About Last Night: Pirates 5 - Yankees 2
by Cary Greene
July 6, 2022
● Winning Pitcher: José Quintana (2-4, 3.33 ERA) 5.0 IP / 6 H, 1 ER / 7 K, 0 BB / 96-60 PC-ST (62.5% Strikes)
● Losing Pitcher: Jameson Taillon (9-2, 3.63 ERA) 5.1 IP/ 6 H, 5 ER / 5 K, 0 BB / 94-61 PC-ST (64.9% Strikes)
● Yankee Home Runs: None
● Fangraphs still thinks the Yankees are a 100% lock to make the playoffs and their chances to win the American League East and thus clinch a first-round playoffs bye are 96.9%, but - Fangraphs feels the Yankees only have a 11.8% chance of winning the World-Series, down from the 13.7% chance they proclaimed the Yankees had only a week ago!
● Meanwhile, Fangraphs lists the Astros chances of winning the World Series at 15.1%, Trailing only the Dodgers who they predict have a 15.9% chance. Fangraphs also lists the Braves chances at 13.6% and they give the Mets an 11.5% chance
● The Yankees are 58-22 (.725) to start the season, the best record in the Majors, which matches their second-best 80-game start in franchise history, trailing only the 1998 Yankees (60-20)
● The Yankees are now 22-5 in series-openers this season
● Yankees relievers have allowed just 3 earned-runs in their last 28.1IP over their last nine games since 6/26 and they own a 2.70 ERA this season, the second-lowest bullpen ERA in the Majors behind only Houston, who’s 2.62 leads the majors
○ LEMACHINE: As a Yankee, DJ LeMahieu has hit .352/.427/.542 (68-for-192) with 43R, 8 doubles, 2 triples, 8HR, 22RBI, 22BB, 3HP and 1SF in 52 Interleague games. He also has the second-highest batting average in Interleague play by any Major League player over that span, trailing only Jeff McNeil’s .363 average
■ LeMahieu has reached base in each of his last 12 starts, reaching base in 27-of-55 plate appearances over that span, posting a.491 OBP
○ PITCH PERFECT: Yankees pitchers have allowed only 237 earned runs this season, trailing only the Astros (233) and the Dodgers (231)
○ No need to discuss Joey Gallo today because he didn’t play last night.
Big Story - With stingy righty José Quintana going for the Bucs, the Yankees had their work cut out for them and he didn’t disappoint early, but it was the Pirates offense that struck the first big blow as Pittsburgh got on the board early when designated hitter Dan Vogelbach hit a Jameson Taillon 4-Seam fastball out to right field for an early 1-0 Pirates lead in the second-inning.
Next, it was the Pirates outfield defense’s time to shine. After DJ LeMahieu, who got on with an infield single, advanced to third base on a Gleyber Torres double but couldn’t score thanks to a nifty play by Pirates left fielder Jack Suwinski, who fielded the ball off the wall and fired to O'Neill Cruz, the cutoff man to keep LeMahieu from scoring. It was a bonafide “Defensive Run Saved” for sure by Suwinski.
Then, on the very next play, Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds saved two-runs of his own as he made a stellar catch on a soft line drive off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton, which would have easily given the Yankees the lead. Instead, it was still 1-0 Pirates.
Pittsburgh added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth after Reynolds doubled off the right field wall, Suwinski crushed one deep to center field and it was 3-0 Pirates.
The Pirates were in the process of pounding Taillon at that point and Ben Gamel drove in a sprinting O'Neill Cruz with another double, this one to deep center to give the Pirates a commanding 4-0 lead on the shell-shocked Yankees.
Aaron Judge finally got the Yankees on the board in the fifth-inning against Quintana, singling in Isiah Kiner-Falefa to cut the lead to 4-1 Bucs.
Pittsburgh chased Jameson Taillon in the bottom of the sixth and scored yet another run as O’Neil Cruz hit a sacrifice fly off of the usually elusive Lucas Leutge to score Suwinski and give the Pirates a 5-1 lead.
In the top of the seventh-inning, the Yankees had runners on first and second with two-outs and Aaron Judge at the plate, Pirates reliever Will Crowe got Judge to bounce into a double-play that second baseman Josh VanMeter made a beautiful feed to Cruz on, who threw a bullet to double-up the sprinting Judge and preserve the lead. This was a key point in the game because the Yankees were now only six-outs from a “L.”
Matt Carpenter singled in Gleyber Torres in the top of the eighth inning to make the score 5-2 Pirates.
Player of the Game - José Quintana was a pitbull last night and he wound up getting the better of Jameson Taillon as he kept the potent Yankee offense completely in check, striking out seven batters and not walking anyone.
● The entire Pirates outfield!
○ Bryan Reynolds was very impressive both at the plate and in the field for the Pirates.
○ Ben Gamel put his name on the Yankee trade radar, not only did he double in a run but he made a superb defensive play on a liner by Matt Carpenter in the sixth inning, holding the Village People look alike to a single.
○ Jack Suwinski had a big two run home run and also made a terrific defensive play on a Gleyber Torres’ double.
○ The Pirates bullpen also did a great job last night. Bednar stole the show with the electric save but Will Crow pitched two huge scoreless innings and Duane Underwood Jr limited the Yankees to one run in a pivotal eighth inning.
● Former Yankees prospect Diego Castillo came on for defensive purposes in the eighth inning and he made a nice play on a Giancarlo Stanton grounder.
● Matt Carpenter did a fantastic job of hitting in the top of the eighth, singling in Gleyber Torres who had walked and advanced to scoring position thanks to a wild pitch by Pirates reliever Duane Underwood, JR and then a ground-out by Stanton.
● Aroldis Chapman flashed 100mph on the black and topped out at 102, pitching a scoreless eighth inning with no walks. This was very encouraging. He threw 11 pitches total, getting three called strikes while forcing the Pirates to put defensive swings on each ball they made contact with.
Better to Forget
● Nothing! It was a fun game. The Pirates are improving with every game and their lineup is getting pretty good. Quintana is no pushover. He did his job in last night’s start, he was solid and he out-pitched Taillon.
My Take - Personally, I love interleague play because it makes a 162-game season a lot more interesting. It also gives me a chance to watch my favorite National League team, the Pirates, play the Yankees, so last night’s ballgame was of particular interest to me in that regard.
It was also interesting because there were a number of possible Yankee trade targets in action <chuckling, but being serious.> Ben Gamel, a poor man's Andrew Benintendi was batting seventh and playing left field and Pirates lefty closer David Bednar was sitting down in the bullpen as the game got underway and he showed lights out stuff, striking out Aaron Judge looking on a 78 mph curve-ball on the outer part of the plate to end the game last night. The pitch froze Judge completely. Bednar topped out at 97.3 last night. Obviously trading for him would be very costly, but I’ve actually identified him on my short-list of potential bullpen upgrades and I have a few articles coming out this week on this very topic. Yankee fans got to see Bednar and Gamel both in action last night.
Of course, the game might as well have been a Bryan Reynolds highlight video early on, so there was that too. It was impressive to watch. He seems to be back to his old self now after an uncharacteristically slow start. He’s spraying balls off the wall and putting really good at-bats together. He wound up going 2-4 overall last night. I’m actually not in favor of trading for Reynolds due to how costly it would be in terms of prospects, but he sure would look great in left field for the Yankees.
I listened to the Pirates broadcast of the game and was treated to a third inning interview with Bill Mazeroski, who hit the historic “shot heard round the world,” the most historic home run in World Series history, as the Pirates beat the Yankees in seven games to win the 1960 fall classic. The Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27 in that series and Yankee legend Mickey Mantle later said, the home run actually made him cry. Mazeroski has long been known as a profoundly great role model and he’s impacted countless players - Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole included. Bill Blass, one of the National League’s best pitchers from 1968 to 1972, was also on the broadcast and spoke about what a great mentor Mazeroski was to him.
Next Up - The Yankees play the Pirates tonight at 7:05 pm as righty Luis Severino (4-3, 3.35) is pitted against the Pirates righty Mitch Keller (2-5, 5.14).