Opener strategy hits first snag for Yankees

Green pulled after one out during Indians' 7-run 1st inning

August 16th, 2019

NEW YORK -- When the Yankees' decision-makers gather to discuss their postseason pitching plans in about six weeks, they will be armed with evidence to support the suggestion of handing the ball to an opener, having successfully utilized the strategy on 11 occasions so far this season.

Yet if there are voices in the crowd that dissent, Thursday's game will be presented as a cautionary tale. has been stellar in his newfound role, but the right-hander had no answers for the Indians, who batted around for seven first-inning runs in a 19-5 drubbing at Yankee Stadium.

"I put our bullpen in a bad situation all night," Green said. "I put our offense behind the eight ball from the get-go."

Jose Ramirez slugged a grand slam and Jason Kipnis belted a solo homer off Green, who recorded only one out. Green had held opponents to three earned runs in 15 innings (1.80 ERA) as an opener prior to Thursday, with the team going 10-1 in those contests.

"He certainly missed some spots," manager Aaron Boone said. "Against a good fastball-hitting team, locating -- even when you have great stuff -- is important."

Jonathan Loaisiga permitted four runs in 2 2/3 innings, including a two-run homer to Ramirez, who equaled his career high by collecting six RBIs through two frames. Carlos Santana also slugged a two-run blast off Loaisiga as Cleveland snapped New York's five-game winning streak.

Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez homered off Indians starter Adam Plutko, who held the Yanks to three runs over six innings. Gleyber Torres hit an eighth-inning homer off Phil Maton as the clubs combined for 10 homers, the most ever hit in a Yankees home game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Summer swoon
was on the field for early batting practice, facing a high-velocity pitching machine as he continues to search for a way out of a slump that has extended into a third week. The workout did not yield immediate results, as Judge went hitless in five at-bats, striking out four times.

"I very rarely get one over the middle, and when I do, I have to make sure I do damage on it," Judge said. "When your mechanics or timing is a little off, it makes it a tough battle. I have to just keep grinding. It sucks right now, but we'll get through it."

In 21 games since July 25, Judge is batting .148 (12-for-81) with one homer, four RBIs, 12 walks and 31 strikeouts. The Yankees maintain that Judge's slump is not related to his previous oblique strain or any other injury concerns.

"The game is hard," Boone said. "Over the course of a season, it gets the greatest players, which certainly [Judge] is. I am confident he will grind his way through it and hopefully soon."

Judge did offer his team a scare in the sixth inning when he bent his left wrist back while diving for Kipnis' double. Judge received attention from head athletic trainer Steve Donohue but finished the game.

"I had a lot of concern about it," Boone said. "We determined he was sound and good. I was thinking about getting him out of there with the score anyway, and felt like it was not an issue moving forward."

Built Ford tough
had his right arm wrapped in ice after mopping up the final six outs of the lopsided contest, joking that he expected it to be sore in the morning. He had not appeared on the mound since his final season at Princeton University, when Ford was named both the Ivy League's Pitcher and Player of the Year.

Ford's ERA that season was 0.98, but his mid-80s fastball is plenty appetizing to big league hitters. Greg Allen and Carlos Santana homered off Ford in a five-run eighth inning, and the designated hitter-turned-pitcher sported a 22.50 ERA by evening's end.

"The hitters are good," Ford said, with a laugh. "I haven't [pitched] since I was in pro ball, so it's been a long time. I was just trying have fun with it. ... I'm just out there trying to have a good time at that point, and obviously get outs as quick as I can for everyone."

Ford achieved better results in his second inning, changing speeds effectively as he set the Indians down in order.

His best sequence came against Cleveland's final batter of the game, Roberto Perez. Ford floated pitches registering 58.7 mph and 53.2 mph past the catcher to get ahead 0-2. Perez fouled off an 82.1 mph fastball, then was rung up looking at a 67.2 mph offering.

"I don't know; I just lobbed it," Ford said of the 53.2 mph pitch, which Perez hacked at. "I was just going to try and throw it around the plate, and it worked."