When it was 6-0 Yankees through the top of the second, the first thing that came to my mind was the mercy rule Aaron Boone brought up a few weeks ago. And if I told you the Yankees would go on to score 11 runs, you’d definitely think that the mercy rule was in need.
Well, the Yankees pitching staff wasn’t up to the task tonight. The team with the fewest runs scored in baseball plated 12. Detroit won via a walkoff RBI single from Jordy Mercer against Chance Adams. Here are the takeaways:
Fool me once… Nestor Cortes did a nice job in his first two innings of work. He blanked the Tigers while striking out two. But once the top of the order came around again, Cortes got knocked around. It was death by singles; three of the first four Tigers hitters singled and cut the Yankees’ advantage to 6-2. That knocked out Cortes with two on and one out in the third.
Cortes had a 4.39 ERA through July 31st and had done a very respectable job through then. But since August, he’s fallen off. He has a 6.75 ERA in 18 2/3 innins since then. Perhaps that’s to be expected of a pitcher who relies on arm angles and mostly junkballing. He’s having a hard time fooling hitters twice; not just in terms of the last month and change, but also tonight when the Tigers’ lineup turned over.
And then there’s Cessa, who has fooled everyone a million times. To be fair, Cessa has been mostly good this season. His ERA is 17 percent better than league average even though his FIP is just 3 percent better than average. So of course, Cessa entered and quickly allowed the two inherited runners to score. And eventually, the Tigers rallied to tie it up at 6.
Cessa seems to do this a lot: once you think he’s on the verge of getting DFA’d, he puts together a stretch of nice performances. After that, you’re just waitin for the outing where he blows up again. In tonight’s case, his previous three were all two innings scoreless outings. But tonight, his bad side flared up. He allowed 3 runs in 2 2/3 innings, though that doesn’t include the two inherited runners from Cortes that scored.
The B-list and C-list relievers need to pitch better than they did tonight. Once Cessa’s night was done and the score was 8-7 in favor of the Yankees, Aaron Boone turned the ball to Cody Gearrin. Look, the game shouldn’t have been 8-7 in the first place, especially after a 6-0 lead. But Gearrin had one job to do: get outs against a lowly Tigers team. He couldn’t do that.
After recording one out in between two singles, Gearrin was lifted for Jonathan Loaisiga. As great as his stuff is, Loaisiga really hasn’t clicked at the big league level yet, and he got hit around. It took three batters for the Tigers to take a 10-8 lead.
And after that, Loaisiga walked the next two hitters to load the bases before finally escaping.
The struggles of these relievers eventually forced Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton to enter this one. That’s not what you want. It’d be great if some of these secondary relievers could get the job done and give the back end guys some extra rest as the season closes out.
Why Chance Adams in the 9th? After Boone went to Ottavino and Britton in the seventh and eighth innings, he pitched Adams in a tie game in the 9th. Adams started off strong: he struck out Travis Demeritte to start the frame. It was all downhill thereafter. Grayson Greiner doubled, and Jordy Mercer won it:
Here’s why this doesn’t make sense: once he brought in Ottavino and Britton, Boone was clearly trying to win the game. Home field advantage is on the line, after all. He wasn’t necessarily punting with guys like Gearrin and Loaisiga earlier because there was still time to tack on more runs. However, once Adams came in, Boone was really living on the edge. The skipper should have stuck to one gameplan, not waver. If he was willing to give his guys some rest in spite of trying for the league’s best record, so be it. But don’t play it both ways.
Moreoever, Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman haven’t pitched since the 7th. Either could have pitched the 9th before Adams. Ultimately, though I didn’t like Boone’s decision-making here, it’s not all his fault. The Tigers’ offense is pitiful and should have never scored 12 runs in the first place.
Edit: Apparently Kahnle wasn’t available tonight but should be okay for tomorrow. Still, Boone could have gone to Chapman in the ninth.
Tommy Kahnle was unavailable due to wrist tendinitis, Boone said. Expects him to be ready tomorrow.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) September 11, 2019
Brett Gardner has shown no signs of his usual second half slump. Gardner went deep in each of the first two innings of tonight’s game. He hit both dingers against Edwin Jackson. The first homer, a solo shot that opened the scoring, set Gardner’s career-high mark in homers (22).
He had previously reached 21 in 2017. As you know, he wasn’t done:
Gardner has been great down the stretch this season. Entering tonight, he had a 107 wRC+ in the second half of this season vs. a 109 mark in the first half. That’s quite unlike him, as he typically craters in August and September. Remember, he finished last season with a second half wRC+ of 67.
Not enough homers. I’m being sarcastic, obviously. The Yankees offense did exactly what it had to do against Detroit. It just didn’t get the support of the pitching staff. Not only did Gardy go yard twice, but Didi hit two homers as well. The other two were from Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnación. Here’s Encarnacion’s which tied the game at 10 after Gearrin and Loaisiga coughed things up.
Here’s Didi’s second shot, which gave the Yankees a temporary 11-10 lead.
- Tyler Wade hit his first career triple in the Yankees’ 5-run second inning. It was the first of his career. It looked like Wade thought he had a homer off the bat, but Comerica Park is huge. It traveled 390 feet in the air and probably would have left Yankee Stadium.
- Ottavino gave up a run in his inning of work, because no Yankees’ pitcher was safe tonight. Except Zack Britton, of course. He finally delivered some semblance of stability with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
- The Yankees have caught the Twins in the home run race, 276-all. The Yankees have outpaced them significantly since August, though Minnesota still has two games in hand which could ultimately give them the edge. Whoever comes out on top will have the single season home run record.
These two sides go again tomorrow. Same time, same place. CC Sabathia will make his first start since is most recent knee flare up. Matthew Boyd will counter for Detroit.