About Last Night: The Yankees Clobber the Royals 11-5
by Tim Kabel
July 30, 2022
Last night was an interesting game.
The Yankees were winning. The Yankees then blew the lead and appeared to still be mired in their funk. The Yankees were losing 5-3 when the game was briefly delayed by rain, which seemed to rejuvenate them as they scored 8 runs in the eighth inning, led by Aaron Judge’s grand slam, his second home run of the game.
Hopefully, the Yankees are getting back on track after going 15-15 in their last 30 games. Despite a mediocre July, this team has the second-best record after 101 games in franchise history, trailing only the 1998 team.
Aaron Judge joined Babe Ruth and Roger Maris as the only Yankees to hit 40 home runs before the end of July. He is tied with Ruth for the team record for the most home runs through 101 games with 41.
The Yankees lead the Major Leagues in come-from-behind wins with 29.
The 2022 Yankees have 12 walk-off home runs. The MLB record is 18. The Yankees’ record is 17.
Gerrit Cole has allowed 18 home runs this year. Only two pitchers in the A.L. have allowed more this year.
On yesterday’s date in 1978, at Old-Timers' Day, it was announced by the late, great Bob Sheppard that the recently fired Billy Martin would return as manager in 1980. The fans went wild. Yankees’ general manager, Al Rosen, was so enraged that he reportedly tore his Cleveland Indians’ uniform off, sending buttons flying.
The Big Story:
The Yankees showed some fight and resilience last night, coming back against the Royals with 8 runs in the eighth inning. There were some good signs in the game. Anthony Rizzo had two hits, including a home run. Gleyber Torres had two hits. Andrew Benintendi had his first hit as a Yankee. Matt Carpenter had a pinch-hit double. Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless inning, with one strikeout and no walks, He reached 102 mph. And Albert Abreu had another solid outing.
It was just last week that we fans were panic-stricken regarding the bullpen after Michael King’s devastating injury. I am optimistic that the Yankees have weathered the storm and are sailing toward the playoffs.
Player of the Game:
Aaron Judge hit two home runs, including a grand slam, driving in six runs, giving him 41 home runs and 89 RBI for the season.
Notable Performances -
Chapman, Abreu, and Wandy Peralta all had solid outings in relief.
Better to Forget:
The top of the fifth inning, including sloppy infield defense and Gerrit Cole’s inability to hold the lead. (The Yankees had been leading 3-0 before the Royals scored five runs off Gerrit Cole - all with two outs.)
The Yankees are having a historic season. This team could end up having one of the best records in franchise history, if not the best record. Aaron Judge is running away from the field in the MVP contest. On the other hand, the team has been wallowing at the .500 level for the last month. There are flaws and issues that need to be considered.
Gerrit Cole is clearly an elite pitcher. He is the ace of the staff. However, he does seem to let his emotions get the better of him in certain situations. Last night, there were two mishandled balls in the infield during the fifth inning that led to runners being on base for Kansas City. Cole promptly gave up the lead. Remember Opening Day, when the opening pitch ceremony took too long? He was visibly upset and was hit around by the Red Sox in the first inning. He has done this a few times. No one questions his ability. The point is that being the leader of the staff requires more than athletic ability. He cannot continue to get flustered and lose focus when he is confronted with adversity. He needs to be more even keeled if he is going to lead the Yankees’ pitching staff to a World Series victory.
Aaron Boone has never been a great manager. He is not a great manager. He is simply managing a great team. Boone has made several decisions in the past few weeks that caused many people to scratch their heads. Putting Joey Gallo in a position to pinch hit against Edwin Diaz of the Mets the other night was one of them. Also, there have been a few occasions where he has acquiesced to Gerrit Cole’s insistence that he remain on the mound when Boone came out to remove him. I can think of two games against the Orioles when this happened. In both instances, Cole gave up runs. Some of Boone’s lineup choices are very curious as well. His in-game decisions, particularly his use of the bullpen, have always been troublesome. This year, the team has been so good, his weaknesses as a manager have not cost the Yankees much. I am concerned about how things will play out down the stretch and in the postseason. Seeing Boone matched up against Buck Showalter this week demonstrated how much better the Mets’ manager is. The best hope for the Yankees is that their talent overwhelms the opposition in the playoffs so there are not many situations where the outcome of the game depends on managerial skill and quick thinking.
In that same category, I'm somewhat baffled by the lineups Boone has made since the acquisition of Benintendi. Aaron Judge had usurped Aaron Hicks as the center fielder. Judge is a superior centerfielder and a much better ball player than Hicks in every possible way. I did not think the purpose of acquiring Benintendi was to push Judge out of center field so Hicks could play there. I could see moving Judge back to right field if the team acquired a center fielder of a high caliber, such as Bryan Reynolds. If Hicks was not the answer in centerfield all season, why is he suddenly the choice because Benintendi is on the roster? The other piece to this puzzle is that Benintendi's arrival seems to have pushed Matt Carpenter to the bench. Carpenter has one third of the plate appearances of Hicks. Yet, Carpenter has many more home runs and RBI. He's hitting for a much higher average. He is clearly an offensive threat. It would make much more sense to keep Judge in center, play Benintendi in left, and put Carpenter and Stanton (when he returns from the IL) in right field. Hicks could be the defensive replacement in right field in the later innings. On occasion, he could spell Judge in center or Benintendi in left. Hopefully, the lineups we have seen will only be a temporary situation, and Carpenter will regain his playing time.
The Yankees have a championship caliber team. There is no way to dispute that. However, that does not mean there are not some areas that could use improvement and some concerns. These issues need to be considered and if possible, addressed.
Today, the Yankees continue the two-game series against the Royals at home at 2:05 PM. The Royals’ Jonathan Heasley (1-5 5.50 ERA) will face Nestor Cortes, Jr. (8-3 2.48 ERA). Prior to the game, the Yankees will have the Old-Timers' Day game. It’s too bad Luis Tiant won’t be there. We could compare his performance on the mound to Nestor’s. Perhaps Joey Gallo could play in the Old-Timers' game. No, he had better not. Ron Guidry would strike him out on three pitches... and this year, there isn't a game itself anyway.