Tuesday, December 7 2021
Aaron Judge celebrating with Gio Urshela (backwards) Fenway Park

Aaron Judge celebrating with Gio Urshela (backwards) Fenway Park

If the Yankees’ 8-3 victory at Fenway Park Friday was further evidence that they’re entrenched in another one of their “unbeatable” phases, well, what’s left of the regular season should be a thrill ride that leads to an AL Wild Card berth. Then the real fun begins.

The problem, of course, is that this Yankee team has veered wildly from juggernaut to jalopy all season. Even after all this time, what we know best about them is they are prone to streaks, great and awful.

Whatever happens, it was hard not to feel hopeful about the Yanks following Friday’s win. They looked every bit the part of the dangerous team they profiled as before the season. They bullied the Red Sox early with power, grabbing a 7-0 lead by the third inning. They dismantled Nathan Eovaldi, an excellent pitcher who has given them big trouble this season, in just 2.2 innings.

“It was a great first punch to the series,” Giancarlo Stanton said afterward.

He helped deliver it. Stanton slugged a three-run homer and finished 3-for-5 with four RBI. He was a triple shy of the cycle as he continued making Fenway his personal hit garden. “Yeah, G was great,” Aaron Boone said. Gleyber Torres was 3-for-5, too, including a tack-on homer in the seventh inning immediately after the Red Sox finally scored, further evidence that he is getting his swing together.

Gerrit Cole was good enough, allowing only Rafael Devers’ three-run homer over six innings. Then the Yanks’ bullpen, too often a drama-laden outfit this season, provided three scoreless frames. It didn’t even matter that the Sox were wearing their lucky “City Connect” yellow uniforms.

If you believe in this sort of thing, it was a statement win by a Yankee team that needs them to maintain playoff position. Maybe they even established a psychic edge for the series by clobbering Eovaldi, who had a 2.01 ERA against the Yanks in five previous starts this season.

The Yankees, who hold the second AL Wild Card spot, are now just one game behind Boston for the first spot. They have won four in a row and nine-of-their-last-13. They have homered in 16 consecutive games and the home run has been the bulk of their offense lately.

Perhaps they can host the Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium, after all.

It’s been a season of underperformance from so many pockets of their lineup, but the Yankees got wide-ranging contributions Friday, when they had 15 hits.

Torres now has a 10-game hitting streak in which he is 14-for-36 (.389). He seems to have taken to his demotion to second base, though no one in Yankeeland will credit that for his improved offense. In fairness to Torres, he’s batting .312 in 27 games since Aug. 1 (he was hurt for part of the time) and that’s long before he lost his gig as the Yankee shortstop.

Boone wouldn’t rule out any effect the move may have had. But he did add, “It may just be a good player starting to lock in this time of year.”

D.J. LeMahieu reached base twice. Aaron Judge delivered an important RBI double in the first inning. Cole “did a good job staying away from trouble until Devers put a good swing on one,” Boone said. The bullpen has now thrown 15.2 consecutive scoreless innings.

Boone believed his club could have scored even more runs. “A lot of hard contact,” the manager said. “Good, focused at-bats.” According to MLB’s Statcast, the Yankees had 20 hard-hit balls — balls with an exit velocity of 95 miles per hour or higher — during the game.

Clearly, plenty of good things happened for the Yanks, all in a place where they hadn’t scored more than four runs in a game all season before Friday. The question remains, as it has all season: Can they can sustain it? There have been spurts, but there’s been enough reversals that it’s fair to wonder whether Friday was just another plot twist.

“We’re in a great opportunity now, still, to basically erase that whole roller coaster we’ve been on and start a new one,” Stanton said.

So what’s coming on Saturday, when the Yankees play yet another crucial game?

Source: Yahoo Sports


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