JA Happ himself grew a beard of grief that reflects the kind of season he has, but it was Aroldis Chapman who hung his head after tonight’s match. The Yankees went to ninth in full control, up 5-3, and Chapman came in for a save. He had one of the worst outings of his career, giving up four runs on two home runs without recording a single out as the Twins saved a game from the Yankees 7-5.
Josh Donaldson took Chapman deep to tie the game after a leadoff single in the ninth inning. The game had felt too close all night, but with the Yankees’ hailed bullpen and especially their closer, you still felt until Donaldson̵
I said in the game thread that JA Happ was lucky to run as low a home run rate as he was, given how much more contact he allows and how his stuff has fallen. Sure enough, we did not have to wait long for the Yankees to jack that HR / 9 average a bit.
Giancarlo Stanton took him deep to center in the first inning, a three-run bomb to give the Yankees an early lead. It was Stanton’s third long ball in the series, a much-needed resurgence of power in a lineup that lacked it far too much this season:
Happ also gave up a home run for Gio Urshela a few innings later, as well as a triple to Yankee third baseman, which got the two toughest parts of the bike out of the way early. Outside of the two long balls, you could argue that the team was a bit feckless offensively – lots of traffic, but without tack-on runs early that can make games laugh.
And this is actually the importance of home driving. Without Stanton and Urshela going to court, the first two-thirds of this game would have been miserable, with the Yankees coming to the base in every inning and not having a big hit to earn them in. Instead of with the home runs, this game was one that was probably too close to comfort, but still a lead, rather than one where we all spent the night tearing our hair out.
Michael King was pretty sloppy. He threw 24 spots in the first, so he got a turn, a hit and a sack flight to get the twins on the board. King also threw 21 lanes in the third, and overall he struggled with deception on his fast balls, generating only a single turn and miss against the two-stitch, zero on the four stitches and two on the cutter. The right-hander relies on all three places to work east-west around the plate and can actually boast some of the best horizontal movements in baseball.
Now King was able to get ten called strikes on the sinker, albeit none on his other two fastballs, which showed that he was at least able to control that pitch. All in all, he went three, the same number of strikes were recorded and did not come out of the fourth inning, making it difficult to give him a passing grade at night.
Jonathan Loiasiga struck spectacularly for King’s relief, and Chad Green also struck well in his relief. The big game that came from Green’s work, however, was a brilliant throw from once outfielder Miguel Andújar:
Andújar has had his share of adventures in the left, but this is not the first time we have seen his arm compensate for less range or instincts in the outfield. If he can hit and play like that in the field, he gets all the chances of the world to succeed. Speaking of beating, he reached base three times today.
Most of this game was pretty positive! The Yankees could certainly have hit a few more runs – Happ was not sharp, the team got tons of traffic, and five runs probably feels less than they should have managed. Still, they gave a lead to their closer world – a lead with more races at it – and despite coming into action Thursday with a 0.39 ERA, Chapman could not deliver. It’s baseball, as they say.
The Yankees will take off Friday and hope to return Saturday from Philadelphia and take on the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. Eastern. Jameson Taillon meets Vince Velasquez.