The last Yankees-Red Sox series of the season was bittersweet for a couple of reasons.
On one hand, New York pulled off a four-game sweep. On the other, Sunday’s rain-soaked finale was over after six innings.
The pitching looked as strong as it has all year and the bats were in full sync. Yet, Aaron Judge is still stuck on 60 home runs and was 2 for 11 with five strikeouts in the series. The pressure isn’t going away, especially with Roger Maris’ family likely following the Yankees to Toronto.
But in the meantime, the Yankees hold a strong 8.5-game lead in the AL East. Even better, beating up on Boston has the team’s momentum right where it should be.
Judge needs a day off. Judge got plenty of good pitches to hit from the Red Sox’s arms and even made good contact at some points. And yet, he remains at 60 home runs. Judge also struggled enough in the series that it seemed pretty obvious he was pressing in his at-bats.
In the short-term, Judge is going to be fine. He’s still in the thick of the Triple Crown race and the Yankees have ten games remaining. It’s hard to imagine him not hitting another home run before the playoffs. Even so, the last thing New York needs is him getting caught up in the moment and having an extended slump. A day off not only settles him down, but resets his focus.
Who’s the closer? This is a serious query. Clay Holmes hasn’t been as dominant in the second half. Injuries to Michael King and Chad Green have forced manager Aaron Boone to get creative in middle relief. The bullpen has been so inconsistent that the Post’s Joel Sherman even reported former star closer Aroldis Chapman could be designated for assignment this week (he won’t be).
All signs currently point to Holmes being the closer in the playoffs. But with ten games left and Zack Britton and Scott Effross back from injuries, Boone has lots of options to explore. He’ll put together a playoff bullpen, but will it be a winning one?
The Oswaldo Effect. It’s a wonder my Twitter hasn’t devolved into a fan account for him, but that’s how much Oswaldo Cabrera means to these New York Yankees. His numbers might not show it but his energy has electrified the clubhouse. Cabrera’s work ethic is even better as the natural infielder has posted an impressive +8 defensive runs saved (DRS) in right field.
The young switch-hitter hit .250 in the Red Sox series with a home run and four runs scored. He needs to be playing every day as a super-utility man at multiple positions. It doesn’t matter that he’s batting a modest .233. Cabrera is just that good.
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