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Some Yankees Thoughts

By Sal Maiorana

June 14, 2024

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Sal Maiorana, a friend of the site, shares some of his thoughts on the Yankees.


For Sal's analysis on the New York Yankees, you can subscribe to Sal Maiorana's free Pinstripe People Newsletter at https://salmaiorana.beehiiv.com/subscribe.

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The Yankees were one out away Thursday from doing something they’ve never done which, for the Yankees, is quite a thing. They have never swept a four-game series in Kansas City, and they still haven’t because Clay Holmes blew the save, and ultimately the game.


Honestly, the Yankees didn’t really deserve to win. They were no-hit through six innings by Royals starter Alec Marsh who, in his previous three starts had been shelled for a combined 14 earned runs in 17 innings. For an offense that had been so hot, he made them look silly all day allowing just one hit and two walks with seven strikeouts.


And yet, down 2-0 and looking like a team mailing it in on a getaway day, the Yankees suddenly burst to life, breaking through against a couple of pretty good Royals relievers for three runs in the eighth, helped greatly by an error, and were in position to steal the victory.

Instead, Holmes couldn’t hold on as he blew his fourth save of the season, and this was just the second time in 45 games where the Yankees had a lead after eight innings and lost.


Frustrating, for sure, but the Yankees still took three of four against a pretty good team on the road, and not to be lost in the defeat was a strong performance by Nestor Cortes.


“Great job of almost grabbing (the win),” Aaron Boone said, “But, hey, they’ve got a good club, too, and they just put together some good at-bats to beat us.”


➤ Cortes faced the minimum nine batters through three innings, and then had his only spot of trouble in the fourth as the top of the Kansas City order got him for two runs. Maikel Garcia walked, Bobby Witt singled and then Cortes, after getting ahead 0-2, lost a seven-pitch battle with lefty slugger Vinnie Pasquantino who ripped a two-run double to left-center. Cortes gave up only three other hits the rest of the way to finish off an encouraging seven innings. It was the 60th time in 71 games this season that a Yankees starter has allowed three earned runs or fewer.


➤ Marsh lost his no-hitter when Juan Soto ripped a clean single in the seventh, but he struck out Aaron Judge for the third time and left the mound after seven with a 2-0 lead. Here, the Yankees put together their only rally of the day. Rizzo led off with a home run, a shocking development and his first since May 10. Austin Wells reached on an error by second baseman Garrett Hampson, and Trent Grisham sent pinch-runner Jahmai Jones to third with a single. Anthony Volpe then put the ball in play and his soft grounder to short tied the score, and Soto singled to right for a 3-2 lead. However, Soto got thrown out trying to go to second which was a little maddening because it took away an at bat from Judge. Of course, this clearly wasn’t Judge’s day as he struck out in the ninth to complete his four-whiff golden sombrero which ended his 37-game on-base streak, so maybe Soto’s baserunning mistake didn’t matter.


➤ In the ninth, Holmes got the first out on one pitch, and then came the key moment. Drew Waters hit a slow roller between the mound and first. Rizzo was playing back and originally I thought he should have charged it. Instead he stayed back thinking Holmes was going to field it and then run to the bag for the unassisted putout. Instead, Holmes veered off to the bag and by the time Rizzo fielded and flipped to Holmes it was too late. After watching the replay, I shifted the blame to Holmes. He was in position to make the play had he just scooped the ball and run it to first himself. “It was perfectly in between, I feel like,” Holmes said. “Just a tough play right there.”


➤ It should have been the second out, but instead, it set up the Royals for their winning surge. After a fielders’ choice grounder which would have ended the game, Kyle Isbel singled putting men on first and third, and both came in to score when Garcia, who was hitting .148 in June, grounded one into the left-field corner to walk it off.


➤ If there’s a silver lining, the struggling Braves avoided a sweep by beating the Orioles 6-3, thus keeping Baltimore 2.5 behind New York.

***

Now it’s on to Boston for the first series against the arch-rival Red Sox this season. And if you would have told me the Yankees would be 49-22, best record in baseball, and 13 games ahead of Boston on June 14, I would have said you were crazy, but here we are.


While the Yankees have been much better than I expected, the Red Sox have actually been about what I and everyone expected, a .500-type team that would be closer to last place than first place in the AL East. But the surprising thing is the way they’ve done it with outstanding starting pitching as their rotation ERA of 3.38 is fourth-best in MLB, and an offense that has been highly inconsistent, though in the last nights in resounding victories over the Phillies, the Red Sox were raking.


Fortunately for the Yankees they’re missing Boston ace Tanner Houck who pitched Thursday against Philadelphia, and they also won’t see Nick Pivetta has had success against them in the past.

On offense, Rafael Devers, the face of evil who we all know kills the Yankees, is heating up with 13 homers, 32 RBI and a team-best .937 OPS. Outfielder Ceddane Rafaela isn’t hitting for average (.220) but he leads the team with 37 RBI. Outfielder Jarren Duran is a terrific player who has an .806 OPS and 15 stolen bases. And catcher Connor Joe is having season of his life with a .329 average and .389 on-base. This is not a team to take lightly.


Unfortunately, because it’s the Red Sox, this is another weekend with two nationally-televised night games Saturday and Sunday. The pitching matchups are as follows: Friday at 6:30 on YES it’s Luis Gil (2.04 ERA) against Brayan Bello (4.78); Saturday at 7:15 on FOX it’s Carlos Rodon (2.93) against Cooper Criswell (4.13); and Sunday at 7:10 on ESPN it’s Marcus Stroman (2.82) against Kutter Crawford (3.47).

18 Comments


Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jun 14

I know I'm throwing stones in a glass house when I make fun of people's names, but seriously, every time I hear "Jarren Duran," I think "Duran Duran." Every time I hear "Brayan Bello," I think Tracy Morgan screaming, "I'm Bryan Fellows!"

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jun 14
Replying to

"Hands of Stone" is a great sobriquet if you're a boxer. Not so much if you're an infielder. No mas, no mas!

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fuster
Jun 14

who could have foreseen that, heading into Boston for 3 games, all three scheduled Yankee starters would be sporting ERAs under 3.0....and none of them would be Cole?


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jeff
Jun 14
Replying to

I think you can get a way with a below average defensive outfielder more than you can get away with a below average defensive third baseman. Many pitchers rely heavily on ground ball outs and the third baseman is a key part of getting those ground ball outs for those pitchers.

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Alan B.
Alan B.
Jun 14

Sal, you forgot, Devers doesn't get a chance to torment the Yankees by facing Cole.


I look at that play, and I'm blaming Rizzo. Why? Because he just stood there, waiting for the ball. He didn't go after it, nor did he go towards 1B. Holmes can see out of the corner of his eye if Rizzo is going to the bag so he knows he's gotta go get the ball. Rizzo gave him no visual clue on what he was doing.


I was a lot higher on the BoSox kids Abreu, Hamilton & Rafaela than most. Teel I think is going to be a good one too, but I'm not all that impressed with Yorke or Mayer. They migh…


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fantasyfb3313
Jun 15
Replying to

you just said what i have been saying since the moment it happened. PERFECTLY placed seeing eye grounder. NOT saying there is no chance for an out, but it is a tough play either way.


also i am not saying Holmes came in and killed it, but he got more than enough WEAK contact, unfortunately two of them found friendly places to land for the Royals.


and we have no reason to complain about Judge, but yesterday was not the right day for him to go 0 for 4 with 4 Ks. the little guys picked the team up on monday. they could not compensate for an off day from Judge


I believe we either tip our hats to Marsh…

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jeff
Jun 14

Looks like Sal got Connor Joe, an outfielder/first baseman, who has played for several National League teams, currently the Pirates, but never in the American League and never with the Red Sox, confused with Connor Wong, their catcher, who I am sure Sal meant to say. Wong is having an amazing year, though.


Another player who was having a great year in Boston was Alex Verdugo's replacement, Wilyer Abreu, who had better numbers this year than Verdugo, but he in now on their injured list. Wilyer Abreu is the player the Red Sox received from Houston in the trade for catcher Christian Vazquez.


Their pitching has been far better than anyone expected this year, thanks to the great job that…


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Alan B.
Alan B.
Jun 14
Replying to

About Blake: You're preaching to the soloist here. I've wanted Blake to replace Briend. As for Bailey, the Yankees were interviewing him for the bench coach job, but he cancelled on the Yankees to take the Red Sox PC gig. As for a real PC, it's not happening as long as Cashman's still all-in on analytics being THE TOOL.

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