Writing these articles is starting to feel like writing up a Knicks game. How did they lose this time?
Was Looking Good
This time the Yanks had Gerrit Cole on the mound — and he was scintillating through 5 innings. John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman were marveling at his pitches on the radio; his fastball so fast (98 mph), his breaking ball at 90 mph. The movement. When a pitcher with his talent has a night with this kind of stuff working, he might have a special night, Sterling suggested after Cole retired the first 9 batters in order, striking out 8 of them.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) September 5, 2020
Cole finally allowed a hit in the 4th — a 2-out double by shortstop and #3 hitter Jose Iglesias — after having retired the first 11 batters.
But on the other hill Baltimore rookie Keegan Akin was shutting out the Yanks. Keegan was Baltimore’s No. 9 prospect according to Baseball America entering this season. He was a 2nd-round pick out of Western Michigan in 2016, and climbed quickly through the minors. He won the Orioles’ Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year award in 2018. He came in at 0-0 3.52 this year so far.
Akin left in the 6th replaced by former Yankee Dillon Tate — Akin pitched 5.1 shutout innings, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 8.
Not Looking Good
In the bottom of the 6th, Cole tired — and all hell broke loose. First came a solo homerun by DJ Stewart. Ok — no harm no foul, although you were cursing the Yankee offense at the time. But there were 3 innings left and they could come back from a 1-0 Baltimore lead.
Then — with 1 out, leadoff batter Hanser Alberto got on base on a throwing error by Thairo Estrada playing 3rd (regular gold-glove-level 3rd baseman Gio Urshela having just been put on the 10-day IL). Cole got a strikeout but with 2 out — DH Chance Sisco walked, catcher (and cleanup hitter) Pedro Severino walked, leftfielder Ryan Mountcastle singled, and it was 3-0 Baltimore.
“Not looking good” we tweeted at the time.
“We suck” is how Maxwell Fountain rephrased it.
Then Rio Ruiz doubled and it was 5-0 Baltimore.
Cole ended up allowing only 1 earned run, because of the error by Estrada. His line was great: 6 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 10 strikeouts.
Healthy Business Canada brought up an interesting question: “Curious how pitchers have done the next year after an over powering year, the previous year. Especially if you include ’18 and ’19, with long post season runs.”
Thoughts of Catfish Hunter after 1975 sprung to the head. It is an interesting slant on why Cole hasn’t been as effective recently — one we have to research.
A different slant than the one we posed the other day, that maybe he was cheating with stickem in Houston. So the good news for this game is that Cole debunked the Houston stickem argument, at least for 5 innings.
Miguel Yajure — who became the first player to ever wear #89 in his previous appearance — made his second appearance in the majors, to start the 7th, and allowed a homerun to his first batter — DJ Stewart — to make it 6-0 Baltimore. Just like a Knicks game.
Then Yajure settled down and ended up pitching the 7th and 8th — and allowing just the 1 run.
Yajure jettisoned to the Yanks in this short minor-league-less Coronavirus season. He never pitched AAA and only pitched a little AA. The 22-yr-old Yajure turned heads in the minors with a 97 mph fastball with tail life, a good curveball with depth, a solid feel for the changeup, and excellent command. The 6’1″ right hander was the #14 Yankee prospect coming into 2020, projected as a “back-end rotation piece”. They got him with International Signing money in 2014.
Yajure had Tommy John surgery in 2016 which kept him out of 2017. (Pitchers come back from Tommy John these days throwing harder than ever. In fact it’s been read that some scouts tell pitchers to ‘get the Tommy John out of the way early’ in their career. Has it become a kind of $6 Million Man operation — making the player better?)
Clint Frazier hit a homerun in the 7th to make it 6-1.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) September 6, 2020
But that was it. Even the Knicks make better late-game comebacks to still lose.