By: Marvin Azrak
Even Yogi Berra wouldn’t say, “It’s getting late early around here” because we’re only 10/162 (Or 0.06%) of the way through the season, and usually, the New York Yankees having a slow start to the season wouldn’t be a cause for concern. But after the endless spiral through the last 174 games, the franchise has been a participant in dating back to the 2020 ALDS, it’s time to hit the panic button in the Bronx.
The first regular year off day on the calendar has brought mixed feelings, a testament to the Bombers’ 5-5 record. On the glove-hand, the pitching has been spectacular as Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Jamison Tallion, and Nestor Cortes JR have anchored a solid rotation, but it’s been the stifling bullpen that has allowed the Yankees to remain competitive in more games than they should, with the stable combining to post an AL-leading 2.08 ERA thus far with an excellent 1.24 WHIP and 50 strikeouts through 51.1 innings of work.
But the flip side is that the bats have mostly been dormant, as, through 92 innings, they’ve been held scoreless in 72 of them(21.7% score rate), which is an abysmal number. These discrepancies were the story of last season, and it hasn’t changed in 2022. While some, such as Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, and DJ LeMaiehu, have slugged their way to fine starts, others in Josh Donaldson, Gleyber Torres, Isaiah Kiner Falefa, Anthony Rizzo, and Joey Gallo have struggled mightily. Even more infuriating? The Yankees’ hard-hit rate is high, but run production isn’t.
While they’ve cut down on striking out (3.4 per game), they haven’t exactly turned contact into hits. As you will see in these series recaps, the spotty offense has gotten away with wins due to near immaculate pitching, and if this keeps up, it will bite the Yankees out the way of the playoffs this year. Before opening day, I penned a letter to the team, including this excerpt: “2019 was an ALCS loss. 2020 was an ALDS loss; 2021 was a Wild Card loss. It puts the trajectory at missing the playoffs in 2022.” So far, this team hasn’t aspired me any confidence they can break that statement and have the honor of hoisting championship #28 in the Bronx this season.
4/8-4/10: VS RED SOX 2-1(6-5(11), 4-2, 3-4)
On opening day, the Bombers picked up Gerrit Cole’s mess of giving up three runs in the first and rallied for a thrilling extra-inning win. Anthony Rizzo’s two-run bomb put the Yankees on the board and cut their deficit to 3-2. In the fourth, Giancarlo Stanton found the short porch to even up the contest. Down 4-3 in the eighth, DJ LeMahieu took fireballer reliever Garret Whitlock deep with a bomb that ultimately sent the game to extra innings. After both teams traded runs in the 10th, Michael King pitched a clean 11th before Josh Donaldson singled home the “Ghost Runner” Isaiah Kiner-Falefa to win the game 6-5. The Yankees bullpen went seven innings of two-run ball (one earned) in this one.
Game two saw more of the same, as the Yankees used a pair of two-run bombs by Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton, as well as six scoreless innings turned in from the relievers to lock up the 4-2 win and clinch the series. It began with Ron Marriancano pitching a clean fourth in relief of Luis Severino. It went onward with Miguel Castro, Lucas Lutege, Chad Green, Clay Holmes, and Aroldis Chapman sealing the deal.
In the series finale, the bullpen went 5.2 innings of one-run ball after Jordan Montgomery left the game, giving up three runs in 3.1 frames, but it wasn’t enough as the bats left a whooping 29 men on base in a crushing 4-3 defeat to the Bosox.
Nevertheless, it was still good to see the Yankees win their first series.
STARS OF THE SERIES:
- Anthony Rizzo
- Giancarlo Stanton
- Chad Green
4/11-4/14 VS BLUE JAYS 2-2 split(0-3, 4-0, 4-6, 3-0)
Against the favorites for the AL pennant and AL East, New York held their blanking the Jays twice. Not even 24 hours after their loss to Boston, the Bombers’ bats were blanked by Jays righty Alek Manoah in a 3-0 series-opening loss.
In-game two, Aaron Hicks snuck a two-run homer just a row into the short porch in right field(Only a HR in Yankee stadium), and Nestor Cortes JR went 4.1 scoreless before the bullpen foursome of Clay Holmes, Miguel Castro, Jonathan Losiga, and Aroldis Chapman locked up the shutout win.
However, the next night featured an otherworldly performance by a man that’s going to be a thorn in the Yankee side for years to come in phenom Vladamier Gurreo JR, as his 4 for 4 night with three bombs and four RBIs earned a hat-tip from Gerrit Cole and the rest of the team postgame. The Bombers made efforts to overcome adversity, as Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge went deep for back-back homers in the fifth, with doubles by Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu evening the game three. Down 6-4 with two outs in the eighth, Giancarlo Stanton walloped a high-arching ball to left field that looked gone until it settled in the glove of left fielder Raimel Tapia preserving the Toronto lead.
The series finale brought out the best we’ve seen from Luis Severino since 2019, as he delivered a scintillating five scoreless innings with six strikeouts, three of them coming against Guerro JR, including his final and 83rd pitch of the night. Offensively, the Yankees got run support from the bottom of the order in Jose Trevino, and Isaiah Kiner Falefa, whose multi-hit games, along with their speed, gave the team a 3-0 lead headed into the ninth. But Aroldis Chapman didn’t have it and walked three straight, meaning Aaron Boone was imperiled to bring Michael King in a do-or-die situation. King struck out star George Springer and then notched his first career save by getting Bo Bichette to line into a game-ending double play, securing the win.
STARS OF THE SERIES:
- Michael King
- Vlad Guerro JR
- Miguel Castro
4/15-4/17 @BALTIMORE ORIOLES L 1-2(2-1(11), 2-5, 5-0)
On their first road trip of the year, the Yankees didn’t exactly make themselves feel at home.
In the opener, they went 2 for 11 with men in scoring position, and the lone run they received was a Giancarlo Stanton RBI single in the third, part of a three-hit night. Jordan Montgomery turned in five scoreless, but the offensive inefficiencies left no room for error, and in the seventh, Wandy Peralta allowed a Jorge Mateo RBI single that tied it.
Looking to grab the lead in the 11th with Rizzo serving as the automatic runner, Giancarlo Stanton chopped a grounder too short, but it bounced up and hit Rizzo, thus rendering him out and dashing the Yankees hopes of scoring. In the bottom half, Clarke Schmidt walked the bases loaded and left it up to Aroldis Chapman to enter and clean up the mess. Chapman nearly bailed his team out, but with two men away and an 0-2 count on Ramon Urias, he threw four straight balls to force in the winning run and end the contest.
The next day seemed more similar for the offense as they sleepwalked through four innings before a rain delay halted the game. When the teams returned, the bats woke up as an Anthony Rizzo RBI single, a Giancarlo Stanton RBI double, and a Josh Donaldson two-run bomb capped off the igniting four-run fifth that put the Yankees in front 4-2. Also joining in on the party was Jose Trevino, who had yet another multi-hit game and is playing his way into taking over the starting catchers job from Kyle Higashioka. Leading 5-2, Aaron Boone turned it over to his trusty bullpen, who threw up scoreless to rookie JP Sears, Micheal King(2 innings), and Clay Holmes, who registered his first career save. Jamison Tallion went 4.2 innings, with a two-run bomb by Cedric Mullins his lone glaring mistake.
But in the series finale, the Yankees were meekly held to four hits and wasted a career-high 12 K gem by Nestor Cortes JR, which included an immaculate fourth inning. The potential consequence of heavily relying on the bullpen is that they’ll wear out, and that proved to be true in the eighth, with Jonathan Losiga imploding, as Baltimore knocked him around for four runs as part of a game-breaking five-run eighth.
When the dust settled, the Yankees inexplicably dropped a series to the basement-bound Orioles.
Q: Does the series vs. the O’s change your perspective on the Yankees, or are you not worried?-Naftali Segelov
Context: The Yankees bats were dormant in a 2-1(11) 2-5, 5-0 series loss to the woeful Orioles at Camden Yards this weekend. Despite stellar pitching, which included a Nestor Cortes JR five-inning, 12K gem on Sunday featuring an immaculate inning, the New York offense went scoreless in 26 of 29 innings throughout the three games.
A: Am I surprised? No, because this is what happened last season. Is it frustrating? Without a doubt, yes, and I’m not sure what you can do as management to fix this. It’s on the players to come through, and aside from Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Trevino, nobody’s hitting the ball consistently. It’s early in the season, and we’re only a minuscule 10/162 of the way there, but this team hasn’t precisely aspired me any confidence they’ll rise above my fourth place projection of them.
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UP NEXT: The Yankees begin a three-game series in Detroit against the Tigers (4-5), with Gerrit Cole on the bump. The first pitch is 6:40 PM ET, and hopefully, it’s the start of a series sweep to make up for the atrocious performance that went down at Camden Yards.