Germán's day: root canal to relief outing

After emergency procedure, Yankees right-hander fans 5 in strong 3-inning outing

July 8th, 2021

Domingo Germán’s late-morning rush for a root canal prompted the Yankees to scramble their pitching blueprint on Wednesday, tabbing Nick Nelson as a starter and scrapping most of the envisioned relief lanes. Yet by the fifth inning, the plan was somehow right back on track.

About 12 hours after undergoing that emergency procedure, Germán entered to toss three innings out of the bullpen. Aaron Judge hit his team-leading 20th homer and the Yankees cobbled together their pitching plan, holding on for a 5-4 victory over the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

“When I talked to [Germán], he felt really good and wanted to pitch,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “At that point, I’d already made the switch, but I knew he might need to be available in the bullpen. I had him go down there at the start of the game to follow along, and he was ready to go.”

New York scored five early runs off All-Star left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, with Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres collecting RBIs in a three-run first inning before Judge crushed a two-run 429-foot shot to left field in the second. Judge will be in the American League starting lineup for the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday.

Judge’s homer was reminiscent of a mammoth blast that he hit in Seattle during his rookie season in 2017, reaching the back row of the left-field seats.

“They were both on offspeed pitches,” Judge said, correctly recalling that jaw-dropping, Statcast-breaking blast. “I’ll take the one my rookie year. I’ll take a three-run homer over a two-run homer any day.”

Any extra support would have been welcome. By the time Judge rounded the bases, Nelson was out of the game, unable to finish the first inning after permitting three walks, a hit batter and a run-scoring wild pitch.

Right-hander Luis Cessa restored order, hurling 3 1/3 scoreless frames before yielding to Germán, who struck out five. Cessa joked that his entry came so early that he wasn’t even able to down his usual second-inning can of Red Bull.

Boone said that Germán was still questionable around 3 p.m. PT, prompting the switch. But Germán’s condition improved about 2 1/2 hours later.

“I was really excited about the way Domingo came out and threw the ball,” Boone said. “That was Domingo Germán out there. After a few struggling outings, he was out there with confidence, and his stuff was really good.”

Tom Murphy hit a three-run homer in the sixth off Germán that closed the gap -- all three runs were unearned after a Gio Urshela error to open the inning -- but Germán pitched a perfect seventh before handing the ball to right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga for an electric eighth.

Right-hander Chad Green worked the ninth for his third save (and seventh of his career), with Boone bypassing struggling closer Aroldis Chapman.

“When anybody closes out the last three outs of the game, I think it just means more,” Green said. “Anybody who has been in that situation in the past realizes how hard it is. Those are three very difficult outs to get.”

Judge called a players-only meeting last week in New York, during which part of the message was that the team needed to be better about striking first. Too often, the Yankees had fallen behind early in games and struggled to catch up, a development that Judge thought would be crucial to reverse.

The Yanks' early barrage of loud contact against Kikuchi, combined with a 12-1 rout in Tuesday’s series opener, supported Judge’s theory nicely. Tim Locastro’s hustle double on what appeared to be a routine second-inning single also provided a spark.

“You can just tell the difference, the flow of the game is different,” Judge said. “Our pitchers are able to attack guys differently. If we get a lead, it just changes everything for us.”

Sweeping in Seattle?
The Yankees can earn their sixth sweep of the season in Thursday’s finale, already assured of a series victory over the Mariners -- a reliable development on Seattle trips over the past decade.

This marks the Yanks’ 10th consecutive road series victory over the Mariners since 2011, equaling a franchise record of road series wins against a single opponent. New York won 10 straight series in Boston from 1930-33, according to STATS.

Overall, the Yankees have won 39 of 55 games against the Mariners since 2012, including 23 of 27 in Seattle.

“Even though we didn’t score after the second inning, I thought our at-bats were good,” Boone said. “Any time you get five runs off a guy like Kikuchi in the year he’s having, that’s saying something. We probably could have scored some more based on the quality of what the guys were doing tonight.”