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Yankees Ride Shutout Finale to Series Split with Seattle

Clark Schmidt walks off the mound at Fenway Park for the New York Yankees.

The Yankees wrapped up a four-game set with the Mariners on Thursday, riding a hot Luis Gil start to a series split in the finale.

The New York Yankees took on the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, wrapping up their seven-game home stand before heading out west to San Diego for a Friday night matchup against the Padres.

You Can’t Win ‘Em All

Monday’s series opener had OF Alex Verdugo written all over it. His three-hit night motored the Yankee offense to three of their four runs, and bumped Verdugo’s RBI total to 26 on the season, third best on the team. OF Juan Soto, OF Aaron Judge, and 1B Anthony Rizzo all recorded multi-hit nights of their own as the Yankees brought a three-run lead into the eighth.

SP Marcus Stroman twirled a brilliant seven-and-one-third innings of scoreless baseball until a OF Dominic Canzone solo blast ended the right hander’s night in the eighth. Stroman’s three-hit, six-strikeout performance was the first of a quartet of solid outings for Yankees starting pitching. His season ERA is down to 3.05.

Disaster struck in the top of the ninth, when RP Clay Holmes was tagged for four earned runs, the first he’d surrendered all season. A handful of softly-hit singles and a sac fly were all the Mariners needed to jump out to a late 5-4 lead before putting the Yankees away in the bottom half.

Prior to the unfortunate ninth inning, the Yankees were a perfect 25-0 while leading after six innings – a product of their pitching staff’s phenomenal start.  Clay Holmes’ ERA inflated to 1.74 as he collected his first earned runs and blown save of the season.

Too Little Too Late

Things failed to click once again for the Bombers in game two. A solid SP Clarke Schmidt outing was wasted by a rare bad day from the bullpen, and a head scratching managerial decision.

Schmidt’s five innings of two-run ball is the latest installment in the best run of his young career. In his last eight starts, Schmidt’s managed a sparkling 2.15 ERA in 42 innings pitched with 52 strikeouts to just 14 walks.

RP Dennis Santana surrendered two runs in the top of the seventh to make it a 4-0 game before a huge three-run jack off the bat of 2B Gleyber Torres drew the score to 4-3. Trailing by one run in the eighth, Manager Aaron Boone gave the ball to RP Clayton Andrews, a 6.60 ERA minor leaguer making his season debut. Andrews and RP Nick Burdi would each surrender an earned run, and the bats fell silent as the Yankees dropped game two, 6-3.

This marked the first time in a while the Yankee bullpen had allowed multiple runs in consecutive games, the last being May 11 and 12 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Turning it Around

The bats were alive in game three! Juan Soto racked up eight total bases with his second multi-homer game of the home stand, drawing his season total to 40 RBI. Alex Verdugo and Aaron Judge also cleared the wall for their sixth and 14th round trippers of the year, and collected two RBI apiece. The Yankee outfield finished the day slashing .363/.417/1.455, an 1.872 OPS, five runs scored, and all seven runs batted in as the Yankees took game three 7-3.

SP Nestor Cortes turned out another solid home performance, tossing five innings of shutout baseball and allowing just three hits and three walks, striking out six Mariners. With the win on Wednesday, Cortes lowers his home ERA to a stunning 1.12 in 40 innings and WHIP south of 0.800.

Wednesday also saw the return of RP Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle missed the first fifty games of the season on the injured list for the Bombers rehabbing a nagging shoulder injury. His return to action was solid, a clean one-two-three sixth inning in 15 pitches.

RP Michael Tonkin would take the ball next to try and eat some innings and save the tired bullpen. After a clean seventh inning, Tonkin ran into trouble in the eighth, surrendering two earned runs before handing the ball to RP Luke Weaver. Weaver would finish the game for the Yankees, but not without surrendering an eighth inning blast to C Cal Raleigh.

Through three matchups with the Mariners, the Yankees bullpen posted a dreadful 7.91 ERA, allowing 11 earned runs in nine and two-thirds innings. The starters, meanwhile, allowed just three runs in 17.1 frames: an unhittable 1.56 ERA for the series. It’s worth mentioning how solid the bullpen has been all year, but implosions this week cost New York the series.

On the Gil

Looking to split the series, the Yankees sent rookie sensation SP Luis Gil to the mound for game four. Gil, coming off the best start of his young career, was fantastic once again. The flamethrowing right hander tossed six-and-one-third innings of scoreless baseball, striking out eight, walking two, and allowing just one hit.

As impressive as Gil has been this season (2.11 ERA, 70 strikeouts), the young right hander has been out-of-this-world in May. Through five May starts, Gil is 5-0 with a microscopic 0.59 ERA, 10 walks, and 35 strikeouts in 30.2 innings pitched. Gil’s faced 115 batters in this stretch, allowing an opposing slash line of .117/.195/.175 and OPS of .370. For a pitcher who barely cracked the roster in Spring Training, Luis Gil has been nothing short of spectacular.

Resident baseball-flattener Giancarlo Stanton got the scoring started early with a mammoth solo shot to straight away center off Mariners’ Luis Castillo. The 34-year-old is having what some are calling a resurgent season, and currently sports a 125 OPS+ and 13 home runs. Since 2015, Stanton leads both leagues with and outstanding 148 hits with an exit velocity of at least 115 mph; second place Aaron Judge has only 61.

Captain Aaron Judge would join the party in the third, smacking a home run of his own into the right field bullpen to put the Yankees up by two. He finished 2-2 with a double, home run, a pair of walks, two runs scored, and an RBI.

Faced with a bases loaded jam in the eighth, fireman closer Clay Holmes entered and shut the door for a huge four out save (his fourth of the season), as the Yankees hung on to win their sixth shutout of the year, 5-0.

On the Road Again

Carlos Rodon (3.27 ERA) took the ball for the Yankees in game one against the Padres at Petco Park. This marks the first time since 2016 the Yankees have played at Petco Park, when they dropped two of three to San Diego.

Juan Soto makes his return to San Diego, where he spent parts of two seasons. While he isn’t scheduled to face SP Michael King, the primary return in the deal that sent Soto to New York last winter, don’t be surprised if Soto finds an extra gear while in San Diego.

RP Ian Hamilton hit the COVID-19 seven-day IL last week, and could return to action on Friday, likely sending Clayton Andrews back to AAA.

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