The Yankees went from limping into the All-Star break to charging into it within hours.
It had been a rough week for the Bombers. They blew two games against the Red Sox at Fenway Park last weekend, then lost a home series to the last-place Reds. Adding insult to injury was blowing two different bases-loaded, no-outs chances in Friday’s 5-4 loss in extra innings.
But that proved to be the end of the Yankees’ struggles. The Yankees outscored Boston, 27-3, on Saturday and Sunday. The walrus-mustached Matt Carpenter was the hero, batting .454 with a pair of homers and 10 RBI in the three games. Even so, the whole team showed up in a much-needed strong close to the first half.
The machine is running again. Blast Pink Floyd at full volume because in case you missed it, the DJ LeMahieu of old has returned. The two-time batting champ hit .583 over the weekend and owns a .321 mark in July. His batting average for the season is up to .279 and LeMahieu also owns a 127 wRC+.
His nickname says it all. LeMahieu is almost automatic when he’s seeing the ball well, especially to the opposite field. As the engine at the top of the Yankees lineup goes, so does the rest of the team.
Court is back in session. Aaron Judge will head to the All-Star Game on a high note. The big outfielder turned in back to back multi-hit efforts on Saturday and Sunday after batting .167 in a 19-game slump. His batting average us up to .284 and he leads MLB with 33 home runs.
It’s almost as though Judge remembered it’s his free agent year and better numbers means better money. Now, let’s see how he carries this last-minute momentum into the second half.
Boston is all bark, no bite. The Red Sox being over .500 might be the biggest mirage in baseball. It’s easy to forget that they haven’t won a single series against an AL East team this year. That includes the last-place and suddenly surging Orioles. The only series split came against the Yankees last weekend, and only because the Yankees uncharacteristically coughed up late leads.
Injuries certainly aren’t helping the Red Sox, but we can call it official. Boston only won the season series and the wild card game last year because the Yankees underachieved that badly.
A well-earned break, but then what? The All-Star break is always a welcome relief. But in the case of the Yankees, the hard work is just beginning. A doubleheader with the Astros kicks off the second half on Thursday. This is followed by three games with red-hot Baltimore.
More importantly, will the Yankees use the trade market to either add an arm or an outfielder ahead of Aug. 2? Luis Severino is out at least two weeks. Joey Gallo is, well, Joey Gallo. Does general manager Brian Cashman make a trade, or are Domingo German and Tim Locastro enough from within?
The first half was a hell of a ride and established the Yankees as a force this season. In the second, it’s time to look more toward October.