The Yankees went to Boston after the All Star Game break looking to send out a clear signal that they were not finished for the season. They had fallen off a lot from where they were in June but a disaster of a trip to the West Coast saw their form and subsequently their stock collapse a great deal.
This has been put down in some part to the injuries to crucial players at the wrong time as well as the loss in form of some of the pitchers most notably the back end of the bullpen which was impacted sufficiently by the injury to Chapman and Warren that only now can we see signs that perhaps the corner has been turned and the pen is starting to look a bit more like itself, although it may take some time for the mystique and aura to return.
The return of big hitters to the game like Holliday and Castro has given the team a bit more stability while the struggle to find a defensive fielder at first base has continued to be a drag for the team. Bird looks some time off from returning after the diagnosis of bone spurs in his leg has heaped dirt on the front office rat who took to complaining about his commitment anonymously in the press. Settling once and for all the question raised by said rat, of whether Bird really wanted to play ball or not.
This series was crucial for the Yankees to show the rest of the Majors that they were still a force to be reckoned with in the story of this season. How this worked out sent in my opinion a very positive message to the fans and other teams alike. Because think about this. They played against a rampant Boston team who is leading the division in Fenway and yet they did not lose the series. In fact, the Yanks could take more out of that result than the Red Sox could. The series hinged on three unfortunate events which went against the Yankees, and yet even still they could not be beaten.
The three unfortunate events of course that cost the Yankees two games in the set were the awful inning’s work of Aroldis Chapman in game one which saw him basically walk the Sox home for the win the 9th. The second was in game 4 when Tanka made just two bad pitches out of his 112 pitches, the first was sent out of the park by Mookie Betts for two and the second was to Pedroia who batted in Mookie Betts to set Boston with 3 runs. The third bad break for the Yanks in this series was also in game 4 when Aaron Judge clobbered the ball for what looked like a sure homer, only for Jackie Bradley Jnr’s amazing play that poached the run and left the Yanks with too much to do and saw them fall to their first shutout of the season. But besides this, the Yanks played great ball and the hiccups which had dogged the team of late were gone.
The rotation looked good. The bullpen got over the first game blip, and the Yanks seemed to get the scores on the board in all but one game. So yeah, I am positive about things going ahead. Fangraphs have the Yanks at a 49.6% probability of making the playoffs which is higher than they rate the Rays chances of getting into the post season. That the Yankees could not be beaten by the Red Sox, who only managed to win their games on the basis of a lucky break gives me more faith that the Yankees are not done.
Up next the Yankees travel to Minnesota to face the Twins. Fangraphs are projecting a close one here with the Twins having a 51% win probability to the Yankees 49%. So this should be another crucial and telling series. Brian Mitchell gets the nod to start game one of the set. So far his numbers are okay but not altogether great coming out of the bullpen. Cessa and Montgomery are the other starters for the series. Cessa is set to face the Ageless One Bartolo Colon. That is one game I am looking forward to seeing in this series but to be honest I am really looking forward to seeing if the Yankees can continue to improve as they move on.