Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ross Stripling was serving up his best start in quite a while against the New York Yankees on Wednesday night.
That is, until he ran into Gary Sanchez after manager Aaron Boone opted to use the slugger as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning.
But before we get to that, let’s set the stage for what was happening with Stripling and why he deserved every bit of baseball misfortune that came his way.
The right-hander had gotten through six innings of one-run ball in a battle with Gerrit Cole. The Yankees hardly touched him outside of a messy first inning. Other than that? A whole lot of nothing.
In the sixth inning, however, Stripling apparently got Giancarlo Stanton to ground out to third base to end the inning … except Joe Panik decided to rush the play, barehand the ball, and airmail it over Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s head to keep the Yankees’ offense alive.
Stripling ended up escaping the sixth unscathed, but he very much lost his cool on Panik after that error and he let him hear it … during the play.
Gary Sanchez gave the Yankees the lead and put Ross Stripling in his place.
My goodness. Hey Ross, your ERA before this game was a 4.91. Were your position players flipping out on you each time you gave up an untimely home run? Doubtful! That’s not how “teams” work.
So when Stripling trotted out for the seventh inning, it was only right the Yankees defended Panik’s honor and made him pay. After a Miguel Andújar leadoff single, Sanchez pinch hit for Kyle Higashioka and absolutely tattooed an offering from Stripling. He sent it out of the stadium in Buffalo and gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead with the go-ahead two-run blast.
If only Panik decided to charge into the frame and start screaming in Stripling’s face for throwing a fastball right over the heart of the plate to arguably the Yankees’ hottest hitter. That would’ve made for premier baseball theatre.
Instead, Stripling had to internalize it all, watch Sanchez trot the bases, stomp on home plate to give the Yankees the lead, and then get taken out of the game by his manager. A Yankees win would be the proverbial cherry on top of the karma cake well-served.