Angels 8, Yankees 3…
It is difficult to remember when the Yankees last walked off a field with a victory. It seems so very long ago. The losing streak continues as the Yankees dropped their seventh consecutive game to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
A little more than a week ago, we were very excited about the team and its surprising performance so far this season. But over the last week, the wheels have come off and the team is looking more and more like the .500 team it was projected to be at the beginning of the year. They’ll turn this around and start playing better but it doesn’t make the current losing funk feel any better.
I thought the return of Aroldis Chapman to push Tyler Clippard back to the 7th inning would help the latter to restore some of his effectiveness. I was wrong. After the Yankees had clawed their way back to a 3-3 tie, Clippard came into the game in the 7th and proceeded to hand the Angels the win. Retiring only one batter, he allowed a solo home run by Cameron Maybin (who is not exactly known for his ability to hit balls out of the park), a double and a run-scoring triple. He was just a single shy of a cycle, but Manager Joe Girardi ended the agony by pulling Clippard and replacing him with Jonathan Holder. Holder gave up the missing single to score the runner on third, charging a total of 3 runs to Clippard (1-4) for one out of work.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
Michael Pineda, who had normally pitched much better at home than on the road, was missing his primary pitch. The Angels grabbed the early lead with a run-scoring single by Albert Pujols in the first inning and they scored two runs in the second when Danny Espinosa drove in a run with a double and Kole Calhoun singled to score Espinosa.
Angels pitcher Parker Bridwell (who?) and their bullpen kept the Yankee bats silent for the most part. The Yankees were finally able to push across their first run in the fourth when Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly to score Starlin Castro.
The Yankees then used solo home runs to tie the game. Aaron Judge blasted his 24th home run of the year in the fifth and Gary Sanchez went yard in the sixth with his 12th.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
There was excitement in the Bronx once again. Enter Tyler Clippard. The optimistic feelings were quickly extinguished as the Angels had taken the 6-3 lead by the time the seventh inning was over. The Angels tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings as the Yankees just couldn’t get untracked offensively despite the earlier homers by Judge and Sanchez.
I knew we were in trouble when first baseman Chris Carter blew a routine fielding play that allowed Eric Young Jr to reach second base at the top of the second inning. It felt like it was going to be one of those games. It also reinforced that we are stuck with Carter for better or worse (my money is on the latter). Carter finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Just a typical day at the office for him.
|Credit: Getty Images|
It’s tough to win when you can only scratch out four hits against hittable pitchers.
Odds & Ends…
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Yankees 5, Angels 3…
One of the greatest highlights of this game were the chants of “MVP!” for Aaron Judge from the Anaheim crowd. It was incredible to get that type of response from the park that Mike Trout calls home. Judge is certainly deserving of the accolades but it is not something that you’d expect on enemy turf.
When Kole Calhoun, the second batter in the bottom of the first inning, homered with no one on, I had fears that Masahiro Tanaka was going to get rocked once again. But fortunately, the old Tanaka re-emerged and kept the Angels off the board until the 7th inning.
|Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
The Yankees built up a 3-1 lead through the top of the 7th. Following a couple of two-out walks of Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro in the third inning, Didi Gregorius singled to left, scoring Holliday and tying the game at 1. The Yankees took the lead in the 5th, thanks again to another two-out hit from Gregorius. After Aaron Judge walked and Starlin Castro singled, Gregorius singled to center which scored Judge. In the 7th, Judge singled and moved to second on a groundout by Matt Holliday. Castro followed with a ground out to the pitcher, bringing Gregorius up again with two outs. The Los Angeles Angels took no chances and intentionally walked Didi to put the bat in the hands of Chase Headley (ugh!). Despite my lack of excitement about Headley, he delivered with a single, scoring Judge. The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases, but Austin Romine hit a grounder for the final out of the inning.
Tanaka pitched well enough to win but it was not to be. In the bottom of the 7th, after Andrelton Simmons had flied out, Eric Young, Jr reached base as a result of a fielding error by Chase Headley (his 11th of the season, one more than he had last year in 140 games at third). The next batter, Martin Maldonado, struck out but Young advanced to second on a steal. Former Washington National Danny Espinosa lined a single to right, scoring Young. Aaron Judge mistakenly threw the ball home on an overthrow which allowed Espinosa to take second. Manager Joe Girardi pulled Tanaka (hand clap for #19) and brought in Tyler Clippard. Clippard promptly gave up a double to Cameron Maybin, scoring Espinosa for a run charged to Tanaka and the game was tied at 3. He struck out Kole Calhoun for the final out, and the game moved to the 8th inning.
After Brett Gardner flied out, Aaron Hicks doubled to left. The Angels made a pitching change to bring in their interim closer, Bud Norris. On a 2-0 count, Judge showed the Anaheim crowd the magic that we’ve been experiencing in the Bronx with a home run to right center, giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead and the eventual margin of victory.
|Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
With two outs and a runner at first thanks to a walk in the bottom of the 8th, Girardi took no chances and brought in Dellin Betances to get the final out of the inning. It was a much cleaner than the last time Betances entered an inning with two outs (when he loaded the bases and threw 17 pitches to record the necessary out). This time, it was three pitches and a fly out.
In the 9th, Betances was on his game as he struck out the side. Yankees win, 5-3.
This was a great game for the California Central Valley native Judge. He finished 2-for-4 with a walk, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI’s, while increasing his batting average to .347, in front of family, friends and James Kaprielian. Yankees fans are everywhere and they certainly made themselves known on this night with the “MVP!” chants.
Gregorius was 4-for-4 with the 2 RBI’s.
It may be a down year for the Angels, but they’ve always played well against the Yankees so this was a satisfying victory. It would have been nice for Tanaka to pick up the win, but still, it had to be a confidence-booster for him. His final line was 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO. I hope to see more of this and less of the Tanaka starts we saw over the past month. Clippard, responsible for costing Tanaka the victory, took the win, thanks to Judge’s timely homer.
The Yankees (38-23) maintained their four-game lead over the Boston Red Sox. The Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5, in extra innings. The Tampa Bay Rays (who had the night off) remained in third, but dropped to 6 1/2 games back. The Baltimore Orioles lost again (10-7 to the Chicago White Sox), sliding to 7 1/2 games behind the leaders. The O’s are now just a half game from falling into the AL East Cellar.
Odds & Ends…
I hate to say that I am disappointed with the MLB Draft because Yankees scouts know a heck of lot more than I do, but I was not enthused with the first round selection (16th pick) of right-handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt. Schmidt had Tommy John surgery earlier this Spring and will be unavailable to pitch until sometime in late 2018. I couldn’t help but get flashbacks to the pick of Andrew Brackman a number of years ago. Taking a chance on an injured but high ceiling pitcher who never rose to the level of his potential and is subsequently out of baseball. I hope this is not the same situation with Schmidt. I thought first baseman Evan White or lefty pitcher D.L. Hall would have been great picks at that spot, or even lefty David Peterson (who was later picked by the Mets).
Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting, had these words for Schmidt (who is from the University of South Carolina like Jordan Montgomery): “Schmidt’s got four pitches that at times are all plus. He has command, he has makeup. We really like his delivery. He’s got a chance to be a top end of the rotation type of guy who combines pitchability with power stuff. And you always like it when they’re the Friday night guy, pitching and having success in that conference.” A few of the pitchers taken in the first round sound better suited for relief work so I suppose if you have a chance for a top of the rotation guy, you take it. I hope this one works out.
In the second round (with the 54th pick), the Yankees chose a high school pitcher (Matt Sauer). I like this pick, perhaps more so than Schmidt. Sauer is right-handed and just 18 years old, he is already 6’4”. He a product of an appropriately named Righetti High School (CA) even if the school is named for a guy named Ernest Righetti and not former Yankees closer Dave “Rags” Righetti. Oppenheimer offered these words about Sauer: “Sauer is a projectable high school right-hander who is athletic, with a ‘now’ fastball and a plus slider. He really has a good way about his aggressiveness and makeup on the mound. We see a chance there for a starter with power stuff.”
|Credit: The Tribune (San Luis Obispo)|
Welcome to the Yankees Family, Clarke and Matt!
Have a great Tuesday! It should be a fun day as the Yankees try to keep this winning streak alive and MLB Draft continues with rounds 3 through 10.