The Yankees, in case someone hasn’t noticed, are in sole possession of first place in the American League East. And with the month of April all but in the books, it’s high time we stop wondering if this team if for real.
The Yankees, since their heart-stopping start to the season at 1-4, have gone 14-3 and are now eight games over .500. This is the same team that steam-rolled through Spring Training with most people thinking they saw a mirage. But it’s now the end of April, and it causes to wonder why there might still be unbelievers out there not willing to swallow the kool aid.
Buck Showalter, the manager of the Orioles, is a believer. He talked to the New York Daily News about what he called “a vibe”:
"“It seems like they have a good vibe around them, and maybe the (outside) expectations weren’t as high as they had,” Showalter, the long-ago Yankee skipper, offered before the game. “Guys that are in the locker room, coaches, managers, players have high expectations. They don’t ever talk about what the perceptions are.”"
And he’s right about that. The only thing is that he might be a little in jumping on the bandwagon because the Yankees have been gelling for three and half weeks. In fact, it was right under Showalter’s nose at Camden Yards when the team rallied to win a game in early April that the current streak began.
This Is No Accident
The Red Sox and Orioles are both excellent teams. And they’ll both be joining the Yankees in a dogfight that is bound to go down to the final week of the season before anything is decided. But just in case there’s a team in baseball that hasn’t heard yet, the Yankees are also an excellent team.
Today, it was the very top and bottom of the order that did the damage. Brett Gardner, who entered the game with no home runs and no runs batted in yet in 2017, hit two shots, one of which landed in the second deck in right field, and the other a scorcher into the bullpen, to drive in the Yankees first four runs.
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Batting ninth, Austin Romine drove in four with a sacrifice fly and a single driving in Aaron Judge and Greg Bird, extending the Yankees lead to 7-0. The icing on the cake for Romine came later when he hit a two-run shot off Vidal Nuno with a man on.
Meanwhile, Michael Pineda continued his stretch of good pitching repeating earlier performances of simply pounding the strike zone and mixing his pitches (thank you again Austin Romine). Pineda three more pitches than he would have liked reaching more than 100 by the fifth inning, but much of that can be attributed to a first inning at-bat by Manny Machado, who just wouldn’t go away until he finally waved at a devastating slider with the count full, striking out to end the inning.
Pineda threw more pitches than he would have liked reaching more than 100 by the fifth inning, but much of that can be attributed to a first inning at-bat by Manny Machado, who just wouldn’t go away until he finally waved at a devastating slider with the count full, striking out to end the inning.
Relieved in the sixth by Adam Warren, Pineda finished his day issuing only one walk, while striking out eight and allowing only one earned run. 70 percent of his 108 pitches were strikes.
Video Courtesy of the Yes Network
It’s often said, probably because it’s true, that you never take anything for granted in baseball. No game is ever the same, and things change from one at-bat to another. Teams change as well. Some ripen on the vine, while others fall to the ground to get stomped on later when the harvesters come in to pick off the low hanging fruit.
The Blue Jays, for instance, who are winning at a pace of only once for every four games they’ve played to date, can’t be quite as bad as they are now. And the law of averages says they’re due to wake up any moment now. Thus, it’s no accident that they follow the Orioles into Yankee Stadium on Monday night.
Expecting To Win, Not Hoping To Win
Contributions keep coming from everywhere, as with Romine today. Even Greg Bird drew two walks and scored twice. This is the stuff that separates a very good team from one that just happens to get hot for a while, as the Phillies may be now, only to fade when the one or two players carrying them fall back to earth.
There is no one carrying this team. Instead, they are carrying each other. And in case anyone hasn’t noticed, it’s about time they did. Because these guys in the dugout come to the ballpark expecting to win and not just hoping to win.
The Yankees, under the direction of master chef, Brian Cashman, are proving that it is entirely possible to make lemonade out of lemons
It’s been a long time since the Yankees had that “vibe” as Showalter labeled it. And if you haven’t settled in for the ride yet, hop in. After all, as Yogi Berra said, “It get late early out here.”