About Last Night: Yanks Even The Series, Defeat Dodgers 6-3
By Andy Singer
June 4th, 2023
The Big Story
The Yanks evened the series with the Dodgers on Saturday evening in a game that was both closer and not nearly as close as it appeared. Gerrit Cole got back on the ace wagon and gave the Yankees 6 strong innings (and just 80 pitches) of 1-run ball before Wandy Peralta made things interesting in the 7th inning. The Yankee offense rode the long ball to the win, with Jake Bauers swatting two long 2-run homers, and Aaron Judge and Oswaldo Cabrera (called back up to replace Greg Allen on the roster) each adding solo shots of their own. Mike King again staked his claim as one of the best relievers in the sport, serving as fireman to cover Peralta’s disastrous outing in the 7th inning while continuing his dominance into the 8th inning, though he needed a bit of help from Aaron Judge, who broke the outfield wall running through it to make a catch on a deep fly ball to right (Judge is alright…we think).
A Deeper Dive
Have A Night, Jake Bauers
I’ve stumped pretty hard for Bauers since he was sent down in Spring Training. He has made some swing changes that allow his bat to stay in the zone longer and help Bauers make more optimal contact. Prior to Saturday night’s game, Bauers’ bottom-line stats didn’t necessarily jump off of the page, but they weren’t bad either: 69 plate appearances, a line of .214/.333/.429, a .762 OPS, 3 home runs, 11 walks, and 24 strikeouts. Too many strikeouts, a low batting average, but also left-handed power and a clear ability to get on-base. However, there’s more under the surface, as Bauers had been a bit unlucky with a .290 BABIP and some of the best batted ball metrics on the team: 113.5 Max Exit Velocity, 91.1 Average Exit Velocity, and truly absurd Barrel and Hard Hit rates, respectively (20.6% Barrel Rate, 50% Hard Hit Rate). I’ve been waiting for a game like Saturday night for Bauers.
The Yankees weren’t facing pitching the caliber of, say, Clayton Kershaw or Walker Buehler, but Bauers deserves credit for hitting the pitches he was given…let’s just say he didn’t miss. Bauers’ first homer off of Dodger’s starting pitcher, Michael Grove, was a hard shot to right-center off of a 95+ MPH fastball in the 2nd inning while his second homer in the 4th inning was a moonshot to right field on a hanging slider.
Bauers now has a classic, sweet left-handed swing. The Yankees have used him sparingly since his call-up, but I think he’s earned a harder look over the last couple of weeks. Bauers now has a 142 OPS+. The Yankees might have themselves a left fielder.
Cole Pulled After 6…Why?
Gerrit Cole was pulled after 6 innings of 1-run ball on Saturday night…and just 80 pitches thrown. I can’t find any defense of the move. Sure, Cole had struggled each of his last few times out on the mound, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday night. More to the point, nothing in the advanced statistics really indicate that there was an issue. If you want to nitpick, you could say that his last 3 fastballs were consecutively slower, but their velocity was right in line with where Cole’s fastball lived on Saturday:
If Aaron Boone makes a pitching call, it is almost certainly a bad one.
Hat Tip to Michael King
Mike King came in to face an almost impossible situation: runners at the corners, no outs. King promptly gave up a line drive single to center to allow one inherited run to score, but he tightened up after that and was the most important player in this game other than Jake Bauers. King’s final line: 2 innings, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts…and boy did that slider look like a frisbee.
Judge Is Great…And Scary
Aaron Judge made a spectacular catch in right field in the 8th inning to save extra bases:
Who designs a wall that way? Judge could have seriously hurt his foot/ankle/leg, etc. on that awful design. The Yanks dodged a bullet in LA, because I was sure Judge was going to be hurt from that impact and subsequent trip, but he seems OK. I hope I can just remember that as a great catch.
Player Of The Game
Jake Bauers is the easy one here: 2-3, 2 home runs, 4 RBIs
Oswaldo Cabrera (late inning defensive replacement for Bauers): 1-1, 1 HR
Mike King: 2 IP, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts
Aaron Judge: 1-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Jake Bauers: 2-3, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Clay Holmes: 1 IP, 1 Save
Better To Forget
Anthony Volpe: 0-3, 2 strikeouts
Gleyber Torres: 0-4 out of the lead-off spot
Josh Donaldson: 0-4, 2 strikeouts while batting clean-up
Wandy Peralta: 0 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 BB
A win is a win, but this one should have been over after the 4th inning. Aaron Boone has the opposite of the Midas Touch: if he makes a pitching move, it’s wrong. After Boone pulled Cole to begin the 7th, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop even after the Yanks got a 3-run lead after Oswaldo Cabrera’s late homer. No matter what else you say about Aaron Boone, I can’t help but feel like his in-game roster decisions hold the Yankees back.
Looking To Tomorrow
Domingo German takes the bump for the Yankees against uber-prospect, Bobby Miller. Coverage begins at 7:10 over on ESPN. Let’s see if the Yanks can take a series against the best team in the NL.