Five in a row! On a foggy night in the Bronx, Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin continued their unbelievable starts to 2018, as they each clubbed a home run to pace the Yankees to a 7-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Didi’s night began early, as he was part of three straight singles in the Yankees’ half of the first. His hit drove in Brett Gardner for his league-leading 28th RBI. Two innings later, he slammed a pitch into the right field seats for his fourth home run in as many games, adding to that MLB lead in RBI. Sir Didi is on a whole other level right now.
At the time, Didi’s dong knotted the game at two — more on that later — and was quickly followed by a Giancarlo Stanton single and Gary Sanchez walk. Then glass shattered and up stepped a force of nature, our own Austin 3:16:
The home run gave the Yankees a lead they wouldn’t give up and padded the team’s impressive lead in the league-wide home run race. Seattle’s single-season record looks more and more breakable every day.
Meanwhile, Gleyber Torres had the best game of his very young career, going 2-4 with a double and two runs scored. The first in particular was terrific, as he smacked a double and two batters later scored on Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly. The ball was hit to very shallow right field, and I was surprised to see Torres even tagging up. The gutsy decision paid off, though, as the youngster scored to give New York some insurance.
Sonny Gray…I don’t know. Part of me wants to say he pitched fine. He gave up a home run in the first inning to put the Yankees down early, but it WAS against Miguel Sano, who’s going to hit a lot of home runs in 2018. In a lot of ways, being beaten by the other team’s best player doesn’t worry me.
The other part of me, though, sees the five walks, 104 pitches and just general overwork that Gray went through tonight. It felt like every single at-bat was harder than it needed to be. Every two strike count led to a 55’ curveball a hitter laid off of, and Gray never looked “easy”. You can tell, often, when a starter is rolling, because it looks like he’s not working at all. With Gray tonight, it was a struggle every pitch.
He gave up six hits, which can always be a tricky way to evaluate pitching. Hits are heavily influenced by luck, a ball just out of the reach of an infielder, for example. Gray had his share of those, but it’s yet another start where he walked more batters than he had innings pitched and that just won’t cut it. At the least, we know the “personal catcher” angle doesn’t really hold any water, not that I felt it ever did.
Chad Green, Chasen Shreve, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman worked in relief, with 4.1 innings of one-run ball. The relievers struck out five against just one walk, showing that the bullpen, like the offense, is really rounding into form.
So, mission accomplished. The Yankees took three out of four in this series already, which is exactly what you want in a series like this. Sweeping the whole thing would be gravy, and the Yankees will try to do just that tomorrow. It’ll be an afternoon game, so our game thread will be up in time for the 1:05pm start. Jordan Montgomery will get the ball for New York.