About Yesterday: Yankees 6, Twins 1
By Mike Whiteman 4/16/2023 *** Born on this day in 1903 was Paul Waner. During the war-torn season of 1944, the future Hall of Famer was released by the Brooklyn Dodgers, and picked up by the Yankees in September for the stretch run. He was given a $500 bonus to sign with the team (his total salary for the year was reported to be $3,000), and produced a pinch single in his first appearance. That hit, number 3,152 lifetime, would be the last of his illustrious career. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/wanerpa01.shtml https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/Paul-Waner/
Quick Stats: The Yankees are 9-6 on the season. They are in third place, four games behind the Tampa Bay Rays, who have lost two in a row after their 13-0 start. Anthony Volpe stole three bases on the afternoon and is third in MLB with six thefts . The Yankees as a team have swiped 16, sixth best in the majors. The Yanks are third in the MLB with 25 home runs.
Big Story: After two devastating losses to start the series, The Yankees and Domingo German came up big Saturday afternoon, defeating Minnesota 6-1. German has made a career of patching up the Yankee rotation when guys like Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino, Carlos Rodon and Corey Kluber have gone down through the years with injury. He usually gives about five innings per start, allowing two to three runs. Yesterday he was even better, allowing only one run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out eleven Twins. The electric outing was not without drama, as the umpires had some concern about German’s level of rosin usage, scrutinizing his hands after the third and beginning of the fourth innings, but eventually not finding enough to take any action. That wasn’t acceptable for Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli, who argued and was ejected.
In the meantime, the Yanks took the lead early on home runs by Kyle Higashioka and Anthony Rizzo. They tacked on another run in the fifth inning on a DJ LeMahieu run scoring single to make it 4-0.
German left the game after Trevor Larnach doubled in the seventh. Mike King came on and allowed Larnach to score on Jose Miranda’s two-bagger, but held the Twins scoreless the rest of the contest. A two-run double by Giancarlo Stanton in the seventh gave some more breathing room, and the Yankees coasted home with the win. Player of the Game: German is crucial to getting the Yankees through the injuries in their starting rotation. Especially after Johnny Brito’s disaster of Thursday, he needed to step up and he did. Notable Performances: King looks to be rounding into form, with a 1.86 ERA in 2023. Count me concerned though about what seems to be an aggressive workload thus far after last year’s devastating injury. Losing him again would be a serious blow to an already shorthanded bullpen…Volpe reached base three times in the nine hole…Everyone seemed to think Stanton’s double was going out of the park – Stanton, teammates, Michael Kay, and the sound engineer (sound effects). “G” is slugging .558 on the young season, and hitting the ball with authority.
Better to Forget: Oswaldo Cabrera was hitless in four plate appearances with three strikeouts. They Said It: “Just…tackiness from rosin. It was a level that caught their attention…I don’t think it reached a level.” – Aaron Boone on the umpire concerns, and why German wasn’t ejected. My take: Coming into the game, the Twins’ record and Pythagorean won-loss stood at 10-4. Translation, this is a good team playing good baseball. This was a good win for the Yanks. I really enjoy Jackie Robinson Day, seeing everyone wearing number 42. The Jackie Robinson story shows the profound impact sports can have on society, beyond the wins and losses. I may have to watch 42 today.
I am encouraged by Anthony Volpe’s play despite his sub-.200 batting average. He’s making the plays at shortstop and contributing on the basepaths. He looks like he belongs, and I suspect we will start to see more positive results at the plate as he continues to adjust to major league hitting. I’m eager to see the havoc Harrison Bader (assuming he hits lower in the lineup) and Volpe can cause together on the bases when the Yankee centerfielder returns. Speaking of Bader, I recently read an article about saying that he hasn’t felt any pain in his oblique since injuring it, and is eager to join the team. As a baseball fan growing up in the 1980s, I cannot recall seeing players miss time due to an “oblique” injury. Maybe it was a pulled stomach or chest muscle, but I just cannot remember injuries like this with any frequency. Are today’s oblique injuries a product of the swing for fences, high exit velocity mindset? Did players just play though it “back in the day.” I’m not implying by any means that Bader is “dogging” it, but sometimes I just scratch my head.
Now, not everything in the “good old days” was good, but player durability was one of those things that was better. In 2022, eight players played in 160+ games. In 1980, 16 players reached this threshold, with ten playing in 162 games. Today we seem to know so much about keeping ourselves healthy, but it has become hard to keep baseball players on the field. Time to get out of “get off my lawn” mode. It’s good to see DJ LeMahieu back and contributing. While Aaron Judge is clearly the best player on the team, I think LeMahieu is pretty close to being indispensable to the Yankee lineup. It’s a different team with DJL healthy and hitting.
Next Up: A duel of aces today – Gerrit Cole (3-0, 1.40) against Pablo Lopez (1-0, 1.35). Game start at 1:35 pm. The next best thing to winning a series is splitting one!