Another day, another incredibly frustrating loss by the Yankees. There have been far too many of these lately. An early duel between Bryan Mitchell and Adalberto Mejia quickly turned into a decisive bullpen showdown. The Twins, however, came out on top, as the Yankees dropped the series opener by a score of 4 - 2.
The Twins struck first in the second inning. Following a one-out walk to Kennys Vargas, Mitchell gave up a RBI double to Eddie Rosario. Mitchell tried to fool Rosario with a pair of breaking balls down and in, but on the second attempt he lifted the pitch into center field. The speedy Vargas scored from first base, partly because he has wheels, but also because Jacoby Ellsbury just cannot throw. Mitchell prevented further damage, but the Twins had themselves a 1 - 0 lead.
The bottom of the third inning didn’t go well for Mitchell either. After allowing a pair of singles and issuing a walk, he found himself in a bases loaded, no outs situation. That brought the ever dangerous Miguel Sano to the plate, who lined a flyball out to right field. Brian Dozier broke for home from third base, but Aaron Judge had other plans. The Yankees right-fielder cut Dozier down at home to complete the epic double play.
Unfortunately the excitement was short lived. Just as Mitchell appeared to wiggle out of trouble, Max Kepler hit a routine groundball to second base. Starlin Castro flipped to Mitchell, who was covering first, but he dropped the ball. That allowed a run to score, extending the Twins’ lead to two. There are plenty of jokes to be made considering Mitchell spent an inning at first base earlier this season, but missing that play is awful. He could have escaped the inning. Instead, his error cost the team a run.
For his part, Mitchell settled down over the next two innings. He kept the game close, which is exactly what he needed to do. All told, he allowed two runs (one earned) over five innings of work. He also recorded a pair of strikeouts and walks. For a spot start, this was fine. That said, Mitchell’s command was shaky and he looked eminently hittable. Would I trust him with another start? Probably not.
Left-handed reliever Caleb Smith made his major league debut in the bottom sixth. He tossed two perfect innings, picking up his first career strikeout in the process. Smith looked quite good at first. The wheels came off in the eighth, however. The southpaw got into trouble, putting two runners on with just one out. He then allowed a pair of RBI singles to Eduardo Escobar and Rosario. That made it 4 - 2, Twins -- a lead that would prove insurmountable.
It’s tough to blame the pitching when the offense looked, at best, inconsistent. For example, Mejia kept the Yankees off balance until the fifth inning. A pair of two-out doubles off the bats of Garrett Cooper and Austin Romine put the Yankees on the board. Ellsbury flirted with an extra-base hit of his own, but Kepler ran the ball down at the warning track. Not a bad effort by the lesser-Bombers trying to claw their way back into the game.
The Yankees were able to drive Mejia from the game with one out in the sixth. Clint Frazier was on third base, 90 feet away from tying the game, but the middle of the order couldn’t drive him home. Matt Holliday hit a groundout to short, freezing Frazier at third. Starlin Castro then struck out to end the inning.
With the offense throwing away opportunities left and right, Cooper decided enough was enough. His one-out double in the seventh inning off Tyler Duffey scored Chase Headley and tied the game. That was Cooper’s third hit of the evening and his first career RBI. Reports of Cooper’s demise were greatly exaggerated. It felt like the Yankees were going to get right back in it.
Unfortunately, the Bombers became incredibly frustrating in the eighth. A double by Frazier and an intentional walk to Judge appeared to set the Yankees up for another big inning. Holliday, however, banged into a double play, eliminating the margin for error. That brought Didi Gregorius to the plate, who immediately went to lay down a two-out bunt. It was a poor one at that, and Gregorius was thrown out to end the inning. That was baffling and infuriating all at once.
The Yankees weren’t able to mount a comeback against Twins closer Brandon Kintzler, either. He retired the side in order, just as a torrential downpour began. It was poetic in a way. This was a frustrating loss, and the weather agreed.
Tomorrow night’s game features the pitching matchup of the season. it will be Luis Cessa against Bartolo Colon! First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 PM. Maybe the Yankees will have some luck against an old friend.