Whew. What a difference a day makes.
What a difference.
Starting Pitching – It all comes down to starting pitching. Last night, the Yankees had it again. Masahiro Tanaka was brilliant. BRILLIANT. That was his second consecutive great start. Last night, Tanaka pitched into the seventh inning going 6.2 total innings. He allowed only four base runners. Only four. Two batters hit homers (Yasiel Puig and Jose Ramirez). The only other base runner(s) off Tanaka were (was) Jose Ramirez who also singled and doubled in the contest. Tanaka walked no batters and he struck out two. Baseball is played every single day, and sometimes we all get too wrapped up in a big win or a big loss, but this was a big win. It was a bounce-back game for the Yankees led by an outstanding pitching performance. If Tanaka can pitch like this in the playoffs, he’s as good as anyone. Once the Yankees gave him a lead last night, he didn’t give it up. Outstanding!
Clutch Hits – It all comes down to hitting and scoring runs. The Yankees didn’t do a lot of hitting or scoring runs, but they did enough. The Yankees scored twice in the first inning on a couple bloop hits, but they all count. The first inning scoring took place as such:
Aaron Judge line drive single with one out
Gio Urshela bloop single to right
Didi Gregorius (3-6) fielders choice (moves Judge to third)
Gary Sanchez bloop rbi single
Gleyber Torres ground ball rbi single to right
That wasn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball, but it was enough to score two runs.
The Yankees scored again (for the only other time) in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Aaron Judge doubled to right. He then scored on a Gio Urshela single and a Yasiel Puig error. That third run was the difference in the game.
Defense – It all comes down to defense, and it all centered around Yasiel Puig. As noted, his error in the fifth inning allowed Aaron Judge to score the Yankees third run which was the “Margin of Victory Run” (MVR).
(Editor’s Note – I believe that this term has just been invented and has never been used before. We will claim this as our own. Going forward, whenever you hear about a “Margin of Victory Run” or MVR, please remember that you read it here first.)
One might assume by the above that Puig cost the Indians the game, but, he didn’t. Yes, he misplaced the Urshela hit that allowed a run to score. But, he also homered, and his defense and arm actually saved a few other runs:
In the bottom of the second inning, he threw out Cameron Maybin at home on a would-be sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Yankees loaded the bases with no outs. DJ LeMahieu was on third. Didi Gregorius hit a fly to right field…the Yankees didn’t test Puig’s arm again. The run didn’t score. Next, Gary Sanchez also flew out to right…and again, LeMahieu stayed put. Twice, in one inning, the Yankees were unable to score on fly balls to right field because of Puig’s arm. Amazing. (Gleyber Torres then popped out and the Yankees scored no runs in that inning.)
Bullpen – It all comes down to great relief pitching. And boy did the Yankees have it last night.
Tommy Kahnle relieved Tanaka in the top of the seventh inning. Tanaka had allowed the homer to Puig to make the score 3-2. Following the homer, Jose Ramirez doubled. That’s when Kahnle was called in – and what a spot! He had only one out and the tying run was on second. Kahnle then proceeded to strikeout both Jason Kipnis and Franmil Reyes.
Zack Britton pitched the eighth and worked around a lead-off error to retire the next three hitters without allowing a base runner or a run.
Finally, Aroldis Chapman was on FIRE. He walked Carlos Santana to open the frame. He then got Puig to pop out before striking out both Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis to close out the game and earn the save.
Radio – Due to the Giants pre-season football game, the Yankees were moved from 660 AM to just being on WFAN’s FM channel. Interesting. (I can’t say I’m a fan of that move.)
Post Season – I still believe the Yankees should have enhanced their starting pitching over the winter, throughout the first half of the season, and/or at the trade deadline. I will write a lot about that this winter. The time is NOW to get the last pieces to build a team that should compete for a World Series for many years to come. This team needs some starters. I’m not a fan (in spite of the success the Yankees have had with it, Thursday night not withstanding) of the Opener/Bullpen game. All that being said, if Tanaka is on, he’s as good as anyone in the post season. Then, the Yankees just need two other starters to come up big. James Paxton seems to be coming around. He might be that guy. Domingo German has been that guy all year. If the Yankees need a fourth starter, and if he’s healthy, that man could be Luis Severino. Or, maybe Severino tandems with Jonathan Loáisiga (which would save the rest of the bullpen from having to start a game and fill in all of the pieces). I wish the Yankees had another ace, but it’s not unrealistic to assume that that starting rotation could actually get it done in the post season. (As great as C.C. Sabathia has been in his career, I would much rather use him as an amazing left-handed shut down reliever in the post season and not as a starter.) But, October is still a long time away.
MVR – I like that. I really do!
No, Just No. Please No – Aaron Boone was quoted before the game that he would be in favor of a mercy rule in blowouts. No. No. Please no. These a big leaguers. This isn’t Little League or Old Man’s Softball. No. In Major League Baseball, in order to win, a team must retire the opponent 27 times (inclement weather not withstanding).. Period. A mercy rule would be horrible. It’s unnecessary. And silly. No. No. Please no. Absolutely no.
MoVR – Written this way it looks much more like an advanced sabermetric stat. But…
MVR – I think we should just keep it simple. No small “o.” Margin of Victory Run.
Today – James Paxton takes the mound for a 1:05 p.m. game. If he can shut down the Indians, oh, we’ll really be getting excited.
40 – The Yankees are once again 40 games OVER .500. Amazing.