The Yankees and Jordan Montgomery appeared to be out of a first-inning Mets rally when Joey Gallo’s throw home from left field beat Jonathan Villar by 20 feet following a two-out single by Javier Baez.
Instead, a mental hiccup by Gary Sanchez led to a tie game, and set the tone for a sloppy defensive performance in the team’s seventh straight loss.
Sanchez stood straight up and slowly applied a tag to Villar’s helmet, as Villar aggressively went down into a slide and touched home plate before the tag was applied, which was revealed after a Mets challenge. It was the kind of play that hardly suggested a sense of urgency for a Yankee team desperately fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“Obviously, he’s gonna be out easy,” Aaron Boone said of Sanchez’s lackluster defense. “It’s a great throw by Joey, and I think he felt, because he was gonna be so out, that he’d pull up. He pulled up and got out of his crouch and his athletic position. In that spot, when you got a guy dead to rights, you gotta just lower your body, maybe initiate the contact, but you gotta remain athletic in your legs.”
Sanchez didn’t do any of that, putting those fundamentals by the wayside to force Montgomery into more of a workload to start the night, and although the Yanks took the lead back in the second inning, it was for a brief moment, and the team never seemed to recover.
“We’re winning the game at the time, so it’s a little frustrating, and Monty has to throw more pitches,” Boone said. “It’s a big play, it’s an important play, but you have to deal with those things over the course of a season and a game. Things aren’t always gonna go your way in the course of a game. You’re gonna make a mistake or an error, and you gotta deal with it.”
The defensive miscues continued, as Gio Urshela, typically one of the team’s most reliable infielders, airmailed a throw from third, and in the seventh, Gleyber Torres’ fielding struggles at shortstop continued when he sailed a throw to first on what would have been an easy double play to get out of the inning.
Instead, two runs scored.
“That’s one obviously, a tailor-made double play, with [James] McCann running down the line,” Boone said. “I think it’s a case of him trying really hard and wanting to clear and wanting to get a lot on the throw, but the arm drop is there and the ball just sails on him, when all you need to do there is clear and make an accurate throw.”
On a night where the Yankees could have used an inspired performance to get back on track towards locking up a playoff spot, they instead looked like a team heading for a continued spiral, with little signs of climbing out.
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1