Coming off two straight double-digit run performances, the Yankees rolled into Sunday night looking to continue the offensive fireworks. And while the bats did not quite live up to the promise of the previous two games, they did enough to secure the victory in a pretty humdrum affair.
The home team got the scoring started early as Gio Urshela laced a one-out single to left. Mike Tauchman followed that up with a jam-shot single that he muscled to center field, putting runners on first and second. After Gleyber Torres struck out, Mike Ford fought off a 1-1 fastball in on his hands for a bloop single to center, plating Urshela for the first run of the game.
Brett Gardner walked to lead off the following inning, and scored on one of the stranger plays you will see. Aaron Hicks pulled a grounder down the right field line that looked destined for Michael Chavis’ glove. However, the ball took a huge bounce off the bag and over the leap of the Boston first baseman, plating Gardner on the most unorthodox of doubles. The hit had an .050 expected batting average according to Statcast, which goes to show that sometimes you just need a little luck.
The big blow came in the bottom of the third. Mike Tauchman led off with a sharp single to left. However, he tried to stretch it to a double and was thrown out at second on his second overly-aggressive baserunning mishap of the season, albeit on a heck of a throw by Alex Verdugo. Gleyber Torres picked up his teammate with an infield single on a nubber to the left side. Mike Ford completed the job when he clobbered a high 2-0 sinker into the right field bleachers for a two-run bomb. The ball leapt off his bat at 102.9 mph and was projected to travel 421 feet.
This would be the end of the scoring for the Yankees, although they had some chances later in the game to widen the lead. Yankees fans’ eyes must have lit up when Ryan Weber replaced Chris Mazza on the mound, as Weber gave up three runs in 3.1 innings against the Yankees on July 31st. However, Weber managed to toss three scoreless innings in his bid to reclaim a spot in the Boston starting rotation.
The biggest story of the night was the appearance of Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, during the second inning of the broadcast. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, and Mr. Kendrick was gracious enough to give us a glimpse into their rich history. He recalled the experience of giving Hank Aaron a tour of the Museum. He recounted his conversations with Buck O’Neil, the first African-American coach in MLB and a major force in establishing the Museum, and how Mr. O’Neil maintained that Josh Gibson was a better baseball player than Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
Most importantly, Mr. Kendrick stressed the importance of commemorating the 100th anniversary and noted the pertinence of such discussions given the nation’s current circumstances. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a pilgrimage that every baseball fan should make. Understanding the societal mechanisms that forced The Leagues’ existence can help us better grasp the same forces still acting to this very day. As my fellow writer Joshua Diemert put it best:
Segregating baseball is an act of white supremacy and violence. Making the Negro Leagues out to be this scrappy underdog story ignores the conscious, racist decisions made by white people to exclude black players. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about denying the premise – this is a good example of that. The Negro Leagues never should have been a “successful and prosperous black owned business”, because Charleston and Gibson and Robinson and Paige and all the rest should have been on the Yankees’ roster, or the Athletics, or the Pirates, etc etc. They should never have been excluded in the first place
The runner-up for storyline of the night is that J.A. Happ actually looked... decent. He was able to induce weak contact, generating the majority of his outs via groundball or popup. He had good life on the four-seamer and was successful in locating it above the zone, as opposed to at the top of the zone. His final line for the night: 5.2 innings pitched, three hits, two walks, three strikeouts, and one earned run on a Kevin Pillar solo shot in the third.
The Yankees look to sweep the series tomorrow night. Jordan Montgomery is scheduled to start for the Yankees while Martin Perez is the likely starter for the visitors. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM and will be broadcast on the YES Network.