About Last Night: The Yankees Defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0.
By Tim Kabel
May 28, 2022
Earlier this week, the Yankees tasted adversity for the first time this season, losing a series to the White Sox, and three games in a row. Since then, they righted the ship, winning three in a row heading into last night. They had the best record in baseball and led the Rays by 5.5 games.
Personally, I was excited because I did not have to listen to this game on the radio. It seems every Yankees game I cover for SSTN is on a streaming service. Well, last night, not only did I get to watch the game on Amazon Prime, but I was also treated to the Disney classic Frozen. Every seven minutes, my screen locked up. Sometimes I had audio, but sometimes, I did not. This season, watching games on Fridays is like watching a documentary about salmon swimming hundreds of miles upstream to spawn. Sometimes the salmon makes it. Sometimes the salmon gets stuck in the shallow water. Sometimes, a grizzly bear eats the salmon. You never know what will happen. It’s the same thing with the Friday night games.
After the sixth inning, I gave up and listened to the game with John and Suzyn, I went from Frozen to The Absent-Minded Professor. I arrived just in time to hear John talk about how he had bumped his elbow 19 times on the counter in the booth. It appears that I will be spending a lot of time with John and Suzyn this season. I can’t fight it. I’ll just brush up on show tunes, Wee Willie Keeler and the Gashouse Gang. After all, John has been calling games since Johnson was president. That’s Andrew, not Lyndon.
The Yankees played without DJ LeMahieu, Josh Donaldson, and Giancarlo Stanton. They won anyway.
This was the Yankees’ sixth shutout win this year.
In the fourth inning, Gleyber Torres and Matt Carpenter hit back-to-back home runs. I wonder if before the game, Matt said, “If I were a Carpenter, and you were a Gleyber, would we hit home runs anyway?”
In his last fifteen innings, Jameson Taillon has given up one run, while striking out 12 batters, and walking only one.
The Yankees are now 20 games over .500 before the end of May.
On yesterday’s date in baseball history, in 2017, Homer Simpson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the episode, Homer at the Bat, in which Homer won a championship softball game with a walk-off hit-by-pitch. It makes me feel good when I consider that Homer Simpson is in the Hall of Fame but, Alex Rodriguez is not.
The Yankees continue to churn out wins on a daily basis. They win in different ways. They win when some are their stars are out. It doesn’t matter; they just win. They only had six hits last night but, it was enough. They now lead the Rays by 6.5 games. At this point, there is only one thing to say: “Full speed ahead.”
Players of the Games:
Jameson Taillon had his best game as a Yankee. He is yet another dominant member of the Yankees’ starting rotation
Matt Carpenter went as he said, “From his living room to the best team in baseball.” Gleyber Torres has 8 home runs so far this season. He had 12 total in the past two seasons.
Better to Forget:
Joey Gallo had one hit but, he is only batting .165 with 5 home runs and 7 RBI. He has 48 strikeouts.
The Yankees are having a tremendous season. They have the best record in baseball. They are 20 games over 500 before the end of May. They have a 6.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, the team that won the division last year. Aaron Judge is having an MVP caliber season. Their starting pitching has been nothing short of dominant. Despite losing Chad Green for the season, and Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga temporarily, the bullpen has been the backbone of the team. There is little to complain about. However, there are some concerns.
Sometimes in life, you need to make choices that are not easy. For example, when you're doing the household budget, you may need to sacrifice a vacation in favor of a new furnace. Sometimes you cut corners and get by. You might decide to hold off on getting new tires for a while, and at the same time, try to get a few more months out of your old refrigerator. This may work. Then again, one day, both the refrigerator and the tires could reach their breaking point. The Yankees are in a similar situation.
The Yankees are going with a tandem of very weak offensive catchers. Their shortstop is a fairly decent slap hitter. Their center fielder appears to be a shadow of his former self, and his former self was a shadow of a good center fielder. The primary left fielder is an incredibly streaky hitter. Unfortunately, his hot streaks only seem to last about twenty minutes. It is okay to have a few question marks on the team but, over the long haul and certainly in the playoffs, that could come back to bite the Yankees. They need to address two of these issues sooner, rather than later.
I would leave the catchers alone, at least for now. I don't know who else is available out there But, I don't think it would be much of an upgrade. Besides, the primary jobs of the catcher are to play good defense and manage the pitching staff. I remember reading in Thurman Munson's autobiography that when he first came to the majors, Ralph Houk told him he would win more games behind the plate than at the plate as a batter. The Yankees have an extremely dominant pitching staff, and they all seem to like both catchers. I would not disrupt that. The only thing I would do is possibly work Ben Rortvedt into the rotation when he comes back from his IL stint. First, he will need to play in the minors for a while.
I also would keep Isaiah Kiner-Falefa at shortstop. He is not a tremendous hitter but, he has flashes of hitting well. And he often comes through in the clutch. He has virtually no power but, he doesn't necessarily need to. He was brought on board to provide solid, if not spectacular defense and to hold down the fort until one of the minor leaguers is ready. He is doing that.
Now we come to the sticky situation. Aaron Hicks is not a good player, and he is having a worse year. I know that right now, there is some young fellow eating a gravy sandwich in his mother's basement while he pounds away at the computer developing a statistic that will somehow make Aaron Hicks look like a decent player. Perhaps it will be something like, “Balls hit in a direction other than that, which was intended off pitchers who had a higher-than-expected spin rate.” Or perhaps. “Balls that were outs but would have been a hit, if no one was in the field.” Hicks needs to become a spare outfielder or be traded to another team. Aaron Judge can be the primary centerfielder, or they can bring up. Estevan Florial and have him play some games out there. Another option would be to find someone who has been tossed on the scrap heap like they did with Matt Carpenter.
I have preached patience regarding Joey Gallo. I don't think I can do that anymore. He is not just streaky. He is simply not very good but occasionally, he manages to hit a ball or two out of the park. Sometimes he does this with greater regularity. As a Yankee, he has not done so. There are rumored to be teams who are interested in him. The Yankees should make a trade with one of them.
Miguel Andujar has turned himself into a decent outfielder. He is a good hitter, who was the runner up in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2018. He was a doubles machine. Since then, he has had injuries and was replaced by Gio Urshela at third base. Let's remove third base as an option for him. I think they should make him the primary left fielder. I realize they wanted Gallo because he's a left-handed batter. However, if he never gets a hit, what difference does it make which side of the plate he bats from? I would rather have Andujar, who has a strong potential of getting a hit, than Gallo, who might get four or five hits a month. Perhaps he will get a lot more. There is no way to tell. You don't want someone like that playing a key role on a team that is fighting for a championship. Andujar has worked his way back and deserves the opportunity.
Overall, the Yankees are in a tremendous position. However, if they continue to stick with all the question marks they have, they could be bounced from the playoffs relatively quickly. They have to decide which positions need to be addressed now, and which ones can remain as they are for the rest of the season. I suggest they make changes in leftfield and centerfield and leave catching and shortstop the way they are.
Next Up -
Today, the Yankees play the third of a four-game series in Tampa against the Rays at 4:10 PM. Tampa Bay's Corey Kluber (1-2 4.42 ERA) will face Gerrit Cole (4-1 3.31 ERA).