I’m sure everyone could guess that the Yankees, who appeared lifeless over the last three games on the road, would erupt against the best team in baseball. And a Cy-Young frontrunner. And hold down an explosive offense all night. But as the saying goes, that’s baseball Suzyn.
The Yankees had Hyun-jin Ryu, who entered the night with a MLB-leading 1.64 ERA, on the ropes early and often tonight. Their first looks at him didn’t result in much, as DJ LeMahieu was stranded in the first inning after a leadoff single and Didi Gregorius and Gio Urshela would get stranded in scoring position in the second. Still, they made Ryu work to get out of those situations, and got immediate results in their next go through the order.
Aaron Judge started the scoring with a bomb out to left with one out in the third, his 14th home run of the year and just his second home run pulled this season. Gary Sanchez followed suit two batters later, dropping to his knee to launch a cutter at the bottom of the strike zone for a solo shot to left-center.
Ryu worked around a two-out double in the fourth, but couldn’t escape the fifth. LeMahieu and Judge slapped back-to-back singles, and Gleyber Torres advanced both runners with a groundout to short. The Dodgers chose to intentionally walk Sanchez to face Gregorius, who rewarded them by blasting a grand slam on the first pitch of the at-bat. Urshela reached on a double two pitches later, and Ryu’s night was done. His replacement, Adam Kolarek, gave up a double to Brett Gardner immediately after, allowing one final run to be charged to Ryu. His ERA had spiked to an even 2.00 by the time the Yankees hitters were through with him.
On the other side, James Paxton put up one of his best performances as a Yankee. Yankees pitchers have been terrible on the road this season, and Paxton had been no exception, but he picked up the slack by striking out 11 Dodgers without issuing a walk. This is exactly the kind of performance that the Yankees want to see out of the talented left-hander down the stretch, and, eventually, in the playoffs.
Los Angeles managed just one run against him while he was in the game, picking up a leadoff double in the third and eventually scoring them on a base hit from A.J. Pollock just over the pressed-in infield. Paxton got two outs of the seventh inning but exited with a man on second, and Tommy Kahnle allowed that runner to score on a double two pitches later. Nestor Cortes was tasked with mop-up duty from the eighth inning on and he excelled, striking out four and only walking one.
The Yankees were comfortably ahead, but they still managed to mash a few more baseballs. Gleyber Torres deposited his 32nd home run of the year out to center in the sixth inning, and Gregorius found a second bomb in the ninth inning, this one a solo shot to right. An Aaron Judge single in the eighth that scored Mike Ford accounted for just the second run not scored by a home run for the Yankees on the night.
All together, the Yankees’ 10 runs scored already outpaces their combined offensive production in the Oakland series. They probably won’t sustain that kind of outburst, but a game like this is exactly what they needed to break out of their little slump.