JA Happ grew up a beard of sorrow it reflects the kind of season he’s having, but it was Aroldis Chapman who bowed his head after tonight’s game. the Yankees went to ninth in total control, up 5-3, and Chapman came in for a save opportunity. He had one of the worst outings of his career, allowing four runs on two homers without registering a single out as the Twins recovered from a game from the Yankees, 7-5.
Josh Donaldson pushed Chapman deep to tie the score after a start single in the ninth inning. The game had felt too tight all night, but with the Yankees’ much-vaunted reliever box, and especially their closest, you always felt great until Donaldson’s ball left the court. Willians Astudillo made a single, then ageless wonder Nelson Cruz hit a high, deep ball on Minneapolis night. It was the third time Chapman had given up two homers in a set, the first since he faced those Twins, Minnesota, back in 2016.
I said in the thread of the game that JA Happ was fortunate to have a home run rate as low as him, given the number of additional contacts he allows and the decrease in his business. Indeed, we didn’t have to wait long for the Yankees to increase that HR / 9 average a bit.
Giancarlo Stanton brought him to the center of the first inning, a three-point bomb to give the Yankees an early lead. It was Stanton’s third long ball in the series, a much-needed resurgence of power in a lineup that was too short of it this season:
Happ also gave Gio Urshela a home run a few innings later, as well as a triple for the Yankees third baseman, knocking out the two toughest parts of the cycle earlier. Apart from the two long balls, you could tell the team were a bit inept offensively – lots of traffic but without the rush runs that can make games laugh.
And that is, in fact, the importance of the home run. Without Stanton and Urshela, the first two-thirds of this game would have been miserable, with the Yankees being on base every inning and not having a big hit to concede them. Instead, with the homers, this game was one that was probably too close to comfort, but still a trail, rather than the one where we all spent our night tearing our hair out.
Michael King was quite careless. He threw 24 pitches in the first, allowing for a walk, a hit and a fly sack to get the twins on the board. King also threw 21 shots in the third, and overall he battled deception on his fastballs, generating a single shot and miss against the two seam, zero on the four seam and two on the cutter. . The right-hander relies on all three shots to work east to west around the plate and, indeed, has some of the best horizontal moves in baseball.
Now King has managed to get ten called shots on the lead, but none on his other two fast balls, showing he was at least capable of commanding that throw. Overall, he walked three, the same number of strikeouts on record, and didn’t come out in the fourth inning, making it difficult to give him a passing mark overnight.
Jonathan Loiasiga threw dramatically in relief from King, and Chad Green threw his relief out as well. The big play that came from Green’s work, however, was a brilliant throw from former outfielder Miguel Andújar:
Andújar has had his fair share of adventures on the left, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen his arm compensate for less reach or instincts in the outfield. If he can hit and play like that in the outfield, he’s going to have every chance in the world to be successful. Speaking of hitting, he hit base three times today.
Most of this game was pretty positive! The Yankees certainly could have done a few more runs – Happ wasn’t sharp, the team had tons of traffic, and five runs probably looks less than they should have handled. Still, they gave their world’s closest to the world a lead – a multiple innings lead at that – and despite coming into action on Thursday with a 0.39 ERA, Chapman couldn’t deliver. It’s baseball, as they say.
The Yankees will take the day off on Friday and hope to bounce back from Philadelphia on Saturday, facing the Philly at 1:05 p.m. EST. Jameson Taillon will face Vince Velasquez.