For a microsecond, the Yankees looked like they could beat anyone last night. It was the lowly A’s, though, and there are 125 more.
Well, here we have it – another Yankees romp this afternoon.
The Yankees had a lot to feel good about last night. A ten-run outburst put the A’s to bed easily behind a solid and most welcome six-inning effort by Clarke Schmidt (five hits, two runs, and only two base-on-balls).
There was the traditional stamp of Yankees power, and it came from two unlikely sources, first with journeyman lefty-hitting Jake Bauers reaching the A’s bullpen in left centerfield and then Gleyber Torres, who got under one hitting a sky ball into the night and the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium.
There was a smile on Aaron Boone‘s face when he could once again write Aaron Judge’s name on his lineup card and, with that, not have to complete his outfield by adding Aaron Hicks.
Harrison Bader was on fire again and celebrating as he added three more hits since returning to the Yankees and raising his batting average to .440.
The oddity in the box score, too, showed Aaron Judge with two RBI while going 0-3 in his return from injury.
And finally, Anthony Volpe was stepping to the plate after four hitless at-bats, wary of seeing his batting average dip below .200, cracking a triple to end his night on a high note.
Yankees: Oh Ye Of Little Faith – See!
These are the nights when the team returns to the clubhouse with spirits high and proud to be part of a good night’s work.
But it was also a night to make the ride home with time only for a brief chat with family members and loved ones who were still awake before turning in to get some rest and an early morning rise to drive back to the Bronx for today’s matinee against the same A’s team.
That’s how it is in baseball, a game in which you are only as good as the game you are playing today. It’s a day for the Yankees to realize eleven consecutive games will follow this afternoon’s game before the schedule calls for an off-day.
And within those eleven games, the Yankees will face inter-division rivals Tampa Bay and Toronto eight times before a series arrives against the sub-.500 Cincinnati Reds.
It is sobering, though, because if last night’s masterpiece were the norm, there would be nothing to worry about. As we know, last night was not the norm for this Yankees team. Instead, it was an aberration, and if the truth is told, it’s a hard pill to swallow when Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner call on us not to count the Yankees out yet.
Ironically, at 20-17, it’s not as though the Yankees are playing poorly. They’re just not playing well enough, and at least three ultra-competitive American League East teams are playing decidedly better than the Yankees.
Even the Boston Red Sox, a team nearly everyone wrote off before the season began, has won eight of their last ten games and are second behind only the Rays in runs scored.
This, while the Yankees are last in the division in runs scored, a full nine games behind Tampa Bay in the loss column, while nearly a quarter of the season has passed.
Not Too High – Not Too Low
Joe Torre preached and maintained the hypothesis that the secret in baseball is never to get too high or too low. Each game presents itself as an opportunity, and once a game has passed (win or lose), tomorrow’s game is the only one that matters.
This is the mantra that Aaron Boone must hold with this team, a talented team for sure, but probably not the most capable of all major league squads.
Incumbent on the Yankees first is to beat the A’s silly again this afternoon.
After that, the Stadium is set to rock as Tampa Bay arrives for four games over the weekend, a series the Yankees must win – decidedly.
Domingo German, Gerrit Cole, and Nestor Cortes are slated to pitch the first three games, and each has been effective and capable of matching an equally talented Ray’s rotation.
But the Rays are not the A’s, and the Yankees cannot count on Tampa Bay to make two costly errors and leave ten men on base as Oakland did last night.
Yankees Fans: Believe It – The Time Is Now
For Yankees fans and the team itself, now is the time to see how good the 2023 Yankees are. Stumbling along at 5-5 against the Blue Jays and Rays will not cut it, even for the team to snare a spot as a Wild Card in the playoffs, let alone to challenge for a division title and home-field advantage in October.
Last night was fun, but it’s all for naught unless the Yankees can raise the bar by putting together a string of wins – one day at a time – that will (at least) move them into a position equal to their competition in the AL East.
This afternoon is a start, and as silly as it sounds, it’s a must-win for the Yankees.