You wanna know why I love hitting for power? When nothing else goes right, when Clint Frazier forgets how to run the bases and Tyler Wade continues to insist he can bunt, power keeps you in games and puts runs on the board. With home runs, the Yankees won a game they probably shouldn’t have, and topped the Orioles 5-4.
Really, this game came down to one at-bat, a pinch-hit appearance from Gio Urshela. Out of the starting lineup with a balky knee, Urshela was called upon to replace Tyler Wade, who was having just a dreadful game on both sides of the ball. Down by one in the seventh inning, Miguel Andújar notched his first hit of 2021, and Kyle Higashioka followed up with a walk. Urshela grabbed a bat, and fought hard through a nine-pitch battle, before depositing the last one he saw into the right field seats:
Aaron Judge also added his special brand of power earlier in the game. The de facto captain of the team hit two solo shots in his first two at-bats to give the Yankees the lead, twice, in a game that saw the rest of a patchwork lineup struggle to manage much of anything. Judge carried the freight for the first half of the game and was the only reason it was close enough for Urshela to do damage.
Corey Kluber’s breaking pitches were outstanding tonight — at least for the first few innings. He struck out five in the first four frames, and particularly tormented Pat Valaika with three curveballs:
Unfortunately, his command of the sinker was less stellar, and pairing that with bad defense in the fifth saw Kluber lose the lead. A bloop single was trapped by Judge in right field, and DJ Stewart hustled in to second base. The throw to the bag beat him, but Wade couldn’t catch the baseball and Stewart was safe. Kluber then started to leave just too many pitches over the middle of the plate, leading to a Pedro Severino RBI double and Valaika getting revenge on a cutter to drive in another.
Kluber left another sinker up to Trey Mancini who hit an RBI double of his own, but thankfully the last run of the inning was thrown out at the plate. Klubot recovered well and pitched a shutout sixth, allowing just a hit to my least favorite Oriole DJ Stewart, but when the offense is as weak as the Yankees’ right now, one bad inning on the mound can sting.
Fortunately, the Yankees’ stellar bullpen did their job in relief of Kluber. Chad Green, Wandy Peralta and Jonathan Loaisiga threw three effective innings, allowing just two baserunners, and locking down a game the club probably had no business winning. Aroldis Chapman has been used quite a bit lately, and with nine more games in a row before the Yankees’ next off day, getting everyone in the bullpen enough rest is critical. To win a one-run game without having to use a guy like Chapman is a really good way to spread the workload among everyone in the relief corps.
The Yankees can win their fifth straight series with a victory against these same Os tomorrow. It’s a night game at Camden, with first pitch coming at 7:05pm Eastern.