The Yankees are just rolling and rolling and rolling. This is one of those streaks that I hope never ends. Winning is fun. Winning every game for a week is even more fun. The Yankees have now won seven consecutive games. Let’s take a look at last night’s game as I also share some perspectives on the team overall.
Play of the Game - The biggest moment in the game, to me at least, came in the top of the 8th inning. The Yankees had their four runs already. Zack Britton was pitching. This was his inning. His job, as it has been for most of the year, was to get the ball to Aroldis Chapman and the ninth inning. Simple. Easy. Right? No. Not at all.
Britton retired the inning’s leadoff hitter Yuli Guriel on a 1-3 ground out. It was a good start to an almost disastrous inning. After that out, Britton lost the strike zone. He threw three consecutive balls to Robinson Chirinos before coming back to a 3-2 count. He then walked him anyway. Britton then walked Tyler White on four straight pitches. In what was an instant, Britton had allowed the game’s tying run to come to the plate in the ever-dangerous Josh Reddick. This was a tense at-bat. Breaking down the at-bat pitch-by-pitch shows the tension:
Ball One (low and away)
Ball Two (low and away)
Ball Three (low and away)
Britton was one bad pitch away from loading the bases on walks. (To be fair, with a 3-2 count, he was also one pitch away from the inning’s second out.) It seems that Aaron Boone might have been caught flat footed here because this happened so quickly. Jonathan Holder (who has not been great) started to throw in the bullpen… The game seemed to be a great danger of slipping away. And then…
An at-bat like this is great fun - nervous fun - terrible fun. No, it’s not fun at all. Maybe in retrospect it was fun, but at the time it was all angst.
This was THE Play of the Game. This is where the game was ultimately won. The homeruns, the other solid pitching, all contributed, but this was where the game was won. The game was won on quality pitching with the game almost getting away and on great defense by three players.
The Homers - The Yankees scored first in this game. In the bottom of the third, with Cameron Maybin on first base, Gary Sanchez went deep again.
The Yankees scored again in the bottom of the seventh inning (when they were holding on to a tight 2-1 lead). In this frame, with Brett Gardner on second, Gleyber Torres went yard:
First Ever - With the Yankees’ rich history, you don’t get to say “First Ever” too often, but last night was first time, ever, that two Yankees players (Sanchez and Torres) hit homeruns in three consecutive games together. Boom, boom, boom - these guys are remarkable.
JOY! - Gleyber Torres plays with such joy. He is so so so fun to watch. He does it with the glove (see above), he does it with the bat (see above), but most of all, he does it with that tremendous joy that makes watching him so much fun. Gleyber brings a different type of energy and fun to the game. Exuberance. It’s great to watch.
Less Joy (or so it seems) - James Paxton seems less joyful. Nonetheless, he did the job for the Yankees last night. He pitched five (plus) innings allowing only one run. He did allow eight base runners (five hits, three walks), but he also struck out seven batters.
This was a good enough start to push the Yankees to the victory, but I’d like to see more distance from James Paxton. The Big Maple needs to get the Yankees deeper into games to give the bullpen more rest. One of Paxton’s strengths going into the season was supposed to be his ability to pitch deeper into games.
24 - The Yankees have now homered in 24 consecutive games. In 1941, the Yankees homered in 25 straight games. With a homerun tonight, they tie the franchise record. The MLB record is 27 games set by the Texas Rangers in 2002.
BULLPEN - The Yankees’ bullpen strategy worked again last night. Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton, and Chapman shared the final four innings allowing no runs. They allowed only two hits. They did allow four walks, including the two by Zack Britton mentioned above, but they also struck out four. This is the formula.
And it’s working!
Adam O. - Ottavino seemed to have a strikeout to end Astros’ 6th inning. On a borderline pitch, he (and other Yankees) started jogging off the field expecting strike three to be called by the home plate umpire. Instead it was called a ball. On the next pitch, Ottavino threw a slider that was called strike three.
Too Many Outfielders - What to do with Cameron Maybin? Well, the question, for 10-days, at least, answered itself. Cameron Maybin suffered a leg injury and will be played on the Injured List.
Tonight - (I’d love a Saturday day game today…) Tonight the Yankees continue the four game series with the Astros. Masahiro Tanaka takes the mound at 7:15 p.m.