It was getaway day in every sense in Cleveland today. With the Yankees and Guardians playing a Sunday matinee ahead of road trips for both clubs, the teams appeared to agree to run out their B-lineups and play a quick one before catching their respective flights. The result was a sleepy pitchers’ duel, one that left the Yankees with a 2-0 loss.
Given the state of the lineups, things went about as one would expect in the early going. The Yankees had little success in their initial looks against starter Triston McKenzie, with the string-bean righty pounding the zone with his high-spin four-seamer and keeping the Bombers off-balance with a few well-placed curveballs. The only great swing the Yankees managed during their first time through came on a long fly ball from Anthony Rizzo, which was corralled in front of the wall by Myles Straw.
Jordan Montgomery, meanwhile, breezed through the first two frames before running into the game’s first jam in the third. Two walks and a throwing error by Isiah Kiner-Falefa loaded the bases with two down, but Montgomery buckled Gabriel Arias’ knees to end the threat.
The tenor shifted just a little as the starters worked through the order a second time. The Yankees managed their first hit and put two on against McKenzie in the fourth, but a pair of grounders from Gleyber Torres and Jose Trevino stranded the runners. In the bottom of the inning, Franmil Reyes opened the scoring, taking a Montgomery curve that got too much of the plate out to left:
The Guardians threatened Montgomery once more in the fifth, forcing the lefty to work and driving up his pitch count. Montgomery ultimately stranded two runners, recording all three outs via strikeout, but had to exit after five after having thrown 94 pitches. He was pretty sharp on the whole, generating 15 swings and misses and eight strikeouts, though the undermanned Cleveland lineup fought gamely enough to keep Montgomery’s outing on the shorter side.
As solid as Montgomery was, McKenzie more than matched him, ultimately retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced en route to seven shutout innings. The Yankees finally did start to get some good swings on as McKenzie’s start neared its end, with Torres and Trevino coming up with batted balls at 106 and 99 mph respectively in the seventh, but each rip found a Cleveland glove.
JP Sears relieved Montgomery and chipped in 2.2 innings, though he did allow the first run of his major league career in the eighth. Cleveland nearly bailed Sears out, running into a pair of outs after putting the first two runners on:
Albert Abreu came on and allowed an inherited runner to score, however, extending Cleveland’s lead to 2-0.
The Guardians brought All-World closer Emmanuel Clase in to shut things down, but the Yankees actually had their best chance of the day in the ninth. Anthony Rizzo worked a leadoff walk, and Giancarlo Stanton reached on an error, giving the Yankees two on and none out with the heart of the order due up.
Josh Donaldson lofted a lazy fly ball for the first out, and Gleyber Torres was wrung up looking, on an admittedly brutal called third strike:
The Yankees pinch-hit Aaron Judge for Trevino, setting up a dramatic finish featuring one of the game’s best hitters and best relievers. Judge missed an opportunity when he swung through a sloppy 3-1 slider from Clase, but worked a walk to pass the baton and load the bases.
The scene was set for Aaron Hicks, with the veteran having come up with a surprising number of clutch hits over the last month or so. It wasn’t meant to be this time, with Hicks rolling over a groundball to second to bring the contest to its conclusion.
The Yankees fell to 58-22, missing an opportunity to clinch a sweep and form the foundations of a new winning streak. Nevertheless, after an off-day tomorrow, they’ll have every chance to get rolling again, as they’ll meet the lowly Pirates for two games in Pittsburgh starting Tuesday. See you then.