Karpin’s Korner: Yanks Speed to Boston with Momentum

by Howie Karpin/The NY Extra/

In a game where it seemed no one wanted to win, Ryan LaMarre’s pinch-hit, walk off, RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the Yankees a 6-5 victory over the Phillies last night and a sweep of the brief two game series at Yankee Stadium.

The Phillies gave the Yankees a taste of their own medicine as they were 1 for 14 with RISP and couldn’t capitalize on 11 walks, while leaving 12 men on base. Sound familiar? (See 7/11 vs. Astros: 12 walks, 3 for 16 w RISP, 14 men left on)

After the Phillies failed to score against the eventual winning pitcher Brooks Kriske in the top of the 10th inning, Gary Sanchez was the Yankees’ runner who started on second.

Gleyber Torres laid down a surprise sacrifice bunt that got the job done as Sanchez got to third with one out. It was Torres’ fourth career sacrifice bunt. “He wanted one strike,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said on the post game zoom, “not something that Gleyber’s done much of, probably not at all in his career, executed perfectly there in that situation.”

It was going to take a clean hit or a deep fly ball to give the slow footed Sanchez a chance to score from third.

LaMarre jumped on a fastball from losing pitcher Ranger Suarez, that was up in the zone, and drove it over the head of right fielder Brad Miller for the game winning hit. According to Boone, LaMarre had the right approach. “Got a pitch up and out over the plate that he could get in the air. Just a really pro job of hitting right there in that spot,” he said.

The Yankees are running and playing small ball and you can see that opposing pitchers now have to deal with a team that is not just looking to hit the long ball. Boone said speed can upset a pitcher’s focus. “There’s at least some level, probably different for every pitcher but some level of attention, distraction, whatever you might want to call it knowing that you got somebody over there that might go,” Boone said.

Stanton, one of the remaining opening day starters still in the lineup, sees a team that’s taken on a whole new identity. “Everyone’s hungry, scrappy,” Stanton said on the post game zoom. “We’re getting it done in different ways than we’re accustomed to, it’s good. It’s good to get a new look. Some guys in here, playing like it’s their last game.”

The game was tied at two in the seventh when the Yankees took the lead, thanks to this new offensive approach that they’ve adopted out of necessity since the Covid outbreak. With one out, Estevan Florial reached on an infield single and stole second.

Giancarlo Stanton stroked a two out single just past a diving Jean Segura at second to score Florial with the go ahead run. Rougned Odor then drove a hanging splitter from Phils’ reliever Hector Neris into the second deck in right field for a 5-2 lead.

Zack Britton, pitching for a second straight day for the first time all season, started the eighth but Torres let a routine grounder go right through his legs for his 13th error to set up the inning. The Phillies eventually loaded the bases with one out, courtesy of Britton walking two batters.

Nick Nelson relieved Britton and gave up a two run single to pinch-hitter Luke Williams to make it a one run game. Segura walked to load the bases and Nelson’s wild pitch allowed the tying run to score.

In the ninth, the Phillies took a page out of the Yankees’ base running manual. With Aroldis Chapman on the mound, Rhys Hoskins was picked off first. Why Hoskins is running there was a question for Phillies Mgr. Joe Girardi.

The Yankees had a golden opportunity to win the game in the ninth. LeMahieu was on first with one out when Miller botched a fly ball from Stanton to put runners on second and third. With the infield in, Hoskins fielded Odor’s grounder at first and threw out LeMahieu at the plate and Sanchez popped out to send the game to extra innings.

The Yankees have won four in a row, four series in a row and 9 of their last 12 games. They remained seven games behind Boston with the huge four game series at Fenway up next, but are 3.5 back in the race for the second Wild Cards spot.

With four in Boston and three in Tampa, there is no question this is the biggest road trip of the season. It could even turn into a “make or break” situation.

Boone and the Yankees realize the task at hand. “There’s no denying the importance of it. It’s a tough road trip, we’re playing good baseball but we understand the importance and the urgency of every day, especially at this time of the year, but we look forward to that challenge of going to play some very good teams in a row.”

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