It only took a week for the Yankees to shift their approach against the rival Rays.
New York lost two of three in St. Petersburg last weekend because they kept waiting for the game to come to them. This weekend, after dropping Friday night’s opener, things changed. The Yankees were more aggressive at the plate and increased their lead in the AL East to 5.5 games.
More importantly, some key players who have been struggling appear to be back in the swing of things.
Get Aaron Hicks off the field. No more Hicks. Please. Forget the awful fielding and getting benched Friday night. The results haven’t been at the plate all year and it isn’t worth playing him in Andrew Benintendi’s absence just because a clutch single or double might happen.
Estevan Florial’s defense is suspect, but he at least had a career year in the minors and can build off of that in the bigs. Hicks has three years and $29.5 million left on his contract, and can officially be called one of Brian Cashman’s greatest failures.
Is Gleyber Torres heating up? Amid another frustrating season for Torres, it was nice to see his bat come alive against the Rays. He hit .357 with two home runs and five RBI in the series. More importantly, he did a better job of hitting the ball the right field.
This is the Torres the Yankees need in the lineup every day. He’s quite the secret weapon when he’s able to balance his contact and power. With DJ LeMahieu still injured, it’s vital that Torres stay hot.
Keep it up with the kids. There’s a new energy about the Yankees that’s carried over from the Twins series, all thanks to younger players. Isiah Kiner-Falefa may be a frustrating fielder, but he’s batting .387 in September. Oswaldo Cabrera continues to dazzle in the outfield and Oswald Peraza could be part of an exciting future.
Not to mention, supposed Yankees legend-in-waiting Anthony Volpe is batting .314 in a small handful of games at Triple-A. Maybe he should head to the Bronx just to sit in the dugout during the playoffs, a la Derek Jeter in 1995. What’s more, even as the veterans start coming back from injury, it’s important that the Yankees continue to find at-bats for the youngsters.
Offensive resurgence? It’s hard to think the Yankees’ offense isn’t back after taking two of three from the Rays. New York hadn’t scored ten or more runs since July 16 and 17 against Boston. Ironically, two games at Fenway Park are next on the schedule.
An easier slate of games coming up means the Yankees of the first half have an opportunity to make a storming comeback. The Red Sox are basically out of the playoff race and Milwaukee is streaky. The Yankees are set up for success, as they have been all year. Yet, per usual, it will come down to simple execution.
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