By Mike Whiteman 9/25/2022
*** Born on this day in 1917 was the Scooter, Phil Rizzuto. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/rizzuph01.shtml https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/Phil-Rizzuto/ Quick Stats: The Yankees are 93-58 on the season. They lead the American League East by nine games. Their magic number to clinch the division title is three. They have the second best record in the American League – behind only Houston.
They have won six games in a row and 14 of their last 18. They are 14-6 in September. Aaron Judge was hitless in three at bats. He’s in a bit of a mini-slump, with only one single over his past three games. As he pursues the Triple Crown, his batting average has slipped to .314, second behind Xander Bogaerts’ .315. Big Story: The Yankees outlasted the Red Sox, moving them closer to clinching the AL East. They had taken a 5-3 lead through the fifth inning on the strength of home runs by Gleyber Torres and Oswaldo Cabrera and RBI singles by Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Unfortunately, the Bosox came back to tie when they scored single runs in the sixth and seventh off the Yankee relief crew of Zack Britton, Lou Trivino, and Lucas Luetge. The Yanks took the lead back when Anthony Rizzo crushed a two-run home run and the bottom of the seventh. With a 7-5 lead, Luetge allowed the first two Boston batters to reach in the eighth. Clarke Schmidt came on and got out of the inning unscathed, with an assist from Harrison Bader’s spectacular diving catch of a liner off the bat of Abraham Almonte. Scott Effross, in his first action after a month-long IL stint with a shoulder strain, took the mound in the bottom of the ninth and made things interesting. The Sox loaded the bases on a hit by pitch, a single, and a walk but the Yankee submariner pulled a Houdini to close the game and earn the save. Yankees 7, Red Sox 5 Judge seemed a bit off yesterday, as he certainly looked to have pitches to hit. It looks to me like he is feeling the pressure just a bit, as when he was called out on a check-swing strike three, he reacted as animatedly frustrated as I’ve seen him. Now, “animated” for Aaron Judge barely moves the needle as compared to others. I suspect this is just a bump in the road, and he will make adjustments just like he has done all season, and will reach and surpass Roger Maris’ Yankee and AL standard. Players of the Game: Rizzo’s home run was huge, but I give POG to Schmidt and Effross for holding the lead, which hasn’t been a given of late. With all the uncertainty in the relief corps, folks need to step up and step up soon. Schmidt and Effross are both in the mix for high leverage innings in the postseason. When I see Schmidt, I’m reminded of Phil Hughes in 2009, a top Yankee starting pitching prospect pressed successfully into relief service. Effross is my sleeper candidate for closer moving forward. I’ve seen both of his Yankee saves, and while he doesn’t have the eye-popping velocity we have come to expect in a closer, he’s a real battler who trusts his stuff and doesn’t seem to get rattled. Notable Performances: Aaron Hicks worked a significant pinch hit walk in the seventh after falling behind 0-2 in the count. He scored on Rizzo’s home run…Domingo German threw five innings, allowing three runs in a typical Domingo German outing.
Better to Forget: The Yankees have high hopes for Zack Britton and what he can add to the murky bullpen picture. He came on in the sixth and yielded a hit and three walks in his third of an inning of work. He later said that he felt his velocity and movement was fine, that he just needs some time to work on his command. They Said It: “I don’t think so” – Aaron Boone when asked if he thinks Judge may be feeling the strain of the pursuit of the home run record. My Take: The game really had a fun vibe to it. Yankee Stadium looked to be excitable, and ready to explode at a Judge homer. Tomorrow’s game promises to be just as electric. I would love to see Judge smack a couple of homers tomorrow before they hit the road Monday. I’m still anxious about the bullpen, but feel good that the team looks to be getting their swagger back. I credit a lot of that to the return of health/form of Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton.
On a humorous note, I was running some errands with my wife at the beginning of yesterday’s ballgame. In our travels, we found our way by a Rawlings outlet store, and I walked in to find the game on. Bader had just been thrown out trying to go from first to third on IKF’s RBI single to left. I turn to a store employee, and we had this conversation:
Me: Bader sure looks to be an exciting player.
Store employee: Yeah…but they should have never traded Montgomery for him Me: Really? C’mon man!
This conversation happened in that hotbed of Yankee baseball, Central Pennsylvania - Amish Country. My first thought is “I can’t get away from this deal”. My second thought went to our esteemed and beloved Editor-in-Chief, who I’m sure would have been pleased at the exchange. Next Up: Nestor Cortes (10-4, 2.67) takes the mound against rookie Brayan Bello (2-6, 4.75) as the Yankees go for the sweep. This looks to be a challenge for Judge to get his homers, as Bello has thrown only one gopher ball in 47+ innings this year. Game time 7:08pm.