And that’s how you start a West Coast road trip. The Yankees’ bats collectively went “Hulk Smash” on Justus Sheffield and the Mariners, scored runs seemingly at will, and Jameson Taillon pitched a fantastic game, his longest outing as a Yankee.
The top of the first started the way that so many good Yankees games have since 2019, with DJ LeMahieu going the other way for a leadoff single — one that extended his current on-base streak to 22 games. Judge flew out to the deepest part of the park on a 3-1 pitch, but after Gary Sánchez juuuust missed obliterating a slider over the heart of the plate, Sheffield walked the Should-Be-All-Star catcher to put two on for Giancarlo Stanton.
Then, Big G did what Big G does — 115.8 mph off the bat and 434 feet later, the ball was mercifully allowed to rest. The score was 3-0, good guys.
Taillon took the hill in the bottom of the inning. The good featured soft contact in the form of humpback line drives in the infield. The bad included falling behind batters, throwing a lot of pitches, and failing to put hitters away. It looked a lot of red flags in the bottom of the first.
Spoiler alert: Those red flags meant naught. Taillon did what Yankee pitching has too often failed to accomplish — he put up a goose egg after the Bombers scored some runs, and let the bats get back to work on Sheffield.
And work on him they did. Miguel Andújar kept up the hard contact with a line drive, but Jake Fraley in center field made a great catch to rob him of a leadoff double. New acquisition Tim Locastro worked a full-count walk to turn the lineup over. After working the count to 3-1, LeMahieu ripped a single to left field. Two at-bats, two hits. That’ll do, Le Machine. That’ll do.
A clutch defensive play by Mariners second baseman Dylan Moore on a Judge grounder up the middle got the second out of the inning. Judge stole his first base of the season as payback for being robbed of a knock, though. Sheffield again walked Sánchez. Ball four, though, got away from Seattle backstop and former Yankees’ farmhand Luis Torrens. It was 4-0, Yankees, as Locastro easily scampered home from third base. The run-scoring wild pitch/passed ball smiled yet again on the good guys.
A front-foot hit by pitch to Stanton later, and the Yankees had the bases loaded — not a scenario that has often ended well for the Bombers in 2021. But on an 0-2 count, Luke Voit drove in two on a hanging slider after looking awful on the prior pitch. Facing a 6-0 deficit, Sheffield was done after 1.2 innings and 63 pitches.
Taillon continued to hold up his end of the bargain with two more strikeouts in an easy frame. Once again, the baton went to the bats. And the Yankees continued to put together quality plate appearances. Odor led off with a walk, and Miggy followed that with a single. Locastro then made the first out of the inning, though not without taking some Ruthian hacks that brought him to a knee.
Next up was LeMahieu, who clocked his third hits in three innings — a ribbie single to center to make it 7-0, Bombers. A missile off the bat of Judge into the left-center-field gap made the game 8-0 and finally rewarded him for hitting the ball hard every time tonight.
2⃣ more on the board in the 3rd. pic.twitter.com/1V4KaRSQar— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 7, 2021
In the bottom of the third, Taillon continued his yeoman’s work. For the third straight half-inning, he silenced the Mariners’ bats after his own guys put a crooked number up. If Yankees’ pitching wants to make shutdown innings a consistent “thing,” I am here for that.
Minor Milestone Watch ended in the fifth inning, as Locastro notched his first base knock as a Yankee. Judge then ripped his second base hit of the game, and Giancarlo walked. The bases were loaded again for Luke Voit.
An RBI infield single later, and the Yankees led 9-0 whilst Voit single-handedly tried to fix the Yankees’ abysmal 2021 numbers with the sacs drunk. Through four and a half innings, check out those Yankees exit velocities.
Taillon continued to mow down Mariners bats in the fourth; those red flags from the opening frame were a distant memory as he walked off the mound after recording his 12th out of the game. An inning later, he retired Seattle in order, and after the Yankees failed to score in the top of the sixth (slackers), he came back out for the sixth with a very manageable pitch count. The Mariners managed to put a couple of runners on against him, and a bloop into no-man’s land in left-center that Andújar couldn’t corral finally scored a run. Taillon recovered, though, and escaped the inning without further damage.
After the heart of the order went down quietly in the top half of the seventh, Aaron Boone sent Taillon back out for the bottom of the inning. With the Yankees bullpen a bit short-handed and Taillon dealing, it was the right decision by a beleaguered Yankees skipper whose questionable decisions have at times infuriated the fanbase.
Taillon rewarded Boone’s faith, as he notched his ninth whiff of the night when he jelly-legged Luis Torrens on a 79-mph curveball and induced a foul out for the second out of the inning. On his final pitch, Taillon induced a grounder that featured yet another web gem from Gio Urshela:
The final line for Taillon: seven innings, four hits, one run, one walk, and nine strikeouts on 101 pitches, his longest outing since September 18, 2018. Two of his last three starts have been outstanding. Perhaps a corner has been turned.
A no-doubt three-run dinger off the bat of Rougned Odor in the eighth gave the Yankees a 12-1 cushion as the night approached its end. That marked the most runs the team has scored in a game all year long. #TooManyThreeRunDingers. I love it. And with Urshela’s hit, all nine Yankee starters reached base at least once.
Wandy Peralta came in and pitched an uneventful eighth inning for the Yankees, and Voit continued his huge night with his fifth base hit in the ninth inning. It was the big guy’s first career five-hit game. The big news late in this contest, though, was Aroldis Chapman coming in to pitch the ninth inning after repeated game-destroying implosions in recent appearances.
Chapman’s velocity was noticeably down tonight, fluctuating between 94 and 99 mph with the heater. After surrendering a leadoff single, the lefty notched a strikeout before walking Torrens. A second strikeout followed, as did a second walk to load the bases with two outs. Finally, Chapman finished it with a 98-mph fastball upstairs. It was a scoreless inning, but by no means is the closer “fixed,” though.
The Yankees needed this game. Taillon looked superb, and the bats were bopping — a great way to start the road trip. Here’s hoping they can keep the momentum tomorrow night in game two of this visit to the Pacific Northwest. Domingo Germán will face the Mariners’ lone All-Star, Yusei Kikuchi, in another late matchup beginning at 10:10pm ET.