If you were given a box score of this game with everything visible except the runs, you would probably think that the Yankees won this game quite easily. They outhit the Cardinals 10-5 and walked five. Several members of the heart of the order had multiple hit games, including Aaron Judge, Matt Carpenter, and Josh Donaldson. Although there were no home runs, that seems like a pretty good recipe for an above-average offensive play.
That’s not what happened. While the Yankees had all those hits, they were 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position, eventually leaving nine runners on base. In the end, that meant the Yankees made only three runs, leaving them vulnerable if one or two relievers happened to have an off-game.
That would be exactly what happened. While Nestor Cortes was pretty good, the bullpen couldn’t hold onto the lead for him, with Clay Holmes’ rough stretch continuing and culminating in a blown lead in the eighth inning. While the Yankees were 3-for-11 with RISP, St. Louis was 4-for-8, enabling them to pass the Yankees with a 4-3 win.
The Yankees started the game well when they got a run in the first inning. After DJ LeMahieu led off the game with a single, Judge lined out at 117 mph, but he happened to turn right into left field Tyler O’Neill. But Carpenter followed him, which received a very nice reception from the Cardinals fans for his very good career in St. Louis. When the ovation died down and he got in, Carpenter singled to put runners at the corners. Donaldson then dropped one into deep midfield, bringing the Yankees on the board with a double.
The Yankees missed a chance to extend their lead in the second and the Cardinals would take advantage and strike back in the bottom of the inning. While Cortes walked Nolan Arenado to start the frame, he retired the side to end the inning. However, he was unable to complete the deal by walking Paul DeJong before Yadier Molina drove home a run.
In the third, the Yankees answered right back, courtesy of a few names that helped them get on the board early on. With Judge and Carpenter in first and third place after both singles, Donaldson added another single and another RBI to his total.
Judge then struck again and led off the fourth with a single that knocked Cardinals-starter Dakota Hudson out of the game. In the ensuing at bat, Judge stole in second and moved to third on a Carpenter groundout. That put him in the perfect position to score on a Gleyber Torres infield single.
Other than the hiccup in the second inning, Cortes usually made quick progress after that. Including the last of the second, he retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced. The last batter in that series would be a walk by Paul Goldschmidt, which would end the day for Cortes. It was a bit of a quick hook, but considering he’s approaching his career-high innings total at every level, the Yankees probably had a crush on that. His final rule would be two runs allowed on one basehit and four walks in 5.1 innings.
You may notice that he finished with two allowed runs, only one of which is described. That’s because the Yankees couldn’t strand the runner he left behind. Albert Abreu was the choice to relieve Cortes, and he soon threw both a wild pitch and a single to Arenado. While he then got an out, he was unable to close the deal in the inning and gave up an RBI single to O’Neill. Recent trade takeover Scott Effross would then replace him and eventually managed to get out of the inning. Effross also threw a scoreless seventh and worked around a walk by Molina.
With the heart of the cardinals’ order ready, Clay Holmes was sent for the eighth. He didn’t even do too badly against the strongest hitters in the order, but his funk would continue. After giving Goldschmidt a grounder, Arenado reached on an infield single to third base, which died before a play could be made. After getting a strikeout, Holmes O’Neill was then unable to put away despite an 1-2 increase in the count to lead to a walk. DeJong would take advantage of the Cardinals’ life in the inning, doubling up to score both runners and give the Cardinals the lead.
In the ninth, the Yankees got one last chance when LeMahieu drew with one out against Cardinals All-Star Ryan Helsley. However, Judge and Carpenter were unable to bring him home, sealing the Yankees’ fate. They are now 14-16 since early July, but with the Blue Jays losing to the Twins tonight, their lead over AL East remains 10.5 games.
Much of the Yankees’ success in the first half came from not having too many of these types of games. They were usually pretty good at driving runners home, and when they got leads, they usually didn’t lose them. That was not the case with this one. They must face off again tomorrow night against old friend Jordan Montgomery, who will be out for revenge after his transaction on the day of the deadline. He will face the man the Yankees seemingly trusted over him for the stretch run, Domingo Germán, with the first pitch at 7:15 PM ET.