The New York Yankees faced another top team--this time a National League contender--in the Washington Nationals. And much has been made of the match up between Aaron Judge versus Bryce Harper. There is no denying that Bryce Harper is great, but in all due respect, Judge's OPS and OPS+ were higher last year and his OPS is more than a hundred points higher this year. But it is a team game. And after all that hype of an intro, the game never got to the end as rain sent the teams home, tied, 3-3.
Didi Gregorius continued his funk in the first inning after a two-out walk by Gio Gonzalez to Giancarlo Stanton and a double by Gary Sanchez. Didi grounded out on the first pitch to end the threat and saved Gonzalez from further pitches. Some day he will break out of this. One can wonder if the Gleyber Torres, free agent combination is bothering him?
In the bottom of the first, homer-prone Masahiro Tanaka, lived up to form by giving up a two-out solo homer to Anthony Rendon, freshly back from the disabled list. In true Tanaka style, he had three quick-ground outs and a bomb.
The top of the second started well with Tyler Austin hitting a single and Miguel Anjujar roping a double to right. But, oh yeah, the stupid National League makes the pitchers hit which in these interleague games, is totally unfair. Manager, Aaron Boone, went for the cutesy Joe Maddon strategy in batting the pitcher eighth. The result. A stupid looking strikeout to Tanaka (well, duh), a strikeout of Gleyber Torres and a strikeout to Aaron Hicks.
The Yankees' night continued down a stumbling path. Howie Kendrick doubled and after a Mark Reynolds' strikeout, Andrew Stevenson hit a grounder to Didi's right that 99 out of a 100 times Didi gobbles up. This time it went under his glove for a run-scoring single. Then Tanaka gave the eighth batter in the lineup (right before the pitcher, remember), catcher, Pedro Severino, a fat fastball down the middle that Severino jumped on for a doubled to score Stevenson. Tanaka struck out Gonzalez and threw a wild pitch to Trea Turner (even though Gary Sanchez simply oleyed it}. Fortunately, Turner lined out to Stanton in left to end the threat. 3-0, Nationals.
Aaron Judge started the third with a walk on yet another 3-2 count. But Stanton quickly hit into a sharp double play, second to short to first. Sanchez hit the ball well again, but flew out to right-center.
Tanaka retired the side in order (including Harper and Rendon) and it was of interest and on point that Al Leiter observed that Tanaka was pitching from the stretch the entire inning. Very interesting. One heads up play did happen with Rendon at the plate. Rendon hit a pop fly to straightaway center and Hicks could not find it in the twilight sky. Aaron Judge came all the way from right field to make the catch. How many other right fielders would have been over there with hustle? Very few.
Didi led off and hit a can of corn to left. Unfortunately for Gio Gonzalez, his centerfielder ran all the way over to left field and knocked the ball out of Matt Adams' glove and Didi ended up at second. In an impressive at bat, Tyler Austin fouled off several pitches and then took a slow curve to the opposite field for a two-run dinger. Andujar struck out and Tanaka grounded out. Torres hit an infield single to short but Aaron Hicks grounded out to end the inning. Hicks is just sucking wind out of the offense right now.
Miguel Andujar and Tyler Austin combined for a great play on a Howie Kendrick smash to third.. Andujar went deep behind the bag and made a strong throw that Austin scooped nicely. Tanaka then completed a second straight 1-2-3 with a lazy fly out and a line drive to Stanton.
The thunder started to rumble in Washington as the Yankees came to the plate. The weather was a worry before the game and it seemed to be closing in. Aaron Judge walked to lead off, his second in a row. Stanton hit a bloop single to make it first and second with no outs. Gary Sanchez walked to load the bases and Gio Gonzalez was on the ropes. He would pitch more than thirty pitches in the inning but only gave up one run to leave with a tie.
Didi tried to pull a pitch outside and grounded weakly to first. Mark Reynolds threw out Judge at home. One out. Tyler Austin--having a heck of a game--hit one to the warning track in center to score Stanton. And after a ten-pitch at bat, Andjuar grounded out weakly to short.
The good thing about Andujar not succeeding in his last at bat was that if he had succeeded, Tanaka would have been out of the game (pinch hitter) with only 63 pitches in the book and had settled down nicely. That paid off in the bottom of the fifth as Tanaka recorded his third straight clean inning.
The Yankees then had to face a pitcher with the improbable name of Wander Suero. The weather kept getting worse as Brett Gardner pinch hit for Tanaka and flew out to left. Gleyber Torrez got plunked by a 77 MPH curve ball and with one out, and for some stupid reason, Aaron Hicks sacrifice bunted. It was successful, but that made it two outs. Judge struck out on a fastball right down the middle to end the inning. So...the pitcher made Yankee fans wander and swear-o...
After the half inning, the Nationals put this gorgeous Skittles rain tarp on the field and we had ourselves a delay and then a suspension. So the rest of the game was Cano-ed (too soon?). The game is scheduled to resume tomorrow at 5 pm, but it is supposed to rain all day in DC tomorrow. At least the stats count.