One team broke out of a funk tonight, just not the one you wanted
The New York Yankees came into this game having not scored more than four runs in any of their last eight games, and not overcoming a three-run deficit all season long. They did both of those things tonight en route to a 6-3 win over Cleveland.
Give the Yankees credit, though — they wanted to lose this game early. They tried really hard to give it to Cleveland and keep their own streak of misery alive. But being the gracious hosts that they are, Cleveland gave it right back.
A series of defensive blunders had Yankees Twitter burning to the ground as Cleveland racked up three quick runs in the first inning. After Jordan Luplow struck out to start the bottom of the first, Cesar Hernandez singled and José Ramírez doubled — exactly what you want to see out of your second and third hitters. Ramírez’s hit was aided by a Yankees defensive mistake when Brett Gardner dropped the ball before he made a football move and the play was ruled dead. Or in this case, a double, whatever.
Josh Naylor singled as well before Jake Bauers came in and popped up on an 0-2 count and Roberto Pérez struck out swinging — a sign of bad things to come.
Unfortunately, New York responded almost immediately with a three-run third inning. DJ LeMahieu dug out a curveball that didn’t get low enough for a single, Mike Ford walked, and Gleyber Torres hustled his way into a single that scored them both. Torres made it to third on another rough Josh Naylor error but was stranded by Aaron Hicks.
With their first-inning hijinks behind them, the Cleveland offense tumbled off to dreamland for the rest of the night as Domingo Germán mowed them down inning after inning. Amed Rosario’s pinch-hit walk aside, the three outs of the ninth inning came on 10 strikes and three strikeouts as Aroldis Chapman dominated.
Germán is that rare type of pitcher that uses his curveball more than anything else, and he used it 29 times tonight. He also relied heavily on his changeup, which Cleveland just couldn’t adjust to. Reliever Jonathan Loaisiga apparently picked up on the same thing, as well, because he used his changeup seven times and the result was four swings, two whiffs, and no balls put in play against it.
While Ramírez did finish with a hit on the night (and off a changeup), he looked keyed up for the fastball all game and was consistently out in front of everything. Cleveland’s seeming inability to adjust to off-speed pitches over the course of a game is a glaring issue at this point that they refuse to, or cannot, fix.
On the mound, it wasn’t Aaron Civale’s most dominant performance, but he certainly pitched well enough to put the offense in a position to win. He finished his 5.1 innings with six strikeouts, four walks, and two earned runs off four hits. Rougned Odor had the hardest hit ball off him at 99.7 mph, and it was simply a groundout.
For the first time all year, pretty much everyone who came out of the bullpen looked bad. Bryan Shaw walked two and was able to work out of his own mess. Nick Wittgren walked two and wasn’t able to work out of it, allowing two earned runs off two hits in addition to the free bases. James Karinchak at least struck somebody out after someone from the crowd yelled “PLEASE THROW A STRIKE” loud enough for the broadcast mics to pick it up.
Basically, this was about the worst this game could have gone for Cleveland. They had the Yankees on the ropes early, probably feeling like a trainwreck and at their lowest point, confidence shattered and ready to be hammered over the next four games. Now they have a dramatic comeback win and something to build off of.
- The strike zone looked atrocious during the game, but Statcast’s read of it shows that it was only a couple of awful pitches that the home plate umpire missed. The rest were mostly fine, or at least borderline enough that the entire game shouldn’t be in question.
- Cesar Hernandez had his second three-hit game of the season, his first since April 10 against Detroit. He was also the only Cleveland batter with more than one hit.
- Jordan Luplow finally got to start against a righty and it was … not great. Walking once is a good start, but he also struck out three times and finished 0-for-4.
Domingo Germán forgot how hands work and dropped the ball in the first inning to keep Cleveland’s rally going. I love when bad things happen to terrible people.
Back to a 7:10 p.m. start tomorrow as Logan Allen faces off against Jordan Montgomery in a lefty-lefty matchup of guys with ERAs over 4.00.