More than just umpiring cost the New York Yankees in ALDS game two

Nathan Solomon
New York Yankees, J.A. Happ
Sep 23, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ (34) pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees were unable to follow-up their ALDS game one victory over the Tampa Bay Rays with another win, dropping game two by a score of 7-to-5.

One of the headlines of the game was the poor performance from home-plate umpire CB Bucknor. He’s infamous for poor calls, and Tuesday’s game was no exception. The calls were brutal for both teams, but seemingly more so for the Yankees. He screwed the Yankees in big parts of the game. Check out this call on a pitch to Gleyber Torres in the ninth inning:

As bad as the umpiring was, it wasn’t the only reason the Yankees lost. The umpiring certainly contributed to it, but it was by no means the only reason for the loss.

Aaron Boone sent rookie Deivi Garcia out to start the game, the first postseason start of Garcia’s young career. But within three pitches, JA Happ was warming in the bullpen and came in after just one inning of work by Garcia. The Yankees were trailing 1-0 after one inning, but they had planned on having Happ piggy-back off Garcia early.

Happ isn’t comfortable in relief, and he’s on eight days rest. The hope was to take advantage of lefties in the Rays lineup by throwing the curveball of pitching Happ. The Yankees played with fire on this one, and got burnt. Happ gave up four runs in 2.2 innings, setting the tone for the rest of the game.

Should Happ have been better? Absolutely. But, in his defense, pitching in relief isn’t always very comfortable for starters, especially after long rest. Pitchers get in a rhythm of starting every five days. His post-game interview expressed his displeasure of coming out of relief.

And now that the Yankees burnt two starters in an already depleted rotation in just one game, the team could have serious pitching problems in a potential game five. The speculation is that the Yankees will likely set Jordan Montgomery as the game four starter, but who starts game five? Gerrit Cole on three days rest? Garcia?

The other massive issue with Tuesday’s game was that the team struck-out 18 times. Does having a bad umpire affect your approach and the pitches that you swing at? Absolutely. But regardless of the umpire, 18 strikeouts in unacceptable. They only got five hits. That can’t happen, nonetheless in the postseason.

Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez looked lost all night, combining to go 0-for-9 with six strikeouts. Their at-bats were short with both players taking massive cuts each swing. They didn’t have a base-hit approach. They wanted to hit 500 foot home runs.

The only thing that the Yankees can take away from game two is the performance of Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton. Both players were great for the second-straight night; Stanton going yard twice while Hicks walked twice and picked up a hit.

Everyone in the Yankees clubhouse needs to erase game two from their memories completely. The game was just flat-out ugly in every aspect for them.

When they wake up on Wednesday, the Yankees have a three-game series facing them. Masahiro Tanaka, historically their best postseason pitcher, is on the mound. If the Yankees want to advance to the ALCS for the third time in four years, they desperately need to win game three against the Rays.