About Yesterday Afternoon: The Yankees Fall to the Orioles 3-1
by Tim Kabel
October 3, 2022
The Yankees have won the American League East this season. They will open the American League Division championship series on October 11th against the winner of the of the series between the Rays and the Guardians. However, entering play yesterday, they still had five games left on the schedule. They need to play those games. The primary importance of these games for Yankees' fans is to see if Aaron Judge can hit his 62nd home run of the season, and perhaps more.
For the team, the final games will be used to set the pitching rotation for the playoffs and make determinations about roster spots and roles for the team headed into the postseason. Whether DJ LeMahieu, Aroldis Chapman and others can be contributors in the playoffs will be determined. Other than that, the remaining games do not have a great deal of significance. That is why yesterday's game was started by Chi Chi Gonzalez, whose entire Yankees career will most likely be comprised of yesterday's game.
Since I was covering yesterday's game, two things happened. First, it rained. Second, Aaron Hicks was in the starting lineup. In the first inning, we had a chance to see Hicks take the wrong route on a ball and then jog after it, allowing Ryan Mountcastle to get a double and drive in a run. In the sixth inning, Hicks jogged after another ball in the corner, which became a double for Austin Hayes. It's good to see Hicks at the peak of his game headed into the playoffs. To his credit, he did make a nice running catch in the seventh inning. By the way, yesterday was Aaron Hicks 33rd birthday. His present will most likely be a spot on the playoff roster. Our gift is that the Yankees have him under contract for three more years. Perhaps, he ate some cake before the seventh inning.
Since Aaron Judge hit his 61st home run, 26% of the pitches he has seen have been strikes, which is well below the major league average. It's hard to hit a home run when pitchers won't throw the ball over the plate.
Chi Chi Gonzalez gave up one run in 4.2 innings. He did what he was asked to do.
Aroldis Chapman pitched in the 7th inning. In just 1/3 of an inning, He gave up an infield single, three walks, and two runs. SSTN reader Fuster has a better chance of making the postseason roster than Chapman.
On yesterday's date in 1978, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 5-4 in a one-game playoff to go to the postseason. Bucky Dent acquired a new middle name that day.
The Big Story:
The final score of yesterday's game was not that important. It had no bearing on the outcome of the season. What is significant is the fact that in the eighth inning, Ron Marinaccio, who has become an important part of the bullpen, left due to a shin injury. At this point, we don't know what it means headed into the playoffs. However, Clay Holmes will not pitch again, at least until the playoffs. There are now multiple questions in the bullpen. Miguel Castro will be reactivated tomorrow and will certainly pitch in Texas. Wandy Peralta should be back for the playoffs. Aaron Boone even mentioned the possibility of Albert Abreu the other day but I for one, hope that does not happen. I just don't think Abreu would be much help in the playoffs. At this point, the four-game series in Texas will be very important to provide some clarity to the bullpen composition.
Player of the Game:
Although he did not have a spectacular game, Harrison Bader's solid defense and his ability to get on base and shake things up have been impressive. He could be a major force in the playoffs.
Notable Performances -
No one really stood out.
Better to Forget-
Aroldis Chapman's outing. His Yankees' career could end on Wednesday.
The 2022 New York Yankees are playoffs-bound. They may not have won as many games as we all thought they would at the All-Star break but, they still won the American League East, and they get a bye in the first round of the playoffs. We will see how far they go. Hopefully, they will win the World Series. At the very least, it would be great if they made it there. Between now and the start of the playoffs, we will have opportunities to talk about the Yankees' chances in the postseason. Let's just take a moment to savor their success.
As the Yankee fans, we may not be thrilled with the team and fully optimistic that they will win the World Series. However, they do have a chance. What we can and need to be thrilled with is the year-long performance of Aaron Judge. He declined the Yankees' offer for a long-term deal and went into the season knowing his performance would have a direct influence on his future contract. He put up a phenomenal season. When you consider that he played centerfield very well in addition to his regular position of rightfield, and clearly established himself as a leader; that would be incredible all on its own.
Think about this, Aaron Judge enters the last four games of the season flirting with the Triple Crown. He may not win it but, he will definitely lead the league in home runs and RBI. He has put up numbers that none of us have ever seen before. Yes, some readers were alive when Roger Maris hit 61 home runs but, he did not have the batting average that Judge has this year. Judge leads the league in virtually every offensive statistic, including those obscure statistics that only three people who live in their mom's basement and eat food out of cartons know about. I guarantee there is a statistic for most home runs on a Tuesday off left-handed, side-arming pitchers whose mother's first name is Ruth. Judge leads in that one too.
We need to step back from this. We may never see another season like this in our lifetimes. The last time someone hit 61 home runs in the American League, or 61 home runs without the cloud of steroids looming over him, was 61 years ago. Even Judge himself may never come close to duplicating what he did this year. It is not easy to hit home runs as we have seen over the past few weeks. In most cases, home runs happen; they are not planned. Even if Judge never comes close to doing anything like this again, it will not diminish his greatness as a player. I doubt he will turn into a .240 hitter with 21 home runs for the remainder of his career.
The point is, we have witnessed an historic season by a great player, who we all hope will be a lifetime Yankee. If the Yankees win the World Series and then sign Judge to a long contract, it will be much better than if they would have won 122 games but lost the World Series and not retained Judge. Yankees fans may wind up in the unique position of being able to eat our cake and have it, too.
Tonight, the Yankees open a four-game series against the Rangers in Texas at 7:05 PM. Jameson Taillon (14-5 3.84 ERA) will face Martin Perez (12-7 2.93 ERA) for Texas.
(Editor's Note - There will be a live stream of the game with EJ Fagan, Paul Semendinger, Andy Singer, and some SSTN writers, including Tim Kabel for tonight's game. Check us out on the North East Streaming Sports Network.)