If you were to get a box score of this game with everything visible except the runs, you’d probably think the Yankees won this game pretty easily. They beat the Cardinals 10-5 and drew five runs. Several members of the heart of the order had multi-hit games, including Aaron Judge, Matt Carpenter and Josh Donaldson. Even if there were no home runs, that still seems like a pretty good recipe for an above-average offensive game.
That’s not what happened. While the Yankees put up all those hits, they went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and ended up stranding nine runners on base. It ended up holding the Yankees to just three runs and leaving them vulnerable if a reliever or two happened to have an off-game.
That would be exactly what happened. While Nestor Cortes was pretty good, the bullpen couldn’t hold onto the lead for him, with Clay Holmes’ rough stretch continuing and culminating in an eighth-inning blown lead. While the Yankees went 3-for-11 with RISP, St. Louis went 4-for-8, allowing them to rally past the Yankees with a 4-3 win.
The Yankees got the game off to a solid start as they picked up a run in the first inning. After DJ LeMahieu led off the game with a single, Judge hit a 117-mph line drive, but it went right to Tyler O’Neill in left field. But after him followed Carpenter, which received a very nice reception from the Cardinals’ fans for his very good career in St. Louis. When the applause died down and he entered, Carpenter singled and put runners on the corners. Donaldson then got one out in deep center field, getting the Yankees on the board with a double.
The Yankees missed a chance to add to their lead in the second, and the Cardinals would take advantage and strike back in the bottom of the inning. While Cortes walked Nolan Arenado to start the frame, he got two outs to come close to ending the inning. He was unable to complete the deal, however, as he walked Paul DeJong before Yadier Molina hit a home run.
In the third, the Yankees answered right back, thanks to a couple of names that helped get them on the board to begin with. With Judge and Carpenter on first and third after both singled, Donaldson added another single and another RBI to his tally.
Judge then struck again to start the fourth with a single that knocked Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson out of the game. In the ensuing at-bat, Judge would steal second and advance to third on a Carpenter groundout. That put him in the perfect position to score on a Gleyber Torres single.
Aside from the second-half hiccup, Cortes mostly moved quickly after that. Including the last out of the second, he retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced. The final batter in that sequence would be a Paul Goldschmidt walk that would end Cortes’ day. It was a bit of a quick hook, but considering he’s nearing career-high innings at every level, the Yankees probably had an eye on it. His final line would be two runs allowed on one hit and four walks in 5.1 innings.
You may notice that he finished with two runs allowed, only one of which is described. That’s because the Yankees couldn’t strand the runner he walked. Albert Abreu was the choice to relieve Cortes, and he both threw a wild pitch and allowed a single to Arenado. Although he got one out after that, he couldn’t seal the deal in the inning, giving up an RBI single to O’Neill. Recent trade acquisition Scott Effross would then replace him and eventually managed to get out of the inning. Effross went on to throw a scoreless seventh as well, working around a Molina walk.
With the heart of the Cardinals’ order ready, Clay Holmes was sent in for the eighth. He didn’t even fare too badly against the toughest hitters in the order, but his funk would continue. After getting Goldschmidt to ground out, Arenado reached on a single to third that died before a play could be made on it. After getting a strikeout, Holmes was unable to put O’Neill away despite going 1-2 in the count, issuing a walk. DeJong would take advantage of the Cardinals’ life in the inning, doubling to score both runners and give the Cardinals the lead.
In the ninth, the Yankees had one last chance when LeMahieu drew a one-out walk against Cardinals All-Star Ryan Helsley. However, Judge and Carpenter couldn’t bring him home, sealing the Yankees’ fate. They are now 14-16 since the start of July, but with the Blue Jays’ loss to the Twins tonight, their AL East lead remains at 10.5 games.
Much of the Yankees’ success in the first half came because they didn’t have too many games like this. They were usually pretty good at driving home runners, and when they got leads, they usually didn’t lose them. That was not the case in this one. They’ll have to pick it back up tomorrow night against old friend Jordan Montgomery, who will be looking for payback after the deadline day trade. He will face the man the Yankees apparently relied on for the stretch, Domingo Germán, with first pitch at 7:15 PM ET.