Last night's game was frustrating, maddening, and pathetic to watch. The Yankees' offense, which had been the bane of the team's existence for most of this young season, actually broke out in a good way in Fenway Park against Red Sox starter David Price, but Nathan Eovaldi decided to follow up his near no hitter performance in Texas last week with a positively dreadful performance in Fenway that ruined the Yankees' chances of snapping a four-game losing streak, and instead, extended it to five.
Alex Rodriguez is suddenly not dead, you guys! It's amazing how 35 plate appearances will make everyone (i.e. beat writers) think that someone's career is over. And I'm not saying that A-Rod didn't look awful in the first eight games of the season, he most certainly did, but that is not a big enough sample size to declare that someone needs to hang it up and call it a career. He was hitting .100/.229/.200 through those first eight games, but since then, he's hit .282/.333/.667. His OPS+ is now an above-average 108. Again, everything is skewed and looks bad because of those first eight games.
So what did A-Rod do last night? He went 2-4 with a home run and double and accounted for four of the six runs the Yankees' offense scored.
His home run swing in the third actually looked kind of weird to me, as if he didn't get all of the ball, but he still hit it to centerfield, just like his home run on Friday night.
Here's last night's home run:
It was a 93 mph fastball that was high, but caught way too much of the plate and Alex hit it 430 feet.
Then, in the fifth inning, Price made the same mistake, catching too much of the plate with a 94 mph fastball on the fourth pitch of the at bat (and with two strikes) and A-Rod hit it to the same part of the ballpark. He didn't quite get all of it. Instead it was a long, two-run double.
So what's different about A-Rod at the plate? In another small sample size, since 4/27, A-Rod has hit three home runs, two doubles and a single. And in some good news, all but one of those hits were off fastballs. Maybe it was just a matter of Rodriguez getting his timing back at the plate. That's a novel concept.
And yes, Rodriguez will go through more rough patches as the season progresses, but this is baseball, and they happen. Maybe next time, some people won't be so quick to bury a player just because he's struggling for eight games.
The real ugly
On the flip side, feel free to want to throw things at Nathan Eovaldi because he is one of the most frustrating players I've ever had the displeasure to watch. It's unbelievable that a guy with his "stuff" can be so awful. And why can't anyone fix him?
Last night in Fenway, he gave up 10 hits in five innings—nine singles and one home run. According to ESPN Stats and Info, four of the singles were off his slider, four were off his fastball, Ortiz's in the fifth was off a splitter, and the home run was a 76 mph curveball that Travis Shaw reached down and poked out of the park.
The most infuriating thing about Eovaldi is that he has good stuff and when it's working, he's un-hittable. Then something happens and he loses everything. Also, Boston has one of the best offenses in the league, and they don't get fooled on many pitches so you have to really mix up your arsenal in order to get them out. That didn't happen for Eovaldi and he threw 100 pitches in five innings. He only struck out three batters, he walked three and the home run to Shaw was a gut punch.
What's wrong With Betances?
Speaking of gut punches, what is wrong with Dellin Betances? He's given up three home runs and a single in his last three outings and last night's long ball to Christian Vazquez, whoever the hell he is*, turned out to be the game-winner.
Vazquez's shot was a first-pitch 97 mph fastball that was right over the plate:
On Friday, he gave up a home run to David Ortiz on an 83 mph slider that wasn't anywhere near the plate, but Ortiz is Ortiz and he poked it the opposite way over the Green Monster.
And last Monday night, during Eovaldi's last outing, he gave up a surprising home run to someone named Brett Nicholas, which luckily didn't effect the outcome of the game, otherwise, the Yankees would be on a seven-game losing streak instead of a five-game losing streak.
It was an 81 mph curveball that didn't curve quite enough:
I was always used to "What's Wrong With Mo Week" happening sometime in August, so to see Betances going through his own "What's Wrong Week" this early in the season is odd. Hopefully it's just a blip and he'll return to making guys look silly at the plate.
*The NY Post's back page called Christian Vazquez "someone named Christian Vazquez" and I thought it was funny. People in Boston didn't, but who cares about them.
[Numbers and heat maps courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info and Fangraphs]