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.
- 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:
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.