Listen to Yankees manager Aaron Boone Thursday afternoon. The focus was winning as many games as possible. Yes it’s early in the month of May. The Yankees have handled the adversity of injuries without putting themselves in a deep hole. So does the upcoming three-game series in Tampa Friday night against the first place Rays have significance?
After the Yankees 3-1 win over the Mariners, which completed a 5-2 homestand and taking three of four, is this important to win the series down in Tampa? Of course they are all important to overtake Tampa Bay for the Al East lead or whoever else is a player in the AL East.
Tampa Bay. off to this surprising start leads the Yankees by a game-and-a-half in the division.
But this is not a crucial series, not at this juncture of the season though the Yankees appear to have overcome the adversity of one injury after another. Boone and his Yankees coming into play Thursday night against the Mariners saw a Major League leading 12 players on the injured list. In total, 35 players have been used since Opening Day.
“There’s really good focus and energy what we had to do to win a ballgame today,” Boone said after the Yankees win and headed to Tampa Bay. “As a result there are a lot of guys contributing. It’s very early in the season but you have to play consistent. Let’s get to Tampa and try and get the best work forward.”
So how are the Yankees continuing to do this? Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are ways away from getting back in the lineup. Aaron Hicks should return to the lineup Monday night in the Bronx when the Orioles come in for three. In the meantime, the Yankees continue to get the hits and of course good pitching. Thursday night it was J.A. Haap and four relievers that got it done.
Gio Urshela, day-to-day, after sustaining a contusion to left knee Wednesday night came in as a defensive replacement for Miguel Andujar in the seventh inning. The rookie, who has been positioned at third, enabling Andujar to take on the DH role, is batting .354 in 26 games with 10 extra base hits.
It’s as good as it gets with Urshela. The unexpected, one of many that have produced for the Yankees. He slices a two-run single to right in the Yankees half of the eighth that added on two more runs. Again, and seen since his arrival, Urshela displayed that discipline after taking two strikes off sliders.
Urshela is not coming out of the Yankees lineup. After the seventh inning, he has 7 hits in 11 at bats. You can’t get better than that.
Aaron Boone has every reason to be smiling. He was asked again about chasing the Rays, again in early May that has little meaning. Ask that question in September, assuming the Rays are neck-and neck with the Yankees and this is a different response.
“Put our foot forward and play well,” Boone said. “Try to rack up as many wins as possible.”
Not just the hitters on this homestand as the pitching also continued to dominate. Yankee pitchers Thursday night combined on a 1-hit shutout through eight-innings. Domingo Santana spoiled the shutout when he hit a Aroldis Chapman fastball to right center field for his 8th home run and league leading 35th RBI.
On to Tampa Bay for these Yankees. Soon they will be back to health and slowly one-by-one. At this rate nothing seems to be wrong. The lone predicament will be who remains in the lineup when everyone gets back to health.
Aaron Boone will deal with that lineup situation in due time. But for now, the unexpected has happened for the Yankees. Who would have envisioned this makeshift lineup that has made the Yankees that more interesting to watch? Check how to bet on the MLB this season.