The Yankees went to Seattle in search of a number of things. 1: A series win, 2: Aaron Judge scoring, and 3: the bullpen getting the job done and not blowing a game. They got all those things though not quite to the extent that they would have liked.
First at the plate, there was the matter of winning a series. The Yankees had not won a series since they beat Baltimore early in June. Since then they have lost 23 games and won 14. That is not conducive to a team winning anything. The annoying thing is that the Yankees could easily have won a series between now and then but they just couldn’t get it done when it was needed. In each of the last series, the Yankees had the chance to win but a dodgy pitch, a fielding error, a bullpen implosion all conspired to help them lose.
But the Yankees seemed to get everything right for the most part this series against the Mariners. The hitters found the right form and scored well, even in game three which they lost, the Yankees were able to overcome a really bad inning by Tanaka and force the game to extra innings only losing when Adam Warren gave up a hit to Nelson Cruz that scored Gamel. Sometimes you have to take your losses and this was one of those games where it was better to lose in extra innings than going through a whole bunch of innings and depleting the bullpen. They had one game left to play, so why kill yourself?
Everything looked great for the Yankees in this series, at least it did for the most part, and Aaron Judge scoring two homers in back to back games must be one of those things that will have Yankees fans feeling a lot better. The Yankees have a better chance of winning when he is hitting the balls out of the park. Also the fact that it was not just down to him but other guys got into the act is a good sign for the Yankees down the stretch.
Didi hit two homers in game four, Sanchez hit a long ball, as did Gardner, and Clint Frazier looks so good at the plate. I really love that kid’s aggressive playing style. He attacks the ball at the plate with an impressively quick swing that has a lot of power in it, he attacks the bases when he is running and has a lot of speed that turns a single into a double, and his defence is improving so much that he is making the outfield look like a hunting ground. Sure there are those who don’t like him, the whole take No.7 out of retirement story seems to have rubbed everyone up the wrong way whether true or not, but I don’t care about that. I like him and think that he is a great addition to the team. I admit I was not convinced when the trade happened. Miller was my favourite Yankee. But Clint has really shown that he deserves to be in the Majors and was not an insult to Andrew Miller.
The bullpen was great. They all combined to put in some solid innings work. Betances is back on track, and Chad Green, Kahnle, Robertson, and Warren have all been great. Sure Warren and Robertson played their part in losing game three of the series. But Canó’s score of Roberston was not down to a bad pitch or a mistake but a great swing from a great hitter and Warren’s game losing pitch to Cruz was still a good pitch, down and away but just inside the zone enough for Cruz to get enough on it for a hit with a line drive to left field that scored the run.
However, besides that the pen was brilliant. Tanaka continued to be frustrating though and his four run inning was the epitome of what he has become for the Yankees when you see him getting guys out as easy as you like with swinging strikeouts, and yet at the same time giving up home runs as if he was pitching for someone in the home run derby. He has given up 26 home runs so far this season meaning that already he has beaten his worst season in 2015 for home runs given away when he gave away 25 HRs in the whole season. There is something not right with him and I cannot but help wonder if there is some lingering problem which stems from the injury he picked up in his rookie season and which was in my opinion grossly mismanaged by the Yankees. That being said he did come back into his own in that game and stayed in the game for six innings. Getting into no more trouble for the remainder of his time on the mound.
Caleb Smith pitched well in his start too. But the wheels fell off in the fourth inning and with one out and the bases loaded he gave up four runs. You can only put this down to the inexperience of a kid who was pitching his first start, and who has all the makings of someone who will be a pretty good pitcher down the road. I think it is a great thing that we are seeing these guys pitching from the farm. Let’s face it they cannot do as bad a job as Pineda or Tanaka has done so I say give them their chances and don’t pull them just because of one bad inning in an otherwise good start.
The Yankees scout Brandon Duckworth was at the Texans game on Friday to have a look at their pitching ace Yu Darvish. He certainly would be a great addition to the Yankees though his contract is such that he would be basically a loan player and perhaps that is why the Yankees might be more inclined to trading for him knowing that he would not cost them so many of their prospects as someone with a long contract like Sonny Gray the Oakland pitcher the Yankees have also kicked the tyres on. The Yankees have already ruled out any demands for Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, and Justus Sheffield, and have said that they probably wouldn’t trade James Kaprielian although that probably does not actually mean they will not trade him away. The Yanks have done some good work, Todd Frazier in third has put Headley at first which has really been a good move for him even with the odd teething problem. They have filled the bullpen with quality pitchers and now the only piece is a starting pitcher that will help out with Severino Sabathia and Montgomery who have all been great, and who knows this might take the pressure off Tanaka too.
This series was a great shot in the arm for the Yankees and to see the pieces falling into place for the team with the hitting and pitching can only fill us with a bit more confidence ahead of the next series.
The Yankees have a day off as they travel back to New York and will then take on the Reds in a two game set. Montgomery and Severino are listed as the probable pitchers for those games and Fangraphs has listed the Yankees as the favourites to win those games with a 59.4% and 67.3% win probability. If they carry on hitting and pitching as they did for the most part in this series, then Cincinnati will have a tough job. However, you can never take things for granted in this game and the Yankees will need to keep their focus if they are to keep the pressure on their rivals in the chase for post-season ball.