Game 142: NYY vs. TEX — Baby Bombers show off in Texas finale

I wish I could say that this afternoon’s game was a great game. At first glance, it might look great because the outcome was in the Yankees’ favor. But a second look, and one has to wonder how either team was lucky enough to keep the game under 4 hours with the pitching being a bit less than stellar.

With today’s finale in Texas, the Yankees were looking to continue their march towards that postseason with some kind of power, looking to their offense to carry them into October. Usually, the pitching is there to give them some back up, but today, there was a rather mixed bag in that case.

Jordan Montgomery got the start today and once again had some struggles through his abbreviated outing. He threw 79 pitches into the 4th inning, giving up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, and striking out just 3 Texas batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out solo home run got the Rangers on the board, but with 2 outs and 2 runners in scoring position, Montgomery relied on his defense to get the final out of the inning and out of the jam. In the 4th, he gave up consecutive walks before a 1-out double would score another run.

The Yankees called on Chad Green to do what Chad Green does, and give the Yankees some long-term relief so early in the game. He gave up a sacrifice fly that scored Montgomery’s lingering runner before Green got a well-placed strikeout. Even Green had a spot of trouble in the 5th inning when his lead-off batter doubled and then promptly scored on an RBI single. But then Green zeroed in and breezed his way through his next 5 outs (and in doing so, set himself up for the win).

Tommy Kahnle closed out Green’s 6th inning and basically breezed his way through the 7th before handing the ball over to Dellin Betances. Betances found his own sticky spot in the 8th inning, despite getting 3 strikeouts for his 3 outs this inning. With just 1 out, Betances gave up consecutive walks that both scored on a double. Caleb Smith got 2 quick outs in the 9th and then gave up a walk that scored on a double before getting that 3rd out to close out the game.

And all those statistics would not spell good news for the Yankees if the Rangers had a better pitching staff. But really, they are just not good, or at least they weren’t so good tonight. The Rangers’ starter only throwing into the 4th inning. In the 1st inning, Gary Sanchez kicked things off with a solo home run into the left field seats, his 29th of the season.

Gardner singled to lead off the 3rd, moved to 2nd when Sanchez was hit by a pitch, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. This broke the early tie, but the Yankees weren’t done yet. Castro reached safely on a fielder’s choice, and due to the slowness of the Rangers’ defense, all runners were safe on all 3 bases. Aaron Judge’s long sacrifice fly scored Sanchez.

In the 4th, Ellsbury was hit by a pitch (yes, this happened a lot tonight) and Romine singled, and that would be it for the Rangers’ starter. Not that they could depend on the bullpen to halt the Yankees’ charge. Brett Gardner smacked a nice triple that scored both runners. A fairly routine single by Chase Headley scored Gardner. After Sanchez’s double, Didi Gregorius’ single scored Headley. (All of this before an out was scored this inning.) Then on a double play, Sanchez still scored to keep the momentum alive. Only to be followed up by Aaron Judge’s 40th home run of the season.

And the Rangers finally went to their bullpen to get out of this inning. But that reliever found his troubles in the next inning loading up the bases with consecutive doubles and a fielding error. Didi Gregorius singled and scored the 2 lead runners before being thrown out trying for 2nd base.

To show off a bit, Aaron Judge hit a 1-out solo home run in the 6th, and Gary Sanchez followed that with a solo home run to lead off the 8th. (More on this after the recap.) And in the 9th inning, the Yankees proved they weren’t done yet. Ellsbury led-off with a walk, and Romine singled. Tyler Wade singled home Ellsbury, and pinch-hitter Erik Kratz had his first Yankee hit, a double, that scored both Romine and Wade to cap off the Yankee runs scored today.

Now, back to what I started with is a bit of why I have a hard time calling this a great game. A “great game” is one where the pitching, hitting, defense, base running, and bullpen are all really good, even more so if both teams do so. But statistics show a different story. In total, pitchers gave up 28 hits, 10 walks, and 23 runs (5 of them homers). And here’s the biggest difference in pitching staffs — the Yankees got the Rangers’ batters swinging at 13 strikeouts, while the Rangers entire staff only got the Yankees to strikeout twice. Again, it’s hard to call this a “good game”, let alone a great one. But it’s nice to win it anyway they can.

Final score: 16-7 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1

Now, those “Baby Bombers” Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Both young stars hit two home runs each in today’s game, showing off the Yankee offense in the best possible way. For Aaron Judge, he hit is 40th and 41st home runs of the season, officially becoming the 2nd rookie in MLB history to hit over 40 home runs in a single season. And he’s got 20 games to at least tie up the record holder (Mark McGwire) at 49. Judge is also in some very vaunted company as the 5th Yankee to hit at least 40 home runs age 25 and under — Mantle, DiMaggio, Gehrig, and Ruth.

Now, Gary Sanchez isn’t exactly a footnote here. He has hit 50 home runs in his first 162 games (over the last 2 seasons). This season alone, Sanchez leads all catchers in the league with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs after today, and this is despite missing an entire month of baseball earlier this year. And speaking of catchers, Sanchez’s 30 home runs this season tied other legendary Yankee catchers in most home runs in a season — Posada in 2003 and Berra in 1952 and 1956.

And remember, folks, there’s still 20 games left in this season. Both Sanchez and Judge have about 20 more games to just surge ahead and show off some more. And don’t think they won’t try. We are watching the next Berra-Mantle anchored dynasty, like my grandfather used to talk about. My grandkids will hear my stories of the Sanchez-Judge era of greatness. And just maybe they’ll get their own dynasty of legends in the making.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: having a bit of trouble with the links, so I included the recap, but it only covers Judge and Sanchez’s home runs. Will link the rest as soon as I can.}

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