Week 14 Record: 4-2
Season Record: 54-27 (Tied for 1st in AL East)
Week at a Glance: – Atlanta Braves at Yankees (3 Games)
* Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays (3 Games)
Recap it!: Shows how much I know, ladies and gentlemen. After spending last week’s edition basically eviscerating the Yankees for their poor showing against the Tampa Bay Rays, they go ahead and have a good week, taking 2 of 3 in both series against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox. If you’ve read this column since it began (and I sincerely hope you did), you’d be well aware of the fact that I, as a Yankee fan, am an entitled little weasel. When it’s good, it’s never good enough. When it’s bad, Armageddon is nigh. That’s just how things are in this neck of the woods. I write about baseball. Making inexplicable mountains out of molehills is practically my stock and trade. With that in mind, there were enough ups and downs in the proceedings this week to give me fodder. Let’s break it down, shall we?
* There was plenty good to go around concerning Yankee staring pitching this week, as Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Severino (twice) and CC Sabathia turning in sterling performances. Severino pitched back-to-back shutouts against the Phillies’ Jake Arrieta and Red Sox lefty/ human batting tee David Price. CC Sabathia summoned his mysterious
old man powers to pitch seven innings of one-run ball against the fearsome Boston Red Sox lineup. All was not copacetic in Yankeeland, however, as the bad Sonny Gray showed up again (Dude, seriously, STOP showing up here). Nega-Sonny popped his head in to get shelled for 6 runs Saturday night, including serving up a nice fat opposite field Grand Slam to Red Sox rookie third baseman/current-bane-of-my-existence Rafael Devers. As a Jewish mother might say: Oy.
* The Yanks’ offense had its own roller coaster struggles this week, getting shut out by the Phillies’ Zach Eflin and the Red Sox ace Chris Sale (One of these things is not like the other). But fear not, for after getting whupped wholesale 11-0 on Saturday, the Yankees returned the favor with an 11-spot of their very own, courtesy of home runs by Kyle Higashioka (!) Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and 3 (!!!!!) by Aaron Hicks. I think maybe these guys CAN hit, after all.
Look Out For: We’ll get a look at a Braves team that’s arrived a year early, along with looks at stud rookies Ronald Acuna, Jr. and Ozzie Albies. Someone call Vince McMahon, WE GOT OURSELVES A GOOD OLD-FASHIONED ROOKIE CAGE MATCH!
Hey, That’s New!: As mentioned above, temporary backup catcher Kyle Higashioka joined in on the hit party Saturday with a homer against David Price. However, not only did that homer break an 0-for-22 slide, it was his first MLB hit, ever. Look, I know this is only temporary, and Higashioka will be gone once Gary Sanchez comes off the DL, but man, that was fun to watch. What? I can’t enjoy this?
Rant of the Week: If you hang around Twitter a lot (and for the sake of not turning your brain into pudding, I recommend you DON’T do that), a common complaint emerges, which is that the Yankees hit too many home runs. Now, far be it from me to begrudge others for indulging in a little useless opinion-making (Again, this is what I do), but this argument has gone screaming off a cliff, plunging into the murky depths of inanity. “OH GOODNESS, WHERE OH WHERE HAVE THE DAYS GONE WHEN A TEAM CAN SCORE ONLY ONE RUN WITHOUT ACTUALLY MAKING CONTACT WITH THE BALL?!!? WHAT ABOUT THE BUNTERS?!?!!? WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE BUNTERS?!!?!!?” Now, before you castigate me for painting with a broad brush like the Bob Ross of sports bloggers, know that this #toomanydamnhomeruns nonsense has gained enough traction that even manager Aaron Boone had to address it during his postgame presser, getting animated when forced to defend his band of baseball-murdering brigands. To that end, I ask: have any of you got a clue what it takes to get him riled up like that? The man is the baseball equivalent of beige wallpaper!! Switzerland thinks this guy should take a side already! Let me make one thing quite clear: Home runs are not, nor will they ever be, a bad thing. Do you really expect this small-ball “Holy-Christmas-it’s-1912-all-over-again” approach will do anything in the playoffs once the pitching gets better? When the games start to matter, offenses will, for the most part, be unable to string together 3-4 hits an inning. The priority is doing the maximum amount of damage in the most efficient way possible, and the homer is the best way of achieving that result. Sometimes all you need is one good swing, and the rest takes care of itself.