Yankees: Bronx hero Andrew Velazquez and Andrew Heaney saved NYY


Thanks to Andrew Velazquez, Andrew Heaney and Lucas Luetge, it’s beginning to feel a little 2019-y up in here for the New York Yankees.

That season, the “Next Man Up” magic couldn’t quite extend through October. Those replacement players were highly taxed, and when Giancarlo Stanton went down before Game 2 of the ALDS, it was one injury too many for the Yankees’ MASH unit.

This year, the timing has been a bit different, but the regular season results have been very much the same.

That August, the Yankees officially turned the tides with a remarkable four-game sweep of the Red Sox (featuring a Saturday doubleheader) in the Bronx, burying a Red Sox team that seemingly forgot to buy at the deadline. This August? One fewer game in the series, just as much majesty, and a similar level of trade deadline inactivity for the road team.

Most fans would’ve been satisfied with the doubleheader sweep and a loss in the Andrew Heaney Game. Heaney wouldn’t have been, though, and he shoved plenty of negativity in all of our faces with seven two-hit innings.

Andrew Velazquez, of the Bronx (did we mention he’s from the Bronx?), ripped two singles and added an insurance run in the ninth. With two on and the tying run at the plate in the ninth, he sprawled in the hole to his right and gunned a laser across the diamond into the wildly well-positioned mitt of Anthony Rizzo. Lucas Luetge got the save. None of these men were anticipated New York Yankees in February. All of them were enormous in this special sweep.

Andrew Velazquez and Andrew Heaney saved Wednesday’s sweep for the Yankees.

That…was a stunning play. It was also, against all odds, the second-most shocking thing we watched in the Bronx tonight.

In the first inning on Wednesday, Andrew Heaney allowed his 16th earned run in 16 innings with the Yankees. There was no one waiting for him in the bullpen beyond the underbelly, a scuffling Zack Britton, and an injured Aroldis Chapman.

Instead of folding and handing the ball off to a reliever in the second, leading to another moribund and sweep-less series, Heaney buckled down. He commanded the top of the zone. When he needed to walk a batter he couldn’t outfox, he did so. He pitched around, then attacked again. He never interrupted his own rhythm.

He finished six innings, allowing two hits, then he was sent BACK OUT for the seventh against the heart of the order. He finished that, too.

Two years later, the Yankees are going “Next Man Up” once more, replaying an old favorite in search of a different ending.

This time around, perhaps the timing will be better. The cavalry will arrive in September and all the spare parts will gel and energize each other rather than tiring out at the horn.

This week, it was far easier than ever to believe in the happier ending, thanks to a scrappy middle infielder from the Bronx and everybody’s favorite pitching punching bag who punched back.