The Yankees’ offense scored in just about every way besides a dropped third strike and a wild pitch with a runner on third, as they took the first of a two-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-4, extending their winning streak to three games.
This showdown had something for everybody on offense. Do you prefer small ball? The Yankees scored their first two runs thanks to the efforts of Greg Allen. First, he led off the bottom of the third with a single before scoring on an Estevan Florial groundout to first. Two innings later, he led off the fifth with a walk, stole second, advanced to third when Florial flew out to center field, and scored after old friend Didi Gregorius threw the ball into foul territory while trying to double him up on a Tyler Wade lineout.
Do you like home runs? Immediately after Allen scored, Brett Gardner sneaked a home run over the right-field wall.
That homer had an xBA of just .050 and was a home run in only one ballpark; fortunately for the Yankees, that happened to be the one they were playing in.
The next inning, Gary Sánchez drilled a no-doubter, sending a home run 436 feet into the hazy July night that was hit so hard (111.2 mph exit velocity) that another old friend — left fielder Andrew McCutchen — didn’t even bother to turn around to watch, let alone move to track the ball’s flight.
In the following inning, Giancarlo Stanton joined the fun, belting a 395-foot homer into the left field seats. At 104.5 mph off the bat, it was his second-hardest hit of the night, with a fifth-inning single up the middle (his first hit since July 11th) recorded at 115.1 mph.
The bottom of the eighth inning saw Florial join the club with his first Major League home run, a solo shot over the short porch in right. At 98.2 mph and traveling only 349 feet, it wouldn’t have been out everywhere — it had an xBA of just .430 — but it counts all the same for the longtime Yankees prospect.
Despite all this scoring, had the Yankees lost this game, the narrative would have been — as it often has been this season — that the offense squandered a lot of opportunities. The Yankees left runners on the corners with one away in the fourth, after Rougned Odor reached on a bunt single and Sánchez drilled a single to left field that probably would have been a double and scored Odor had it not been played perfectly by McCutchen, who spent 12 games as the Yankees’ left fielder late in the 2018 season.
Two innings later and with one out, third-string-catcher-turned-emergency-first-baseman Rob Brantly doubled down the first base line for his first hit in The Show since 2017. Allen and Florial proceeded to walk to load the bases, but in the most 2021 Yankees inning imaginable, Tyler Wade grounded into a 1-2-3 double-play to end the inning. The seventh, furthermore, saw Sánchez and Gleyber Torres stranded on second and third. Fortunately, six runs were enough.
Desperate for a solid outing after allowing more than a run per inning since June 13th, Germán put together a mostly-fine, albeit-brief performance, allowing two runs on three hits across four innings, striking out five but walking three. Although he largely suppressed the Phillies offense throughout the first three innings, he could not put together a clean frame, walking Jean Segura to open the game before retiring three in a row, allowing a leadoff home run in the second to Rhys Hoskins to give the Phillies an early 1-0 lead, and permitting a two-out single to Bryce Harper in the third.
The Phillies, however, would not stay down. After Hoskins opened the fourth with a walk, Gregorius lined out to right field and Brad Miller popped out to shortstop. On the verge of escaping yet another inning unscathed, Germán proceeded to balk Hoskins over to second. Old friend no. 3, Ronald Torreyes, then doubled over the head of Gardner, who had been playing shallow to keep Hoskins from scoring on a ground ball through the hole. Then, with two outs and a runner on second, a 2-1 lead, and a guy who entered the day with a 4.72 ERA on the mound, Travis Jankowski — who came into the game batting .375 in 60 plate appearances — proceeded to try to ... bunt. He failed twice before striking out, essentially surrendering his at-bat.
After a relatively uneventful fifth inning by Luis Cessa, the Phillies once again attempted to rally in the sixth. For the second time in three innings, Hoskins began the frame with a walk, although this time he was cut down on a fielder’s choice to second off the bat of Gregorius. Lucas Luetge then came in to face the lefty Miller, who flew out to right field, before proceeding to lose the strike zone and walk Torreyes — i.e., the guy who walks only 3.4 percent of the time, one of the lowest rates in the league! — to put runners on first and second and two out. Pinch-hitting for Jankowski, Luke Williams bailed Luetge out by striking out to end the threat.
With one out in the seventh, the Phillies put more traffic on the basepaths again, as J.T. Realmuto reached first on an infield single that probably should have been a throwing error on Torres. After Harper singled, Aaron Boone turned to Chad Green, who proceeded to walk McCutchen in a very non-competitive at-bat to load the bases with only one down. He then fell behind 2-0 to Hoskins before battling back to strike him — and then Gregorius — out to end the frame.
The eighth likewise got dicey for Zack Britton in just his seventh appearance of the season. The lefty surrendered three straight one-out hits, allowing one run. As had become the theme of the evening, however, he was able to wiggle out of the jam, this time by forcing Realmuto to ground into an inning-ending 1-4-3 double play.
In a move that made every Yankees fan nervous, Boone turned to Aroldis Chapman with a three-run lead in the ninth. He reinforced that nervousness by opening the inning with three straight balls to the leadoff batter, Harper, including one that sailed to the backstop; he battled back, however, and eventually got Harper to fan on a slider. McCutchen followed that up by drilling an 0-1 pitch into the left field seats, bringing the Phillies within two. Instead of wilting, which is what Chapman would have done in recent weeks, he turned the heat up to 102.7 to fan Hoskins on three pitches before shutting down Gregorius looking.
With Gio Urshela on the COVID IL and DJ LeMahieu scratched at first base due to a stomach virus, you would have been forgiven if you thought that the Yankees defense was going to be absolutely terrible defensively tonight. Despite that, Wade and Brantly did their best Urshela-to-LeMahieu impression to nab Realmuto in the fifth.
It almost makes you not miss the two of them. Almost.
Luis Cessa (3-1) gets the win, Aaron Nola (6-6) is tagged with the loss, and Aroldis Chapman (17th save of the year) secures his first save in exactly one month in his first opportunity since July 4th. With the victory, the Yankees improve to 49-44, and remain 7.5 games back in the division; they’ve now gone 8-3 in their last eleven games, and they have not lost a series since losing two of three to the Mets at the beginning of July.
This brief series concludes tomorrow night in what will probably be a battle of the bullpens. Asher Wojciechowski will be promoted from Triple-A Scranton to get the start for the Bombers (his first appearance of the season), while the Phillies will be going with a bullpen day. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET.