After a dramatic 6-3 win capped off by a Harrison Bader three-run home run, the Yankees put themselves in position on July 4th to at least split a series against the Baltimore Orioles. Clarke Schmidt would be tasked with squaring off against longtime veteran Kyle Gibson, who gave the Yankees fits the last time he visited the Bronx when he guided the Orioles to a 3-1 win with seven scoreless frames.
This series with Baltimore comes with added importance, as the Yankees look to keep their heads above water with their captain Aaron Judge, but also try to make up ground against the Orioles who sat four games ahead of New York entering today’s contest. The Yankees were able to get their bats alive, as they ambushed the Orioles for eight runs and put themselves in position to take the series tomorrow night.
July 4th Becomes Gleyber Day in the Bronx
After last night’s fireworks at Yankee Stadium, Gleyber Torres decided to get the offense started with fireworks of his very own. After a four-pitch walk to Anthony Rizzo, Torres crushed a 436-foot homer that captivated the crowd and got the offense going. He added on a double and walk to that, but he wasn’t done with the flashy plays, just yet.
A Giancarlo Stanton single with the game tied up at three and Gleyber on first turned from a routine play to a mad dash to the plate. Instead of stopping at third, Torres caught the Orioles’ defense sleeping, flying past the stop sign and scoring the go-ahead run.
The Yankees wouldn’t relinquish the lead, and Torres now brings his season wRC+ up to 108 after a tough month of June where he hit just .171 with an OPS of .615. With Judge out, his performance at the plate is more vital to the Yankees’ success than it’s ever been, and today he came through when the Yankees needed him most. Responsible for two runs batted in and three runs scored, Torres continues to blitz Baltimore pitching as he has his entire career.
He now has 21 career longballs in just 77 games against the Orioles, slugging .613 with an OPS of 1.013. This year alone he’s hitting .310 against their in-division foe, and he looks to continue his reign of terror on Baltimore in the final two games of this set, where the Yankees hope to claw closer to the top of the division.
Surging Outfield Trio Continues to Give the Yankees Production
When Aaron Judge went down last month, it was expected that names like Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, and DJ LeMahieu would step up and do damage for the Bronx Bombers. Instead, in the Yankees’ last few weeks of play they’ve leaned on three unlikely heroes to come through and save the day. While the Yankees have struggled to get any production from their outfielders, Isiah KinerArg-Falefa, Harrison Bader, and Jake Bauers have stepped it up big time.
Harrison Bader went 1-3 with an RBI double and a hit by pitch, adding to yesterday’s dramatic three-run blast into the Bronx night. Bader has a 108 wRC+ on the season, and while that isn’t mind-boggling, it feels as if every extra-base hit the Bronx native collects comes in a huge spot. He entered today with a 135 wRC+ and nine hits with runners in scoring position, and he’s developed a reputation as a great situational hitter who rises to the occasion.
He’s not the only hitter putting a strong season at the dish together, as Jake Bauers has come out of nowhere to give the Yankees a 120 wRC+ and 19 extra-base hits in 130 at-bats thus far. Called up from Triple-A to replace Judge when he initially went on the IL in Texas, Bauers has given the Yankees left-handed power that they’ve sorely needed all season. With a double, walk, and run scored on the afternoon, he continues to give the Yankees a great weapon against RHP this year.
Arguably the heart and soul of the clubhouse right now, Isiah Kiner-Falefa has really emerged as a key piece of the Yankees’ machine. Since the start of May, IKF has been on a tear, hitting .286 with a .466 SLG% and driving in 21 runs as well. IKF collected his seventh double of the season and brought his OPS on the season up to .701 after a terrible month of April.
He’s worked his way into the everyday lineup after losing the shortstop battle and being moved to a utility role, and the Yankees might have to play him at 3B full-time until they can make changes in mid-July via trade. If they need an outfielder, they have IKF. If they need a 3B, they have IKF. If they need someone to mop up innings in a blowout, they have IKF. He’s a super utilityman who’s starting to find his swing, and it’s amazing to see such a well-respected player in the clubhouse change the narrative on his tenure in the Bronx.
Pitching Staff Gets Timely Outs In Big Spots
While Clarke Schmidt got bombed in the fifth inning for three runs on two HRs, the 27-year-old turned in a fine start as a whole, continuing his streak of starts with three or fewer runs allowed. He’s still working through his issues with the longball, but he’s become a solid backend starter for the Yankees with upside. He feels just a pitch away at times, and if the Yankees move him back to the bullpen when Cortes and Rodon return, they know they have a talented arm in their 2017 1st Round Pick.
Ron Marinaccio would relieve Schmidt in the sixth, and after creating a self-imposed bases-loaded jam due to poor command, Marinaccio tightened things up and made some big pitches. He worked around the two walks to get three outs and preserve the Yankees’ 4-3 lead, and Wandy Peralta would toss a sweat-free nine-pitch seventh before the Yankees’ erupted for three runs in the bottom half of that innings.
Tommy Kahnle tossed another scoreless outing to keep his ERA at a perfect zero, and Albert Abreu allowed a run on some spotty defense before getting the final three outs of the game. All-in-all, while four runs and four walks isn’t a standout team performance, they got outs in pivotal parts of the game where Baltimore looked to turn the tide and put a damper on the Yankees’ July 4th festivities. On the bump tomorrow they’ll turn to rookie starter Randy Vásquez, who impressed in his last start against Chicago in the Bronx.
They’ll look to win the series tomorrow against Dean Kremer, who has a 5.04 ERA on the season, but that ERA is a bit misleading. A few really ugly starts including his most recent against the Minnesota Twins have really ballooned his ERA, although his 1.88 HR/9 rate leaves him susceptible to the long ball. He has a career 5.61 ERA against the Yankees, and in his lone outing against them this season he allowed four runs across five frames, a no-decision as the Yankees fell 7-6 on April 7th.
Just as they did with Kyle Gibson, the Yankees look to get out to an early start and attack Kremer, who loves to live in the strike zone and avoid that devastating duo of Yenner Cano and Felix Bautista in the eighth and ninth inning, as both are headed to Seattle to represent the O’s in the 2023 All-Star Game. The first pitch will be at 7:05, and the Yankees are now 48-38 on the season and improve to 7-3 in their last ten games played.