I want to apologize in advance to everyone who had to sit through that nightmare. This was the kind of contest that, had it been my first ever exposure to the sport, probably would have caused me never turn on another baseball game. A game that should have been an intense affair due to the postseason implications was instead a sad mix of foul balls, soft contact, and non-competitive pitches.
Not much happened, so there’s really not that much to recap. The Yankees threatened from jump street, loading the bases on three consecutive walks by Taijuan Walker to Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, and Gleyber Torres. Mike Tauchman failed to capitalize however, lifting a lazy fly ball to left to leave the bases juiced.
The Blue Jays struck first in the bottom of the second on a Jonathan Davis two-run home run. After Joe Panik got on with a two-out single up the middle, Davis launched a 2-2 four-seamer right down broadway 411 feet over the left-center wall. It was Davis’ first at-bat of the season which, in addition to his lifetime 43 OPS+ and 44 wRC+, adds insult to injury. The two-run shot would be all the Blue Jays could manage in the game, yet was still enough to prove decisive.
The only other time the Yankees truly threatened was in the fifth against reliever Shun Yamaguchi. Luke Voit, Hicks, and Frazier all led off with walks to load the bases with nobody out. Gleyber Torres popped out to right before Mike Tauchman opened the Yankees’ account with a sacrifice fly down the left field line. That lone run was all the Yankees could muster, as the bats offered little resistance for the rest of the game.
As for the other talking points of the game, what made the offensive impotence particularly frustrating was that neither Walker nor Yamaguchi could find the strike zone. The Yankees batters did both pitcher many favors by repeatedly expanding the zone and gifting strikes. I guess that’s why they call it effectively wild.
Speaking of Walker, while certainly not stellar, he was still effective enough to put the Blue Jays in a great position to win. He missed the zone more than he found it in his four innings of work, yet did not allow a single run. His performance today just adds fuel to the debate over whether the Yankees should have pursued this guy in earnest. Right now, he’d immediately slot in as the number-three starter, and all for a PTBNL.
This brings me to the two Yankees who did show up to play today. The first is J.A. Happ, who, aside from homer to Davis, once again pitched admirably. Two runs in 6.1 innings is nothing to sneeze at. He gave the Yankees valuable length at a crucial time, throwing a season-high 113 pitches. He clearly had a defined gameplan on the mound, as his pitch mix diverged greatly from his season trends.
He leaned much more heavily on the two-seamer, and to great effect. He also largely ditched the changeup, and with good reason. Out of all the pitches he throws at least 10% of the time, batters have done the most damage on the change. The result of these tweaks was ten strikeouts, including striking out the side in the fifth and sixth. However, no amount of brilliance on the mound can overcome offensive ineptitude.
Also deserving of praise is Miguel Andújar, who continues to be the Yankees’ hottest hitter of late. Andújar got the team’s first hit of the day with a one out double in the left-center field gap in the second. He added his second hit in fourth with a line drive single to the opposite field.
It’s really nice to see Miggy start to hit his stride. Watching him at the plate was a highlight of the 2018 campaign. He was an extra-base hit machine, hitting to all fields. The antithesis to the three true outcomes, Andújar brought variety to an at-times-monotonous game.
Finally, this game saw the Yankees reacquainted with home plate umpire Brennan Miller - he of the savages in the box incident - and to be fair he called a very good game. Perhaps with last year’s game in mind, Miller maintained very consistent and accurate strike zone, if YES’s K-zone box can be trusted.
The Yankees will hope to avert complete embarrassment as they try to avoid the sweep tomorrow evening. First pitch is scheduled for 6:37 PM ET as Deivi García will be handed his third start of the year.