Yankees reach September Stretch Run

ANAHEIM, Calif .– One final time this summer, the Yankees charter crossed the Continental Divide, traveling east on Wednesday night to b...


ANAHEIM, Calif .– One final time this summer, the Yankees charter crossed the Continental Divide, traveling east on Wednesday night to bring players home comfortably in the long September race.

As for crossing the mountain range separating their current wild card status from an AL East title, well, having groped good graces from their longest winning streak since 1961 in the last few days, that’s going to be a lot. more problematic.

In many ways, the three-city, nine-game, 10-day trip summed up their season: For a streak that included the last four games of a 13-game winning streak, they were blindingly formidable. Then, for the next four games, they’ve been inexplicably weak. They’ve struggled with injuries (tuning man Zack Britton was ruled finished for the season on Tuesday, third baseman Gio Urshela missed Wednesday with a sore hand and will have a precautionary MRI on Thursday’s day off, shortstop Gleyber Torres is expected to return at the homestand opener Friday against Baltimore). They have welcomed more (Cory Kluber returned to the rotation on Monday).

They are trailing first-place Tampa Bay by seven games with 29 remaining. They will only face the Rays three more times, at Yankee Stadium for the last three games of the season. The schedule now leaves little room for loss, and the Yankees must rely on the help of others to win what would only be their Second Division title since 2012.

Help from others is needed because, on the one hand, Gerrit Cole cannot throw every day. Cole did what an ace is supposed to do on Wednesday and stopped the Yanks’ four-game losing streak with a masterful performance in a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels, striking out 15 batters, n ‘by walking none and scattering only four hits. seven innings and 116 throws.

Cole was needed to stop a losing streak that had wiped out the gains of an exuberant two-week run in which the Yankees looked unbeatable. With Wednesday’s win, they finished 5-4 on the trip.

“Human beings aren’t linear, but it’s about as linear a progression as it gets so far,” Cole said in a field conversation a day earlier. “You can’t say now that we don’t play better baseball than in April. And you couldn’t have said in June that we weren’t playing better baseball than in April. Now there are some of these ripples along the way, but we just keep improving.

“We have a fight in the division, and in any given week I feel like there are four teams playing on a .560 ball, which is ridiculous. And we have the best record in the American League that we’re chasing. As a competitive player, you wouldn’t want it any other way. These are issues that are specific to us and that we are trying to overcome.

At the end of his thought, Cole smirked knowingly. Its point that the Yankees hunt the best save in the division and not the best team, in his opinion, was subtly driven home.

Left-handed hitters Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo, acquired at the negotiating deadline, have added balance and length to the lineup, but it still seems like the Yankees offense is trying to adjust while getting used to it. to his embarrassment of wealth. Gallo in particular seems to be in a hurry. In 10 batting appearances in the Angels’ series, he has only hit the ball from the infield twice. He knocked three times.

“I just think guys never have to try to hit the five or six point homerun,” Rizzo said of players learning to rely on each other. “I think the more we play and freeze together, guys realize that a walk on balls, a single with two outs, a double with an outs… you don’t have to try and drive all the guys out there. . You can just let the next guy do it. You use this launcher, it will make a mistake.

As this process settles down, Giancarlo Stanton has carried far more than his fair share of the load. He had a day off on Wednesday, but had spent much of the road trip feasting on the mistakes Rizzo mentioned. He has hit home runs in five of his last eight games, seven in his last 13 games and eight in his last 18 games. On the trip, he hit a go-ahead homerun in Atlanta last Tuesday, a go-ahead homerun in Oakland in the second inning last Thursday, and another in the fourth inning on Friday. He trailed the Yankees tied 7-7 in Monday’s loss here with a 457-foot two-run smash in the seventh inning in what would become an 8-7 loss.

From a distance, his hot streak reminds former infielder Dee Gordon of what Stanton did all summer in 2017, when Stanton won the National League’s Most Valuable Player award. Gordon, who was teammate with Stanton in Miami, distinctly remembers a Texas pitcher who demonstrated late in the season after taking Stanton out on catches, only for Stanton to crush a fastball from the same reliever deep in the seats. the next day almost out of spite.

“It was so wild,” Gordon said in a phone conversation this week. “That’s when I knew he was going to win the MVP” Then Gordon explained that Stanton went into anger mode that day in Texas and that is what he sees now. of his former teammate.

Sitting in the dugout before Wednesday’s game, Stanton smiled when the story was told to him.

“He’s right,” Stanton said. “For sure. It’s my mode, respectfully to everyone, but it’s a place I have to go. When things click, things are in sync. He described the mode as nothing personal to anyone but, simply blocking out “all distractions. The more distractions there are, the faster that little sewn ball comes towards you.”

His home run that nearly flipped that series on Tuesday came on a Junior Guerra 84 mph slider. Stanton appeared to both slow down his bat speed and adjust his angle after start his swing.

“I had to make sure I got over it,” Stanton said. “I hadn’t seen a cursor from him that day, so sometimes they drop a lot, sometimes they hang up. I just had to make sure I went underneath to pick up that one.

“It’s not Manny Ramirez’s swing, it’s not Ken Griffey Jr.’s slow swing,” Cole said of Stanton. “But the rapid contraction is incomparable. And the ability to adapt to terrains like this and always have something behind it is special. “

But even behind Stanton and Cole at their best, a healthy and productive Aaron Judge (5-for-11 with a homerun and three RBIs in all three games at Anaheim) and a supercharged roster by the trade deadline, almost every night comes. sums it up to what Manager Aaron Boone described as a “razor thin” margin.

In total, 75 of the Yankees’ games this season have been determined by two points or less (tied for second in majors with the Mets). The Yankees’ 48-27 record in these contests is the best in the majors.

“It can be trying, even the winning streak, 13 wins in two weeks, we played a lot of very close games, high leverage and very stressful games,” said outfielder Brett Gardner. “We have a good, resilient squad that can handle adversity very well, and we’ll see how we play last month.”

Every night is a chore, and with the loss of Britton and given Aroldis Chapman’s periodic inconsistency, Boone has had to ask others to respond to high leverage situations. In particular, Jonathan Loaisiga, Clay Holmes and Wandy Peralta have mostly stepped up and will continue to rely on. But potholes also emerged: Without Britton, it was Holmes who gave the go-ahead in the eighth inning that led to Monday’s loss.

“I feel like in a lot of ways we’re deeper there,” Boone said. “We always want to get some guys where we need them, but I feel pretty good about the stable of guys we have.”

The final test begins at Yankee Stadium this weekend, where the Yankees will start a 20-game 20-day streak. The team will be looking to find additional equipment to surpass the competition, relying a bit on the mystique of being a team whose 27 World Series championships can make their success inevitable for competition.

Or, as Cole said, “It feels like September. The weather is starting to change across the country. Start to smell October baseball in the air.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Yankees reach September Stretch Run
Yankees reach September Stretch Run
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