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Yankees bullpen melts down in spectacular fashion, drop series opener to Blue Jays 12-7

The Bullpen of Doom takes on a new meaning.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have reached the point where I just expect them to lose in a ridiculous fashion now. I bought into the bats breaking out, too. Silly me. The team once again turned a fun start of a game into a crushing loss, dropping the series opener against the Blue Jays by a score of 12-7.

The Cure for a Struggling Offense?

It turns out all the Yankees needed to snap their slump was to beat up on Hyun-Jin Ryu. I’m kidding, of course, but in the words of Ken Singleton, Ryu just seems to throw the Yankees’ speed.

The Yankees jumped on the southpaw in the first inning. It started when Luke Voit took Ryu deep to left field, on the first pitch he saw. It was an 89 mph fastball right in Voit’s wheelhouse. Aaron Hicks continued the damage in the next at-bat, hitting a solo shot of his own to left field. Two runs in a single inning felt like a miracle after the way the offense has slogged of late.

While the Blue Jays fought back to tie the game in the second, the Yankees wouldn’t let off Ryu. In the fourth inning, Miguel Andújar clubbed a hanging slider to dead center field. It was a no-doubter, traveling 422 feet. That homer, Andújar’s first of the year, put the Bombers back in the lead, 3-2.

Having grown bored of the long ball, the Yankees decided to string some hits together in the fifth inning to score off Ryu. DJ LeMahieu and Voit singled, bringing Clint Frazier to the plate with two outs. Frazier worked a solid at-bat, then doubled to left field, plating both runs. After getting owned by two rookie starters in Baltimore, it was nice to see the Yankees do damage off a name-brand like Ryu.

Montgomery Labors through Three

For a little while, it looked like Jordan Montgomery was doomed to repeat his clunker against Tampa Bay. He labored in the first inning, throwing 30 pitches in the frame. He allowed two doubles to Cavan Biggio and Rowdy Tellez, a run, and a walk to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. before recording his second out. A pair of fly outs finally got him off the mound.

The second inning proved just as much of a grind for the southpaw. Travis Shaw doubled off Montgomery to lead things off, then Raynel Espinal followed with a single to center field. Shaw broke for home, but Aaron Hicks airmailed the ball over Kyle Higashioka’s head, allowing Shaw to score on the E8.

Three consecutive grounders ended the threat, and while it’s not exactly accurate to say Montgomery settled down (he allowed three more baserunners), he didn’t let the game get away from him. That’s kind of impressive considering he had no feel for any of his offerings. He threw 84 pitches and got six swings-and-misses.

Montgomery struggled in particular with his four-seam fastball. He threw the pitch 35 times, and he located it well maybe nine times. The majority of them were left at the batter’s belt or at the batter’s head. It might be time for the Yankees to consider him as a two-seamer or cutter pitcher. It’s not like Montgomery has peak James Paxton velocity. That four-seam fastball isn’t fooling anyone.

All told, Montgomery allowed two runs on six hits over 3.1 innings. He walked two and struck out one. That brings his season line to a 5.72 ERA (4.67 FIP). Give up the four-seam fastball, please.

The Nightmare Sixth Inning

As I said in the PSA Slack during the sixth inning: “I see we have reached the ‘What improbable way will the Yankees lose this game?’ phase of the evening.”

It turns out the answer was a Stage IV Bullpen Meltdown.

It was so bad, that I think we need to break out the annotated box score.

  1. From the first better he faced, it was clear that Chad Green had no put-away pitch. He got ahead 0-2, then it turned into a ten-pitch at-bat. At one point, while 2-2 in the count, Green pumped out four consecutive fastballs. It looked like he had no plan, just keep going until something works. Matt Blake and Mike Harkey have to address this, and stat.
  2. This inning came off the wheels thanks to some bad luck. Tellez hit a groundball down the first base line, a short-hopper that Voit charged in on. Voit’s glove made contact with the ball, but he couldn’t snap it shut to secure the catch. Instead, he tapped back down the line. Just about any other time, Voit completes that play. Instead, a run scored.
  3. The rough inning continued for Voit the next batter. The box score says it’s a line drive to right field by Guerrero Jr., but it went under the diving attempt of Voit. It would have been a tougher out to complete, but maybe he could have prevented the run from scoring.
  4. Vladito’s first career stolen base!
  5. Adam Ottavino relieved Green, but he didn’t make for any improvement on the mound. He gave up four hits, two walks, and didn’t record a single out. When Joe Panik came on to pinch hit, it illustrated a glaring weakness in Ottavino’s game: he’s useless against left-handed batters. He has no pitch to get them out. The trademark slider goes right over the plate. So, he walks Panik on seven pitches.
  6. Yep. Ottavino got hung out to dry. He had no pitches working, so it was only a matter of time before someone teed off.
  7. It took at least 37 minutes between outs.

Leftovers

Brett Gardner had a rough night in left field. He took some circuitous routs, and he misread a play at the wall. Statcast has his defense down this season, especially jumps. Father Time remains undefeated. Clarke Schmidt got into the game in the eighth, and he looked much better than in his debut.

In conclusion:

J.A. Happ and Taijuan Walker meet for tomorrow nights game, with first pitch scheduled for 6:37 PM.

Box Score