You can see what a slightly larger strike zone (in the NL) and excellent pitching can do to an offense. The first game in Houston saw Morton really mix up pitches on the corners and make the Yankees his the few mistakes that were made…which they didn’t do. One opportunity had Judge with a 3-0 count and Torres on 2nd down 2-0 in the 8th inning. My feeling was they weren’t going to give in but they didn’t want to put the tying run on base either so I thought sitting on a slider would be smart and Judge got one that was grooved but he took it for strike one. I love walks, but in that spot, I want my big guy looking to tie the game on a mistake. He did end up walking and Gardner got a single scoring one, but that is all we got. Giles closed out the game by striking out the side and had the type of pumped up intensity you would think he just won/saved game 7 of the World Series.
Fast Forward to Tuesday night where Verlander was amazing. He was so good that it made me think back to when we were going against Houston for a trade for him and wondering, what if? He was painting the corners with a high 90’s fastball and his slider had amazing movement and location. He also worked in his curve just for another speed. I didn’t see many/any changeups, but he threw as good a game as I have seen. There were only a few bad pitches and we didn’t hit many good strikes either. I was glad to see him come out of the game after 8 and Houston brought in Giles. Judge did a nice job of lining a fastball on the outside corner to RF and Didi hustled a gap single into a double and we were in business at 2nd and 3rd with Stanton up and nobody out. Stanton had a terrible AB. He waived at a slider that was a ball, took a low fastball and then swung at another bad slider. He barely held up on a slider in the dirt and then at 2-2 got a hanging slider that he pulled off of and missed. His front hip is flying open and he is off balance…it was really an awful AB and he doesn’t seem to be picking up the rotation on the ball at all. Now Sanchez was up with first base open and Houston had a mound visit…Whatever they talked about didn't work as the first pitch to Sanchez was a slider not in the exact same spot as Stanton’s but similarly hittable and Sanchez jumped all over it and deposited over the CF fence for an exciting 3 run HR. After plating another run on a manufactured run by Hicks who ripped a single, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a grounder and then scored on a wild pitch that McCann was very Sanchez like. Chapman closed out an outstanding bullpen day throwing a tailing fastball at 100 and throwing his breaking ball 7 out of his 14 pitches.
While on the bullpen, German came in to start the 2nd inning as Montgomery had some shoulder stiffness after a good 1st inning. German, did a great job pitching 4 scoreless innings. He showed a good fastball, change and breaking ball and that was very promising. The bullpen order was interesting as Green came in for the 6th, Betances for the 7th and the normal Robertson and Chapman to close it out, but I was a little surprised that Green came in before Betances and then for only one inning in a tie game and throwing only 9 pitches? We were fortunate the game didn’t go into extra innings and I would have tried to get more out of Green who looked great. Betances was his normal, great stuff, but erratic self; striking out the side while mixing in a hit and a few wild pitches. Both Betances and Robertson threw 19 pitches so I would not have pitched either a 2nd inning; again, fortunately, we scored in the 9th or the Green mistake could have hurt.
After the 3 run HR and the hard hit from Hicks, Giles was removed from the game and he could be seen literally punching his own face coming off the field and then slamming something in the dugout…that guy is wound too tight…but I loved seeing it, as he seems like a real tool!