Throughout their history, the Yankees have always built teams to take advantage of the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium, but in 2021, it’s the opponents who are taking advantage.
Consider what took place this past week in the Bronx.
The Yankees split the first two against the Angels and had a real shot at taking two of the first three, as they led 8-4 in the ninth. Aroldis Chapman (more on him later) entered the game and “spit the bit” and coughed up the lead. With two out and the bases full, Angels first-baseman Jared Walsh (a left handed hitter) tied the game with a demoralizing grand slam, his second of two home runs in the game. The Halos went to score three more off Lucas Luetge (who had relieved Chapman) to hand the Yankees a crushing 11-8 loss.
What made this loss even worse was that the Yankees put up a 7-spot in the first inning off of Shohei Ohtani, who was making his first start as a pitcher at Yankee Stadium. Ohtani did not make it out of the first and that forced Angels Manager Joe Maddon to have to navigate his roster and use pitchers as hitters. Even with the Angels having to play with a short roster, the Yankees couldn’t beat them.
Thursday and Friday were rained out so the Subway Series began on Saturday with an 8-3 loss to the Mets. With the split of the Sunday doubleheader, the Yankees lost four of six on this pivotal home stand and find themselves with an extremely disappointing 42-41 record as they head out on the road for six games against Seattle and Houston.
One positive from the day was Chad Green’s performance in game two as he threw an immaculate inning to close it out in the seventh. Green didn’t realize he had joined a special group of pitchers who had a nine pitch, three strikeout inning. “No, I didn’t,” Green said. “Someone mentioned it to me, I think Lucas [Luetge] mentioned it to me right after the game. That’s pretty cool.”
The Yankees were able to avoid the ultimate embarrassment of being swept in a doubleheader and the series with their 4-2 win in game two. Green said, “Definitely when we go into an off day, you don’t want a sour taste in your mouth. It makes sleeping a little easier tonight, obviously we know we have a lot of work to do still.” That’s putting it mildly.
Have you noticed how the opponents’ left handed hitters have made themselves at home in the Bronx.
Shohei Ohtani certainly took advantage but so did Walsh, who had two home runs in that wild game.
Next up was the Mets with their left handed bats. As someone said to me this weekend, “It seems like the Mets are built for this place.” [Yankee Stadium] Dom Smith found the Stadium to his liking, not to mention Brandon Nimmo.
What really hit home (excuse the pun) was the balanced lineup that the Mets put out, while the Yankees had 8 right handed hitters with Brett Gardner being the only lefty hitter, seven when Rougned Odor was in the lineup.
The difference in bench players came to forefront when Mets Mgr. Luis Rojas used three straight pinch hitters during that 7th inning rally of game one. Two of the three delivered big hits, including Jose Peraza’s two run double that was interfered with by a Mets’ fan in the left field stands, or it would’ve been three runs.
Speaking of left, the Yankees left handed closer has not enjoyed pitching at the Stadium lately. Chapman’s last five appearances have been at home and it has not been stellar.
In those five outings, Chapman has thrown 3 1/3 innings and has given up ten runs. What’s disconcerting is that Chapman has lost faith in his fastball and is getting beat with his secondary pitch.
There is speculation that Chapman has lost command of his heater because he can’t use the “sticky stuff” anymore. If Chapman can’t command his fastball, then he’s useless, because is slider is a notch below mediocre.
The game tying home run he gave up to Pete Alonso in the first game was on a 1-2 slider. “I don’t think that was the right spot for that,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said on the zoom after game one.
Catcher Kyle Higashioka held himself accountable for the pitch call, but the bottom line is Chapman is a train wreck. Green could be called on to close, but he won’t throw his teammate “under the bus.” “We still have faith in Chappy, his stuff’s still really good,” said Green. “Obviously he’s going through a rough patch, but we have no doubt he’s going to work through it and be good to go the rest of the year.”
The Mets went on to score six runs in the top of the 7th and went on to a demoralizing 10-5 win. Boone said, “It’s another awful loss, there’s no other way to put it.”
The Yankees don’t take advantage of their friendly dimensions and it shows in their home record of 23-22. That’s not Yankee baseball as we know it.
The Yankees’ offense is dominated by the extreme right. That’s not a political statement, but it does offer an indication of how this Yankee team is built and is one of the main reasons why they’ve underachieved.
As they head towards the All Star break, the Yankees face a daunting schedule. It begins Tuesday night with three in Seattle against an improved Mariners team, followed by three in Houston with the AL West leading Astros.
When they resume post break, the Yankees have a six game home stand with four against the Red Sox and two vs. the Phillies. After that, it’s four more with the Red Sox at Fenway, with three in Tampa Bay to close out a 19-game stretch that will take the Yankees within two days of the July 31st trade deadline.
By that point, it will have been determined as to whether the Yankees will be buyers or sellers.