The Yankees had an offday between Friday night’s game in Miami and their ugly series loss to the sinking White Sox earlier in the week. Whether it was that or Jesús Luzardo simply not having it, the New York offense woke up for the opener of this three-game set against the Marlins. They rolled over Miami pitching and the Yankees’ bullpen held its own in a 9-4 win.
Both pitchers spun sharp first innings — Luzardo worked around a walk to Aaron Judge (what’s new) to post a zero, while Ian Hamilton needed just 11 pitches to retire the home side in order. Serving as the Yankees’ opener for the second game in a row, he used his uniquely impressive breaking ball to generate several whiffs.
Giancarlo Stanton and Harrison Bader dumped consecutive singles into the outfield to put Luzardo on the ropes for the first time in the second. Luzardo has a lot of juice in that left arm, and sat at 97 mph, touching 98. Anthony Volpe smacked one such fastball on the inside corner into the left-field seats to make it 3-0 Yankees early.
Subsequently, Jake Bauers drove one to deep center, but former Astros prospect Bryan De La Cruz made a very impressive leaping catch at the wall. Next, Kyle Higashioka lined a single to center field and it was clear the bats weren’t going down quietly tonight as they have recently. Oswaldo Cabrera struck out and Isiah Kiner-Falefa lined to center to wrap up the second after four hits and even more loud contact.
Hamilton went back out for the second inning and things didn’t go as well. Jazz Chisholm Jr. legged out an infield hit before Jesús Sánchez yanked a double down the right field line. Chisholm’s speed precluded any chance for a successful relay throw and he scored easily from first base on the play. Jake Burger then switched places with Sánchez on another booming double, cutting the short-lived three-run lead down to one.
Judge led off the third, got a center-cut fastball, and blasted a mammoth home run to center field. On the few occasions opposing pitchers give Judge something to hit, he usually doesn’t miss it, and he turned around the 97-mph heater 464 feet — straight back where it came from.
Bulk guy Randy Vásquez tossed a clean third inning and the Yankees offense got right back to work in the fourth. Bauers singled and Higashioka walked to set the Yankees up with runners on first and second once again. Cabrera and Kiner-Falefa came through with consecutive singles to stretch the lead back out, 6-2.
IKF’s single chased Luzardo from the game, and he was replaced with George Soriano after 3.1 ineffective innings. Soriano got the big man, as Judge took strike three on a very questionable call for the second out. Gleyber Torres picked up Judge with a single to score Cabrera, and Stanton struck out to bring the inning to a close with a much more comfortable 7-2 lead. By the end of the fourth inning, every Yankee starter had a hit. Tonight was a much-needed breath of fresh air in Miami for the beleaguered offense.
The Marlins struck back quickly in the home half, Vásquez’s second inning of work: De La Cruz walked and Burger lined a double to the left-field corner. Volpe had a shot at the runner, but he made a poor two-hop throw to the plate and De La Cruz scored to cut the deficit to four.
In the fifth, Soriano bent as far as he could bend, but didn’t break. Bader flew out to center before three walks loaded the bases with one out. Cabrera and IKF promptly struck out, ending the threat, and that inability to hit situationally reared its ugly head briefly.
Vásquez tossed a quick bottom of the fifth in his third inning of work, and the Yankees took a 7-3 lead into the sixth inning. The inning started promisingly with a Torres hustle double, but he’d regrettably be thrown out trying to inexplicably advance to third on a ground ball to the third baseman Burger. A Bader groundout ended the inning, the Yankees having thoroughly bailed out Soriano a second time.
The home sixth brought more trouble and the end of the line for Vásquez. Josh Bell led off and demolished a long home run to right field. Vásquez retired Chisholm, but De La Cruz swatted another double, and Jonathan Loáisiga came in to face Burger. He restored order to complete the sixth. The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the seventh, and at the stretch, the score stood 7-4 Yankees. Loáisiga came back out and pitched a stellar eighth inning — he looks more and more like the dominant Loáisiga we saw in 2021, which is a great lift for an already excellent bullpen.
The Yankees did not score in the top of the eighth, and Tommy Kahnle came in to bridge the setup gap, and to lead it off, IKF made a sparkling play to nab Luis Arraez’s bid for an infield hit:
Kahnle finished the inning easily, and the Yankees weren’t done yet. Steven Okert was greeted with a pair of singles, bringing up Volpe, who walked to juice the bases. Two batters later, Higashioka continued his banner day with a single, his third hit of the day, and two RBIs. Clay Holmes came in for the non-save situation and he did so without incident in a 1-2-3 inning.
An admirable bullpen game for the Bombers, and they may have to do so again. Tomorrow, the Yankees take on the Marlins again with a chance to win the series. First pitch is at 4:10 PM EST — the Marlins will send out Sandy Alcantara, and it looks like the recently-recalled Jhony Brito will get the ball for New York as at least the bulk guy à la Vásquez, if not the starter outright.