There was a lot going on at Yankee Stadium on Friday night that had nothing to do with the game.
Players wore special personalized jersey tops and accessories on the first day of “Players Weekend.” It also was “Star Wars Night” in the Bronx. And much of the pregame conversation was about Thursday’s brawl in Detroit and the suspensions announced about two hours before game time that included both Yankees catchers. Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine appealed their suspensions, so both were in their funky uniforms.
But the story of the game, as it always is, was the game. The Yankees went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 13 on base, and Aroldis Chapman allowed an 11th-inning homer by Yonder Alonso as Seattle beat the Yankees, 2-1, before 42,057.
When Alonso drove the ball into Monument Park with two outs in the 11th, it was the second home run by a lefthanded hitter off Chapman in less than two weeks. The deposed closer had allowed one homer by a lefthanded batter in his previous seven seasons.
“It’s frustrating for Chappy, it’s frustrating for us,” Joe Girardi said. “We’re trying to get it right. It’s just difficult right now.”
Chapman was asked if he’s ever had a stretch like this. “No,” he said. “No,” his translator repeated.
The Yankees failed to take advantage of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the third and a second-and-third, one-out opportunity in the fourth and left the bases loaded three times.
“It looked like some times we just missed some balls,” Girardi said. “Gary Sanchez just missed two of them. We had some chances to get some sac flies and we didn’t get them deep enough. When you look at it, it’s going to come down to blown chances early in that game.”
CC Sabathia allowed one run in seven superb innings, on Mike Zunino’s fourth-inning homer. He gave up five hits, walked one and struck out six in his second start off the disabled list.
The Yankees tied the score in the eighth against old teammate David Phelps without the help of a hit with a RISP. Phelps issued a one-out walk to Aaron Judge before Didi Gregorius laced a double to left-center. Guillermo Heredia bobbled the ball and then failed in his first attempt to pick it up as Judge steamed around the bases. Because of the error, there was no RBI.
Players will wear nicknames on the back of their customized jerseys all weekend as part of the first-ever Players Weekend, a joint venture of MLB and the players’ union. The event was billed as “a first-of-its kind opportunity for players to show their individual flair and allows fans to get to know them better.” It was believed to be the first time the Yankees have worn names on their jerseys and the first time they’ve not worn pinstriped jerseys at home since 1914.
Sabathia wore “Dub” on the back of his jersey. As a kid, he was called “Double C”; that was shortened to Dub, he said.
Brett Gardner, who was not in favor of the Players Weekend event, had “Gardner” stitched on his jersey back after his request to have no name was rejected.
Many players also showed their “individual flair” by wearing cleats with different kinds of artwork. A sampling:
* Dellin Betances wore green cleats, which he said was to honor the Statue of Liberty;
* Gregorius painted Bugs Bunny and other cartoon characters on his cleats;
* Frazier honored his hometown of Toms River, New Jersey, and Frank Sinatra on his cleats.
To add to the feeling of marketing overload, it also was Star Wars Night, so Wookies and Chewbacca were on the field before the game and a rap song version of the Ewoks song from “Return of the Jedi” was played on the PA.
None of that helped the Yankees score or get a hit with runners in scoring position.