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Yankees GBU – First place, first place

The New York Yankees stormed into the weekend with a remarkable comeback win on Friday night, and took the division lead once again on Sunday in a decisive 13-5 victory that include a seven run inning in the sixth.  The Yankees are now 28-17 going into a series with the Orioles where they can really gain ground.

 

The Good

The starters come through

Notice how I didn’t use the word “opener” because Chad Green was meh in two innings of work and Nestor Cortez Jr. wasn’t the cat’s meow either.  The Yankees got lucky in the fact that they could have thrown Gleyber Torres out there to pitch and they wouldn’t have relinquished an eight run lead.

Despite Sunday’s shenanigans, the two starters who did pitch over the weekend were both excellent.  C.C. Sabathia had his best start of the season on Friday, going six strong and only giving up one run on one hit in a 4-3 walk-off victory.  Masahiro Tanaka was equally impressive, pitching a nearly flawless game and only giving up three hits in six innings of work.

While Tanaka didn’t get the victory it was one of his best starts of the season and he looks to have gotten some of his mojo back that was lost earlier in the season.  If Sabathia continues to pitch this way he’ll be a key component down the stretch while James Paxton finds himself.

The Sunday run parade

I wanted to call this the hit parade but the Rays let the Yankees off the hook multiple times throughout the game.  The first real mistake the Rays made was in the bottom of the 4th when Yandy Diaz let a grounder pop over his glove and into the outfield to keep the inning going.  The next at-bat, Aaron Hicks made him pay as he hit a two run homer to tie the game at five.

The bottom of the sixth was an impressive inning but the Yankees did more with their minds than they did with their bats.  They were putting the Rays’ pitchers into 3-2 counts and worked multiple walks to score two of the runs.  Luke Voit’s walk gave the Yankees the lead and Kendrys Morales’ walk gave them a little cushion.

With the bases loaded once again, Gleyber Torres looked to have popped out when Ji-Man Choi dropped the ball near the net aligning first base.  Torres grounded out, but Wily Adames made a bad throw to first and Torres was ruled safe as Choi bobbled the ball in his arm, not his glove.

The new found life proved important as Thairo Estrada made the most of his opportunity.  He drove home Gary Sanchez, Morales and Torres to add to the mounting lead.  Brett Gardner drove Estrada home to make it a lucky seven spot in the sixth.  D.J. Lemahieu homered in the seventh to top it all off and send the Yankees into first place with an easy 13-5 victory.

The Bad

Clint Frazier is ice cold

It’s really unfortunate that Clint Frazier hurt himself sliding back into second base just a few weeks ago because since he’s come back he’s been one of the coldest Yankees at the plate.  He only has one hit in his past six games and struck out three times in Sunday’s rout.

Frazier isn’t a perfect player but his average dropped from .290 to .259 over the past week and a half.  He needs to produce because the Yankees don’t exactly have the luxury of replacing him in the lineup right now.  He’s one of the four outfielders and although Giancarlo Stanton is ready for some rehab swings he still won’t be on the team for a bit.

Masahiro Tanaka may be on the mend as well

The only other negative from Saturday’s game, other than of course losing, is the fact that Masahiro Tanaka pitched masterfully but left the game with a shin injury.  The injury didn’t look too serious and X-Rays came back negative, but depending on the severity of the swelling, Tanaka may miss some time.

If he does miss time, he’ll be the fourth starting pitcher relegated to the IL this season.  He, Paxton, C.C. Sabathia and Luis Severino will have all spent at least some time on the IL.  This list doesn’t even include Jordan Montgomery, who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The Ugly

Chad Green may need another Minor League stint

Chad Green is still not right.  He came back guns-a-blazing against the Orioles with three straight strikeouts but his efforts against the Rays weren’t great.  In Friday’s contest he nearly cost them the game when he gave up two runs (one earned) in the top of the eighth.  In fairness to him, Gleyber Torres’ error scored the second run but Green shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with.

Things didn’t get much better for him in the series finale as he gave up back-to-back home runs in the top of the second to Kevin Kiermaier and Willy Adames.  That sequence ended his day and the Yankees had to resort to Nestor Cortes Jr. for a few innings, who wasn’t much better in four innings of work (three hits, three runs).

Green is still working towards his goal of returning to 2017 form but he’s still missing something.  What that something is isn’t known right now but his bloated 13.50 ERA is a sore sight to see.  If Green can get back with a few more outings in AAA and truly get himself right, he can be relied upon again with the Yankees.

 

Not all was perfect for the Yankees but they did all the right things and were able to squeeze out two victories in their weekend series with the Rays.  First place doesn’t mean all that much in mid-May but it does prove that regardless of who is playing for your team, you always have a chance to win.

To say that the Yankees being 22-8 since April 16th is remarkable is an understatement.  It’s almost impossible to think that with all the stars they’ve lost they’ve still managed to be one of the best teams in baseball.  That’s again a testament to Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, the scouting team and the players themselves.  They look to continue this streak on Monday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

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