baseball

Karpin’s Korner: A Win and a Player

by Howie Karpin/The NY Extra/thenyextra.com

It was a good night all around for the Yankees.

Despite another tightrope act from their closer, the Yankees didn’t flop at the Trop and they may have added a much needed left handed power bat that they hope will spark their underachieving offense.

The Yankees beat the Rays, 3-1 in 10 innings and were in the process of acquiring left hand hitting slugger Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers. “A really good win for us tonight,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone emphasized on the post game zoom.

The Yankees clinched a winning record in a place which has not been kind of late and they go for the three game sweep Thursday night with Gerrit Cole on the mound.

During the game, a number of sources reported the Yankees were acquiring Gallo in exchange for a number of minor league prospects. At game’s end, the trade had not been finalized so the team could not comment on a deal that is not official.

After the Yankees scored twice in the top of the tenth to take a two run lead, Aroldis Chapman was brought on to close it out. Chapman’s outings have been adventurous lately, and last night was no different.

With a runner starting on second in the 10th, Chapman struck out Brandon Lowe but he walked Randy Arozarena to put the tying runs on first and second. Nelson Cruz was sent up to pinch hit but, during his at-bat, a Chapman wild pitch put runners on second and third.

After the Yankee closer struck out Cruz for the second out, the next batter was Francisco Mejia, who swung at the first pitch and hit, what was apparently a routine pop fly to first. D.J. LeMahieu called for it, but he was having trouble with the always perilous roof at the Trop. Fly balls and pop flies can get lost up there, but LeMahieu stayed with it until he had to dive to his right to make a back handed, shoe string catch. Having the larger first baseman’s mitt probably aided LeMahieu in holding on to the final out of the game. “There definitely was some doubt there, glad to catch it,” LeMahieu said after the game.

Aaron Judge was in the original starting lineup but was scratched about 40 minutes before first pitch prompting speculation of an injury or even a trade. Neither was the case as Judge entered the game as a pinch hitter in the fifth. “Some of his return from the Covid stuff, he just had to complete some doctor appointments,” Boone said. “He’s fine, he’s good to go, but it went long. He ended up not getting to the field until the six o’ clock hour so we had to scratch him obviously.”

In the tenth, Greg Allen was hit by a pitch and Judge’s RBI single drove home the auto runner, Gio Urshela, from second with the go ahead run. The Yankees made it 3-1 when Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge uncorked a wild pitch to score Allen with the third run.

The Yankees did not get much going against Rays starting pitcher Michael Wacha while his opposite number, Nestor Cortes, did the same to Tampa’s lineup.

In his five innings, Cortes gave up a run on three hits. Wacha, who had given up 13 earned runs in his last 18 innings pitched, allowed one unearned run with 9 strikeouts in five innings.

Boone has to love what he’s getting out of Cortes. “His fastball plays. He’s got the ability to pitch up with it,” he said. “He does create deception obviously with his delivery some, just his arm action, the ability to throw different arm angles, and the ability to continue to change speeds whether he slows you down with the curve ball, mixes in the slider, cuts it a little bit.”

The Yankees have gotten wins in the first two games, that’s the bottom line, but they still display those red flags that will hold them back if they continue to occur.

1 for 10 with RISP with 6 left on. The number is still .218 with RISP, .207 with RISP and two out. There were two more base running mistakes that could’ve been costly.

With the game tied and one out in the ninth, pinch runner Tyler Wade was on second when Urshela hit a line drive to Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe. Wade got too far off second and was out when Lowe dove and got to the bag first with his hand. Wade should’ve known where Lowe was positioned.

In the tenth, the Yankees had two runs in and Judge was on third. With the Rays playing the infield in, Gleyber Torres lined out to third baseman Joey Wendle, who beat Judge back to the bag to complete the double play. Where Judge is going on that play is the head scratcher. You’re taught to let the line drive go through in that spot, especially when the third baseman is playing right near the bag.

Newsday’s Yankee beat reporter Erik Boland joined me on Karpin’s Korner this week and I asked him about the lack of fundamentals from the Yankees. Boland said, “What the scouts are saying is that poor fundamentals is more extreme in the Yankees organization right now. Some other teams that scout the Yankee system from top to bottom and they all say the same thing.”

The Yankees are 53-47 and have moved to within one loss of the second AL Wild Card spot. They have some control of their own destiny as they have games remaining with Oakland, Seattle, and the Angels, their chief competitors.

Boone still believes in his team and offered a familiar refrain. “For as tough as this year’s been, at times for us, as up and down as it’s been, they keep getting up off the mat,” he said. “Showing their toughness, showing their character and that’s what we’re gonna have to continue to do if we’re gonna get to where we want to go.”

The reported trade would have the Yankees acquiring Gallo and OF Joely Rodriguez for Ezequiel Duran, a 22 year old, high-A Middle infielder who has shown surprising power, Trevor Hauver, Low-A outfielder who has played the infield, pitcher Glenn Otto, a 25 year old who was a starter for double-A Somerset and triple-A Scranton Wilkes Barre and posted a combined 7-3 record with a 3.33 ERA, and infielder Josh Smith, a 23 year old infielder who played at Low-A.

Critics of the deal are correct in saying that Gallo adds strikeouts to a lineup loaded with them, but he also brings a left handed presence that has been sorely lacking for a team that plays its home games at Yankee Stadium, noted for its short right field dimensions.

Gallo is under control through next season and is a gold glove outfielder with a terrific arm. The move makes sense for the Yankees, because it’s being made with an eye on next season.

The 27 year old left hand hitting slugger will not be a savior for this season, but it shows that the organization has finally come to grips with the fact that they need more left handed bats.

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