About Last Night: Yanks Drop Series Opener To The White Sox, 5-1
By Andy Singer
August 8th, 2023
The Big Story
Once again, the Yankees were unable to score runs against one of the worst teams in baseball. It would be one thing if this were merely a case of the Yankees continuing their run as possibly the worst offense in baseball, but the Yankees were asked to face not just the other team’s pitchers, but home plate umpire Laz Diaz as well. Aaron Boone was ejected in the 8th inning for arguing balls and strikes (more on that in a minute), but it did little to spark the Yankees’ struggling offense. If you’re looking for a silver lining, at least we can talk about failure with runners in scoring position, like the old days, instead of just abject failure, as the Yankees only scored 1 run after loading the bases on 3 separate occasions.
Oh, and Gerrit Cole was very good despite the fact that his final line shows 4 ER allowed; he ran out of gas in the 8th inning, and Tommy Kahnle allowed both inherited runners from Cole to score. It was yet another frustrating night to be a Yankee fan.
A Deeper Dive
Different Strike Zones for Different Teams
Laz Diaz is a bad home plate umpire with a known bias for pitches in the left-handed batter’s box. Surely MLB knows this and has done nothing to help Diaz improve over the years. Or worse, they’ve worked with Diaz to help him understand the flaw, but now he applies that knowledge selectively in such a way that he calls an uneven game. Whatever the case, it led to a frustrating strike zone for the Yankees on Monday night.
Don’t believe me? Here were the called balls and strikes against the White Sox with Cole on the mound:
Here were the called balls and strikes for White Sox pitchers:
Diaz was more even with the strike zone after Boone’s ejection in the 8th inning, but by that point the damage was done. Diaz allowed White Sox starter, Dylan Cease, to pepper the left-handed batter’s box with outside curveballs for strikes early in counts, which put Yankee hitters on their heels immediately during at-bats at crucial moments of the game.
I actually fault Boone here; he should have gotten himself tossed earlier, as Diaz was more even late in the game. I can’t help but think the Yankees would have another run or two if the strike zone were fairer to both teams.
A Bad Offense
Let’s get one thing straight while we’re here, though: the Yankees should have scored more than one run on Monday night, bad strike zone or not. When you load the bases 3 times, there’s very little excuse to come away with just one run on a sac fly. Sean Casey has been around for a few weeks now…I can’t say I see a difference in the results, even if anecdotally I see a bit more fight during at-bats.
Sometimes, You Just Have To Tip Your Cap
It looked like Jake Bauers had ripped a 2 or 3-run double 100 MPH down the RF line with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the top of the 6th inning, but first baseman Andrew Vaughn had other ideas. He made a fantastic diving stop deep in the infield at the line, then outraced Bauers to first base by an eyelash.
The hit would have at least tied the game, and possibly given the Yanks the lead, but alas, the Yankees can’t catch a break.
Player Of The Game
Gerrit Cole? It’s hard to pick, honestly. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he kept the Yankees in the game, which is all you can ask from your ace when he’s working with his “C” game.
Aaron Judge got on-base 3 times, with 2 hits and a walk.
Volpe had a hit and a walk, getting on-base twice in 4 plate appearances, as did Harrison Bader, DJ LeMahieu, and Gleyber Torres (though Torres’ hit was a generous gift from the official scorer).
Better To Forget
Tommy Kahnle’s performance, and a smashed water cooler won’t help him forget either. He allowed both inherited runners to score, and he allowed a run of his own, just for good measure.
This is a bad team, and while I tend to be the optimist in the room, the magic isn’t coming. A game like this is as much proof as anyone should need of that. Even when the Yankees get gobs of baserunners, they can’t finish the job and score. Sure, Laz Diaz was partially to blame, but that’s not a good enough excuse. The Yankees are making the old, “round ball, round bat, hit it square” axiom look even harder than one would imagine.
To make the playoffs, the Yankees need to play .625 ball the rest of the way…I just don’t see it.
Looking To Tomorrow
Clarke Schmidt takes on Touki Toussaint as the Yanks look to even the series. Game starts at 8:10.