Where did the Yankees err in their Game 1 loss to Guardians?

The Yankees are playing the Guardians at Progressive Field on April 10, 2023.

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The Yankees continued giving free passes to the Guardians, and it ultimately became enough to burn and overwhelm them. Yankees pitchers struggled to throw strikes all night against the Guardians in Monday’s series opener at Progressive Field. But the Yankees managed to remain in the game despite giving nine walks in eight innings. Nevertheless, in the end, the Yankees got what they deserved, losing 3-2, with the winning run reaching on a walk.

After Yankees reliever Ian Hamilton walked the first two batters, the Guardians broke a 2-2 deadlock in the eighth. The lead was eventually provided by a fielder’s choice and a sac fly.

“We’ve got to come through in the middle order, especially me,” Judge said. “I gotta get something out of the infield and at least score him there.”

Domingo German let down the Yankees

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Domingo German, who started for the Yankees, was the key architect of his team’s defeat. He walked five hitters in a difficult three-inning start, but the bullpen added four more, one of which came around as the game-winning run.

German walked the first batter in three of the four innings he pitched, tying a career-best with five walks. He had no strikeouts and had thrown 87 pitches (just 49 strikes) by the time he was relieved with no outs and two men on in the fourth inning of a 2-2 game.

That was considerably more difficult for German, who usually fills the striking zone. Except for the second inning, the Yankees starter walked the first batter in every inning he pitched. In the second, he committed an error on Andres Gimenez’s pop-up bunt. Gimenez finally scored on Will Brennan’s sacrifice fly, bringing the score to 2-1.

German permitted back-to-back walks to start the fourth inning before Mike Zunino blasted one of his three doubles on the night down the third-base line to tie the game at two. One of them, Steven Kwan, later scored on Josh Naylor’s sacrifice fly. This was the defining moment in the game.

“It’s amazing that’s a 3-2 game, really both sides, with us walking as many guys as we did and I felt like our guys having really good at-bats and hitting the ball on the nose against them throughout the night,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Just kind of a weird game, but frustrating nonetheless.”

Later in the seventh inning, the Guardians seized the lead against Yankees reliever Ian Hamilton, who walked the first two players he faced.

German’s five walks tied his career best, which he set in a five-inning effort in 2019. He’s normally as excellent as any Yankees pitcher when it comes to throwing strikes, but not tonight.

“I”m usually around the zone,” German said. “Terrible. Terrible outcome.”

German’s defense was also poor, as he dropped a leadoff bunt in the second inning, allowing the Guardians to score their first run.

“I missed it,” German said. “I felt it in my glove and the next thing I know I missed it.”

Brewer tried to stop briefly but the bullpen gave in

When the Yankees latest signing, Colten Brewer, came to relieve German, he ignited some hope. Brewer walked No. 9 batter Myles Straw on four pitches to load the bases in his second inning. He threw scoreless fifth and sixth innings to finish with three shutout innings on 28 pitches and a walk and single. But Hamilton immediately joined the walking parade, with the Yankees’ total of nine free passes being too much to overcome.

“We just didn’t do a good enough job overall of throwing strikes tonight,” Boone said.

The Yankees’ relief staff struggled to hit their targets. The Guardians’ lineup, which is notorious for its emphasis on contact, displayed excellent plate discipline by drawing nine walks to just four strikeouts.

In the seventh inning, the game-winning run was scored by the Guardians when Steven Kwan walked, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Josh Naylor. The Yankees’ Ian Hamilton was held responsible for the loss.

Missed chances

The Yankees had a night of wasted chances, failing to break open the game in the first inning and then blowing a chance to tie the game in the eighth. The Yankees’ weakness, though, was the walks, which led to all three Cleveland scores.

“We just didn’t do a good enough job overall of throwing strikes,” Boone said.

The Yankees loaded the bases against Bieber but only scored two runs in the first inning. They were unfortunate when Willie Calhoun blasted a 108.7 mph liner at the second baseman for the first out. The danger was then ended when Jose Trevino grounded into a fielder’s choice and Franchy Cordero whiffed.

The Yankees were unable to score any more runs that inning. The first out was recorded by a line drive from Willie Calhoun (in his first game with the team) to second base, and the second out was recorded by a comebacker from Jose Trevino, which Bieber fielded and then threw out Rizzo at home in a rundown. The inning ended when Franchy Cordero was struck out by Bieber.

In the eighth, Gleyber Torres hit the ball to the center field to score a triple. Aaron Judge walked, and Anthony Rizzo singled to load the bases before Stanton blasted a two-run double to right. Nevertheless, despite having two runs in, two runners in scoring position, and nobody out, the Yankees were unable to score and were shut out the rest of the way.

The core of the batting order couldn’t deliver. Torres was stranded at third base when Guardians reliever James Karinchak got Aaron Judge to fly up on a check swing and then struck out Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton.

“We gotta come through in the middle of the order, especially me,” Judge said. “In that situation, I gotta either miss it or just take a full swing and get the job done.”

In the second inning, the Yankees again squandered a golden opportunity to score. After getting his first hit of the season on a leadoff single, Isiah Kiner-Falefa proceeded to steal second. Torres walked to the plate with two on and one out in order to pitch to Judge. On a pitch in the dirt, however, Kiner-Falefa tried to advance to third but was thrown out by Mike Zunino for the second out. Despite the play, Torres moved to second. However, the threat was neutralized when Judge struck out.

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