New York Yankees: The 2010s in review (2015-2019)
By Ryan Touhey
Manager- Aaron Boone
Record: 100-62, 2nd in the AL East
Key Acquisitions: Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit, J.A. Happ, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Lance Lynn, Zack Britton, Brandon Drury
Key Departures: Joe Girardi, Chase Headley, Todd Frazier, Starlin Castro, Matt Holliday, Brandon Drury
Expectations were through the roof for the Yankees’ 2018 campaign, as they were among the favorites to win the World Series. The offseason, however, would bring some drastic changes to the team. The biggest player move was the acquisition of slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins. Stanton was the reigning NL MVP and was coming off of a season in which he led baseball with 57 home runs. Stanton and Judge in the same lineup? It seemed like heaven on earth for Yankee fans. Another major difference in the team was that Joe Girardi was out as Yankee manager after a decade at the helm. He was replaced by former infielder Aaron Boone, who was best remembered for hitting the walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox that sent the Yankees to the World Series. How apropos that Boone’s first year managing in the Major Leagues would revolve around the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, which had become rather dormant during most of the 2010s.
The Yankees started out slow, going 9-9 in their first 18 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox came out of the gates steamrolling their opponents and began the season with their best start in franchise history at 17-2. One of those two losses was to the Yankees on April 11 at Fenway Park, a game that featured a bench-clearing brawl. Red Sox’ infielder Brock Holt took exception to a slide by Tyler Austin. Austin appeared to have spiked Holt in the leg when he slid into second on a bunt from Yankee infielder Tyler Wade. When Austin came to the plate in his next at-bat against pitcher Joe Kelly, he was plunked and charged the mound. The rivalry had officially been resurrected. The Yankees eventually found their groove and they started to plow through everyone as well. They went on a 17-1 stretch which included them beating the Red Sox two times at Yankee Stadium. This stretch also had some other memorable moments.
During a weekend series against the Cleveland Indians, Yankee rookies took center stage. Yankee third baseman Miguel Andujar hit a walk-off single, while the young star Gleyber Torres hit a walk-off home run. The team appeared to be unstoppable, but so did the Red Sox, who were not slowing down and staying right with the Yankees atop the AL East. Boston had several guys having tremendous seasons. Their outfielder Mookie Betts and their newly acquired designated hitter J.D. Martinez, gave Boston a deadly 1-2 offensive punch that could hurt anyone on any given day.
In addition to that, Boston’s starting rotation was also invincible, anchored by lefty Chris Sale, who was dominating hitters. The Red Sox also had a new manager in Alex Cora, who was a coach on the Astros’ World Series team. Cora implemented a style which combined sabermetrics along with the traditional style of play such as bunting and stealing. And that was one of the big things that ended up distinguishing the two teams. Another big thing was that the Red Sox were more seasoned and many of their players were in the prime of their career.
In July, the Red Sox took control of first place in the division and started to pull away. Nobody could stop them. The Yankees started to struggle and were dealing with injuries to key players such as Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird [again] and Aaron Judge. After getting off to a great start for the season, Luis Severino was starting to struggle. Looking to add some help to the rotation, Cashman traded infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Billy McKinney to the Blue Jays, for veteran left-hander J.A. Happ. Happ, however, would also end up on the injured list when he was diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease. To help add some pop into the lineup, the team brought in first baseman Luke Voit from the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Yankees’ quest for the division title came to an early end when they were swept by Boston in a four-game series at Fenway in August. The Red Sox were having their best season in history and were on pace for 110 wins. The Yankees meanwhile, struggled to get into any sort of groove. They were so inconsistent during the last two months of the season that it didn’t seem that they’d make it to postseason play but they were because they had played so well too at the beginning of the season. The Yankees finished 2018 with a 100-62 record, their best record since their World Championship year of 2009. Usually, 100 wins would be enough to win a division. But the Red Sox won a ridiculous 108 games to win the AL East for the third straight year.
For the second year in a row and for the third time in four years, the Yankees would have to play in the American League Wild Card Game. They were again the hosts and this time they would face the 97-win Oakland Athletics. For the second year in a row, the Yankees called on Luis Severino to pitch. Severino was much better this time around but was far from great. He gave up only two hits and struck out seven, but only went four innings and walked four. Luckily, the Yankees made plenty of noise against the inferior Oakland pitching staff. New York breezed to a 7-2 victory, setting the stage for the highly anticipated showdown between them and the Red Sox in the ALDS.
J.A. Happ, who went undefeated with a 2.69 ERA with the Yankees, was the starter for Game 1 at Fenway and was immediately hit hard. J.D. Martinez smashed a three-run bomb over the Green Monster in left to give Boston a quick 3-0 lead. 3-0 would eventually turn to 5-0 and Happ was out of there after just two innings. The Yankees, however, fought back and pulled to within one run but came up short, losing 5-4. Down 1-0, they turned to Masahiro Tanaka in Game 2. Tanaka came through, pitching five innings of one-run ball. Gary Sanchez, who missed much of the season with groin strains, smashed two home runs into the Boston night to help propel the Yanks to a Game 2 victory.
Heading back to the Bronx for the next two games and tied at one game apiece, the Yankees and their fans had to have felt good about their chances. But those good feelings were crushed in Game 3 which quickly turned into a massacre of indescribable proportions. Luis Severino and the Yankee pitching staff were lit up like a Christmas tree. The Yankee offense was helpless against their former mate, Nathan Eovaldi. Things got so bad that backup catcher Austin Romine had to pitch. The final score, 16-1 Red Sox. It was the worst postseason loss in Yankee history.
With their backs to the wall, C.C. Sabathia was called on in Game 4 to save the Yankee season. Sabathia fought through the pain but the Sox again struck first and eventually had a 4-1 lead heading into the ninth inning. The Yankees, however, fought back and made it 4-3. With two outs and runners on, Gleyber Torres faced Craig Kimbrel. Torres grounded out [on a replay review] and the Sox won 4-3 and the series three games to one. The hated rivals partied on Yankee Stadium’s soil like there was no tomorrow. Boston’s dream season continued as they plowed through the defending World Champion Astros and NL Champion Dodgers to win their ninth World Series title in franchise history.
Analysis: Boy am I glad that’s over. This year was BY FAR, the worst year as a Yankee fan. Any time you lose to the hated Red Sox, there’s a sting that just doesn’t go away. Not only did the Sox celebrate the Division Series win on Yankee Stadium soil, they clinched the division itself on Yankee Stadium soil. Everything, literally EVERYTHING went the Red Sox’ way in 2018 it was ludicrous. Suffice it to say, 2018 [at least for me] is the most painful defeat of the decade for the Yankees and one of the worst in franchise history.