Fittingly, the Yankees season ended with a familiar recipe of resilience, small pieces meshing to create the whole, and a gift from the Rays…
The Yankees’ dramatic win yesterday ended with one swing and one play. But the real story with this team is that the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, with contributions coming from everywhere…
- We have to begin with Jameson Taillon, who most would categorize as the Yankees surprise starter. After the game, Aaron Boone said he was hoping for an inning, maybe two from Taillon. Instead, he got ten outs from the right-hander and zeros on the scoreboard.
- In order, the bullpen followed with all zeros, running from Wandy Peralta, Clay Holmes, Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Aroldis Chapman – each pitching one inning while waiting for the Yankees bats to come through as the game remained scoreless.
- There was also Gio Urshela diving into the Rays dugout to record an out in the sixth inning, a play that jolted the sell-out crowd at Yankee Stadium, but more significantly, Urshela’s teammates as a rallying call accenting everything that was at stake in the game.
- And finally, in the decisive ninth inning, we saw not one but five Yankees players, each making contributions to the small-ball win.
- Rougned Odor leads off with a single, and immediately Aaron Boone turned to his speedster, Tyler Wade, to run for Odor.
- Gleyber Torres handily lifted a fly ball to center on a 2-2 changeup, allowing Wade to take second.
- On a 1-2 pitch, Anthony Rizzo lined a single as Wade raced toward home, only to slam on the brakes as the throw sailed up the line, and the what if’s (could Wade have scored) began circulating. Meanwhile, the throw allowed an alert Rizzo to scamper to second.
- Enter Aaron Judge with runners on second and third with one out and a base open. The play seemed to be to intentionally walk Judge and then get Giancarlo Stanton to hit into his 23rd double play of the year to end the threat.
- Ray’s manager Kevin Cash, who is known for his steadfast adherence to analytics, decided to pitch to the Yankees MVP, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Cool, Calm, And Collectively – The Yankees Got It Done
Aaron Judge didn’t move than two steps during his entire at-bat, the concentration deep and focused on one thing – putting the ball in play.
Rays pitcher Andrew Kittredge had shown Judge his “out pitch” on his first pitch of the at-bat. After swinging over a slider and sinker, Judge could probably sense another slider was coming – it did and he executed, as MVPs are supposed to do.
Yankees: A Sign Of Relief And The Long Road Ahead
The Yankees will travel today to Boston, where they will meet their arch-rivals (yes, that means something once again) at Fenway Park tomorrow night when Gerrit Cole will square off against Nathan Eovaldi, the former Yankees’ castoff.
The game will decide which team advances to play the Tampa Bay Rays in a best-of-five ALDS series beginning Thursday at the Rays home ballpark.
With a day off between games, it’ll be all hands on deck for both the Red Sox and Yankees tomorrow, and the clutch wins by both teams yesterday are set to elevate the stage even more with unwavering confidence and expectations.
It’s A “Privilege”
“You’ve got to embrace it,” Judge said. “That’s what popped into my head: You’ve got to embrace every single moment, every single opportunity. Getting the chance to be playing out there at Yankee Stadium in a game that you get a chance to go to the postseason? Very few individuals get a chance to say that. That’s a privilege.”
Aaron Judge has had the opportunity before, as have many of his teammates, but none (two regular-season 100+ wins) have come this hard and with so many hurdles to overcome, including battles with COVID, injuries to key players, and inexplicable hot and cold streaks.
It’s almost inconceivable to realize it will take eleven more wins for the Yankees to reach the ultimate goal of their season and a 28th World Championship.
All we know, and yesterday proved it again, is that this Yankees team will come ready to play and with a bounce in their step that signals a return to the days of Derek Jeter when diving into the stands (or a dugout) is ordinary – because that’s the way we do things here.