As they say, momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. The Yankees have had a disappointing start to this homestand, dropping the first two games to the Twins, before Domingo Germán twirled a gem and the club finally got some more traffic on the bases. That combination helped them win Saturday’s matinee over Minnesota, 6-1.
Germán was on one today, or perhaps something was on him. The Yankee right-hander was about as good as you can be through five innings — perfect in fact, striking out 10 of the 15 men he saw. He did allow a pair of hits in the sixth before being yanked with one out in the seventh, but this perhaps was the best outing I’ve seen from him as a Yankee.
In particular, a new-ish sinker seemed to befuddle the Twins lineup, averaging seven inches more sink than his four-seam fastball, and playing well off his always-good curveball. The latter pitch generated a hilarious 56 percent whiff rate. As strong as Germán’s performance was, though, it’ll likely be overshadowed by what happened at the beginning of the fourth inning.
After striking out two of the three men he saw in the third, Germán underwent what seemed to be a cursory check for tack in his glove or on his hands. However, after coming out following the bottom half, the entire umpiring crew surrounded Domingo and manager Aaron Boone, leading to a very long conference that seemed to revolve around how clean the starter’s hands were:
"You have to wash your hands." Pretty crazy.pic.twitter.com/c9KMS88Cy3— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) April 15, 2023
Twins skipper Rocco Baldelli was displeased that Germán was allowed to continue, and found himself ejected for his demonstration.
Germán wasn’t quite as strong after the conference, but it wasn’t as though he fell apart, pitching two more perfect innings before a Twin reached base. His spin rates did fluctuate, although I have to caution folks that context-independent spin rate doesn’t really tell you very much. Velocity will also fluctuate throughout a start and is the best predictor of spin, for example.
Offensively, the home run parade continued this weekend, with Kyle Higashioka making the most of his start:
Anthony Rizzo had a solo shot of his own, continuing his fairly quiet 1.200 OPS start to the season.
And Anthony Volpe made another impact on the game, walking in the fifth before swiping second. It was his first steal since April 2nd, but that lifted him up to 4-for-4 on the season and you can just tell that as he settles into the majors and reaches base more consistently, he’s going to be a nightmare for pitchers and catchers alike. More on that in just a little bit.
Volpe came around to score on DJ LeMahieu’s line drive double to right, the patented kind of laser we’re used to seeing from DJ but got very little of down the stretch last year. There was the typical level of concern when he sat out the last two games, but being able to drive the ball like that should assuage concerns that LeMahieu is battling any kind of nagging issue.
Germán’s day was over after allowing a double to Trevor Larnach with one out in the seventh, and although Michael King did allow that inherited runner to score, a quick double play got the team out of further trouble. In the nick of time, Giancarlo Stanton strode to the plate in a three-run game, giving the Yankees some insurance with two men on:
We're gonna give Kay a break because I didn't even look up from my laptop, I heard the impact and thought "lol gone"— Pinstripe Alley (@pinstripealley) April 15, 2023
Really thought you had a dinger, Big G. To be fair to him, that kind of shot would have cleared the wall in 26 of 30 MLB parks per Statcast.
King was much better in his second inning of work, and Volpe reached for the third time on the day in the home half of the eighth, before stealing second and third on successive pitches; the rookie now 6-for-6 on the basepaths. I was a little surprise Aaron Boone left King out for the ninth, but it was a stroke that paid off, as the righty was perfect to seal the win without needing to use anyone else.
Losing last night was annoying, because after today Gerrit Cole gets the ball in the series finale. Any time Cole is on the mound, you have a good chance to win, and taking three of four sounds a whole lot better than splitting. Still, the Yankees will have a real chance to end the weekend on a high note, and first pitch from Yankee Stadium will come at 1:35pm Eastern.