Lance McCullers Jr. is a very good pitcher. The right-hander has struck out more than 10 batters per 9 innings while also producing the second highest ground ball rate in baseball so far this year. Knowing this, it shouldn’t be surprising to know the Yankees’ lineup struggled tonight, being held to just a single run for the first time since game one of the Blue Jays series.
The offense did have a couple chances, beginning in the bottom of the second. Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius both notched singles with two outs, but a Chase Headley strikeout ended the potential threat. Judge was the center of the action again in the fifth, leading off the inning with a double before McCullers struck out the next three batters to strand him.
New York’s best chance to score came in the bottom of the sixth. After a Brett Gardner single and Gary Sanchez strikeout, Matt Holliday hit a hard ground ball to third that Alex Bregman couldn’t handle, allowing Holliday to reach on the error. Starlin Castro followed up with a ground ball that also should have been a double play, but Marwin Gonzalez dropped the throw to first, leaving runners at the corners. Once again, however, the Yankees couldn’t get the one hit they needed.
Jordan Montgomery was, again, good but not great. His final line: 6 IP, 4 ER, 8H, 7 Ks, 1 BB. He managed to keep the walks under control, which had been his biggest problem all season. The big blow came in the top of the fourth, as our old friend Brian McCann golfed a pitch into the right field stands, scoring three. It wasn’t a terrible pitch, but it leaked out over the plate a bit too much and McCann could drop the head of the bat to it.
I’m not generally one to complain about umpiring, but I thought home plate umpire Adrian Johnson was terribly inconsistent, especially on pitches inside. It’s hard enough for a batter to make good contact on inside pitches, made even more difficult when the umpire won’t establish a firm strike zone. Add to that the kerfuffle in the seventh and Mr. Johnson did not have a good game.
The aforementioned kerfuffle occurred when Chase Headley squared to bunt a Will Harris pitch that ended up hitting Headley on the hand. The third baseman understandably took his time getting set in the box when Adrian Johnson seemed to say something along the lines of “hurry up”. Headley took exception to this and the shouting and pointing began. Headley was ejected and I was thinking Joe Girardi might be tossed too, and again thought Johnson did a horrible job of keeping his emotions under control. He escalated the situation and seemed to suffer from the delusion umpires sometimes have that fans came to watch them as opposed to the players.
The Yankees’ bullpen was, for most of the night, the best thing about the game. Jonathan Holder and Tyler Clippard threw perfect innings with Clippard striking out the side. Aroldis Chapman came in for “work” in the ninth, was awful, threw way too many pitches, gave up a run, and is probably hurt. Giovanny Gallegos came in to finish the inning in his major league debut, threw two pitches and got Carlos Correa to fly out easily. Good start to the career, kid.
The Yankees made it somewhat interesting in the ninth, with Holliday and Ellsbury reaching against James Hoyt. Gregorius laced an RBI single with two out to score Holliday, but that was all we got, as Ronald Torreyes struck out to end the game.
A pretty depressing WPA chart. Notable (I guess) is the fact that Aaron Judge was the only batter to record positive WPA at a .032 mark. The kid really is good.
A quick note about this loss: teams lose games all the time, even good teams. Last year the Chicago Cubs had five losing streaks of at least four games. This isn’t the end of the season, and it’s way too early to tell how good a team the Yankees have. Pack up and get ‘em tomorrow.
Luis Severino gets the start tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 pm EDT back on YES, weather permitting. See you all there.