.

Here’s who they have:

RHPs: Wilmer Font, Jason Adam, Sam Gaviglio, Derek Law, Justin Shafer

LHPs: Buddy Boshers, Tim Mayza

Font tossed 2.1 IP as an opener yesterday and is on his fifth team in two years. Mayza is the primary matchup lefty while Shafer has been in middle relief recently. Gaviglio has gotten long relief work at times all season.

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