While the Yankees took a giant step this weekend at Fenway toward hosting the Wild Card shootout at Yankee Stadium, more significant challenges remain.
The Yankees win Friday night was their biggest of the season, setting the pace for what followed the rest of the series.
Gerrit Cole came through on a night when it looked like he was searching for that one pitch he could count on, so he chose instead to use all of his pitches to baffle Red Sox hitters. It was not his best game, but it was good enough.
Gleyber Torres, who breathed an audible sigh of relief when Aaron Boone informed him he would be the Yankees’ second baseman for the remainder of the season, contributed a 3-5 night that included a home run and a walk.
And, of course, Giancarlo Stanton was clubbing a prodigious 451 ft. grand slam that gave the Yankees a come from behind victory over the stunned Red Sox.
Last night, Jordan Montgomery sealed the sweep with an abbreviated but gutsy start, wiggling out of trouble in the fifth inning in what has become his trademark as a Yankees’ starter. Typically, Boone then turned to his bullpen to nail down the win.
Yankees: A Preview Of This Final Week
In sum, we witnessed everything the Yankees will need this week when they face the resistant Blue Jays in Toronto and the AL East winners Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium following a day off today.
The Yankees have Cole lined up to pitch Wednesday and, if necessary, come back on Sunday to start the season’s final game.
In a scheduling oddity, the Red Sox finish their season against two sub-.500 teams (Nationals and Orioles), but don’t let that fool you as losing teams love to rear their heads up as spoilers, and Boston will need to have their heads in the right place – or else.
The Yankees give me the feeling that they’ve got this, but you never know. Toronto is one year ahead of themselves based on pre-season predictions, and their lineup packs a wallop.
The good news as we know, though, so does the Yankees’ lineup, which is finally firing on nearly all cylinders. DJ LeMahieu, Brett Gardner, Gio Urshela, and Torres provide the get-on-base singles ahead of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, who act like the team “deciders.”
Their success relieves the failing effort of Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo, and strikeout-prone Gary Sanchez.
Yankees: The Formula For Success
As we look today at the AL Wild Card standings, a worst-case scenario for the Yankees will have Boston going 5-1 in their remaining six games while the Yankees go 4-2.
That result means a tie, and because Boston has the best record against the Yankees (10-9), they would qualify as the home team for the one-game Wild Card shootout next Tuesday. This shows the importance of those games played in May and June when so many “tomorrows.”
All sorts of other mathematical combinations exist, but the main force of the Yankees lately is their ability to settle in on the one game being played that day.
While the formula of solid pitching and timely hitting remained the same in each of the three games in Boston, the team’s actors were interchangeable and varied.
In each of the three games in Boston, the margin for error was thin, with three or runs the deciding difference.
But it was the Yankees who rose above their mistakes, not Boston. Two dropped fly balls by LeMahieu and Gallo last night were a made recipe for the Yankees to fail – but they didn’t.
Instead, the team dusted themselves off, coming back on yet another Stanton home run and the stellar relief work of Chad Greene and Aroldis Chapman.
They’re In – I Guarantee It
In sum, the Yankees are playing like the team Aaron Boone always said they were back in the dog days of mediocrity. Like the Cardinals, though not in as dramatic a fashion, they are coming together as a team at the right moment and with a confidence level, we haven’t seen since the days of Joe Torre‘s teams.
With all that, I remain convinced the Yankees will be playing next Tuesday while either Toronto or Boston watches from home. In fact, I guarantee it.
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Mark Malmut As I mentioned before the Red Sox series, they need to run the table. A single loss could mean not hosting the WC game, 2 losses and they can be spectators
Arlene Virga Hope so, but I still have my doubts.
Michael P. Cocchiara With 10 left, they needed to go 8-2 to assure themselves a spot. Now they need 4-2. Need 2 of 3 against Jays. Can’t count on Os…
P. Stuart Cohen Some irony here. Yanks could sweep Toronto, and thus help clinch a playoff spot for Boston. Or, get swept by Toronto, and not make the playoffs at all! First is far more likely.
Bob J Spat Steve Contursi I don’t agree with the Living on a Prayer Much … I Feel Boone and Coaches Have The Boys Focused and Playing Some of their Best Ball Right Now…All you Can ask For is To Control your Destiny Not have to Get Help from other Teams …. But They won’t Refuse it Nice Article Steve
Don Wardlow This is a quality piece, Steve. Thank you for it.
Eric Jackson One game at a time, this Toronto series is vital to making the postseason. If we can take care of Toronto we might catch a break with the Rays getting their rotation set for the postseason and they might rest some players. The best solution is to win baby win.