This game should not have been as close as it was, but sometimes things don’t according to plan, and they didn’t Tuesday night. The Yankees survived a near bullpen collapse to pick up their fifth straight win and seventh win in their last eight games. Remember when Anaheim was a house of horrors? The Yankees have won nine of their last dozen games in LAnaheim. Tuesday’s final score was 7-5.
Two Early Runs
For the fifth time in the last six games, the Yankees banked a first inning run Tuesday night. Luke Voit did the honors with a solo home run to dead center field. Second straight night he started the game with a first inning dinger. With so many important players on the injured list, Voit is far and away the biggest power threat in the lineup right now, and he’s giving the Yankees what they need.
The Yankees cashed in their second run in the second inning. Mike Ford singled to right, Mike Tauchman worked a walk, and Thairo Estrada shot a single to right to load the bases with one out. First career knock for Estrada. After all those years of prospect watching, The Summer of Thairo has finally arrived. Tyler Wade brought a run home with a chopper to short that turned into a force out at second.
Two things about the Wade fielder’s choice. One, defensive wiz Andrelton Simmons had to come in on the ball slightly, and it sure looked like he had time to go home for the force out, especially with the not-so-speedy Ford running. Here’s the (approximate) moment Simmons received the ball:
Yeah, I think Simmons could’ve gone home there and cut the run down. Force play, so no need to worry about the tag, and Ford’s not a burner coming in from third base. Well, whatever. Simmons instead went to second base and tried to start the inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
And two, Tommy La Stella bobbled the transfer at second and didn’t even attempt the throw to first. Without that, there was a decent chance to complete the double play and get Wade at first base, even with his speed. I hesitate to call Simmons not going home a mistake — he is the best defensive player in baseball and one of the best in history, so I’ll defer to his judgement — but it was a break for the Yankees. They got two breaks on that play counting La Stella’s bobble.
After Brett Gardner’s one-out triple in the third inning went to waste — Gleyber Torres struck out and Ford popped out — I was starting to get those “they’re going to regret not tacking on runs” feelings. It was the third inning! And Chris Stratton was not exactly shutting the Yankees down! What in the world is wrong with me. Anyway, Ford added two insurance runs with his first career dinger in the fifth inning.
There is no doubt the Yankees miss their injured players, including staff ace Luis Severino, but you know what? Four starts (and one relief appearance) into his stint as Severino’s replacement, Domingo German has Luis Severino numbers: 1.75 ERA (2.87 FIP) with 28 strikeouts (28.3%) and eight walks (8.1%) in 25.2 innings. Better than Severino numbers, really. Remember when German walked five batters in five innings in his first start? He’s walked three batters in 20.2 innings since.
Only twice in six innings did the Angels really threaten against German. They started the third inning with back-to-back singles, the second of which did not leave the infield and couldn’t have traveled more than 20 feet from home plate. German rebounded to strike out Kole Calhoun and get Mike Trout to bang into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. I, uh, did not see that last part coming. (Trout was called out after replay overturned the safe call.)
A double and an error — German rushed the tag on a chopper up the first base line and flubbed the play — put runners on the corners with one out in the fifth inning. David Fletcher hit a grounder to short, too slow to even attempt the 6-4-3 double play, so the run scored. Just the one run though. German limited the damage. His final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K on 99 pitches. Check out his pitch usage Tuesday night:
- Four-seamer: 29 (three swings and misses)
- Two-seamer: 19 (zero swings and misses)
- Curveball: 29 (four swings and misses)
- Changeup: 22 (two swings and misses)
German threw the kitchen sink at the Angels. Four pitches used regularly. The kitchen sink, but with two mid-90s fastballs and a very high spin breaking ball. Nine swings and misses is on the low side for German but he made up for it with soft contact. This was the 25th time he faced at least ten batters in a game and his 86.5 mph average exit velocity allowed was his six lowest. Pretty cool.
Yes, it’s still very early in season, and no, German has not faced great competition (Tigers, Orioles, White Sox, Royals, Angels), but he looks so better right now than he did at any point last year. More confident, less deer-in-the-headlights-y, more like he knows he belongs. German’s stuff has always been so good. Now it seems like everything else is starting to come together. He’s been awesome.
The Yankees kept tacking on runs following Ford’s home run and it’s a good thing they did. Voit walked and Gardner doubled to start the seventh, then Torres singled in a run and Austin Romine brought in another run with a ground out. Voit socked his second home run of the game in the eighth inning, that one an opposite field shot into the right field bleachers. Two solo homers on the night and three in the series. That’ll work.
With German cruising and a nice 7-1 lead, it seemed like the Yankees were heading for a nice easy win. Then Chad Green went and 2019 Chad Greened all over the place. After getting the final out in the seventh, Green loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth. Two singles and a walk. Granted, the singles were well-placed more than well-struck, plus Trout drew the walk and he’s pretty awesome, but still. Even with a 7-1 lead, things got messy.
The good: Green got ahead in the count 1-2 on Justin Bour. Threw three fastballs by him up in the zone, one for a swing-and-miss and the other two for very late foul balls. Clearly, Bour was having trouble catching up to the heat. So what did Green and Romine do? They tried to finish Bour with a splitter. Green threw this 87.3 mph piece of junk …
… and Bour parked it about a third of the way up the right-center bleachers for a grand slam. Bad pitch selection and worse execution. Green has allowed 14 runs and four homers in 7.2 innings this year. During his breakout 2017 season, he allowed 14 runs and four homers in 69 innings. (Last year it was 22 runs and nine homers in 75.2 innings.) My quick late night math has Green with a .395/.465/.763 opponent’s batting line. Yeesh.
Short bullpen or no short bullpen, I have no problem whatsoever with bringing Green into a game with a six-run lead. The Yankees have to get him right and that is a “try to get a reliever right” situation. Clearly though, Green is not right, and he hasn’t been at any point this season. My guess is he winds up on the injured list rather than being sent to Triple-A Scranton. I just don’t see any way a healthy Green is this bad. Injured list is my guess. We’ll see.
Anyway, once the game became unnecessarily interesting, Luis Cessa entered and immediately put the tying run on base. Cool. A strikeout and a double play later, the eighth inning was over. Ex-friggin-hale. Zack Britton needed all of seven pitches to get three routine ground balls to close things out in the ninth. The real save situation came when Cessa had two men on base with no outs in the eighth, but I digress. Closers are for closin’.
Whale of a game for the makeshift 2-3-4-5 hitters: 10-for-17 (.588) with a double, a triple, two homers, seven runs scored, and five runs driven in. Gardner had four hits and was a homer short of the cycle — he is 7-for-10 in two games as the No. 3 hitter — plus Voit (two homers), Torres (two singles), and Ford (single, homer) had two hits each. The struggling DJ LeMahieu went 0-for-6 and saw his season batting line drop from .293/.353/.413 (105 wRC+) to .272/.330/.383 (91 wRC+) in one night. Officially a below-average hitter.
And finally, Voit’s on-base streak is up to 34 games, longest by a Yankee since Derek Jeter’s 36-gamer spanning 2012-13. Voit has a ways to go to get to threaten the franchise record though. Joe DiMaggio had a 74-game on-base streak in 1941, which of course included his record 56-game hitting streak.
The Yankees and Angels are halfway through this four-game series. Lefty CC Sabathia and righty Felix Pena are the scheduled starters for Wednesday night’s game. That’s another 10:07pm ET start. Four more 10pm-ish starts to go on this road trip, including Wednesday.