About Yesterday: Yankees 3, Astros 1
By Mike Whiteman 8/6/2023 *** Happy Birthday to Ron Davis. From 1979-1981, Davis was a very good middle/setup relief pitcher for the Yankees, with a 2.86 ERA and 136 ERA+. He was a 1981 All-Star, back when pitchers in his role were not often recognized. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/d/davisro02.shtml
Happy Birthday to Ken Phelps! Considering the buzz over the Yankees’ recent performance (or lack thereof), in the trade market, it’s a good time to revisit one of the more notorious deadline deals. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/phelpke01.shtml
QUICK STATS With yesterday’s win, the Yankees are 58-53 on the season. They are in fourth place in the American League East, ten and a half games out of first place, three and a half out of the last Wild Card. Their .523 winning percentage would amount to 85 wins over the course of a whole season.
BIG STORY Things aren’t getting easier for the Yankees, as the Astros sent out their big trade deadline pickup – Justin Verlander! Thankfully, the Yankees had an addition to their own rotation via the reinstatement of Nestor Cortes from the IL. Both teams likely came away from the game having gotten what they wanted from their starters. Cortes was sharp in his four innings, allowing only one hit – a solo home run by Jose Altuve – and striking out eight. Verlander allowed only two runs - a sacrifice fly by Anthony Volpe and a home run by Jake Bauers – in his seven innings of work. After Cortes exited the game, the Yankee bullpen went to work. Ian Hamilton, Tommy Kahnle, Michael King, and Clay Holmes spun five scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and striking out eight. Gleyber Torres gave the relief corps a bit of breathing room when he homered in the eighth. Yankees win, 3-1.
PLAYER OF THE GAME Let’s give this to “the staff” – nine innings pitched, two hits allowed, sixteen strikeouts. An overpowering performance.
NOTABLE PERFORMANCES Torres had two hits on the day and is slashing .325/.349/.538 since the All-Star break. He is quietly putting together a solid season…Holmes claimed his sixteenth save of the season. He has allowed two earned runs over the past two months and has a 0.89 ERA in that span...Hamilton was the winning pitcher. He has been a revelation in the pen this year, and has a 1.67 ERA. BETTER TO FORGET In the third inning, DJ LeMahieu ripped a single to right center, a hit that was quickly pounced on by centerfielder Mauricio Dubon. He threw out Giancarlo Stanton trying to score from second base, who appeared be jogging home. He was going so slow that he stopped running before reaching the plate! It was a two out play, with a throw that was off the plate, and he was out by a lot. Yikes! Is Stanton hurting? Boone said he was healthy in postgame remarks. Is he trying to protect himself from injury? Was it a just a terrible send by third base coach Rojas? Stanton these days is a station-to-station baserunner. It looked real bad.
THEY SAID IT "We’ll see how I react tomorrow, but for now, I feel good” – welcome words from Nestor Cortes. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. MY TAKE A win over Houston is always a good thing. Having taken two of three thus far is even better. I may be one of the few, but I’m glad to see the Yankees “in it to win it” in the words of GM Brian Cashman. There’s a good chance that I’m stuck in the 1980s, but I do not like tanking/selling unless the team is way out of playoff contention. In baseball, things can and do happen. I like to see teams give the full effort over the course of the season. If it doesn’t go well, regroup in the offseason. That doesn’t mean that I’m oblivious to the Yankees’ weaknesses. They are borderline unwatchable at times due to the poor hitting. In my eyes, this team screams “1988”, which was a season that started with promise, but deteriorated into a flawed, old, sloppy team. Even worse, it was the gateway to the desert years until Gene Michael and Buck Showalter righted the ship in the 1990s. I also understand that there is opportunity lost for the Yanks to not turn veteran pieces into prospects at the deadline. The Mets are being lauded for their selloff, but I really wonder if it is that much better being a Mets fan than a Yankee fan today. I mean, the Mets put together an older, worse team for 2023 and are now punting until 2025 (2026?). There’s opportunity, even if small, today for the Yanks to play well and have meaningful games this season. Worry about next year in the winter. I’m realistic about the team’s chances – a team that can’t score runs has big problem putting together a good stretch of games. One thing that can help is that the team is getting closer to a whole pitching staff. A rotation of Cole, Schmidt, Cortes and a hopefully improving Carlos Rodon should keep the team in most games. In fact, we saw the Yankee “formula” for a win today – pitch well and keep your fingers crossed on offense. It doesn’t have a “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain” ring to it, but hey, it could work! I do think the Yanks need to consider dropping Luis Severino from the rotation as right now Jhony Brito or Randy Vasquez give the Yanks a better chance to win. It saddens me to say this, as Sevvy has been one of my favorites during his time in Pinstripes. He cares and always puts out maximum effort. Besides not adding an at least average leftfielder, the one thing that discouraged me was that the trade deadline did nothing to open a spot for Oswaldo Peraza. He’s a major league player in AAA . I really felt like the team should have made a deal to open a position, or he should have been dealt for a comparably talented player/players to fill in other places of weakness. I’m no insider, but I have to think there’s a point when a player who is ready for the majors can grow stale, and staying in AAA can be to his detriment. So, I’m happy to be still watching the standings and the scoreboard, and to root for the Yanks to make up ground and reach the postseason. Frankly, I think this is the last gasp for this group as constituted, and however the team finishes, I believe the offseason needs to be a time of evaluation and possible change in the organization. NEXT UP The Yankees signed Carlos Rodon (1-4, 6.29) for games like today’s. This is the time for him to step up and be that second ace for the Yanks. He he takes the mound against Jose Urquidy (2-2, 5.20). Game time 1:35. It’s Harry Potter Day, so be sure to be one of the first 18,000 fans and get a Harry Potter themed Yankee hat.