This is what sometimes happens when I get ahead of myself believing the Yankees are cruising along to another win…..as you’ll see, this a two-part story…
(Part One) This is the way it was supposed to be when Plan A was drawn up and before all the injuries came. But as a foretelling of what this team is made of, the Yankees spooked the Blue Jays again today, heading to New York for the home opener tomorrow.
When Joe Torre was leading the Yankees through “The Run” in the late Nineties, he always used to say that winning each series you play is the standard for a winning team. And from there, you start counting in fives, as in five over, ten over (.500), and so on. The Yankees of 2018 (3-1), from what they’ve shown so far are poised to do that as they head home after demoralizing the Toronto Blue Jays in their home ballpark.
On Sunday, it was timely hitting from Brandon Drury, Didi Gregorius, and Neil Walker, all of whom had two-out runs driven in, all in the third inning when the Yankees scored all of their runs in a 4-1 victory over what can only be described as an overmatched and hapless Blue Jays team.
The Yankees were probably hoping for more from Sonny Gray, who started the game but managed to struggle only through four innings while allowing ten baserunners (seven hits and three walks). When he had to, though, Gray got the outs he needed, surrendering only one run during his first outing of the year.
Chad Green, who is fast becoming the most underrated premier relievers in the game, contributed two solid innings of work, throwing 20 of 26 pitches for strikes and notching four strikeouts in yet another shut-down appearance.
If the Yankees don’t have a bullpen in 2018, they have nothing. Their rotation is made of starters, with the possible exception of Luis Severino, who are geared to pitch five solid innings, and if you get six, you pop open a Bud.
By now, you know what happened as the story of this ill-fated game continued. Tommy Kahnle makes it through 2/3 of an inning surrendering two runs following Green, pulling the Jays to within one run. And then, typically reliable, David Robertson, surrenders a grand-slam home run to Justin Smoak on a 3-2 make it or break it pitch. Robertson broke like an Easter Egg today.
Make no mistake; this was a game that should have been in the W column for the Yankees. And following yesterday’s self-combustion of Dellin Betances, who somehow allowed three stolen bases by Kevin Pillar, including a rare steal of home, it may be time for the Yankees to take pause, realizing that despite all the hype, this thing ain’t gonna be a breeze for the pinstripes.
So instead of 3-1, the Yankees limp home for their opener on Monday as a .500 team. Following baseball traditions, we say, okay, split games on the road, make up for that when you play at home, and you’ll be fine.
Nevertheless, a glance at the box score for today’s game reveals a somewhat alarming feature. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are not being pitched to. Five walks between the two, plus three strikeouts spell disaster in the middle of the Yankees lineup, especially on a day like today when Gary Sanchez is being rested in favor of Austin Romine.
To the Yankees credit as a team, others are picking up the slack. But four runs, all in the same inning from a team like the Yankees which is supposed to be loaded with firepower almost from top to bottom, is something to at least begin thinking about.
It’s early – and you see how easy it is to begin saying that -, and the Yankees have plenty of time to get things sorted out, with no reason to think they won’t.
But one thing is for sure. The plane ride the Yankees are on as I write this from Toronto to home base in New York is not the jovial flight they were expecting.
Tomorrow, the season begins anew with Jordan Montgomery having a chance to perform as the stopper when the Yankees meet the Tampa Bay Rays in the 1:00 PM EST home opener at Yankee Stadium.
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