Coming into a ten game home stand down in the dumps, the New York Yankees have come out of it smelling like roses.
By Emmanuel Berbari
What the New York Yankees have come to understand is that you cannot make up a deficit in one day. Entering this Yankee Stadium swing at 9-17 after dropping seven of nine on the road, the Yankees head to the west coast only four games under .500 (16-20) thanks to three series wins.
A 1-0 walk-off loss to the Baltimore Orioles and another series loss was an epitome of all that went wrong for the Yankees on a nine-game road trip. They landed back in the Bronx with nothing. An old, unproductive roster is what they possessed.
Out of nowhere, something clicked. Their 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox to kick off a weekend set at the Stadium may have brought fire to the bunch. The ninth inning fireworks involving Andrew Miller, David Ortiz, and John Farrell was possibly the tub of water the team needed was tossed at their face.
They proceeded to win the series with an offensive outburst that Saturday and, fortunately, knuckleballer Steven Wright‘s masterful Sunday night performance was not enough to throw them off.
In came the defending champion Kansas City Royals. Monday’s six homer performance provided hope that the Bronx Bombers were back. Tuesday’s back and forth thriller proved that they still had some fight. Finally, Thursday night’s 7-3 win proved they can finish.
5-2 were the Yanks welcoming one of the hottest teams in baseball, the Chicago White Sox, to town. After dropping a game to a dominant Chris Sale, winning the series was the name of the game. The Yankees simply came through. Saturday’s matinee was one of those games this Yankee team can steal. Ivan Nova gave them enough and the three-headed monster seized the afternoon.
The difference between a 6-4 and 7-3 home stand rode on Sunday afternoon’s affair. Resilience was the name of the game. The Yanks received a relatively poor outing from their ace Masahiro Tanaka and saw their dynamite set man Dellin Betances blow a lead. However, Betances put out a huge fire and the offense went to work. The duo of Miller and Aroldis Chapman picked up Betances and the Yankees had a win.
Pitching, power, and the ‘pen in any form is a recipe for success, even if it all doesn’t come at the same time.
Joe Girardi: “We’re swinging the bats, we’re scoring runs, we’re winning close games. I feel a lot better.”
— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) May 15, 2016
Despite a mediocre team batting average (.245) over the ten games, the power returned as the Yanks blasted 15 homers into the Yankee Stadium night. The team ERA improved slightly as the starting staff and bullpen teamed up for a 4.20 ERA.
Most importantly, the overall run production, nowhere to be found on the road trip, dramatically improved. The Yankees averaged just under five runs a game (4.8), which should please injured slugger Alex Rodriguez who had said five runs a game was an expectation of his.
Yankees have scored 6+ runs in 7 of 14 games in May.
— Jeff Quagliata (@yestoresearch) May 15, 2016
On the topic of Rodriguez, key injuries only fueled the success. The Yankees were without Jacoby Ellsbury, A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia for either large portions or the entirety of the home stand. This only led the path to the likes of Aaron Hicks, Dustin Ackley, and Ivan Nova gaining opportunities. Hicks, in particular, took advantage of everyday playing time. Nova had two effective starts, making people believe he can be an important part of the staff. Overall, it was the “next man up” mentality for a Yankee team that did not feel sorry for themselves.
The team saw the return of Aroldis Chapman, who saved three games and closed out four of the final seven. With Chapman entering the mix, the formation of ‘No-Run DMC’, as coined by Jack Curry of the YES Network, came to prominence. The trio of Betances, Miller, and Chapman appeared sequentially in the final two games against the White Sox, games the Yankees came out victorious in.
Facing a 9-17 hole, the Yankees could not have aimed to win ten games in one day (impossible). Just as a team down 7-0 cannot try to hit an “eight-run homer” (impossible). All you can do is win series. The Yankees took two out of three from the Red Sox, three out of four from the Royals, and two out of three from the White Sox. Three quality teams. A 7-3 mark eliminates four games in the path to .500 and can only lift a team’s morale.
As the Yankees well know, the path to respectability does not begin until the record is even. If the Bombers do their part, everything else works itself out.
The team now heads on a seven-game west coast swing. All they can aim for are series wins. Two series wins on this road trip will bring the Yanks to 21-22, one win from where they have wanted to be for quite some time.
With that said, record aside, if there was thought that this Yankee team was dead in the water, the thought can be put aside. These Yankees have life and time on their side. With four and a half months between now and the finish line, Joe Girardi’s bunch might just turn into an American League threat.