Even if this game wasn’t over in the first inning like last night’s, it sure felt as if the Yankees never had a shot to win. Spot starter Jhony Brito — who maybe shouldn’t have been spot starting in the first place — surrendered four longballs, including on back-to-back hitters in the fourth. Unsurprisingly, Tyler Glasnow easily shut down the offense by pitching around Aaron Judge to seal an effortless 5-1 victory for the Rays in the opening contest of a three-game set. The Yankees enter the MLB Trade Deadline three games back in the Wild Card chase and now behind the Angels as well after a 10-15 July, their worst in 48 years.
Brito came out of the gate firing darts, routinely ratcheting his fastball into the upper 90s perhaps due to an extra dose of adrenaline stemming from his first major-league appearance in a month (he only averaged 94.9 mph in his last minor-league outing). However, he had trouble commanding this added velocity, and two fastballs that floated high in the zone resulted in first a single and then a two-run homer (courtesy of Yandy Díaz and Brandon Lowe) in the first inning:
Brito’s curveball, on the other hand, had a noticeably different shape — specifically, it was tighter with much less drop, a bit more horizontal movement, and some added velocity. Judging by his minor league Savant numbers, this is something he workshopped in Triple-A. Yet, it wasn’t particularly effective either, and a hanger almost jumpstarted another rally in the top of the second, granting Isaac Paredes a double to lead things off. Luckily, Brito followed that with a strikeout and a grounder on which Anthony Volpe and DJ LeMahieu combined to nail an oversliding Paredes, who had tried to advance to third. Next, Jose Siri, who had reached on the fielder’s choice, was gunned down by Ben Rortvedt trying to steal:
The Yankees had some more good fortune when Glasnow floated a curve of his own up in the zone. On 0-2, Jake Bauers was in swing mode, and he parked the hanger into the seats:
Or maybe I spoke too soon because Wander Franco hit an up-and-in Brito curve for an upper-deck homer in the next half-inning:
Aaaand in the next frame, Paredes notched his second extra-base hit of the night, a homer on a sinker that couldn’t have been more center-cut:
And just when I thought the Rays might be done hitting homers, Brito missed high on yet another sinker that Josh Lowe took deep to center for the second Lowe homer of the game:
Strangely, after getting scratched with armpit discomfort when he was supposed to start, Domingo Germán came in on relief of Brito to start the fifth. On the whole, Brito’s stuff flashed plus at times, but his command wavered far too often for it to be effective. His velocity was higher to start the game, and his curveball had a new and interesting shape, both of which could lead to better outcomes in the future but likely contributed to a lack of control tonight. With Germán seemingly alright, Brito will likely be sent down to iron out his command in the minors.
The YES broadcast team theorized, based on an Aaron Boone pregame quote, that the Yankees had Germán appear in relief in case he couldn’t go deep into the game. What would have made more sense, especially given he lasted five (scoreless) innings in relief after all, was if the Yanks had had Germán start and Brito come in for bulk if needed. Instead, Germán’s innings came in a lopsided contest.
For those interested in Boone’s postgame explanation, here it is. Make of it what you will.
Aaron Boone said Domingo Germán was cleared in the 5 pm hour. Threw a couple off the mound around 6 pm. Said it wasn’t a consideration to start because of how close it was to game time.— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) August 1, 2023
The Yankees had their scoring opportunities beyond the Bauers homer. As previously noted, Glasnow pitched very carefully to Judge, who ended up walking in four plate appearances. The hitters behind him never did much to deliver and he was stranded each time.
In the third, Gleyber Torres narrowly missed what would’ve been a two-run homer in six MLB parks. They still managed to put runners on first and second with two down before Anthony Rizzo, who’s gone 0-for-30 with runners in scoring position and two outs to start the season (per YES and Stats Perform), struck out. Rizzo came through in the sixth with a 108.2-mph single to put runners on first and third with one out, but then Giancarlo Stanton grounded into an inning-ending double play. Boone’s ballclub mustered only three hits in a yet another uninspiring effort.
The Yankees will attempt to make the most of their chances again tomorrow when they’ll square off against another Rays’ rotation stalwart in Zach Eflin. He’s coming off of an injury scare, but all systems are a go. Carlos Rodón will get the nod for the Bombers, and he’ll look to build on what was his best start of the season in his last time out. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET; time will tell if this Yankees team looks the same after the Trade Deadline alarm bell goes off.