You can’t win ‘em all, and it felt apparent relatively early that this might be one of those games that the Yankees would add to the loss column when all was said and done. Philadelphia consistently punished mistakes and New York failed to do likewise in a 4-1 loss that was a straightforward shutout until the game’s final inning.
The action started quickly. After Trea Turner popped Domingo Germán’s first pitch a mile high behind home plate, Kyle Schwarber decided that he too would swing at the first offering he saw: 93 mph out of Germán’s hand and 104 mph off the bat into the left-field seats for a 1-0 Philly lead.
Opponents feasted on Germán’s fastball in 2022, to the tune of a .400 wOBA. That pitch might be worth keeping an eye on in 2023. Luckily, he bounced back with no further damage in the first, and returned to the dugout down only one run. And he didn’t have to throw many pitches, which is always nice.
The second frame was even better with two strikeouts, just like the opening salvo, but no baserunners this time, keeping the game a one-run contest. Josh Donaldson gets a round of applause for helping his pitcher keep the Phils off the base paths, after making a stellar play at third base on an absolute rocket.
The long ball jumped back up and bit Germán again in the third. Leading off the inning, Brandon Marsh atoned somewhat for a rough game last night, crushing another Germán fastball. This one was 92 mph coming in and 110 mph going back out, landing 436 feet away. At least they were both solo shots. It could have been worse. And Germán again limited the damage, getting the next three outs in order. The right-hander had another bounce-back inning in the fourth, retiring the Phillies in order.
Meanwhile, the Yankee offense was sluggish from the onset. Admittedly, if DJ LeMahieu had hit the ball anywhere other than dead center leading off the first, he would have probably had a solo dinger of his own to match Schwarber’s. Aaron Judge also just missed one in the first. But as they say, “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Matt Strahm retired the first eight Yankees without breaking much of a sweat.
Anthony Volpe took it upon himself to ensure there would be neither a perfect game nor a no-hitter, with a rocket single up the middle with two outs in the third. And the young man’s third career hit was called by the Jonas Brothers, something I assume few big leaguers can claim.
Anthony Volpe with another knock and the @jonasbrothers are on the call! pic.twitter.com/duI7HECRjl— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 4, 2023
Unfortunately, DJLM just missed again with Volpe on first, flying out to center field and sending the game to the fourth with the Yankees still down two. The infielder and struck two fly balls with a combined distance of 771 feet, and had nothing to show for it.
Gleyber Torres continued his strong start to the season in the fourth. After falling behind Strahm 2-0, Torres battled back and was rewarded with a hard-earned walk to put some traffic on for the heart of the Yankee order. Alas. Giancarlo Stanton just missed depositing a 3-0 Strahm fastball in the left field bleachers (New York missed a lot of Strahm meatballs tonight), and Donaldson flew out harmlessly.
Germán came back out for the fifth but couldn’t quite make it through the frame. After he gave up a two-out base hit with one on, bringing Trea Turner to the dish, manager Aaron Boone decided that was enough and brought Michael King into the contest. Unfortunately, Turner managed to poke a two-strike King offering into right field and Schwarber followed suit. The Phillies had a 4-0 lead, and on a night when the New York offense failed to muster much, that was more than enough.
Outside of the two fastballs that got smoked, Germán wasn’t atrocious or anything like that. As David Cone noted on the broadcast, Germán managed a clean dozen swings and misses combined with his changeup and curveball. His final line: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, and 8 K. That doesn’t completely reflect on how he pitched today. Volpe couldn’t cleanly field what would have been a double-play ball, one that would have sent the Phils back to the dugout with only two runs on the board.
After escaping the fifth, King came back out for a painless sixth. Albert Abreu was the third Yankee arm of the night and gave the club two scoreless innings. For the ninth, Boone turned to Jimmy Cordero who kept the line moving and tossed a clean frame.
Getting Strahm out of the game didn’t help the Yankee bats. Andrew Bellatti came in for the fifth and struck out Aaron Hicks, who heard it from the crowd at Yankee Stadium. I can’t help but feel for the guy, who early in his Yankee tenure looked like the real deal. After Isiah Kiner-Falefa managed a hard-hit out to right field, Higashioka whiffed and the game was through five with the Yanks still down four runs.
The Yankees managed their second hit of the night in the seventh. Leading off the frame, Torres poked a groundball to the right side and, smelling a base hit all the way, busted it down the line for the infield single. But with Torres running, Josh Donaldson smoked a ball 108 mph ... directly at the right fielder, to the absolute worst spot. It was a double play, and we were off to the eighth still with a goose egg in the run column.
Finally, in the ninth inning the Yankees got off the mat, and LeMahieu was rewarded for scalding balls to center field. Facing Craig Kimbrel with one out in the frame, DJLM went to 384 feet into the Yankee bullpen in right-center field.
DJ's 1st homer of the year pic.twitter.com/Cnx7RuUUH0— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 5, 2023
Judge followed with a walk, extending his streak of games reaching base to 38. Stanton singled with two out in the frame, giving Donaldson a chance to bring rain and knot this one up at four. It wasn’t to be, as a weak popup to first base ended the Yankee rally and clinched a 4-1 victory for the Phillies. The defending National League champions were bound to finally win a game in 2023 at some point, and tonight was just the night.
Tune back in tomorrow, getaway day, for the final game of this set. It’s the battle of the aces, with Gerrit Cole facing Aaron Nola. The first pitch will come at 1:05 pm Eastern.