After a harrowing starting pitching experience in the first game of the doubleheader, the Yankees needed rookie Randy Vásquez to step up in a big way. The 24-year-old righty rose to the task, pitching 5.2 scoreless innings in just his second big league start. Ron Marinaccio was nails coming out of the bullpen while home runs from Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney proved just enough to secure the 3-0 victory and avoid a sweep at the hands of the White Sox.
The malaise which characterized the Yankees’ offensive efforts for much of the first two games of the series returned in the open to the finale. Torres, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, and DJ LeMahieu went a combined 0-for-15 in the first game of the doubleheader, and the Yankees will find it increasingly difficult to remain competitive in games if the top of the order continues to lay eggs in Aaron Judge’s absence. They weren’t the only ones to struggle early as one-through-nine failed to get on base the first turn through the order.
Thankfully, Vásquez matched Clevinger stride for stride in the opening innings. After allowing a walk and a single in the first, the rookie righty retired 15 in a row by burying high-90s fastballs in on the hands of righties, followed by glove-side sweepers with devastating late lateral movement in the opposite direction.
It turns out all the Yankees lineup needed was one turn through to get a look at Clevinger’s repertoire, because they began to string together ABs of much higher quality starting in the fourth. Willie Calhoun led off the frame with a liner to right that appeared to result in him getting thrown out at second trying to stretch a double. However, replay overturned the call on the field, and Gleyber Torres immediately capitalized, crushing a hanging first pitch cutter deep to left for his 10th home run of the year, but more importantly to get the Yankees on the board, 2-0.
The following inning, we were all treated to a sight I reckon many of us never thought we’d see. That’s right, Billy McKinney led off the frame with his first Yankees home run, almost five years after first donning pinstripes. In fact it was his first MLB home run since April 2022 with the A’s.
The Yankees had a chance to collect some additional insurance in the sixth with Jake Bauers working a two-out walk. Anthony Volpe replaced him as a pinch-runner, and went first-to-third on a hit-and-run single from Isiah Kiner-Falefa. However, the pair would remain stranded on the corners as LeMahieu—pinch-hitting for McKinney—tapped a grounder back to the pitcher to deepen his rut to 3-for-his-last-30.
Vásquez saw his streak of 15 in a row retired ended with a two-out Gavin Sheets single in the sixth, followed by a HBP of Luis Robert to end his outing. Ron Marinaccio stranded the pair, striking out Eloy Jiménez on a filthy changeup. The Yankees could not have asked for much more from Vásquez. He lived in or around the zone, landing 54 of his 86 pitches for strikes. The sweeper exhibits frisbee-like movement and he displayed far more polished command glove-side and below the zone with it than in his MLB debut. His final line: 5.2 innings, two hits, no runs, one walk, and three strikeouts.
Marinaccio stayed in to handle the seventh and did so with aplomb, striking out Jake Burger and Yasmani Grandal to close out the frame. In fact, his pitch count was in such good shape that Boone sent him back out for the eighth, and the decision paid off. He collected his fourth strikeout to open the inning and a pair of flyouts sandwiched around a Clint Frazier walk to give the Yankees 2.1 desperately-needed scoreless innings of relief. Clay Holmes came in for the save, and though he issued a leadoff walk to Robert, he induced three-straight groundouts to seal the victory, 3-0.
The Yankees welcome the rival Red Sox to the Stadium tomorrow night, with Gerrit Cole set to face Garrett Whitlock. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET so be sure to join us in the game thread!