Mancuso: First Is Yankees Command

This was about CC Sabathia and joining an elite group with his 250th career win in the Bronx Wednesday afternoon. It was also about the Yankees and their command and now opening up a 3.5 lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East.

 The Yankees continued to prove why they are taking command.  Yes the season has not reached the mid point of the schedule but there is no issue with saying the Yankees are one of the five MLB teams that standout with the Twins, Dodgers, Astros, and Tampa Bay.

A three-game sweep over the Tampa Bay, a 12-1 win,  also earned  Sabathia (4-4)  one of 14 pitchers to record that many wins and 3,000 strikeouts in a career.  Win a division and the key to victory is taking care of business. The Yankees are a combined 12-3 against the Rays and Red Sox in Al East division play.

“That’s big division games,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone.”Take on a little more importance especially the respect we have for that team.”

With 73 games in the books, 46-27 is not looking bad. And next to visit the Bronx are the Houston Astros and a four-game series at Yankee Stadium that begins Thursday night. The Astros stand with the third best record in baseball and minus all-stars Carlos Correa and George Springer as both continue to rehab back from the injured list.

But this was all about the Yankees again. Sabathia was dominant and the offense gave him enough support. Eleven Yankees came to bat in a six-run first inning off 2018 AL CY Young Award winner Blake Snell.

“To be a part of that, it’s a big deal.” Sabathia said. “It’s fun to have those numbers.” Certain those numbers are good enough for an eventual Hall of Fame enshrinement with wins and strikeouts that are also in company with the elite who have been on the mound.

 Blake Snell did not resemble the reigning 2018 AL CY Young Award winner. That first inning, shortest of his career. The Yankees sent 11 to the plate and scored six runs to assure they would sweep and take a command in this division.

 Snell did not locate and  one of his 39 pitches was a changeup to Gary Sanchez that was out of the zone and went deep to right for a three-run homer.

It was the 21st home run for Sanchez, 2-for-4 and four RBI on the day. The Yankees have also homered in 22 consecutive games which is the longest streak this season in the Majors.

First place as the month of June nears a conclusion is all good. But the Yankees, in command, know there is lots more of a season. But they hit with power and are almost back to health with Aaron Judge due back Friday night in the Bronx. 

“We have a really good offense,” DJ LeMahieu said.  “It really doesn’t matter who’s out there.  We have a chance to score a lot of runs.”

LeMahieu  is the MVP of the first half here. He recorded his 29th multi-hit game of the season with a 2-for-4  day and drove in two runs.

The Tampa Bay pitching staff showed their fatigue in this series, 13 pitches in the last 15 innings, partly due to their open game of using the bullpen that was seen again in their loss Tuesday night.

But they held down the Yankees after that first inning. After Snell left, Rays’ pitching kept the Yankees without a hit and run until the seventh inning. That inning Gleyber Torres hit his first career grand slam as the Yankees scored six more runs.

“Proud of CC,” Sanchez said about the milestone of Sabathia. “250 wins, I feel so happy for him. I’m so happy for the grand slam.”  It was the 16th home run for Torres of which 12 this season have come against Al East opponents.

But the Yankees were more into the accomplishments of CC Sabathia. The veteran is their clubhouse leader and they wanted this to be his moment. First place was nice but witnessing a great before them was that more special.

“His career is a Hall of Fame career,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “The 250 wins represent that, the 3,000 strikeouts that he has. A great career overall.”

And with a pitching staff that is also looking for help, all of the offense certainly gives that boost to the starters. By the time Torres hit that grand slam the game was out of reach as the Yankees exploded for six more runs in the 7th inning. 

Now it’s time for the Houston Astros and the Yankees with this potent offense expect the return of Aaron Judge to their lineup. Manager Aaron Boone said Judge and the return of Giancarlo Stanton is a major boost.

But they will get the necessary days off. The Yankees have that liberty to rest their power lineup and that depth of this roster enables Boone to make the good adjustments.

“Getting that win,” Sabathia said. “Making a statement that we’re a pretty good team. We’re going to keep going.”

Yes it was all about CC Sabathia. And don’t let anyone say otherwise, these Yankees are all abut business and first place is the statement.

Comment: [email protected] Twitter @Ring786 Mancuso




About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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