Although the Yankees’ day began with hope in the form of an Everson Pereira call-up, an Oswaldo Peraza recall, and a Carlos Rodón return, the night ended in an outcome that has become all too familiar. New York fell to Washington, 2-1, failing to take advantage of the Nationals’ baserunning miscues and poor pitching command despite their own stellar pitching and solid defense. It was the Yankees’ ninth-straight loss — their longest skid since 1982 — and the sixth consecutive contest in which they didn’t even take the lead.
Despite some traffic on the bases, neither team scored in the first two innings. But on the first major league pitch he saw in a year and a half, former top prospect Carter Kieboom homered, a wall-scraper to left:
Fortunately, on the second pitch of the Yankees’ half of the inning, Ben Rortvedt took Josiah Gray deep over the short porch to even the score:
That would end up being one of just two hits the Yanks managed on the night, the other another Rortvedt knock.
New York did nearly take the lead after the backstop’s first hit with a pair of 100-mph deep flys courtesy of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, but both fell just short. The Nats, for their part, swung early and often, resulting in plenty of hard-hit balls in their own right. On the second pitch in the next half inning, Keibert Ruiz hit a gapper that looked like a sure double. But even a nine-toed Judge still comes with a cannon for an arm, and he gunned down the Nationals’ DH with a missile of a throw:
That same half-inning, the debuting Pereira expertly cut off a 111-mph Ildemaro Vargas liner before firing to fellow rookie Anthony Volpe, who delivered a relay strike to second to catch another Nationals hitter trying to stretch a single into a double:
Although he didn’t muster a hit on the night despite a 100-mph liner in the ninth, the rookie Pereira looked right at home in his first major-league at-bat. He took several tough pitches before ultimately securing a six-pitch walk on this backdoor slider:
Amazingly, the Nationals killed another rally by getting thrown out for a third time at second base, this one coming in the top of the fifth. And the Yankees made another great defensive play in the sixth, as Gleyber Torres snagged a hard grounder and spun to throw out a hustling Ruiz:
Between the Nats’ poor baserunning and swings early in the count, along with the Yankees’ solid defense, Rodón was able to get through six innings on 68 pitches, a seemingly solid first start back.
But he isn’t back to his old self by any means just yet. Case in point: Rodón didn’t notch a single whiff on his four-seamer all night, even though he threw it 39 times (he also notched just three whiffs on 29 breaking balls). On 14 balls in play against the heater, the Nats’ averaged a nearly 95-mph exit velocity, netting a single, a double, and a homer. This was likely because Rodón’s fastballs routinely caught too much of the zone:
Gray was shaky for the Nats too, walking five and hitting a batter across six frames, but he largely stayed out of the zone (Rodón’s 56-percent zone rate dwarfed Gray’s 40-percent mark), and the Yankees didn’t manage as much hard contact against him.
Speaking of hard contact, Tommy Kahnle continued his rough stretch by allowing his seventh earned run in 13 innings, this one a homer off the bat of CJ Abrams:
The young Nats’ shortstop also added a web gem to his resume on the night, throwing across his body to nail a speedy Peraza:
It was his longball, though, that proved to be the decisive blow in this one, as the Yankees couldn’t claw their way back. They looked overmatched by a rebuilding Nationals team; should they embark on a rebuild of their own, the Yankees will have some work to do to develop a young core like the Nats.
Until then, we’ll have more mediocre baseball to look forward to, with the next contest coming against this same Nationals squad tomorrow at 7:05 ET. The Yankees will roll out Luis Severino and his 7.98 ERA again; he’ll face another promising young gun in McKenzie Gore. Will the Yankees’ skid hit double digits? Stay tuned!!