Well that game was something, wasn’t it? The Yankees barely avoided the sweep today in Cleveland. The Bombers got out to an early lead and protected it for most of the game. Things got tight in the last half of the game, but the Yankees persevered and held it together to get the win. For the second straight series, the Yankees faced a sweep and once again, they avoided it.
The game started very much in favor of the Yankees. They got their offense going in a big way during the second inning. After two quick outs to begin the inning, Clint Frazier singled and Brett Gardner plated the first two runs of the day with a homer to right field, breaking his 0-for-22 skid.
Following the homer, Gio Urshela and Cameron Maybin both reached base and set the table for a one-run single from DJ LeMahieu. An Aaron Hicks walk in the following at-bat loaded the bases for Louis Linwood Voit III, and on the first pitch, he doubled to right field, scoring two more runs and knocking Shane Bieber out of the game.
Following Bieber, Cleveland ran out a parade of former-Yankee relievers: AJ Cole, Nick Goody, Tyler Clippard, and later in the game, Tyler Olson. Unfortunately, those three looked better today than Yankees fans are used to seeing, and they, and the other Cleveland relievers, held the New York’s offense in place for most of the day.
The Yankees’ pitchers kept Cleveland off the board for most of the game too. Chad Green served as the opener today and turned in a pretty solid performance. He needed just seven pitches to make it through a 1-2-3 top of the first. Green’s second inning wasn’t quite as clean, as he needed 28 pitches to get three outs. Overall, he kept runs off the board, struck out three, and had seven swinging strikes on 35 pitches -- a solid outing from the opener.
Nestor Cortes Jr. served as the long man today, and he was perfect. In three innings of work, he struck out two, and he generated a lot of weak contact. Cortes was changing arm angles and using different leg kicks to keep hitters off balance and it worked. Here’s a look:
Nester dropping down and slinging it to change his arm angle pic.twitter.com/cYA4pyobOe— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) June 9, 2019
Things started to get interesting in the sixth. Tommy Kahnle came in, and on the first pitch of the inning, Leonys Martin took him deep. Unfortunately, things didn’t get better from there. Oscar Mercado and Carlos Santana both singled, which set the table for a Mike Freeman three-run shot that just skipped over the big wall in left field.
The four-run outing was certainly a bad look and frustrating to watch, but it’s also not at all representative of the year Kahnle has had to this point. I’m certainly not worried about him. Here’s why:
Tommy Kahnle just gave up as many ER in the span of 5 batters (4) as he did in 28 games (24.1 IP) this year before today— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) June 9, 2019
Guys have bad days sometimes. It’s never fun to watch, but it does happen. Speaking of which, Adam Ottavino had a day I’m sure he’d like to forget too. He surrendered a 434-foot homer to Jake Bauers on a 3-0 count that tied the game in the seventh inning.
Neither Kahnle nor Ottavino had thrown since Wednesday, so maybe there was some rust involved. I’m not entirely sure, but I do know Luis Cessa, David Hale, Jonathan Holder, and Chad Green all threw considerably more this week than Kahnle or Ottavino. That seems more of an issue than what we saw in the sixth and seventh innings today.
Zack Britton ended the Yankees’ pitching woes in the eighth, keeping the tie game intact. The tie didn’t hold for long in the top of the ninth. With one out, Voit ripped a single down the third base line. Voit moved up to third base on Gary Sanchez’s double to left field. An intentional walk of Gleyber Torres loaded the bases for Clint Frazier. On a 3-2 count, Frazier hit a sacrifice fly to center field, giving the Yankees a 6-5 lead and setting up an Aroldis Chapman bottom of the ninth.
The save situation, however, quickly evaporated. Jose Ramirez singled to start the inning, and an errant pickoff throw allowed him to move into scoring position. After a Roberto Perez walk, Chapman converted the next two hitters into outs, bringing Francisco Lindor to the plate. Chapman got what he wanted, a Lindor grounder to shortstop, but defensive substitution Didi Gregorius booted the grounder and Ramirez came around to score, tying the game.
In the top of the tenth, the Yankees once again broke the tie. Cameron Maybin knocked a double off the center field wall and Aaron Hicks brought him around to score, giving the Yankees another one-run lead.
Stephen Tarpley came out to close the game in the bottom of the tenth, and he turned in a fantastic outing after being called up earlier today. Tarpley, the owner of a 1.69 ERA in Triple-A, has been lights out for Scranton, and he brought that same energy today. He struck out the side in order and earned his first career save in doing so.
Just your classic, four-hour game this Sunday. The Yankees’ offense came up big when they needed to, and there were a handful of solid pitching performances to go along with the not-so-great ones. The Yankees are headed home to face the Mets for a two-game series starting tomorrow evening.