About Last Night: Yankees 2 - Rays 0
by Cary Greene
June 15, 2022
The Big Story - The crowd was anticipating a super-duper pitching duel and that’s exactly what they got as the matchup between Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber was an all out war featuring some breathtaking defense behind the two aces.
In the bottom of the third inning Taylor Walls, the Rays exciting rookie infielder, made a true dazzler of a defensive play on a tough-chance grounder by DJ LeMahieu to somehow nail him at first base.
Isaiah Kiner-Falefa got the Yankees on the board in the bottom of the fourth-inning with a two-out base hit to left field on which Gleyber Torres scored and then Giancarlo Stanton also came in to score, aided by a throwing error charged to Randy Arozarena. Amazingly, that was the extent of the scoring.
The Yankee bullpen was magnificent in relief of Gerrit Cole and that set up a big save opportunity as he handed the ball to Clay Holmes, who now has a stranglehold on the Yankees' closer job! Holmes didn’t disappoint either as he took the opportunity to put his 28-straight scoreless innings streak on the line as he pounded the strike zone with his devilish, bowling ball sinker, his moving 2-seam fastball, and his biting slider.
Holmes got Randy Arozarena swinging to lead off the ninth, then Kevin Kiermaier whiffed. Brett Phillips hit a front-door sinker into right for a clean single and it was then Francisco Mejia vs Holmes and Mejia laced what looked like a sure double into the gap in Death Valley, but Aaron Judge came racing over to make a running, backhand catch to end the game.
● Winning Pitcher: Gerrit Cole (6-1) 6 IP / 5 H, 0 ER / 7 K, 1 BB / 92-62 PC-ST 3.33 ERA
● Losing Pitcher: Corey Kluber (3-3) 6 IP/ 4 H, 2 ER / 3 K, 1 BB / 93-64 PC-ST 3.50 ERA
● Yankee Home Runs: None
● The Yankees are on pace to win 119 games this season.
● Fangraphs has the Yankees' chances of making the playoffs at 99.9%, yet they think the Yankees only have a 12.5% chance of winning the World-Series. Close by are the Astros at 12.8% and the Dodgers at 12.5%.
● The Yankees OPS+ of 123 leads all of MLB. Since 1903, the average OPS+ of World Series winners is 103.91
● The Yankees ERA+ is presently 135, second only the the Dodgers who are at 139. Since 1903, the average World Series winners have averaged a 113.66 ERA+
● The Yankees were off on Monday, June 13th, but 74 years ago Monday, on June 13th in 1948, the Yanks retired Babe Ruth‘s No. 3 on what would be the Babe’s final visit ever to the “House That Ruth Built.”
● Anthony Rizzo has now stolen third base three times this season, which leads the majors.
○ Clay Holmes has now pitched 29 straight scoreless innings.
○ Yankee pitching now has 10 shutouts on the season.
○ The Rays offense went 1-6 with runners in scoring position and they stranded 8 baserunners.
Player of the Game:
● Gerrit Cole was very sharp against the Rays last night, demonstrating pinpoint control through six innings, striking out seven Rays batters while only walking one. Cole worked out of a bases loaded jam in top of the sixth inning, inducing Randy Arozarena to ground into a perfectly turned Falefa to Torres to Rizzo inning-ending double-play!
● Isiah Kiner-Falefa came through in the bottom of the fourth with a single and his defense was highlighted by a terrific 1-6-3 play in the top of the seventh inning to get the speedy Kevin Kiermaier on a slow bouncer.
● Wandy Peralta and Mike King combined to pitch a scoreless seventh inning and King then stayed in to blow the Rays away in the eighth inning, striking out Ji-Man Choi with a runner on first base to end the threat. (Aaron Boone seems to have found his high-leverage bridge relievers. King’s breaking balls had 22-inches of movement on them and David Cone was literally gushing about his “Boogie-Board” slider that just takes off as it darts down and in to left-handed hitters. King’s 38.4% swing and miss rate is number one in the majors this season.
● Aaron Judge made a game-ending running catch on a Francisco Mejia rocket in the left-center gap that saved a run and stifled a potential 2-out rally by the Rays.
Better to Forget:
● Aaron Judge, Matt Carpenter, Jose Trevino and Joey Gallo combined to go 0-13 last night, admittedly against very good Rays pitching.
It was terrific to see Gerrit Cole bounce back from what was a rather embarrassing prior outing. He clearly was able to refocus and put his last start behind him, which is the sign of a true ace.
The Yankee offense kept fighting all night, they even put two men on base in the bottom of the eighth as they tried to scratch and claw for some insurance runs. With Anthony Rizzo at second base and Aaron Hicks, who was pinch running for Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres popped up and then, an amazing thing happened - Rizzo and Hicks executed a successful double-steal! It was a thing of beauty and was flat out awesome to see. The double-steal also forced the Rays to bring the infield-in with Matt Carpenter at the plate - who promptly capped an 0-4 night by striking out. Isaiah Kiner-Falefa then flew out to end the Yankee threat, but I had more fun watching the Yankees continue to pressure the Rays that the Yankees failing to score didn’t even seem to matter as I watched. I’m beyond stoked that the Yankees are playing this aggressively and it just feels like this team is capable of doing anything. Every inning this season has been must-watch-baseball.
There truly wasn’t any pressure on the Yankees last night, the Rays were in dire need of a head-to-head win coming into the Bronx to open a key three-game-set. The Yankees got the “W” and that’s really all that matters because now, the Rays are in a very tough spot heading into tonight's game in what will undoubtedly be another phenomenal pitching matchup.
Tonight, the Yankees host the Rays in what amounts to a crucially important game for Tampa. The Rays will send lefty Shane McClanahan (7-2, 1.87 ERA, 98K) to the mound to oppose Yankees lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. (5-2, 1.96 ERA, 71K).
Hard to imagine with as good as “Nasty Nestor” has been, McClanahan has been even slightly better. The matchup should make for an amazing pitching duel between two of the best lefty starters in MLB. Game time is set for 7:05 pm. It will be 74-degrees at game time and skies will be partly cloudy.