Sep 20, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader (22) reacts after hitting a two run single against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Making history, a walk-off win, and another big win later, the Yankees pulled off a two-game sweep of the lowly Pirates.

There’s so much to celebrate from this brief series. Aaron Judge hit his 60th home run and is on history’s doorstep. Harrison Bader made his long-anticipated Yankees debut. Luis Severino finally came back from a shoulder injury and gave the Yankees plenty of momentum into a key series with the Boston Red Sox.

Even better, New York’s AL East lead is back up to 6.5 games.

Some takeaways:

The Yankees have their confidence back. Look no further than Tuesday’s 9-8 walkoff win to see that New York is more confident up at bat. Down 8-4 in the ninth inning, Judge’s 60th home run proved the catalyst for the rest of the rally. An Anthony Rizzo double. Gleyber Torres drawing a walk. Josh Donaldson blooping a single before Giancarlo Stanton walked it off with a grand slam.


The fact that Torres alone is batting .400 this month compared to Judge’s astronomical mark of .476 says it all. The Yankees offense has its groove back.

Harrison Bader is already paying off. Fans who lamented trading Jordan Montgomery are probably feeling somewhat foolish now. Harrison Bader has already accomplished more in just two games as a Yankee than Aaron Hicks has all season. The native New Yorker is already batting .375 with five RBI.

Bader also clearly embraces the adrenaline of playing in front of a raucous Bronx crowd and isn’t fazed. He’s taken effective routes in center field and made intelligent (albeit a bit aggressive) baserunning decisions. Even with Montgomery’s success in St. Louis and clear mismanagement of him by the Yankees, we can no longer say this was a bad trade. Bader needs to be in center on the regular until Jasson Dominguez is ready.

Severino is in ace form. It was frustrating to be without Luis Severino for so long, but it’s clear now why he spent so much time recovering from shoulder tightness. The veteran righty was in ace form in his return Wednesday, tossing five innings of two-hit ball with six strikeouts and just one walk. He allowed just one run.

It’s hard to imagine Severino would have come back so dominant if not for his 60-day IL stint. This allowed him extra time to build up strength, get his pitches working, and eliminate any risk of coming back too soon. He’s healthy and in top form, and right on time for the playoffs.

A long and successful October? It’s just two games and against last-place Pittsburgh at that, but it’s hard to not look at this series and not like the New York Yankees’ chances. The lineup is as complete as it’s been all year, and DJ LeMahieu hasn’t even come back from his injured toe. The pitching staff has shaken off some rust and is coming together, even if the bullpen raises everyone’s blood pressure nightly.

All this to say, maybe the Yankees aren’t destined for another early playoff exit. Between the lineup finding its swagger again and the pitching staff staying effective, maybe a deep October run is indeed in the cards.

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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.