We are in mid-April, and already it seems that the sky is falling on the Yankees. They are 5-8 after 13 games and their last loss was excruciating. They still have all kinds of issues with the Tampa Rays, and Friday night’s 8-2 loss at Yankee Stadium was a loss.
“I think you have to sometimes zoom out and look at it a little bit further and realize that we’re so early in the season,” Yankees left fielder Clint Frazier said after getting a 0 in 3 score. with three strikeouts. “And obviously, this excuse can only go so far. We can only say it for so long before we have results. “
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Frazier is right. A 5-8 record isn’t the same as three under .500 in May, June or July, but bad starts can lead to bad seasons. The Yankees remember going 5-8 in 2019 and then winning 103 games, but that was then and it is now.
“We can’t roll in there taking hits like that,” designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton said. “It’s not our game. This is not the way we should go out and play. “
Here are three takeaways from one of the Yankees’ most appalling losses in years:
Kudos to manager Aaron Boone for calling a team reunion immediately following Friday night’s loss, which included just three Yankees hits and three mistakes. It was refreshing to hear Frazier and Stanton mention how angry Boone was. Fans and the media never see which side of Boone is going to hit his players, so it’s good to know that is happening.
But what Boone did before the game sparked this horrendous loss. Once again, the Yankees tried to outsmart everyone, and they turned on them using Nick Nelson as an opener before a long escape route from Michael King.
Barely returning from the alternate site on Friday, King was stretched out in his first stint with the Yankees this season. In Game 3, he pitched six scoreless innings of relief in one stroke. But the Yanks chose to go with Nelson, who entered the Major League’s first start on the heels of a terrible outing – four runs in 1 2/3 innings a week earlier in Tampa Bay.
Even before Nelson could find the two-runner strike zone on 30 first shots, that decision screamed stupid. It was reminiscent of ALDS 2020 Game 2 when Boone used rookie Deivi Garcia as his first game before going to regular starter JA Happ in the second inning. The Rays won the game even in the best of five series and had five wins.
On Friday night, the Rays were set to beat the Yanks for the 14th time in 19 games since 2020 (counting the playoffs) at the end of Nelson’s inning outing.
King followed Nelson and worked three shutout innings to keep the Yanks down just two points. King wasn’t as sharp as he was on his first outing, but three without a goal is three without a goal.
Even Michael Kay solved this problem by calling the game YES.
“Why not start King?” Kay said. “What was the advantage of starting Nelson? They’re both right-handed, so you’re not going to be circling around a lineup. I’m sure they had lanes that they thought both pitchers would be strong in, but King is a starter and most of Nelson’s underage games (were starts). So it’s not like you really need to employ an opener there.
It all makes sense.
Boone’s decision, which surely contains the fingerprints of the analytical staff, made no sense.
Oh, and the Yanks’ decision to immediately shut down King after the game is also ludicrous. What must he do to keep a spot on the list? So far this season, he’s pitched nine shutout innings in two relief appearances, and he’s been sacked twice.
INCREDIBLE NIGHT FOR SANCHEZ
Before Friday night’s game turned into a blowout, Yankees wide receiver Gary Sanchez reduced his team to just two points four times.
I’ve been really tough on Sanchez for a lot of bad receptions over the past few seasons, but his blocking has improved dramatically this year and that part of his game has never been better on Friday.
With two runs in Tampa Bay, a runner in third and Joey Wendle hitting in the first inning, Nelson threw a curve ball that bounced past home plate. Sanchez has had all kinds of trouble preventing wild throws on these challenges over the past seasons, but this time he’s positioned himself perfectly, blocked the ball from his chest protector and kept it in front of him. It saved a race.
Two batters later, the Rays still had a third-place runner with one down when Nelson threw a 2-0 fastpitch at Manuel Margot. Sanchez settled down low and inside, but Nelson’s 96 mph heater was two feet outside and head held high. This time, Sanchez quickly jumped from his one-knee position, stabbed the ball and got it. Another race has been recorded.
After Margot walked, Mike Brosseau hit runners in the corners. Nelson’s 1-0 offer was a curved ball in the dirt that was off the plate. Sanchez made it look easy, and he was manual sliding his body to his right and grabbing the ground on a short jump. Surprisingly, Sanchez saved Nelson from another wild terrain that would have brought in a third inning.
With the Yanks still trailing 2-0, Sanchez went 4-for-4 in the third inning with King pitching to Brosseau, two down, and the runners in the second and third. Sanchez set up low and inside for a 1-2 pitch, but King’s change was in the dirt and on the outside. Once again, Sanchez showed a feline quickness that never seemed to exist in previous seasons, and he did a backhand with the ball to save a run. Brosseau put out two pitches later to end the set.
Sanchez had a bad night at home – he was 0 in 3 with two strikeouts – but his most important job is his catch, so it was a great night for him. His defense is still not perfect – he already has three errors – but his Friday night block was proof that he was improving. Here’s more: He’s caught 10 games and hasn’t passed balls after leading the league in that category three times in four years from 2017-20.
The Yankees have been saying for two years that Stanton will once again be one of baseball’s most productive sloths once he’s healthy and stays healthy.
Maybe they are right and many, many skeptics are wrong.
Stanton is in good health and has produced more than anyone in the Yankees roster so far with 11 RBIs in 11 games. Sure, he’s only hitting .182 with 13 strikeouts in 44 batting, and he’s not happy with that, but a ribbie per game for a few weeks isn’t a bad way to start a season.
Stanton was the Yankees offense on Friday night. His seventh inning right liner rushed into the seats for a two-run homerun that gave him an 8-0 lead. He finished the night 1 on 4 with two strikeouts. The average needs to go up and Stanton needs to cut strikeouts, but regular production sparks more optimism that he will post similar numbers to 2018 when he hit 38 home runs and hit 100 points on his first season as a Yankee. .
“I’m very inconsistent,” Stanton said. “I have the impression that my balance is a little out of balance. It’s getting better, so I just have to put together good games, good back-to-back players and go from there.
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