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Yankees 2, White Sox 3: Lineup can’t get it done

No-hit through 6.2, New York’s chances of winning went up in smoke.

Chicago White Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

If you believe in momentum, this was shaping up to be a trap game for the Yankees. With Aaron Judge ticketed for the IL, the lineup was already thinner than we’d like. The White Sox were sending out their best starter. The haze of smoke, contributing to New York boasting the worst air quality of any metro area in the world, set the backdrop that things weren’t gonna go quite right. Sure enough, the Yankees ended up dropping this series opener, 3-2. There was a no-hit threat that was ultimately foiled, but this was one of those games you figure you should win, and the Yankees didn’t.

I think there are some positives to take from Clarke Schmidt’s start. He didn’t walk anyone, and one of his home runs was a pretty cheap shot. It counts, of course, but when we evaluate process, not all home runs are mistakes. He also reached double digits on called strikes with his breaking pitches.

Called strikes are kind of funky, because you have to factor in framing, the umpire’s zone, and some guys just take in certain counts. Having said that, if you’re able to get a lot of called strikes on breaking pitches, you’re probably throwing a pitch that batters can’t pick up. If you’re an optimist, you can say that Schmidt’s breaking pitches were fooling guys. If you’re a pessimist, you can say he benefited from the umpire or having the Platinum Glove winner behind the plate.

However, Seby Zavala proved to be the bane of Schmidt’s existence:

Like I said, this is a porch job. We love it when the Yankees hit them, so no snark or jeering, it counts the same as every other one, but I’m not worrying about this one if I’m Schmidt. I may worry more about the way Zavala saw this pitch though.

Yeah you don’t wanna put a ball there.

Hey, despite that, when you’re facing the White Sox, you figure you can put up more than three runs. Lucas Giolito put paid to that, throwing not just six shutout innings but six no-hit innings. Some of that was fueled by bad swing decisions:

Pitches like that aside, Giolito’s slider was working hot at a 58-percent whiff rate, and the three walks in six innings might have been more of an issue if he had allowed a hit, but he didn’t. In fact, walks were pretty much the only thing the Yankees could really do against all the Sox pitchers — Willie Calhoun worked one against reliever Joe Kelly that set up New York’s first hit:

In the last two seasons I’ve recapped two no-hitters in Yankee games: Corey Kluber’s in Texas and the combined Astros’ no-no last year at Yankee Stadium. As the game went deeper I was more and more concerned tonight would be the third time, so thanks to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and the questionable White Sox defense for sparing me that task.

The final silver lining to tonight is the positive sign we saw from Josh Donaldson:

I wrote last year about how Donaldson was cheating to compensate for age-related loss of bat speed. I don’t think he’s cheating this year; I think he may have made a very real adjustment at the plate, We only have three games of data but he just looks so much better in the box. To be able to get the barrel around on 95 inside is a really encouraging sign. I get not liking Josh Donaldson, not approving of the trade that brought him to New York or his natural affinity for jerkness, but he’s here now, and if he really has solved that bat speed issue—only time will tell—he becomes an important cog in making this lineup deep.

You really ought to win the series where a bad AL Central team comes into your building. The Yankees can still do that, but have surrendered the lone game they had to give to make that possible. They’ll get a chance to get back on the horse tomorrow, with game two of this set coming at 7:05 pm Eastern, in hopefully better conditions. Lance Lynn is on track to face the soon-to-be-recalled Randy Vásquez.

Box Score