Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Winning Ways...


Trevi for the Win! / Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Yankees Juggernaut continues to steamroll the AL...

Well, it was not a kind week for the elite Yankees starting rotation, but the team continues to find ways to win. After last year’s roller coaster season, it is so wonderful to have a team that competes hard every night (Wednesday night’s 8-1 clunker against the Twins excluded). No question this team has the “it” quality and this might be the most joyous season since the historic 1998 championship run. Not saying the team is going to win 114 (or 125) games but the 2022 Yankees can write their own script. To slightly change Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio’s famed quote, “I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee fan.”

The Captain

The Yankees are currently 42-16, .724 winning percentage, and lead the AL East by 7 ½ games. They have the best record in baseball and the only team that can join the Yankees with forty wins today is the crosstown Mets.

The Yankees faced a major challenge this week when they traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota to face the recharged Minnesota Twins. After off-season retooling following a season of disappointment, the Twins currently hold first place in the AL Central and will most likely be a team in the October hunt. For the Yankees, it was a warm reunion with former Yanks Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela. Old friendships aside, the Twins were not so hospitable with the Yankee starters. Jameson Taillon gave up nine hits and four runs over four innings on Tuesday night; Nasty Nestor Cortes Jr, the All Star to-be, went 4 1/3 innings, allowed seven hits and four runs, taking the loss in Wednesday night’s disaster; and Gerrit Cole, who gave up three consecutive home runs before recording on out on Thursday night, was the worst, giving up eight hits and seven runs in only 2 1/3 innings. The five home runs he surrendered was a career worst. If a starter deserved to take a loss among these three, it was Cole. Fortunately for him, the Yankees bullpen and the hitters bailed him out as the Yankees clawed back from a four-run deficit to win, 10-7.

Despite the inflation of ERAs among the three starters, the trip to Target Field was successful as the Yankees took two of three. Win every series and life is good. I know the Yankees have owned the Twins for the past twenty years but one of these days the law of averages will turn the tables on the Yankees. I am glad it was not this week and I hope it is not this year.

Aaron Judge / Photo Credit: Jim Mone, AP

Last night, Luis Severino brought order back to the rotation. He struck out ten, yielding only seven hits and limiting the Chicago Cubs to one run in six innings. The game was tied when he left so no decision, but his performance was invaluable, and it set the stage for later team heroics. It took thirteen innings, but the Yankees emerged victorious when Jose Trevino came off the bench, on his son’s fourth birthday, for a run-scoring single in the walk-off 2-1 win over Anthony Rizzo’s old club. There were some brilliant defensive plays along the way that kept the game tied so it was a tremendous all-around team win.

Aarons Judge and Hicks / Photo Credit: Robert Sabo, NY Post

I felt bad for Aaron Judge. He had several key spots taken from him with intentional walks. Sure, walking him was the right thing to do for the opposing manager (former Red Suck David Ross), but as a fan, it was still slightly disappointing to miss a potential "Judgian" moment for arguably the American League’s most valuable player.

Despite the home run on Thursday night, Aaron Hicks at-bats are painful to watch. He may be great defensively behind the plate, but you can put Kyle Higashioka in the same category. I was ready for Manager Aaron Boone to pull Higgy in the ninth inning (to bring in Jose Trevino) when he led off the bottom of the frame. A line out to center only reinforced my opinion that it was a missed opportunity for Boonie.

Clearly the Yankees must do something about Hicks or Joey Gallo. Gallo is starting to hit a little better which probably places the spotlight on Hicks. With Aaron Judge taking most of the starts in center, it seems like the clock is ticking on Hicks and it is only a matter of time until he is just another ex-Yank. Time will tell. I guess we will know if his continued Yankee career is to be or not to be by the anniversary of Thurman Munson’s death.

There was irony before last night’s game when the Chicago Cubs announced they had designated Clint Frazier for assignment. Kind of funny since he had been given a locker in the visitor’s clubhouse, complete with his Cubs jersey. Perhaps Frazier clears waivers and is sent outright to the Iowa Cubs. Or maybe the Cubs should just send him back to Cleveland to see if he can restart his career. I did not really appreciate the ‘cookie cutter’ comments Frazier made this week about the Yankees organization, but it seems that Karma took care of it. 

Clint Frazier, The DFA Man / Photo Credit: AP

The Cubs also announced that another softie, Marcus Stroman, had been placed on the IL so he will miss the return to New York. I am proud to be one of those on Twitter who have been blocked by Stroman. He took offense when I once said that I wanted no part of him on the Yankees. My opinion has not changed.

Former Yankees joining the managerial ranks. The past week saw one former Yankee player and manager fired in Philadelphia (Joe Girardi), but it resulted in the promotion of long-time Yankees coach and recent Phillies bench coach Rob Thomson to serve as Girardi’s interim replacement. Out in Anaheim, CA, or about ten miles from where I am writing this post, Joe Maddon could not survive an extended Angels losing streak after a hot start to the season and was ousted. Former Yankees and current Angels third base coach Phil Nevin will serve as the interim Halos manager. Congratulations to both men. I doubt Nevin manages the team beyond this year, but I am hopeful Thomson wins the audition for permanency as the Phillies manager. You can certainly say that he has paid his dues for this opportunity.

Phillies Manager Rob Thomson / Photo Credit:

Bullpen returns. Bryan Hoch reported that Aroldis Chapman is pain free and is scheduled to throw a bullpen today. He will need at least another bullpen session before the team considers activating him or sending him to the minors for rehab. With all honesty, I do not see how Chapman can be reinstated as the Yankees closer. To me, Clay Holmes is the man until he is not. The way he is pitching right now slams the door most nights. The Yankees cannot disrupt a good thing. I know that the end of games has been less painful for me. I am not yearning to see a sweaty pitcher on the mound in the ninth with a loss of control and reduced velocity.

Hoch also reported that Jonathan Loaisiga left the team to deal with a family matter in Nicaragua on June 7th. Hopefully, all is well for him and his family. It is unclear if he has resumed throwing, but his return seems further away than Chapman.

Zack Britton stays on track for return as early as August. He will be a welcome addition. He is currently doing bullpen work and will go on a minor league rehab assignment sometime in the coming weeks. I wish him the best for a full recovery and successful rehab. Same for Chapman and Loaisiga.

Zack Britton / Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Despite the relievers that will be rejoining the team in the coming weeks and months, I hope GM Brian Cashman can make another one of those sneaky good Clay Holmes type of trades to bring an unheralded reliever oozing with talent ripe for blossoming to New York.

As always, Go Yankees!