Kirby Lee | USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees would have preferred to win their weekend series with the Brewers, but Milwaukee put up three tough games with an even tougher team.

New York avoided the sweep and prevailed in Sunday’s nailbiting 12-8 win, thanks to two more Aaron Judge home runs. The MVP contender has 59 for the season and can now look forward to making history at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees can also look forward to getting some much-needed help at home. Harrison Bader and Luis Severino will return from the injured list this week and boost the lineup and rotation accordingly. All New York has to do is shake off two poor efforts against the Brewers, have a strong week, and hopefully pad their 5.5-game lead in the AL East.

Some takeaways:

Anthony Rizzo is the heartbeat. Judge may be the unofficial captain of the Yankees, but Rizzo is the team’s heartbeat. He returned from a back epidural and resulting headaches on Sunday and immediately returned with a three-hit game and his 31st home run. One more, and he’ll tie his career high.


But Rizzo is more than a solid first base glove and some protection for Judge in the lineup. He’s been a great clubhouse leader and teammate ever since being traded over from the Cubs last year. Now that he’s fully healthy, perhaps he’ll return to the MVP form he displayed in April and help the Yankees close out strong.

Where in the world is Giancarlo Stanton? Stanton’s lack of production is officially becoming a problem. He was 0-for-13 with six strikeouts in Milwaukee. His batting average has dipped to .209.

The former MVP is batting a paltry .130 since coming off the injured list and has just two home runs. Judge is having an MVP season and Rizzo looks fully healthy for the first time in over a month. It’s time for Stanton to step up his efforts at the plate and show he’s truly over his Achilles injury.

Shaky Clay. It’s been hard to notice given the rest of the team’s struggles but Clay Holmes is far from the All-Star closer he was in the first half. He has a 6.10 ERA since July, including a stint on the IL with a back injury. Between fatigue and lack of slider command, he’s definitely been more Aroldis Chapman lately than he has Mariano Rivera.

The silver lining is that for the most part, Holmes has looked better. A 3.27 ERA since coming back from the IL is a respectable mark. Even so, the bullpen road to Holmes is bumpy and there’s no telling who will be on or off on a given night. This means once the playoffs start, Holmes needs to be that much better for when the big outs are needed.

Chasing history. Judge is sitting on 59 home runs and can look forward to being pitched to for the next several games. The Yankees face two last place teams in the Pirates and Red Sox this week, neither of whom will walk Judge arbitrarily. Buckle up, fans. You’ll witness history very, very soon.

Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.