The Yankees need to tighten it up in one and two-run games

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The Yankees are playing an afternoon game today against the Rangers, and they have an 12-4 (and multiplying) lead in the fifth inning. Chances are, they won’t see this in the playoffs when they’re facing the best pitchers in the game. And that could be a problem.

The Yankees, in 2017 are an underwhelming 15-24 in one-run games and 60-10 when they lead after six. They were 24-12 and 58-6 in those categories last season when their pitching, especially in the bullpen, did not compare to what they have now.

The nine-game deficit they have in one-run games is most alarming when you consider they’ll be facing the stingiest pitchers in the game today, with Chris Sale and Corey leading the pack in the playoffs.

This is assuming, of course, the Yankees can get by whoever they face in the one-game shootout so they can move on to the American League Division Series when strong pitching and timely hitting prevails.

There is no way to explain the team’s condition in close games this season, except to say it is what it is and it needs to get better. The game the team played yesterday is more typical of the kind they will see once the second season begins.

The Yankees won that game by a score of 3-1 with seven strong innings from their starter, Luis Severino, and the bullpen, led by a rejuvenated Aroldis Chapman earning his 17th save.

Assuming the Yankees starters can hold down the fort, and that’s not a stretch by any means, the ability to get that one timely hit when, for example, the team has managed to put runners on first and second with two out against Corey Kluber may well determine their fate in the Second Season.

Timely hitting in the playoffs rules

For instance, in today’s game with the Rangers, it was Brett Garner’s triple scoring Jacoby Ellsbury and Austin Romine that opened the door for a six-run inning that was capped with a solo home run by Aaron Judge, his 40th of the season. Without Gardner’s hit, Jordan Mongomery leaves the dugout to face the Rangers with a two-run lead instead of pitching with a 9-1 advantage.

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For Montgomery, though, it didn’t seem to matter much as he was lifted after only 3 1/3 innings, surrendering three runs and an unacceptable four walks. Montgomery has clearly hit a wall in this, his debut season in the big leagues. He has not had a win since July 27, and his earned run average has soared into the fives.

When you consider, though, that he expended a good deal of energy and pitches during his audition in Spring Training, which won him the starting job, coupled with his being bounced around between the Yankees and the Triple-A Railriders of late, there’s not much to worry about in terms of his future with the Yankees.

Back now to the main thrust of this. The past means nothing, good or bad, once the playoffs begin. It’s a crapshoot for all teams involved. But at the same time, the Yankees need to be aware they haven’t excelled in one-run games, and if that continues, making some noise in the playoffs might only be a dream.

A Footnote:

As I finish this piece, Aaron Judge has hit home run number 41 to lead the American League, this one a 463 foot shot over the center field wall. Wow!

And One More

The Yankees Double-A Trenton Thunder has won the first round of their playoffs and will go on to the finals in their division. Meanwhile, the Triple-A Scranton Railriders need only one more win against the Phillies farm team in Lehigh Valley, PA to go on to the finals in their division. The Railriders are the defending Triple-A Champions.

And One More

The Yankees (presumed) win today, coupled with losses by both the Red Sox and Twins, moves the team to within four games of the Sox, while their lead over the Twins and the rest of the pack increases to four full games.

Geez, the hits keep coming

ESPN Stats and Information reports that:

Aaron Judge is the 5th Yankees player to hit 40 HR in a season before turning 26. He joins franchise legends Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. (Via Elias Sports Bureau).

Next: A radical idea for the one-game shootout

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