Saturday, May 21, 2022

Yankees Beat White Sox In A Heated Game At A Steamy Stadium


DJ LeMahieu about to touch the plate on his grand slam. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox, 7-5, in a heated, tension-filled, marathon game on a steamy Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are now 29-10 on the season, by far the best in Major League Baseball and six games ahead of Tampa Bay in the American League East.

Nestor Cortes got the start for the Yankees, and while he did not have the superb outings he did recently, he gave them five solid innings, in which he allowed three runs (all earned) on six hits and no walks, with seven strikeouts. The lefty improved to 3-1 on the season.

The Yankees got on the board in the bottom of the second when they put together a big inning against Chicago starter Dallas Keuchel, their old nemesis from his days with Houston.

Giancarlo Stanton led off with a single, and then after Josh Donaldson hit into a fielder's choice, Gleyber Torres singled, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled home Stanton to make it 1-0. After Kyle Higashioka grounded out to the pitcher, Aaron Hicks drew a two-out walk to load the bases and keep the inning going.

The lineup turned over to DJ LeMahieu, who opened the game with a 10-pitch at-bat before he flew out to left field. 

This at-bat would be a little different for DJ, as he took it to right field for a grand slma to open up a 5-0 lead for the Yankees.

LeMahieu's grand slam came on the day he hit 10 years of service time, and Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of that, "Pretty cool, I think Marwin (Gonzalez) got there yesterday, a lot of guys joining the 10-year club for us this year. I think it speaks to people's talent, professionalism, you know, toughness, and I think DJ embodies all of that, and he's still got a lot of years in front of him on top of those ten, but to get us going with a big grand slam today on that 10-year anniversary's pretty cool."

Chicago came back in the third when Tim Anderson, with one out in the inning, beat out a ground ball he hit to first base, when Anthony Rizzo made a great play and Cortes got over but couldn't find the bag. Andrew Vaughn followed with another single, and then Luis Robert flew out to right field for the second out. 

Jose Abreu then launched one to left field for a three-run home run to pull the White Sox within 5-3. 

Yasmani Grandal followed with a single, and then AJ Pollock flew out to left field down the line, and Torres was out there as part of a four-outfielder shift, and he caught it for the third out.

The Yankees got one of those runs back in the bottom of the third when Rizzo walked, went all the way to third on a Stanton single, and then came in to score when Josh Donaldson hit into a force out, and that made it 6-3 Yankees. Donaldson hit a routine grounder to shortstop, and Tim Anderson took so much time tossing it to second baseman Josh Harrison, and he showed no urgency getting the throw to first that Donaldson beat it out. The Yankees couldn't take advantage, as Torres and Kiner-Falefa both flew out to right field.

After the inning, after running through second on the fly out by Kiner-Falefa, Donaldson and Anderson started jawing with each other, renewing their battle from last week when Anderson had issues with how Donaldson tagged him on a bang-bang play at third. I wonder if Donaldson ribbed him for how long he took to turn what should have been a sure double play.

Cortes then settled in, and worked around hitting Harrison with a pitch in the fourth, and then struck out the side in the fifth to end his afternoon in style.

By this point, Keuchel was lifted, as he went four innings, allowing six runs (all earned) on six hits and three walks, with no strikeouts.

The Donaldson brouhaha reared its ugly head in the bottom of the fifth when Chicago catcher Yasmani Grandal started jawing with Donaldson as he approached the plate. The umpire got between them, but by that point, the benches had started to clear and Anderson tried getting at Donaldson, but he was restrained by three of his teammates. 

Boone, who seemed agitated when asked about the fracas, said, "I gotta get more understanding of it, so, you know, just gotta stop the jawing back and forth and I'll get more context when I go in."

Tim Anderson being restrained from going after Josh Donaldson on the warning track (at right). Photo by Jason Schott.

After play resumed, Donalson struck out, as did Torres, and Kiner-Falefa hit into a force out to erase Stanton, who singled to open the inning.

Michael King came on for the Yankees in the sixth, and though he has had a great season he’s had some tough outings lately, and this was one of them.

After King got Grandal out, Pollock doubled, and then scored on a double by Leury Garcia.

Adam Engel struck out, but then King gave up another double to Josh Harrison to bring home Garcia and cut the Yanks’ lead to 6-5. King then walked Anderson and Vaughn bounced out to second for a force out to end it.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees got a run back when Kyle Higashioka drew a walk, and after LeMahieu drew a walk and then prevented a force out on a grounder to third by Judge, who ended up with a single to load the bases, Rizzo hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Higashioka and make it 7-5.

The Yankees faced their first big situation since Chad Green hurt himself in Thursday’s game in Baltimore and was on the injured list Saturday morning. Click here to read more.

First up was Jonathan Loaisiga in the seventh, and he got around a two-on and nobody out jam by striking out the side.

Next up, in a move Yankees Manager Aaron Boone alluded to in his pregame press conference, he turned to tall right-hander Miguel Castro in the eighth.

Castro struck out pinch-hitter Yoan Moncada and then another PH, Gavin Sheets singled and stole second base. Castro then got Anderson out, and that was all for him.

Clay Holmes was on next, and he got Vaughn to ground back to him to end the inning.

As was pretty evident with nobody warming in the bottom of the eighth, Holmes came back for the ninth to close it out.

Holmes retired Chicago in order, as he struck out Robert, got Abreu to ground to third, and struck out Grandal to earn his fourth save of the season.

"He's been special," Boone said of Holmes. "You know, probably as good a reliever as there's been in the league, I would think to this point, I can't imagine anyone better. To come in, obviously there in a big spot, I wanted him facing the top of their order with all those righties coming up, and to be as pitch-efficient as he was doing it against some great right-handed hitters, yeah, he's off to a really special start, and it's fun to watch him go out and do his thing."

When asked if he will get more save opportunities, especially with the recent struggles of Aroldis Chapman, Boone said, "I mean, that was as big a save opportunity as you could have today in a four-out situation. I think that kind of speaks for itself."

Boone said of the secret to Holmes' success, "He's got the best sinker in the world, as simple as that."

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