What a disappointing end to the weekend. The Yankees never looked engaged with this contest, and their play reflected it. Sloppy infield defense, nonexistent offense, and another Chad Green meltdown doomed the Yankees to their second straight loss as they have to settle for a series split with their closest chaser in the AL Wild Card race.
The Yankees offense got off to a promising though ultimately misleading start, with DJ LeMahieu leading off with a four-pitch walk and Giancarlo Stanton following with a 115.9 mph single. However, the first-inning surge staled with an Aaron Judge flyout and Joey Gallo double play. With that GIDP, Gallo increased his career double play total by 22 percent over a three-AB stretch. Fun!
Jordan Montgomery looked sharp out of the gate, working a 1-2-3 first inning on only five pitches. The second frame required 16 pitches, but it was nice to see the wipeout stuff emerge as he collected his first two strikeouts of the night.
Through the sixth inning, the offense was starting to eerily look like the impotent version from the first half. They got a runner on in every frame, but stranded them in each instance. And that unfocused play bled over onto the defensive side of the ball.
Montgomery put runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the fourth, both on singles. He appeared to have induced a routine groundball double play, but the normally sure-handed Gio Urshela bobbled the ball to load the bases. The very next batter grounded into another seemingly tailor-made double play, but Tyler Wade lackadaisically underhanded the ball to LeMahieu at second, allowing Mark Canha to beat out his throw at first. So, an inning that should have finished scoreless instead extended nine more pitches, with the A’s taking a 1-0 lead.
His night was over after six stellar innings. He gave up just the one unearned run on six hits, and although he collected only three strikeouts, he didn’t issue any free passes and induced a ton of groundballs and soft contact. Unfortunately, we have to file this away as yet another of his starts spoiled by an absent offense. He was in real danger of receiving zero runs of support for the fourth time in his last eight starts but for the events of the following inning.
The Yankees finally broke through in the seventh, though in the unlikeliest of fashions. Gary Sánchez drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After two quick strikeouts, Jake Diekman appeared to have induced an inning ending foul popout from Anthony Rizzo pinch-hitting for Tyler Wade. However, Yan Gomes dropped the sure out, and a few pitches later, Rizzo punched a hard grounder to the left that went right through all-world third baseman Matt Chapman’s legs. Sánchez scored to tie this bizarro game at 1-1.
The deadlock would not last long, as Chad Green had another of his now-patented meltdowns in the eighth. He gave up a two-out, line drive double to Mark Canha just over Gallo’s outstretched glove in left. That brought pinch-hitter Tony Kemp to the plate, and he promptly deposited the first pitch he saw into the first row in right for what would be the game-winning two-run homer. Kemp has inexplicably become the latest random Yankee killer, hitting six for his last eight as well as three of his five home runs on the season coming against New York.
The Yankees couldn’t muster a response in the ninth, and dropped this one in rather pathetic fashion. It’s incredibly concerning to see the offensive malaise rampant in the first half begin to creep back into the team. The offense looked like a unit reborn during the 13-game winning streak, but these two losses in a row are a reminder that versions at the extremes of the offensive spectrum can show up on any given night.
Their lead in the AL Wild Card race shrinks to 1.5 over the A’s. More worryingly, the Yankees only gained a half-game on the Rays over their last 15 games. Let’s hope they can bounce back tomorrow night against the Angels. First pitch is scheduled for 9:38 pm ET, with Corey Kluber set to make his return from the Injured List.