I will get to the recap in a moment, but I hope you’ll all indulge me for a moment. ESPN has made creative decisions that reflect the fact they don’t care too much about the quality of their baseball coverage. Alex Rodriguez was an embarrassment to the coverage of the game tonight, and MLB should feel bad that the primetime cable broadcast of their week was called the way it was. Any further commentary on it isn’t worth how truly awful he was today, and I’m not going to waste my time on it.
On to the recap of this maddening evening ...
Alex Verdugo took Domingo Germán deep on the fifth pitch of the game, a foreboding moment for a team playing without much momentum lately. A second, almost nonsensical home run, a terrible error, a pair of awful calls by a home-plate umpire ... all told, the Yankees lost a terrible 6-5 game in extra innings, being swept at home by the Red Sox. They have won precisely three games since May 23rd.
After DJ LeMahieu struck out to record the first out of the bottom of the first, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Gio Urshela notched a single each to load the bases as the Yankees tried to answer back. I thought it might be worth sending Judge home on Urshela’s single, but thankfully, Gary Sánchez made that a moot argument:
The Yankees added a run a couple innings later, actually building on a lead when Judge delivered a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded. Would we all have preferred a double instead of a ground ball up the middle? Yes. Was I still happy that the Yankees were tacking on? Also yes; love is complicated.
For Germán, after that home run to Verdugo, he just locked the Red Sox down the rest of the night. I thought what was particularly striking tonight was his use of the four-seam fastball — he’s usually a curve/sinker type, and his four-seamer often gets hit hard. Germán’s location was much stronger tonight, and much more deceptive:
Two mistake four-seams over the heart of the plate, but otherwise, the location is on point. Look specifically above the zone, where Germán was able to generate swings and misses above the letters, a crucial element to striking hitters out in baseball today. He induced whiffs on 38 percent of his four-seamers overall, well above his season average. Whether this was game-planned or just a pitch he had a “feel” for as the game went on, it certainly worked.
Lucas Luetge gave up a home run to Marwin Gonzalez that had an xBA of .079, to continue expressing how dumb this game is. An inning later, an absolutely terrible error — somehow scored a double — on LeMahieu put a runner on second. A pop fly that DJ went back for, while Clint Frazier was coming in on, somehow fell between them. I didn’t hear a call from anyone, and while I’d tend to say it was Frazier’s ball, it looked like he was pulling off in deference to, let’s face it, a much more experienced and decorated fielder. Either way, that run came in a couple batters later on a Xander Bogaerts sacrifice fly, making the score 4-3.
With the Yankees down to their last gasp, Judge walked against Red Sox closer Matt Barnes with one out in the ninth. Then, Torres managed to keep the game alive a little while longer with an RBI double:
Gleyber Torres RBI doubles to left to tie the game at 4-4 in the 9th! pic.twitter.com/AxX0duclp6— YES Network (@YESNetwork) June 7, 2021
With a chance to win the game, Rougned Odor was called to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth. These are the moments MLB dreams of, from a business standpoint. The two most famous franchises in baseball, bottom of the ninth, loud stadium, and the game on the line.
Instead of Odor and closer Matt Barnes dictating how this game would end, umpire Gabe Morales inserted himself into the story of the game, with this truly, truly horrific strike three call:
Someone tell me how tradition and human error and sanctity of the game is worth more than getting this call right? pic.twitter.com/rfjFa1Ky7W— Pinstripe Alley (@pinstripealley) June 7, 2021
It certainly feels like umpiring has been worse this season than for the twenty-odd years I’ve been watching the game, and certainly for the ten-odd years we’ve had reliable pitch tracking data. Instead of MLB enjoying as high-profile, tense and entertaining moment as possible in its primetime game, we got an umpire making a perhaps-career-defining mistake, one which will result in no obvious punishment, accountability, or correction.
Morales wasn’t done there. In extra innings, after blowing that call, he sent Bobby Dalbec to first on a fastball that caught the bottom of the zone:
Luis Cessa actually got to two outs without allowing a run, but then Bogaerts drove in his second and third runs of the game with a single to left-center field. The Yankees did manage a run of their own in the bottom half when Tyler Wade singled home Odor, but a weak ground ball to second off DJ’s bat ended the game. The leadoff man ended his miserable day at 0-for-5.
The Yankees were swept and mostly played terrible. The ESPN broadcast was terrible. Umpiring was terrible. We will all have a full day to stew on the terribleness of baseball and its externalities, because the Yankees don’t play until Tuesday. They’re off tomorrow and will head to Minnesota to begin a three-game set.