For the Yankees, Sunday night’s loss to the Mets was a blip on the radar screen when it comes to the big picture. You can offer that perspective when you’re in first place with the best record in baseball.
The Yankees were looking for a sweep of their intra-city rivals and had their ace, Luis Severino, on the mound but even this latest edition of the “Bronx Bombers” can’t win ‘em all.
Mets’ starter Seth Lugo outpitched Severino with six brilliant innings and the bullpen picked up the rest as the Yankees’ high powered offense was shutout for the first time this season. This was a big win for the Mets. They snapped a ten game, home losing streak and an eight game losing streak overall as they temporarily halted their free fall from relevance.
Even when they lose, the Yankees are a scary proposition for the opponent. “The one thing we do is we get on base and we have guys up and down that can slug and get that hit,” Manager Aaron Boone said after the game.
In the first two games, the Yankees came from behind to win and it seemed like a third time was in order in the eighth inning Sunday night. Pinch hitter Aaron Judge hit, what appeared to be a double play grounder to shortstop but Mets’ second baseman Jose Reyes missed the second base bag on the pivot and then threw wide to first to put runners on first and second. For Mets’ fans, the spectre of another tough loss hung over CitiField like a dense fog but Robert Gsellman made some big pitches to retire Gleyber Torres and the red hot Brett Gardner to keep the Yankees off the board. “Looking to take advantage of a mistake that they made”, the Yankee outfielder said.
Going forward, the Yankees need for a starting pitcher intensified when Masahiro Tanaka was injured running the bases Friday night. They could probably use another arm (preferably left handed) in the bullpen but offensively, they haven’t lived up to their potential yet. There is still room for upside.
Gary Sanchez is not a .190 hitter. Barring injury, Sanchez will bust out in a big way and I would not want to be an opposing pitcher when he does. Greg Bird is a better hitter than he’s shown so far while Giancarlo Stanton has proven to be better in the second half of the season.
The Yankees hit a lot of home runs and can put up some impressive run totals but will they be able to generate enough runs in the post season without the benefit of the long ball? I’ll give you two reasons why I think their offense will be able to “manufacture” enough runs without hitting a home run. Miguel Andu’jar and Torres.
The “dynamic neophytes” have already shown they don’t shrink in the big moments. Andu’jar is a “doubles machine” while Torres looks like he has the ability to be an outstanding all around hitter with power. Their presence not only lengthens the lineup to the max, they can be “table setters” for the succeeding number of times through the order.
Boone knows what he has at his disposal. “We’ve shown time and time again already this year, against elite pitching or really good teams, that our ability to grind you down more often that not, eventually we can take advantage of a mistake,” he said. “Our depth and length of lineup give us a really good chance on the toughest of games.”
In order to be a better Yankee team than the one that took the ALCS to seven games in 2017, they needed to improve their play on the road and in one-run games.
Despite the loss Sunday night, the Yankees completed a 7-2 road trip where they dealt with a number of potential distractions including weather and travel accommodations. “We had a very successful trip overall,” Boone said, which is a testament to the pitching and timely hitting. Last season, the Yankees were 40-41 on the road, and 1-6 in the post season. Remember, they didn’t win a game in Houston during the ALCS. This season, the Yankees are 20-10 away from Yankee Stadium. An 18-26 record in one run games last season has improved to 11-3 so far this season.
The Yankees are not a complete team but name me one that is. They will have to make some moves that could go a long way towards determining their fate in 2018 but the Yankees are a legit World Series contender and the journey is just beginning.