To be completely honest, I was recording the postgame for the Yankees following the top of the 9th, getting ready to rip the team apart and discuss a 3-2 loss in embarrassing fashion. Instead, unlikely heroes emerged to guide the Yankees to their first series win in over a week, as the Yankees stormed back in the final two games to take the series against the Cleveland Guardians. With a strong performance from the pitching staff and some timely hits, the Yankees won an ugly, rainy, and scary game in extra innings.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine for the Yankees, who saw both Oswald Peraza and Harrison Bader leave the game early due to injuries. We’ll have to wait and see with the off day tomorrow, but the Yankees still can’t catch a break on the injury front.
Good news for the Yankees:
Willie Calhoun is starting to mash, with two of the biggest hits of the game, launching a solo home run and slapping an opposite-field line drive to tie the game. Add a walk onto that, and suddenly Willie Calhoun has become one of the better hitters for the Yankees over the last week. As someone who has heavily criticized the Yankees’ usage of Calhoun and their trust in him, I’d be more than happy to be wrong about him as a player. This team could certainly use the help, especially with the myriad of injuries they’re currently dealing with.
His 89 wRC+ on the season isn’t great, but it’s finally trending in the right direction, and Calhoun could potentially take advantage of the reps the Yankees have available. As for the other huge bat in the lineup, it’s none other than Jake Bauers, who went 1-3 with a solo HR and walk in his offensive debut for the Bronx Bombers. This team could use his bat, especially with struggles from guys like Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Aaron Hicks, and Oswaldo Cabrera becoming more and more intolerable. Bauers re-worked his swing and has found new life, and if he can continue to build off of an incredible showing at the plate, the Yankees might have a hidden gem.
While the scoring would suggest the Yankees had bad at-bats all game, they actually recorded 15 hard-hit batted balls, according to Baseball Savant, showing they were taking quality swings all game. It’s a good sign of life for an offense that has sputtered mightily this season, and if they can get bats like Aaron Judge back on top of some surging performers like Calhoun and Bauers, this offense could do just enough to survive until the trade deadline. This rings even more true when you look at the pitching staff, which as a whole was excellent today.
It wasn’t pretty, but Clarke Schmidt gave the Yankees 4.1 IP of two-run baseball, with both runs coming in the first inning and being unearned. With two walks and four strikeouts, Schmidt made some big pitches in some big spots, and considering that he’s clearly more of a reliever than a starter, you’ll definitely take what he gave you. Ian Hamilton came in relief of Schmidt in the 5th, and he’s continued to be one of the best storylines in all of baseball. Returning from a myriad of surgeries and setbacks in his professional career, he’s pitching to the tune of a 1.56 ERA in some pretty big spots for the Yankees.
His “slambio” continues to be unhittable, with the Guardians whiffing 57% of the time on that pitch, resulting in two strikeouts, no runs, and no baserunners allowed. He’s continued to be a bright spot in the bullpen, and he’s not alone in his unlikely rise to prominence. Jimmy Cordero tossed a scoreless frame of his own, allowing just one hit and lowering his ERA on the season to 2.38. He battled through some poor weather as the rain began pouring down, but he ultimately got the job done as well.
Ron Marinaccio relieved Cordero, and he added to his incredible sophomore year, proving to be one of the best relievers in the entire sport. He now boasts an elite 2.02 ERA in his career, and his fastball-changeup combination continues to befuddle opposing batters. He’s allowed just 26 hits to the whopping 236 batters he has faced since being called up, and the Yankees might have developed their closer of the future. Marinaccio certainly inspires more confidence than Clay Holmes does right now, who now has a 4.50 ERA on the season following a wacky top of the 9th.
A sinking liner that IKF probably should have came up with turned into a double on a misplay, and then a bloop single drove the run in, and while Holmes isn’t really to blame there, it was still odd to see him come into the game when Marinaccio was dominant. It felt like Boone was over-managing, though again, the bigger issue at hand came with the fact that IKF was in LF, not as much that Clay Holmes made poor pitches or got hit hard.
Albert Abreu was the man called upon to handle extra innings, and after striking out Amed Rosario, he got a massive double play ball that was played exquisitely by the ever-impressive Gleyber Torres, who flipped it to the sure-handed Anthony Volpe to complete the double play. It was a quiet night offensively for both of them, but they may have saved the game with that one defensive gem.
Bad news for the Yankees:
The bad news for the Yankees came with two terrifying injuries to both Harrison Bader and Oswald Peraza. The injury to Bader is aggravating because of the fact that we just got him back and the fact that he collided with IKF, who simply should not have been in LF. He’s gotten accustomed to CF, but he hasn’t played the position since 2015 in the Texas Rangers MiLB system. To throw him out there with the lack of offense you’ve gotten from him all season reflects poorly on GM Brian Cashman, who again gave him $6 million to be a defense-first player on a team desperately in need of offense.
As for Oswald Peraza, he came up lame following a misstep while attempting to swipe 2nd. Unlike the Bader injury, this one just seemed to be horrific luck for the Yankees. Peraza’s steal of 2nd is the reason why they tied the game in the first place, so it’s a bittersweet moment for the Yankees. Peraza hadn’t hit extremely well, with a wRC+ of just 65, but we knew that he and Volpe would experience growing pains as they got everyday reps in the lineup. It’s unclear as to how the Yankees could replenish the two, considering they have an entire All-Star team on the IL already, so we’ll have to wait and see for the severity of the injury.
Clay Holmes’ aforementioned struggles continue to raise concerns, though it seemed like he was a victim of poor batted-ball luck instead of genuinely poor pitch selection/location. He was battling some rain as well, so it’s hard to pinpoint that outing on him. The Yankees will have to be careful when they use Holmes, as he seems like a wild card in a bullpen currently going suffering from the injury bug.
It’s off to St. Petersburg to do battle with the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays, who have been untouchable at home. It’ll be an extremely difficult task for a short-handed Yankees team, but if they can somehow steal a win or two in the Trop, they’ll be in pretty good shape as they look to get some key pieces back in the near future.