The New York Yankees enjoyed many great moments from 2018. Here are the very 10 best that stand out.
Twenty-eighteen was not a great year for the New York Yankees, at least not by Yankee standards.
Don’t forget, the Bronx Bombers won 100 games and won the AL Wild Card for the second consecutive season. It’s important to remember when the fans needed them, the team stepped up and won a play-in game despite a season full of adversity.
And despite high hopes after that game against the Oakland Athletics, the Yankees couldn’t get past the hated Boston Red Sox. The eventual World Series champions beat New York in the ALDS in four games, largely running the table as they did from Opening Day’s first pitch.
But let’s not define the season by what didn’t happen. Keep in mind, the 2018 Yankees still won 100 games. That’s an impressive accomplishment and becomes even more so since Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez each missed two months with injuries. Make no mistake, this team is special and the best is yet to come.
Now, as we prepare to enter 2019 with the gusto of Doc Brown and Marty McFly, let’s remember this about the 2018 season. The ending wasn’t the best, but getting there was a great ride!
Thus, let’s take a quick stroll down Memory Lane and look at 10 awesome Yankees moments from 2018.
No. 10: Tanaka shuts down Tampa Bay
Masahiro Tanaka, when he’s on, is a pitcher who defines control and such was the case at Tropicana Field on July 24. New York scored via small ball and Tanaka did the rest. The Japanese righty allowed just three hits and striking out nine with one walk in a complete game shutout as New York rolled to a 4-0 win.
This was an important win for the Yankees, who came up just short in a 7-6 loss the night before. For context, this was the game in which Sanchez appeared to not hustle on the last out, but actually re-injured his groin. Tanaka’s gem reminded everyone this team knew how to pick up big wins, and how.
Here’s to more of what we’ve dubbed “Tanaka Time” in 2019, and beyond!
No. 9: Domingo German steps up
Let’s be real, Yankee fans. In 2018, we probably talked more about how we wanted to throw Domingo German in front of the D train than we talked about how we admired his pitching.
That was not the case in Houston on May 1. After Jordan Montgomery left with an elbow injury after one inning, German entered in long relief and wowed everyone. The Dominican righty threw four shutout innings and allowed just four hits, silencing the bats of the defending champion Astros. Gary Sanchez’s three-run shot in the ninth inning sealed a 4-0 win, but German was the real star.
The rest of German’s season was inconsistent and haunted by elbow trouble, but fans shouldn’t forget this game. The Yankees went into Houston and, on the back of his pitching, held their own against Justin Verlander and brought home a big win.
German’s role in 2019 remains unclear, but this one game guarantees he’ll have a place in Yankees history forever.
No. 8: Severino shuts out Houston
The Yankees Mystique continued the night after German’s star relief performance. Giancarlo Stanton hit two homers and drove in all runs as Luis Severino was in full ace mode and struck out ten batters in another 4-0 win.
Just imagine. The bullpen shuts down a dangerous lineup and a clutch hit seals a win, and then the carnage continues the next night. And against the defending World Series champions!
Severino’s second half wasn’t ideal, and his lone postseason start was even less so, but he was at his best in this game. Make no mistake, this man is an ace. In 2019, prepare for more performances on this level.
No. 7: Yankees break home-run record
For all the big wins the Yankees had in 2018, it’s also important to remember little statistical nuggets. In this case, it’s when the team broke the record for most home runs by a team in a season.
New York hit 267 longballs in 2018, and infielder Gleyber Torres’ two-run shot against the Red Sox on Sept. 29 marked the 265th of the year. This broke the 1997 mark of 264 set by the Seattle Mariners.
Nice job with 267 in 2018, fellas. Let’s push for 300 in 2019.
No. 6: Luke Voit's tear
Luke Voit was never supposed to be more than depth for the Yankees. He was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos, so he was bought on less than the cheap. Yet, with Greg Bird’s continued struggles and Neil Walker needed elsewhere, he was inserted into the lineup.
The rest, as they say, is history. Voit pulled a full Shane Spencer and hit .333 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI in just 39 games in pinstripes. In the Wild Card Game against Oakland, he had a clutch two-run triple that just missed being a home run.
Bird may still be the better long-term option, but make no mistake. If Voit is the better man in Spring Training, he’ll be in the lineup on Opening Day while Bird rides the bench. Or, maybe he’ll be sent to the Dagobah System to solve his problems once and for all. We don’t need to split hairs over the matter. The point is Voit exceeded expectations, so keep an eye on him next year.
No. 5: The Toronto marathon
This was a game that, under regular circumstances, should have been a Yankees loss. New York played Toronto at the Rogers Centre on June 5, with the inconsistent Sonny Gray on the mound. Gray was 4-4 with a 5.50 ERA entering this game, so fans weren’t expecting much despite his beating the Baltimore Orioles his last start.
Well, Gray turned in a fine road start in throwing eight shutout innings and allowing just two hits. Toronto starter Sam Gaviglio countered with seven shutout frames of his own as the bullpens took over. Runs were finally scored in the top of the 13th inning when Aaron Judge launched a two-run shot off of Joe Biagini. The Yankees won 3-0.
It just goes to show you, Yankees fans. Good things come to those who wait, and such will be the case again in 2019.
No. 4: The bats explode against Boston
There’s nothing sweeter than a victory over the disgusting, abominable, vomit-inducing, baked bean-eating—
Whew! Sorry, folks, I got off track there. What I meant to say was, considering how much we despise the Red Sox, there’s nothing sweeter than beating them by a large margin. That happened quite a few times in 2018, but this game on July 1 was extra special.
New York slugged six home runs in an 11-1 victory, three of which came from Aaron Hicks. It was truly the defining moment of his breakout season and is a key reason why he needs a contract extension. Throw in 6.2 shutout innings from Severino, and the win becomes even sweeter.
No. 3: Adeiny Hechavarria's catch
Playoff games are nerve-wracking. Even if your team has a big lead, it always feels like it could disappear faster than Amazon Echos on Black Friday.
That exact feeling is what my friends and I felt throughout the AL Wild Card Game as we watched it on a small TV in a dingy New York City bar. The Yankees led 6-0 in the seventh inning, and David Robertson’s reliable arm was on the mound. The feisty Marcus Semien was at the plate to lead off the inning and, on a 1-1 count, hit a screaming line drive.
Had Miguel Andujar been in the game, it probably would have been a double. That was not the case. Late-season acquisition Adeiny Hechavarria was in for defensive purposes and made a leaping catch. The air he got would have made Vince Carter blush.
It wasn’t a game-saver but swung the momentum in New York’s favor, and this time for good.
No. 2: CC protects the team
CC Sabathia is a valuable Yankee for several reasons. He’s a great veteran leader. Overall, he’s a laid back guy who really appreciates being on the team. He reinvented himself as a pitcher once age and injuries robbed him of his velocity.
Oh, and despite his cherub-like demeanor in the clubhouse, he has no problem getting his hands dirty.
Let’s set the scene. On Sept. 27, in the fifth inning and the Yankees leading 7-0, Sabathia accidentally hit Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Jake Bauers. In the sixth, Rays hurler Andrew Kittredge threw a ball behind Austin Romine’s head and both teams were warned.
Well, Sabathia didn’t care. He hit Jesus Sucre upon taking the mound again, was ejected, and pointed into Tampa Bay’s dugout as he made his exit.
It was a fairly insignificant moment late in the season, but Sabathia’s ejection actually cost him a $500,000 bonus. He would have earned it had he thrown two more innings. The Yankees wound up paying the bonus anyway, but that’s not the point.
The point, rather, is this. If CC Sabathia is willing to leave a significant sum of money on the table, it shows how much these players care about each other. To give up that much, and just to protect your team while you’re up 11-0?
That behavior can’t be taught, plain and simple.
No. 1: Boone's colorful ejection
As much as we may love Aaron Boone as a manager, let’s be honest. The guy is a nerd. Imagine meeting him by chance, striking up a conversation about life, and not knowing a thing about baseball. The man comes off more as an IT specialist or math teacher than he does a baseball manager.
Well, forget how he led the Yankees to 100 wins in 2018 despite no previous managerial experience. The team clearly loves playing for him, and he’s always ready to go to bat for them. He wasn’t ejected much in 2018, but this one stands out in particular.
On Aug. 31, with the Yankees trailing the Detroit Tigers 3-0 and still looking for their first hit, Gleyber Torres took a pitch from Jordan Zimmermann. It was called a strike to make the count 1-2, but Boone thought the pitch was inside. He started barking at home plate umpire Nic Lentz, was tossed, and then the real fun began.
Boone, figuring he’d get his money’s worth, exited the dugout and told Lentz just how he felt. He got his ya-yas out, demonstrated how catchers do their job and then left the field.
Well, whatever Boone did clearly sent a message. New York got its first hit in the sixth courtesy of Brett Gardner’s two-run home run, and both Hicks and Miguel Andujar added solo shots in the Yankees’ 7-5 victory.
Boone is still learning how to manage, but this was a key moment in his development. The man basically channeled Billy Martin in getting ejected to rally the team. All that was missing was kicking dirt on the umpire.
If Boone can bring more of that in 2019 while still inspiring the players, there could be a lot to celebrate next season.