May has been a pretty incredible month for the Yankees. Going into tonight’s game, they are 19-7. They’ve won every series they’ve played, save for the one against the Diamondbacks which ended on the first of the month. After finishing April down 2.5 games, they could go into June ahead in the AL East.
This is not, however, about the good that happened in May. Outside of injuries, there wasn’t much bad, but this isn’t about that either. This about about the weird stuff that happened in the past month.
Felix Hernandez isn’t exactly close to prime King Felix any more. He hasn’t been an above average pitcher since 2016, and hasn’t put up a vintage Felix season since 2014, maybe 2015.
That said, imagine if someone had told you in 2015 that Luke Voit, Brett Gardner, and Thairo Estrada were going to tag him for home runs in the space of seven batters. Between all that, Mike Tauchman hit a ground-rule double of Felix. I would think 2015 you would have only heard of one, maybe two, of the Yankees listed in this paragraph.
Before this game, Gio Urshela was already becoming a well-regarded Yankee. This is the day when things truly kicked off, though.
With one out and one on in the ninth, the Yankees were down 4-2. Former Yankee Anthony Swarzak was on the mound when Urshela came to the plate. An unkind person might say the Yankees’ version of Swarzak had returned, but we’ll be nicer. Urshela played the hero, hitting a two-run home run to tie the game.
No one would have expected Urshela to be a key player on the 2019 Yankees before the season. Not only has he become one, but this won’t be the only time a big hit from him appears on this list.
Through the first four innings, the Yankees had just one hit and struck out 10 times against reigning AL Cy Young Blake Snell. Two innings later, Tauchman, of all people, broke through with an RBI double and Snell was gone the following inning. It was a crazy turn of events, but not why this game is here.
Shortly after the eighth inning ended, the power went out at Tropicana Field. A 43-minute delay followed while power was restored, but fans tried to help out and game the game going before that.
Bruce Springsteen concert or baseball game?— Cut4 (@Cut4) May 12, 2019
The lights went out at the Trop so the fans tried to help out.
Once the lights came back, the Yankees tried to keep them from going back out by bringing their own power source. Estrada led off the inning with a home run, as the Yankees scored four runs in the inning. They survived the rare dome delay and beat the Rays 7-1.
May 14th-15th, May 20th-23rd
AKA Gleyber against the Orioles
The Yankees played the Orioles six times in May. In five out of the six games he tarted, Gleyber Torres hit .400/.455/1.450 with seven home runs and 10 RBI. Then in the one he didn’t, he scored the go-ahead run after being sent up as a pinch hitter. He is quite good against Baltimore.
To expand on one of those games, let’s go though May 20th. This is the rally after trailing 6-1 game. Looking through the box score, I was surprised to see that the Orioles were only dinged with one error, because it felt like they made about six. The dropped foul popup against Voit. which would have been the third out of the inning, was not one. That directly allowed Sanchez to hit the go-ahead home run in the following at-bat. The Yankees were credited with two errors on the day. Not a shining day for using fielding percentage as a legitimate tool.
A little less than a week after the Tropicana Field delay, a more conventional one happened against the Rays in the Bronx. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth, the rain became too much, and the game went into a delay. After 35 minutes, the game resumed, but the real action happened a little while after that.
Voit led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run, getting the Yankees with one run. A couple batters later, the tying run scored on a wild pitch, setting the scene for Urshela. For the second time in matter of weeks, the guy who started the year as Triple-A infield depth came up with the game’s biggest hit. Urshela singled, plating the game-winning run.
This was the one-year anniversary of the first time the Rays used an opener, and the Yankees gave Tampa Bay a taste of their own medicine...sort of.
Chad Green was used as an opener, but he struggled. Luckily, the Yankees’ offense did not. They turned the game around with a seven-run sixth inning, which actually only included four hits. Two runs were walked homed, and four other batters walked in the inning. Two of the Yankees’ outs were made on a bunt pop fly and a runner attempting to advance a base. Everyone in the lineup batted at least once, and eight of them reached base safely at one point.
It didn’t end up mattering, but here are the plays that combined to allow the Royals to score in the ninth inning, cutting the lead to one. An E1 on a failed pick off throw, and that runner tagging up and scoring on a foul-out pop fly. It was another game that allows you to side eye fielding percentage, as that error was the only one the Yankees were given, despite it not being a clean game.
This looked like it would be another magical comeback, as the Yankees rallied from three down in the ninth to comeback and tie the game. Instead, Jonathan Holder walked Billy Hamilton and his career .299 on base percentage. Strangely, that didn’t work out.
In the seventh inning, the Yankees faced four different pitchers. You might see that and think, “Oh did they put up some crazy 10 run inning?” No, they did score a couple of runs, but faced more pitchers that they did record hits in the seventh.
LUKE VOIT TRIPLE
There are other things I may have missed, so feel free to add your favorites!