It’s a rare occurrence where a player can both hit a home run and be a scapegoat for a loss in the same game, but Amed Rosario is a rare occurrence all by himself.
In the same game that Rosario hit his first home run of the year — and the first of the Guardians in almost a week — he also committed a late error and swung through two pitches with the bases loaded that could have easily got him to first base and let the tying run jog home from third. Instead, the Guardians lost, 4-3, and lost the series to the Yankees.
The error came in the top of a tied ninth inning when Giancarlo Stanton hit a ball that Rosario had to range to. He rushed an awkward throw that short-hopped first baseman Josh Bell. Ideally, a better shortstop or a better first baseman gets that out — Cleveland happened to have neither in this case. So it’s not entirely on Rosario, he was just the catalyst and it was another example of his range hurting the team on defense.
Also worth noting in the ninth was Emmanuel Clase. Despite a nasty-looking slider that caught the bottom of the zone beautifully a couple of times, he still isn’t hitting the velocity highs of a year ago. He topped out at 98.4 mph today but still hasn’t approached triple digits. He wasn’t given an “earned” run because the runner crossed the plate following Rosario’s error, but he still allowed two hits and only struck out one of the five he faced.
Still not a glaring concern, but definitely something slowly creeping up the worry-o-meter.
The bottom of the ninth was where a pitcher was really in trouble. New York’s Clay Holmes simply couldn’t find the zone. After Bell quickly grounded out to start the inning, Holmes hit Will Brennan with a pitch. Then Myles Straw showed a lack of patience but tremendous speed, out-running a double play attempt on a ball hit to second. With two outs and down by one, Oscar Gonzalez walked on four-straight pitches to draw his second walk of the season, then Steven Kwan worked a long at-bat to also get on base and load them up.
Enter Rosario, facing a pitcher who couldn’t locate a thing and was clearly on the ropes with the bases loaded and two outs. After watching the first three pitches go by for a 2-1 count, he got antsy and swung at two-straight outside sliders. One that probably would have been called a ball, and one — the final swing of the game — that was clearly outside of the zone.
Make your own conclusions if you want, and Andrés Giménez didn’t exactly have a great day either, but it shouldn’t be a sigh of relief for the opposing pitcher when your No. 2 hitter comes up to bat at the end of a game. Rosario getting more at-bats than one of the team’s best hitters is putting the team (and him) in positions to fail.
This mess all spoiled a pretty fun debut for Peyton Battenfield. The 25-year-old thrived on the fact that the Yankees had no MLB experience to go off of against him. He worked an interesting cutter/four-seam/curveball combination — three pitches with near-identical horizontal breaks falling at different intervals to create some juicy extra confusion.
Although the Yankees did eventually start to figure out him and put some hits on the board, including a run, he can leave the field with his head held high knowing his first-career strikeout came against Aaron Judge. He also sat down 12 straight batters at one point, finishing with a line of 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.
I like that side-arming Nick Sandlin came in to relieve him as well. I don’t know how much this kind of mixing of arm angles really matters to a professional hitter, but there is something fun about going from the 6’4” overhead release of Battenfield to Sandlin slinging from his waist. It worked in this case anyway, as Sandlin pitched a relatively clean 1.1 innings.
Unfortunately, Sandlin wasn’t the only reliever to go out there. Trevor Stephan had a rare mistake in allowing an earned run, and Clase’s aforementioned issues ultimately led to a loss in the all-important reliever win-loss stat. James Karinchak only struck out one batter, but held the Yankees off the bases and looked great on the mound — the only balls put in play were hard, but fly-outs.
If you didn’t watch this game live, the story that will probably stick out most will be the cosmic meltdown that Yankees manager Aaron Boone had over a replay review in the first inning. Essentially, Josh Naylor hit a blooper into shallow center field that Aaron Hicks attempted to slide and catch. He almost did — close enough that it fooled the umpiring crew — but the replay clearly showed that the ball bounced out of his glove.
There is no doubt the call was wrong and the umpires were right to overturn it, but where things get messy is whether or not the Guardians challenged the play in time. Supposedly Francona did alert the umpires that he wanted to challenge right away, but it certainly didn’t appear that way watching the broadcast, and the umpires were in no hurry to initiate the review.
The thing is, there is no way the umpires aren’t in the wrong in this case. Either they incorrectly allowed the Guardians to challenge a play after their time to do so expired, or they didn’t announce that it was being challenged right away. Either way, it doesn’t pass the smell test that they wouldn’t have just told Aaron Boone it was being challenged when they initially went over to talk to him — when he starts getting heated, why would they not instantly tell him that the Guardians were challenging? There was a lot of dead time between the play and the review officially starting.
Umpires are never known to lie to cover up their own mistakes so what do I know? The end result was correcting an incorrect play, so getting too upset about it seems kind of silly, but I get it. If the Guardians didn’t actually challenge immediately, they should have. It was clear as day that it wasn’t a catch, though. If there is going to be a time-based rule about challenging, the umpires need to make it clear when a challenge has started, that much is clear out of all this.
The Guardians have an off-day tomorrow then will head to Washington D.C. to play the Nationals over the weekend.