Game 4 is just a few hours away and the Yankees are in a position that appeared unforeseeable after Monday’s victory. Sentiments sure can change quickly in October, huh? I bet we’d all be pretty fired up about tomorrow if the Yankees can top the Rays tonight. With that, I have a few things I want to discuss before first pitch.
We have all winter to discuss the future of this team. I’m not denying that these last two losses have been dreadful to watch, but there’s no reason to act like this series is over. Do the Yankees have their work cut out for them? Yes. It’s not going to be easy to overcome a 2-1 deficit. At the same time, it’s not an impossible task.
It’s natural to start forward-thinking at this stage. I’m guilty of that myself; offseason scenarios have already begun to cross my mind. There are obvious needs, namely pitching depth, that the Yankees have to address this winter. Frankly, they should have addressed them at the trade deadline. But again, that’s neither here nor there. The Yankees are still alive, even with lackluster performances on the mound from everyone not named Gerrit Cole compounded by highly questionable strategies. Until the clock actually strikes midnight on the Yankees, I’m going to save my energy on the future of this team or lament about what the team didn’t do for the 2020 roster. Let’s save that for the long and cold winter.
Giancarlo Stanton has been amazing, but let’s also show Aaron Hicks some love. Stanton’s getting a ton of attention for turning this postseason into a home run derby of his own, and deservedly so. It’s really nice to hear all of his detractors shut up for once. He is one of the greatest hitters in the sport and is delivering when the Yankees need it. I take joy in dancing on the grave of horrible takes like the following, but I also never want to see something like this again:
5/LeMahieu at 1b, Voit at DH and no Stanton. I cannot see Boone not playing a healthy Stanton. But the overall ABs and certainly the defense is better that way.
Anyway, I’d like to spend some time highlighting Aaron Hicks’s excellent series. Believe it or not, Hicks (+3.03 percent) has a higher championship probability added than Stanton (+1.88 percent) in the ALDS. Game level win probability is a bit closer, with Hicks at 0.29 to Stanton’s 0.22.
There’s a lot to complain about in this one, folks. The Yankees fell 7-5 in spite of Giancarlo Stanton’s heroics. The decision to use Deivi García as an opener for JA Happ backfired, CB Bucknor had himself a night, and the Yankees offense just fell short against Tampa Bay’s bullpen. This best-of-five series is now level at one a piece. Let’s get to the takeaways.
If I were the Yankees, I’d simply would have waited as long as possible to use JA Happ in this series. I know, I know. Happ had a resurgence during the regular season. But there’s no way I want to see him get the ball before Masahiro Tanaka in a playoff series with both guys fully rested. It’s overthinking things. Yes, hindsight is 20/20 and all, but give me Tanaka over Happ as the bulk guy every time.
The Yankees toppled the Marlins today, 11-4. Deivi García pitched excellently in spite of some bad luck and the offense finally woke up after an inauspicious start. Let’s get right to the takeaways:
After an ugly start, we were reminded of this offense’s potency. The Yankees hit into five double plays yesterday and hit into another in the first inning today. DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge reached base to start the game, but Giancarlo Stanton bounced into a 6-4-3 DP thereafter. From there, Marlins’ starter Trevor Rogers retired six of the next seven Yankees he faced to end his outing. It was an ugly start and had the feeling of “here we go again”, especially after the Marlins scored three fluky runs in the third (more on that momentarily).
That sentiment was erased in the fifth and sixth innings, thankfully. As you’d expect, Tyler Wade got the Yankees on the board with a two-run dinger against Ryne Stanek.
Again, just as you’d expect. But the run scoring didn’t end there. The Yankees tied it with a two out rally from Judge and Stanton. Judge walked, and after Don Mattingly summoned James Hoyt from the bullpen to replace Stanek, Stanton drove in Judge.
The offense blew this one wide open in the next inning against old friend Stephen Tarpley. The lefty faced six batters and recorded just one out: a sacrifice bunt by Wade (the team’s first sac bunt this season, by the way). The big blows: Aaron Hicks’s two-run homer to make it 5-3 and and LeMahieu’s 2-run double to make it 7-3.
Later, with Nick Vincent in to relieve Tarpley, Voit tallied his league leading 22nd homer of the season to make this one a laugher.
It was good to see this offense break out even if it wasn’t against some of the best pitchers a team has to offer. The Yanks had scored just five runs in the last three games, all losses. A lineup this deep, especially now at full strength, can only be held down for so long though. I’d love to see today be the catalyst for a hot run of hitting into the playoffs.
Deivi García is unshakeable. Another really impressive start from the 21 year-old righty today. Deivi finally took some lumps in his previous start, but bounced back nicely in this one against Miami. Hell, Deivi had to overcome some adversity today too. The Marlins got a ton of breaks in the third inning and scored three runs against García. All you really need to see is this:
That’s a lot of weak contact for three runs to score on. The only ball hit remotely hard was Miguel Rojas’s RBI double, which made it 1-0. But even that wasn’t struck too hard. In fact, it probably should have been a lineout and a double play. Take a look:
The Marlins called for a hit-and-run with Monte Harrison on first. You typically see the second baseman cover second with a right-handed hitter up, but the Yankees had shortstop Tyler Wade break to second instead. I guess they were banking on Rojas trying to go to the right side. But uh, his spray chart for grounders and line drives says otherwise:
It was frustrating to watch the Yankees fall behind 3-0 on a bunch of seeing eye hits, but it clearly didn’t bother García. Deivi pitched into the seventh inning of this one before getting pulled due to a pitch count (103).
The rookie’s final line: 6 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 walks, and 7 strikeouts. That 4th run came with Adam Ottavino on the mound, who gave up back-to-back singles upon Deivi’s exit. Anyway, that’s a good line for Deivi although he pitched better than it reflects. He was getting whiffs and soft contact against all of his pitches and had good command too.
Exit Velo (MPH)
Whiffs / Swings
7 / 30
3 / 9
I’m very happy with how Deivi pitched even with Miami not running out its best lineup. Yes, the Marlins sat Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson, Brian Anderson, and Jesús Aguilar, but you have to like this kind of response from a rookie after his first bad start. It’s no wonder that the team is prepared to hand him the ball for a postseason start. Now it’s just a matter of what game it will be. He’ll be on regular rest for Game 3 of the Wild Card round.
Keep your eyes on the scoreboard tonight. The Yankees can clinch the fifth seed if the Orioles beat the Blue Jays tonight. If not, the Yankees will need either another victory or a Blue Jays loss tomorrow.
Nice job by Miguel Yajure in the last two innings. He struck out three batters in a row after a walk and single to lead off the eighth inning. He then finished the game off with a scoreless ninth.
Every Yankee hitter had a base hit except for Judge, Clint Frazier, Gary Sánchez. Even so, the Judge and Sánchez combined to reach base five times via base on balls. Judge has struggled since returning from the injured list and Gary’s season has been a mess, but it’s good to see them find some way to contribute.
Clint’s in a bit of a slump, by the way. He entered today with one hit (a single) and four walks in his last 21 plate appearances. Today: 0-for-3 with a hit by pitch and stolen base.
The season finale is tomorrow at 3:05 p.m. EDT. See you then.
Another night, another offensive outburst. The Yankees won this one 10-7, though it was a blowout up until Toronto’s ninth inning too-little-too-late rally. The Bronx Bombers are living up to their moniker and you love to see it. They scored 43 runs against the Jays this week to complete a sweep and win their eighth straight. To the takeaways:
The Yankees should keep hitting home runs. That’s it. That’s the tweet takeaway.
For real now: the fourth inning was unbelievable. Five homers in six batters against Toronto righty Chase Anderson. It brought the series total to 18, the most in any three-game span in MLB history (Gary Sánchez brought that total to 19 later). It was also the first time the Yankees had hit five dingers in one inning in franchise history. It’s been done six times before the Yankees, though.
The monster inning quelled any regret about a missed opportunity in the first inning. The Yankees had loaded the bases with no one out, but only scored two runs thereafter. Stanton singled in a run and another scored on a Gleyber double play.
Not much more to add other than hitting homers is good. In case you needed a reminder: hitting too many homers is nonsense. It’s good in the regular season, it’s good in the playoffs, it’s good in your Sunday softball league. Seeing the Yankees do this is encouraging. It’s no coincidence it comes as the team gets closer to full strength.
Dear Giancarlo Stanton, please stay healthy. It absolutely stinks that we haven’t gotten to see the full Stanton experience since 2018. We’ve seen flashes, but inevitably, something has gone awry health-wise over the past two years. We got another flash tonight.
I think last year’s production from the injury replacements made it easier for us to put Giancarlo in the back of our minds when he he went on the injured list this season. At the time, the Yankees were 10-5 and in first place. The injury still stunk, but it didn’t feel like a death knell. Little did we know what would happen later in the month. While absent, Yankees’ designated hitters batted .189/.268/.315 (60 wRC+) in 123 plate appearances. Stanton was hitting .293/.543/.585 (180 wRC+) in 54 plate appearances before he went on the shelf. Lack of offense, not just from the DH spot, was one of the big reasons the team eventually fell to .500 just a little more than a week ago.
Tonight, Stanton reminded us how much he was missed. He went 4-for-5 and one of those four knocks was a homer in the Yankees’ monster fourth.
Hopefully, the team’s plan to gradually work Stanton back into everyday play proves beneficial. Likewise for Stanton’s plan to remain lose between at-bats while DHing.
Save for Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Masahiro Tanaka looked great again. Toronto’s left field went 3-for-3 with two homers against the Yankees number two starter tonight. No one else really had much success against Tanaka, who finished the game with a line of 7 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 5 strikeouts, and no walks. This actually raised his ERA to 3.27, which tells you just how good he’s been.
Only one of Gurriel’s homers was actually a true mistake pitch by Tanaka. He hung a slider on 2-2 that put Toronto on the board in the third inning. The other homer came with the Yankees up 9-2 on a challenge pitch. Tanaka threw a 3-1 fastball and Gurriel didn’t miss.
I’m not saying those Gurriel homers don’t count — they do — but otherwise, Tanaka handled Toronto’s lineup with ease. His slider and splitter were very effective and generated a 30 percent whiff rate combined. Meanwhile, his command was good and allowed him to work 7 innings while throwing just 91 pitches. This starting staff has really given the bullpen some rest of late, which is huge in this final stretch.
Last but not least, let’s talk about a defensive play Tanaka made. In the same inning as Gurriel’s first homer, Toronto threatened for more. After the long ball, the Jays strung together three hits in a row to tie the game at 2. That third hit, Bo Bichette’s RBI single to tie it, ended with Bichette thrown out at second base. Take a look.
You often see the pitcher backing up home plate in this situation, but here, Tanaka cut off Hicks throw. Maybe he had time to react and run back into the infield to cut it off. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a look at his positioning the entire play. He followed it up with a perfect throw to Gleyber for the tag out. This is the type of play that earns Tanaka praise for his glovework.
It was a pretty clutch play at the time. Without the cutoff, Toronto would have had second and third with one out and the score even at two. Instead, Tanaka needed just one out to escape the jam with the tie preserved and he did just that.
Luke Voit’s homer, the third of the back-to-back-to-back shots, was his league leading 20th dinger of the season.
Aroldis Chapman picked up a two out save in this one. Jonathan Holder was given the ball up 10-3, but departed with the bases loaded and the score 10-5. Chapman did allow a hit but ultimately closed it out for the W.
Nice night for Sánchez, who went 2-for-4 with a double, homer, and no strikeouts. His double was the second-hardest hit ball of this regular season, 117.5 MPH. He can still crush ’em when he makes contact. more please.
Tampa Bay swept Baltimore in a doubleheader today. Thanks for nothing, Orioles. The Yankees are 3.5 games back of first place with 9 to play, and a tie won’t cut it as the Rays have the tiebreaker.
The White Sox defeated the Twins, which now ties the Yankees and the Twins in the loss column. Minnesota does have a couple more wins than the Yankees though. Point is, the Yanks and Twins are essentially duking out who’ll have home field advantage in the first round. The two teams are on a collision course for the 4/5 seed matchup.
The Yankees are now off to Boston for a three game weekend set. See you all tomorrow.
This one was over pretty early. The Yankees put up crooked numbers in the second, third, and fourth innings en route to a 20-6 victory. Rookie Deivi García was great again, the offense socked a bunch of homers, and Toronto’s gaffes in the second inning opened things up. The winning streak is up to six and the Bombers are back in second place in the AL East. To the takeaways we go:
But first, we interrupt this recap to bring you a few words from David Cone and Michael Kay:
Yes, yes, we agree. Now, back to your regularly scheduled recap.
The Yankees are finally catching some breaks. It wasn’t that long ago when the Yankees couldn’t help but trip over themselves. Remember that awful loss to the Mets in extras? Those were the bad times when the team was making tons of sloppy plays and players were hitting the injured list on a daily basis. The tides have turned of late, though. Tonight, especially.
If not for Derek Fisher, the Yankees might have not scored in the second inning. Instead, one error and a misplay scored a single really allowed things to unfurl. Jays’ starter Taijuan Walker couldn’t stop the bleeding and pick up his outfielder, either.
First, with Gio Urshela (welcome back!) on second and one out, Clint Frazier hit what should have been a routine fly out to right:
Brett Gardner followed with a fly ball in the gap that Fisher couldn’t track down:
Two brutal miscues, but Walker still had a chance to get out of this with just one run allowed. After the Gardner hit, Walker struck out Gary Sánchez for the second out of the frame. That left just Tyler Wade between Walker and a trip to the dugout with the score just 1-1. Walker got to 0-2 on Wade, but couldn’t finish him off. A few pitches later, Wade delivered:
That’s just inexcusable for Walker. Wade, a lifetime .188/.264/.293 hitter coming into this game, should be an easy out especially when he’s behind 0-2 and is the final batter before the top of the order. Instead, after the Wade knock, DJ LeMahieu singled in another run to make it 3-1. That’s when things really snowballed.
Those back-to-back homers knocked Walker out of the ballgame. The offense continued to pour it on against Toronto’s next two arms, Shun Yamaguchi and Anthony Kay. The bats wound up scoring 20 runs, though this one was effectively over after the second inning.
All this happened as a result of a few things going the Yankees way. It’s nice to be the beneficiary of fielding gaffes and poor execution, isn’t it?
There were a couple of differences in Deivi’s approach against Toronto tonight, though I’m not so sure they were voluntary. First, He threw just 3 curveballs all night, which indicates that he didn’t have great feel for the pitch. It’s typically his most-used breaking ball, as you know. He threw one in the second, one in the third, and one in the fourth inning. The last one was a hanger that Lourdes Gurriel hit for a two-run homer. At that point, García probably had seen enough of the pitch.
The other difference: fastball command. Take a look at where he spotted his heater tonight:
Now, take a look at where he put it last week:
He was much more over the middle with that pitch tonight and Toronto made plenty of hard contact against it. Most notably, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took Deivi deep on one of his heaters down the middle. Toronto had a 95.8 MPH average exit velocity on the pitch.
In spite of not having his best fastball command, it’s pretty impressive that Deivi was able to still use it 58 percent of the time (he used it 59 percent last week). It might sound as if he was fortunate considering the high exit velocity, but keep in mind that Deivi tends to generate a lot of harmless pop ups and fly balls. Toronto recorded six outs on fastballs hit between 92 and 100 MPH off the bat. Five were fly outs, none with an xBA above .230. The other was a groundout. Clearly, it’s hard to square up the righty even when he’s missing his spots.
What more can you say about García? He’s been impressive in all four of his starts with the Yankees and is just 21 years-old. Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff (i.e. tonight) he’s able to succeed. Can’t wait to watch him pitch next.
Welcome back Gio Urshela. The third baseman went 3-for-4 with 2 doubles and a walk.
Giancarlo Stanton went 0-for-4 in his return, but he did draw a walk. He also scalded a 111 MPH lineout. He was the only starter to go hitless in this one.
Toronto wound up using infielder Santiago Espinal to pitch in the eighth inning. He gave up a solo homer to DJ LeMahieu, but otherwise left unscathed. He was probably the team’s best pitcher all night!
A few other home runs to note: Voit delivered his second of the night in the sixth inning. It came against Ken Giles, who was getting some work in after returning from the injured list. Voit leads the league with 18 homers. Gary Sánchez and Clint Frazier also contributed homers of their own.
Michael King pitched the eighth and ninth innings for the Yankees. He gave up a few runs in the ninth, but they were harmless.
The series resumes tomorrow. Same time, same place. Have a good night everyone.