I was very disheartened after sitting at Coors Field all weekend, watching the Yankees drop two of three to the Rockies. But maybe there was a silver lining to that miserable trip back to Colorado. Because while watching tonight’s game, I wasn’t fazed in the slightest by what I saw — yet another bottom-of-the-barrel performance from a Yankee offense that can no longer blame erstwhile hitting coach Dillon Lawson for its ineptitude.
You would be forgiven for having low expectations ten minutes into this one. After the Yankees managed nothing more than a Gleyber Torres walk in the top half of the first, Angels leadoff man Zach Neto shattered his bat on an offering from Domingo Germán. So of course, the ball dropped in between Harrison Bader and Giancarlo Stanton. Immediately, a runner was on for Shohei Ohtani. Undaunted, Germán made baseball’s unicorn look very mortal in their first matchup of the evening.
But that was the high point of the frame. Mickey Moniak, hitting behind Ohtani and facing an 0-1 count, pulverized a Germán fastball to right field. That made it 2-0 in the blink of an eye. That is the eighth home run off his fastball in 2023, and opponents came into the night slugging .706 against the pitch. Babe Ruth’s career slugging percentage is .690, for reference. Sometimes, you really can predict baseball.
New York managed to put two men on in the top of the second. But after fouling off a middle-middle 95-mph fastball from Angels starter Patrick Sandoval, Kyle Higashioka struck out swinging. Anthony Volpe, mired in another brutal slump, tapped a weak groundball to third. They didn’t even come close to bringing one of the runners home.
On the mound, Germán had a fantastic bounce-back inning. With his hook in fine form early, Domingo struck out the side in order, as the Angels flailed helplessly at his curve. They fanned nine times on the night.
Torres got the Yankees on the board with one out in the top of the third. Sandoval hung a sweeping slider and Gleyber turned on it:
At 404 feet down the left field line, it was Torres’ 14th roundtripper of the season, and it cut the Angel lead in half. Stanton had a chance to do likewise but got just under a 2-2 pitch and popped it up on the infield. G’s patented “throw the bat down in disgust” move left no doubt that he knew he let Sandoval off the hook.
As good as Domingo’s second inning was, the third initially looked like nightmare. He lost the strike zone to the first two men he faced, walking both to put two on and no one out for Ohtani. He at least had the good sense to be careful with Ohtani, but all that meant was bases loaded and no one out. Germán struck out Moniak, who’d taken him deep earlier, but one wild pitch later, the Angels had a 3-1 lead. Despite that, Germán retired the next two Angels he faced, only allowing the one run to score. That could have been much much worse.
Everything stayed quiet until the bottom of the fifth and, to the surprise of no one in the world, Ohtani was the one at the center of the action. With a runner on, the runaway future 2023 AL MVP destroyed a Germán changeup into the right-field corner. The ball rocketed off Ohtani’s bat at 110-mph, and Shohei sped around the bases. It took him 8.1 seconds to reach second, according to David Cone in the booth, and he didn’t stop there. His MLB-leading seventh triple scored the Angels’ fourth run, and he later scored on a Moniak RBI single.
When the dust settled, the Yankees trailed by four runs with four innings to go. For an offense that to this point in the night had managed one hit and a .115 xBA, impossible might not be the word, but highly improbable works.
Germán came back out for the sixth and retired the Angels in order, including with two strikeouts. That spelled the end of his evening and his final line read: 6 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 9 K. He made two mistakes: one to Moniak and one to Ohtani. However, when your offense only manages to hit two balls out of the infield through six innings, two mistakes is two too many. On the positive side, Albert Abreu entered in relief in the seventh and tossed two scoreless frames, saving the bullpen from some stress. So that’s nice, I guess.
Angels manager Phil Nevin let Sandoval stretch out, leaving his starter in the game into the eighth inning. But after Volpe managed a one-out base hit, the Yankees’ first knock since Torres’ home run, Sandoval’s night was done. 7.1 IP, 2 H, 3 BB (none after the second inning), 1 ER, 7 K. He’s the latest in a long line of opposing starters who looked like Walter Johnson when facing the Yankees.
And now tonight...— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) July 19, 2023
Patrick Sandoval (4.41): 7.1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 7 K
Like clockwork. https://t.co/f6VAlWVS0l
Volpe, for the record, remained at first, as New York failed to manufacture a second run. In the ninth, the “heart” of the order grounded out to the pitcher, struck out, and flew out.
Immediately after the final out, YES announcer Michael Kay remarked to Cone, “David, it’s hard to win games when you don’t score runs,” You said it, Michael.
You don’t have to take my word for how bad these bats are. Katie Sharp and Chris Kirschner do an excellent job of contextualizing just how much of an abomination the 2023 Yankee offense is. Don’t compare that stat to the last two seasons. I promise you, it will only increase the pain.
The 35 games vs Yankees that an opposing starter has gone 6+ innings and allowed 2 or fewer runs is tied for the most in MLB (with Royals, A's, Pirates) https://t.co/ubE3LBLcJp— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) July 19, 2023
There’s one more game in Anaheim tomorrow night before an offday and a return to a Bronx crowd that is likely to be extremely unforgiving, considering how horrendously the Yankees are playing. They remain in last place in the AL East all by themselves, even after the Red Sox took their own gut punch by getting blanked by the A’s of all teams. Hell, the entire division lost on Tuesday and the Yankees thanked their rivals by getting only two hits.
Tomorrow’s game is on Prime, with an 8:07 pm first pitch from a to-be-announced Angels pitcher, who will square off with southpaw Carlos Rodon. We’ll be here. Come enjoy The 2023 Yankee Experience with us. We double dare you.