The Yankees were in serious danger of a pair of unwanted records in franchise history. A repeat of last night’s performance would have seen them equal or surpass losing streak and consecutive innings without a lead marks not seen in the Bronx in decades. That is, until Aaron Judge stepped to the plate in the first. The captain launched three home runs including a grand slam off Nationals starter Mackenzie Gore while Luis Severino conquered some demons en route to a 9-1 victory in the middle game
Luis Severino’s struggles — particularly in the first inning, where he’s got a 14.79 ERA entering today — are well documented. Therefore, it was refreshing to see him retire the top of the National’s order 1-2-3 in the opening frame, the first time he’s done so since July 23rd against the Royals.
The Yankees entered today’s contest with a streak of 61 innings without holding a lead, just two off the franchise record of 63. Judge made sure they wouldn’t equal that ignominious distinction, launching a mammoth 431 foot solo shot over the Yankees bullpen to give his team a 1-0 lead in the first.
It was his 25th of the season. While I’m fully on board with shutting Judge down for the season, watching him hit bombs like that is one of the few remaining reasons to keep tuning into games.
The Bombers took a slightly less orthodox route to score their second run. Harrison Bader led off with a bloop single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and moved to third on an Anthony Volpe groundout. This allowed Everson Pereira to drive him home on a grounder to the left side, the contact play almost failing (again) but for Keibert Ruiz dropping the throw home to give the rookie outfielder his first big league RBI.
New York was far from finished in the frame, again aided by some porous Nats defense. Stone Garrett dropped a Kyle Higashioka fly ball on the track that Statcast assigned a catch probability of 95 percent, and Oswald Peraza worked a walk to load the bases and turn the lineup over. DJ LeMahieu struck out, but Judge launched a 1-0 middle-middle fastball into Monument Park for a grand slam, his second home run in as many innings.
From that point on the middle innings settled into a nice brisk clip with Severino, Gore, and Nats reliever Robert Garcia combining to throw a scoreless third, fourth, and fifth. Severino in particular looked sharp for long stretches of his outing. Sure, he was helped by several sparkling plays made behind him including a LeMahieu stab at first, a Bader diving catch in center, a Peraza pick at third and a leaping catch at the wall by Stanton in right. But on the whole, he executed his pitches to the locations he was targeting, limited the loud contact that has bedeviled him throughout the season, and pitched efficiently to help spare a bullpen that has looked fatigued in the second half. His final line saw him go 6.2 innings allowing a hit and two walks with a pair of strikeouts on 97 pitches.
There was a terrifying moment in the seventh inning when LeMahieu led off with a wall-scraping short porch job. However, Nationals right fielder Stone Garrett got a spike caught in the wall and wrenched his ankle. He looked to be in some agony on the field and was eventually carted off the field with his leg in an air cast. It was just a horrible thing to befall someone with one of the more inspirational stories in MLB. Due to the graphic nature of the replay and out of respect for Garrett, we will not be including video in the recap. All of us here at PSA wish him a full and speedy recovery.
After a lengthy delay as trainers assisted Garrett off the field, Judge went back-to-back with LeMahieu, this one an oppo taco to give Number 99 his first career three home run game. It also moves him to fifth on the MLB home run leaderboard, despite appearing in just 72 games.
Just when it seemed like the Nationals would stop the bleeding in the inning with two quick outs, Bader lined a double into the left-center gap and came around to score on an Anthony Volpe single to make it 9-0 Yankees.
Ian Hamilton was dominant after coming in for Severino in the seventh, striking out three in 1.1 scoreless innings. Wandy Peralta was a touch less effective, striking out a pair but also failing to complete the shutout after surrendering a solo home run to Dominic Smith with two outs in the ninth. A strikeout of Alex Call put a bow on the Yankees’ 9-1 victory, their first game scoring more than five since the final game against the Marlins.
Thus, the Yankees avoided their first double-digit losing streak since before the start of WWI. They go for their first series victory in a month tomorrow, with Patrick Corbin set to face an as-yet-unnamed Yankees starter. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 pm ET so be sure to join us in the game thread!