The Yankees have now won four out of five, two against the (tied for) first place Boston Red Sox and two against the defending champion Royals, showing the wins haven’t come easy. This time it involved the bats, and coming back on a few occasions, including on the vaunted Royals’ reliever, Kelvin Herrera, who surrendered his first runs of the season.
With the win came a few observations, most notably the use of players like Dustin Ackley and Aaron Hicks. Mark Teixeira was sidelined with a stiff neck, yet another ailment on a long, long, list of them. With Jacoby Ellsbury still missing time for some sort of injury we’ve lost track of at this point, Hicks got the call in the outfield again. Both players had more key hits tonight, leading the way to a comeback and avoiding a major momentum crushing loss from three Lorenzo Cain home runs. What was perhaps the most significant play of the game, was a bloop double scored three runs. Had Alex Rodriguez or Tex been in the game and on the bases, it may have been one bag each depending on their placement.
Ackley and Hicks may not amount to everyday players (although jury is out on Hicks) but their youth and energy is evident. Brett Gardner scored from second on a single, the Yankees don’t need three hits and a walk to score runs when older, bulky, past their prime players who are losing power but relied upon for home runs are not in the game. It’s not necessarily accurate Rodriguez and Teixeira are providing negative value, but at this point you can’t be so sure. New York was a different team last night, scoring 10 runs with clutch hits and delivering with runners in scoring position. In the big moments, there wasn’t the same vibe of a strike out and a double play incoming, it just felt….Different.
And it’s a feeling Yankees’ fans haven’t felt about the offense in years, commonly frustrated by a team waiting for the three-run home run but mostly hitting solo shots and in 2016, maybe no home runs at all.
Kansas City is struggling and is not quite the World champion superpower it has been the past two years, but New York defeated a team known for its pitching and defense by exploiting its pitching and defense. It won a bullpen battle even with a blown save by Andrew Miller and it did it because the Yankees didn’t need to pitch into the 13th or 14th inning before it scored a run. New York promptly scored three after Miller’s blown save and Chapman came in and closed the door without much fanfare in the ninth.
New York has won four of five and five of seven and sits at 13-18, still two games away from fourth place Tampa. But whether games like the one on Tuesday were a fluke, a glimmer of the future or an option for the present, it was a welcomed site they would do well to try to duplicate as the season progresses.