This was one of the most impressive pitching performances I’ve seen in my 27 years as a Yankees fan (yes, I was born a fan, don’t question it). Corey Kluber’s no-hitter and Gerrit Cole’s complete-game masterpiece in Houston are the most recent list-toppers. However, given everything that Jameson Taillon has been through in his career, to carry a perfect game bid into the eighth inning on Lou Gehrig Day is right up there with the best of them. Thanks to a late rally capped off by a pinch-hit, two-out, two-strike, pinch-hit single from Anthony Rizzo that drove in two runs, Taillon’s masterpiece was preserved in a 2-1 victory.
While the Yankees were able to jump on Shohei Ohtani early and often in the first game, knocking the superstar from his outing in the fourth with three solo home runs, the same could not be said facing Reid Detmers. They squandered a pair of golden opportunities in the second and third, putting the first two runners on in each inning, only for the following hitters to flail at waste pitches and fail to cash in any runs.
Home-plate umpire Clint Vondrak (a call-up from the minors) did his part to help the sluggish Yankees at the dish, squeezing Detmers at the top of the zone all night long.
Although the Yankees failed to capitalize on the advantageous counts that these missed calls yielded, at the very least, it drove Detmers from the game with one out in the fifth. The rookie’s pitch count had already ballooned to 86, so Jimmy Herget came on in relief.
It was in that inning that it appeared the Yankees would finally break through, with Marwin Gonzalez leading off with a hustle double while Mike Trout dawdled throwing the ball back into the infield. Aaron Judge then followed with a one-out walk. However, neither Gleyber Torres nor Miguel Andújar were able to come through.
Games of this ilk tend to have one dazzling defensive play to preserve the bid and this one didn’t disappoint. With one out in the seventh, Ohtani scorched a grounder up the middle. However, Isiah Kiner-Falefa ranged over, gloved it, and made an accurate throw on the run to get one of the fastest baserunners in the league by half a step.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and unfortunately, that end came before the ninth inning had arrived. Leading off the top of the eighth, Jared Walsh smacked a sharp grounder to the left side that just bounced off the glove of a diving IKF, allowing Walsh to head to second and break up the perfect game and no-hit bid. The Angels would take the lead later that inning on a two-out Kurt Suzuki single, but that was all Taillon would surrender on his outing.
Watching the evolution of Jameson Taillon the pitcher since he joined the Yankees has been a really rewarding experience. Aided in particular by a cutter he added this season, Taillon in my mind really exemplifies the art of pitching, filling up the strike zone, throwing six different pitches located to all quadrants, and commanding the sinker and cutter to both sides of the plate. He may have lost the perfect game bid (the team’s deepest since Chien-Ming Wang in 2007), but he has nothing to hang his head about after this outing: eight innings with one run on two hits, no walks, and five strikeouts in 101 pitches.
The Yankees got their best scoring opportunity in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out off Oliver Ortega via an Andújar double and walks from IKF and Aaron Hicks. That brought Joey Gallo to the plate, and in typical Joey Gallo fashion, he struck out swinging on a full-count fastball in the zone. However, pinch-hitter Anthony Rizzo came to the rescue, lining a 1-2 Archie Bradley fastball up the middle for a two-run single to make sure Taillon’s Herculean effort wasn’t for naught.
Clay Holmes came in to close out the ninth, and though it was a little more nervy than we are used to — he loaded the bases with two outs by walking Ohtani and plunking Trout and Walsh — he ultimately got Luis Rengifo to ground out, tying down the win. Holmes has now thrown 25 consecutive scoreless innings.
Thus the Yankees sweep the doubleheader and the series, handing the Angels their eighth-straight loss. New York is now a season-best 21 games over .500 at 36-15. They welcome the Tigers to town tomorrow for a three-game set, with Gerrit Cole set to take on Elvin Rodríguez. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET so be sure to join us in the game thread.