Truthfully, most ball games are really rather predictable. They follow the same formula — pitching, batting, defense, and the occasional base-running. The crowd cheers when runs are scored or a particular tough out is made. The rare game has something highlight reel-worthy. Then there’s whatever happened in the Bronx tonight during this 5 hour and 20 minute extra innings game.
The Yankees continue to host the Orioles during their 4-game weekend series. And tonight was rather pleasant weather (in contrast to the “snow delay” the Rockies and Braves had to contend with today). CC Sabathia got the start tonight, but he was cut short in his outing due to soreness in his right hip (more below). He still got 58 pitches in his 4 innings, giving up 4 hits, 3 of them unfortunately solo home runs, and striking out 3 Baltimore batters. All three runs were a 1-out solo shot in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings (2 by the same player, by the way).
The Yankees were able to chip away at that O’s lead responding to the first 2 runs with 2 of their own. In the bottom of the 1st, Gardner led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Judge’s hit by a pitch, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single. Then in the 3rd, Gardner led-off with double and promptly scored on Aaron Judge’s single.
So down just 1 run and Sabathia out of the game, the Yankees turned to their bullpen to help pick up the game. Tommy Kahnle struggled a bit through his 2 innings before turning things over to Betances and Robertson who fairly breezed through the 7th and 8th innings.
In the bottom of the 8th inning, Didi Gregorius smacked a 1-out solo home run into the right field stands to tie up the game. After Chapman struggled his way through the 9th, but kept the O’s from adding to their score, the Yankees were unable to come back with a walk-off. So “free baseball”… and into extra innings the game went.
Now, the Yankees bullpen should be the strongest bullpen in the MLB, but they have struggled quite a bit this season. But they tried their hardest to fight this upward battle. Chad Green gave up 2 base runners in his 10th inning, but kept them from scoring. Chasen Shreve breezed through his 11th inning, but loaded up the bases in the 12th before getting out of that jam.
Jonathan Holder came on for the 13th for an efficient inning, thanks in part to Aaron Judge reaching over the right field wall to steal away a home run. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen Holder smile so much in a game.) That joy was short-lived because he just fell apart in the 14th inning. He very quickly loaded the bases — a walk, a single, and a sacrifice bunt that made it safely due to a throwing error — with no outs. Then in the middle of the next player’s at-bat, Gary Sanchez’s calf cramped up. Austin Romine rushed to gear up and jump right in, getting the batter to strikeout for the first out of the inning. But then the next batter smacked a long grand slam into the right field seats to break the tie and give the Orioles the lead again.
As you can guess, the Yankees offense didn’t have much success against the Orioles’ pitching. I mean, there were moments of hope. Like the 11th inning. With 1 out, Gregorius led-off with a walk and Walker was intentionally walked. Ronald Torreyes hit a short grounder that got Walker out at 2nd, but Torreyes beat out the second part of the double play at 1st. Well, he did after a challenge, review, and overturn. Defensive indifference let Torreyes get to 2nd and into scoring position. And suddenly, the pitcher threw a bad pitch that headed to the back wall as Gregorius booked it into home. Just as he was reaching for that plate, the pitcher came in and slid like a runner on the 3rd base side of the plate, effectively blocking Gregorius from reaching home.
A challenge ensued, but the original call of “out” was upheld. The winning run was denied. To be perfectly fair, I’m not sure how that was not “blocking the plate”, a rule on the books to keep catchers from being really harmed, except for the “catcher” was not a catcher but a pitcher and the rule books only have rules for “blocking the plate” for the catcher. Had Gregorius not dived head first and instead slid feet first, that pitcher would probably had serious injuries in that thigh from Gregorius’ spikes. (That would have caused a quick rule change). But either way, it’s something to look into, MLB HQ.
Anyway, from then on, the Yankees only eked out a Judge walk and stolen base in the 13th. So there was no comeback in store.
Final score: 7-3 Orioles
Another weird play in this “bonkers” game was in the 6th inning. So Stanton led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single, and then to 3rd on Sanchez’s fielder’s choice out at 2nd. Then Walker hit a short grounder to 3rd base, so that fielder threw the ball home to try to get Stanton out at home. But Stanton saw it coming so he tried to run back to 3rd. Unfortunately, he’s now caught in a bit of a rundown on those 90 feet between 3rd and home plate. But as he’s headed back to 3rd (which he would have outrun the catcher), he see that Sanchez has already made it to 3rd base.
This is confusing, obviously, as two players of the same team cannot share the same base. So the catcher tags both Sanchez and then Stanton out. There was quite a bit of a scuffle as the umpires tried to determine the right call. Was it a single out? A double play? Why was the Orioles’ manager getting as orange as his hat screaming at the umpires? In the end, they called it a single out on Stanton, the Orioles officially declared they were playing under protest, and the next batter hit into a ground out to end the inning.
In other words, the call and the protest didn’t matter. Neither changed the outcome of the game. Afterwards, it was revealed that the play should have been a double play because Sanchez technically crossed paths with Stanton and thus out of the base path order. So rightly, the catcher tagging them out in that order was correct. Kudos to him for his sharp thinking. But like I said, this whole play did not matter or affect the outcome of the game anyway. Other than just making it more “bonkers”.
Tonight’s mass casualty reports… I mean, injury updates: As you know, CC Sabathia was pulled from the game after the 4th inning with right hip soreness. This is his landing leg, so that pressure and force on that ball and socket joint is going to hurt after all the repeated pitching. He was sent for an MRI, which came back clear, but that doesn’t stop the soreness, which may be just overwork right now. Gary Sanchez’s 14th inning cramp up was just that — a cramp. So he’ll be okay. Though I was still expecting Romine to catch tomorrow afternoon’s game due to the regular scheduling of a day after night game.
Two other losses during the game were Brandon Drury and Tyler Wade. Drury came out of the game in the 6th inning with blurry vision and severe migraine pain. I get migraines, as do 13% of the population, and believe me, they are nothing you can just “walk off” or “rub some dirt in”. Then despite some really good defensive plays tonight, Tyler Wade just was not looking like himself. After the 8th inning, Wade left the game due to a fever and flu-like symptoms (read: nausea and feeling like roadkill).
I suspect with the depletion of the bullpen tonight and all these injuries that the Yankees will announce some roster moves before tomorrow’s game. Okay, enough with these injuries, guys. Get healthy and stay healthy, so you can win some games.