Critical sweep for the Rays
The young Domingo German was tested in the finale with the Yankees dropping the first two games of this set against the 3rd place Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays countered with a bullpen day featuring Matt Andriese on the hill. German was asked to halt the Rays momentum and pitch the Yankees to a crucial series salvaging win. Jake Bauers made sure this was not the case as he mashed a walk-off home run in the 12th inning.
German not the Stopper
In his last three starts SP Domingo German is 2-0 with a 3.68 ERA to go along with 28 strikeouts and only 2 walks. He has showed positive signs towards becoming a reliable starter for the top-heavy New York pitching rotation. The youngster got into some trouble early leaving a fastball over the plate to the first two Rays hitters of the game. The pitches were handled for a triple and double by CF Kevin Kiermaier and 3B Matt Duffy respectively. Carlos Gomez would add in on the fun by stroking a 2-out double to stake out to an early 2-0 lead. The next inning would not be any easier for German as SS Adeiny Hechavarria worked a solid at-bat and got a pitch he could handle depositing it into the left field seats. The 23-year old right-hander never really got comfortable allowing runs in each inning. He was not a ‘stopper’ by any definition of the term (which is a pitcher who pitches well to get his team out of a stretch of subpar performances). It was a rough outing as he only lasted 3 innings giving up 6 earned runs on 9 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts and the Yankees trailing.
Rays Bullpen Day
Matt Andriese kicked off another bullpen day for the Rays as they elected to rest pitchers Blake Snell and Nathan Evovaldi an extra day for the upcoming Houston Astros series. It was reported by Kevin Cash that he would be on a pitch count of around 55 pitches. He ran into trouble in the 2nd inning by way of a Giancarlo Stanton double, Aaron Hicks walk and Miguel Andujar 3-run homerun. The mammoth shot was a big counter-punch that put the Yankees up 3-2 over the Tampa Bay Rays. After facing 14 hitters and running into more trouble in the fourth inning, Kevin Cash moved onto the high velocity arm of Jose Alvarado. This proved to be the perfect move, as the big arm was able to sit down three Yankees in a row to get out of the inning unscathed. He kicked off the next inning getting Gleyber Torres to fly out but walked Brett Gardner and was replaced by RHP Diego Castillo to face the right handed hitting Aaron Judge. Judge was sat down on a fly out to CF but was followed by back-to-back doubles by Gregorious and Stanton. Castillo was able to settle down and make good pitches to get Gary Sanchez and maintain the 6-5 lead.
The thought for Castillo was to deliver 5-6 outs today but only able to get 2. Vidal Nuno came on for a perfect 6th inning to get the bats back in the hands of the Rays quickly. He ended up getting 12 outs including a brilliant defensive play down the first base line but was tagged for a solo shot to give the Yanks new life in the 8th. The righty also dodged a bullet as a potential Clint Frazier home run ended being playable (and caught by Hech) after hitting a speaker inside Tropicana Field. Sergio Romo would kick off extra innings in dominant fashion providing two innings and showed his emotion coming off the field to set the tone for the offense. The game wore on and Venters took over the 12th only to give up an infield and pulled his hamstring. Hastily, Kevin Cash was forced to go with the young Ryan Yarbrough as his replacement. He stepped up and allowed the Rays offense an opportunity to sweep the Yanks.
Miguel Andujar broke the Yankees out of their series long slump with a monster 3-run shot to leftfield in the 2nd inning. It was a no doubter that ignited the Yankees crowd in Tampa Bay and took back the lead for New York. This would be answered by 4 runs in the next two innings for the hometown Rays. The Bronx Bombers would continue to fight and claw back as the top of the order produced two runs in the fifth to shave the lead down to 6-5. The potent Yankees lineup would respond again in the 8th on a solo homerun by Giancarlo Stanton (who was 5-5 in the game) to left field to tie the game. The tie would not be broken until the 12th inning when 1B Jake Bauers hit an absolute tank to the right-center gap to win the game. Notable offensive performances were put forth by Carlos Gomez, Jesus Sucre, Matt Duffy and the hero Jake Bauers.
Should the Yankees experiment with bullpen days?
The Rays are the only team in the Major Leagues experimenting with a “true” bullpen day rather than a conventional 5-man rotation. The unique concept has worked with mixed results for the team, but as the season wears on, Cash has come to know his bullpen much better. This along with improved depth gives everyone a glimpse on the potential of the bullpen day. Should the Yankees, who have ample resources, experiment with a bullpen day as a spot in the rotation? This is something for manager Aaron Boone to consider as the number 4 and 5 spots in the rotation has haunted the team with inconsistencies all year. It would be an efficient way to mask these issues while waiting for help through the trade market or a young gun. Some candidates that would work out well and should be considered are RHP Chad Green, RHP Adam Warren or the recently activated RHP Luis Cessa.