That game was unpleasant. I don’t have a full narrative or anything today, just a series of thoughts from that way-too-long-and-miserable game.
Masahiro Tanaka was not good. The very first batter he faced, Corey Dickerson, hit an opposite field home run to stake the Rays to an early lead. That was actually the shortest of the three home runs Tanaka gave up today. It was also Tanaka’s fourth first inning home run of the season, underscoring how much the Yankees ace has struggled early.
Evan Longoria hit a home run, because of course. It was also maybe the worst pitch Tanaka threw all game, a thigh high 93 mph fastball. Bad location, bad selection, bad pitch. Plus, the Rays batted around twice, once in the fourth and then again in the fifth. The ineffective pitching is generally not a recipe for success.
The Yankees’ defense was abysmal today. Tanaka was terrible, yes, but there were at least five balls that needed to be turned into outs and weren’t. A ground ball past Didi Gregorius, a ground ball and popup that Matt Holliday couldn’t handle, a dropped third strike from Gary Sanchez, and a missed grounder for Starlin Castro. Murphy’s Game, everything went wrong.
There’s also the fact that home plate umpire Scott Barry acted like a baby. This is the second time in a row I’ve recapped a game and brought up umpiring, I swear it won’t be a thing that happens all the time. But he was terribly inconsistent, and after ejecting Larry Rothschild and Joe Girardi in the fifth, Girardi poured dirt over home plate.
Now, a professional umpire would clean the plate off and signal the pitcher, and continue the game. Barry did not do that, and left the game to continue with dirt all over the plate. Sanchez eventually cleaned the plate off, but I hope Barry gets a call from the league offices. That wasn’t just unprofessional, but deliberately obstructing a target for the pitcher is dangerous.
I forgot that Tommy Layne hit Corey Dickerson, so that happened. The Rays, of course, responded by hitting Aaron Judge, who ended up coming around and scoring. The run didn’t affect the final score, but I wish it had because retaliatory hit-by-pitches tick me off.
Daniel Robertson should not have had as good a game as he did. Tanaka walked him in the second and he had a two strike double a couple innings later. Longoria, Dickerson and company are enough trouble, you can’t have the eighth hitter wear you out like that.
On the bright side, the Yankees offense was kind of…good? Aaron Judge hit a laser and Gary Sanchez a bomb, although they were both solo home runs. Chase Headley had three (!!) RBI, including a two-run double that, at the time, tied the game. Good to see the offense cooking regardless of a starter’s performance.
It is May 20th and Chasen Shreve has yet to give up a run. He struck out three, and his grin after striking out Kevin Kiermaier made me happy in the tail end of what was a pretty bland game. Of course, because life is eternal suffering, Shreve may be hurt. He grabbed his left arm twice, was examined by the training staff, stayed in the game but threw a bad pitch to Logan Morrison that he got away with, and you hope that he’s alright.
One more positive: I was impressed the Yankees were able to avoid using either Tyler Clippard or Dellin Betances. With an ineffective Tanaka, bullpen management was going to be a big deal and using Clippard would have left him unavailable tomorrow. Jonathan Holder threw a scoreless eighth, meaning the two relievers used today that are typically higher-leverage guys were perfect. Long story short? The bullpen is still very good, especially the guys that are counted on to be very good.
Yep. Judge had a great game. That’s it, WPA-wise.
Don’t worry though, the Yankees just get Chris Archer tomorrow. They’ll try to salvage a game at Tropicana Field, with first pitch at 1:10pm.