Battle in the Bronx – Three keys to a series win over rival Red Sox
Yesterday was fun, right? After Gleyber Torres’ walk-off three run home run to sweep the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees have now won 15 of their last 16 games. Over that span, they’ve won series over the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (what a name), defending World Series champs Houston Astros and now Cleveland Indians.
They took what looks to be the toughest part of their entire season and made minced meat out of each team. They’ve won in all different ways too. There have been walk-offs, pitchers’ duels, and near no-hitters (shoutout Domingo German). There has been lots of offense, lots of defense, and everything in between. Heroes have come from all parts of this Yankees team, whether it be All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez or rookie sensations Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.
Regardless of how well the Yankees have played, they are going into what will be one of the biggest series of the entire season; a matchup with the first place Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox are the best team in the Major Leagues, sporting a 25-9 record. The Yankees are right on their tails, with a 24-10 record and coming in as hot as a fire ant.
It may still be early in the season, but the winner of this series not only has bragging rights but gets a leg up on a division race that will be tight for the entire season. The Red Sox have some monsters on their team, including Mookie Betts who has a league high 13 home runs. Here are the keys to the Bronx Bombers coming away with a series victory:
Get to the bullpen early
As stated before, the Yankees have won in all different ways. They’ve blown out teams, had a couple of walkoffs, and have played deep into the night on some occasions. However, there is always one constant; The Yankees are able to get to the opponents’ bullpen. The Yankees couldn’t touch Justin Verlander or Mike Clevinger, but they were able to get to the bullpen of both the Astros and Indians multiple times.
It’s not the lack of success against starting pitching that warrants the number one key to winning the series; It’s just the way the Yankees have played all season. The Yankees are an extraordinarily patient team for a group of sluggers. They get themselves into hitters’ counts all night. They work the umps into 3-2 counts. They walk, foul pitches off, and wait for the pitcher to make a mistake. They do all of this because they know the ace pitcher on the other team doesn’t have a rubber arm and if they can get deep into the bullpen they’re going to be able to pick apart inferior pitching. The Red Sox may have Craig Kimbrel but they don’t have three of him.
No second chances
The Yankees may have won 15 of their last 16, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t had their fair share of mistakes. The Yankees have 25 errors so far this season, tops in the MLB. They may not have given away a game because of it, but against the top team in the league you can’t be giving them second chances.
In addition to errors, walks have also plagued the Yankees. They’ve been able to escape too much damage, but given the wild nature of some of the pitchers (Robertson, Betances) the Yankees are lucky to have not gone on an extended losing streak with all the free passes they give. If they’re going to win the series, they need to be tight and in control of every game. An error or untimely walk could cost them the game.
A Stantonian surge
It’s no secret that Giancarlo Stanton has not been great so far this season. He’s batting .227 with seven home runs and 19 RBI. He’s had some big hits and looked to be out of his slump after a four RBI performance against Houston, but he just hasn’t had the consistency to say that he’s out of his funk. What could the Yankees use most in their most important series? A good Giancarlo Stanton.
It’s actually incredible that the Yankees have been this good when half of the top of the lineup has been essentially useless. Stanton may hit a few home runs here and there but he hasn’t done anything consistently yet. Brett Gardner has been a black hole at the top of the lineup, but at least he works counts. Either way, the Yankees NEED Stanton to get hot this series because it would be unfair to have to rely on guys like Torres and Neil Walker for the next three games.
The New York Yankees still have a lot of work to do, but winning 15 of 16 is pretty damn good. They have an opportunity to solidify themselves at the top of the American League with a series win over the Boston Red Sox. Like I said before, it’s very early in the season and this series may not mean much, but it could also be the difference between an ALDS series and a life or death Wild Card game. Baseball is weird and fun like that.