While the Padres were busy completing a mega-blockbuster to acquire Juan Soto, the Yankees’ front office put a significant damper on the mood of the day when it was announced they were trading Jordan Montgomery to the Cardinals for the injured outfielder Harrison Bader. There was no corresponding move to replace the lefty in the rotation, meaning the team would be placing an inexplicable amount of trust in Domingo Germán as the fifth starter. It was a truly bizarre move considering they had a game to play about an hour later, and indeed the team appeared to sleepwalk at times to an eventual 8-6 loss.
The game got off to as inauspicious a start as the Montgomery trade seemed to portend, with Jameson Taillon serving up a two-run bomb to Eugenio Suárez in the first. Immediately, we began to wonder in the PSA Slack what effect the trade had on the headspace of Montgomery’s former teammates. The bad news didn’t stop there, as Taillon surrendered another home run — this one a solo shot — to Cal Raleigh in the second.
As the innings wore on, it appeared that many of the Yankees were in a bit of a daze. Josh Donaldson airmailed a throw to first, lengthening an inning that eventually saw Carlos Santana extend the Mariners lead to 4-0 with a sacrifice fly. Andrew Benintendi and Aaron Hicks had momentum-killing GIDPs in the second and third. DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge reached with two outs in the third, but attempted the double steal while Mariners starter Logan Gilbert still had the ball, and LeMahieu was eventually thrown out after an extended rundown.
The home team finally awoke from their stupor in the fourth, with Donaldson driving in Anthony Rizzo with a double for the Yankees’ first run before a Jose Trevino two-run home run reduced the arrears to 4-3.
Taillon continued to struggle with his command in the fifth, walking a pair before being pulled for Lucas Luetge with two outs. It’s hard to find the justification for bringing in the lefty to face Carlos Santana, given his pronounced platoon advantage splits against southpaws — 146 wRC+ vs. lefties, 85 wRC+ vs. righties this year. Lo and behold, Luetge surrendered a two-run double to place the Yankees right back in the hole from which they had climbed a half inning earlier.
Right when it seemed like Taillon was ready to rebound from a rocky June and July, he had another stinker. Too many pitches were either uncompetitively far away from the zone or caught too much plate; not enough found the edges. Both home runs came with two strikes using poorly executed offspeed pitches. Taillon’s final line: 4.2 innings, two hits (both home runs), six runs (five earned), four walks, and six strikeouts on 98 pitches.
The three-run fourth seemed to have sparked an extra life into the Yankees offense, as they mounted another comeback in the sixth. Rizzo led off with his fourth home run in as many games, giving him 27 on the year.
Matt Carpenter followed with a single before Donaldson blasted a two-run shot into the Yankees’ bullpen to tie this game at 6-6, snapping an 18-game homerless drought. Donaldson certainly carried his weight on the offensive side, and it would be a massive boon if the Yankees could get his bat hot for the stretch run.
Trevino smashed a line-drive double to center and Isiah Kiner-Falefa topped an infield single to keep the sevent- inning rally alive, but Hicks grounded into his second double play to kill hope in the frame. Hicks singlehandedly erased almost 30 percent of the Yankees win probability with his impotence at the plate, his end-of-first-half hot streak becoming a more distant mirage with each oh-fer performance.
Luetge stayed in for the seventh and surrendered another run on a Sam Haggerty leadoff blast before eventually getting the hook for new Yankee reliever Scott Effross. The sidewinding righty navigated around a pair of baserunners to prevent the Mariners from scoring again in the inning. Albert Abreu entered and after a scoreless eighth, he gave up the Mariners’ eighth run an inning later on a pair of singles sandwiched around a wild pitch. Like Effross, Lou Trivino made his Yankees debut a smooth one by recording the final two outs of the ninth.
The Yankees gave it one more valiant effort in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases on a two-out LeMahieu single and back-to-back walks from Judge and Rizzo. Gleyber Torres came in to pinch-hit for Tim Locastro, himself a defensive replacement for Carpenter, but struck out on four pitches to relegate the Yankees to an 8-6 loss.
The rubber match of this three-game set will be a dream matinee pitching matchup, as Gerrit Cole squares off with Luis Castillo in his Mariners debut. First pitch is at 1:05pm ET.