There was a big hullabaloo in our work chat yesterday morning about this tweet.
I will spare you the name-calling and the nagging and the screenshots of maps, but suffice it to say that some non–New Yorkers at our site thought it was imperative that the Defector New Yorkers brave record-breaking heat to go see the coolest player in the game do both things that he’s so good at. I will say that I considered the idea briefly—I love baseball! I want to watch Ohtani! The Yankees are fine, honestly!—but by the time the final out came at, oh my god, 1:15 a.m., I had developed a newfound resolve to never pay attention to my idiot co-workers ever again.
If you came to this game for Shohei, you were bummed. If you came to chill outside, buddy I don’t know what you were thinking. If you came to cheer on the Yankees, I would not judge you for renouncing this team today. Angels-Yankees was just a bizarre, miserable game all around, though I guess LAA had an 11-8 win to celebrate in the early hours of the morning.
It certainly didn’t start out smoothly for them, though. Angels-Yanks was one of a bunch of games on Wednesday that featured almost basketball-like runs where teams scored like 11 or 15 or 20 unanswered on the opposition, and in the Bronx, Ohtani was the victim of one of these smashings. The Angels’ leadoff hitter, he flied out to start the game then never got right on the mound. He walked the first three he saw, allowed matching singles to Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres, got two outs, then hit a guy and walked another before getting the hook. He was charged with seven earned runs and didn’t make it out of the first inning.
Then the rain arrived. It paused the game in the third and came again in the fifth. By the time it cleared, it was 11:30 at night, and if you had ditched the stadium by that point, you’d be leaving with the Yankees in relative control, 7-4. If you were hoping to see out the New York win and stuck around for what remained, I am so very sorry for you.
There was no reason for the Bombers to panic heading into the ninth—they’d even added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth with a Brett Gardner dinger. But Aroldis Chapman has been a real inconsistent mess as of late, and for the fourth time in 20 days he barfed up a game. (It’s even wilder when you consider that he had a week off in there.) Working with a four-run lead, Chapman walked three of the first four hitters, and then he let Jared Walsh send a slider down the middle on a long trip beyond the right-center fence. Lucas Luetge would come on to complete the loss by giving up three more runs, for a seven-run inning that matched the Yankees’ deluge in the first.
For what it’s worth, Chapman has seen slight but not dramatic dips in his velocity and RPM over his last several appearances—last night his four-seamer was 1.3 mph below his 2021 average with 103 fewer rotations—but whatever the cause, something is clearly wrong. Though he is certainly not the only problem.
“A terrible loss,” said manager Aaron Boone, who heard chants for his firing from the handful of fans who braved the end. “Frustrating. Disappointing. Terrible.”
Stanton was blunt about what needs to happen now.
The Yankees have taken the L in five of their last six, and they sit just barely above .500, in fourth place in the AL East and 5.5 games out of the Wild Card. They now, mercifully, have their Thursday afternoon finale against the Angels postponed for weather, but they’ll have to shake off the misery and put something together before they host the Mets this weekend. With it being the holiday and the subway series and with everything opening up, I really had this upcoming matchup circled as something celebratory and fun for the whole city, but after early Thursday’s debacle, I’m not sure even fireworks could lift the Yankees’ spirits.
The lesson here, as always, is to never listen to Albert Burneko.