I had some obligations – namely my real job – that kept me from the beginning of the game last night so I picked up the game in the top of the 3rd, listening to the radio broadcast in the car.
Immediately I was glad to hear that both Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez came through with big hits earlier in the game. I’m old enough to remember when the fans and media were expressing genuine concern about them because they weren’t doing well. That was Monday.
In the third, after a Sanchez double, a Neil Walker walk and a Tyler Austin single – the fun started.
The Yanks had Walker on 2nd, Austin on 1st, nobody out, top of the 3rd inning:
Altogether now, Yankee manager Aaron Boone has Tyler Wade bunt. (Pinches bridge of nose, reaches for whiskey.)
Dead horse review: With runners on 1st and 2nd base with no outs the run expectancy is 1.48. Had the bunt been “successful”, and the runners moved to 2nd and 3rd with one out, the run expectancy would be 1.34. If the bunt is not successful (it wasn’t – Austin was thrown out at 2nd base) the run expectancy for 1st and 3rd with one out is 1.19.
For those of you scoring at home, the run expectancy dropped by almost 20%. Well done, Mr. Boone.
However, Tyler Austin when sliding into 2nd base, stuck his foot out with spikes up to prevent Boston shortstop Brock Holt from making a good throw to first. Holt took exception, (rightfully so I believe) he and Austin had words, benches and bullpens emptied. I only learned all of this later. As I said, I was listening in the car. John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman only told me that the benches emptied, because that’s all they saw. All they had to add was that baseball should make it a rule to fine players for leaving the benches during brawls, as is done in other sports. True story. More on that in a minute.
We’ll come back to Tyler Austin as well. Miguel Andujar then lined into a double play. Run expectancy officially goes from 1.48 to zero. After a disastrous bottom of the 5th for the Yankees, what had been an 8-1 lead was now 8-6. I’m wondering if Aaron Boone wishes he had that bunt back. I am not wondering however, if anyone from Simpleton Summer Camp will ask him later – I know they won’t.
In the top of the 6th, Brett Gardner led off with a walk. With a runner on 1st base, no outs, the run expectancy is .89. If Gardner gets thrown out stealing, the run expectancy with one out and no one on base is .28. For those of you scoring at home, the risk is…not…worth…it…under normal circumstances.
But this wasn’t a normal circumstance. The next two batters had career slugging percentages of .589 and .554, respectively. Sending the runner in that situation is a bad move – no way to sugar coat it. And no, I don’t care that Boston catcher Christian Vazquez threw the ball into center allowing Gardner to go to 3rd – if you use results to justify means you will lose way more than you win in baseball.
Let’s move to the top of the 7th, where after receiving some help from the Boston pitchers and defense combined with some key hits, the Yankees held a 10-6 lead. This is a factor because the last time Tyler Austin was at the plate, it was a much closer game. But now…
Boston pitcher Joe Kelly, one of the hardest throwing pitchers in baseball over the past few seasons, threw a pitch very inside to Austin around hip height. It missed.
At this point, I – and most rational people, I think – were thinking, “OK, he’s sending a message to Austin to be careful with the cleats when sliding ongoing.” Personally, I think hurling a weapon at someone who’s pretty much defenseless from 60 feet away is the height of cowardice, but I get it. (To say nothing of unnecessarily risky. See also; Dickie Thon) At this point it should have been over.
But Kelly threw at Austin again, this time higher. Benches cleared, punches were thrown, players and a coach were ejected. For the most part, the excitement was over. Boston scored one in the bottom of the 9th, Yankees win (the Yankees win) 10-7.
Final (random) thoughts:
- 12 games is the equivalent of a sneeze in baseball terms. Players, even the best ones like Stanton and Sanchez will have ups and downs. But over 162 games they will have way more ups. This is one of the things about baseball that most fans and media don’t seem to understand, quite frustratingly to me.
- Speaking of things I don’t get why so many baseball fans and media don’t get is that baseball is different from other sports. This comes up in a few ways, but specifically to last night and the declaration that MLB should ban players from leaving the benches and bullpens during fights: In baseball, there are 9 players on the field for one team, significantly fewer for the other. (What’s hard to get about that?) If players stayed on the bench and a fight broke out it is likely to be a 9 on 1 situation. How, pray tell, does that help the situation?
- Throwing a baseball at someone intentionally to hit them from 60 feet away is cowardly, very dangerous and stupid.
- Aaron Boone is off to a very, very bad start. The bunting and stealing in inappropriate situations, the god awful bullpen mis-management and lineup construction is very disconcerting. I don’t see this ending well for him or the team.
- David Cone is the best commentator in the business. His combination of been there, done that on the field knowledge and his analytical acumen make him a great resource for us. Combine that with his sense of humor – his comments about home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstet being hit, players charging the mound and Didi Gregorius’ throw from his backside had me cracking up – and you have a great listen. So unfair he gets stuck with the dolts of Simpleton Summer Camp.