Nothing lasts forever.
Domingo German came into the game with a 9-1 record (it stays 9-1) and the Yanks were on a seven-game winning streak.
German had an off-day, giving up 4 HR, and the Yanks, down 7-1 at one point, rallied with three runs with two out in the ninth to force extra innings only to lose 8-7 in the tenth.
Before the game, Jake Barrett to the IL (elbow inflammation), Joe Harvey brought up.
The Yanks scored first when with one out in the second, Gleyber Torres singled, Kendrys Morales walked and Clint Frazier singled in Torres.
German gave up a 3-run HR in the bottom of the second, then a solo shot in the fourth.
In the fifth, back-to-back HR given up by German scored three more runs and the Yanks were in a 7-1 hole.
Gleyber Torres got the Yanks back in the game with a 3-run HR (13) in the sixth. 7-4.
In the top of the ninth, with one out, Frazier and Gio Urshela singled. Frazier had to watch himself as he could have been picked off second. Brett Gardner struck out and the Yanks were down to their final out. D.J. LeMahieu singled in Frazier to make it 7-5. Luke Voit walked to load the bases, and Aaron Hicks singled to tie the game.
Here is where I had a lot of questions. I don’t know what relievers were available, but I found some decisions a bit strange.
Manager Aaron Boone left Nestor Cortes, Jr. in to pitch a fourth inning after the Yanks had tied it up. I had figured that once the Yanks did tie it up, that someone like Ottavino, Kahnle, or Britton might now come in. Instead Cortes stayed out there. He got the first two outs, then got into a jam, giving up two singles and an intentional walk to load the bases before getting out of it with a pop-up. Even after Cortes gave up the hits, he stayed out there. Odd, I thought, stretching Cortes out to four innings, especially with the game on the line.
Then in the tenth, Boone brought in Jonathan Holder rather than someone else. As I mentioned, I don’t know who was or wasn’t available, but I am not too comfortable with Holder in a tight game. Of all the regular relievers (those who have pitched in ten or more games this year, not those on the SWB shuttle), only Chad Green has a higher ERA than Holder. So my “trust factor” in Holder isn’t as high as with the others. But again, it may have been a case of lose the battle to win the war. Who was and wasn’t available.
Holder’s biggest mistake was, with one out, walking the #9 hitter, Billy Hamilton. Hamilton has little power, but a great deal of speed. You just can’t walk him there (and on five pitches). You have to make him earn his way on. Sure enough, Hamilton stole second. After Gio Urshela made a fabulous play for the second out, Whit Merrifield hit one past Urshela that ate him up and that ended the ballgame.
WFAN’s Mike Francesa did make an interesting and true observation the other day. As much as we love the bats of Sanchez, Voit, Frazier and Andujar, the Yanks will have to make some decisions on them. Now Sanchez and Voit aren’t going anywhere, but Frazier and Andujar’s futures could turn on their defense, or lack of it. As much as we love their bats, their defense can’t be so bad that it negates their sticks. We know the problems with Sanchez on wild pitches and passed balls. Voit is Ok, but more Giambi than Mattingly-like at 1B. You can’t just field a team that cannot play the D. Judging by what I heard, I think Francesa thinks that if Frazier’s and Andujar’s D don’t pick up in the upcoming years, that both could be on the trade block. One reason for the Yanks winning right now is the defense of guys like LeMahieu and Urshela. Maybe Frazier (and this was mentioned on YES’ postgame show) is a little gun-shy after his concussion last year, but his defense in this KC series left a lot to be desired, especially when he got close to the wall. And it hasn’t just been in this past KC series, either.
The “easy” part of the Yanks’ schedule is now over. They don’t have as many Orioles/KC/White Sox teams anymore. The schedule now gets tougher. They have a 3-game series at home now against SD, followed by 4 games at home against Boston. They’ll be facing tougher teams now.
To their credit, the Yanks did what they should do with the soft schedule they’ve had so far. Win. 34-18. Up by 2 games in the AL East, even with a team decimated by injuries. Good job so far.
But decisions will have to be made soon. Didi Gregorius will move up to AAA SWB on Tuesday and should be back in maybe one or two weeks. What I would do when he comes back is not to send down Thairo Estrada, but to DFA Kendrys Morales. Didi could DH (until Stanton returns) instead of Morales. By having Didi DH, you protect that recently operated on right elbow of his. You play him at SS every so often to give Torres or LeMahieu a rest, and LeMahieu or Estrada can go to 3B to give Urshela a breather. LeMahieu can spell Voit at 1B. To me, Morales (5 for 30) as a Yankee is expendable. I would like to keep Estrada (.318) a bit longer. We’ll see what the Yanks do.
Also, when Stanton or Judge return, more decisions. Frazier has options, Maybin doesn’t. It may be better to keep Maybin’s defense and speed on the bench for now (out of options) and send down Frazier (who has options) to work on his defense once Judge or Stanton, whoever is first, comes back.
But when guys return, tough decisions will have to be made, and someone who is performing well now will have to go for guys like Didi, Judge and Stanton to regain their spots.
That goes for pitchers too, when Paxton, Severino, Betances and Montgomery come back and also if, after the baseball draft, the Yanks outbid the Rays for someone like Dallas Keuchel.
The moves in the next few months will be very interesting.
Hicks 2 RBI (tied game in 9th)
Torres 2 hits, 3 RBI, 3-run HR (13)
Frazier 3 hits, RBI. Did make an error.
Urshela 2 hits
German 5 IP, 7 R, 9 H, 0 W, 6 K. 3.43. Gave up 4 HR.
Cortes 4 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 2 W, 4 K. 5.40
Holder (L, 3-2, 4.91) 2/3 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 1 W, 1 K.
A non-baseball note: RIP Bart Starr, #15, QB for those great Lombardi Green Bay Packer teams of the 1960s. Starr was a 5x Champion. After losing in the 1960 NFL title game to the Eagles, Starr led the Packers to NFL titles in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1967. The 1966 and 1967 titles were followed with wins over the AFL (pre-merger) in Super Bowls I and II, both of which Starr was the MVP in. Starr was 85.
Update: With Paxton still on the shelf, as well as CC and Loaisiga (and Adams went 4 innings the other day, Cortes 4 yesterday), Chad Green will once again be the “opener” today, hence the decisions of yesterday to save the bullpen. Pitching, especially starting, reinforcements can’t arrive fast enough, whether it be Paxton and CC getting off the DL (along with Severino and Montgomery) or getting another starter.