No Aaron Judge.
Anthony Volpe on a night off.
Giancarlo Stanton and Harrison Bader still out.
Early in this one, the question was whether the Yankees could simply get a baserunner. Former Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom was dealing, until he left the game in the fourth inning due to forearm tightness. Meanwhile, Clarke Schmidt took a step back from his most recent start against the Blue Jays and a Yankee lineup that scared no one other than its own fans couldn’t climb out of the hole. The Rangers lost their ace but won this game, 5-2.
Unsurprisingly, the Yankees didn’t hang a crooked number on deGrom in the first. He carved through the first three New York bats—arguably the only real threats in the lineup—without breaking a sweat on nine pitches. The second was almost a carbon copy. Three up, three down on eight pitches and just 17 through two frames. If only the broadcast could have done real-time updated Vegas odds on deGrom throwing a Maddux.
Schmidt had to work a little bit harder in the bottom of the first, but managed to hold serve. After allowing two singles, resulting in runners on first and third with two outs, Schmidt battled Josh Jung, eventually getting the strikeout on a 1-2 sweeper. It took 20 pitches, but the game was through one frame with zeroes all around.
Texas drew first blood in the bottom of the second. Schmidt gave up a leadoff single to Jonah Heim, then a double to right field that Franchy Cordero didn’t look great on (to say the least). With the infield in, Oswald Peraza made a dazzling defensive play to keep the ball in the infield and get the first out, but Texas scored to make it 1-0. Marcus Semien followed with a two-out double to score a second Texas run.
Schmidt managed to escape without any further damage, and facing deGrom, that loomed large. The Yankees could ill-afford a large, crooked number in Texas’ run column.
The 2023 Murderers’ Row lineup continued their shocking inability to hit deGrom in the third. In a small victory, he had to throw 11 pitches to get through the third in order. In the bottom of the frame, the Rangers continued stacking runs. With a runner on and two out, Heim smashed a ball to right field that Cordero again failed to make a play on. This defense is not for the faint of heart:
The runner scored easily, giving deGrom a third run to work with. Robbie Grossman followed with a two-run shot down the right field line, and very quickly, Texas was up five. Cordero’s defense had not done Schmidt any favors, but neither did his pitching.
The Yankees managed a baserunner in the top of the fourth. After a DJ LeMahieu groundout, Anthony Rizzo worked a walk to break up deGrom’s perfect game (yes, the fourth is too early to worry about that, but consider the combination of this starting nine and the opposing starter). After deGrom retired Torres, Willie Calhoun worked a solid at-bat and took a two-strike deGrom offering to left field for the Yankees’ first base hit of the night.
That was deGrom’s last pitch of the evening. With deGrom seemingly in some distress, Texas decided to take him out of the game and go to the bullpen. Dane Dunning relieved deGrom and managed to induce a grounder from Peraza to escape the mini-jam without allowing any runs.
New York chipped into the lead in the fifth. After Oswaldo rapped a seeing-eye ground rule double into left field, Kyle Higashioka brought him home. With two out and Oswaldo on third, Higgy rapped a groundball through into left field to make it 5-1, Rangers. The shutout was off the table, and Yankees had some momentum.
The sixth offered more yeoman’s work from the Yankees. Dunning plunked Rizzo leading off the frame, and then the first baseman advanced to second on a wild pitch. Aggressive baserunning on a Torres roller to the left side moved Rizz to third, and then Willie Calhoun drove a full count pitch to right field for the sac fly. Nice situational hitting from Calhoun and excellent baserunning from Rizzo had cut the deficit to three, but that’s where it would stay.
Jimmy Cordero came in for Schmidt in the sixth and, thanks to some excellent defense from Oswaldo, hurled a stress-free frame.
Just for good measure, Cordero carved his way through the Texas batters in the seventh as well.
Albert Abreu entered the contest in the eighth, and picked up where Cordero left off. Facing the bottom of the Rangers order, Abreu set them down quickly, continuing a stellar stretch for the New York bullpen.
Offensively, the Yankees came no closer. The five early runs were more than enough for Texas to escape with the victory, even after they lost their ace. It’s not ideal, but if the Yankees are without Judge for any period of time (they’re still awaiting results as of postgame), we’d likely best prepare ourselves for a paucity of run scoring.
The third showdown of this four-game set is tomorrow night. First pitch at 7:05 pm ET as rookie Jhony Brito faces old Yankee Nathan Eovaldi. Hopefully, we’ll have more definitive news on Judge by then.